In his newest film Capitalism: A Love Story Michael Moore uncovers a long forgotten FDR speech. In the speech FDR describes his ideas for a second bill of rights.
Michael Moore does the amazing in his newest movie Capitalism: A Love Story when he reveals a rarely seen FDR speech. President Roosevelt was too sick to deliver his January 1944 State of the Union address in person to Congress so he delivered it on the radio. In the speech Roosevelt provides his ideas for a second bill of rights revolving around economic justice. The speech was given just over a year before Roosevelt died in April of 1945.
In the speech Roosevelt states “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” Those words still ring true today as the nation faces its greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Roosevelt also stated that the nation could not be content if even one-tenth of the population was “ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, or insecure.”
FDR’s Second Bill of Rights
The following is a list of the rights FDR spoke of in his speech:
- The right to a useful and renumerative 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 business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination from 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 economc fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
- The right to a good education.
The Fate of the Second Bill of Rights
President Roosevelt’s ambitious economic bill of rights was never enacted. Following the second world war the United States entered a period of unprecedented economic expansion making the idea seem unnecessary. The era of great prosperity lasted into the middle of the 1970’s.
Is an Economic Bill of Rights Necessary Today?
Today the United States once again finds itself confronted with a grim economic reality. The unemployment rate stands at almost ten percent and is predicted to stay there for at least another year. Nearly 40 million Americans live in poverty while over 45 million have no health insurance. The median family income dropped 3.6 percent last year from 52,163 to 50,303. Lawrence Katz, an economist at Harvard University, talking to the Washington Post said “We had a plutocratic boom. Then we have egalitarian recessions. Taken together, only the top ends up growing, on average. For the typical American family, the 2000’s have been a disaster.” The question remains as the nation faces its darkest economic hour since the 1930’s: will anything new be done to stop the suffering?