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How should the Constitution be modified for the next go-around?

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posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 12:43 AM
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This is something that I've wondered about and wanted input on from others, or better yet, a nice discussion of the issues at hand. I did some searches through ATS but don't think a topic like this has been introduced yet. If one has, then I apologize.

Assuming that most American citizens still wish for the ideal democratic government envisioned by the likes of Henry and Jefferson, I would venture to say that most Americans today would think absolutely nothing wrong with our Constitution in its current state, or even as it was originally ratified. Our Constitution is still widely respected, is the oldest federal constitution still in use, and has inspired similarly-framed governments across the world.

However, I would also venture to say that most of us here at ATS have come to realize major faults in the policies of our government today in regards to maintaining the ideals set forth by certain revolutionary figures. It has become widely-accepted practice for our government to withdraw our freedoms and privacies on our behalves, in exchange for "national security" (or so that's how it's explained to us). Our government has excercised military force against other nations for reasons questionable at best, including the same excuse of "national security" as of late, which turned out to be utter BS anyway. These are only two such issues today, without referencing all the general corruption and scandals and abuses of power that have plagued our system for a length of time that is hard to even define. And all of this has happened under our Constitution.

It can be argued that the problems with our government today are not with the Constitution itself, but with common citizens such as ourselves, for becoming, for the most part, lazy and ignorant and apathetic to our government's actions. This is of course a huge issue, but I hardly think it's the only reason our government is in such a sorry state today. Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson both, among others (mainly those known today by the Anti-Federalist Papers), feared that the Constitution gave too much power to a central authority, and that the system would be far too easy to corrupt.

In his first inaugural address, Jefferson stated:


Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.


And some 200 years later, we certainly have a definite answer. As if history hasn't answered this question enough, we now have one more instance of government gone sour to strike down as testimony for future generations to (*hopefully*) remember. And I think it's back to the drawing board... again. At least this time we have something to work with, though, right?

So what do you think should be changed?

Maybe we can start off with general ideas as to what we feel needs to be changed, like limits on the power of giant corporations, for example, and go from there to more specific ideas and frames that we can bat back and forth. Or maybe you don't think anything at all should be changed, and would like to discuss why.

I'll post my thoughts later, since it's late and what I'd like to see happen would necessarily require a massive power shift from a federal government to local government on the scale of individual counties and cities that would require me to type out a great deal, and even then I doubt I would be able to completely present a working theory of such an idea anyway without further consideration. But then, that's why I'm starting this thread in the first place.


Hopefully we can get some thought-provoking posts rolling through this part of ATS.




posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 01:12 AM
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Our Constitution is fine, we just need more conservative, constructionist judges that will actually impose the limits it places on Congress and the federal gov't, like the commerce clause and the 9th and 10th Amendments.



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 04:38 PM
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I agree.. Our Present Consitution is just fine.

The PROBLEM is getting the polticians and the public to realize that much of what government has become does NOT follow the consitution at all.

Our government is too big.. tries to take responsibility for too much and in the process.. Actually creates more problems than what it solves.

But there are those out there that scream bloddy murder when you suggest to "downsize" the government in any way..



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 04:51 PM
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Constitution is just fine.
What we need to do is force our goverment including the court system to actually follow the Constitution instead of twisting it around to suborn the american people!



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 05:14 PM
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I actually think it’s fine the way it is, too, but some of the wording is ambiguous enough as to be interpreted differently by different people… So, the only thing I would do would be to clean up the language so that it’s not so easy to misinterpret it.

I will concentrate on a few of the Bill of rights.

I: I think it should be more clear that religion has no place in government. There should be an explicit statement about an unambiguous separation of church and state. And as it states freedom of religion, it should also state freedom from religion.

II: This one is pretty clear to me, but it should be stated in more unambiguous language as well. Perhaps: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well-regulated militia could, at any time, become necessary to the security of a free State.

IV: I definitely think there needs to be an explicit ‘right to privacy’ in one’s person. What one does with their body is nobody’s business. I'm thinking of rights to abortion and death (euthanasia).

XII: Add: And there shall be clear and unquestionable means of checking election results.

That’s all I have for now.



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 06:19 PM
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The Constitution is great as it is when it is followed. There are some changes that I would make but nothing terribly major.

- Hold a national vote of confidence for all of the supreme court justice every 8 yrs. If a justice gets a no vote he shall then be replaced.

-No elected fed. offical or any gov. figure appointed by a federal official can accept campaign funds from a publicly traded company or any funds greater than $10,000 (2005 value).

-States have the right to Nullify Federal Law. A state can nullify federal law if 3/4 of the state pop. vote in favor of nullification. This does not apply to the Constitution or any of it's Amendments.

-All citizens of the U.S. have to right to presonal freedom and privacy in body and mind. like it was said a person's body is there business and so is anything else that doesnt effect the surrounding populace. The gov. has no right to invade the privacy of your home.

There are other changes I'd like to see made to give more power back to the people but these are some of the major points.



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 09:20 PM
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I agree that the Constitution is fine too, other than the amount of power it gives the federal government. Does no one else here think that a decentralization of power to more local governments would be beneficial to preserving our rights?

As an author writing under the name of "Federal Farmer" (believed to have likely been either Melancton Smith or Richard Henry Lee) stated in a document published October 8th, 1787:


The plan of government now proposed is evidently calculated totally to change, in time, our condition as a people. Instead of being thirteen republics, under a federal head, it is clearly designed to make us one consolidated government...Whether such a change can ever be effected in any manner; whether it can be effected without convulsions and civil wars; whether such a change will not totally destroy the liberties of this country — time only can determine.


This consolidation, the distribution of ultimate authority to a federal level, has ultimately led to clear federal predominance, as could be expected. Now the feds are passing laws that are beginning to infringe upon our freedoms, and there's not really anything our local and state governments can do counter it, even with popular opinion. I don't think it's any secret anymore that most of those in Congress, or any other important position in our federal government, are no longer in touch with most people or the views they're supposed to be representing anyway. It's likely that many of them don't really even care to represent you at all, but only themselves or their political parties, or their lobbyists, etc. All of these problems could be avoided so much more easily on a local level. And imagine how hard it would be for any corrupt group to infiltrate all the necessary counties and towns to gain the amount of power we see large corporations excercising over our federal government today. It would be next to impossible to maintain such a degree of influence in localized government.

Remember that at the time this Constitution came about, there was lack of authority for the federal government to tax for a common defense and control domestic and foreign trade or settle disputes between states. Otherwise, there were no serious problems with the Articles of Confederation (especially in regards to preserving personal freedoms), and even these problems could be solved without having to resort to giving a federal authority so much general power. Around this point in time, even though the individual states seemed to hold ultimate authority, individual counties and towns still held profound power by comparison to their minor significance today.

For example, when Virginia's House of Burgesses (state level) was dismissed by Governor Dunmore in the years leading to our revolution, the dismissed representatives managed to exert even more power against the English 'Federal' Parliament laws by appealing directly to each local county and town leadership. This placement of responsibility into the hands of the numerous local governments proved extremely effective in bringing out the true wishes of the individual citizens, and almost totally nullified the power Governor Dunmore had over the colony immediately. In this way, the oppressive English government established at a state level, by the powers in England, was effectively and overwhelmingly denied authority simply by a majority opinion, years before the revolution even started. This, I think, is democracy at its finest, and shows how powerful and effective local governments can be in expressing the will of the people.

Think about how nice it might be if your local council (which you personally would obviously have much more influence over than a Bush or Clinton, or you could even run for office yourself or become otherwise involved with your home land's policies with much more ease) made the important decisions for your local region, instead of a federal Congress or Court having a controversial ruling enforced across our whole country, even though you and the rest of your region may unanimously, 100% strongly disagree with the ruling, whatever it may be. You could be elected into your council, and everyone in your region could wholeheartedly agree with you, but it would make little difference because a decision had been handed to you from a centralized power. Maybe some of your rights and privacy have just been revoked in the name of 'national security.' Or maybe it has just been decided for you that you can't use marijuana in the privacy of your home for medical purposes, or that you are not allowed to marry certain people because you share the same body parts. But, the point is, rather than your local community deciding for itself what's best in regards to these issues, which would seem most representative and democratic, you have just nine people in Washington making decisions for some 296 million others. Are these the kinds cases these people are supposed to be ruling on?


These examples may not seem so bad in themselves, but this sort of 9 vs. 296,000,000 power distribution is common to all of the branches of government on a federal level, and at the same time essential according to our Constitution, and for corruption to seep into them (as we know it has) would be devastating to our freedom, and yet somehow legal by our current Constitution. The amount of power allowed the federal government allows our Congress to pass significant acts like PATRIOT that affect us all, with little to no say from the rest of us. The same centralized power allows agencies like the CIA to exist and do what they do unchecked (not referencing the intel work, here, either
), and allows Bush to go to war as he sees fit (even though this isn't technically allowed by the Constitution, but via an executive order).

This is the only real problem I have with our Constitution. It shouldn't allow this at all, but should instead go out of its way to make it as hard as possible for these things to pass. Localizing government would do just that. It may be a gross abuse of power for the federal government to have taken as much control as it has since it was first ratified, and in no way intended by our founding fathers, but the amount of power left to this level has nonetheless caused the scales to tip so that it now almost seems as though the federal government is our local government.


Originally posted by kitanis
Our government is too big.. tries to take responsibility for too much and in the process.. Actually creates more problems than what it solves.


On a federal level, yeah. The sorts of things our federal government involves itself with today are things that it should leave well alone to smaller divisions of government, if any part of our government at all.


Originally posted by abeyer
-States have the right to Nullify Federal Law. A state can nullify federal law if 3/4 of the state pop. vote in favor of nullification. This does not apply to the Constitution or any of it's Amendments.


Yeah,
, and local governments similarly being able to nullify state (though maybe not federal) laws might not be such a bad idea either. We've had some really stupid laws brought before our legislature here (ie, a ban on baggy pants
).


-All citizens of the U.S. have to right to presonal freedom and privacy in body and mind. like it was said a person's body is there business and so is anything else that doesnt effect the surrounding populace. The gov. has no right to invade the privacy of your home.


I find it ironic that this should even be suggested, but definitely an idea I would love to see embraced again.



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 10:32 PM
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With a 3/4 vote a state can nullify a Federal Law or ruling? Hmm tell that to the people who want pot legal or for that matter assisted suicide.

What you are about to see will change the face of the Constitution forever. The National Guard is the Millitia and now they are streched thin by Iraq, Katrina and now what appears to be another major hurricane.

They want to close NG bases in a 'reallignment'. We who the hell gave them the power to close MY states bases?

The framework of the Constitution is there. But to declare things like the Declaration of Independence UNConstitutional because it says God? Good grief, it was written BEFORE the constitution.

Its silly, and its going to wreck the country in the long run.



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 12:12 AM
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This was a Republic, not a Democracy. Now, it is a Democracy and not a Republic.
The Constitution is not even a concern statutes and regulations rule our lives, not the constitution. Constitutionally-protected rights are covered over with congressionally-created "Civil Rights", which can be taken away at any time, whenever it is expedient for their objectives. Usually, the need for recinding "civil rights" is sold to you as being for your own good.

A couple of quotes as examples:

"When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly.... [However, now] there's a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there's too much freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it."
----Bill Clinton----

"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government."
---Henry Kissinger---

"What good does it do to ban some guns. All guns should be banned."
---Howard Metzanbaum---

"The combination is here to stay. Individualism has gone, never to return."
---John D. Rockefeller Sr.---

Just a few to get you thinking.

Edited to add one more, by Woodrow Wilson:

" I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men "

[edit on 23-9-2005 by Thomas Crowne]



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 01:15 AM
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very intresting to me Thomas that you know what happened in Woodrow Wilsons time with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act and what it entailed for the nation after 1913.

also Thomas the very words you quote by men of intelligence ..reason ..logic. Amazing to me what they bode in the area of individual liberty. Very telling these gnostics.

Also Thomas Crown...that you know the difference in a republic and a democracy is also very tellling. I am reminded of a letter from a soldier written after his return to the states from WW1. He writes his parents ..."I read in the newspaper today that while we were in France we were fighting for democracy. I learned that thieves had stolen my country while I was away fighting. My country has been stolen and become a democracy."
Now here was an American who knew more than most people in this nation today.

People like to quote the Constitution..but so few seem to be aware that the government operates under the federal registers and also the United States Codes Annotated. The USCA is further divided into positive laws and negative laws. Most of the laws or codes used today are under negative laws...granting law and priveleges to the government not the people ..even in areas that the Constitution says they dont have the authority. These codes just havent been taken to court as of yet.
Positive laws are more in line with the public ..common law and constitutional law. Negative laws are like laws granted to a soverign or priveleges granted to people by a soverign government. Now that you are under these negative laws...the government can penalize you for breaking any number of them. Priveleges usually granted by some kind of government program or license..like a social security number..sometimes called in certain states as your control number.
This type of thinking about these laws..positive and negative are not something that is taught to most of us in government classes as they dont want you knowing the deck is stacked against you by this technique. Priveleges granted to a subject by a soverign.
This technique is how they get around much of what is written in the Constitution of the United States. They dont educate you as to how they are doing it.

Thanks,
Orangetom



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 01:27 AM
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Everyone wants to quote the Constitution and construe it in their own way. It makes it almost impossible to convey law. When does the good of a Nation end and and the good of an individual overcome that? If everyone went on their own way it would be the wild west here again.



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 08:17 AM
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Originally posted by orangetom1999
very intresting to me Thomas that you know what happened in Woodrow Wilsons time with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act and what it entailed for the nation after 1913.


Ah yes... the Federal Reserve.. Its NOT a government organization despite the name "Federal". That Act actually was illegal and Congress actually allowed it to pass. Why we operate this way is beyond me.. but we do.



[People like to quote the Constitution..but so few seem to be aware that the government operates under the federal registers and also the United States Codes Annotated. The USCA is further divided into positive laws and negative laws. Most of the laws or codes used today are under negative laws...granting law and priveleges to the government not the people ..even in areas that the Constitution says they dont have the authority. These codes just havent been taken to court as of yet.

Positive laws are more in line with the public ..common law and constitutional law. Negative laws are like laws granted to a soverign or priveleges granted to people by a soverign government. Now that you are under these negative laws...the government can penalize you for breaking any number of them. Priveleges usually granted by some kind of government program or license..like a social security number..sometimes called in certain states as your control number.

This type of thinking about these laws..positive and negative are not something that is taught to most of us in government classes as they dont want you knowing the deck is stacked against you by this technique. Priveleges granted to a subject by a soverign.

This technique is how they get around much of what is written in the Constitution of the United States. They dont educate you as to how they are doing it.


Agreed.

I know folks who get so mad at all the regulations and federal laws.. but do not want to take the effort of learning how to combat it or even complain about it.

But there are Many laws in the federal record that should have never even been introduced by a senator or representative because essentially they are controls to take away a persons rights under the consitution.

Social Security is one subject that makes me mad.. Essentially before I was born.. a scheme was brought into law that takes a portion of my money to give to others. If you read the origional Act.. then you find that supposenly its a voluntary program to be decided by the worker to participate. But other federal laws and regulations added since then have made the Social Security Number mandatory. Many hospitals have parents automatically arrange for a child to be issued a number after birth.

The only way to fight the trend of illegal laws is for the citizens to pay attention to what their lawmakers do.. And call them to task when something is wrong when they do it.. Its a tough task and Many in this nation refuse to fight it.



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 09:01 AM
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people who do not have Social Security Numbers...these negative laws from the USCA do not apply to them. If the courts want to apply a negative law to a non SSN person they run the risk of jurisdictional issues/civl rights violations under ..I think it is Title 42. One must object correctly and timely when objecting to such jurisdiction issues but I have known people trained in this type of Common/constitutional law.
Often Negative laws are applied to a person by a administrator from a file folder. Not in a court by a jury of ones peers. Negative laws have to do with licences and such ...priveleges granted by the state to a subject . Marriage licenses, drivers licences,taxation,hunting licences fishing licenses...all portions of law where when issues are contested one can find oneself before a judge or even fined by a administrator without a court hearing. If before a judge there is no jury ...traffic court is textbook in this . Marriage/divorce is another one. Marriage licenses ...a privelege granted by the state. They can now regulate your marriage, divorce , property distribution ...all before a judge and no jury of ones peers. These judges are basically a administrator making decisions from a file folder.
Government people do not like people without Social Security Numbers...because they dont have jurisdiction over them if these people know what they are doing. When they get one of these people in court and they handle themselves in the correct jurisdiction ..the judges will get them out of thier court quickly before someone catchs on to what is happening.

