A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Obama's "vision."

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez made a speech. In just these two paragraphs of his speech are lie upon lie that are such big lies it would take an entire book to refute these lies. Here is what he said:

"I can assure you of this: your issues and your work are receiving unprecedented attention at the very highest levels of the federal government. President Obama has laid out a vision based on the fundamental principle of opportunity for all. No matter the circumstances of your birth or the zip code you live in, you should have a chance to live out your highest and best dreams. How far you get should depend on how hard you work.

There are a few pillars of this opportunity agenda. First, it means creating good jobs that pay good wages. It means access to a world-class education for everyone, beginning in early childhood. And opportunity also means making sure hard work is rewarded — with a wage you can live on, savings you can retire on and health care that's there when you need it."

In a way, I feel sorry for people who believe this; but, who are the people who believe this? They are the muddle-headed, self-serving, well-heeled upper-middle class intellectuals who have never worked a day in their lives and have no concept of what life is like for working class families now caught up in the crisis of everyday living, struggling to make ends meet, many from day-to-day, others from pay-check to pay-check because for all working people there is a "cost-of-living crisis" Secretary Perez, in spite of being the United States Secretary of Labor--- like Obama and the rest of these Dumb Donkeys--- will not even acknowledge.

What "opportunity" is there for any of the more than forty-million Americans, working class Americans, now living in poverty?

What "opportunity" is there for the more than 90-million workers in this country struggling to survive who are only a pay-check or two away from poverty according to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal?

We have a Secretary of Labor talking about "a wage you can live on" who has refused to acknowledge that the only measurement of whether or not a wage is a "living wage" is how it compares to the actual cost-of-living using the figure from his own department's Consumer Price Index (CPI).

"Health care?" Perhaps the biggest sick joke of all is Obamacare--- with it, one major illness will wipe out any working class family.

"Retirement?" The Social Security Trust Fund has been looted by a bunch of thieves--- the thieves are our own government.

"World-class education for everyone?" Yes; Finland has it and the United States ranks below the country U.S. imperialism has forced into poverty--- Cuba.

Cuba and Finland come out ahead of the United States in both education AND health care.

"President Obama has laid out a vision based on the fundamental principle of opportunity for all."

Yes, Obama is very good at "laying out visions." In fact, Obama is the all-time master of "laying out visions."

The problem is, Obama's "visions" never materialize into programs--- except for programs that continue to redistribute the wealth to the elite super-wealthy .25%.

Kind of ironic, but the Koch brothers who pretend to hate the Democrats even as they contribute to their campaigns, have done better than anyone because of Obama's programs for "change."

The Koch brothers now own and control more wealth than the bottom 40% of our entire population.

The 1% accumulated over 34-trillion dollars in capital (from exploiting the workers in the mines, mills and factories who created this wealth) just since economic hard times--- when Obama came to office--- hit the world.

Obama jokes about redistributing wealth as being on par with his having shared his peanut butter sandwich with another child in school.

No doubt Obama gave his peanut butter sandwich to a a child who was allergic to peanuts because his Wall Street "vision" of the world is killing the rest of us.

All of this begs the question:

In future elections, what should we be supporting and organizing for?

In my opinion, we should be participating in the electoral arena fighting for peace and an end to these dirty imperialist wars making most of us poor while enriching the 1% (the Wall Street merchants of death and destruction)--- the masters of war (the Military-Industrial Complex); making the "living wage" Obama and the Democrats promised but refused to deliver when they had the opportunity a reality; we should place legislation on the table for a National Public Health Care System--- socialized health care; we need to bring before the American people a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity;" we should participate in the elections with the intent of challenging Wall Street for political and economic power.

When all is said and done, we need a new "vision" backed by real programs that will improve the standard-of-living for the many instead of the few.

To accomplish this we are going to need to free ourselves from Wall Street's two-party trap.

We need to build a working class based progressive people's party that is anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist with a working class agenda led by grassroots and rank-and-file activists as free from the manipulation and control of the foundation-funded outfits and the millionaire labor leaders as from Wall Street.

We need to organize local, state, regional and national conferences all across this country to discuss all of this... the sooner the better; later may be too late because Wall Street's insatiable greedy drive for profits just might end up killing us all because it appears the wrath of an angry Mother Nature has had enough.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Keynesian hypocrisy.

My thought for the day...

Does anyone see the pattern developing here?

All of a sudden Robert Reich comes out saying he is for a $15.00 an hour Minimum Wage while not so much as suggesting working class families are experiencing a "cost-of-living crisis."

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/Why-the-Minimum-Wage-Should-Really-Be-Raised-to-15-an-Hour

I never heard such a hypocritical crock of shit.

Will even $15.00 an hour solve the "cost-of-living crisis" for any working class family, in spite of this being a hefty increase in the Minimum Wage? No; and Robert Reich more than anyone knows this.

What we have here is these Democratic Party hacks and the millionaire labor leaders along with the foundation-funded outfits comprising the "partnership" between them kept in line by the hacks on the one hand before legislation is passed using their name recognition "influence" to undermine the struggle advocating real and specific solutions to problems to buy the Democrats time to get their Wall Street approved legislation through and then after its a "done deal" these shit-asses come talking about "it really wasn't enough" as if these Dumb Donkeys are going to go back and rescind the bad legislation and do what is right by the people.

We got the same shit with single-payer; now we get the same shit with the Minimum Wage.

We get the same shit with these people saying there is a need for a new political party but their utterances are only deception intended to make people think they are planning a new political party so grassroots and rank-and-file working class activists will not take the initiative on their own to become the catalysts for organizing a working class based progressive people's party.

Well, any raise is always better than no raise at all, workers understands this--- especially in the era of millionaire labor "leaders" negotiating nothing but concessions for the members paying the dues--- but this isn't the point.

And who asked these millionaire labor "leaders" who can't negotiate an improved standard-of-living for their own members to be the voice of poverty-waged unorganized workers who these union leaders have never offered assistance to organize?

The point is, these Democrats promised a living--- non-poverty--- wage and they should have kept their promise.

A living wage is not the same as "a raise."

Typical "bait and switch" bullshit we get from the Democrats and their partners.

As for this idea of Robert Reich's that there are "lousy jobs" this is just outright bullshit, too.

