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December 18, 2004

The Economic Bill of Rights

Here are some thoughts for George's second term.

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.

That's from FDR's State of the Union speech on 11 January 1944. Roosevelt saw security as including economic security.

Posted by Gary at December 18, 2004 07:21 AM | TrackBack
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Couldn't agree more that economic security is a large part of maintaining a stable government, an educated populace and peaceful nation. Unfortunately, W and his backers require a completely disenfranchised class of people to swell the ranks of the armed forces so they can continue their perpetual wars against terrorism and whichever evil-doer comes next into their sights.

They need a class of people so overwhelmed by the futility of it all that they will hand their lives over to "big brother" and not question anything because they are afraid. The larger this class, the better for W and the neocons. And if they start to get uppity just label them "enemy combatants" and toss them into a hole with no contact for however long you like.

I've been slightly nauseous for the last 4 years watching "1984" come to life in front of my eyes. And it has confirmed one sad truth for me - the majority of the people in this country are sheep. Give them TV and some vague belief that they are part of some greater good and they will happily trot along to whatever tune you call. Forgive me if this sounds a touch paranoid but

1)with the rise of common markets and the importance of regional trade alliances,

2)the ability to communicate to and from pretty much anywhere in the world,

3) the concentrated ownership of not only the US media but the world media and

4)the fact that there has been constant armed conflict going on somewhere in the world for the better part of 70 years now... doesn't seem like Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are that far away.

Posted by: terry on December 19, 2004 01:01 PM
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