Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Second Bill of Rights

Here’s a quote for you:

”“I can’t think of anything that’s been lost,” Mr. Ceragioli said.”

I can think of something. I saw it earlier in the article from The New York TImes.

Anger as a Private Company Takes Over Libraries

”“There’s this American flag, apple pie thing about libraries,” said Frank A. Pezzanite, the outsourcing company’s chief executive. He has pledged to save $1 million a year in Santa Clarita, mainly by cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees. “Somehow they have been put in the category of a sacred organization.””

But that is not all. The privateer isn’t done.

”While the company says it rehires many of the municipal librarians, they must be content with a 401(k) retirement fund and no pension.”

There are two things that are lost right there -- a union salary and a pension. Oh, and your soul. Maybe that isn’t worth much these days. After all, the privateer doesn’t seem to care if anyone notices his lying. Right before he tells us the “company says it rehires many of the municipal librarians” the privateer tells us...

”You can go to a library for 35 years and never have to do anything and then have your retirement. We’re not running our company that way. You come to us, you’re going to have to work.””

So, you can work for them if you’re terrified of losing your job. But not if you have the security of a union and a pension. With any security and dignity, you’re a slacker. But without it, you’re a good, “motivated” employee. I can only hope he gets the union he deserves.

Perhaps I’m overdoing it. I must admit that I watched Michael Moore’s movie “Capitalism: A Love Story” yesterday. Perhaps I’ve been overcome by his left-wing propaganda. But I did see something I’ve never seen before. From my favorite President no less.

”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.”

Those lines are from a State of the Union speech Franklin D. Roosevelt gave in January 1944. It continues below. President Roosevelt was sick and exhausted from his war-time trip to Cairo and Tehran. He gave this speech over the radio instead of in the Capitol. This last part -- where he enumerated his Second Bill of Rights was filmed. You can watch the video, or you can just read the text provided.

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

In his film, Michael Moore mentions that victorious Americans -- veterans of Roosevelt Administrations -- helped write the new constitutions of the conquered Japanese and Germans. As I said earlier, Roosevelt’s speech is new information to me. Imagine my delight in seeing these words today -- the very next day.

”In Europe, citizens feel entitled to work - it is even written in the German Constitution.”

You can read the article it came from -- Derision amid divisions over labour

It is spot on -- and quite educational -- about the different way Americans and Germans view labor. Yet, when we think of the Germans, we don’t think of a bunch of slackers. We think of an industrious people. A people known for following rules -- an orderly society. Even now, they are held up as the model economy for the rest of Europe.

There are solutions to our current problems. There are other ways in which we can structure our society. We don’t have to live in fear -- fear of unemployment and destitution.

Don Brown
September 29, 2010

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