Any job that needs to be done is a good job provided it pays a real living wage, the health and safety of workers doing the job is protected, workers have rights and a voice at work and when there are decent benefits like adequate vacations, etc.

I don't include health care benefits because these same worthless millionaire labor leaders are the ones who hoodwinked workers into believing that health care should be part of collectively bargained agreements instead of fighting for what we really need: a National Public Health Care System.

We see what this bargaining for health care with individual employers has resulted in--- the health care mess we have now.

What these worthless millionaire labor leaders who now are nothing but negotiators of concessions did was to divide the working class over the health care issues when the struggle for real health care reform should have remained a point of unity as the left-led CIO was pushing for.

Not having decent pay and benefits with rights on the job and a voice at work is what makes a job "lousy."

Workers being forced to work under the "Doctrine of At-will Employment" is what makes a job "lousy."

Of course, Robert Reich did his part in the Clinton Administration to make sure millions of workers in other countries got "lousy jobs"--- low pay without any rights--- while making sure the jobs that remained here in the United States became "lousy jobs"--- poverty wages without many or any rights.

Come on, really; what kind of rights can a worker forced to be employed under terms of "At-will Employment" have? None.

What excuse is there here in Minnesota that the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party doesn't use its super-majority status to make every job a good job with real living wages as they promised to get the votes of workers? I would really like an answer, not excuses, to this question.

What excuse is there for the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party not to rescind and repeal "At-Will Employment" replacing this Draconian, repressive, anti-labor legislation with "Just Employment" legislation protecting workers from unjust and unfair terminations?

What excuse does the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party have for not passing anti-scab and anti-lockout legislation?

Is there any excuse for the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party failing to lobby Congress to enact real full employment legislation with teeth?

Robert Reich has now come forward supporting a $15.00 an hour Minimum Wage. Where has his voice been since 2008 when it was needed?

Good for Robert Reich; he know comes out for a $15.00 an hour Minimum Wage knowing this will not resolve the "cost-of-living crisis;" not some, but all working class families are experiencing and being subjected to by politicians bribed by Wall Street employers using the levers of government (legislation) to keep all wages down--- thus creating poverty instead of eliminating poverty as promised... again, "bait-and-switch." 

The only problem is, this guy, Robert Reich, if anyone, should know what a real living wage is--- after all, he was Secretary of Labor and completely understands the idea of what it means for wages to be living wages those wages must correspond to, and be in line with, all cost-of-living factors.

Robert Reich and the rest of these well-heeled, over-paid, muddle-headed upper-middle class intellectuals have not one iota of the fact of life that finds every single working class family in this country caught up in a "cost-of-living crisis" struggling just to make ends meet--- many struggling from day-to-day, others struggling from pay-check to pay-check with some 90 million workers being one or two pay-checks from poverty with some forty-million working class people living in poverty during a period when their labor has created the very wealth resulting in record high corporate profits for Wall Street money-bags--- greedy shit-bags.

It was Robert Reich's job as Secretary of Labor to make sure the Bureau of Labor Statistics was compiling the facts accurately for the Consumer Price Index which is the one and only valid set of statistics on which to base a real living wage in line with cost-of-living.

So, this begs the questions:

Why would Robert Reich keep proposing Minimum Wages that are substantially less than what it costs working class families to survive?

Why would Robert Reich, or anyone else for that matter, expect any worker to work for less than what it costs to live?

Robert Reich was silent on the Minimum Wage issue for years into the Obama Administration. Only a few short months ago, Reich was pushing a $9.50 Minimum Wage. Then he supported Obama's $10.10. Now he is backing $15.00 at the very time he lauds Minnesota's super-majority for passing a miserly pathetic poverty wage of $9.50 after Minnesota politicians refused to raise the Minimum Wage from $6.15 an hour for ten years.

Had these same politicians in Minnesota pushed for a yearly Minimum Wage increase of just 25-cents an hour tied to a measly 2.5% capped inflation adjustment, workers would have a Minimum Wage higher than the present $9.50 they just passed if we want to really put things in perspective.

Here we have a former Secretary of Labor, playing games with the lives of working class families when all he has to do is stand up and say, "Here is the empirical data on cost-of-living so here is what the Minimum Wage should be and we should keep the Minimum Wage legislatively tied to this data."

It is very simple; no guessing; no pulling figures randomly from a hat for self-serving political expediency.

Let Robert Reich have the courage to bring these figures forward--- when he does this I will be satisfied; until then, he is nothing but one more worthless Democratic Party hack enabling these Democrats to carry out "bait-and-switch."

Simple honesty requires Robert Reich to stop playing around with this important issue.

Let Robert Reich produce a video with his scribblings, doodlings, drawings and graphs based on the actual figures from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index.

Also, notice that Reich sidesteps the fact that these Minimum Wage "increases" won't take effect until future years which means all the purchasing power of these increases will have already been eaten up by rising costs of goods and services together with inflation at the time they come into effect.

And what is with Reich's refusal to call a poverty wage just what it is: A POVERTY WAGE?

A worker paid a poverty wage will be living in poverty along with their family.

And, Reich--- while mentioning Minnesota--- doesn't mention that here in Minnesota, and he did mention Minnesota increasing the Minimum Wage, that the maximum inflation increase is only 2.5%--- get out your calculator and figure out what this comes to at $9.50 an hour.

Plus, this inflation indexing, as pathetic as the $9.50 itself is miserly, doesn't even kick in until 2018!

The $9.50 doesn't kick in until 2016!

Of course, Reich never mentions that he sat in cowardly silence as Bill Clinton knocked millions of impoverished working class families off welfare to make sure there was a huge pool of poverty workers that would be "eager" (read: forced) to work in lousy poverty waged jobs from which Wall Street has reaped trillions upon trillions in super-profits; nor does Reich mention that this Clinton "welfare reform" set back people of color and women many decades as Clinton also gutted Affirmative Action--- another "little" fact Robert Reich with his "populist economic message" which also omits how militarization and these dirty imperialist wars are making us all poor.

Robert Reich peddles this Wall Street Keynesian bullshit as "economic populism."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt called John Maynard Keynes a "quack."

Instead of buying tickets to Reich's movie, working people would be better off taking the time to study a little Karl Marx.

