Swollen Fortunes

Performed by William Jennings Bryan
Recorded May, 1908

The phrase "Swollen Fortunes" accurately describes one of the evils that must be met by legislation, because swollen fortunes are largely due to legislation. The term "swollen" when applied to "fortunes" means that the fortunes are abnormally large; that they are unnatural, diseased, and a swollen fortune implies that some possess less than they ought to because a few have collected more than they have earned. When we condemn swollen fortunes we are not attacking honestly acquired fortunes. On the contrary, we are defending legitimate accumulation when we insist that they shall be distinguished from wealth dishonestly acquired and that dishonest accumulations shall be prevented. Swollen fortunes are, in almost every case, traceable to privileges given by the government, or to favoritism shown to a few at the expense of the rest of the population. The cure for swollen fortunes, therefore, is in the restoration of the government to its old foundations, and in the application to all branches of the government of the doctrine of equal rights to all and special privileges to none. There is a divine law reward, and where this law is operated, people enjoy compensation in proportion to their intelligence, their industry and their integrity. It should be the aim of the government to conform to this divine law, and as far as possible, insure to each citizen a return from society proportionate to his contribution to the welfare of society. This is the economic principal which should govern all legislation and then when each has received what he has justly earned, he is prepared to apply the moral principal that those who are strong should voluntarily assist those who are weak; that those who are fortunate should voluntarily share with the unfortunate.