The Reagan Speech Preservation Society


Modified: Friday, 06 August 2021 07:48 by admin - Uncategorized
The following is a collection of the materials used in creating the thirty-ninth episode of the Citizen Reagan podcast about the Reagan's Radio Commentaries.





This is the Citizen Reagan podcast and I need to get in the habit of doing a few things with every episode, like asking you to rate and review the podcast with whatever services you use. Like asking you to share us with your friends, family, complete strangers and your worst enemies, I don't care really, just as long as you share it. Like telling you that you can find past episodes, transcripts, research and more on a wiki on my webspace. The address for the wiki is but if you just visit, I have a variety of other projects there. I sell digitally restored books, magazines and pamphlets. I have constructed an archive of old pulp short stories. I accept donations through Ko-fi, if you're willing help out. It’s all there on the website. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to Reagan.

When disaster strikes, if the government comes calling, your best course of action may actually be to send them right back where they came from. But when disaster has not struck, you're especially encouraged to send the government back.

When is it appropriate for the Federal government to step in and provide assistance? How much assistance is appropriate?

In 1964, during his famous A Time for Choosing speech, Reagan discussed a case of unnecessary government intervention.
For three decades, we have sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency. They have just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over $30 million on deposit in personal savings in their banks. When the government tells you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed.
True, not exactly a disaster, but to me it's a symptom of the same problem. Government, it seems, struggles so hard to find the needle in a haystack, that it fails to note that Little Boy Blue is asleep.

In 1979, Reagan recorded a radio broadcast about a rather remarkable incident that took place in Florida. I found the story from 3 other sources, but I do not have audio, just the print edition in the book Reagan's Path to Victory.

[Time Magazine] - [Palm Beach Post] - [Des Moines Tribute]

Cloud Lake is a tiny, tiny town in Palm Beach county Florida. How tiny? 25 acres with, at the time, 128 residents. The disaster started when Dorothy Gravelin, the town clerk, found a letter in the mail from the Treasury Department. Under a large bold-faced header stating Disaster Notice the letter stated that the town had been "determined by the president to be a major disaster area." She asked around (which couldn’t have taken too long) and no one else knew about any disaster. She reached out to nearby towns, none of them had received a notice either. She contacted the state capital and received no answers. She even tried the folks in Washington D.C. No answers were to be found until she spoke to the Florida coordinator in the U.S. Office of Revenue Sharing. Finally, an answer.

She learned that the disaster was the January 1977 Florida cold snap. Snow fell in Miami for the first time in recorded history. The greatest damage done was to crops throughout Florida, but on only 25 acres, Cloud Lake had no crops, maybe a few houses with private orange trees. The nearest farms were 20 miles away.

So, again, the town officials wondered why the federal government had seen fit to give them money for this disaster declaration. Reagan included the detail, but I was happy that the Des Moines Tribute offered an actual quote. The Office of Revenue Sharing coordinator, Liz Pattison said, “There's probably some indirect effect, like farmers who wouldn't be spending as much money in town.”

Finally an answer. Not a good one, but an answer. The only thing left was for the city council to submit the paperwork to Washington and wait for a check. No word on whether it would have taken another 2 years before the check arrived. But common sense triumphed. The mayor and city council refused the money. Quoting a local business owner, "There's enough government waste without us adding to it. We're honest, God-fearing people. We're not going to take a handout for a disaster that we never had."

Good for them! Taking a principled stand like that. It takes guts to refuse $22.61 in federal aid. Wait, what?? Yes. The Federal government declared a disaster, went through the internal processes needed to send the letter and, if the town had accepted, would have gone through more internal processes to cut a check for all of $22.61 over a disaster than never happened. They probably spent more money on administrative costs than was in the check. Would that surprise anyone if it was true?

Nowadays, cities, counties, states will declare an emergency at the drop of a hat which unlocks federal aid funds and special powers. Governor Cuomo of New York just declared a health emergency in regards to gun violence. Not sure if there is federal money in it, but the declaration grants him special emergency powers. Never let a crisis go to waste.

