"vulture capitalist" -- WOTY in diapers at the start of the new year?

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 14 04:46:35 UTC 2012

Thanks to George, Victor, and other participants on this thread for
comments. I think the 1971 date for "venture capitalist" can be pushed
back. Here is a citation in 1946 and one in 1953.

Cite: 1946 July 27, Collier's Weekly, The Truth About Henry Kaiser by
Lester Velie, Start Page 11, Quote Page 12, Column 3, The
Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. (Unz)
[Begin excerpt]
To friendly officials in Washington, Mr. Kaiser is a great natural
resource during peace as he was during war - the sort of venture
capitalist our economy needs to make it grow. To critics, he is the
pampered darling of the New Deal, the greatest individual beneficiary
of government largesse in history.
[End excerpt]

Cite: 1953 June 27, The Saturday Review, Human Want Is Obsolete by
Gerard Piel, Start Page 9, Quote Page 10, Column 2, Saturday Review
Associates Inc., New York. (Unz)
[Begin excerpt]
What science needs is brave money-with no strings attached. We are not
being brave enough when we find it necessary to invoke the prospect of
practical results in order to justify support of basic science. But if
results are all that is wanted, it takes a reckless venture capitalist
to back basic research.
[End excerpt]

The 1959 Time magazine cite given earlier quotes Sukarno using the
phrase "vulture capitalists". This was after "venture capitalist"
entered circulation. However, the magazine article does not indicate
whether Sukarno was speaking English when he used the term. If he was
not speaking English then the wordplay of "venture" and "vulture" may
not be relevant. Knowledge of the  untranslated words might be

The 1972 Boston Globe cite may still be the earliest one that
explicitly connects "vulture capitalist" and "venture capitalist".


On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 9:35 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "vulture capitalist" -- WOTY in diapers at the start of the
>              new year?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The earlier examples are pretty clearly simple Socialist name-calling
> ("scavengers"), not puns or jokes--a lot like the originally Chinese
> expression "capitalist pig-dogs" that used to be popular with campus
> Communists in the 1980s and 1990s. [According to Victor Mair, it appears
> to be a pretty close translation of the Chinese original.]
>     VS-)
> On 1/13/2012 6:59 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>> I see that the OED has "venture capitalist" only from 1971, so the earlier
>> examples that Garson has found wouldn't be based on the same joke.
>> GAT
>> On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 11:06 AM, Garson O'Toole
>> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> Kudos to the OED team. Below is a citation in 1972 showing "vulture
>>> capitalists" derived from "venture capitalists" via wordplay. The
>>> phrase "vulture capitalist" actually has a much longer history, but
>>> earlier instances may not fit the modern OED definition.
>>> Cite: 1972 January 9, Boston Globe, The big job: conversion by Bruce
>>> Davidson, Start Page B-1, Quote Page B-4, Boston, Massachusetts.
>>> (ProQuest)
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> No wonder, perhaps, that venture capitalists are known in some
>>> quarters as vulture capitalists.
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
>>> Cite: 1837 November 18, Columbian Register, The whigs of New York,
>>> Page 3, Column 3, New Haven, Connecticut (GenealogyBank)
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> The usury laws should not be repealed, so us to suffer the vulture
>>> capitalists and shavers to devour business men of small means at one
>>> repast. The usury enactments should he more severe.
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> Cite: 1885 July, Progress, Mr. Chamberlain and Socialism by Thomas
>>> Maguire, Start Page 316, Quote Page 318, Column 2, Progressive
>>> Publishing Co., London. (Google Books full view)
>>> http://books.google.com/books?id=5gMbAAAAYAAJ&q=vulture#v=snippet&
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> For do we not find everywhere throughout our civilisation the hundred
>>> proletarian personalities degraded to brute level, divested of all
>>> individuality that the one vulture-capitalist, personality, may air an
>>> illegitimate individuality, as baneful as it is accursed?
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> Cite: 1914 December 26, Puck, The Unemployment Problem, Page 7, New
>>> York. (ProQuest)
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> But if you should meet any one of these twenty-nine, he will tell you
>>> with a droop of the lower lip, that times are terrible; that the
>>> vulture capitalist is tearing the vitals from the laboring man; that
>>> Wilson never should have been elected; and that foreigners must be
>>> kept out of the country
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> Cite: 1959 September 7, Time, INDONESIA: Drastic Medicine, Time Inc.,
>>> New York. (Online Time archive; Accessed 2012 January 13)
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> All this was done to the accompaniment of denunciations by Sukarno of
>>> "vulture capitalists." Added he: "Whoever scoops up wealth at the
>>> expense of the public, whoever disrupts the public economy, will be
>>> arrested, will be taken to court, will be punished severely, and if
>>> necessary will be sentenced to death."
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> Cite: 1962 May, The Journal of Asian Studies, Some
>>> Social-Anthropological Obervations on Gotong Rojong Practices in Two
>>> Villages of Central Java. by Koentjaraningrat; Structural Changes in
>>> Javanese Society: The Village Sphere. by D. H. Burger; Living
>>> Conditions of Plantation Workers and Peasants on Java in 1939-1940. ;
>>> Some Factors Related to Autonomy and Dependence in Twelve Javanese
>>> Villages by Barbara Dohrenwend Review by: Clifford Geertz Volume 21,
>>> Number 3, Start Page 413, Quote Page 414, Published by: Association
>>> for Asian Studies (JSTOR)
>>> http://www.jstor.org/stable/2050724
>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>> In introducing his "Conception" of "Guided Democracy" in  1957,
>>> President Sukarno attacked as alien and un-Indonesian the "free-fight
>>> Liberalism" of "vulture capitalism,"  which had apparently
>>> characterized the Republic thus far, saying that it should be replaced
>>> by a more properly indigenous and morally superior spirit: Gotong
>>> Rojong.
>>> [End excerpt]
>>> Typos and other errors are possible. Please double-check before use.
>>> Best Garson
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