Huey P. Long
Radio Speech - Share Our Wealth
(as entered into the 12 March 1935 Congressional Records)
Broadcast 7 March 1935, National Broadcasting Company, New York
Ladies and gentlemen, it has been publicly announced that the White House orders of the Roosevelt administration have declared war on HUEY LONG. The late and lamented, the pampered ex-crown prince, Gen. Hugh S. Johnson, one of those satellites loaned by Wall Street to run the Government, and who, at the end of his control over and dismissal from the NRA, pronounced it "as dead as a dodo", this Mr. Johnson was apparently selected to make the lead-off speech in this White House charge begun last Monday night. The Johnson speech was followed by more fuss and fury on behalf of the administration by spellbinders in and out of Congress.
In a far-away island, when a queen dies, her first favorite is done the honor to be buried alive with her. The funeral procession of the NRA (another one of these new-deal schisms or isms) is about ready to occur. It is said that General Johnson's speech of Monday night to attack me was delivered on the eve of announcing the publication of his obituary in the Red Book Magazine. Seems then that soon this erstwhile prince of the deranged alphabet makes ready to appear at the funeral of NRA like unto the colored lady in Mississippi who there asserted: "I is de wife of dese remains."
I shall undertake to cover my main subject and make answer to these gentlemen in the course of this speech tonight.
It will serve no purpose to our distressed people for me to call my opponents more bitter names than they call me. Even were I able, I have not the time to present my side of the argument and match them in billingsgate or profanity.
What is this trouble with this administration of Mr. [Franklin D.] Roosevelt, Mr. [Hugh S.] Johnson, Mr. [James A.] Farley,l Mr. [Vincent] Astor, and all their spoilers and spellbinders? They think that HUEY LONG is the cause of all their worry. They go gunning for me. But, am I the cause of their misery? They are like old Davy Crockett, who went out to hunt a possum. He saw in the gleam of the moonlight that a possum in the top of a tree was going from limb to limb. He shot and missed. He saw the possum again. He fired a second time and missed again. Soon he discovered that it was not a possum he saw at all in the top of that tree. It was a louse in his own eyebrow.
I do not make this illustration to do discredit to any of these gentlemen. I make it to show how often we imagine we see great trouble being done to us by someone at a distance, when, in reality, all of it may be a fault in our own make-up.
The trouble with the Roosevelt administration is that when their schemes and isms have failed, these things I told them not to do and voted not to do, that they think it will help them to light out on those of us who warned them in the beginning that the tangled messes and noble experiments would not work. The Roosevelt administration has had its way for two years. They have been allowed to set up or knock down anything and everybody. There was one difference between [Herbert] Hoover and Roosevelt. Hoover could not get the Congress to carry out the schemes he wanted to try. We managed to lick him on a roll call in the United States Senate time after time. But, different with Mr. Roosevelt. He got his plans through Congress. But on cold analysis they were found to be the same things Hoover tried to pass and failed.
The kitchen cabinet that sat in to advise Hoover was not different from the kitchen cabinet which advised Roosevelt. Many of the persons are the same. Many of those in Roosevelt's kitchen cabinet are of the same men or set of men who furnished employees to sit in the kitchen cabinet to advise Hoover.
Maybe you see a little change in the man waiting on the tables, but back in the kitchen the same set of cooks are fixing up the victuals for us that cooked up the mess under Hoover.
Why, do you think this Roosevelt's plan for plowing up cotton, corn, and wheat; and for pouring milk in the river, and for destroying and burying hogs and cattle by the millions, all while people starve and go naked -- do you think those plans were the original ideas of this Roosevelt administration? If you do, you are wrong. The whole idea of that kind of thing first came from Hoover's administration. Don't you remember when Mr. Hoover proposed to plow up every fourth row of cotton? We laughed him into scorn. President Roosevelt flayed him for proposing such a thing in the speech which he made from the steps of the capitol in Topeka, Kans.
And so we beat Mr. Hoover on his plan. But when Mr. Roosevelt started on his plan, it was not to plow up every fourth row of cotton as Hoover tried to do. Roosevelt's plan was to plow up every third row of cotton, just one-twelfth more cotton to be plowed up than Hoover proposed. Roosevelt succeeded in his plan.
