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Social Security History
Excerpts From Huey Long's "Second Autobiography"
FOR some several weeks I acted in a capacity of mentor and umpire of the various agencies and departments which moved into action for sustaining America and the lives and comforts of Americans.
Business had remained somewhat stationary for only a few days, when suddenly such a boom of trading on the exchanges began to break out as had not been seen in any normal time. I immediately called in the heads of the banking system, the Chairman of the Securities Commission and the Secretary of the Treasury.
"We must not permit a boom," I said. "Things must be kept slowed to order and sanity. Move into every line and see what is necessary to hare only rational revival of our country."
They soon made themselves elective in curbing hasty and unexplained spurts which, in days past, grew into insane speculation.
From every newspaper and magazine came news and diagrams showing the use of more modern machinery and of plans for greater production but with more leisure and shorter hours of labor rather than unemployment.
Demands for machinery and for automobiles and tractors had risen so much as to tax the output of many factories. Mine owners reported that there was such demand for their products that they could not reduce the hours of labor below 40 hours per week even with every labor-saving device they could install.
An adjustment had to be made of labor to be used in several instances. It was a race for inventive blessings to be installed quickly enough to meet a developing labor shortage under the curtailed hours of work and the increase in demands for all things.
But matters were orderly. The public was sure its problems had been solved. Practically no such things as homeless, hungry or unemployed people were mentioned. Their permanent status in many cases awaited certain general adjustment, but so much temporary activity was abroad that none was without comfort or employment.
School and college expansion was proceeding like magic. Adult education was becoming a large institution. The shortened day gave time for the leisure when men in their forties and over returned to learn what was not taught in their teens.
Foreign countries began to send emissaries and statisticians in groups to explore and study the revived America. I had trouble in finding time to see all these friends from other shores and climes. My general answer became: "For all I have not told you, the whole explanation is in the Bible."
On a week end I engaged a special train to tour the principal routes of America. My trip would require two weeks. I made no announcement until it was otherwise discovered I was to look over the country. It was my first extended trip from Washington since my inauguration.
We had been out of Washington less than two hours when cheering began alongside the railroad tracks. In villages and towns the railroad platforms were crowded to capacity. I ordered that we should stop everywhere.
At the first stop I said to my secretary:
"I'm going to find out something for myself. Are we really moving the way the people want? I will soon know."
I stepped to the rear of my train and shouted:
"All right, folks, what's wrong?"
Everyone seemed to cheer at once. I shouted again:
"Tell me, what can I do for anyone? What's wrong?"
There was more cheering until a loud voice roared:
"Nothing! We have just found out how bad we needed you for President all the time."