Huey P. Long: “Share Our Wealth” delivered via radio broadcast, 7 March 1935, in Washington D.C.
President Roosevelt was elected on
November 8, 1932. People look upon an elected President as the President.
This is January 1935. We are in our third year of the Roosevelt
depression, with the conditions growing worse...
We must now become awakened! We must
know the truth and speak the truth. There is no use to wait three more
years. It is not Roosevelt or ruin; it is Roosevelt’s ruin.
Now, my friends, it makes no
difference who is President or who is senator. America is for 125 million
people and the unborn to come. We ran Mr. Roosevelt for the president of
the United States because he promised to us by word of mouth and in
That the size of the big man’s fortune would be reduced so as to
give the masses at the bottom enough to wipe out all poverty; and
That the hours of labor would be so reduced that all would share in
the work to be done and in consuming the abundance mankind produced.
Hundreds of words were used by Mr.
Roosevelt to make these promises to the people, but they were made over
and over again. He reiterated these pledges even after he took his oath as
President. Summed up, what these promises meant was: “Share our wealth.”
When I saw him spending all his time
of ease and recreation with the business partners of Mr. John D.
Rockefeller, Jr., with such men as the Astors, etc., maybe I ought to have
had better sense than to have believed the would ever break down their big
fortunes to give enough to the masses to end poverty — maybe some will
think me weak for ever believing it all, but millions of other people were
fooled the same as myself. I was like a drowning man grabbing at a straw,
I guess. The face and eyes, the hungry forms of mothers and children, the
aching hearts of students denied education were before our eyes, and when
Roosevelt promised, we jumped for that ray of hope.
So therefore I call upon the men and
women of America to immediately join in our work and movement to share our
There are thousands of
share-our-wealth societies organized in the United States now. We want
100,000 such societies formed for every nook and corner of this country—societies
that will meet, talk,, and work, all for the purpose that the great wealth
and abundance of this great land that belongs to us may be shared and
enjoyed by all of us.
WE have nothing more for which we
should ask the Lord. He ahs allowed this land to have too much of
everything that humanity needs.
So in this land of God’s abundance
we propose laws, viz.:
The fortunes of the multimillionaires and billionaires shall be
reduced so that no one person shall own more than a few million dollars
to the person. We would do this by a capital levy tax. On the first
million that a man was worth, we would not impose any tax. We would say,
“All right for your first million dollars, but after you get that rich
you will have to start helping the balance of us.” So we would not levy
and capital levy tax on the first million one owned. But on the second
million a man owns, we would tax that 1 percent, so that every year the
man owned the second million dollars he would be taxed $10,000. On the
third million we would impose a tax of 2 percent. On the fourth million we
would impose a tax of 4 percent. On the fifth million we would impose a
tax of 16 percent. On the seventh million we would impose a tax of 32
percent. On the eighth million we would impose a tax of 64 percent ; and
on all over the eight million we would impose a tax of 100 percent.
What this would mean is that the
annual tax would bring the biggest fortune down to $3 or $4 million to the
person because no one could pay taxes very long in the higher brackets.
But $3 or $4 million is enough for any one person and his children and his
children’s children. We cannot allow one to have more than that because
it would not leave enough for the balance to have something.
We propose to limit the amount any one man can earn in one year or
inherit to $1 million to the person.
Now, by limiting the size of the fortunes and incomes of the big
men, we will throw into the government Treasury the money and property
from which we will care for the millions of people who have nothing; and
with this money we ill provide a home and the comforts of home, with such
common conveniences as radio and automobile, for every family in America,
free of debt.
We guarantee food and clothing and employment for everyone who
should work by shortening the hours of labor to thirty hours per week,
maybe less, and to eleven months per year, maybe less. We would have the
hours shortened just so much as would give work to everybody to produce
enough for everybody; and if we wee to get them down to where they were
too short, then we would lengthen them again. As long as all the people
working can produce enough of automobiles, radios, homes, schools, and
theatres for everyone to have that kind of comfort and convenience, then
let us all have work to do and have that much of heaven on earth.
We would provide education at the expense of the states and the
United States for every child, not only through grammar school and high
school but through to a college and vocational education. We would simply
extend the Louisiana plan to apply to colleges and all people. Yes, we
would have to build thousands of more colleges and employ 100,000 more
teachers; but we have materials, men, and women who are ready and
available for the work. Why have the right to a college education depend
upon whether the father or mother is so well-to-do as to send a boy or
girl to college? We would give every child the right to education and a
living at birth.
We would give a pension to all persons above sixty years of age in
an amount sufficient to support them in comfortable circumstances,
expecting those who earn $1,000 per year or who are worth $10,000.
Until we could straighten things out—and we can straighten things
out in two months under our program—we would grant a moratorium on all
debts which people owe that they cannot pay.
And now you have our program,
none too big, none too little, but every man a king.
We owe debts in America today,
public and private, amounting to $252 billion. That means that every child
is born with a $2,000 debt tied around his neck to hold him down before he
gets started. Then, on top of that, the wealth is locked in a vise owned
by a few people. We propose that children shall be born in a land of
opportunity, guaranteed a home, food, clothes, and the other things that
make for living, including the right to education.
Our plan would injure no one. It
would not stop us from having millionaires—it would increase them
ten-fold, because so many more people could make $1 million if they had
the chance our plan gives them. Our plan would not break up big concerns.
The only difference would be that maybe 10,000 people would own a concern
instead of 10 people owning it.
But, my friends, unless we do
share our wealth, unless we limit the size of the big man so as to give
something to the little man, we can never have a happy or free people. God
said so! He ordered it.
We have everything our people
need. Too much of food, clothes, and houses—why not let all have their
fill and lie down in the ease and comfort God has given us? Why not?
Because a few own everything—the masses own nothing.
I wonder if any of you people
who are listening to me were ever at a barbecue! We used to go there—sometimes
1,000 people or more. If there were 1,000 people, we would put enough meat
and bread and everything else on the table for 1,000 people. Then
everybody would be called and everyone would eat all they wanted. But
suppose at one of these barbecues for 1,000 people that one man took 90
percent of the food and ran off with it and ate until he got sick and let
the balance rot. Then 999 people would have only enough for 100 to eat and
there would be many to starve because of the greed of just one person for
something he couldn’t eat himself.
Well, ladies and gentlemen,
America all the people of America, have been invited to a barbecue. God
invited us all to come and eat and drink all we wanted. He smiled on our
land we grew crops of plenty to eat and wear. He showed us in the earth
the iron and other things to make everything we wanted. he unfolded to us
the secrets of science so that our work might be easy. God called: “Come
to my feast.”
Then what happened? Rockefeller,
Morgan, and their crowd stepped up and took enough for 120 million people
and left only enough for 5 million for all the other 125 million to eat.
And so many million must go hungry and without these good things God gave
us unless we call on them to put some of it back.