Live recording held at the café at AS220 on Empire Street, Providence at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14, 2012.
Can and should the government guarantee economic security?
During his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944, President Roosevelt stated that the United States should implement a second “bill of rights,” arguing that the political rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had “proved inadequate to assure equality in the pursuit of happiness.” Roosevelt’s remedy was to declare an “economic bill of rights” which would guarantee: Employment with a living wage, housing, medical care, education and Social Security. This radical rethinking of the responsibility of our government was a theoretical justification of the New Deal and a call to finish this audacious project. This Second Bill of Rights speech created a foundation for much of the subsequent work undertaken by the federal government through Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, formed the basis for the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, and was a target for the right as they advocated for less government.
Tara Melish is an Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Human Rights Center at SUNY Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, she is a specialist in the area of international law and human rights, with a particular focus on comparative national and international approaches to the protection of economic, social and cultural rights.
Jennifer Klein is a Professor of History at Yale University, where she teaches courses in 20th century U.S. urban history, labor history, and political economy. Her new book, Caring for America, co-authored with Eileen Boris and published by Oxford University Press this year, just won the National Women’s Studies Association Sara Whaley Book Prize. Her previous book, For All These Rights, won prizes for political and business history. Her articles have appeared in Dissent, The New York Times, CNN.com, New Labor Forum, and Labor Notes, as well as scholarly journals.
Eve Sterne is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in History at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Sterne, who graduated from Yale University and received her doctorate from Duke, specializes in relationships between labor, immigration, religion and politics in twentieth-century America. The author of Ballots and Bibles: Ethnic Politics and the Catholic Church in Providence, she is a long-time executive board member of the Rhode Island Labor History Society.
- A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights, by Elizabeth Borgwardt (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 2007)
- The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever, by Cass R. Sunstein (Basic Books; 2004)
- Social and Economic Rights in the American Grain: Reclaiming Constitutional Political Economy, by William Forbath, In The Constitution in 2020, (Jack M. Balkin & Reva B. Siefel eds.; Oxford University Press, 2009).
Now in its seventeenth year, Action Speaks is made possible by generous financial and in-kind support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, AS220, Robinson & Cole, LLP, WGBH 89.7 Boston, RIPBS, and the Providence Phoenix. Action Speaks has been heard on over 175 radio stations across the United States, and is presented by WGBH 89.7 in Boston. If you can’t be at our live taping, you can listen and download each show free from our website ten days following each panel.