Home > Uncategorized > FDR’s Dream, Europe and Japan’s Reality

FDR’s Dream, Europe and Japan’s Reality


On January 11, 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt was too ill to give his state of the union address at congress. Instead he decided to broadcast it over the radio, as he did so many times with his “Fire Side Chats”. Towards the end of his address, Roosevelt invited cameras into his oval office so the United States could see the most important thing he had to say.
He said the following: “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. 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.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Bill_of_Rights)
The President then went on to suggest that America draft a second bill of rights to the constitution. These rights included:
* Employment, with a living wage
* Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
* Housing
* Medical care
* Education and
* Social security
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Bill_of_Rights)
Sadly, President Roosevelt died before his dream could be made possible. However, his dream was spread to other countries, by members of his cabinet. They went to war-torn countries in Europe such as Germany, France, and Italy along with the devastated nation of Japan. While there, they helped local leaders enact these bill of rights into their new systems of government.
Since 1944 the following countries have some form of universal health care, either publicly sponsored or publicly provided:
Austria, Andorra, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France,Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan,South Korea, Canada, Cuba, and Australia. (http://www.whackadoostew.blogspot.com)
Of those countries, the following countries spend less money on health care, and are more effective systems:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. (http://www.examiner.com/extreme-weight-loss-in-national/why-change-the-us-has-the-37th-best-health-care-system-the-world)
But, hey were better than the Ukraine, San Mardino, and Moldova! However, beyond just health care, the United States is lacking in other areas that were part of FDR’s dream. For instance, employment and living wages. The following countries have a better household income inequality rates(ratio between 90th and 10th percentiles):
Norway, Denmark, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Australia, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
The following countries have a better poverty rate than us( Percent of population):
Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
(http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue40/SchmittZipper40.htm)
And lastly and perhaps most importantly, education. Our education system is what provides a future for our children and thus; not to sound too corny, but the children of America are the future of America and where it will go and do.
The following countries have better Math scores than us among 15 year olds:
Spain, Hungary, Poland, Luxembourg, Norway, Slovenia, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, France, Denmark, Iceland, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, and Finland.
But hey, at least our kids are smarter than Mexico, Portugal, and Italy’s kids. (The last really explains a lot of Jersey Shore)
(http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue40/SchmittZipper40.htm)
With all this information, can we still call ourselves the “Greatest country in the world”? I love America, but perhaps we are grading ourselves a little bit too selfishly. Its sad that arguably the best president to ever hold office in our nation could not convince our nation, but other nations to give their citizens such important rights. Ideas like these that are now brought up in America by politicians are called “Socialist ideas” and quickly shot down. However, the proof is in the pudding. These ideas work; they work for other nations and they can work for us. Imagine how hard it must have been for the leaders of Germany, Italy, and Japan to listen and adopt ideas made up by the same government that defeated them so badly in World War II. To be reconstructed by the same country that destroyed you. Now they must be glad they took these ideas and made them their own, because now they are better off than us. It is time for our own government to look at other nation’s ideas, see how they have worked, and adopt and adapt them into our own. If we are going to claim to be the best, we should be the best. Politicians need to start working together, Democrats and Republicans, to better this nation and bring President Roosevelt’s dream alive.

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  1. Matt Starkey
    October 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    We still can call ourselves the greatest country in the world. The one thing in common with most of those countries ahead of us in all of those categories is the relatively homogeneous culture and population they have. I agree that not being the best in those categories is unacceptable, but the fact that we are the most diverse nation in the world and still maintain the level of education and health care we do, is a testament to our greatness.

  2. October 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    thanks for the brave blog–we need to remind ourselves about our obligations to each other. RT

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