Monday, January 12, 2015

Whatever Happened To Liberty And Justice For All?

While recently listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's [FDR] " Four Freedoms" speech, a glaring question popped out at this writer. Whatever happened to liberty and justice for all and was it ever a reality in America? One thing is a certainty.... justice for all is nothing but a catch phrase in America today. It does not exist. We have seen an ever increasing cornucopia of  institutional and social injustices manifested over the last decade in America. We have seen Barry Bonds inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame while on trial for illegal steroid usage.  The out of control banking industry has levied egregious banking fees on helpless consumers. The American Healthcare industry has raked the American people over the coals with. " five times the inflation rate pricing while practicing fraudulent  business methods like billing dead patients just to name one. Wall Street has become a den of thieves betting against their customers.  In 2001, the Patriot Act was enacted and has been turning citizens into suspects ever since. There have been proven cases of U.S. Bishops protecting pedophile priests. And of course we can't fail to mention  the day in, day out civil injustice in the American Criminal Justice System, which has recently been highlighted in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.

The Speech


The Never Ending Fight For FDR's Four Freedoms!

It was 74 years ago that FDR made this famous speech and America today is still fighting for its narrative, a free and equal society for all. In this speech, FDR proposed four freedoms. Not only did FDR command these freedoms for all Americans but also every person in the world. FDR's speech was made just prior to the U.S. entering  World War II. The four freedoms were the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to worship or not to worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear.  The speech was hugely popular with the American people with many of the speeches' key components being a guidepost for many post-World War II countries redevelopment.[See Article]

With the help from what many call America's " greatest generation,"  this statement caused a reshaping of the fundamentals of American society. During this period, America became equal and more democratic. What has happened since the time of FDR in America is unconscionable. With the onslaught of Reaganomics in 1980's to our present time, these basic tenets of freedom for the everyday Joe and Mary in America have all but been wiped out. The equality in America is in shambles and the rising gap between the haves and have-nots is staggering.

How Do We Invigorate The Quest For FDR's, " Four-Freedoms?"

The paramount motivation for FDR delivering this speech in his State of the Union address was that Europe at the time was being overrun by the Germans and East Asia was being terrorized by imperial Japan. FDR knew it was inevitable that America was heading for conflict.  It was FDR's view that it was essential for America to begin to prepare for war. However, it was his[FDR] viewpoint that the most important thing for America to do was become an ''arsenal of democracy.''  England, France, and the Eastern Hemisphere who were under siege from what history has shown as one of the most evil empires ever in the world,  Nazi Germany.  President Roosevelt knew well if you were going to prepare for a national defense , you needed security forces for the nation, but, moreover, you needed economic security for the nation as well. FDR had been fighting for years on the economic  front with labor and others in the New Deal. This address was needed to rally these associations once again. FDR had to hone the American people in on his vision that he had been striving for, for eight years, and that was the " Four Freedoms." Our research into this matter revealed that one of the FDR major beliefs was that all Americans aspired for these freedoms and knew they were a galvanizing force to bring the country to a sense of oneness and purpose.

Freedom From Want

In addressing what FDR was touching on in his ' freedom from want' segment within the speech, one might need an understanding of the term " General Welfare.Clause."

General Welfare Clause Explained

As we know, FDR succumbed from his Polio disease before seeing these aspirations fulfilled, and the reason was well documented.  The Republican Congress and the  newly elected President Harry S Truman, who proved to be ineffective, were left to deal with them. The freedom from want aspect from this speech struck fear into the hearts of conservative Republicans. They [Republicans] imagined that FDR goals would be to take Social Security that he enacted in 1935 and build upon  it to the point that the program would include National Health Care. Moreover, in 1944 when FDR came back to Congress in another State of the Union address, he intended to put real practical meaning  to the program by laying out rights for Americans that would have included guarantees like  a job, healthcare, housing, food and shelter, and clothing. Behind the scenes, we learned that FDR was not hopeful these guarantees [wants], would be enacted.  He felt the Conservative Coalition of the day,  North Republicans and the Southern Dixiecrats would block it. But Roosevelt knew the American people wanted  a Social Democratic America.

The writer of the " Pledge of Allegiance" was a Socialist

Francis Bellamy
  1. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.[See Source]
  2. FDR was a very thorough person, and he had surveys conducted by various agencies. These investigations found 85% of Americans wanted National Healthcare and the other aforementioned desires which in practice functioned as an Economic Bill of Rights for the American citizens. 
  3. FDR was a visionary and a man of his time and in addition to the socialist GI Bill [Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944] FDR advocated, as now President Obama has,  that all American citizens should have the right to a free college education. 
  4. The Voice of America President Obama on Free Community College for all.