So it has been that while millions have starved and gone naked; so it has been that while babies have cried and died for milk; so it has been that while people have begged for meat and bread, Mr. Roosevelt's administration has sailed merrily along, plowing under and destroying the things to eat and to wear, with tear-dimmed eyes and hungry souls made to chant for this new deal so that even their starvation dole is not taken away, and meanwhile the food and clothes craved by their bodies and souls go for destruction and ruin. What is it? Is it government? Maybe so. It looks more like St. Vitus dance.
Now, since they sallied forth with General Johnson to start the war on me, let us take a look at this NRA that they opened up around here two years ago. They had parades and Fascist signs just as Hitler, and Mussolini. They started the dictatorship here to regiment business and labor much more than anyone did in Germany or Italy. The only difference was in the sign. Italy's sign of the Fascist was a black shirt. Germany's sign of the Fascist was a swastika. So in America they sidetracked the Stars and Stripes, and the sign of the Blue Eagle was used instead.
And they proceeded with the NRA. Everything from a peanut stand to a power house had to have a separate book of rules and laws to regulate what they did. If a peanut stand started to parch a sack of goobers for sale, they had to be careful to go through the rule book. One slip and he went to jail. A little fellow w ho pressed a pair of pants went to jail because he charged 5 cents under the price set in the rule book. So they wrote their NRA rule book, codes, laws, etc. They got up over 900 of them. One would be as thick as an unabridged dictionary and as confusing as a study of the stars. It would take 40 lawyers to tell a shoe-shine stand how to operate and be certain he didn't go to jail.
Some people came to me for advice, as a lawyer, on how to run business. I took several days and then couldn't understand it myself. The only thing I could tell them was that it couldn't be much worse in jail than it was out of jail with that kind of thing going on in the country, and so to go on and do the best they could.
The whole thing of Mr. Roosevelt, as run under General Johnson, became such a national scandal that Roosevelt had to let Johnson slide out as the scapegoat. Let them call for an NRA parade tomorrow and you couldn't get enough people to form a funeral march.
It was under this NRA and the other funny alphabetical combinations which followed it that we ran the whole country into a mares nest. The Farleys and Johnsons combed the land with agents, inspectors, supervisors, detectives, secretaries, assistants, etc., all armed with the power to arrest and send to jail whomever they found not living up to some rule in one of these 900 catalogs. One man whose case reached the Supreme Court of the United States was turned loose because they couldn't even find the rule he was supposed to have violated in a search throughout the United States.
And now it is with PWA's, CWA's, NRA's, AAA's, J-UG's, G-IN's, and every other flimsy combination that the country finds its affairs and business tangled to where no one can recognize it. More men are now out of work than ever; the debt of the United States has gone up another $10 billion. There is starvation; there is homelessness; there is misery on every hand and corner, but mind you, in the meantime, Mr. Roosevelt has had his way. He is one man that can't blame any of his troubles on HUEY LONG. He has had his way. Down in my part of the country if any man has the measles he blames that on me; but there is one man that can't blame anything on anybody but himself, and that is Mr. Franklin De-La-No Roosevelt.
And now, on top of that, they order war on me because nearly 4 years ago I told Hoover's crowd it wouldn't do and because 3 years ago I told Roosevelt and his crowd it wouldn't do. In other words, they are in a rage at HUEY LONG because I have said, "I told you so."
I am not overstating the conditions now prevailing in this country. In their own words they have confessed all I now say or ever have said. Mr. Roosevelt and even Mrs. Roosevelt have bewailed the fact that food, clothes, and shelter have not been provided for the people. Even Gen. Hugh S. Johnson said in his speech of Monday night that there are 80 million people in America who are badly hurt or wrecked by this depression. Mr. Harry Hopkins, who runs the relief work, says the dole roll has risen now to 22,375,000 persons, the highest it has ever been. And now, what is there for the Roosevelt crowd to do but to admit the facts and admit further that they are now on their third year, making matters worse instead of better all the time? No one is to blame, except them, for what is going on because they have had their way. And if they couldn't change the thing in over two years, now bogged down worse than ever, how could anyone expect any good of them hereafter? God save us two more years of the disaster we have had under that gang.