Graphic artist Hugo Gellert made studying Karl Marx very easy to do--- maybe someone should turn these lithographs into an animated movie with background music from Nina Simone, Woody Guthrie and Leonard Cohen's "Democracy Is Coming to the U.S.A."

Here are the Hugo Gellert lithographs making Karl Marx very easy for anyone to understand:

http://www.graphicwitness.org/contemp/marxtitle.htm

We don't need Robert Reich to confuse things more than they already are when we have Karl Marx to explain in very simple everyday common language why what is happening is happening.

Something you might want to think about:

Any job paying a wage that isn't a real living wage in line with all cost-of-living factors is going to be a "lousy" job.

And, by the way; I do think "flipping burgers" should pay a real living wage which would make jobs at McDonald's and Burger King good jobs.

Any employers who don't want to pay workers a real living wage should just do the lousy job themselves instead of living as parasites off the labor of others.

What we need is a national campaign of united struggle in the  streets, at places of employment and at the ballot box to make the Minimum Wage a real living wage.

Employers will never increase wages one single penny without a struggle.



"Bait-and-switch" politics we get from the Democrats...
What Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL state legislative candidates campaigned for while seeking our votes:


The Bait:



FROM THE MINNESOTA DEMOCRATIC FARMER-LABOR PARTY PLATFORM...



     LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT

     We promote the American labor movement and the rights of all workers.

    We Support:



    * A Minimum Wage that keeps pace with inflation and provides full time workers with an income above the poverty level.



The Switch:


Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's statement on raising the Minimum Wage:

http://mn.gov/governor/blog/the-office-of-the-governor-blog-entry-detail.jsp?id=102-126316



The Governor's "Fact Sheet:"

http://mn.gov/governor/images/2014_04_13_adv_fact_sheet_min_wage.pdf


Fact: Minnesota Democrats campaigned for a "living--- non-poverty--- wage;" not a "raise" that is another poverty wage.

Fact: Democrats did raise the Minimum Wage.

Fact: Democrats did not raise the Minimum Wage as promised to a real living wage.

Quote: "No worker should have to live in poverty." Governor Mark Dayton

Question: Why did Governor Mark Dayton sign into law a Minimum Wage leaving workers mired in poverty?

Comment: This is the epitome of hypocrisy laying bare everything that is wrong with the political and economic system in the United States today.



The Keynesian economists work for Wall Street not the working class.

The Keynesian economists want workers with just enough money to spend in their pockets to keep the economy humming along but do not want wages to increase to the point where workers will have a decent standard-of-living.

Wages down = profits up.

Thus, the Keynesian economists want millions of workers languishing in poverty as a club used to keep most workers' wages down with the majority of working class families living pay-check to pay-check, always a pay-check or two away from poverty.

The Keynesian economists fail to recognize the "cost-of-living crisis" all working class families are experiencing because this is just what these mean-spirited, over-paid economists want for their Wall Street employers.






Thursday, April 10, 2014

More problems for Obamacare... who is responsible for paying for the children if their parents don't?

Now there is another problem with Obamacare.

This time it is about forcing people to insure their children. The claim being made by the government is that paying for health care for children is a "parental responsibility."

The controversy arose because the Church of Scientology doesn't want to be forced to insure their children.

Senator Harry Reid wants to make accommodations for this outfit.

In my opinion, both positions prove why the ACA is a farce and nothing but a profit gouging fiasco.

We need a National Public Health Care System in this country and a movement should be started to put it on the table. With all the opposition to Obamacare it shouldn't be too difficult to initiate a movement for what we really need.

Publicly financed, publicly administered and publicly delivered health care--- based on the model of public education.

Free health care for everyone.

Paid for by cutting funds for war--- the long-promised "Peace Dividend." If that won't cover it then tax the rich.

We, as a people, could even finance it ourselves through a pay-roll tax just like with Social Security and it would still be a good deal.

Indeed, we might not have to pay anything.

Right now we pay more in medical costs  (both total and per patient) and have poorer results (percentage people covered, quality of care, infant mortality, etc.) than any other industrialized country on this planet. Looking at decades of  experience in other countries - socialist or otherwise - it is likely that transitioning to a single payer system would immediately yield better results for less cost.

Plus it would create 12 to 15 million jobs putting people to work in neighborhood and community health care centers.

Politicians and others will tell you that a National Public Health Care System is a far out radical idea the American people will never accept--- this is an outright lie.

What they really mean is the corporate lobbyists bribing them would be opposed.

How many people in this country are opposed to public education? Not many. Millions of children go to public schools every single day and this is a vote of support for public education.

A National Public Health Care System would be even more popular than public education.

Obama and the Democrats betrayed us on single-payer universal health care; in my opinion, the only way we should view single-payer anymore is that it would make a good first step in preparing the ground to make the transition to a National Public Health Care System.

While single payer payer may be a transition to a National Public Health Care System, what should be clear is the Affordable Care Act is not a transition to anything; but, rather, a huge step backward with the poor, the working class and the middle class with this government program enriching insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

But the transition period from single-payer universal health care to a National Public Health Care system should be of very short duration so we don't get stuck with a bunch of problems like those now hobbling sections of the Canadian Health Care system.

Everything should be covered from pre-natal to burial: general medical, eyes (including glasses), ears (including hearing aids) and mental health.

Keep in mind, Canadians led by Tommy Douglas and Dr. Norman Bethune had their hearts and their minds set on socialized health care; it was a thoroughly reactionary party which bent to the will of the people in bringing forward this Canadian Health Act as a compromise--- Tommy Douglas didn't set out to settle for this compromise and he insisted to his dying day that nothing short of socialized health care would solve the problems of Canadians... and nothing short of a National Public Health Care Program is ever going to solve all of our problems with health care as this newsletter lays out the problems being encountered. As we all know there are a myriad of problems with Obamacare and lots more to come. There is nothing fair about it; it is one big scam to transfer wealth from the working class to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

We have been jerked around by these worthless Democrats on both health care reform and the Minimum Wage.

Working class families are experiencing a "cost-of-living crisis" and this health care mess only exacerbates and intensifies this "cost-of-living crisis."

