On How to Effectively Distribute Wealth in Cities for Producers

Copley Plaza, Boston, 1920. Photo credit: lostnewengland.com.

“I think that if we look into the economic questions we will see that if we want to get a distribution of our wealth, the easiest and the best and the only method by which that can be achieved is to increase the production of wealth. I don’t have any great difficulty in distributing what I have. I have considerable difficulty in producing anything. But the fact is that where there is a production, there is no power that can prevent the proper and adequate distribution, and the sooner we realize that and make our laws and govern ourselves accordingly, the better off we shall all be from an economic standpoint.

“I said that we were in need of capital, and we are, because we are in need of enhancing production, and the only way we can accomplish that result is by enlarging the plants, and that takes capital, or by more economical methods of production, or by putting more capital into our business as I said before, and unless business is carried on at a profit it will not be carried on at all.

Boston & Albany’s Railroad Yard, Copley Plaza, 1932. Photo credit: Boston Public Library.

We have been trying to take the profit away from the conduct of our business, and that has been especially the great problem that has been faced by our transportation interests. We have assumed that they could go on, that they could pay wages, and perhaps pay some dividends, and that they would be all right if they did not have any surplus…It is necessary that we should build up these enterprises and strengthen them, and put them on a basis where they not only earn their operating expenses and pay dividends, but where they have a sufficient surplus that will give them credit and respectability and responsibility with the investing public. And unless we can do that our transportation is going to fail and you know what it means when transportation fails, because every other line of endeavor under our complicated system is absolutely dependent upon transportation in order to carry it on…

“In this study of economic questions the public is sooner or later going to realize that when money is invested, when the transportation business is built up, when a factory is started that employs many people and turns out a large amount of production, or when any other enterprise is started, that the results which flow from it are much more of a benefit to the public in general than they are to those that invest their capital in it…

“It is a great service that is rendered by the collection and the investment of capital and the carrying on of business. When this is recognized, when these great railroads are recognized, as they surely will be by the public of our states and nation, we shall come back into a period of prosperity, of abounding prosperity, that ought to be the heritage of every American.” 

— Governor Calvin Coolidge, addressing the New England Street Railway Club, Copley Plaza, Boston, March 25, 1920

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