December 08, 2006


Caption: Unlike sheep, goats neither demand nor beg for their rights. They just take them.

El Cabrero grew up in a household where strong language and irreverent jokes were tolerated if not encouraged.

We were hillbilly Episcopalians after all.

However, there were limits. Disparaging remarks about either Franklin Delano or Eleanor Roosevelt could be made only at considerable personal risk.

In retrospect, I'd say that's a pretty sound policy. In fact, I'm keeping a close eye on my three year old grandson in case he lets one slip.

FDR's New Deal laid the foundation for the American social contract, made possible the expansion of the middle class and largely created the social safety net. Although this social contract has been under sustained attack for over 25 years, it hasn't been completely destroyed. Thank God.

Towards the end of his life--and at a time when the nation was engaged in a life and death struggle against fascism-- he called for a Second Bill of Rights with a focus on economic justice issues. Here's an excerpt from his address to Congress on Jan. 11, 1944:

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 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.

(Can you imagine a president talking like that now?)

FDR's unfinished legacy is a challenge for us today.



Anonymous said...

Senor El Cabrero,
I am reminded and moved by the foresight and sense of fairness FDR and EDR possessed. I am struck by how poorly today's political, so-called leaders, compare; they are so mean and small. Thanks for some really worthwhile, educational, and interesting posts.

All the best,
El Sombrero (aka Ralph Adams)

Anonymous said...

the grandchild has been warned of the consequences of such remarks, and therefore will stick to his usual curse words and poliitical jokes....

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Thanks you for reminding me of FDR. With the atmosphere of greed, intolerance, and oppression that has been the mark U.S. politics these past few years, reading Roosevelt’s words were like a fresh breeze blowing away a putrid stench.

Jspiker said...

Very Profound....I wasn't aware of this. Thanks for sharing.