What we have in our present time is a post-educational system that has caused nothing but over-the-top debt for America's college students. There is no question that if FDR's vision could have come to pass it would have transformed America,  and leaves its supporters asking the question: what if, and why not? Just like in FDR's time and today as well,  a super-majority of Americans wanted socialized medicine and education and did not get it.   So why is this not a reality in America? Sweden provides its citizens with free health care and a college education. Denmark does this. Norway does this. Germany does this. France does this. Free health care and college were an American idea from arguably one of the greatest presidents this nation has ever seen and yet we do not offer these fundamental freedoms to our citizenry. In this writer's mind it's an outrage and should be something for which every American citizen should be fighting and advocating. 
Ronald Reagan

Unfortunately, what we have seen since Reagan has been an all out attack on Democratic and Social Rights in this country.  All the work and aspirations of the post-World War II generations' quest to bring about the vision of FDR's " Four Freedoms," done in the 40's, 50's, and 60's,   such as reforms in immigration, Medicare, and Medicaid, civil rights and right to vote laws, and environmental protection;  all being dismantled by the 1% stuffed shirts of the GOP.  It has reached a point in this writer's view that the true " Patriotic Duty," of every American should be to protect these rights from the radical-right, Tea Party, and Libertarian factions operating within today's Republican Party.

Is Liberty And Justice For All An American Pipe-Dream? 

One could argue that to imagine an America where all citizens are equal with the same protections and benefits a cohesive society should demand, is a dream long gone. We here at the House of Public Discourse believe it's paramount to remind ourselves of the founding principles of this nation. One of the common themes for this nation should be that this is our land, this is your land, and this is my land from the sea to shining sea. We The People are in this together should be the everyday focus of every single individual in this country no matter their race or any other mitigating factors. Moreover, the reason we have Democratic institutions and the reason we have a government, is to provide for the health and happiness of We The People.  The " General Welfare Clause" was based on these principles. According to the Declaration of Independence, when the government fails to provide for the " General Welfare" of its citizens it's that said government's duty and obligation to correct it or be overthrown by We The People. The founding documents of America are crystal clear. They reveal to us that the purpose of government is to do something good for everyone in our country and not just a privileged few. Our government was not founded on a principle for us but not them mentality. It is to represent We The People not We The Few. In addition, our government was designed to be  a help to us not a hindrance. 

The Declaration Of The Ages

74 years ago, FDR came out and said in his " Four Freedoms," State of the Union address:

"As men do not live by bread alone they do not fight by armaments alone. Those, who man our defenses and build our defenses, have the stamina and courage which come from the unshakable belief in the manner of life they are defending."  
What FDR is saying here is we are not just fighting Hitler, we are not just fighting against an evil empire, we are fighting for something. What does our nation stand for? Once again, this questions leads us right back to our nation's founding first principles of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness? The United States of America's Declaration of Independence was the first time any governmental document in the history of the world had a provision for its citizens to be happy. FDR continued:

" The mighty action that we are calling for is not based on a disregard for all the things worth fighting for, the nation takes great satisfaction and much strength from the things that have been done to make its people conscious of their individual stake in their observation of Democratic life in America. Those things have toughened the fiber of our population, renewed our faith and strength to their devotion to our institutions we make ready to protect." 
It's important to understand that when FDR made this speech we were in the middle of World War II. Certainly this was not the time for any American to stop thinking about the social and economic problems that were the cause of  the Social Revolution which was a supreme factor of the world at that time as it is in our present time.  Our research has found that FDR wanted to drive home the message that the fundamental things expected by the American people were. " Life, Liberty, Justice, and Happiness for All." This narrative is what President Obama should be covering with the American people in his upcoming State of the Union address. When you wade through all the political rhetoric of today,  what the American people want is very straightforward: Life, Liberty, Justice, and a fair shot at having happiness. What the American people are screaming for is an equal opportunity no matter the circumstance you were born into. Jobs for those who can work that pay a wage that correlates with the cost of living in an area would be a great place to start.  Why have the Republicans blocked the Obama administration on creating government jobs to rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure? We have seen since Reagan and his government is the evil mantra;  cut our children's education, lack of funding to maintain our roads and bridges, power grids, sewer systems, environmental protections, and the deregulation of the banking industry and Wall Street.  Like the Rolling Stones song proclaimed , it's enough to " make a grown man cry."

One can only imagine what our country would be like today if FDR's aspirations could have become a reality. But after 35 years of Reaganomics, all one can imagine is that it's too late to believe in an America that works for all. If Capitalism cannot provide enough jobs for We The People, when their sole motivation is a maximization of profits, then having government sponsored jobs for any myriad of General Welfare concerns and needs is not only practical and smart it, makes good common sense.  Since Reagan, we have learned new terms like downsizing, outsourcing; trickle-down economics just to name a few and all WE, The People have gotten in return, is the largest  wealth inequality ever recorded in the annals of history!  It is time for our President to be a leader like FDR and step up to the podium in his upcoming State of the Union Address and demand a passage of a jobs bill that will put Americans to work rebuilding our nation's infrastructure and  strengthening our public schools and making two-year college free for all Americans.  Whatever happened to liberty and justice for all?  It was sabotaged by greedy Capitalists and the corrupt politicians who do their bidding.  Citizen United ring a bell?  We as a people can do two things. [1] Do nothing but grin and bear it, or [2] Do something and stand up and fight and demand as our founding fathers did in the Declaration of Independence...demand  our government  change its ways or else be overthrown. So let it be written, so let it be done.

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