I wouldn't expect politicians and the well-heeled to understand how this health care mess is related to the "cost-of-living crisis;" these people who can afford everything have never had any empathy or sympathy for working class families who they arrogantly keep referring to as "middle class" as if most working people are in some kind of "middle income bracket" far removed from poverty when the situation is such that the majority of working class families live on the very edge of poverty, one or two checks away from poverty--- and I don't call this "middle income" or "middle class"... in fact, just one hospital stay away from poverty--- with or without Obamacare.

I have not heard one single politician explain how Obamacare has created one more cost-of-living problem for working class families but good old Harry Reid who finds it more lucrative to pimp for Wall Street than his hookers will look for a gimmick to satisfy the Church of Scientology which is nothing but one big racket that attracts a bunch of dingy Hollywood celebrities while the working class foots the bill.

More coverage?

Better results?

Let us use old fashioned conservative principles and get more bang for our buck with single payer transitioning to a National Public Health Care System.

As far as "children's health care being a legal duty of the parents?" I say, "bullshit."

This is the government's responsibility to provide health care for children... and everyone else.

Any country that can afford trillions for war after dirty war can afford to provide health care for its own people--- especially health care for children.

And I think it is a dirty shame that those pushing for single-payer are as dirty and devious in keeping the proponents of a National Public Health Care System out of these discussions and debates just like Obama and the Democrats silenced their own voices.

There isn't one single politician in Congress (the House or Senate) who can be trusted to stand up to Wall Street when it comes to health care reform, making the Minimum Wage a real living wage or when it comes to the most important issue of all: peace. This is just plain out pathetic that the majority of the people, workers who create the wealth, have no voice in Congress.

What happened to, "We, the People?"

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell: 651-587-5541

Primary E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net
E-mail: alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com

Blog: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Do you prefer donkey dung to elephant shit?

Democrats have betrayed workers on the two most important issues:

1. Single-payer.

2. A living Minimum Wage.

I don't include the most important issue of betrayal of all other issues--- peace; because expecting the Democrats to do anything other than get us into imperialist war after imperialist war would be like thinking the Republicans may have something to offer us, the American people--- We, the People.

On the issue of peace which is the most important concern for working people, the Democrats have betrayed all of the American people as they carry out these dirty imperialist wars at our expense to look after the interests of the greediest bunch Wall Street parasites, the .25%--- the Military-Industrial Complex.

Robert Reich has actually been one of the very worst liberal impostors because he makes people think the very serious problems plaguing this country can be solved on the basis of some kind of "economic populism" without putting an end to militarism and wars.

I was recently on a conference call where Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Robert Reich and Elizabeth Warren were praised as being "shrewd progressive politicians we need to learn from because they know how to finesse issues."

It was stated, "President Obama is a liberal politician with a progressive agenda who has been trapped in a corner by neo-cons on domestic and foreign policy."

Obama's support continues to erode in all the polls--- talking to people this can easily be verified.

Hillary Clinton can't run on Obama's "coat-tails" as a result of his loss of popularity; so what is the Democrats "game plan?"

Clinton can't denounce Obama either or she looks like a complete fool because she is so entangled in the entire Obama Administration.

So how do these Democrats extract themselves from the pickle they have themselves in?

They need to use these progressive impostors like Bernie Sanders, Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren to attack Obama and appear to distance the Democrats from Obama's Wall Street imperialist agenda.

They will be trying to make us think that Hillary offers something different even though they know she will continue the exact same Wall Street imperialist agenda.

And notice how they have used Richard Trumka and the entire Executive Council of the AFL-CIO to destroy the single-payer movement and now they take the leadership away from the grassroots and rank-and-file movement for a real living wage.

And now Richard Trumka has announced that he will support Obama "when" he brings forward a trade agreement (TPP?) that is satisfactory for labor.

Trumka and the entire AFL-CIO Executive Council have been silent on Obama's Wall Street imperialist agenda when it comes to foreign policy and these dirty wars--- at least they inserted one sentence in an Executive Council report (quite literally one lousy sentence) questioning Bush's wars while Bush was president.

Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic Party's candidate in 2016. There is no doubt about this. The Democrats have to bring out the clowns to distract us from thinking about Obama's lousy performance while they change circus acts.

Jokers to the left, jokers to the right and we are trapped in the middle.

The Democrats don't want to create any risks for Hillary so they have consigned themselves to let the House remain under Republican control and they are even ready to give up control of the Senate if defending Obama is required to maintain Democratic control.

Then they have the nerve to call those of us who no longer buy into this fiasco "spoilers."

The entire phony left is gearing up to create the facade that Hillary Clinton comes forward with a "populist economic agenda" that doesn't include ending militarism and wars--- forget about turning swords into plowshares; they may talk occasionally about the Air Force spending $500.00 for toilet seats but their focus will be on ending "military waste" not on putting an end to Wall Street's imperialist agenda--- the generals can sit on $20.00 toilet seats plotting their next war. 

With all the talk about "progressive" and "left" from the likes of Bernie Sanders, Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren we will hear no challenge to Wall Street's imperialist agenda which is the agenda of both the Republicans and the Democrats and what seems to be on the horizon some kind of "Independent" campaign that will be the embodiment of the thinking coming from the libertarian CATO Institute--- more confusion for people to have to wade through with the likes of Paul Craig Roberts who is a master at conflating right and left thinking adding to the confusion providing the intellectual leadership that will be articulated by someone like Jesse Ventura... again under the guise of "economic populism."

Do you like eating donkey dung better than elephant shit?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tune in, call in; a discussion on the Minimum Wage on Stewart Alexander's "Socialist Insight" program.


6 p.m. Central---14 April---Monday---

Alan L. Maki, www.thepodunkblog.blogspot.com, political analyst and social activist is back. 

Our discussion: Interpreting the Minimum Wage Debate; What does it all mean? 

Stewart and Alan will show how the working class in the United States has been reduced to a labor force working for poverty wages. 

They will also explain how that minimum wage guarantees poverty. 

A living wage should be the standard for all working people. If you are earning less than $23.00 an hour for a 40 hour work week, don’t miss this program. Every week, same time---More things we all need to know and be talking about!!

-- 
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
 
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell: 651-587-5541

Primary E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The working class is betrayed again by the Democrats.

