Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights Proposal

The Second Bill of Rights for U.S. citizens was proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his State of the Union address on January 11, 1944. At that time, FDR set forth certain rights for all citizens he called The Economic Bill of Rights.

FDR suggested the nation had come to recognize certain economic imbalances and unfairnesses and should implement a Second Bill of Rights. FDR did not argue for any changes in The U.S. Constitution. He did argue that a second Bill of Rights be implemented politically and not by Federal Judges. His justification was that 'political rights' guaranteed by The Constitution and the Bill of Rights "had proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness".

FDR's remedy was to create an "Economic Bill of Rights" which would guarantee:

-A Job with a Living Wage
-Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
-A Home
-Medical Care

President Roosevelt prefaced his Second Bill of Rights remarks with...."First we have a war to finish and then..........."

Unfortunately, 'then' never happened for FDR or the citizens. FDR died on April 12, 1945, fifteen months after his landmark State of the Union address and before the end of WWII. Since then, certain parts of parts of the Second Bill of Rights have been 'politically handled', but not with the clarity and specificity outlined by President Roosevelt in 1944.

And now, in 2009, and doubtless beyond, arguments against FDR's basic 'rights' proposal and cries of 'socialism' maintain a status-quo and little progress is being made. When the term 'socialism' is raised in argument some believe there should be some kind of negative visceral reaction to it. Why?

By definition, the clean water we drink, the fire and law enforcement protection we expect, the military and many other things attendant to a free and civilized society in 'the pursuit of happiness' is SOCIALISM.

Right now, there is a 'battle-supreme' in our congress about medical care for all. Is not the Right to Health Care fundamental to 'the pursuit of happiness' guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution? FDR thought so. How about you?


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