Monday, May 10, 2010

Second Bill of Rights


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 or 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 farmers to raise and sell their products at a return which will give them and their 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;

And, finally, 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...

For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, January 11, 1944

Audio of Roosevelt setting forth the Second Bill of Rights here...

8 comments:

Roy said...

Interesting! If President Obama gave that speech now (and he has emphasized many of those points in speeches in the course of his Presidency thus far), the Right would throw the socialist bomb at him. But then, now that I think of it, they threw it at President Roosevelt at the time he gave that talk. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same!

What I don't understand is why anyone would think these are bad things.

Darlene said...

When I read Roosevelt's speech it occurred to me that it will now be harder than ever to accomplish those goals. The Military/Industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about is more powerful than ever and large corporations are making small business's extinct.

There are many things that government can do better than private industry, no matter what R. Reagan claimed. Government is not the problem; bad government is the problem.

K. said...

Roy: It is pretty wonderful to see this laid out in one. FDR pretty much defined the liberal vision for the rest of the century with this, and he provided a blueprint for Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson.

When your leadership has just put your country on the verge of winning a world war, you have the political standing to say whatever you want.

Darlene: I think we've fallen victim to a lot of complexes: Military-industrial, agricultural, medical-pharmaceutical-insurance, and -- maybe the most dangerous of all -- banking-finance. It cannot be a good thing when so much of the country's wealth is concentrated into a few hands. That we have a political system predicated on purchasing access makes it worse.

TaraDharma said...

As a progressive, liberal, moderate-lefty, this all sounds like common sense. I heard Hillary interviewed on CBS last night, and she is hearing from world leaders, behind closed doors, that they have lost faith in the US because it's financial house is in ruin. We are the world's biggest debtor nation.

We need to put things right, both with government and this old "new" bill of rights. Is that possible?

K. said...

I wish I knew, Tara. American history suggests that the country turns to government and progressive solutions during times of crisis, and that it's very difficult to convince people that acting now will ward off catastrophe later.

An awful lot of wealth and financial power is concentrated with a very few people and businesses. They don't act on behalf of anyone but themselves, and they control much of the access in Washington and state governments.

It's not an encouraging picture, but we can't quit trying for something better.

tnlib said...

I'd have to be a rightie to disagree with any of this, but I'm not, so I don't.

I would just like to add one thought. If it had not been for U.S. money propping up so many of these countries, they might not even be around to bitch.

Paula said...

Wow! And, wow again! I guess I've never read any of FDR's speeches beyond the soundbites we all learned in school. I doubt that kids learn things like that any more (don't you?) now that the Texas School Board is signing off on many textbooks.
Thanks for sharing this credo. It's a real gem.

K. said...

tnlib: Of course, we propped up western Europe out of self-interest: Had to stop the Communist tide somehow.

Paula: Complete versions of many of FDR's Fireside Chats are on YouTube.