Transcript #145-1

The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights: Progressive Values Globally Endorsed / Debunking The Right's Lies About A Social Security "Crisis")


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Your sources today include -- and it's long list: the New York Times,, the website of the United Nations, the book "The Second Bill of Rights" by Cass R. Sunnstein, the Miami Herald, the Times of London, the BBC, Time Magazine, the British newspaper The Guardian,,, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Washington Post.


You'll never guess who approvingly played a clip of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first fireside chat.  Keith Olbermann?  No.  Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann?  No.


You can only imagine my surprise when none other than Sean Hannity himself played a bit of FDR's March 12, 1933 address to the American people.  Hannity liked FDR's optimistic, encouraging tone, and said in his blog post that Obama should "take a page out of FDR's playbook."


Ok, I thought fine, Sean, but there are a couple of other pages in FDR's playbook you need to pay attention to.


Which provides a perfect segue to finish up our discussion of FDR's Four Freedoms and Second Bill of Rights speeches.


Let me give you a brief recap of what FDR said to the world on those two occasions.


Last time I played extended excerpts, today I'll play you edited shorter versions.  To hear the more extensive clips, check out that podcast 143.


In his 1941 Four Freedoms speech, FDR said there are essential human freedoms every person in the world is entitled to.  They include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom from fear, fear of attack by other nations.


It's the freedom that Roosevelt listed as third, that we're concerned with here today:


audio: FDR

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world. 

What does freedom from want entail?


FDR gave more details a few years later, in his 1944 State of the Union speech.


I'm going to play you an uninterrupted clip a little longer that I usually do.


This is so you can have time as you listen to really imagine the effect on flesh-and-blood humans as each specified component of freedom from want, each such goal is achieved.  The effect on living, breathing men, women and children just like you, as they cumulatively enjoy these blessings. What would the world look like, how would the joy people would be expressing sound?


audio: FDR

[T]rue individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry, people who are 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, or race or creed.

Among these are:

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 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, and sickness, and accident and unemployment;

And finally, the right to a good education.

For anyone willing to work, he or she would have the right to a useful job paying a living wage, with decent housing, good medical care and education, and protection, a safety net, against old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.


In other words, economic justice.



FDR's wife Eleanor was instrumental in taking her husbands freedom from want and Second Bill of Rights concepts and establishing them on the global stage.


With her leadership, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written under United Nations auspices.  FDR's Four Freedoms and Second Bill furnished much of the contents. On December 10, 1948 the U.N. General Assembly adopted it.


Most nations in the world have endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the United States.


Listen to what it says in the economic realm:


Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

There are also labor rights:


Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

Article 24.

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 23.

 (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

You hear that?  Our progressive economic ideology, the one you and I share, has a global imprimatur, is endorsed by most of the world's nations.


Thank you, Franklin and Eleanor.



Now let's go international, and talk about how this Universal Declaration of Human rights, which our nation has endorsed, should guide U.S. foreign policy.


We'll get to the economic aspect in a minute.


First the purely humanitarian.


The Universal Declaration provides that:


Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

There's an issue along these lines that's been driving me insane, that I just haven't had a chance to talk to you about, but now I have the opportunity.


It's Darfur.


In the last six years, there have been 300,000 deaths and more than 2.7 million people made refugees there.


The entire world knows that the atrocities are being committed under the direction of Sudan's President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.  The International Criminal Court has just issued an arrest warrant for him.  He's charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes.


As the Court spokesperson put it:


He is suspected of being criminally responsible ... for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan; murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing, and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property…

Why did the United States essentially just sit around and watch the Darfur horror story during the Bush administration?  Bill Clinton admitted he should have intervened in the Rwandan genocide.  Didn't Bush learn anything?


What could Bush have done, you may be wondering?




Richard Williams was George Bush's special envoy to Sudan.  This past fall Williams sent a memo to Bush outlining powerful steps the US could take:


--jam all communications in Sudan's capital, Khartoum


--progressively restrict Sudan's oil exports, leading to a quarantine if necessary


--impose a no-fly zone against Sudanese military aircraft to prevent them from bombing villagers


--destroy a Sudanese military plane on the ground, and then threaten to destroy Sudan's entire air force unless it obeys international demands


Obama's UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, has been a leading advocate for taking action against Sudan.  Will her boss follow suit?


Barack Obama, do something!


Every day people are dying.  Audacity?  Show it!!


