Of course this was intended to be a government of free citizens and of equal opportunity, but how are we going to make it such--that is the question. Because I realize that while we are followers of Jefferson, there is one principle of Jefferson’s which no longer can obtain in the practical politics of America. You know that it was Jefferson who said that the best government is that which does as little governing as possible, which exercises its power as little as possible. And that was said in a day when the opportunities of America were so obvious to every man, when every individual was so free to use his powers without let or hindrance, that all that was necessary was that the government should withhold its hand and see to it that every man got an opportunity to act as he would. But that time is passed. America is not now and cannot in the future be a place for unrestricted individual enterprise. It is true that we have come upon an age of great cooperative industry. It is true that we must act absolutely upon that principle.
Let me illustrate what I mean. You know that it used to be true in our cities that every family occupied a separate house of its own, that every family had its own little premises, that every family was separated in its life from every other family. But you know that that is no longer the case, and that it cannot be the case in our great cities. Families live in layers. They live in tenements, they live in flats, they live on floors, they are piled layer upon layer in the great tenement houses of our crowded districts. And not only are they piled layer upon layer, but they are associated room by room so that there is in each room sometimes in our congested districts a separate family.
Now, what has happened in foreign countries, in some of which they have made much more progress than we in handling these things, is this: In the city of Glasgow, for example, which is one of the model cities of the world, they have made up their minds that the entries, that hallways, of great tenements are public streets. Therefore the policeman goes up the stairway and patrols the corridors. The lightning department of the city sees to it that the corridors are abundantly lighted, and the staircases. And the city does not deceive itself into supposing that the great building is a unit from which the police are to keep out and the city authority to be excluded, but it says: "These are the high-ways of human movement, and wherever light is needed, wherever order is needed, there we will carry the authority of the city."
And I have likened that to our modern industrial enterprise. You know that a great many corporations, like the Steel Corporation, for example, are very like a great tenement house. It isn’t the premises of a single commercial family. It is just as much a public business as a great tenement house is a public highway. When you offer the securities of a great corporation to anybody who wishes to purchase them, you must open that corporation to the inspection of everybody who wants to purchase. There must, to follow out the figure of the tenement house, be lights along the corridor; there must be police patrolling the openings; there must be inspection wherever it is known that men may be deceived with regard to the contents of the premises. If we believe that fraud lies in wait for us, we must have the means of determining whether fraud lies there or not.
So you see, they're not going to outright nationalize industry. No no, they're only going to nationalize a small corridor, if they even go that far. They'll just make progress. They'll make haste, slowly. There needs to be inspections, which means they'll regulate everything to death. It's regulation, not socialism. It's social regulation. Ronald Reagan said: (20 minutes in)
Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the -- or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.
That perversion took place in the early 20th century. Under Wilson and two Roosevelts, among many, many other people at the time. Governors, congress, advisors, judges, and more. And we've been stuck with it ever since.