And they actually have the nerve and unmitigated hypocritical gall to boast and brag about this working class betrayal:

http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2014/04/07/state-lawmakers-announce-agreement-raising-minimum-wage

With this "deal" on the Minimum Wage, Minnesotans are the victims of the biggest "bait and switch" scam in our history aside from the way the land and resources were stolen from First Nations Peoples.

Democrats promised a real living Minimum Wage to get our votes, not another poverty wage; then they pulled this switch to accompany the employers and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce which these "progressive" Democrats refer to as the "DFL Business Caucus."

Too bad "bait and switch" isn't as illegal in politics as it is in the world of the poverty wage-paying retail sector of the economy which made Dayton rich.

What a farce; an outright scandalous fiasco.

Not one of these directors of these foundation-funded Democratic Party front groups would work for $9.50 an hour. Nor would the AFL-CIO's Shar Knutson or millionaire labor "leaders" like Eliot Seide--- how has this kind of pathetic cost-of-living increase worked out for Eliot Seide's AFSCME members?

Anyone got a calculator? What is 2.5% times $9.50? These Dumb Donkeys think we are all stupid.

Not once has the mainstream corporate controlled media indicated this letter was being circulated:

January 2014

An Open Letter . . .

TO: Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Legislative Caucus.

FROM: Your Constituents

Enough! We are not waiting any longer!

As DFL candidates, you campaigned on a promise to enact legislation that provides low-wage workers a real, living wage — not just a “minimum” wage.

Your campaign language explicitly called for “workers being entitled to living wages!” It promised a Living Wage Act, but no progress was made in your first super-majority session.

All it would take, you said, was for Minnesotans to give the DFL a super-majority. Well, we voters delivered it to you! You have it! But now, instead of advancing Living Wage legislation, the DFL is floating another “minimum wage” bill that will just perpetuate poverty wages for many Minnesota workers!

For years, the DFL leadership has claimed Republicans were the lone obstacle to establishing a Living Wage in our state. That obstacle has been removed. You are now in the driver’s seat!

We, the workers of Minnesota, gave you the legislative votes to enact the Living Wage legislation you promised us.

We expect you now to do so. You could call it “The Minnesota Living Wage Act of 2014.”

Most importantly, we need to begin with a realistic dollar amount. Living Wages need to be calculated based on realistic levels of cost-of-living. U.S. Census data suggests at least $15 per hour; while, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hourly wages of $22 and $26 at 40 hrs/week are needed to cover basic necessities. When making decisions on determining basic needs for a dignified life, the testimony from low-income Minnesotans should also be taken into consideration.

A Living Wage must also be subject to regular cost-of-living adjustments. The Consumer Price Index is our best indicator, and it should be used to adjust a new Minnesota Living Wage level quarterly or at least semi-annually.

If you should fail to enact such legislation, we will assume that you were just baiting us with nice-sounding campaign rhetoric, and that you are pulling a switch on us by simply advancing more employer-friendly “minimum wage” legislation, that does nothing to alleviate the hardships of Minnesota’s working poor.

Perhaps you think any increase is better than nothing. We don’t!

Minnesota has long been considered a progressive bellwether. Do something significant now for her working men and women. It is what everybody morally deserves — the prospect of a dignified life.

Be courageous. Lead our state — and our nation — in securing the right of every worker to earn a decent living.

It can begin with the Minnesota Living Wage Act of 2014.

You can make it happen!

Sincerely,

Your fellow Minnesotans

Check out our National Conference Call on April 27 seeking to find a national approach to making the Minimum Wage a real living wage:

http://unitingpeopleworks4us.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-national-approach-for-making-minimum.html

Monday, April 7, 2014

A National Approach for Making the Minimum Wage a Living Wage

A National Approach for Making the Minimum Wage a Living Wage

Join Us for a 2-Hour Conference Call Discussion

Sunday, April 27, 2014

8-10pm ET / 7-9pm CT / 6-8pm MT / 5-7pm PT

Telephone Call-in: 857-232-0157 • Access Code: 353711

Panel

Cindy Sheehan, California Peace & Freedom Party
Gubernatorial Candidate

Lena Buggs, Minnesota Green Party, State House District 65-A Legislative Candidate

Alan Maki, Director of Organizing, Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Theresa Sanchez, Union Steward, Local #1, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union

Frank “Pancho” Valdez, retired trade unionist, Green Party activist

Curtis Buckanaga, Asst. to District III Rep. for Leech Lake, Ojibwe Reservation

Bill Leumer, former President IAM Local 565, Labor Fightback Network Steering Committee member

Mel Rothenberg, founding member of Chicago Political Economy Group, co-author of "A Permanent Jobs Program for the U.S.: Economic Restructuring to Meet Human Needs."

Moderator:
Devon Nola
, Justice Party of New York


Each panelist will give a 5-minute presentation during the first hour. The second hour will be open to discussion with Q&A between callers and panelists.

Sponsored by:

Uniting People for Peace, Equality, Full Employment, Universal Healthcare and Environmental Protection


Contact info:

Tel: (203) 402-8745

E-mail: unitingpeople1@gmail.com

Blog: www.unitingpeopleworks4us.blogspot.com

FaceBook: www.facebook.com/USlivablewage


A bold livable wage policy must be viewed as a “keystone” fiscal mechanism that will trigger subsequent structural changes in the U.S. economic system to achieve an equitable distribution of wealth and income for all members of our society.

Minnesota Democrats have more empathy for employers than for workers.

The Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party with a super-majority sticks it to workers, again.

Interesting how these Democrats can control wages to remain at poverty levels but they can't control and redistribute wealth back to the workers who create it.

Once again working people who are experiencing a cost-of-living crisis have been screwed by the Democrats.

$9.50 is a poverty wage and indexing a poverty wage to inflation will not end poverty. Obviously the "compromise" was another poverty wage for workers which will depress all wages in return for a luxurious Senate Office Building which will be more conducive to these politicians getting their corporate bribes. This Minimum Wage "deal" is a complete disaster for the working class since by the time this $9.50 kicks in the "cost-of-living crisis" will have more than eaten up any "raise."

I find it interesting how as soon as Republicans get their super-majorities they go into a full attack mode on the working class as we see in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina but Democrats wimp out in defending and improving the rights and livelihoods of the working class.