A call for such action is perhaps something both the right and left can join in.


In a moment, something the right and left will most definitely not agree on.


Stick around.






What won't the left and right agree on?


You got it, the economic aspects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


I just told you about its guarantee of economic well-being for those willing to work.


FDR said:


audio: FDR

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world. 

In FDR's Second Bill speech, he also said the following:


audio: FDR

The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad

Internationally, that would man the right of every nation, large and small, to be free from unfair competition and domination by multinational giants.


This relates to my Four Pillars, my analysis of the ways the First World economically exploits the Third World. The Four Pillars are the methods the right uses to effectuate the supreme right-wing directive: transfer wealth from everyone else to the already wealthy.


I go over these four pillars in detail in podcast 56.  That's a seminal podcast that I urge you to listen to if you haven't.


In short, the four pillars are:


1 - sweetheart contracts for natural resources


2 - unfair conditions of international trade


3 - dubious loans, and


4 - imposition of so-called "structural adjustment programs"


Woe to any nation that challenges the Four Pillars, threatens to actualize the diametrically opposed Universal Declaration of Human Rights, FDR's Four Freedoms and his Second Bill of Rights.


I'll give you now two examples of countries under such right-wing assault. 


I've told you before how I always want to spend more time on Third World issues.  Domestic US concerns seem to crowd them out.  If I were on 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, I'd have time.   With a 30 minute show only a couple of times a month, I don't. 


So I'll go at warp speed here.


The two examples are Venezuela and Bolivia.  If you're interested, podcasts 49 and 88 have much more on these two nations.


In Venezuela, the nation as a whole owns the oil fields.  The government of Hugo Chavez has required that a majority stake be owned by the government in oil operations.  It's raising the royalty rates.  It's collecting back taxes owed.  From the multinationals.


This brings in tens of billions of additional dollars.  That money rightly belongs to hungry, poorly housed, sick without medical care Venezuelans.


Even the conservative Miami Herald ran a story that admitted:



Chávez has succeeded in halving poverty [cutting poverty in half] in Venezuela during his 10 years in office….

So-called ''missions,'' often taught by Cuban teachers, allow adults to get high school and college degrees for free. 

Another popular program provides free healthcare by Cuban doctors for the poor. Dayana Ramirez, a 19-year-old studying business at a government institute, said this program operated on her father for free.

Yet another program sells packaged goods below cost in poor neighborhoods. Erica Zapata said she saves 40 percent when she makes her monthly trip to the subsidized market.

''I like the things the president has done,'' Zapata said... 

The Times of London quoted another Caracas citizen:


[B]efore, there were children who didn't eat, now they have food, they have schools, they have hospitals. The people love him. We cannot go back."

Isn't that horrible, right-wingers?  Look at these terrible things Chavez has accomplished.


Chavez is implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


And let's be clear: Chavez is not doing this all by heavily taxing the wealthy -- as 51% of Americans would actually like to do here in the US.


No, as I said, oil wells are owned by the Venezuelan nation, and revenue is simply being used to help the majority, not line the pockets of a rich elite.


Helping the poor?


The right-wing attitude towards Chavez is summed up by Pat Robertson, speaking of Chavez some years ago:


audio: Pat Robertson

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.

Chavez last month won a referendum by a landslide, removing term limits on the Presidency so he can run again.  The right was apoplectic.  Yet the US didn't have term limits until after World War II.


And the right is silent on presidential term limits being changed in Venezuela's neighbor Colombia, where the President is their right-wing buddy.


You get the idea.


Attack, attack Chavez on one pretext or another, but the real reason is economic.


On to Bolivia.


In Bolivia, as in Venezuela, contracts with multinationals are being renegotiated.  The government is acquiring a majority stake. And royalty rates are being raised.  In fact, flipped.  Instead of 82-18 percent in favor of the multinationals, it's going to be 82-18 in favor of Bolivia.


Listen to Evo Morales, the first indigenous person elected to the Presidency of Bolivia.  He's being interviewed on Democracy Now:


audio: Evo Morales

We said we were going to nationalize the gas and oil sector. We did, without expropriating or kicking out any of the companies. We said it’s important to have partners, but not bosses. And we did it. The investor has the right to recuperate their investment and to a reasonable profit, but we can’t allow for the sacking of the country and only the companies benefiting, not the people.


