I had the opportunity to take an adventure with some of my friends to the Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke, Virginia. The museum is featuring the work of Norman Rockwell and we were fortunate to have a talk at our place by Della Watkins, the executive director of the Taubman, on Rockwell and his paintings. Rockwell’s Four Freedoms—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear –are the paintings at the top of the page. The paintings were reproduced in The Saturday Evening Post over four consecutive weeks in 1943, alongside essays by prominent thinkers of the day. They were first published on February 20, February 27, March 6, and March 13, 1943 along with commissioned essays from leading American writers and historians including Booth Tarkington, Will Durant, Carlos Buloson, and Stephen Vincent Benet. The Four Freedoms paintings were the highlight of a touring exhibition sponsored by The Post and the Treasury Department. The exhibition and accompanying sales drives for war bonds raised approximately $132 million
The paintings had their genesis from The Four Freedoms Speech which was delivered on January 6, 1941 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the United States, to a joint session of Congress. Roosevelt’s hope was to provide a rationale for why the United States should abandon the isolationist policies that emerged from WWI. In the address, Roosevelt critiqued isolationism, saying: “No realistic American can expect from a dictator’s peace international generosity, or return of true independence, or world disarmament, or freedom of expression, or freedom of religion–or even good business. Such a peace would bring no security for us or for our neighbors. “Those, who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
The speech delivered by President Roosevelt incorporated the following text, known as the “Four Freedoms”:
The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.
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.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
FDR lists the benefits of democracy, which include economic opportunity, employment, social security, and the promise of “adequate health care”. The first two freedoms, of speech and religion are protected by the First Amendment. His inclusion of the latter two freedoms went beyond the traditional Constitutional values protected by the Bill of Rights. Roosevelt endorsed a broader human right to economic security (a job). He also included the freedom from fear against national aggression.
What has happened to our need to be free? After the war, there was a lengthy period where all Americans prospered. There really was a middle class that was the backbone of our American economy. In 1975, the seeds of major change were sown with the founding of Microsoft by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. A major revolution was underway led by rapid-fire technological change. Administrative jobs were replaced by computers as were mid-level bean counters. Lives began to be turned upside down.
During the ten years of 1994-2004, four companies emerged that would change the landscape for everyone. Amazon, Netflix, Google and Facebook changed buying patterns, the delivery of entertainment, the source of all information and human interaction. Today our friends share articles and website offerings to let us know how they are doing. Politicians and CEOs picked up the globalization theme and sold everyone on the idea that we didn’t need to make things, but we would control technology and therefore information. So manufacturing went to China and Asia along with the jobs. We were losing factory jobs and middle management jobs now With the Patriot Act, we have given up on freedom and liberty as well as the American people..
Today we stand in America wondering where the spending will come from to support the economy. People tend to trim their opinions to match those of the group. Only a fraction of the educated population of North America is prepared to think for themselves, even where matters of grave importance are involved. The wiring of most people’s brains keeps them from thinking independently. The brain is hard-wired to conform.
Conformity goes a long way to explaining the oblivion of Americans to the dire prospects of the US economy. Our leaders use this tendency to conform to manipulate the perception of the economy in ways that jeopardize your future. Listen to this solution for the deficit. They fiddled with inflation adjustments on Social Security and federal pensions. Outlays for SS are about half of what they would have been had the adjustments not been made. They will lie to you.
Most Americans have little chance of enjoying a better life if they must pay for everything from their own resources. Living standards in the US are heading lower. Our government has overspent the available resources, will increasingly rely on predatory taxation, and will do all that is necessary to preserve the state at the expense of the people.
I miss the days of Norman Rockwell and FDR.
Presently, your government is making it very difficult to maintain financial assets abroad. Many foreign banks will no longer take deposits from American citizens because of regulatory concerns. Will you need special approval to travel abroad in the near future?
Full time work is an endangered species. Look for McDonalds to begin serving our food in kiosks with robotic servers. Good jobs have disappeared and lower paying jobs will soon be giving way to technology. Mercedes has driverless trucks on the autobahn. But you can’t eat gigabytes.