On Diseased Remedies

On November 28, 1930, Calvin Coolidge wrote: 

When people are bewildered they tend to become credulous. We are always in danger of expecting too much of the government. When there is distress such expectations are enlarged. The present condition of the country not only is not new, but not nearly so bad as it has been at other times. In 1818 when John Quincy Adams learned of the failure of many of the greatest commercial houses he recorded in his diary that the greatest danger would be the application of remedies worse than the disease. 

That is the danger now. All any government can do is to adopt certain policies and provide the public facilities of currency, banks, revenues, highways and the like that enable the people conveniently to do business. A large expenditure of public money to stimulate trade is a temporary expedient which begs the question. Many local governments are already taxing the people too much. Business does not need more burdens but less. The sound way to relieve distress is by direct action. When a surplus exists it will do little good to spend public money for something more we do not need. The people have more power than any government to restore their own prosperity. 

The President’s audience at the dedication of the Liberty Memorial four years before in 1926.

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