Posted by: JanF | March 1, 2011

Bully pulpits

Today’s post is a Good Government call to arms … from the way-back machine.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to power during the worst economic downturn in our nation’s history: the Great Depression. Greedy banksters crashed our economy and plummeted our nation into a nightmare of lost businesses, lost jobs, and lost homes. Dreams and lives were destroyed.

Much like our current situation, a Democratic president is trying to turn things around by propping up commerce while not forgetting that the people who are hurting the most are the unemployed and those falling through the frayed social safety net.

Quite unlike our current situation, FDR had majorities in Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, who cared about their country and their fellow citizens.

And he had one other thing: a philosophy which clearly laid out what he felt our great nation stood for.

Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights:

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.[…]

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.
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 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.

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.

(From President Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union)

It is time to reclaim this Economic Bill of Rights and unashamedly promote it as what Real Americans stand for.

We need to call out the false meme of “budget frugality” being advanced in Washington D.C. where budgets that will put 700,000 more people out of work are “just fine” and where stimulus money which states are depending on to keep their most needy citizens from starvation and homelessness has dried up and where Congress is unwilling to invest in the future through infrastructure and education.

The bully pulpit is empty because change needs to come from the bottom up. Let’s fill hundreds of bully pulpits with our voices saying “No” to greed and shortsightedness and “Yes” to caring about our fellow human beings.

In Roosevelt’s own voice:

Great Speeches is a series on speeches by American politicians.

(A version of this was originally posted on 03/01/2011 at BPI Campus)