Huey Long was Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930. A nominal Democrat, Huey Long was a radical populist. He wanted the government to confiscate the wealth of the nation’s rich and privileged. He called his program Share Our Wealth. It called upon the federal government to guarantee every family in the nation an annual income of $5,000, so they could have the necessities of life, including a home, a job, a radio and an automobile. He also proposed limiting private fortunes to $50 million, legacies to $5 million, and annual incomes to $1 million. Everyone over age 60 would receive an old-age pension. His slogan was “Every Man A King.”
That $50 million is about $895,718,562.87 in today’s dollars. The $5,000 is equal to $89,571.86.
Social welfare programs are not socialism. And income disparity is not just a humanitarian or “feel-good” problem. It is an economic and sociological problem. In other words, a government problem. More so in the US than in most developed countries.
There are millions of working Americans who are essential to the economy but, for some reason, just don’t earn enough to support a family. And. Never. Will.
Think of them as a vital economic resource and maintain them in good operating condition.
Enlightened self interest.
Like Bernie, and President Joe, Liz and others, he wanted the best home, food, car, pension, health care YOUR money will buy. Is socialism still “at odds with the character of Americans”?
Britain toyed with socialism. And, as Prime Minister Thatcher famously said about her own country, from which America gained its independence (excerpts):
“It is good to recall how our freedom has been gained in this country—not by great abstract campaigns but through the objections of ordinary men and women to having their money taken from them by the State.
“The philosophical reason for which we are against nationalization and for private enterprise is because we believe that economic progress comes from the inventiveness, ability, determination and the pioneering spirit of extraordinary men and women. If they cannot exercise that spirit here, they will go away to another free enterprise country
I believe the person who is prepared to work hardest should get the greatest rewards and keep them after tax. That we should back the workers and not the shirkers
“I place a profound belief—indeed a fervent faith—in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence. On these is founded the whole case for the free society, for the assertion that human progress is best achieved by offering the freest possible scope for the development of individual talents, qualified only by a respect for the qualities and the freedom of others
“What are the lessons then that we’ve learned from the last thirty years? First, that the pursuit of equality itself is a mirage. What’s more desirable and more practicable than the pursuit of equality is the pursuit of equality of opportunity.
“Let me give you my vision. A man’s right to work as he will to spend what he earns, to own property, to have the State as servant and not as master; these are the British inheritance. They are the essence of a free economy. And on that freedom all our others depend.”
We are all unequal. No one, thank heavens, is like anyone else, however much the socialists may pretend otherwise. We believe that everyone has the right to be unequal
“The socialists tell us that there are massive profits in a particular industry and they should not go to the shareholders—but that the public should reap the benefits. Benefits? What benefits? When you take into public ownership a profitable industry, the profits soon disappear. The goose that laid the golden eggs goes broody. State geese are not great layers.
“There are others who warn not only of the threat from without, but of something more insidious, not readily perceived, not always deliberate, something that is happening here at home. What are they pointing to? They are pointing to the steady and remorseless expansion of the socialist State. Now none of us would claim that the majority of socialists are inspired by other than humanitarian and well-meaning ideals. At the same time few would, I think, deny today that they have made a monster that they can’t control. Increasingly, inexorably, the State the socialists have created is becoming more random in the economic and social justice it seeks to dispense, more suffocating in its effect on human aspirations and initiative, more politically selective in its defense of the rights of its citizens, more gargantuan in its appetite—and more disastrously incompetent in its performance.
“Once you give people the idea that all this can be done by the State, and that it is somehow second-best or even degrading to leave it to private people…then you will begin to deprive human beings of one of the essential ingredients of humanity—personal moral responsibility.
“I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand ‘I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!’
“I set out to destroy socialism because I felt it was at odds with the character of the people.
He also proposed…
“$30 a month for everyone that is sixty years old. Now, we do not give this pension to a man making $1,000 a year, and we do not give it to him if he has $10,000 in property, but outside of that we do.”
What is that today, about $500 A month?
I’m not bothered by the top end so much, the problem is so many people at the bottom* barely scraping by with no economic security.
*Through no fault of their own. I can’t stress that enough. It is endemic.
“ Through no fault of their own. I can’t stress that enough. It is endemic.”
You’re very generous with that statement. There are numerous people who made choices to do drugs, not finish school, get pregnant at an early age, etc. I believe that the majority having a hard time are in the position they are in through poor personal choices, and that the taxpayer shouldn’t be paying for those parasites.
I disagree. There are just too many low paying jobs, and someone has to do them. There is upward mobility for those who put in the effort, but there are just not enough higher paying jobs for more than a small percentage to move up.
Anyone can grow up to be president, but everyone can’t. There’s only one opening. Likewise anyone can work their way up to a job with a liveable wage, but everyone can’t. There just aren’t enough of those jobs. It’s math.
“.. . the idea that every American has an equal opportunity to move up in life is false. Social mobility has declined over the past decades, median wages have stagnated and today’s young generation is the first in modern history expected to be poorer than their parents. The lottery of life – the postcode where you were born – can account for up to two thirds of the wealth an individual generates.”
Bernie and Liz would love this!