A Second Bill of Rights, or just another Bill of Goods?

Cass Sunstein recently published an op-ed on January 28 at Bloomberg.com saying that President Obama "firmly rejects 'equality of result,' but is simultaneously committed to ensuring both fair opportunity and decent security for all."

After that, Obama will pull a rabbit out of his hat.

If, according to Sunstein, the president "firmly rejects 'equality of result,'" how, then, will he be able to "ensure decent security for all"?  Surely if decent security can be achieved for all, wouldn't that indicate that everyone has the same level of such security?  Isn't that an exemplar of "equality of result"?

The phrases "rejects equality of result" and "ensure decent security" are diametrically opposed even when you discount the ambiguity inherent in the words "equality," "result," "decent," and "security".  

Sunstein also tries to assuage concerns by alluding to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's call for a series of imputed "rights" in his State of the Union address in 1944.  Sunstein says that FDR wasn't actually calling for additional amendments to the Constitution (while simultaneously plagiarizing the language of the first ten amendments), but rather wanted Congress to enact legislation that would embed the items in his Second Bill of Rights in legislation.  According to Sunstein, Roosevelt didn't believe that "the Supreme Court should enforce the Second Bill of Rights."  Odd phrasing coming from the pen (or word processor) of the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard University, since (a) the Supreme Court never enforces laws, but rather determines if a law is enforceable under the Constitution, and (b) regardless of what a law is called, e.g. a Second Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court would still have ultimate jurisdiction to determine if the specifics of such legislation were in line with the Constitution.  Sunstein should know that, or his students should demand a refund.

Sunstein then lists the "rights" that Roosevelt wanted (with the inference that Obama wants the same things) to have the force of law:

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.

Reading this list of eight "rights" makes the Liberal-Progressive-Democrat's heart swell with pride, especially since one of his own thought it up.  It's wonderful, it's caring, it's Progressive!  What more could the people of America desire?

Well, I for one would like to know exactly how all this is to be paid for.  I would like some definitions of terms embedded in this laundry list of "rights."  I suggest that you reread these lofty goals with particular attention to the slippery language used (emphasis is mine):

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.

As with ObamaCare, the devil would be in the details.  Take for instance the second item on the FDR/Obama/Sunstein wish list:

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

How much is "enough"?  Who decides what amount of food is adequate?  Michelle?  Who decides if Versace is too much or if we should all be wearing the equivalent of the venerable Mao jackets so popular in China not too long ago?  And what exactly is our responsibility as a nation to guarantee recreation for anyone?

Look at item number five:

The right of every family to a decent home.

Does this mean that the federal government will be mandating building codes?  Zoning rules?  Will this result in taxes being levied by the federal government on real property? 

So many questions and so few answers provided.  Yes, no rational person would say that some people should be purposely excluded from achieving all the aspirations on the list, but it is flawed.  Obama should love it, though.

Even though it was the brainchild or Roosevelt, the Second Bill of Rights' soaring cadences are right up Obama's alley.  And yet the sum and substance of all of it is about the same as the ultimate example of "politician speak," where ideas sound absolutely wonderful but in the final analysis say absolutely nothing, such as:

You know, if we had some ham, we could enjoy some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.

Based on this sort of "politician speak," you could starve to death.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran, and an independent voter.  Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.

Cass Sunstein recently published an op-ed on January 28 at Bloomberg.com saying that President Obama "firmly rejects 'equality of result,' but is simultaneously committed to ensuring both fair opportunity and decent security for all."

After that, Obama will pull a rabbit out of his hat.

If, according to Sunstein, the president "firmly rejects 'equality of result,'" how, then, will he be able to "ensure decent security for all"?  Surely if decent security can be achieved for all, wouldn't that indicate that everyone has the same level of such security?  Isn't that an exemplar of "equality of result"?

The phrases "rejects equality of result" and "ensure decent security" are diametrically opposed even when you discount the ambiguity inherent in the words "equality," "result," "decent," and "security".  

Sunstein also tries to assuage concerns by alluding to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's call for a series of imputed "rights" in his State of the Union address in 1944.  Sunstein says that FDR wasn't actually calling for additional amendments to the Constitution (while simultaneously plagiarizing the language of the first ten amendments), but rather wanted Congress to enact legislation that would embed the items in his Second Bill of Rights in legislation.  According to Sunstein, Roosevelt didn't believe that "the Supreme Court should enforce the Second Bill of Rights."  Odd phrasing coming from the pen (or word processor) of the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard University, since (a) the Supreme Court never enforces laws, but rather determines if a law is enforceable under the Constitution, and (b) regardless of what a law is called, e.g. a Second Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court would still have ultimate jurisdiction to determine if the specifics of such legislation were in line with the Constitution.  Sunstein should know that, or his students should demand a refund.

Sunstein then lists the "rights" that Roosevelt wanted (with the inference that Obama wants the same things) to have the force of law:

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.

Reading this list of eight "rights" makes the Liberal-Progressive-Democrat's heart swell with pride, especially since one of his own thought it up.  It's wonderful, it's caring, it's Progressive!  What more could the people of America desire?

Well, I for one would like to know exactly how all this is to be paid for.  I would like some definitions of terms embedded in this laundry list of "rights."  I suggest that you reread these lofty goals with particular attention to the slippery language used (emphasis is mine):

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.

As with ObamaCare, the devil would be in the details.  Take for instance the second item on the FDR/Obama/Sunstein wish list:

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

How much is "enough"?  Who decides what amount of food is adequate?  Michelle?  Who decides if Versace is too much or if we should all be wearing the equivalent of the venerable Mao jackets so popular in China not too long ago?  And what exactly is our responsibility as a nation to guarantee recreation for anyone?

Look at item number five:

The right of every family to a decent home.

Does this mean that the federal government will be mandating building codes?  Zoning rules?  Will this result in taxes being levied by the federal government on real property? 

So many questions and so few answers provided.  Yes, no rational person would say that some people should be purposely excluded from achieving all the aspirations on the list, but it is flawed.  Obama should love it, though.

Even though it was the brainchild or Roosevelt, the Second Bill of Rights' soaring cadences are right up Obama's alley.  And yet the sum and substance of all of it is about the same as the ultimate example of "politician speak," where ideas sound absolutely wonderful but in the final analysis say absolutely nothing, such as:

You know, if we had some ham, we could enjoy some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.

Based on this sort of "politician speak," you could starve to death.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran, and an independent voter.  Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.

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