Father Coughlin, the well-known anti-Semite of the 1930s who blamed the Great Depression on the Jews, believed in social justice as it was defined at the time. He created the National Union for Social Justice to challenge then President Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election, since he believed Roosevelt was not far enough to the left.
He released a Preamble and 16 points in November, 1934, which shows his movement was a socialist one.
All points I will use below are from Father Coughlin and from:
1.” I believe in the right of liberty of conscience and liberty of education, not permitting the state to dictate either my worship to my God or my chosen avocation in life.”
Coughlin wanted education at all levels to be free, at taxpayers’ expense. He believed education was a right, which is the reason he included education with conscience and religion. Education is not a right under the Constitution.
2. “I believe that every citizen willing to work and capable of working shall receive a just and living annual wage which will enable him to maintain and educate his family according to the standards of American decency.”
Father Coughlin was calling for a universal wage, which socialists today call universal basic income. It is the belief the government should pay a guaranteed minimum income.
3.” I believe in nationalizing those public necessities which by their very nature are too important to be held in the control of private individuals. By these I mean banking, credit and currency, power, light, oil and natural gas and our God-given natural resources.”
Nationalization of anything, including the banks, are what socialists today call for. They believe the government can run things better than a private market, which always proves disastrous.
4. “I believe in private ownership of all other property.”
- “I believe in upholding the right to private property yet in controlling it for the public good.”
Points four and five should be together, since one is contingent upon another. If, as he believed, private ownership is contingent upon the public good, he could not embrace private ownership of property. To control private property requires government to run everything privately owned.
6. “I believe in the abolition of the privately owned Federal Reserve Banking system and in the establishment of a Government owned Central Bank.”
Father Coughlin believed banks should cease to exist, including savings and loans, many of which were small businesses in his day and remains that way to this day.
7. “I believe in rescuing from the hands of private owners the right to coin and regulate the value of money, which right must be restored to Congress where it belongs.
- “I believe that one of the chief duties of this Government owned Central Bank is to maintain the cost of living on an even keel and the repayment of dollar debts with equal value dollars.”
Points seven and eight are a continuation of the same thing. He believed only the government could guarantee no inflation, no matter how flooded with dollars the market became. There was a disconnect with what his beliefs were and the realities of how inflation happens. He believed the value of the dollar could be controlled by government and never lose value.
9. “I believe in the cost of production plus a fair profit for the farmer.”
Father Coughlin believed farmers were being paid too much. They were receiving more than their fare share of wealth. Through higher taxation, the farmers would be forced to pay their fair share.
10. “I believe not only in the right of the laboring man to organize in unions but also in the duty of the Government which that laboring man supports to facilitate and to protect these organizations against the vested interests of wealth and of intellect.”
Father Coughlin believed the government should directly intervene on the side of the unions to pressure private businesses to give in to every demand. As a socialist, he believed in forced unions for all workers.
11. “I believe in the recall of all non-productive bonds and thereby in the alleviation of taxation.”
Father Coughlin believed productive bonds were for public works, such as building dams. Every other type of bond was seen as a negative. He believed the only bonds that should exist were those in which his perceived good was the result.
12. “I believe in the abolition of tax-exempt bonds.”
Father Coughlin particularly hated tax-exempt bonds. He viewed them as a means to shelter the wealthy from taxes they should be paying. It did not matter if his perceived good was being done, since taxing the wealthy was all that mattered.
13. “I believe in the broadening of the base of taxation founded upon the ownership of wealth and the capacity to pay.”
Father Coughlin was calling for a progressive income tax beyond what was already in existence. He believed the wealthy were not paying their fair share.
14. “I believe in the simplification of government, and the further lifting of crushing taxation from the slender revenues of the laboring class.”
Father Coughlin believed that taxes would not be passed down to the consumers by increasing the costs of goods to cover the added cots, even though it had already been happening. He was, in essence, calling for price controls over all goods.
15. “I believe that in the event of a war for the defense of our nation and its liberties, there shall be a conscription of wealth as well as a conscription of men.”
Father Coughlin was calling for the nationalization of everything should the country enter the war, which eventually happened. He believed wat was justification to completely ignore the Constitution to justify a dictatorship that controlled everything.
16. “I believe in preferring the sanctity of human rights to the sanctity of property rights. I believe that the chief concern of government shall be for the poor because, as it is witnessed, the rich have ample means of their own to care for themselves.”
Father Coughlin did not believe in equality under the law. He believed the wealthy should have been treated as second class citizens for no other reason than they could afford to be treated differently.
The sixteen points show just how much of a socialist Father Coughlin was. His disagreement with then President Roosevelt was not that he was further to the right, but further to the left. There was nothing conservative about him, then or now, since conservatives believe in conserving the Republic and limited government to minimize abuses against the individuals.