Now, my friends, when this condition of distress and suffering among so many millions of our people began to develop in the Hoover administration, we knew then what the trouble was and what we would have to do to correct it. I was the first man to say publicly -- but Mr. Roosevelt followed in my tracks a few months later and said the same thing. We said that all of our trouble and woe was due to the fact that too few of our people owned too much of our wealth. We said that in our land, with too much to eat, and too much to wear, and too many houses to live in, too many automobiles to be sold, that the only trouble was that the people suffered in the land of abundance because too few controlled the money and the wealth and too many did not have money with which to buy the things they needed for life and comfort.
So I said to the people of the United States in my speeches which I delivered in the United States Senate in the early part of 1932 that the only way by which we could restore our people to reasonable life and comfort was to limit the size of the big man's fortune and guarantee some minimum to the fortune and comfort of the little man's family.
I said then, as I have said since, that it was inhuman to have food rotting, cotton and wool going to waste, houses empty, and at the same time to have millions of our people starving, naked, and homeless because they could not buy the things which other men had and for which they had no use whatever. So we convinced Mr. Franklin Delano Roosevelt that it was necessary that he announce and promise to the American people that in the event he were elected President of the United States he would pull down the size of the big man's fortune and guarantee something to every family -- enough to do away with all poverty and to give employment to those who were able to work and education to the children born into the world.
Mr. Roosevelt made those promises; he made them before he was nominated in the Chicago convention. He made them again before he was elected in November, and he went so far as to remake those promises after he was inaugurated President of the United States. And I thought for a day or two after he took the oath as President, that maybe he was going through with his promises. No heart was ever so saddened; no person's ambition was ever so blighted, as was mine when I came to the realization that the President of the United States was not going to undertake what he had said he would do, and what I know to be necessary if the people of America were ever saved from calamity and misery.
So now, my friends, I come to that point where I must in a few sentences describe to you just what was the cause of our trouble which became so serious in 1929, and which has been worse ever since. The wealth in the United States was three times as much in 1910 as it was in 1890, and yet the masses of our people owned less in 1910 than they did in 1890. In the year 1916 the condition had become so bad that a committee provided for by the Congress of the United States reported that 2 percent of the people in the United States owned 60 percent of the wealth in the country, and that 65 percent of the people owned less than 5 percent of the wealth. This report showed, however, that there was a middle class -- some 33 percent of the people -- who owned 35 percent of the wealth. This report went on to say that the trouble with the American people at that time was that too much of the wealth was in the hands of too few of the people, and recommended that something be done to correct the evil condition then existing.
It was at about the same time that many of our publications began to deplore the fact that so few people owned so much and that so many people owned so little. Among those commenting upon that situation was the Saturday Evening Post, which, in an issue of September 23, 1916, said:
And it was, as the Saturday Evening Post and the committee appointed by Congress said, it was a deplorable thing back in 1916, when it was found that 2 percent of the people owned twice as much as all of the remainder of the people put together, and that 65 percent of all of our people owned practically nothing.
But what did we do to correct that condition? Instead of moving to take these big fortunes from the top and spreading them among the suffering people at the bottom, the financial masters of America moved in to take complete charge of the Government for fear our lawmakers might do something along that line.
And as a result, 14 years after the report of 1916, the Federal Trade Commission made a study to see how the wealth of this land was distributed, and did they find it still as bad as it was in 1916? They found it worse! They found that 1 percent of the people owned about 59 percent of the wealth, which was almost twice as bad as what was said to be an intolerable condition in 1916, when 2 percent of the people owned 60 percent of the wealth. And as a result of foreclosures, failures, and bankruptcies, which began to happen prior to and in the year of 1929, before the campaign of 1932, and at this late date, it is the estimate of all conservative statisticians that 75 percent of the people in the United States don't own anything, that is, not enough to pay their debts, and that 4 percent of the people, or maybe less than 4 percent of the people, own from 85 to 90 percent of all our wealth in the United States.
