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Will Rogers on Doctors, Taxes, Testimony, and Trickle-down Economics


“This is the day of specializing, especially with the doctors. Say, for instance, there is somethng the matter with your right eye. You go to the doctor and he tells you, “I am sorry, but I am a left-eye doctor; I make a specialty of left eyes’. Take the throat business. A doctor that doctors on the upper part of your throat doesn’t even know where the lower part goes to. The old fashioned doctor didn’t pick out a big toe or a left ear to make a life’s living on. He picked out the whole human frame. Personally, I have always felt that the best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter - he’s got to just know.”

“One thing that a poor person should never be expected to pay for is medical attention, and not from an organized charity, but from our best doctors. But your doctor bill should be paid like your income tax, according to what you have. There is nothing that keeps poor people poor as much as paying doctor bills.”
Will would be appalled to learn that in the 71 years since this statement was written, this situation has not changed.


“All I can say about the U.S. Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”

“Statistics have proven that the surest way to get anything out of the public mind and never hear of it again is to have a Senate committee appointed to look into it.”

“If a distinquished foreigner was to be taken into the Senate, and not told what the institution was, and he heard a man rambling on, talking for hours, he would probably say: ‘You have lovely quarters here for your insane, but have you no warden to see they don’t talk themselves to death?’”

“Most of our public men spend over half their time testifying on the stand, especially the Republicans. I am going to start a school of public testimony, laid out like a court. Instead of teachers, we will have ‘em made up as sheriffs, bailiffs, jurymen, and judges. The minute a person is elected to office like a senator or congressman, we will have him come and spend a few weeks and when he goes on to his public office, he will be all set for investigations. We will teach ‘em not to be nervous, not to let the other fellow get ‘em rattled, and have ‘em all trained to tell where they got every dollar they used in their campaign and how much they paid for each vote. It will persuade our big men to turn honest after elections and trust to the mercy of the jury. And we will coach ‘em to tell everything the first time. That will save having to spend your life on the stand. Of course, when some of my early pupils first start testifying, they won’t be believed. It will be such a radical change from the usual testimony. I think I will open the school at Claremore, Oklahoma. That’s about the hub of everything. Remember it opens next year: Will Rogers School of Public Testifying at Claremore, Oklahoma. After one term in my school you will welcome testifying, instead of fearing it!”


It seems that every Republican President this century who left a trashed economy upon leaving office, starting with Herbert Hoover, believed in “trickle down" economics. Will Rogers explains why, despite its devastating effects on the poor, the GOP may forever be enamored of the concept.

“The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”


“Taxation is about all there is to government. People don’t want their taxes lowered near as much as the politician tried to make you believe. People want just taxes more than they want lower taxes. They want to know that every man is paying his proportionate share according to his wealth. All taxes should be on income, and where there is no income - either personally or on your property - you shouldn’t pay anything. You should pay on things that you buy outside of bare necessities. For a man to give up three million out of four is tough. But on the other hand, 90 percent of the people would be willing to give up 99 percent of a million if allowed to make one. You can’t legitimately kick on taxes when the money has been made. It’s taxes on farms, ranches and business property that has lost money for years. Thos folks have the holler coming. Now excuse me while I hide before some of my good friends shoot me.”

“This is becomming the richest and the poorest country in the world. Why? Why on account of an unequal distribution of the money. How can you equalize it? By putting a higher surtax on large incomes and that money goes to provide some public work, at a livable wage. There is a tremendous movment on to get lower taxes on earned incomes. Then will come the real problem: Who among us on salary are earning our incomes?”