A 1949 Speech that Obama Could Have Given
The following is part of a speech that Pres. Harry S Truman gave on November 3, 1949 in St. Paul, Minnesota, as part of the city’s “Truman Day Celebration.” It shows that our government has been trying to promote the “General Welfare” through wealth redistribution for a very long time. What Truman proposed then and what Obama (and not a few Republicans) is proposing today is not GENERAL welfare but PARTICULAR welfare, and it is unconstitutional. Let’s call what taking money from one group of citizens and giving it to another group really is – THEFT! — Gary DeMar
We know that there will be more prosperity for all if all groups have a fair share of the wealth of the country. We know that the country will achieve economic stability and progress only if the benefits of our production are widely distributed among all its citizens.
We believe that it is the Federal Government’s obligation, under the Constitution, to promote the general welfare of all our people — and not just a privileged few.
The policies we advocate are based on these convictions. We maintain that farmers, like businessmen, should receive a fair price for the products they sell. We maintain that workers are entitled to good wages and to equality of bargaining power with their employers.
We believe that cooperatives and small business should have a fair opportunity to achieve success, and should not be smothered by monopolies. We hold that our great natural resources should be protected and developed for the benefit of all our people, and not exploited for private greed.
We believe that old people and the disabled should have an assured income to keep them from being dependent on charity. We believe that families should have protection against loss of income resulting from accident, illness, or unemployment.
We hold that our citizens should have decent housing at prices they can afford to pay.
We believe in assuring educational opportunities for all our young people in order that we may have an enlightened citizenry.
We believe in better health and medical care for everyone — not for just a few.
We hold that all Americans are entitled to equal rights and equal opportunities under the law, and to equal participation in our national life, free from fear and discrimination.
Now, my friends, these are the policies that spell the progress for all our people. They are the best assurance of prosperity for everyone — including the very people who attack them most bitterly. These policies mean more democracy in this country, and not less. They mean more personal freedom for all Americans, and not less. They are our stanch shield against communism and against every other form of totalitarianism. They are the means by which we will achieve the better world we all seek.
Nevertheless, there are people who oppose these policies. There are people who are afraid of more democracy and greater freedom for all our citizens today, just as there were in Jefferson’s time. There are people who contend that these programs for the general welfare will cost too much, just as the reactionaries in Jefferson’s day contended that $15 million was too much to pay for a million square miles of new territory. They were wrong in Jefferson’s time, and they are just as wrong today.
The expenditures which we make today for the education, health, and security of our citizens are investments in the future of our country, just as surely as the Louisiana Purchase was an investment in the future.Expenditures which we make to develop our natural resources, to conserve our soil and our forests, and to make cheap electric power available to farms, homes, and factories, are equally good investments in the future of this great country.
The process of growth continues for us just as it did in Jefferson’s day. If you think back over the last 20 years as they have affected your own community, you can see that this is true. You will think of the increase in population, of the new businesses that have been started, of the higher standards of living which you and your neighbors enjoy.
To keep pace with the growth of this country we need to make new investments in our own future — we need government policies that will contribute to the growth and progress of this great Nation — just as we needed new territory in the early days of our Republic.
I am not too much worried by those who oppose these policies. Between the reactionaries of the extreme left with their talk about revolution and class warfare, and the reactionaries of the extreme right with their hysterical cries of bankruptcy and despair, lies the way of progress. Between these two extremes, the main stream of American life rolls steadily onward toward a better world.
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The people will not go back to the day when their destinies were controlled by tight little groups of selfish men who made their policies in secret and exercised economic control over millions of people. They understand that a growing country like ours can provide increased prosperity and greater freedom for its citizens. They propose to see that that is done.
And with God’s help it will be done.