Date: August 19, 1930
Location: Northampton, MA
Summary: Coolidge compares the costs of natural disasters to the costs of crime, and argues that America should focus on the latter as a more easily preventable issue. He also says that the efficacy of law rests fundamentally on whether or not the people choose to follow it.
Much attention very properly has been given to the damage from lack of rain. It is extremely serious in amount and human suffering. Every effort must be made for adequate relief.
Bad as this has been, is non-recurring, beyond human control and involves no moral blame.
While this calamity gets great attention, as it should, the report of a reliable authority that the yearly damage from crime is estimated at $7,500,000,000 goes almost unnoticed. This amount is more than one half the entire agricultural production. It is an enormous tax on the resources of the people, being about 8 per cent of the national income, goes on constantly, ought to be largely preventable and represents a moral delinquency. Of this loss apparently little is chargeable to prohibition. Most of it represents violation of state laws.
This is one of the greatest challenges to good government. But fundamentally it is a question of good citizenship. The executive, national, state and municipal, the police and the courts can help. But the real remedy lies with the people. The laws will be enforced when the people clearly and emphatically indicate that they demand enforcement. But law is not enough. We need a change of heart.
Citation: Calvin Coolidge Says: Dispatches Written by Former-President Coolidge and Syndicated to Newspapers in 1930-1931 (Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation)
The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of John Sullivan III who prepared this document for digital publication.