Remember, in 1916 there was a middle class -- 33 percent of the people -- who owned 35 percent of the wealth. That middle class is practically gone today. It no longer exists. They have dropped into the ranks of the poor. The thriving man of independent business standing is fast fading. The corner grocery store is becoming a thing of the past. Concentrated chain-merchandise and banking systems have laid waste to all middle opportunity. That "thin margin of merely well-to-do in between" which the Saturday Evening Post mentioned on September 23, 1916, has dwindled to practically no margin of well-to-do in between. Those suffering on the bottom and the few lords of finance on the top are nearly all that are left.
It became apparent that the billionaires and multimillionaires even began to squeeze out the common millionaires, closing in and taking their properties and wrecking their businesses. And so we arrived (and are still there) at the place that in abundant America where we have everything for which a human heart can pray, the hundreds of millions -- or, as General Johnson says, the 80 million -- of our people are crying in misery for the want of the things which they need for life, notwithstanding the fact that the country has had and can have more than the entire human race can consume.
The 125 million people of America have seated themselves at the barbecue table to consume the products which have been guaranteed to them by their Lord and Creator. There is provided by the Almighty what it takes for them all to eat; yea, more. There is provided more than what is needed for all to eat. But the financial masters of America have taken off the barbecue table 90 percent of the food placed thereon by God, through the labors of mankind, even before the feast begins, and there is left on that table to be eaten by 125 million people less than should be there for 10 million of them.
What has become of the remainder of those things placed on the table by the Lord for the use of us all? They are in the hands of the Morgans, the Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Baruches, the Bakers, the Astors, and the Vanderbilts -- 600 families at the most either possessing or controlling the entire 90 percent of all that is in America. They cannot eat the food, they cannot wear the clothes, so they destroy it. They have it rotted; they plow it up; they pour it into the rivers; they bring destruction through the acts of mankind to let humanity suffer; to let humanity go naked; to let humanity go homeless, so that nothing may occur that will do harm to their vanity and to their greed. Like the dog in the manger, they command a wagon load of hay, which the dog would not allow the cow to eat, though he could not eat it himself.
So now, ladies and gentlemen, we come to that plan of mine for which I have been so roundly denounced and condemned by such men as Mr. Farley, Mr. Robinson, and Gen. Hugh S. Johnson, and other spellers and speakers and spoilers of the Roosevelt administration. It is for the redistribution of wealth and for guaranteeing comforts and conveniences to all humanity out of this abundance in our country. I hope none will be horror-stricken when they hear me say that we must limit the size of the big man's fortune in order to guarantee a minimum of fortune, life and comfort to the little man; but, if you are, think first that such is the declaration on which Roosevelt rode into the nomination and election of President. While my urgings are declared by some to be the average of a madman, and by such men as General Johnson as insincere bait of a pied piper, if you will listen to me you will find that it is restating the laws handed down by God to man; you will find that it was the exact provision of the contract and law of the Pilgrim Fathers who landed at Plymouth in 1620.
Here's what the Pilgrim Fathers said in the contract with the early settlers in the year 1620. I read you article 5 from that contract:
So the Pilgrim Fathers wrote into the covenant to do just exactly what the Bible said to do, that they should have an equal division of the wealth every seven years. I don't go that far; I merely advocate that no man be allowed to become so big that he makes paupers out of a million other people
You will find that it is the cornerstone on which nearly every religion since the beginning of man has been founded. You will find that it was urged by Bacon, Milton, and Shakespeare in England, by Socrates, Plato, Theognis, and other wisest of men in Greece, by Pope Pius XI in the Vatican, by the world's greatest inventor, Marconi in Italy, by Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan, and Theodore Roosevelt in the United States, as well as by nearly all of the thousands of great men whose names are yet mentioned in history.
The principle was not only the mainspring of Roosevelt's nomination and election, but in the closing speech of Herbert Hoover at Madison Square Garden in November 1932, even Hoover said:
And so now I come to give you again that plan, taken from these leaders of all times and from the Bible, for the sponsoring of which I am labeled America's menace, madman, pied piper, and demagogue.
