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FDR’s Second Bill of Rights

Saw this image come across Facebook a while back and saved it.  So, just thought I would post a reminder to all what an incredible president FDR was.  I wish our politicians were more like him.  I am fortunate to have all these items (some to a certain degree, as in medical), but an unacceptable amount of people in our country do not.  In fact, when you read down a bit further, nearly all these items are disappearing.

The Second Bill of Rights was a list of rights proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the then President of the United States, during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944.  In his address Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement, a second “bill of rights”. Roosevelt’s argument was that the “political rights” guaranteed by the constitution and the Bill of Rights had “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” Roosevelt’s remedy was to declare an “economic bill of rights” which would guarantee:

• Employment, with a living wage,
• Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies,
• Housing,
• Medical care,
• Education, and,
• Social security

Excerpt from President Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union:

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.”[3] 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 all our citizens.

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

11 replies »

  1. You are right many of these seemingly basic tenets (rights) are not obtained by a significant portion of Americans. What we consider basic HUMAN rights would disappear under a republican government.

  2. A true visionary and a great man. How pathetic and infuriating that a certain political and corporate element in America demonized him by calling him a socialist and hated him for advocating this Second Bill of Rights. And their kind is pathologically alive and more virulent today now more than ever.

  3. FDR, was one of or worst presidents ever, behind Woodrow Wilson of course. Rights can’t be granted by our government, I want the right to a million dollar house and free everything! You fools can cry in each others kool-aid. Flame me all you want I’m outta here.

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