For years under Pawlenty and the Republicans Minnesota workers suffered set-back after set-back and now Minnesota Democrats won't even bring life back to pre-Republican times.

These millionaire labor "leaders" like AFSCME's Eliot Seide who pushed this $9.50 betrayal will see their memberships left without any public support in future contract negotiations with public or private employers since what is good for the goose is good for the gander... let everyone live on $9.50 an hour.

It is the epitome of hypocrisy that these over-paid Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party politicians would enact a Minimum Wage that is just one more poverty wage after promising a real living--- non-poverty--- wage to get the votes of workers.

http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/254132521.html

Democrats deserve to be punished at the polls.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"At-Will Hiring and At-Will Firing" (At-Will Employment) has got to go

Representing casino workers engaged in union organizing campaigns in the Indian Gaming Industry, I pay close attention to elections on Indian Reservations as I do with politics in general in the three states I work in--- Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Many Indian Reservations just held their Primary Elections.

Each and every Indian Reservation engaged in gaming is now thoroughly corrupt and crooked; just like the state and federal governments they work hand-in-hand with. Like with politics generally, seldom is found an honest tribal politician.

The recent tribal elections on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation brought out an issue seldom discussed or debated every single worker employed anyplace in the United States should be concerned about:

"At-will Employment."

Corrupt tribal politicians like Leech Lake Chair, Carri Jones, use "At-Will Employment" to try to coerce support and try to stymie and thwart opposition.

"At-will Employment" has been the weapon of choice used to silence opposition. Of course when this doesn't work these corrupt tribal politicians are known to use more persuasive "techniques" as were demonstrated by Archie LaRose who sodomized an opponent with a broomstick and beat with his fist for hours another opponent. When all else fails, the FBI hounds and harasses reform-minded activists to death like they did with Native American trade unionist pipefitter Gregory Paquin.

"At-will Employment" is an issue far more important than "Citizens United" or the more recent U.S. Supreme Court case providing the wealthy and Wall Street even more control over politics and elections.

This issue which surfaced of "At-will Employment" denies working people full participation in the electoral process because employers use this to retaliate against workers.

Many muddle-headed, well-heeled, upper-middle class intellectuals do not understand this issue and many of the millionaire labor "leaders" do everything possible to prevent this issue of "At-will Employment" from being brought forward.

Did you ever hear of the Democratic Party ever having a platform plank calling for rescinding "At-Will Employment?"

As far as I know, the Roseau County Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is the only Democratic Party organization to have ever passed a resolution for repealing and rescinding "At-Will Hiring and At-Will Firing" and calling for "Just Employment."

The Leech Lake Business Organization (LLBO) which the tribal council is called, supports corrupt local, state and federal Democratic politicians; in return these corrupt local, state and federal politicians turn around and support corrupt tribal politicians. One hand of corruption feeds the other.

These Democratic Party politicians are constantly bestowing credibility to corrupt tribal politicians. Congressman Rick Nolan even stepped in to provide credibility to Archie LaRose when everyone knew he was a vicious, violent crook... ditto for U.S. Senator Al Franken and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Then the corrupt tribal and state and federal politicians join together to turn their backs on the problems of the people.

The only way they can prevent the voices of the people from coming forward is by restricting participation of the people with the ultimate undemocratic practice being denying people the right to jobs--- which includes firing people under terms of "At-will Employment."

What could be more undemocratic than employers having the "right," then denying a human being employment they require to make a living based on a worker's participation in the political process?

Get rid of "At-will Employment" and this will be a major step forward in the struggle for democracy and reforms going well beyond any impact overturning "Citizens United" could ever have--- it remains important to overturn "Citizens United" but the severe restrictions "At-Will Employment" place on the rights of workers is true on reservations as it is for workers everywhere.

Who is "we the people?"

Aren't the majority of the people working people?

If the majority of working people are restricted from fully participating in the political process, what kind of "democracy" exists in this country?

When employers use "At-will Employment" to punish workers by firing--- or using the threat of termination from employment--- for participating in defending their rights and their livelihoods in the electoral process you are controlling and manipulating the majority of the people... this is not democracy.

As the election campaign in Leech Lake demonstrated, there is tremendous support from among the majority of the people to terminate "At-will Employment" and replace it with "Just Employment."

I hope the people of Leech Lake take this opportunity to get rid of "At-will Employment" and blaze a trail to real democracy for all Minnesotans and workers across the United States.

As long as people need to fear losing their jobs due to "At-will Employment" it will be very difficult to achieve meaningful reforms of any kind... from Minimum Wage legislation to real health care reform and securing full employment legislation.

People without rights in their place of employment have no rights anyplace else as long as the possibility of termination due to "At-will Employment" is hanging over their head.

It is up to each and every one of us to become thoroughly familiar with the "Doctrine of At-Will Employment" which is behind "At-Will Employment" legislation.

Members of Congress cry they need a raise.

Members of Congress like Democrat Jim Moran are crying that they are under paid at around $175,000.00 a year.

If they were being paid the Minimum Wage of $7.25 an hour that they establish for millions of real working people these politicians would be still be paid too much.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cost-of-living Crisis

I sent this to all Minnesota State Legislators and the Governor.

Cost-of-living Crisis...

Do you politicians even know this crisis exists?

Do you care?


We have a crisis in this country, including here in Minnesota, confronting working class families that you politicians refuse to acknowledge.

This is a "cost-of-living crisis."

In all the millions of words in dozens of newspapers across Minnesota in which stories have been published about this Minimum Wage issue now confronting our state and the country, not once have I read where one single Democrat or Republican has acknowledged this "cost-of-living crisis" which every single working class family now confronts on a daily basis

How is it possible for these politicians to be so out of touch with this reality of life for so many hundreds of thousands of people right here in our own state?

And, still, the Minimum Wage hasn't been raised one plug nickle by this Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party with its super-majority... must be none of you politicians have to worry about making ends meet from pay check-to-pay check, eh?

How is it possible that not one single Democrat from among this super-majority has the common human or moral decency to suggest that the Minimum Wage should be established in line with the actual cost-of-living?
Don't come asking me for campaign contributions, nor for my vote.
-- 
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
 
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell: 651-587-5541

Primary E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Marx, the Minimum Wage and the "cost-of-living" crisis.

