Huey Long's Share Our Wealth Program

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Huey Long's Share Our Wealth Program

Post by AlbertCurtis on Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:58 pm

"Senator Huey P. Long, Statement of the Share Our Wealth movement (May 23, 1935). In Congressional Record, 74th Cong., 1st sess., Vol. 79, 8040-43.

[Governor of Louisiana and then U.S. Senator, Long used his extensive power to control state politics, implement wide-ranging state reform programs, and attract millions of Americans to the Share Our Wealth Society.]

(The Share Our Wealth Society proposes to enforce the traditions on which this country was founded, rather than to have them harmed; we aim to carry out the guaranties of our immortal Declaration of Independence and our Constitution of the United States, as interpreted by our forefathers who wrote them and who gave them to us; we will make the works and compacts of the Pilgrim fathers, taken from the Laws of God, from which we were warned never to depart, breathe into our Government again that spirit of liberty, justice, and mercy which they inspired in our founders in the days when they gave life and hope to our country. God has beckoned fullness and peace to our land; our forefathers have set the guide stakes so that none need fail to share in this abundance. Will we now have our generation, and the generations which are to come, cheated of such heritage because of the greed and control of wealth and opportunity by 600 families?)

To members and well-wishers of the Share Our Wealth Society:

For 20 years I have been in the battle to provide that, so long as American has, or can produce, an abundance of the things which make life comfortable and happy, that none should own such much of the things which he does not need and cannot use as to deprive the balance of the people of a reasonable proportion of the necessities and conveniences of life. The whole line of any political thought has always been that America must face the time when the whole country would shoulder the obligation which it owes to every child born on earth — that is, a fair chance to life, liberty, and happiness....

It is not out of place for me to say that the support which I brought to Mr. Roosevelt to secure his nomination and election as President — and without which it was hardly probably he would ever have been nominated — was on the assurances which I had that he would take the proper stand for the redistribution of wealth in the campaign. He did that much in the campaign; but after his election, what then? I need not tell you the story. We have not time to cry over our disappointments, over promises which others did not keep, and over pledges which were broken....

It is impossible for the United States to preserve itself as a republic or as a democracy when 600 families own more of this Nation's wealth — in fact, twice as much — as all the balance of the people put together. Ninety-six percent of our people live below the poverty line, while 4 percent own 87 percent of the wealth. America can have enough for all to live in comfort and still permit millionaires to own more than they can ever spend and to have more money than they can ever use; but America cannot allow the multimillionaires and the billionaires, a mere handful of them, to own everything unless we are willing to inflict starvation upon 125,000,000 people.

We looked upon the year 1929 as the year when too much was produced for the people to consume. We were told, and we believed, that the farmers raised too much cotton and wool for the people to wear and too much food for the people to eat. Therefore, much of it went to waste, some rotted, and much of its was burned or thrown into the river or into the ocean. But, when we picked up the bulletin of the Department of Agriculture for that year 1929, we found that, according to the diet which they said everyone should eat in order to be healthy, multiplying it by 120,000,000, the number of people we had in 1929, had all of our people had the things which the Government said that should eat in order to live well, we did not have enough even in 1929 to feed the people. In fact, these statistics show that in some instances we had from one-third to one-half less than the people needed, particularly of milk, eggs, butter, and dried fruits.

But why in the year 1929 did it appear we had too much? Because the people could not buy the things they wanted to eat, and needed to eat. That showed the need for and duty of the Government then and there, to have forced a sharing of our wealth, and a redistribution, and Roosevelt was elected on the pledge to do that very thing.

But what was done? Cotton was plowed under the ground. Hogs and cattle were burned by the millions. The same was done to wheat and corn, and farmers were paid starvation money not to raise and not to plant because of the fact that we did not want so much because of people having no money with which to buy. Less and less was produced, when already there was less produced than the people needed if they ate what the Government said they needed to sustain life. God forgive those rulers who burned hogs, threw milk in the river, and plowed under cotton while little children cried for meat and milk and something to put on their naked backs!

But the good God who placed this race on earth did not leave us without an understanding of how to meet such problems; nor did the Pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth in 1620 fail to set an example as to how a country and a nation of people should act under such circumstances, and our great statesman like Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Webster, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ralph Waldo Emerson did not fail to explain the need and necessity for following the precedents and purposes, which are necessary, even in a land of abundance, if all the people are to share the fruits produced therein. God's law commanded that the wealth of the country should be redistributed ever so often, so that none should become too rich and none should become too poor; it commanded that debts should be canceled and released ever so often, so that the human race would not be loaded with a burden which it could never pay. When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, they established their law by compact, signed by everyone who was on board the Mayflower, and it provided that at the end of every 7 years the finances of their newly formed country would be readjusted and that all debts would be released and property redistributed, so that none should starve in the land of plenty, and none should have an abundance of more than he needed. These principles were preserved in the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, and in our Constitution. Our great statesmen, such men as James Madison, who wrote the Constitution of the United States, and Daniel Webster, its greatest exponent, admonished the generations of America to come that they must never forget to require the redistribution of wealth if they desire that their Republic should live.

