There is Overproduction and yet Some People Starve — Our Country is The Richest in Natural Resources in The World and Yet Destitution and Suffering Prevail –The Condition Should be Carefully Examined and Remedies Proposed
The principles on which the government of our country is founded are set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The country in which we live is favored in natural resources above all others on the planet, but in spite of all the blessings of Providence, in spite of the acknowledged industry of an intelligent people, destitution and suffering prevail. Our cribs and granaries often are filled overflowing and yet we read of starvation. Often and often we read of overproduction, and yet, every day, we see men, women, and children suffering from cold and hunger. Again, we read that farmers are getting rich, but government statistics tell us that in 1850 the farmers owned half of the wealth in the United States, in 1890 one-fourth, and in 1913 less than one-fifth. We have more millionaires than any other nation in history, and more paupers, and the number of both are increasing. There must be something wrong with our political economy.
It is the duty of everyone to examine carefully the conditions which surround us – then propose remedies. I am glad to know that people are investigating and want to know the truth.
I am glad that we have arrived at that point where people are judging men by the work they accomplish, as the tree is judged by its fruit. By that measure, every honest man is willing to be measured, and by that measure, every honest man should measure others.
“I hope no man’s fealty to his party will prevent him from hearing and knowing the truth.”
I hope no man’s fealty to his party will prevent him from hearing and knowing the truth. I believe that the masses of the people are honest and want to know the truth and do right.
It is said we have five senses: namely, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. That used to do but that won’t answer the purpose now, you will have to go deeper down into yourself to diagnose conditions and learn the truth. Any fool can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. A mule is equipped that well.
If you have voted the Democratic ticket, you have no doubt done what you thought best. If you have voted the republican ticket you have done the same. A Socialist has done no more. We are all citizens of a common country. Our interests are the same. We all love our families, our, homes, our country, and its flag. If we are good citizens, we place each of those things above party and God above all.
But now my friends before I go any further, I want to tell you a little anecdote, and I hope you will make the right application of it. Away back in the eighties when it transpired. An old friend of mine, Peter Radford, told Bill Skinner he believed there were a hundred rats under his barn. Bill suggested that he had better come down a rat or two, but Peter wouldn’t do it, and finally, they made a bet, Bill betting five dollars that there were not a hundred rats there. Peter got a long pole and said he would get under the barn and stir up the rats and then Bill could count them. Bill said that was all right. Peter crawled under the barn and began to punch around and presently the whole ground was covered with rats. Directly peter called out: “How many rats do you see Bill?” “Not a rat,” said Bill. Then Peter did some more vigorous punching and again asked Bill how many he saw. “I didn’t see a rat,” replied Bill. Then Peter raised a bigger racket than ever, and the rats fairly swarmed and tumbled over each other. They were running out from under the barn across the lot, under the cribs and two or three actually ran over Bill, who was lying down, apparently looking under the barn. “Do you see any now?” asked Peter. “Not a rat,” said Bill. Peter threw down his pole in disgust, brushed his clothes, and said: “Bill why couldn’t you see the rats? They were running all over you.” “I had my eyes shut I didn’t want to see them,” said Bill. Now, my friends, I want to tell you that Peter Radford is still my friend and that he is still after the rats. Over two million Bill Skinners have opened their eyes, watching the political barn and if rats are under it, they know that it is to the interest of all to see them and punch them out. Let us read our papers and all other reading matter with our eyes open, and then we will see the rats.
“There are a few men in this country who will contend that everything is lovely and that we are getting on swimmingly. They are mostly speculators.”
There are a few men in this country who will contend that everything is lovely and that we are getting on swimmingly. They are mostly speculators. They are reaping a rich harvest. Our natural resources are unparalleled. Yet, with all the blessings of a kind providence on one hand, we find want, destitution and suffering on the other, and so I am asking you to speak information as to the cause of this condition.
The notorious corruption of our law-making bodies is due almost wholly to their power to grant special privileges and to sell public franchises to private individuals or corporations. Legislative reform that ignores the cause of corruption is never excusable.
Public ownership of natural monopolies will abolish the bribe-taker by making impossible bribe-giver.
