My Blog List

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Four Freedoms and Six Basic Rights -- The Second Bill of Rights

FDR's Four Freedoms

Late in his life, Roosevelt articulated 4 Basic Freedoms that everyone ought to have. These are:

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of worship
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

The thing about Freedoms is that Freedoms are related to rights. We all have a basic right to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, and we should have a basic right to "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear." The Right Wing will argue that we only have negative rights; i.e... that the only rights we should have are freedoms from coercion from others. They also confuse rights with privilege. Which is why they assert a basic right to property which includes the right to charge rents, evict people from property if they owe debts or can't pay those rents, and to coerce people to protect their own property. Thus the argument that there is only one kind of right "negative right" is absurd. Most rights, even negative ones, require some sort of programs, institutions, laws, acquisitions and labor to become realized. Freedom of Religion requires people to be able to go to a Mosque if they want to. Freedom from Want and Freedom from fear require that we have folks to enforce the law and protect us from bad guys and the power to be part of law enforcement and part of our government in order to enforce our rights. Government is about negative rights -- setting boundaries. And setting goals and defining what is needed to achieve those goals - requirements.

A friend of mine named Harvey J. Kaye, working with Bill Moyer has a lot to say on this subject. He and folks from the Roosevelt Institute keep the ideals FDR expressed late in life alive. Because these freedoms need to be re-emphasized in our constitution. The first two of them are implicitly in the first Amendment. But we all know how adept corrupt legislators and judges are at subverting them, from their history. But the last two "freedoms" have not only not been in our constitution but have been a recurring fact of life for most people in this country, and around the world, for many years. The first two can be secured mostly by negative laws that say "Thou shalt not infringe on free speech" or "impose a religion on the country. But the last two require a commonwealth. They require a project. Because they require positive law. Roosevelt sought to implement them through his "Second Bill of Rights."

Second Bill of Rights

The Second Bill of rights:

  1. A Job
  2. An Adequate wage and decent living (living wage)
  3. A decent home
  4. Medical care
  5. Economic care during sickness, accident, old age or unemployment
  6. A good education

Opposition to the Four Freedoms and Second Bill of rights.

Who can argue with these either? These rights, though they are "positive rights" and thus require institutionalization, policies, programs, projects - to become reality. Are important to implementing the Four Freedoms. what is freedom without the resources to pursue happiness? What does it require for most people to do that? A decent living, access to health care, and some help when things go south. You'd think this would be obvious. And they are, they are self evident. But to implement them requires a government that is a Common-wealth and not a Privateering Enterprise. Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan and the GOP deliberately went after these ideas, One by One. See:

Reagan's subversion of the Four Freedoms
Further Reading and FDR's speech:
http://billmoyers.com/2014/03/07/remembering-franklin-delano-roosevelt-and-the-second-bill-of-rights/
Note I'm redoing some old posts to make them flow better. This was originally one long post. I'm breaking it up into smaller pieces.

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