Then Coolidge added his famous quote:
“After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. I am strongly of the opinion that the great majority of people will always find these the moving impulses of our life.”
It’s hard to dispute the notion that most Americans are concerned about the economy and personal prosperity. And, Coolidge made it clear that he didn't simply mean “greed is good.”
“Of course, the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence, ” he said. “But we are compelled to recognize it as a means to well-nigh every desirable achievement. So long as wealth is made the means and not the end, we need not greatly fear it...But it calls for additional effort to avoid even the appearance of the evil of selfishness. In every worthy profession, of course, there will always be a minority who will appeal to the baser instinct. There always have been, probably always will be, some who will feel that their own temporary interest may be furthered by betraying the interest of others.”
It’s true that Coolidge was generally a pro-business, small-government type politician; sort of a Ronald Reagan without charisma.
But, in my opinion, the spin that is often put on his famous quote about the business of America is clearly overly simplistic and unfair.
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