In his 1941 State of the Union address, FDR introduced the Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want. No American President had stepped forward in such a way, establishing America’s moral foundation and linking it directly to our national, and soon, international purpose.
After the war, these goals were taken up and expanded by the United Nations, through a commission headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. The result was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
The Declaration can and should continue to carry moral weight and provide direction for us today. I have utilized it to help formulate my legislative position on a broad range of issues, especially those that affect our families and children.
In accordance with this declaration I support efforts to establish or maintain:
- Paid family leave
The first months of a child’s life are critical for the child, and the most difficult for the new parents. Parents in Ohio, unless they are fortunate enough to work for an employer with parental leave benefits, are often faced with the decision of either leaving their newborn in childcare or taking unpaid leave, if that is even possible. Many just give up their job to care for their child. This creates financial and emotional strain at a crucial time. Every other developed country in the world provides some degree of paid family leave for new parents. Arguments about it being too costly ignore the fact that every other country has found a way to do it.
- Affordable health care as a human right
The lack of affordable health care in America is an embarrassment. Like paid family leave, every other developed country in the world has found a way to provide care for all of its citizens. We only need to look to other countries for models of how to create an affordable effective program. Not having universal access to care actually increases expenses due to the higher costs associated with treating preventable diseases after they become chronic. Diabetes and obesity are at epidemic levels. Circulatory, kidney and respiratory diseases complicate the care of millions of people because of delayed diagnosis among people without health care access.
The Affordable Care Act has helped get millions insurance, but millions of others have seen premiums and deductibles increase to the point where they have insurance but they still cannot afford to see a doctor. The ACA will require major revisions to be the program it needs to be.
- Quality education
Education is the bedrock of democracy because only a well educated populace can make informed decisions at the ballot box. Education is also the great equalizer in a free society by giving the tools to rise to a better station in life for ourselves, our children and our children’s children. The same benefits apply to Ohio businesses that need a well educated workforce to stay competitive in the global market .
- Livable wage
Without the guarantee of a livable wage and the ability to join together to bargain collectively, we run the risk of an even wider gap between the haves and have-nots and the disappearance of the middle class. Aside from the obvious problems associated with a growing number of people living in poverty, the disappearance of the middle class further entrenches the power disparity that has moved our country toward an oligarchy and away from the democratic ideal that Ohio and America were founded on.
- Robust support system for those who fall through the cracks
Poverty is not a crime and it is not a sin. In the past few decades we have shifted from an attitude of compassion regarding the poor to an attitude of shaming and judgement. Many Ohioans are only a paycheck or two away from being homeless. Economic challenges can come through no fault of the individuals because of downsizing, illness and accidents. For example, medical costs are the single biggest cause of bankruptcy even among people who are fully insured. A civil society supports the disadvantaged with dignity and respect. To do less weakens the bonds of the community. A little support at the right time can help people find transportation that will allow them to keep a job. It can give them health care to prevent an acute condition from becoming a chronic life altering ailment. It can keep a family together in the same house.