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Sunday, October 10, 2010
Franklin Roosevelt -Second Bill of Rights
A Progressive from central Mass posted this video clip on his blog with this request:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed shortly before he died a Second Bill of Rights. This was his vision. Watch this video, Tea Party members, and explain which "rights" you think are unreasonable for American citizens.
My short answer is that President Roosevelt engaged in hyperbole and no “new Rights” are spoken of. FDR was speaking to a nation that was in the middle of a horrifyingly brutal war. Every day families learned that sons would not be coming home. As our President he wanted to encourage us that this sacrifice was worth it, that the world could be remade better, fairer, and happier. FDR was a progressive and he saw it as his role to hasten in this better age of social justice. He believed that it was inevitable and was not concerned that it was contradictory to our nations founding principles. What follows is a point by point rebuttal of FDR's Second Bill of Rights. I am not equating myself with President Roosevelt. But I will always be quick to defend the values of the Tea Party movement.
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. This passage reveals some of the Progressive blinders that inhibited FDR. Much of the world’s people still bear the yoke they accepted when Marxism was believed inevitable. Generations have suffered want and death because of that misbegotten ideology. Why? Because they gave up individual freedom and independence for an illusion of economic security. Freedom creates economic security; that is why today South Koreans have 20 times the GDP per capita of North Koreans.
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. Many people are all too ready to believe that now is completely different from all previous time. That today is the product of a stead progression in society. Sadly that is not true. FDR sees a false dichotomy between economic freedom and political freedom. With the quote from the Declaration of Independence, he attempts to lend familiarity this proposal and to cast it as a current reality. By emphasizing “all” he tries to distract the listener from the most controversial part of this proposal. He is not suggesting that the Government relinquish its control and stop inhibiting our peoples’ economic freedom. FDR is proposing a complete government take over of our economy.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation; Every American will be guaranteed a job. No matter your skills or talents, you industry your initiative or your personal choice you will have a job. You will report to your job. You must do what you are told to do. If the state needs ditches dug, you will dig. If the state does not need the art you make then you cannot be allowed to make it.
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; So your full time job will pay a “Living Wage”. The job that you are assigned will give you that salary. Not that you earn it. You will receive it by government fiat. Today that might be as much as $33,075.00 per year for a family of four. That is 150% of the National Poverty rate. It really does not matter how much money you receive because a government agency will determine it is “adequate.” 1900 calories a day is “adequate food.” Blue jeans and white tee shirts is “adequate clothing.” Watching Howard Zinn’s “A Peoples History of the United States” on NPTV is “adequate 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; With the wage controls mentioned above there would need to be price controls. Apples will cost a quarter. But as we have seen in Soviet Russia, there will be scarcity of apples. And hunger will increase.
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; This is straight out of George Orwell. Having your business owned by the state is not freedom.
The right of every family to a decent home; Those that build homes must do so until every family has one. It must be the same as every other home and our flag must be flown on all the occasions that you are told to do so. You have the right to occupy the home but it can not be yours because what would happen if you choose to sell it? Then you would be with out a decent home and would we have to build you another one?
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; FDR suffered from polio as did my father. At the time of this speech he was suffering from influenza. But “adequate medical care” does not confer the “opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health". I could write an entire post about my own interactions with the medical community. But I would say one can see “adequate medical care” by going to any city and find where the old that rely on Medicare and Social Security are sent. I visit such a place frequently. I would prefer to go to MCI Shirley, I know the guards there care about the prisoners more.
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; see above
The right to a good education; This is another instance that the qualifier is important. Would the people of Massachusetts accept the education that they have in Mississippi? But the Federal Dept of Education has not shut Mississippi schools down because they are inadequate.
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. If you believe that human happiness is a new goal and you are not suffering from teenaged angst: seek help. Since Adam and Eve left the garden, people have searched for Happiness. But all that combined history must be ignored because now we will have Happiness by law. We will all enjoy wellness. Great news now I am a garbage man but the leader says I happy.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world. This statement is a reversal of what was being said before we entered the war. But think about what FDR sees as the alternative to his new bill of rights; bloody revolution and another world war.
In the years since this speech was made it has been held up by many progressives as a road map for their vision of America. Michael Moore included it in his movie about capitalism. They are sure if we enact these “New Rights” we will all be not just better off but Happy. Because of that they see no problem with cutting corners or subverting the political process in any way. After all, they are giving you happiness. It brings to mind a recent quote from House Speaker Pelosi, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.” Progressives are making a mistake when they reduce human existence to the role that one plays in their endless class-struggle drama.
Happiness is more than a matter of economics or politics. People are much more than that. If it were so simple then no one would take drugs, husbands wouldn’t cheat on their wives, and children wouldn’t be abused. All of human suffering would have come to an end in the first half of the last century. Of course suffering is still with us. Progressives seem willfully blind to the human desire for freedom. Freedom is the core value of the Tea Party Movement. Free to become what you wish to be. Freedom to work how you want to work. Freedom to play when you can. Freedom to create what you want to create. Freedom works wherever it has been tried.
Because of the power of video, I will conclude with an old Disney video that shows that Walt got it, he knew why we were fighting the Nazis.