By Irami Osei-Frimpong (February 5, 2018)
You have to understand that when you have access to property and an independent, above subsistence income, your conception of rights is markedly different from someone without property and depends on a non-contract employer for an income.
The Founders conceived of rights for people like themselves.
In order to exercise any of the rights the Founders were talking about, you need to secure people housing and a good job. Free speech doesn’t mean anything if you are scared to be fired for what you say. Freedom of the press doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have capital to influence the press. And for all of the other rights you need a lawyer to defend yourself from, forget it.
We need a Bill of Rights for non-property owners and non-contract employees, that enables them to exercise their rights on a par with property owners and the independently wealthy/economically secure contract employees.
When we extended rights past white male property owners to everyone in the United States, we didn’t extend the substantive conditions for their use. We may as well have extended to everyone the right to buy a 2 million dollar house.
We need a Federal Job Guarantee at a fair wage. We need to talk about worker empowerment. Without it, your ability to exercise all of the other rights are at the mercy of your boss’s discretion. Your citizenship has become their political tool in every other way except in the actual voting booth (where your ballot is a secret). Your freedom is hollow.