Barack Obama and "The Second Bill of Rights"

Associated Content | Oct 28, 2008
By Mark Whittington

What is the "Second Bill of Rights?"; The idea, that seems to be forming as part of the Barack Obama Agenda of redistributing wealth, was first articulated by none other than President Franklin Roosevelt during his 1944 State of the Union Address.

The "Second Bill of Rights", as articulated by FDR, consists of a set of positive rights, or as Barack Obama might say, rights concerning what the government must do for its citizens. These include, according to FDR:

"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."

The need for a "Second Bill of Rights" hjas been championed by Obama ally and advisor Cass Sunstein, Law Professor at the University of Chicago, in a book entitled "The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need it More than Ever." Obama surrogate Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D) Ohio recently demanded the implementation of a "Second Bill of Rights" at an Obama campaign rally.

The revival of the concept of a "Second Bill of Rights" puts a new face on Barack Obama's seven-year-old musings about the Constitution. The Constitution suggests that human beings have rights granted to them by God (or nature if one prefers) that governments cannot take away. The government cannot take away ones right to speak or own fire arms, jail someone without just cause, take property without just compensation, and so on. These are "negative rights" according to Barack Obama.

But the "Second Bill of Rights" are "positive rights," things that the government must give one. Jobs, education, health care, housing, and so on are not things that people have the right to acquire by their own effort. Government must give people these things. There are two problems with this.

First, jobs, education, health care, housing, and so on cost money. Governments, by their nature, cannot create wealth necessary to provide such things. To get the money necessary, governments must take it away from other people which it deems to have too much of it. On other words, redistribution or "spreading" the wealth. And no one has the right to keep their wealth if the government wants to use it for its own purpose.

Second, as Tom Palmer, who reviewed Professor Sunstein's book suggested, the very idea of a "Second Bill of Rights" means that there are no God given or natural rights, but simply rights that the government grants or takes away according to its own convenience and whim.

Thus the implementation of a "Second Bill of Rights" implies a complete reversal of the founding philosophy of the United States, that government should be limited and have only those powers that the people are willing to grant it. Instead, government and not the people is all powerful and people only have the rights that government wills to grant them. That is the future that we face should Barack Obama become President with hugh majorities in the House and Senate.

Sources: Obama's Constitution, Obama's Constitution, Powerline, October 28th, 2008

Barack Obama on Redistribution of Wealth, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, October 27th, 2008