Huey P. Long was Governor of Louisiana from 1928–1932 and a U.S. Senator from 1932 to 1935. The "Kingfish" was a friend to the poor and coined the slogan "Every man a king, but no one wears a crown." Long's brief three years in the U.S. Senate earned him the reputation as being one of the most flamboyant and provocative Senators in the nation's history.
The biggest challenge posed by Long was his adverse disagreement with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program. In 1934, Long organized an alternative political group called the Share-Our Wealth Society, which focused on the collection and redistri-bution of wealth throughout the country. He highly disagreed with any individual having a large fortune. With his program, Long promised every American would be guaranteed an annual income of $2,500 and a homestead worth $5,000. Through his politicking and advertising, Long gained about 8 million supporters for his "Share-the-Wealth" program.
The following speech is a transcript of Huey P. Long's speech on December 11, 1934 to the congressional interns in Washington, D.C. on the benefits of this "Share-the-Wealth" program.
Huey Long: Share the Wealth
According to the tables which we have assembled, it is our estimate that 4 percent of the American people own 85 percent of the wealth of America, and that over 70 percent of the people of America don't own enough to pay for the debts that they owe.
Any man with a thimble-full of sense ought to know that if you take 85 percent off of that table and give it to one man that you are bound to have 2/3 the people starving because they haven't got enough to eat.
How many men ever went to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what's intended for 9/10th of the people to eat? The only way to be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain't got no business with!
Now we got a barbecue. We have been praying to the Almighty to send us to a feast. We have knelt on our knees morning and nighttime. The Lord has answered the prayer. He has called the barbecue. "Come to my feast," He said to 125 million American people. But Morgan and Rockefeller and Mellon and Baruch have walked up and took 85 percent of the victuals off the table!
Now, how are you going to feed the balance of the people? What's Morgan and Baruch and Rockefeller and Mellon going to do with all that grub? They can't eat it, they can't wear the clothes, they can't live in the houses.
"...estimate that 4 percent of the American people own 85 percent of the wealth..."
How times have changed.
A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.