And, now, what of America? Will we allow the political sports, the high heelers, the wiseacres, and those who ridicule us in our misery and poverty to keep us from organizing these societies in every hamlet so that they may bring back to life this law and custom of God and of this country? Is there a man or woman with a child born on the earth, or who expects ever to have a child born on earth, who is willing to have it raised under the present-day practices of piracy, where it comes into life burdened with debt, condemned to a system of slavery by which the sweat of its brow throughout its existence must go to satisfy the vanity and the luxury of a leisurely few, who can never be made to see that they are destroying the root and branch of the greatest country ever to have risen? Our country is calling; the laws of the Lord are calling; the graces of our forefathers would open today if their occupants could see the bloom and flower of their creation withering and dying because the greed of the financial masters of this country has starved and withheld from mankind those things produced by his own labor. To hell with the ridicule of the wise street-corner politician. Pay no attention to any newspaper or magazine that has sold its columns to perpetuate this crime against the people of America. Save this country. Save mankind. Who can be wrong in such a work, and who cares what consequences may come following the mandates of the Lord, of the Pilgrims, of Jefferson, Webster, and Lincoln? He who falls in this fight falls in the radiance of the future. Better to make this fight and lose than to be a party to a system that strangles humanity.

It took the genius of labor and the lives of all Americans to produce the wealth of this land. If any man, or 100 men, wind up with all that has been produced by 120,000,000 people, that does not mean that those 100 men produced the wealth of the country; it means that those 100 men stole, directly or indirectly, what 125,000,000 people produced. Let no one tell you that the money masters made this country. They did not such thing. Very few of them ever hewed the forest; very few ever hacked a crosstie; very few ever nailed a board; fewer of them ever laid a brick. Their fortunes came from manipulated finance, control of government, rigging of markets, the spider webs that have grabbed all businesses; they grab the fruits of the land, the conveniences and the luxuries that are intended for 125,000,000 people, and run their heelers to our meetings to set up the cry. "We earned it honestly." The Lord says they did no such thing. The voices of our forefathers say they did no such thing. In this land of abundance, they have no right to impose starvation, misery, and pestilence for the purpose of vaunting their own pride and greed....

Here is the whole sum and substance of the share-our-wealth movement:

1. Every family to be furnished by the Government a homestead allowance, free of debt, of not less than one-third the average family wealth of the country, which means, at the lowest, that every family shall have the reasonable comforts of life up to a value of from $5,000 to $6,000. No person to have a fortune of more than 100 to 300 times the average family fortune, which means that the limit to fortunes is between $1,500,000 and $5,000,000, with annual capital levy taxes imposed on all above $1,000,000.
2. The yearly income of every family shall be not less than one-third of the average family income, which means that, according to the estimates of the statisticians of the United States Government and Wall Street, no family's annual income would be less than from $2,000 to $2,5000. No yearly income shall be allowed to any person larger than from 100 to 300 times the size of the average family income, which means that no person would be allowed to earn in any year more than from $600,000 to $1,800,000, all to be subject to present income-tax laws.
3. To limit or regulate the hours of work to such an extent as to prevent overproduction; the most modern and efficient machinery would be encouraged, so that as much would be produced as possible so as to satisfy all demands of the people, but to also allow the maximum time to the workers for recreation, convenience, education, and luxuries of life.
4. An old-age pension to the persons over 60.
5. To balance agricultural production with what can be consumed according to the laws of God, which includes the preserving and storage of surplus commodities to be paid for and held by the Government for the emergencies when such are needed. Please bear in mind, however, that when the people of America have had money to buy things they needed, we have never had a surplus of any commodity. This plan of God does not call for destroying any of the things raised to eat or wear, nor does it countenance wholesale destruction of hogs, cattle, or milk.
6. To pay the veterans of our wars what we owe them and to care for their disabled.
7. Education and training for all children to be equal in opportunity in all schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions for training in the professions and vocations of life; to be regulated on the capacity of children to learn, and no on the ability of parents to pay the costs. Training for life's work to be as much universal and thorough for all walks in life as has been the training in the arts of killing.
8. The raising of revenue and taxes for the support of this program to come from the reduction of swollen fortunes from the top, as well as for the support of public works to give employment whenever there may be any slackening necessary in private enterprise.

