The terms “socialism” and “Marxism” have been bandied about quite a bit as of late; in fact it would seem that with Barack Hussein Obama in the White House those terms are being heard more and more. But to what end? I mean it is one thing to speak of socialism and its negative impact on our society, and quite another to label a U.S. President as a socialist. But have we had socialistic presidents in the past? Now don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a review of all 44 presidents. I am going to focus on only one and more specifically on one speech given by that president.
But before that, I want to talk quickly about one of the greatest gifts our Founding Fathers gave us; the Bill of Rights. They were introduced to Congress in 1789 and finally ratified in 1791. The Bill of Rights laid out, for our society, a framework upon the already rock solid Constitution. They were also brought forth to quell dispute between the federalist and anti-federalist camps. These first 10 amendments allowed our country to move forward and carry on with what Americans do best, pursuing life, liberty and happiness.
What is the Bill of Rights? Well quickly, I shall summarize them for the purpose of this narrative.
- First Amendment, freedom of speech and religion – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- Second Amendment, the right to bear arms – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
- Third Amendment, protection from housing troops – No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
- Fourth Amendment, protection from unreasonable search and Seizure – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- Fifth Amendment, right of due process and protection from double jeopardy, self incrimination and eminent domain – No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- Sixth Amendment, right to trial by jury, speedy trial, to confront your accuser and right to counsel – In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
- Seventh Amendment, right to civil trial by jury – In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- Eight Amendment, protection from excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
- Ninth Amendment, Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- Tenth Amendment, powers of States and peoples – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Now that we have refreshed our memories of our Bill of Rights, let us take a look at what has been called our Second Bill of Rights. Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his State of the Union address to Congress in 1944 said that America needed another bill of rights.
In it he declared, “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.
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.”
Quite a list there, Mr. FDR, sir. But his list begs the question, “What is a right?” Well it can be said, and was said by our Founding Fathers, that we possess certain unalienable rights, among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe the key word in that well known American phrase is “unalienable;” meaning those rights which are placed upon us by our Creator. These rights cannot be transferred, sold or sundered by man or any implementation of man. But further, the term “right” refers to that which one can pursue and enjoy only when it is not at the expense of the rights of others. When one says something is a right, there are two parties involved, the party receiving the right and the party granting the right. Unalienable rights are those that arise between our Creator and us. Our Creator grants those rights and we receive them. To call anything a right, there has to be the understanding that it is universal, for to not do so would negate the rights of all of us.
This being said let us look at FDR’s Second Bill of Rights. He speaks of a person’s right to a job, substantial earnings, of a business man to be able to do business and sell his products without fear of oppression by monopolies. FDR continues with calling the ability to own or have a home a right, food, health care and economic security a right, and that only when these are secured can America be America.
The left’s philosophy is contingent on the premise that not only are we all created equal, but that we are all maintained and secured in that equality. For only when every citizen is equal in stature financially with all other citizens can America be fair. This is a failed and markedly flawed philosophy because no one government is powerful enough to make all its citizens equal. Where does this end? If owning or having a home is a right, then why does one person live in an apartment while another has a 50 room mansion? Why does one citizen reside in a crowded, congested city while another enjoys the expanse and openness of the rural lifestyle?
Or what about this “right” to a job and financial security? When one citizen toils long hours of the day, week in and week out, only to survive from paycheck to paycheck, why is it that another citizen lives in the lap of luxury after building his business up from meager beginnings to corporate success? What then, should we do to correct this problem? If you subscribe to the left’s philosophy, then you tear down or penalize the more successful citizen to reward the less successful. You take from the rich and give to the poor. On paper that is a very romantic proposal, stirring images of Robin Hood and a benign hero to the poor. But in reality, taking from one person and giving that to another person is anything but romantic. If you subscribe to the idea that we are endowed by our Creator with certain rights, then you must reject the notion of redistribution of wealth because only our Creator can give or take away rights, not man or man made institutions.
So how would FDR explain the idea that we are born with the right to a job, a home, health care and economic security? This is just another example of the left making promises of a utopia that is utterly unattainable; for to say that we are born with the right to economic security is to say that someone must give that right to us. Who? Our Creator? I hardly believe that our Creator is worried about how much money we have, the size of our home, or how well our business does. No, to say these things are rights is to confer the status of right giver to our Government and I, for one do not want our Government to have that kind of power. And let us not forget that our Founding Fathers saw the Government as the potential enemy and therefore built limits in the Constitution to prohibit it from expanding into the role of “right giver.”
We find our current President subscribing to this theory of FDR’s on the issue of health care. During a debate last October, Obama was asked if he thought health care was a right. He said he thought it was a right. But I tend to follow the ideal that Edmund Burke espoused, which was that thinking of health care as a right was preposterous. On this subject he said, “What is the use of discussing a man’s abstract right to food or to medicine? The question is upon the method of procuring and administering them. In this deliberation I shall always advise to call in the aid of the farmer and the physician, rather than the professor of metaphysics.”
This directly correlates to what our Founding Fathers said about being created equal. In other words, we are created in equality, not maintained in that equity. By creating a level playing field, it is ultimately fairer to every individual by allowing them the chance to strive, rather than by making sure everyone strives equally. But maybe this idea is just too unfair, and maybe this is what Michelle Obama meant when she said America was a “down right mean country.” Other countries utilize socialism to equalize the citizenry, to give everyone the same level of success. America does not do that and if having a nation full of people striving to do their best, to succeed in a compassionate manner means that we live in a mean country, then so be it. For only in a country that focuses on individual liberties and freedoms can equality mean anything. No Mr. FDR and Mr. Obama, I do not think health care is a right. To call health care, food, shelter and economic security rights is to demean what our Creator bestows upon us, and that is not something that I wish to do.