And we also showed technically, financially, with numbers, that the company was going to be able to recover their investment and would have a reasonable profit. They weren’t going to have as much profit as before, because the largest oil fields – excuse me, from the largest gas fields, the companies only gave 18% of royalties to the state and took 82% in profit. But now, with the new law we’ve changed that around, now 82% for the government, for the state, and 18% for the companies. They’re staying. There’s no problems. And from that large field that Petrobras is managing, we’ve already seen $150 million coming into government coffers now.

The extra revenue here too will be used to help those who have the right to it, impoverished Bolivians without adequate food, water, shelter, medical care or any of the other necessities of life.


Morales, like Chavez, is implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the economic realm.


Does that sound so horrible, that Morales should be an object of right-wing horror?


And boy, it'll be getting even worse.


The mineral lithium is a critical component for electric battery-powered cars.


It turns out Bolivia has the largest lithium reserves in the world, over half!


Historically, Bolivia, like most if not all Third World countries, has been economically exploited in the extraction of its natural resources.


As that leftist rag Time magazine put it:


During the colonial era, silver from the area's prodigious mines helped fund the Spanish empire. But historically, all that wealth has left the local population, especially the indigenous, with little more than desperate poverty and early death by mining-related diseases like black lung.

So it seems perfectly reasonable to me, doesn't it to you, that Bolivia's mining minister recently explained:


We want to send a message to the industrialized countries and their companies.  We will not repeat the historical experience since the fifteenth century: raw materials exported for the industrialisation of the west that has left us poor.

Bolivia wants to have vertical integration, maybe even up to actually manufacturing the lithium-ion batteries.


So again, what's wrong with that, right-wingers?


In their minds, plenty.


As you might expect, there were massive tensions between Bolivia and the US under George W. Bush, including expulsions of ambassadors.  Among other things, the Morales government condemned the US for lending at least tacit support to members of the opposition who were fomenting destabilizing levels of violence.


And another example, while Bolivia's coca cultivation increased only 5%, Colombia's increased 27%, yet it was Bolivia that Washington punished.  Maybe because Colombia's president is a right-winger and was a friend of the Bush administration?


Up next, I'll wrap up this segment, including a killer juxtaposition of two audio clips.


Stay tuned.






Bolivia, as I just said, has the world's largest lithium reserves.  You may not know this, but Venezuela, if heavy oil is counted, has the world's largest oil reserves, larger than Saudi Arabia.


So you know, you're going to hear right-wingers criticizing Chavez for doing this, and Morales for doing that.  And condemning Morales for not doing this, and Chavez for not doing that.


A million and one lines of attack.


And it's all a crock, to use a technical term.


Do you really think the right gives a damn about democracy in Venezuela, or about the poor in Venezuela that Chavez, according to them, is supposedly not helping?


Do you hear the right complaining about assassination of progressive union leaders in right-wing ruled Colombia?  Far worse than anything they even claim is occurring in Venezuela.  Of course not.


And I'll bet you, before Chavez took office, these right-wingers never wrote a word about helping the Venezuelan poor.  I bet they never said a word about that.  In fact, I bet even the mere thought of helping the Venezuelan poor never entered their heads.


The right doesn’t give a damn about the poor.


Criticizing Chavez because he's not helping the Venezuelan poor enough?


Did you hear these right-wingers complain about George Bush not helping the poor?  Under Bush, poverty in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population went up.  Nary a peep of complaint from these right-wingers, who have suddenly developed such a tender spot in their hearts for the economically deprived thousands of miles away in Caracas, Venezuela.


Only when a challenge is made to right-wing economic-type control, rule in the interests of the wealthy, do right-wingers suddenly express a concern for the poor, and for democratic norms.


Oxfam is a British-based charity which also supports a very progressive political agenda.  Back in 1985 they published a Spanish language book, entitled "The Threat of a Good Example."  They were referring to Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas were also ruling in the interest of the poor, and also being condemned by the right back then for being undemocratic and not really helping the poor.


Right-wing propaganda doesn't change.


As the president of a US energy consulting firm warned, speaking of Evo Morales:


I don't think the game is over.  It's going to move from the Americas to the Africans. This is a very dangerous precedent.

A dangerous precedent for right-wing policies of exploitation.



So there you have it. 