I now ask those who read this circular to help us at once in this work of giving life and happiness to our people — not a starvation dole upon which someone may live in misery from week to week. Before this miserable system of wreckage has destroyed the life germ of respect and culture in our American people let us save what was here, merely by having none too poor and none too rich. The theory of the Share Our Wealth Society is to have enough for all, but not to have one with so much that less than enough remains for the balance of the people.

Please, therefore, let me ask you who read this document — please help this work before it is too late for us to be of help to our people. We ask you now, (1) help to get your neighbor into the work of this society and (2) help get other Share Our Wealth societies started in your county and in adjoining counties and get them to go out to organize other societies.

To print and mail out this circular costs about 60 cents per hundred, or $6 per thousand. Anyone who reads this wants more circulars of this kind to use in the work, can get them for that price by sending the money to me, and I will pay the printer for him. Better still, if you can have this circular reprinted in your own town or city.

Let everyone who feels he wishes to help in our work start right out and go ahead. One man or woman is as important as any other. Take up the fight! Do not wait for someone else to tell you what to do. There are no high lights in this effort. We have no State managers and no city managers. Everyone can take up the work, and as many societies can be organized as there are people to organize them. One is the same as another. The reward and compensation is the salvation of humanity. Fear no opposition. "He who fails in this fight falls in the radiance of the future!"

Yours sincerely,

Huey P. Long,
United States Senator, Washington, D.C. "
http://web.mit.edu/course/21/21h.102/www/Primary%20source%20collections/The%20New%20Deal/Long,%20Share%20Our%20Wealth.htm



Huey Long: "Share the Wealth" Speech in the Senate - February 5, 1934

Web version: http://www.ssa.gov/history/longsen.html


People of America: In every community get together at once and organize a share-our-wealth society--Motto: Every man a king

Principles and platform:

1. To limit poverty by providing that every deserving family shall share in the wealth of America for not less than one third of the average wealth, thereby to possess not less than $5,000 free of debt.

2. To limit fortunes to such a few million dollars as will allow the balance of the American people to share in the wealth and profits of the land.

3. Old-age pensions of $30 per month to persons over 60 years of age who do not earn as much as $1,000 per year or who possess less than $10,000 in cash or property, thereby to remove from the field of labor in times of unemployment those who have contributed their share to the public service.

4. To limit the hours of work to such an extent as to prevent overproduction and to give the workers of America some share in the recreations, conveniences, and luxuries of life.

5. To balance agricultural production with what can be sold and consumed according to the laws of God, which have never failed.

6. To care for the veterans of our wars.

7. Taxation to run the Government to be supported, first, by reducing big fortunes from the top, thereby to improve the country and provide employment in public works whenever agricultural surplus is such as to render unnecessary, in whole or in part, any particular crop.

Simple and Concrete--Not an Experiment

To share our wealth by providing for every deserving family to have one third of the average wealth would mean that, at the worst, such a family could have a fairly comfortable home, an automobile, and a radio, with other reasonable home conveniences, and a place to educate their children. Through sharing the work, that is, by limiting the hours of toil so that all would share in what is made and produced in the land, every family would have enough coming in every year to feed, clothe, and provide a fair share of the luxuries of life to its members. Such is the result to a family, at the worst.

From the worst to the best there would be no limit to opportunity. One might become a millionaire or more. There would be a chance for talent to make a man big, because enough would be floating in the land to give brains its chance to be used. As it is, no matter how smart a man may be, everything is tied up in so few hands that no amount of energy or talent has a chance to gain any of it.

…Now to cover the principles of the share-our-wealth society, I give them in order:

1. To limit poverty:

We propose that a deserving family shall share in our wealth of America at least for one third the average. An average family is slightly less than five persons. The number has become less during depression. The United States total wealth in normal times is about $400 billion or about $15,000 to a family. If there were fair distribution of our things in America, our national wealth would be three or four or five times the $400 billion, because a free, circulating wealth is worth many times more than wealth congested and frozen into a few hands as is America's wealth. But, figuring only on the basis of wealth as valued when frozen into a few hands, there is the average of $15,000 to the family. We say that we will limit poverty of the deserving people. One third of the average wealth to the family, or $5,000, is a fair limit to the depths we will allow any one man's family to fall. None too poor, none too rich.