From a discussion with friends...


Yes; this is what I have been trying to tell everyone. The U.S. Census Bureau and other government agency statistics are bogus... this is why we should only be using the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' figures--- Consumer Price Index--- their figures have never been challenged as bogus.

If you read books by Alan Greenspan who operated a consulting business advising big business you will see these are the only reports he trusted.

I have been doing these calculations for years based on my own formula and I can tell you the Minimum Wage should be somewhere between $22 and $26 an hour for most of Minnesota with anyone using propane for heat that figure now goes up to between $27 and $31 an hour. This is for a family of four with one person working 40 hours a week.

There is a reason the United States Congress will not approve the BLS calculating wages in comparison to cost-of-living; this is to deny the working class the most important information needed and required in the class struggle in an attempt to achieve a decent standard of living.

There isn't an employer or Democratic or Republican politician (or union bureaucrat) who will sit down with you and have a civil conversation if you start comparing "wages" to actual "cost-of-living." They will talk to you about all your other schemes and probably call you every name in the book and invent a few more choice words. 

And this is why I, personally, will not support $15. It is derived from using the boss' figures. It might work for Canadians who have almost free health care but it won't measure up here.

I don't mind signing on to a statement that says $15 is a good place to start... it is like when I always talk about single-payer universal health care is okay as a step towards a National Public Health Care System--- socialized health care but no different from public education.

If we get dozens of people from across the country to write letters to the editor making the point that the Minimum Wage should become a real living wage based on actual cost-of-living we will develop a mass militant working class movement that will not only change the terms of debate over the Minimum Wage but begin to put an end to all these concession contracts.

There isn't anyone who would dare to tell you that a worker shouldn't receive a wage in line with "cost-of-living" but they will sure make up dozens of excuses, without mentioning "cost-of-living" as to why wages shouldn't be raised--- and it is more often than not the employers' bullshit pleas of poverty, they can't afford it.

Do you have any idea how many times I have heard this over and over again with an employer saying they could not afford a proposed wage and cry that we are trying to put them out of business only to end up signing a contract for that wage and continue in business making even more money? 

Tens of millions of people are thinking about and in motion around this Minimum Wage issue... we either strike while the iron is hot or we lose a very important opportunity--- the "cost-of-living" is our hammer, wages is the iron.

There is no other way to turn wages into a decent standard-of-living for working people.

There has never been a more "Marxist Moment" in this country over the last 55 years that I can remember. And we are going to blow it?  

I would suggest studying this; it's free for the reading:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/preface.htm


Study Guide for
Marx’s

Economic &
Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844


First Manuscript

Section 2. Wages of Labour
People: Adam Smith.
Questions for discussion:
1. What is a proletarian?
2. Where does this idea of wages as the cost of living of a worker come from?
3. What is meant by “abstract labour”?
4. How would you sum up Marx's attitude to the political economists?

Why aren't we talking about a "cost-of-living crisis" when discussing the Minimum Wage?

Even the New York Times a few days ago published this under "Room for Debate:"

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/03/30/was-marx-right

March 30, 2014

Was Marx Right?


A few years back, one Minnesota Democrat, taking a similar position as Ed Miliband, State Senator David Tomassoni, took a stand that the only way we are going to get out of this economic mess is to "work our way out; and, in saying this he brought forward legislation known as the "Minnesota People's Bailout." Unfortunately, not one single other Democrat supported his proposed legislation. Shameful and disgusting but this is what we get from these Democrats.

Quite frankly, I think people know they will be red-baited when they bring forward the idea that there is a relationship between wages and cost-of-living" just as has happened with Ed Miliband--- even Frances Perkins was viciously red-baited when she proposed a national Minimum Wage; but, so far, the red-baiting hasn't seemed to deter Miliband nor did this red-baiting deter Frances Perkins, although she faced impeachment for it:


The headlines in Great Britain blazed:

Miliband wants to live in a 'Marxist universe', Cameron claims as leaders clash over Labour 'gimmick' to freeze energy bills

  

This proves my point. Unfortunately, Miliband turns to trying to combine socialist rhetoric with Keynesian economics by playing to those in love with "markets" as most social democrats always do. But, the basic premise of his speech is as correct for the united States as it is for Britain: that for the working class there is a "cost-of-living crisis." Notice, he even tackles the Minimum Wage and the need for a living wage--- hopefully he is more sincere than our Democrats have been.

Maybe you have noticed that Miliband's speech wasn't reported here or in Canada; I wonder why it wasn't covered here?

 

Ed Miliband's speech on the cost of living crisis: full text

"The first and last test of economic policy is whether living standards for ordinary families are rising."

by Ed Miliband Published 
It is great to be here in Battersea with you today.

Last Friday, I was in my constituency, at the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

And I talked to some people who had been preyed upon by payday lenders.

There was a woman there in floods of tears.

She was in work.

But she took out a payday loan for her deposit so she could rent somewhere to live.
And then disaster followed.

A payday loan of a few hundred pounds became a debt of thousands of pounds.

She still faces bullying, harassment and threats from multiple payday lenders.

Like the young mum I met who described sitting at home with her daughter and seeing an advert on the TV for a payday lender.

She said she was down to the last nappy for her baby.

She took out the payday loan.

And one led to many more, with her ending up spending most of the money she had each week on repayments and charges.

She was so frightened by the harassment she faced that she had given her mobile phone to her mum.

Her mum showed me the phone and told me that she’d had fifteen calls that day.

The woman who worked at the CAB said the problem had got far, far worse in the last couple of years.

She said: “payday lenders are running riot through people’s lives in this community.”

Yesterday Wonga released a film all about themselves.

And last night the boss of Wonga said he was speaking for the ‘silent majority’, who are happy with their service.

But the truth is he wants us to stay silent about a company where in one year alone their bad debts reached £120 million.

An industry in which seven out of ten customers said they regretted taking out a loan.

With half saying they couldn’t pay it back.

Payday lenders don’t speak for the silent majority.

They are responsible for a quiet crisis of thousands of families trapped in unpayable debt.

The Wonga economy is one of the worst symbols of this cost of living crisis.

And as I listened to these stories, my overwhelming thought was: how is this being allowed to happen in Britain, 2013?