But once upon a time, we didn't look to the Federal government for aid. In fact, we didn't look to government at any level for aid. We looked to our families or our fellow citizens. I wasn’t expecting to go here when I began, but Reagan spoke about it in another broadcast, one called Volunteerism, about Americans.
We're still a generous people, more so than most and we put our money where our hearts tell us it should be. Every year in spite of all the billions of dollars in taxes taken for welfare, federal aid to education, subsidies for the arts, and cultural activities, we voluntarily contribute another 25 billion to do the same kind of good causes. There are some who would substitute government planning and government support for all this volunteer effort on our part. They lack confidence that we the people would care for the needy if government wasn't forcing us to do so. Well, some of us can still remember when foreign aid was voluntary. Sure, there was cooperation from government, but saving millions of Belgians from starvation after world war one was a volunteer citizens program. And so it was when Tokyo was devastated by an earthquake. We raised funds for starving Armenians, for victims of fire and flood and drought wherever they were in the world, and the image of America all over the world was of the great, generous, helpful neighbor.

There was also a time when government knew not to get involved. Have you ever heard of the Texas drought of 1887? It was a drought so bad that 85% of the cattle in the western portion of the state died. Farmers had to eat much of their seed corn to survive. Congress felt it needed to step in, so it allocated $10,000 to purchase seed for the area. President Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill and wrote a now famous letter to Congress to accompany the veto.
To the House of Representatives: I return without my approval House bill number 10203, entitled "An Act to enable the Commissioner of Agriculture to make a special distribution of seeds in drought-stricken counties of Texas, and making an appropriation therefor."

It is represented that a long-continued and extensive drought has existed in certain portions of the State of Texas, resulting in a failure of crops and consequent distress and destitution.

Though there has been some difference in statements concerning the extent of the people's needs in the localities thus affected, there seems to be no doubt that there has existed a condition calling for relief; and I am willing to believe that, notwithstanding the aid already furnished, a donation of seed grain to the farmers located in this region, to enable them to put in new crops, would serve to avert a continuance or return of an unfortunate blight.

And yet I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan as proposed by this bill, to indulge a benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds for that purpose.

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.

The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.

It is within my personal knowledge that individual aid has, to some extent, already been extended to the sufferers mentioned in this bill. The failure of the proposed appropriation of $10,000 additional, to meet their remaining wants, will not necessarily result in continued distress if the emergency is fully made known to the people of the country.

It is here suggested that the Commissioner of Agriculture is annually directed to expend a large sum of money for the purchase, propagation, and distribution of seeds and other things of this description, two-thirds of which are, upon the request of senators, representatives, and delegates in Congress, supplied to them for distribution among their constituents.

The appropriation of the current year for this purpose is $100,000, and it will probably be no less in the appropriation for the ensuing year. I understand that a large quantity of grain is furnished for such distribution, and it is supposed that this free apportionment among their neighbors is a privilege which may be waived by our senators and representatives.

If sufficient of them should request the Commissioner of Agriculture to send their shares of the grain thus allowed them, to the suffering farmers of Texas, they might be enabled to sow their crops; the constituents, for whom in theory this grain is intended, could well bear the temporary deprivation, and the donors would experience the satisfaction attending deeds of charity.

Am I reading this letter correctly? President Cleveland says that every year, the Commissioner of Agriculture already purchases $100,000 worth of seeds and two-thirds of that is made available to senators, representatives and delegates for distribution among their constituents? He then suggests that, rather than spend more money, the members of Congress should just send some of their seed allotment to the affected areas of Texas?? What an absolutely crazy idea. How’d someone like this get elected president?

I found an article from Harper’s Weekly dated March 5, 1887 that discusses the seed bill. Its final paragraph is telling:
There is no doubt that the doctrine of the message is the American doctrine of self help. It recalls the country to the fundamental principle that taxes are to be levied for the expenses of the government economically administered—a principle which was admirably stated in a message of President ARTHUR and which is held by most intelligent and patriotic citizens in both parties. Paternalism in government logically leads to overwhelming taxation and fosters relaxation of the moral fibre of the country. If every community, when disaster of any kind befalls, should turn for relief to the national government, the results would be deplorable. The veto of the Texas seed bill is a strong reminder of this truth. But it required a courageous and sagacious Executive to make it.

What actually ended up happening? Did the Congress step up and volunteer their own seeds to Texas? Not that I can find. One lone 2006 article from National Review entitled "Grover Cared" indicates that "Those farmers in Texas got their aid, all right–as much as 10 times or more in private assistance as the amount that Cleveland refused to launder first through a federal bureaucracy." There was no attribution.

Forget the Democrats, the Republicans, the Libertarians, definitely the Socialists... this is the kind of leadership we need. Can someone please found, The Cleveland Party?

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