2. To limit fortunes:

The wealth of this land is tied up in a few hands… Now we do not propose to hurt these very rich persons. We simply say that when they reach the place of millionaires they have everything they can use and they ought to let somebody else have something… 3. Old-age pensions:

Everyone has begun to realize something must be done for our old people who work out their lives, feed and clothe children and are left penniless in their declining years. They should be made to look forward to their mature years for comfort rather than fear. We propose that, at the age of 60, every person should begin to draw a pension from our Government… Such a pension would retire from labor those persons who keep the rising generations from finding employment…

4. To limit the hours of work:

This applies to all industry. The longer hours the human family can rest from work, the more it can consume. It makes no difference how many labor-saving devices we may invent, just as long as we keep cutting down the hours and sharing what those machines produce, the better we become…

5. To balance agricultural production with consumption:

About the easiest of all things to do when financial masters and market manipulators step aside and let work the law of the Lord. When we have a supply of anything that is more than we can use for a year or two, just stop planting that particular crop for a year either in all the country or in a part of it. Let the Government take over and store the surplus for the next year…

6. To care for the veterans of our wars:

A restoration of all rights taken from them by recent laws and further, a complete care of any disabled veteran for any ailment, who has no means of support.

7. Taxation:

Taxation is to be levied first at the top for the Governments support and expenses. Swollen fortunes should be reduced principally through taxation. The Government should be run through revenues it derives after allowing persons to become well above millionaires and no more. In this manner the fortunes will be kept down to reasonable size and at the same time all the works of the Government kept on a sound basis, without debts.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAsharewealth.htm

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/hueyplongshare.htm
Let us never forget that this man scared the establishment so much he was offed, in the typical 'lone gunman' scenario all too familiar to Americans. I personally find it to be odd that almost EVERY American statesman that has attempted to stand up the the east coast establishment as meet either a would be or a successful assassin, don't you?

I think that Huey's main ideas about reigning in the rich and looking to the poor need taken down and dusted off. And I figured that knowing the past is half the battle after all to making a better future.

AlbertCurtis
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Re: Huey Long's Share Our Wealth Program

Post by Leon Mcnichol on Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:09 am

Interesting insight about a rather unknown character to me. Thank you for bringing us this.
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Re: Huey Long's Share Our Wealth Program

Post by Admin on Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:53 am

I've long been intrigued by 'The Kingfish', as his populist vision for America is one that continues to resonate with the progressive left of this country. [Men like former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson claim to be directly influenced by Long.] His untimely death has long been the cause of speculation. It's true that his 'Every Man a King' philosophy was very disconcerting to the bourgeois interests in this country—which Roosevelt attempted to appease as much as possible throughout the years in which New Deal policies were implemented.


This Roosevelt-era propaganda [the YouTube video is ridiculously mislabeled] clearly demonstrates the extent by which the bourgeois establishment was interested in marginalizing Long and other dissidents like Father Charles Coughlin.

It's important to distinguish Long's progressivism from actual socialism, however. For instance, Long—lacking any ideological grounding apart from his Christian faith—hadn't an interest actually abolishing the capitalist mode of production. Rather, he sought to mitigate the economic inequality brought about through that system with the 'Share Our Wealth' program AlbertCurtis provided us with. In this respect, his worldview is reminiscent of many of the older Third Positionist movements of Europe.
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Re: Huey Long's Share Our Wealth Program

Post by AlbertCurtis on Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:24 pm

Leon Mcnichol wrote:Interesting insight about a rather unknown character to me. Thank you for bringing us this.
You are very welcome Leon. I had found it interesting. I actually was once into 'conspiracy history' type stuff, there is an interesting relationship between social reformers and untimely deaths either by government force or by secret mechanization, further the ones that are openly assassinated are almost most always said to be attacked by what ever the 'boogey man' of the day and time happened to be; insane, lone nut, heretic, what not, and the very idea of a deeper plot is almost always shushed. The oligarchy has used assassination since the beginning or very nearly so at least. It is not insanity to suggest that they would kill such as Long; after all if you look into American history all the presidents that took a bullet or died 'oddly' were NOT the friends of the banking/corporate interests. Lincoln printed up government money to fiance civil war -- takes bullet. Jackson routes bankers from the halls of power -- has two attempts on his life. Garfield was not the businesses' man, and in fact meant to reign in the trusts, not to death; pow to the kisser. Regan came in as reformed for limited government, but has Rockefeller Republican G.W.Bush tied to his mast; takes two to chest signs off for G. W. Bush and other insiders to oversee largest peace time defense build up ever, and the start of the war on the working class being seen . And on and on. Kennedy interfered with the Cuba project, and the Vietnam build up and wanted to end the CIA's reign of terror in the third world; well you have seen the clip, that was NOT a amateur hour shot. The enemies of the people have no qualms with murder if it suits their ends.

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