First: That every big fortune shall be cut down immediately by a capital levy tax to where no one will own more than a few million dollars, as a matter of fact, to where no one can very long own a fortune in excess of about three to four millions of dollars. I propose that the surplus of all the big fortunes, above the few millions to any one person at the most, shall go into the United States ownership. How would we get all these surplus fortunes into the United States Treasury? Not hard to do. We would not do it by making everyone sell what he owned; no. We would send everyone a questionnaire. On that he would list the properties he owns, lands and houses, stocks and bonds, factories and patents, and so on. Every man would place his appraisal on his property, which the Government would review and maybe change on some items. On that appraisal the big fortune holder would say out of what property he would retain the few millions allowed to him, the balance to go to the United States. Say Mr. Henry Ford should allow that he owned all the stock of the Ford Motor Co., worth, say, $2 billion; he could claim, say $4 million of the Ford stock, but $1,996,000,000 would go to the United States. Say the Rockefeller fortune was listed at $10 billion in oil stocks, bank stocks, money, and stores. Each Rockefeller could say whether he wanted his limit in either the money, oil, or bank stocks, but about nine billion and eight hundred million would go to the Government. And so, in this way, the Government of the United States would come into the possession of about two-fifths of its wealth, which on normal values would be worth, say, $165 billion.
Then we would turn to the inventories of the 25 million families of America. All those who showed properties and money clear of debts that were above $5,000 and up to the limit of a few millions would not be touched. But those showing less than $5,000 to the family free of debt would be added to, so that every family would start life again with homestead possessions of at least a home and the comforts needed for a home, including such things as a radio and an automobile. These things would go to every family as a homestead, not to be sold either for debts or taxes or even by consent of the owner except by the consent of the court or Government, and then only on condition that the court hold it to be spent for the purpose of buying another home and comforts thereof.
Such would mean that the $165 billion or more taken from big fortunes would have about $100 billion of it used to provide all with the comforts of home and living. The Government might have to issue warrants for claim and location, or even currency to be retired from such property as was claimed, but all that is a detail not impractical to get these homes into the hands of the people.
So America would start again with millionaires, but no multi-millionaires or billionaires; with some poor, but none too poor to be denied the comforts of life. America, however, would still have maybe a $65 billion balance from these big fortunes not yet used to set up the poor people. What would we do with that? Wait a moment. I am coming to that, too.
Second: We propose that after homes and comforts of homes have been set up for the families of the country, that we shall turn our attention to the children and the youth of the land, providing first for their education and training. We would not have to worry about the problem of child labor, because the very first thing which we would place in front of every child would be not only a comfortable home during his early years but the opportunity for education and training, not only through the grammar school and the high school but through college and to include vocational and professional training for every child. If necessary, that would include the living cost of that child while he attended college, if one should be too distant for him to live at home and conveniently attend, as would be the case with many of those living in the rural areas.
We now have an educational system, and in States like Louisiana -- and it is the best one -- where school books are furnished free to every child and where transportation by bus is given to every student, however far he may live from a grammar or high school; there is a fairly good assurance of education through grammar and high school for the child whose father and mother have enough at home to feed and clothe them. But when it comes to a matter of college education, except in few cases the right to a college education is determined at this day and time by the financial ability of the father and mother to pay for the cost and the expense of a college education. It don't make any difference how brilliant a boy or girl may be, that don't give them the right to a college education in America today.
Now, Gen. Hugh Johnson says I am indeed a very smart demagogue, a wise and dangerous menace. But I am one of those who didn't have the opportunity to secure a college education or training. We propose that the right to education and the extent of education shall be determined and gauged not so much by the financial ability of the parents but by the mental ability and energy of a child to absorb the learning at a college. This should appeal to General Johnson, who says I am a smart man, since, had I enjoyed the learning and college training which my plan would provide for others, I might not have fallen into the path of the dangerous menace and demagogue that he has now found me to be.
