Thanksgiving: The Freedom from Exploitation

One of the things I like about Thanksgiving feasts is that they are actually inexpensive when you add everything up.  The most expensive item on the menu is the turkey.    You can feed a bunch o’people for way less than $100 on turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries, stuffing*, green bean casserole and pie.  And if you assign a different dish to each guest, it might be the cheapest dinner party you ever threw.  Which makes me wonder…

Why do we only have Thanksgiving once a year?

So, what are your big plans today?

And do you remember this guy?  This is FDR giving his Four Freedoms Speech.  The Four Freedoms are Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

Not bad for a rich guy who didn’t have to worry about the 99%- but did anyway.  We live with his legacy today with the social insurance policies that he helped create and both parties are busily trying to undermine with the urging of the pundits.

What exactly is it they hope to accomplish by allowing companies to reneg on their pension obligations while reducing the social insurance programs to the status of welfare programs?  Something about the sick arguments for killing these programs off reminds me of the dads who don’t want to pay child support because their former wives will just spend that money any way they want.  Like paying the rent or mortgage and feeding ourselves is some kind of frivolous luxury we can do without if we just tighten our belts.  Or that we’re too stupid to know that we can make a LOT more MONEY if we stash it in a 401K.  Wow. It’s like they think we just fell off the turnip truck and haven’t seen what happens to 401Ks when the smart young things play with our funds like its Monopoly money.  Don’t we have a right to say where we want to put our nest eggs?  Maybe we need a new Freedom.

I’m going to call it, the Freedom from Exploitation.  That is, the freedom of all working people, regardless of class, to reap the fruits of their productivity, to have their contracts and expertise honored, to have their success measured in terms other than how big their bonuses are, to be paid a living wage no matter where they live so that they might be able to afford a decent roof over their heads, healthcare and savings for their retirement, and to invest those savings in a guaranteed and safe retirement program that elected officials will regard as a moral obligation to protect as if it was a treaty between nations.

Because we are a nation.  Every one of us who receives a social security number at birth enters into a compact where we agree to support each other into our old age. We agree to protect children from the unexpected death of a working parent.  We agree to support the working person who becomes disabled through chronic illness.  No one else is going to do it for us.  We do this for ourselves and each other.  Without that security, we may be trapped in work that takes advantage of us and stifles our ideas.  True creativity requires the ability to take risks without fear of catastrophic loss in the event of failure.  Without security in retirement, risk taking and creativity can be stifled and too many of us will become indentured to the people who hold what little economic security we have.  We as a nation deserve better than this.

Do you have any suggestions for a new Freedom?

And now for something related but different on this Thanksgiving day, Charlie Chaplin gave one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century in the film The Great Dictator.  Here it is:

Have a great Thanksgiving!