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Statism is a political disease which permeates both major political parties, but manifests itself in concentrated form in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Those who align themselves under this banner claim to champion “fair wages, fair markets, health security, retirement security, equal justice,” speaking out for the unemployed, the discriminated, and the minority.
Stripping the conversation of this superficial and emotion-based veneer, one finds the underlying philosophy behind such statism: a belief that the government is a vehicle through which perceived societal injustices should be coercively corrected. On the rare occasion that such individuals turn their populist talking points into practical solutions, the public is treated to a display of the ignorant buffoonery that such a philosophy necessitates.
The latest example comes courtesy of Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), a J.D. graduate from the Unviersity of Illinois College of Law two decades ago. At the convocation ceremony for the 1993 graduation of which Jackson was a part, his father encouraged the new attorneys to use “the law as an instrument for social change.”
His son was apparently paying attention. In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives last week, Rep. Jackson advocated a method of using the law to implement social change of staggering proportions. Focusing his remarks on the issue of unemployment, he specifically suggested that “the answer to long-term unemployment… should be in the Constitution of the United States.” He goes on to explain the specific policies he thinks should be enacted to address the problem:
We need to add to the Constitution the right to a family to have a decent home. What would that do for home construction in this nation? What would that do for millions of unemployed people?
He says we need to add to the Constitution the right to medical care. How many doctors would such a right create?
He says we need to add to the Constitution of the United States the right to a decent education for every American. How many schools would such a right build from Maine to California? How many people would be put to work building roofs and designing classrooms and providing every student with an iPod and a laptop? How many ghettos and barrios will actually be touched by such an amendment?
In fact, very little that we pass in the Congress of the United States even touches the long-term unemployed. Only thing that touches them that this Congress has access to, that can actually change their station in life, is the Constitution of the United States.
The “he” to whom Jackson refers is Franklin Roosevelt—a bleeding statist himself who championed a "second bill of rights" that would supposedly provide “security and prosperity” for all Americans. The “rights” which FDR wanted to see codified in the Constitution are as follows:
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.
This idea predates even FDR, and did not originate in America. The 1936 Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics presents, in a section titled “Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens”, a long list of “rights” guaranteed to each citizen. Each individual was afforded the right to “rest and leisure,” “maintenance in old age and also in case of sickness or loss of capacity to work,” and “education, including higher education, being free of charge.” Rather than “rights to be left alone”, these positive rights were (and are) “rights to be provided for, at others’ expense.”
As I stated in a previous post on the matter of these so-called “rights,” such government-mandated goods and services enslave those who are forced at gunpoint to provide them. One cannot be guaranteed a job without an employer being mandated to provide one, even if it makes no business sense. Homes cannot be provided for every family without creditors, banks, and all companies involved being sucked into a sticky web of risky loans whose impact are spread out across the entire tax base. Medical care cannot be provided to all without physically compelling doctors to render their service.
The unintended (?) consequence of securing these false “rights” is as unsurprising as it is predictable: under an oppressive burden of regulation, taxation, inflation, and the threat of coercion for failure to provide others with what they are somehow entitled to, costs will go up, quality will decline, and all of society will begin to reap the psychological and ethical effects of what slavery does to a person. Unfortunately, America has already been operating under a diluted version of this system for decades; the advocacy promoted long ago by FDR, and last week by Jackson, would fasten the shackles of government-mandated servitude on American citizens who such supposed “civil rights” advocates as Jackson claim to be fighting for.