Remember, we have $65 billion to account for that would lie in the hands of the United States, even after providing home comforts for all families. We will use a large part of it immediately to expand particularly the colleges and universities of this country. You would not know the great institutions like Yale, Harvard, and Louisiana State University. Get ready for a surprise. College enrollments would multiply 1,000 percent. We would immediately call in the architects and engineers, the idle professors and scholars of learning. We would send out a hurry call because the problem of providing college education for all of the youth would start a fusillade of employment which might suddenly and immediately make it possible for us to shorten the hours of labor, even as we contemplate in the balance of our program.
And how happy the youth of this land would be tomorrow morning if they knew instantly their right to a home and the comforts of a home and to complete college and professional training and education were assured! I know how happy they would be, because I know how I would have felt had such a message been delivered to my door.
I cannot deliver that promise to the youth of this land tonight, but I am doing my part. I am standing the blows; I am hearing the charges hurled at me from the four quarters of the country. It is the same fight which was made against me in Louisiana when I was undertaking to provide the free school books, free busses, university facilities, and things of that kind to educate the youth of that State as best I could. It is the same blare which I heard when I was undertaking to provide for the sick and the afflicted. When the youth of this land realizes what is meant and what is contemplated the billingsgate and the profanity of all the Farleys and Johnsons in America can't prevent the light of truth from hurling itself in understandable letters against the dark canopy of the sky.
Now, when we have landed at the place where homes and comforts are provided for all families and complete education and training for all young men and women, the next problem is what about our income to sustain our people thereafter. How shall that be arranged to guarantee all the fair share of what soul and body need to sustain them conveniently. That brings us to our next point. We propose:
Number 3: We shall shorten the hours of labor by law so much as may be necessary that none will be worked too long and none unemployed. We shall cut the hours of toil to 30 hours per week, maybe less; we may cut the working year to 11 months' work and 1 month's vacation; maybe less. If our great improvement programs show we need more labor than we may have, we will lengthen the hours as convenience requires. At all events, the hours for production will be gauged to meet the market for consumption. We will need all our machinery for many years, because we have much public improvement to do; and, further, the more use that we may make of them, the less toil will be required for all of us to survive in splendor.
Now, a minimum earning would be established for any person with a family to support. It would be such a living which one, already owning a home, could maintain a family in comfort, of not less than $2,500 per year to every family.
And now by reason of false statements made, particularly by Mr. Arthur Brisbane and Gen. Hugh S. Johnson, I must make answer to show you that there is more than enough in this country and more than enough raised and made every year to do what I propose.
Mr. Brisbane says I am proposing to give every person $15,000 for a home and its comforts, and he says that would mean the United States would have to be worth over a trillion dollars. Why make that untrue statement, Mr. Brisbane? You know that is not so. I do not propose any home and comfort of $15,000 to each person -- it is a minimum of $5,000 to every family, which would be less than $125 billion, which is less than one-third of this Nation's wealth in normal times of $400 billion.
General Johnson says that my proposal is for $5,000 guaranteed earning to each family, which he says would cost from four to five hundred millions of dollars per year, which he says is four times more than our whole national income ever has been. Why make such untrue statements, General Johnson? Must you be a false witness to argue your point? I do not propose $5,000 income per year to each family. I propose a minimum of from $2,000 to $2,500 income per year to each family. For 25 million families that minimum income per family would require from $50 billion to $60.6 billion. In the prosperous days we have had nearly double that for income some years already, which allowed plenty for the affluent; but with the unheard prosperity we would have, if all our people could buy what they need, our national income would be double what it has ever been.
The Wall Street writer and statistician says we could have an income of at least $10,000 to every family in goods if all worked short hours and none were idle. According to him, only one-fourth of the average income would carry out my plan.
And now I come to the remainder of the plan. We propose:
Number 4: That agricultural production will be cared for in the manner specified in the Bible. We would plow under no crops; we would burn no corn; we would spill no milk into the river; we would shoot no hogs; would slaughter no cattle to be rotted. What we would do is this:
We would raise all the cotton that we could raise, all the corn that we could raise, and everything else that we could raise. Let us say, for example, that we raised more cotton than we could use.
But here again I wish to surprise you when I say that if everyone could buy all the towels, all the sheets, all the bedding, all the clothing, all the carpets, all the window curtains, and all of everything else he reasonably needs; America would consume 20 million bales of cotton per year without having to sell a bale to the foreign countries. The same would be true of the wheat crop, and of the corn crop, and of the meat crop. Whenever everyone could buy the things he desires to eat, there would be no great excess in any of those food supplies.
But for the sake of the argument, let us say, however, that there would be a surplus. And I hope there will be, because it will do the country good to have a big surplus. Let us take cotton as an example. Let us say that the United States will have a market for 10 million bales of cotton and that we raise 15 million bales of cotton. We will store 5 million bales in warehouses provided by the Government. If the next year we raise 15 million bales of cotton and only need 10, we will store another 5 million bales of cotton, and the Government will care for that. When we reach the year when we have enough cotton to last for twelve or eighteen months, we will plant no more cotton for that next year. The people will have their certificates of the Government which they can cash in for that year for the surplus, or if necessary, the Government can pay for the whole 15 million bales of cotton as it is produced every year; and when the year comes that we will raise no cotton, we will not leave the people idle and with nothing to do. That is the year when, in the cotton States, we will do our public improvement work that needs to be done so badly. We will care for the flood-control problems; we will extend the electricity lines into rural areas; we will widen roads and build more roads; and if we have a little time left, some of us can go back and attend a school for a few months and not only learn some of the things we have forgotten but we can learn some things that they have found out about that they didn't know anything about when we were children.
Now the example of what we would do about cotton is the same policy we would follow about all other crops. This program would necessitate the building of large storage plants, both heated and cold storage, and warehouses in all the counties of America, and that building program alone would take up all the idle people that America has today. But the money spent would go for good and would prevent any trouble happening in the future. And then there is another good thing. If we would fill these warehouses, then if there were to come a year of famine there would be enough on hand to feed and clothe the people of the Nation. It would be the part of good sense to keep a year or two of stock on hand all the time to provide for an emergency, maybe to provide for war or other calamity.
I give you the next step in our program:
Number 5: We will provide for old-age pensions for those who reach the age of 60 and pay it to all those who have an income of less than $1,000 per year or less than $10,000 in property or money. This would relieve from the ranks of labor those persons who press down the price for the use of their flesh and blood. Now the person who reaches the age of 60 would already have the comforts of home as well as something else guaranteed by reason of the redistribution that had been made of things. They would be given enough more to give them a reasonably comfortable existence in their declining days. However, such would not come from a sales tax or taxes placed upon the common run of people. It would be supported from the taxes levied on those with big incomes and the yearly tax that would be levied on big fortunes, so that they would always be kept down to a few million dollars to any one person.
Number 6: We propose that the obligations which this country owes to the veterans of its wars, including the soldiers' bonus and to care for those who have been either incapacitated or disabled, would be discharged without stint or unreasonable limit. I have always supported each and every bill that has had to do with the payment of the bonus due to the ex-service men. I have always opposed reducing the allowances which they have been granted. It is an unfair thing for a country to begin its economy while big fortunes exist by inflicting misery on those who have borne the burden of national defense.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, such is the share-our-wealth movement. What I have here stated to you will be found to be approved by the law of our Divine Maker. You will find it in the Book of Leviticus, from the twenty-fifth to the twenty-seventh chapters. You will find it in the writings of King Solomon. You will find it in the teachings of Christ. You will find it in the words of our great teachers and statesmen of all countries and of all times. If you care to write to me for such proof, I shall be glad to furnish it to you, free of expense, by mail.
Will you not organize a share-our-wealth society in your community tonight or tomorrow to place this plan into law? You need it; your people need it. Write me, wire to me; get into this work with us if you believe we are right. Help to save humanity. Help to save this country. If you wish a copy of this speech or a copy of any other speech I have made, write me and it will be forwarded to you. You can reach me always in Washington, D. C.
I thank you.
Also in this database: Huey P. Long - "Every Man a King"
Text Source: The Congressional Record, March 12, 1935
Image Source: NARS, FDR Library NPX-83-73.
Copyright Status: Text & Image = Public domain.