By William A. Cook
‘ … disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people …’ — (United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Today the American people, in concert with their brothers and sisters around the world, proclaim the rights to which they are entitled by birth and citizenship, by Constitutional law and Proclamation, and by membership in the collective body of nations that has universalized recognition of these rights for all humanity. And today, in cities and hamlets across this nation, and in many nations around the world, people gather in peace to demand of their governments’ recognition of these rights that have been abrogated by the few and denied to many.
Citizens no longer control their government; they are slaves to it. Representatives no longer serve the citizen seeking their consent to govern, they are servants of the corporations and lobbies that control the economic system to which the citizen is enslaved. Presidents no longer lead, they are the obedient lackeys of their corporate overseers. Freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want do not determine the needs of humans, economics of the market place supersedes all at the expense of the citizen and human rights. We exist in a corporate world of unending wars, of vengeance and recrimination, of fear as a commodity that imprisons the mind, of greed that destroys the resources of this planet without remorse, and of insatiable arrogance that harbors no concern for those it destroys.
This spring of human depression and desperation has given way to a fall harvest of hope and expectation as the citizens of the world unite to cast aside those who have commandeered their rights to a government of the people, by the people and for the people. They know now that economics must serve the people, all the people, not just the few: they see, as the arrogant cannot, that concern for all guarantees recognition of all, that compassion secures contentment, that justice overcomes prejudice and animosity, that fairness ensures equity, and that love secures lasting peace. Feeding the Golem of War is the path to destruction; feeding those in need, relieves the mind and the soul of its fear.
To achieve this harvest of hope, we must dismantle both the myth and the reality of corporate control. Capitalism is not and never has been a closed system independent of regulations imposed by governments or social systems; laissez faire as a concept feeds a lie; it is a ruse to maintain deregulation, to prevent the government’s right to control so that all citizens are served, not the few. The rights of citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness require the government to ensure these rights. That in turn means universal health care from birth to death, not care of private insurance companies the business of which is profit for the investor, corporate owners and CEOs; it means freedom of speech and freedom of the press, not controlled access to speech or free surveillance of the citizens’ speech by phone or Internet or library by government agents who report to agents of corporate power; it means equal justice for all not justice for those who can pay; and it means freedom from want and freedom from fear, and that means political and economic rights that can and must be provided by the government the people elect. The economic system must serve the people not the Capitalists or the corporations; therefore, the profits must be collected so that the rights are protected and provided, before they are divided with the investors and CEOs.
Rights before privilege must prevail. Nationomics, the economic system that serves the people first must prevail. Uncontrolled Capitalism, that has metamorphosed into Globalization, where the control of resources can determine the health and wellbeing of people around the world, must give way to human rights not privileged rights. The few, the privileged nations of the G8, the bank monopolies, the privately appointed IMF, WB and Federal Reserve Bank System must be regulated so that currency flows first to support the rights of the people and then the wages of the privileged few.
Sixty seven years ago near the end of the Second World War, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented the Congress with a new, carefully and compassionately crafted Bill of Rights, rights to be added to and complement the original ten Bill of Rights. The Congress then saw fit to defeat Roosevelt’s program. But Roosevelt understood then, as the Great Depression demonstrated so eloquently, Capitalism is a failed system for the majority of people because it sustains itself on the least amount of expenditure for the greatest profit. Today, we live in the second great depression, and what we now should understand is the reality of Capitalism, the wealthy survive on tax dollars, the majority suffer deprivation and despair.
Roosevelt’s plan addressed the realities of that time and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the worker and the executive, the weak and the healthy, the legislator and the subjugated, and he realized that the only way to ensure economic rights is by legislation with the government overseeing the distribution of wealth to ensure equity for all.
Here then is 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.
“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 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.” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
This second Bill of Rights completed what the political rights protected, by guarantying the rights inherent in “pursuit of Happiness.” Roosevelt put it this way: “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… We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”
Should Americans join with their brothers and sisters around the world to force their governments to meet the ideals enunciated by Roosevelt in his second Bill of Rights, marking the need to address them first as necessities and second as responsive to the unique cultures of each nation, then the last three articles of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be met and the ultimate goal of a world at peace might be possible.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
- Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
- (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
- (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
- (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
- Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
– William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His works include Psalms for the 21st Century, Mellon Poetry Press, Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy, The Rape of Palestine, The Chronicles of Nefaria, and most recently in 2010, The Plight of the Palestinians. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: [email protected] or visit: www.drwilliamacook.com.