Beware the snake oil salesmen of the future

The increase in risky business models in local government has led to the litany of high-profile failures and s114s, says Abdool Kara. If it sounds too good to be true it almost certainly is, he warns.

The late 1800s saw the arrival of the snake oil salesman.

Although oil from the Chinese water snake, brought to America by Chinese railroad workers, does have certain healing properties, this was appropriated by ‘get rich quick' merchants selling patent medicines out of the back of a horse-drawn cart or via newspaper advertisements, promising cures for a variety of common ailments. In fact, these quack medicaments contained all sorts of ingredients, including poisons such as arsenic, mercury and turpentine, and few had any medicinal properties.

Abdool Kara

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