FDR Fought Economic Injustice With the National Guard and His Economic Bill of Rights

The Occupy movement has its roots in and found its voice in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights. Please read this and share it. It is a moral compass for the path we are on today, not only in this country but around the world.

In 1936  hundreds of men and women took over GM plants and occupied them for 45 days, and their actions beat the corporation and was the beginning of the middle class. When the local police were sent in to break the strike and force the protestors out, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent in the National Guard….not to end the strike, but to force the police to back off and to protect the protestors from violence and police brutality. Amazing contrast with what is happening today in Portland, Oregon, Oakland, CA, Denver, and other cities.

In his last state-of-the-union address to the nation, he was so ill that he could not appear before Congress to deliver it, choosing instead to deliver it by radio. When he had finished, he went before television cameras to deliver his “Economic Bill of Rights.” Here is what he proposed:

“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

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.”[3] 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 all our citizens.

For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world. “

FDR died before WWII ended and before his Economic Bill of Rights could be enacted. It is now up to all of us – We The People – to reclaim our rights and our country.

Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” portrays this in a magnificent way. If you haven’t seen it yet, see it. And if you have seen it, watch it again. The Occupy Movement which is growing exponentially all over the world found its voice in this documentary.