Monday, November 30, 2009

The Economic Bill of Rights

I've posted this before, but I'll post it again.

Taken from a speech by FDR, January 11, 1944:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

There is no real political democracy without economic democracy. Stepping into a curtained booth every 2 years and picking between 2 predetermined candidates from the batshit-crazy-and-reckless party, or the over-cautious-always-on-the-defensive party, both funded by the same sets of corporations, is not democracy.
Both Mao Zedong and the NRA are wrong. The only thing that comes out of the barrel of a gun is death and more death, not freedom. When people no longer feel bound by the law, then the law loses its power and all the guns in the world can't bring it back. The power of the law is our common agreement to live by it. Equality before the law means that everyone is bound by it no matter how rich and powerful, or how poor and desperate. Our leaders, likewise, are obliged to live under the same law as ourselves, and when they break it, to face the same penalties. Everyone enjoys the law's protection whether they belong to a majority or a minority. Equality before the law is our best protection against tyranny, not a pistol under the bed. As Montesquieu pointed out, "outside the law is tyranny."
In a democracy, government is not a service for hire. Government is us and is all of our responsibilities. Democracy is a way of life, not a gated neighborhood or a shack in the wilderness. The ancient Greeks (who invented democracy) believed that there was no real freedom outside the polis. The man under tyranny and the man alone in the wilderness were one in the same, as far as they were concerned. Both lived under the yoke of necessity and ended their days in anonymous futility. The Greeks believed that those who enjoyed the liberty of the polis had the obligation to maintain and defend it.

When the Soviet Union fell, those who were in charge of the old system got rich in the new one. Those who were drudges in the old system became drudges in the new one.

In China, the regime made the transition from ruthless communism to ruthless capitalism. The regime remains firmly in control using the resentments and xenophobia of its people (together with a promise that all of them have a chance to win the lottery) to remain in power. Sound familiar?


David G. said...

That's a dream "never" to hit again!!

Unknown said...

I pray for this vision of a Democratic President...but I am almost afraid we'll end up with revolution before anyone in power actually understands the visions truth.

Unknown said...

I don't know why, but my cousin Fabian is suddenly in the forefront of my mind, and when I googled his name your blog matched, with a brief memorial mention by you of him from last year. Almost exactly a year ago.

The world is a strange and beautiful thing.

I never had the chance to know Fabian, or his siblings, other than as names on a list, or in brief meetings at weddings and funerals. Family drama that proceeded my awareness kept my family separate from Fabian's.

Two recent funerals allowed me to see Rosemary, Fabian's mother. Pleasantries were exchanged, although I didn't follow up with any extensive conversation. With any of my family, quite honestly.

I don't know why I would share such details with you, a stranger, but obviously you have feelings for Fabian.........I don't know what I'm looking for.

It's comforting to see someone with fond memories, maybe??

I still have the memorial card with Fabian's artwork on it in one of my memento boxes.

Even though I can only speak for myself, thank you for the public kindness you've extended to one of my kin.

Daniel Bunten

Counterlight said...

I remember Fabian. I mostly knew him through other friends. But all of my memories of him are fond ones.
It's hard to believe that he's been gone now for more than 20 years.

Thanks for contacting me and calling him to memory.