Delivered from the White House because of health complications, FDR presents a progressive plan to guarantee Americans with fundamental social values such as health care, jobs with fair wages, education and even recreation.
An excerpt “The Economic Bill of Rights” delivered on January 11th, 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.
Roosevelt passed on a year later and without a champion, his Second Bill of Rights along with him. But key individuals in his administration went about the reconstruction of a world ravaged by WWII and sought to incorporate many of these principles in new constitutions like that of Italy, Japan and Germany. They didn’t materialize here.
Moore’s contention, American citizens have been denied these basic economic rights in favor of corporate-centric policies. Human needs relegated to the dustbin of history. A socio-political system dominated by Big Money is now responsible for elitist health care denying folks to make higher profits, the continual degradation of wages and jobs, an epidemic of outsourcing — adding insult to injury — these trends have culminated in trillions of dollars hijacked from the US Treasury to bailout Wall Street. Present circumstances paint a clear picture, the writing’s on the wall: just as in the run up to the Great Depression, an ethos of abject profiteering, corporate gambling and unbridled greed has infected the republic, now threatening her survival.
FDR prophesied this eventuality,
One of the great American industrialists of our day-a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop-if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s-then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.
We would do well, even though sixty years late, to heed his warnings now.
For more info: