On the Importance of Budgeting

“To be confidential for a moment, I may confess that an invitation to make a speech is not the rarest experience that comes into a President’s life. But I listened with, I hope, proper politeness, down to the point where your spokesman started explaining that you were to devote an evening to the consideration of a budget. Then I began to take real interest, for the budget idea, I may admit, is a sort of obsession with me. I believe in budgets. I want other people to believe in them. I have had a small one to run my own home; and besides that, I am head of the organization that makes the greatest of all budgets–that of the United States Government. Do you wonder, then,, that at times I dream of balance sheets and sinking funds, and deficits, and tax rates, and all the rest?

     “Yes, I regard a good budget as among the noblest monuments of virtue. It is deserving of all emulation; but there are other topics that afford more obvious inspiration to popular oratory. So when I found that you actually wanted a budget speech, I felt a warming sense of gratitude…

     “Nothing is finer than the open hand and the generous heart that prompt free and unselfish giving. But modern social science knows, also, that ill-directed charity is often directly responsible for encouragement of pauperism and mendicancy. The best service we can do for the needy and the unfortunate is to help them in such manner that their self-respect, their ability to help themselves, shall not be injured but augmented. Nobody is necessarily out merely because he is down. But, being down, nobody gets up again without honest effort of his own. The best help that benevolence and philanthropy can give is that which induces everybody to help himself” — Calvin Coolidge, speaking over the telephone from the White House to the Federation of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City, October 26, 1924, as they listened together from the Hotel Pennsylvania.

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2 thoughts on “On the Importance of Budgeting

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