On January 11, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union address. In it he gave his ideas for a second Bill of Rights for the nation. The people supported what he had in mind but Congress had a majority of Conservatives and Dixiecrats. Does that sound familiar?
Here we are in the 21st Century and it is high time that we look back at what he recommended for the nation. Adam Smith once said, ” No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”
What we have now is more of our citizens are impoverished, in need of a job and in poor health. We lag behind Europe in infant mortality, and in how long we can expect to live.
President Roosevelt stated that the original Bill of Rights had proved inadequate in assuring us equality in the pursuit of happiness. Needy men or women for that matter are not free if they are under the strain of economic hardship. To paraphrase Lincoln and Jefferson, “these economic truths are self evident.”
Roosevelt spoke of the rights of men: The right to have a job that is useful and a remunerative job.
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing.
The right of every family to a decent home.
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to enjoy and achieve good health.
The right to an education.
The right to have protection from economic fears and the fears of old age and sickness.
These are a list of those rights that President Roosevelt spoke about that January day nearly 70 years ago. These are the hopes and dreams that not only Americans have but the rest of the world has as well.
Governments existence is to protect and provide for the general welfare of we the people. For those of you who may doubt that statement please read the Constitution because in the preamble and in the necessary and proper clause the Constitution spells out in very similar language the responsibility of government. Federalist #10, also defines the responsibility of government as well.
When you have a lot of people who are poor, out of work and hungry, not only does this cause misery but it has been the cause of revolution through the course of history. It would behoove all of us to come together as a people, as a community and as a nation to bind together our wounds and differences and work together through compromise for the common good of all the people.
A free market can not alone provide for the needs of the people. The greed of speculators and banks has led us to many depressions through our history. Let us end the historical cycle of recessions where the knee jerk reaction is to layoff millions of people. We have such a disparity of wealth that trouble is inevitable. During the late 1920’s there were not enough of the wealthy to carry us and our economy collapsed. There were too many goods produced with not enough people to buy our goods. This can happen again.
Today we really see unfair competition and an inability to sell enough American made products. We can protect against unfair competition and be more self sufficient. Buy American is still a great idea, so that we are not so dependent on other countries.
We need to work to enact a second Bill of Rights.