Thanks,
Orangetom



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 10:51 AM
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Originally posted by just_a_pilot
Everyone wants to quote the Constitution and construe it in their own way. It makes it almost impossible to convey law. When does the good of a Nation end and and the good of an individual overcome that? If everyone went on their own way it would be the wild west here again.


Not really.
The Constitution is very clear, it controls the government, and that is clear. What it doesn't do is tell us how we must lead our lives.

Look at the Bill of Rights, and you'll see a few, but not all or our individual rights that they wanted to specially mention, and the last two of the Bill of Rights makes it clear that whatever wasn't specifically outlined for the Feds was ours; either the state's or the individual's.

There is nothing about the constitution that is unclear, or the Bill of Rights, that cannot be clarified by reading the Founding Fathers' original intent. The Federalist Papers are good reading for this, and here's the ISBN for that book: 0-553-21340-7.

What we seem to forget, and what makes things look a bit more confusing than it should, is that our states were expected to be sovereign. Remember? An example is religion. Christians just can't see eye to eye on the scriptures, so we have denominations, or sects, as they were called in the early days of our country. New states were created as members of sects moved away from others to form their own state. Did they violate the constitution? Of course not. Did they have the right as individuals, and did their state have the right to be as they were set up, to exist? Of course. So, we have the right to be different. When we lost states' rights, though, we lost the ability to be as such, and because of that, things are so warped and eskewed from how it should be, we figure it must be the constitution that is hard to understand. Nope, it ain't, it's just hard to undestand why things are now as they are. I can answer that - greed for financial and power gain by certain men down through American history.



posted on Sep, 24 2005 @ 06:53 PM
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It hasnt been that the Constittution is vague. From my experience reading it I found it to be fairly straight forward. The issue is the "implied powers" people have claimed are included in the Constitution despite the fact that this notion is adamently dispelled by the 10th amendment. It is explicitly stated that any powers not granted to the federal gov. belong to the states and to the people. Not that hard to understand, yet politicians and the Supreme Court managed to manufacture this belief in the Constitution containing federal powers that arent specifically mentioned in it.



Yeah,
, and local governments similarly being able to nullify state (though maybe not federal) laws might not be such a bad idea either. We've had some really stupid laws brought before our legislature here (ie, a ban on baggy pants
).


I do also believe that local communities should have the right to nullify state law, but not national. It'd be too logistically difficult for police officials to keep track of where and where not a certain law applies. Again the State Constitutions would be exempt from this clause. This idea is looking towards protecting the minority from the majority, which has been an issue in any and all democratic and republican governments.




I find it ironic that this should even be suggested, but definitely an idea I would love to see embraced again.



It's sad that in the US this should have to be addressed, but it certainly does. The problem was that none of the surveillance technologies we have today could not have even been imagined so The Right to Privacy was not included in the Bill of Rights. It is obvious today that this is necessary.



posted on Sep, 24 2005 @ 07:47 PM
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Well, technically the Constitution has changed quite a bit since it was adopted by way of amendments. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with the document. It is it's interpretation that we need to keep tabs on. We are the beneficiaries of the greatest document of freedom the world has ever seen and what we really need to do is to respect that and do everything we can to defend and protect it. Freedom must be balanced with responsibility.



posted on Sep, 30 2005 @ 10:13 PM
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There's nothing wrong with the Constitution, except a couple of amendments (14th and 16th) that were never really ratified.

The real problem is apathy.



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 01:20 PM
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kitanis, they allowed it to happen because it would fall to them and their friends.

We see it every day on a minor level in shops when discounts are given to friends and this was on a much higher level dur to the power of the Government...



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 01:47 PM
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GradyPhilpott, could the problem with the document be that it is so easily open to interpretation?



posted on Oct, 2 2005 @ 02:15 PM
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How about adding:





“The Economic Bill of Rights”

Excerpt from President Roosevelt's January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union

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.” 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.

Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center




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