America used to have the world’s premier public education system that all other nations looked up to. And it was all within reach for all citizens to attend. That in turn led to a highly trained and educated workforce.
When WWII ended, President Truman passed the GI Bill so returning vets could get their education as a thank you for serving their country.
And it worked. That made the United States strong and made it the leader of the free world.
Continue reading The Case for a 21st Century New Deal – Returning Excellence to Education with a Focus on Students & Teachers
FDR’s Unfinished “Second Bill of Rights” and Why We Need It Now
by Democratic Underground, December 2, 2006
Franklin Delano Roosevelt first began speaking about our country’s need for economic and social rights to complement the political rights granted to us in our original Bill of Rights during his first campaign for President, in 1932. Through his whole twelve year Presidency and four presidential campaigns centered largely on advocating for and implementing those rights, it wasn’t until his January 11th, 1944, State of the Union address to Congress that he fully enumerated his conception of those rights in what he referred to as a “Second Bill of Rights”. The elements of that conception fall into two major categories – opportunity and security. Here is a partial introduction to and list of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, as enumerated in his January 11, 1944 Message to Congress:
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…
- 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.
Continue reading The Case for a 21st Century New Deal – Passing FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights
By Fadhel Kaboub, New Economic Perspectives, August 28, 2013
Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Yes, jobs!
For the civil rights leaders, the fight for justice was not limited to providing equal voting rights for all Americans and abstaining from discriminatory practices against African Americans. A federally funded Job Guarantee program was a central theme articulated by Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin (the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, and one of this year’s recipients (posthumously) of the Presidential Medal of Freedom).
Mathew Forstater’s work has frequently reminded economists and policymakers of our failure to address structural unemployment and to ensure a useful and productive employment opportunity for anyone who is ready, willing, and able to work.
Continue reading Honoring Dr. King’s Call for a Job Guarantee Program
The Economic Bill of Rights
FDR’s January 11, 1944 message to Congress:
...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.
Continue reading The Case for a 21st Century New Deal – The Jobs Program
Here it is 2014, and those long ago visions of “high speed” internet and the “information highway“ are still just that in some areas of the country. Even in metropolitan areas, “high speed” internet providers still can’t touch some of the speeds Asian countries are providing.
Remember how this was all supposed to play out? Back in the 1990s, high speed internet was supposed to usher in a new era of creativity and productivity for everything from work to school to doctor visits to surgeons performing operations remotely. Health care was supposed to take a giant leap forward with you having a physical checkup over the internet a hundred miles away from your doctor’s office. People were going to be able to watch movies and tv shows unimpeded, do video chats, and start a whole new age with the internet’s technical capabilities. As they say, “the future’s so bright I’m going to have to wear sunglasses”.
Well, that was the dream anyway. Continue reading The Case for a 21st Century New Deal – World Class High Speed Internet
Do you know what the Democrats’ jobs plan is today?
It’s a serious question no one is asking. Outside of the one bill passed in 2009 which had half the needed investment, I have not heard one word about any jobs plan from the Democrats.
We are now five full years in with the White House and the Senate in Democrat hands, and nothing has improved.
Continue reading We Cannot Afford “Business-as-Usual” Anymore
by L. Randall Wray, The Nation
There is no economic policy more important than job creation. The private sector plays an invaluable and dynamic role in providing employment, but it cannot ensure enough jobs to keep up with population growth or speed economic recovery—much less achieve the social goal of full employment for all Americans. Thankfully, there is an alternative: a job guarantee through a government-provided “employer of last resort” program offering a job to anyone who is ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage plus legislated benefits.
In recent decades full employment has been wrongly dismissed as not only impossible but economically counterproductive. Though the Employment Act of 1946 committed the government to the goal of high employment (it was amended by the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Act, which targeted a measured unemployment rate of 3 percent), we act as if full employment would ruin us, destroying the value of our currency through inflation and depreciation, and weakening the labor discipline that high unemployment maintains through enforced destitution. Through the thick and thin of the business cycle, we leave tens of millions of Americans idle in the belief that this makes political, economic and social sense.
It doesn’t. The benefits of full employment include production of goods, services and income; on-the-job training and skill development; poverty alleviation; community building and social networking; social, political and economic stability; and social multipliers (positive feedbacks and reinforcing dynamics that create a virtuous cycle of socioeconomic benefits). An “employer of last resort” program would restore the government’s lost commitment to full employment in recognition of the fact that the total impact would exceed the sum of the benefits.
Continue reading The Job Guarantee: A Government Plan for Full Employment
by Annie Lowrey, NYT
This Fall, a truck dumped eight million coins outside the Parliament building in Bern, one for every Swiss citizen. It was a publicity stunt for advocates of an audacious social policy that just might become reality in the tiny, rich country. Along with the coins, activists delivered 125,000 signatures — enough to trigger a Swiss public referendum, this time on providing a monthly income to every citizen, no strings attached. Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young. Poverty would disappear. Economists, needless to say, are sharply divided on what would reappear in its place — and whether such a basic-income scheme might have some appeal for other, less socialist countries too.
The proposal is, in part, the brainchild of a German-born artist named Enno Schmidt, a leader in the basic-income movement. He knows it sounds a bit crazy. He thought the same when someone first described the policy to him, too. “I tell people not to think about it for others, but think about it for themselves,” Schmidt told me. “What would you do if you had that income? What if you were taking care of a child or an elderly person?” Schmidt said that the basic income would provide some dignity and security to the poor, especially Europe’s underemployed and unemployed. It would also, he said, help unleash creativity and entrepreneurialism: Switzerland’s workers would feel empowered to work the way they wanted to, rather than the way they had to just to get by. He even went so far as to compare it to a civil rights movement, like women’s suffrage or ending slavery.
Continue reading Take One Income, Please: The simplest welfare program imaginable, brought to you by the Swiss
General Smedley Butler was a Major General in the Marines.
In his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I.
In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled “War is a Racket”, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them.
Butler points to a variety of examples, mostly from World War I, where industrialists whose operations were subsidized by public funding were able to generate profits essentially from mass human suffering.
Continue reading Make War Unprofitable
How old is the War on Drugs?
If you had said 42 years old based on President Nixon’s June 17, 1971 speech where he declared from the White House, “To wage an effective war against heroin addiction, we must have international cooperation.”, then you would be only partly correct.
The original War on Drugs in the U.S. kicked off 100 years ago in 1913 with the Harrison Act, which is considered the foundation of current U.S. drug law. The year before, the 1912 Hague International Opium Convention was signed by China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Persia (Iran), Portugal, Russia, Siam (Thailand), the UK and the British territories (including British India).
The convention consisted of six chapters and twenty-five articles, and it was in response to the the growing problems of Opium, Morphine, Cocaine, and Heroin among the societies. It served as a global declaration of how dangerous Opium and other non-medical drugs were becoming; it also was the inspiration for the Harrison Act. Today, the Hague convention has evolved into the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Continue reading The Case for a 21st Century New Deal – End the War on Drugs