On August 11th in Philadelphia, union members from all over the nation will reveal “America’s Second Bill of Rights.” They have a purpose: “to counter those forces preaching austerity” by exerting pressure on both parties prior to the national conventions.
In a memo to national and international union presidents, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka is, “encouraging union members and leaders to engage in policy discussions around the convention committees, including the Platform, Rules and Credential Committees.”They should have less competition and distractions while they work their magic if the Dems follow Pelosi’s advice to stay home and campaign.
The Workers Stand for America site outlines their Second Bill of Rights:
• The Right to Full Employment and a Living Wage
• The Right to Full Participation in the Electoral Process
• The Right to a Voice at Work
• The Right to Quality Education
• The Right to a Secure, Healthy Future
Curiously absent were: The Right to a Hot Mate, and The Right to Eternal Bliss in An Afterlife of Your Own Choosing.
Workers Stand for America noted FDR’s “Economic Bill of Rights”, presented during his State of the Union in 1944, was their inspiration: he laid out his vision for a postwar America, “where every American would be entitled to decent work, education, medical care and retirement security.”
I think most of America would agree that the “Rights” proposed would be great general “Goals” for our country. There is a difference.
F.A. Hayek noted that though two men might exhibit equal effort, skill, and knowledge, “one may be a success and the other a failure” because in a free society it is the “use of particular opportunities” that determines usefulness. When living freely, payment is not to be expected because of the skill we’ve learned but rather by choices of individuals, “our skill for using it rightly.” We are not entitled to any particular position simply due to our talents. To claim that, “would mean that some agency has the right and power to place men in particular positions according to its judgment.” FDR himself proposed to exert just such a power. He recommended to Congress the adoption of a “National Service Law” that, “for the duration of the war, will prevent strikes, and, with certain appropriate exceptions, will make available for war production or any other essential services every able-bodied adult in this nation.”
The All-Providing Government feeds you, clothes you, then owns you (and may not let the unions strike).
As Hayek continues, “All that a free society has to offer is an opportunity of searching for a suitable position, with all the attendant risk and uncertainty which such a search for a market for one’s gifts must involve.” This founding principle of our country does not mean freedom will be easy, and many resent that.
Regarding the other proposed “Rights.” The right to full participation in the electoral process is already guaranteed to all U.S. citizens. There is a catch, however: you must actually be a U.S. Citizen.
The right to a voice at work sounds fine, unless that is code for preventing their voices from being heard when they vote freely to not be coerced by a union they don’t want to join.
They propose the right to a quality and “affordable” education from pre-kindergarten through college. Our educational system is a failure. Now we are going to make it even more “affordable” and higher “quality” somehow by expanding government involvement in the process?
And finally, they propose the right to Obamacare and perpetual entitlements for all; “the right to a baseline level of health care, unemployment insurance, and retirement security” as well as confronting, “inadequate pension plans.”
There are some things we can agree on. Our economy sucks, things are bad, and there is no real end in sight. Our country would be stronger if we were all employed, making good wages, voting legally, having a voice at work, able to afford and obtain a quality education (if you want one), and being healthy and able to retire. FDR had a great quote (displayed on the Workers Stand for America site), “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”
My question is: when, in the history of humanity, have people become more free and independent by becoming increasingly more dependent on a government that is going broke?
In closing, I do have my own proposal for a “Second Bill of Rights:”
• The Right to Expect That Congress Reads All Bills Before Voting
• The Right to Re-read the First Bill of Rights Until It Sinks In
Feel free to offer other suggestions to add to my list – it is your right.
The Hayek quotes come from, F.A. Hayek’s chapter “Responsibility and Freedom” found in, The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition.