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A 21st Century Bill of Rights with Harvey J. Kaye and Alan Minsky
Episode 17825th June 2022 • Macro N Cheese • Steve Grumbine
00:00:00 01:09:27

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This week, Harvey J. Kaye and Alan Minsky stop by the Macro N Cheese clubhouse to talk to Steve about the 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. Kaye, a historian, brings stories of FDR’s four freedoms and the impetus for what he called the 2nd Bill of Rights – an Economic Bill of Rights. Minsky brings his experience in progressive politics, both as a journalist and with Progressive Democrats of America. Of course, the Minsky name holds a special place in our MMT hearts – our own Randy Wray studied under Alan’s dad, Hyman. When listening to Alan, one might suspect he’s also related to friend-of-the-podcast Robert Hockett, who coined the term “metabolic optimism.”

Whether or not we share Alan’s optimism, we agree with his insistence that “our winning political hand is our economic message.” The economy is central to everyone’s life and should be central to our agenda. He believes the 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights is the avenue to achieve that centrality in the left progressive program.

As Harvey takes us through it, he adds historical details; many of these points can be traced back to FDR.

1. The right to a useful job that pays a living wage.

2. The right to a voice in the workplace through a union and collective bargaining.

3. The right to comprehensive quality health care.

4. The right to a complete, cost-free public education and access to broadband Internet.

5. The right to decent, safe, affordable housing.

6. The right to a clean environment and a healthy planet.

7. The right to a meaningful endowment of resources at birth and a secure retirement.

8. The right to sound banking and financial services.

9. The right to an equitable and economically fair justice system.

10. The right to recreation and participation in civic and democratic life.

Roosevelt believed the American promise of “the pursuit of happiness” is not possible without economic security. FDR’s agenda lived on after his presidency – though without much success. Harvey names Jimmy Carter as the president who dealt the death blow to the New Deal:

“Let me make it clear, ever since the 1970's the Democratic Party has not simply turned its back on the FDR legacy – the Jimmy Carter presidency was the launching pad of neoliberalism in the United States. People like to talk about Reagan. They like to talk about Clinton in the 1990s. Jimmy Carter was the first neoliberal president. The deregulation of finance, the deregulation of transportation, it all stems from Carter's determination ... It's Carter who first used the term austerity to promote the neoliberal agenda.”

Alan adds: “the truth is, as every listener to Macro N Cheese certainly knows, that one party has been willing to run up deficits, the other party generally has not.” Democrats have wrapped themselves in a mantle of fiscal austerity and would sooner lose elections than change.

This episode gives you history, it gives you economics, it gives you policy, and it engages in ever-popular political speculation. Did we mention Bernie? Yeah, his name comes up a few times.

Harvey J. Kaye is Professor Emeritus of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the author of the newly published "The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great," "Take Hold of Our History: Make America Radical Again," and "FDR on Democracy."

Alan Minsky is the Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America. Alan worked as a progressive journalist for the fifteen years before joining PDA. He was the Program Director at KPFK Radio in Los Angeles, and the coordinator of Pacifica Radio's national broadcasts. He was the creator and original producer for the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, as well as the political podcasts for The Nation and Jacobin Magazine. His many articles can be found at Common Dreams, The Nation, Truthdig and other platforms. Alan is the son of the late economist Hyman Minsky.

@AlanMinsky & @harveyjkaye on Twitter