Every physical or moral ill is the result of some breach of natural or divine law. “Education” must be our watchword. It is only by education that we may hope to gain perfect liberty and equality. This republic can endure only while built upon the love of the whole people for each other and for the nation. The Constitution of The United States, says Congress shall have power, to establish post offices and post roads, to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.
When the money is scarce it takes more labor and more property to obtain it. To every cotton raiser, it means more cotton, to every wheat raiser it means more wheat, and to every stock raiser, it means more cattle and more hogs. Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.
When the Farmers’ Union asked for a government loan on cotton, it raised a dickens of a bugaboo, we were told it was not only impractical but unconstitutional, that care should be taken that nothing was done that would embarrass the raising generation. It has become quite popular now to pronounce everything unconstitutional that has for its object relief for the masses. The government may loan to five individuals who will incorporate themselves into a company under the name of a national bank, but it’s a violation of the Constitution to loan to a farmer who owns the basis of all securities. The Government has loans millions of dollars to expositions and railroad companies with practically no security and no one has been swift to denounce it as unconstitutional or embarrassing to the rising generation. Government has loaned money to banks, with and without interest. The government has loaned money to those who went abroad and could not get back from Europe unless they had the gold, and the government loaned it to them. The government has loaned money to the States, and the States have loaned money to individuals, on real-estate security. The state of Missouri and Oregon loan their school money to farmers on real-estate security. Certainly, we farmers can better pay 2 or 3 percent interest than 8 or 10 percent. No man has ever been able to point out where or why it is unconstitutional for the government to loan money to the farmer.
“No man has ever been able to point out where or why it is unconstitutional for the government to loan money to the farmer … it helps every man when you help the farmer.”
But I am asked how this would help the renter, who has no real estate. Loan it on his cotton, on his grain. But says the fellow who is not a farmer, how is this going to help us? We answer by saying it helps every man when you help the farmer. It increases the price of every laborer, thereby making it easier for them to pay their debts. The United States Supreme Court says:
“There are times when the exigencies of the State rightly absorb all subordinate considerations of the private interest, convenience, or feeling; and at such times the temporary though compulsory acceptance by a private individual of the government credit, in lieu of the debtor’s obligation to pay, is one of the slightest forms in which the necessary burdens of society can be sustained.
“The heart of the nation must not be crushed out. The people must be aided to pay their debts and meet their obligations.”
“When the ordinary currency disappears, as it often does in time of war when business begins to stagnate and general bankruptcy is imminent, then the government must have power at the same time to renovate its own resources and to revive the drooping energies of the nation by supplying it with a circulating medium. What the medium shall be what its character and qualities, will depend upon the greatness of the exigency and the degree of promptitude which it demands. These are the Legislative Questions. The heart of the nation must not be crushed out. The people must be aided to pay their debts and meet their obligations. The debtor interest of the country represents its bone and sinew and must be encouraged to pursue its avocations. If relief, were not afforded, universal bankruptcy would ensue, the industry would be stopped, and the government would be paralyzed in the paralysis of the people.”
“When I stand in the United States Treasury, I stand on English soil.” – Nathaniel P. Banks
It is chiefly the laws of property which have enabled the few to accumulate vast wealth while the masses live in poverty. For many generations, our laws have been framed with a view to the claims of property rather than the rights of man. For ages, the money power has controlled legislation the world over, and I am sorry to say, has exercised a controlling influence in our own land for many years. In the language of the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.“ If man has an alienable right to life, then he has a right to the means which sustain life, and of which he can not be justly deprived by laws which permit one man, or set of men, to so absorb the means of life as not to leave sufficient to sustain the lives of all. If man has an inalienable right to liberty, then he cannot be justly deprived of liberty by another who assumes the right at his mere discretion to abridge it. If man has an inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, then he cannot be justly deprived of that right by laws interposed in the way of its pursuit. Do such laws exist, and if so, how came they into existence?
“And our flag newly woven. Every stripe and every star. With the cannonballs for shuttles. In the roaring loom of war; And our gallant weavers dyed it with their manhood in each hue. Red for courage, white for honor. And for the faithfulness the blue.”
With best wishes for the Farmers’ Educational and Cooperative Union, I am truly yours
Courtesy of National Farmers Union Historian, Tom Giessel