American Elephants


When All Else Fails — Make Another Speech! by The Elephant's Child

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Tomorrow is the day when President Obama gives his first big speech (of a series of six) at Knox College in Illinois on the subject of jobs and the economy. He has assiduously avoided the subject ever since the election, but the public has made it clear that fixing the economy is their number one interest. Dan Pfeiffer, White House Director of Communications, says “You’re Going to Want to Watch this Speech.”

Knox College is where he first laid out his economic vision for the country after he was elected to the United States Senate. “It’s a vision that says America is strongest when everybody’s got a shot at opportunity —not when our economy is winner-take-all, but when we’re all in this together.” Isn’t that warm and fuzzy. When has our economy ever been winner-take-all ? And how can we possibly not all be in this together? Pfieffer continues: “Since day one, the President has had one clear economic philosophy. The American economy works best when it grows from the middle out, not the top down.” Huh? What can Mr. Pfieffer possibly think that means? And how can he claim that to be a clear economic philosophy?

And over the next several weeks, the President will deliver speeches that touch on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America: job security, a good education, a home to call your own, affordable health care when you get sick, and the chance to save for a secure, dignified retirement. They will include new ideas and new pushes for ideas he has discussed before. They’ll outline steps Congress can take, steps he’ll take on his own, and steps the private sector can take that benefit us all.

Ah, there we have it. It’s the old progressive “Second Bill of Rights” left over from FDR, 69 years ago, in his 1944 State of the Union speech. The progressive reforms undertaken by Pres. Woodrow Wilson were abandoned after World War 1, and we weren’t going to return to the “so-called normalcy” of the 1920s. The agenda for which our soldiers were bleeding and against which fascists and subversives were scheming was the Second Bill of Rights.

Freedom of speech, free press, free worship and trial by jury were all very fine, but” our Nation has grown in size and stature, and these ‘political rights’ aren’t enough to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” The rights he names 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 is products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every business man, 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 and sickness and accident and unemployment;
  • the right to a good education.

Of course this falls under the heading of ” it would be nice,” not “guarantees,” and how do you expect to make that happen? Oddly enough this is a time when a significant number of people object to the original Bill of Rights. They don’t like the free speech part because they don’t believe that you should be able to disagree — certainly not publicly nor loudly. They prefer freedom from religion, because they shouldn’t be forced to see religious symbols. There’s a case in Ohio where activists are attempting to keep them from putting a Star of David on a Holocaust memorial.

So that gives us a preview of sorts of the president’s speech tomorrow and continuing days. Republicans are trumping up phony scandals, trying to score political points, and critical budget deadlines lie ahead and the President wants to talk about the issues. He believes that he has a gift — in his ability to make a speech and persuade people to do his bidding. He wants to talk about what it means to be in the middle class in America. Are you persuadable?

 



A Conversation With Dr.William Voegeli. by The Elephant's Child

William Voegeli is the author of the new book Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State.  He is a visiting scholar at Claremont McKenna College’s Henry Salvatori Center for the study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World.

In this interview at Reason.tv, Dr. Voegeli traces recent federal government expansion back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s introduction of “a Second Bill of Rights” that called for the right to housing, education, and medical care. ” The denial of the possibility that there is an endpoint [to the welfare state] is crucial to the liberal enterprise,” Dr. Voegeli says.

This is a good one, and well worth your time.




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