Wednesday, March 22, 2006



Sixty-five years ago, an American president addressed the nation and called us to war and sacrifice. On January 6, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned that we would be involved in the war that was engulfing the world and our need to prepare for our defense and that of our allies. He knew that Germany was seeking world domination and it was only a matter of time before we would be attacked. He also spoke of the selfish group of men who would “clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests” once the United States was on a wartime footing. He summoned the nation to convert our peacetime production to the production of implements of war. He also enunciated the basic things that a free nation must provide which were:

“Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”

Roosevelt called for personal sacrifice in part through the payment of higher taxes to pay for the defense of our nation. He again reiterated “No person should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program, and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.” {It was after the attack on the United States that the Truman Commission was formed and Truman (who was a senator at the time) sought out corporate corruption and weeded out those who were overcharging. Some even went to jail for war profiteering.}

Most importantly, were the words that gave rise to what this speech came to be known as: The Four Freedoms. Those freedoms were:

Freedom of speech and expression.

Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way.

Freedom from want.

Freedom from fear.

We have sunk into the abyss from the lofty rhetoric of FDR to the petty, arrogant words and deeds of George W. Bush. The true global war that was World War II makes Bush’s posturing a joke. After the Dubai port takeover attempt, members of Congress are attempting to draft legislation that will protect our national interests. Two members of Bush’s security team, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, have publicly stated that national security is fine as long as it does not interfere with corporate interests. As David Sirota explains: “The supposedly ‘tough on terrorism’ White House will only support Congressional national security legislation as long as it doesn’t mess with the administration’s corporate agenda.” Bush’s latest genius effort is the sale of U.S. airlines. After all, once foreigners hold 40% of our debt including Treasury Bonds, Bills and Notes, they assume they have a right to spend it and if they want to buy up part or all of the United States, so be it.

The Four Freedoms that FDR embraced are violated daily. Freedom of speech and expression are permitted only when it conforms to the Bush positions. The Patriot Act has violated our civil rights and even the “wrong” words on a tee shirt can put you in jail. People who have gathered to protest the war can find themselves on the “no fly” list for no other reason than their participation in an activity that Bush is against. Bush daily violates the First Amendment which, among other rights, guarantees” the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.”

Freedom of religion is also under attack with right-wing Christians demanding that we recognize this country as a “Christian nation.” Religion has moved to the schools as in the fight between evolution and intelligent design. The movement to bring Christian prayer to the schools ignores those who may worship God under another name such as Allah.

Freedom from want has become a joke with discouraged workers who do not appear on the unemployment rolls because they’ve stopped looking and underemployment (people who have lost high paying jobs and take a much lower salary to try to survive) on the rise. Based on an antiquated formula, the government acknowledges that the poverty rate is 12.7%, an increase of 5.4 million people since Bush took office. The true figure is closer to 25% since the poverty formula still says 1/3 of an American’s budget is for food. It fails to account for the huge increases in the costs of housing, health care, childcare, and transportation since the formula was devised in 1963.

And lastly, freedom from fear has all but vanished from this country. Beginning with color alerts and unending statements that “we’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here,” Bush has silenced opposition by playing on human fears. Rather than the statement FDR made in one of his fireside chats that all we have to fear is fear itself, Bush has played on the fears of Americans to justify everything he does. The war profiteering that is going including the $250,000 million payment to Halliburton’s subsidiary even though the Army was told by the Audit committee that Kellogg was “fudging” their figures” and the 9 billion that disappeared under Paul Bremer’s rule in Iraq are repeated over and over again and we are told it is in the name of protecting us. War profiteering has become the rule, not the exception. Katrina has also been a source of riches for contractors who have overcharged and underperformed. Yet the Bush administration turns a blind eye in order to provide an endless stream of money to their contributors and cronies.

When Republicans gained control of every branch of government, they vowed to end the social programs such as Social Security that FDR’s New Deal had enacted. What they never warned us about was the total annihilation of every action taken by Democratic Presidents to preserve the rights of the individual. Corporate primacy has changed this government into a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. The middle class is being destroyed by the exporting of jobs and the importing of cheap labor. If we cannot restore a Democratic majority in Congress in the coming election, the assault on the middle class will bring about a two class state: the rich and the poor. Warren Buffet said that class warfare is being waged, and his class is winning. Unfortunately, his class has already won, and we are faced with thousands of people applying for 425 jobs when Wal-Mart opened in Chicago. We must win in November for the survival of our nation. Otherwise the march toward a feudal society with a few lords and the rest of us serfs will reach its goal.

-Marlene Rose


At 9:25 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Well said, Marlene! It hadn't occurred to me how timely it would be to remember FDR's "Four Freedoms" just now.

And it's not as if FDR was ANTI-corporation. Corporations are the basic way we do business in this country, and without healthy corporations we weren't going to pull out of the Great Depression. He also knew that war was going to be good for business. But he insisted that there had to be LIMITS. There had to be limits to corporate power, and limits to war profiteering.

And FDR somehow took it for granted that any appeals he made to the American public had to be made to their better--no, their BEST--selves. That was before Ronald Reagan declared officially that it's not just OK but great to be greedy, selfish and bigoted, and then Lee Atwater and Karl Rove made a science of understanding and manipulating our vilest inner selves.



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