- Ferdinand Lundberg's "Cracks in the Constitution"
deconstructed what framers, in fact, created, men he equated with a Wall
Street crowd, given their economic status and prominence as bankers, merchants,
lawyers, politicians, judges, and overall wheeler-dealers. In 1787, they
convened for their own interests, not the general welfare as most people
- As a result, they produced no "masterpiece of political
architecture (falling far short of) one great apotheosis (bathed) in quasi-religious
light," as Lundberg masterfully explained. His book, if not the Constitution,
is an epic work, must reading about America's most important document,
the Bill of Rights added belatedly in the first 10 Amendments, again not
for reasons commonly believed.
- They protected property owners, not ordinary people,
- -- free speech, press, religion, assembly and petition
rights for their interests, not "The People;"
- -- due process of law and speedy public trials for themselves
- -- quartering troops in their homes or on their land
- -- protection from unreasonable searches and seizures;
- -- the right to have state militias protect them;
- -- the right to bear arms, but not the way the 2nd Amendment
today is interpreted; and
- -- and various other rights for them, privileged elites
who, like today, lied, connived, misinterpreted, misrepresented, and pretty
much operated as they wished for their own self-interest, law or no law.
- Yet, the Constitution is hailed as the "supreme
law of the land," including its 27 Amendments, the last one first
proposed on September 25, 1789 (no typo), enacted over 200 years later
on May 7, 1992, preventing congressional salaries from taking effect until
the beginning of the next term.
- Franklin Roosevelt's Proposed Economic Bill of Rights
- On January 11, 1944, in his last State of the Union Address,
Roosevelt proposed a second bill of rights, saying the initial one "proved
inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." His
solution: an "economic bill of rights," guaranteeing:
- -- employment with a living wage;
- -- freedom from unfair competition and monopolies;
- -- housing;
- -- medical care;
- -- education; and
- -- social security, overall what he provided inadequately
in his first 11 years, except for measures like the 1935 Wagner Act letting
workers, for the first time, bargain collectively on even terms with management,
and the landmark Social Security Act, keeping millions of retirees, disabled,
and qualified survivors from the ravages of poverty.
- These benefits are fast eroding today, Obama administration
neoliberal ideologues wanting social benefits slashed, and Social Security
and Medicare privatized so Wall Street racketeers can pillage them for
profit until nothing's left for the needy.
- Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility
and Reform will recommend austerity measures during Congress' lame duck
session. Legislation will likely follow, focusing heavily on Medicare and
Social Security, gutting them over time, leaving millions high and dry.
What Roosevelt proposed but couldn't implement, the entire Washington establishment
plans to take away, cleverly so most people won't notice until it's too
late to matter.
- With WW II nearly won, Roosevelt stressed focusing the
nation's energies and resources on finishing it, suggesting among other
- -- "A realistic tax law - which will tax all unreasonable
profit," corporate and individual;
- -- "A cost of food law" with floor and ceiling
limits on prices; and
- -- reenactment of the October 1942 stabilization statute,
pertaining to prices, wages and salaries affecting the cost of living.
- He continued saying:
- "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 can be established for all - regardless
of station, race, or creed." He then listed what he meant, covering:
- The right to a useful and remunerative job.
- The right to a good education.
- The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade
in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies.
- The right to adequate protection from the economic fears
of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.
- The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity
to achieve and enjoy good health.
- The right of every family to a decent home.
- The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and
clothing and recreation."
- Though partly implemented at best, they were positive
recommendations, mirror opposite of policies under both parties since the
1980s, and Obama's proposed austerity at a time stimulus is desperately
- For example, the 1944 Servicemen's Readjustment Act (the
GI Bill) provided college or vocational education for 7.8 million returning
vets plus a year of unemployment compensation. In addition, 2.4 million
got VA-backed low-interest, no down payment home loans at a time their
average cost was under $5,000, enabling millions of families to afford
them, many with government help.
- Roosevelt called his proposal "security. And after
this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation
of these happiness and well-being" measures in the interest of democracy,
humanity, fairness, justice, and a nation discharging its responsibilities
for all its citizens equitably.
- Today, these ideas are lost at a time of an unprecedented
wealth gap, and officials ignoring essential needs by growing millions,
on their own and out of luck because both major parties spurn them.
- Instead they focus on imperial wars, handouts to bankers
and other corporate favorites, repressive laws, and eroding freedoms, destroying
them one at a time or in bunches, creating banana republic harshness in
- FDR's prescription was different, a patrician who gave
back to save capitalism with policies mirror opposite of today's that will
end up destroying it and America - its political and economic dominance,
afterwards its military might when little money's left to fund it, then
bankruptcy when it's gone, leaving only a short epitaph saying rest in
- Perhaps humanity will then exhale, absent America's belligerence
and no shyness unleashing it.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour
on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and
Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.