-- FDR's New Deal progressive ideology writ large globally via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


This is another reason the right hates the UN so much.  It's a global forum to disseminate just such anti-right-wing economic concepts as embodied in the Universal Declaration


-- Darfur, a terrible example of the Universal Declaration being violated.   The US could have easily stopped the mass murder.  Bush didn't.  Obama must.   


-- Venezeula and Bolivia, challenging right-wing economic control and trying to embody Universal Declaration economic values, and suffering the consequences: a propaganda assault by the right-wing.



There are two clips I often play, but haven't played them before right next to each other.


Take a listen. 


audio: FDR

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.

audio: Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution…

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments…

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.

The first was FDR from his 1936 acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination. Followed by Martin Luther King in his 1967 Beyond Vietnam speech.


It gives me a natural high listening to these two clips in juxtaposition.


I'll leave you with this, a simple insight that came to me from listening to these two great men:


As at home, so abroad.


If US citizens have a right, indeed a duty, to overthrow American economic royalists, then likewise, citizens of other nations have the same right and duty to overthrow their own economic royalists, to revolt "against old systems of exploitation and oppression."


And, unfortunately, the United States too often is the economic royalist in those Third World countries, or at least supports, props up their economic royalists.


So we've got to change sides abroad.


In all these instances of fighting economic exploitation and oppression, you and I will be fighting against the right.


And what else is new under the sun?





Transcript #145-2

Debunking The Right's Lies About A Social Security "Crisis"


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



I've had a bunch of requests to address the Social Security issue.


Well, here's a QuickBlast for you, because there's not much to say.


The right's campaign of lies is very easily debunked.


Your sources in this segment include:, the Boston Herald, the Washington Post, and the website of the Social Security Administration.


Listen here to our friend Sean Hannity, exchanging misinformation with Fox News contributor Bo Dietl last month:


audio: Sean Hannity

DIETL: And your other shoe's dropping very fast. You know what your big shoe's going to be? Your public pension funds. All your pension funds all are out there, and then the Social Security that we have in this country --

HANNITY: Bankrupt.

DIETL: Social Security was formulated after the Great Depression. It wasn't supposed to be pension. There were 15 people working to every one retired; now, it's three to one --

HANNITY: That's true.

DIETL: Ten years from now it's going to be two to one. The problem is there's going to be bankruptcy in Social Security and then the pension system.

HANNITY: All right. That raises one last question. That -- the Social Security bankrupt, Medicare bankrupt -- why do people put their hope that government's going to solve this and health care on top of it, Alicia?

Unfortunately, even the mainstream media has picked up the right-wing talking points.


NBC's David Gregory has it wrong:


audio: David Gregory

GREGORY: [W]e're not factoring in some of these unfunded entitlement programs like Medicare, the fact that Social Security is about to go -- pay out more than it's taking in by 2010. So there are some real concerns down the road.

Another NBC genius, John Yang:


audio: John Yang

YANG: Forty-four-year-old high school history teacher Peter Vogel thinks he'll collect Social Security when he retires, but he's not so sure about his 9-year-old daughter, Emma.

VOGEL: I do believe it needs to be retooled, rethought about, and that's why I'm really excited about this election cycle.

YANG: At current rates, analysts say Social Security will run out of money by 2041, when Emma will only be in her 40s.

David Shuster is on that radical left network, MSNBC:


audio: David Shuster

SHUSTER: [T]oday, we're taking a look at the issue of saving Social Security, which will run out of money unless we make some major changes, at least in the next several years.

Even the Washington Post misleads readers by telling them that "Social Security is projected to run out of money by 2041."


Here's the truth.  It's according to the Social Security trustee's own report.


Even if nothing is done, even if we let things stand as they are right now, Social Security can pay out full benefits until 2041, and at least 75% of scheduled benefits thereafter until 2083, the end of the current projection range.


To repeat: do nothing, and for the next 32 years, Social Security can pay full benefits, and pay out at least 75% of scheduled benefits for over 40 years after that.


Not out of money.  Not bankrupt.


And…the fix, to get it back up to 100% of scheduled benefits, is simple.  Obama proposed it during the campaign.


Right now the payroll Social Security tax is only paid on the first approximately $107,000 of income.


So remove the cap.


There would be a "donut hole" from $107 to $250,000 where those people would pay no more tax than currently.


The payroll tax would just be additionally applied to incomes over $250,000.  This would affect only the richest 3% of Americans.




Situation resolved, stabilized and made beautiful.


Share the joy with your friendly local right-winger.




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