Because these stories of payday lenders are just one part of the cost of living crisis facing families across our country.

Low skilled jobs.

Wages that are stagnating.

Predatory behaviour by some companies.

This isn’t just an issue for the lowest paid, it affects the squeezed middle just as much.

A country where a few at the top do well, but everybody else struggles.

This is not just an issue facing Britain.

It is the issue facing Britain.

It is about who our country is run for.

How it is run.

And whether we believe we can do better than this.

I do.

The Nature of the Problem

Now, David Cameron said recently that I wanted to “talk about the cost of living” because I didn’t want to talk about “economic policy.”

So we have a Prime Minister who thinks we can detach our national economic success from the success of Britain’s families and businesses.

He doesn't seem to realise that there is no such thing as a successful economy which doesn't carry Britain’s families with it.

And he obviously doesn't get that the old link between growth and living standards is just broken.
Growth without national prosperity is not economic success.

The first and last test of economic policy is whether living standards for ordinary families are rising.
And the scale of the problem is familiar to millions of people in our country.

The official figures say that on average working people are £1,500 a year worse off than they were at the election.
And it has happened because prices are rising faster than wages.

In 39 out of the 40 months that David Cameron has been Prime Minister.

But the average doesn’t tell you the whole story.

We don’t just need average wages to creep higher than prices.

For people to be genuinely better off, we have to do much better than that.

Ordinary families are hit harder than average by higher prices.

They rely more on expensive basic necessities, like electricity and gas.

And ordinary families do worse than the average when it comes to wage increases.

Because those increases are scooped by a few at the top.

Chief executive pay went up by 7 per cent last year.

When everyone else’s wages were falling.

We can’t just make do and mend.

We need to do much better than we are.

Can Anything Be Done?

And that means we can’t just carry on as we are.

We have to permanently restore the link between growth and living standards for all of Britain’s working people.

This Government can’t do it.

And the reason is because they are wedded to Britain competing in a race to the bottom.

Listen to their silence on our plans for a living wage.

Nothing to say.

On the falling value of the minimum wage.

Nothing to say.

On zero-hours contracts.

Nothing to say.

On the exploitation of low-skill migrant labour which undercuts wages.

Nothing to say.

They’re silent because of what they believe in.

In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, George Osborne described my argument that they believed in a race to the bottom as something straight out of “Karl Marx” and “Das Kapital.”

No.

He’s wrong.

It is about what is happening in this capital city.

Right here.

And towns and cities across the country.

Right now.

Now, they think that this low wage economy is the best we can do.

Because they believe doing anything about it means intervening in markets in ways that we shouldn’t.

I disagree.

A dynamic market economy, with profitable private sector companies is essential for creating the wealth we need.

But markets always have rules.

The question is: what do those rules allow?

And what do they encourage?

Do they encourage companies to create high-skill, high-wage jobs, as part of a race to the top?

And provide the support they need to do so?

Or do they encourage a race to the bottom of low wages and low skills?

Do the rules mend broken markets?

Or allow some firms to take advantage of broken markets at the expense of everybody else?

All governments set rules for what they want to see.

This Government does intervene in markets but in the wrong way.

They make it easier to fire people.

Water down rights for agency workers.

Turn a blind eye to the failure to pay the minimum wage.

Pushing companies to compete on low wages, low skills and worse terms and conditions.

They introduce tax cuts for the richest.

Defend bonuses for the bankers.

Stand up for a powerful few.

Supporting their belief that wealth will trickle down from those at the top to everybody else.

Don’t believe it when they say they are stepping away, they are stepping in all the time, stepping in to stand up for the wrong people.

High hopes for those at the top.

Low expectations for everyone else.

A race to the bottom.

When what we need is a race to the top.

Dealing with the Cost of Living Crisis: Jobs

To win that race to the top, we are going to earn and grow our way out of this cost of living crisis.

Not by spending money we don’t have.

Because we have to bring the deficit down.

But by building a different kind of economy.

One that really works for working people.

That starts with the jobs our country creates.

David Cameron is still on his lap of honour.

To celebrate how brilliantly he has done.

In the slowest recovery for a hundred years.

We still face a massive challenge of creating jobs in this country.

There are still nearly two and half million people unemployed in Britain and nearly a million young people are still looking for work.

And when we look at the jobs in our economy, too many are low paid, part-time and temporary.

Half of new jobs have been in low paid sectors of the economy.

We have 1.4 million people working part-time when they want full-time work.

More than ever before.

And we’ve got more people in a temporary job because they can’t find a permanent one.

The Tories don’t think we can do anything about it.

They think it is the way we compete with China and India.

But they are wrong.

A Labour government will put all our country’s effort into winning a race to the top.

And that means taking action on both the quantity and quality of jobs that we are creating.

We can only win a race to the top if we transform our vocational education system and apprenticeships in this country, which is what we will do.

We can only win a race to the top if we radically transform the way we support business in every part of our country, with a proper regional banking system learning the lessons of Germany, which is what we will do.

We can only win a race to the top if we support the small businesses that will create the jobs of the future, by cutting business rates, which is what we will do.

We can only win a race to the top if we help parents get back to work and start earning to support their families by extending childcare for working parents to 25 hour a week, which is what we will do.

And we can only win a race to the top with a proper industrial policy, including for environmental jobs, which is what we will do.

All this is about re-engineering the British economy so that we make a difference to the kinds of jobs we create.

You can’t do it if you believe in a race to the bottom.

You can only do it if you believe in a race to the top.

Dealing with the Cost of Living Crisis: Wages

So dealing with the cost of living crisis starts with jobs.

But it is also about wages.

Wages for millions of people have been in decline for far too long.

I am talking about people battling to do the right thing and struggling and struggling.

Hard, honest work, in supermarkets, on building sites, in call centres.

Working harder, for longer, for less.

We have a low pay emergency in this country.

Five million people now paid less than the living wage.

Working for their poverty.

Up at least 1.4 million in just the last four years.

To one in five of all employed workers.

More of Britain’s poor children today are being brought up in working families than in jobless families.

And low wages aren’t just bad for working people.

They cost money in benefits too.

As the country has to subsidise more and more low paid jobs with higher and higher tax credits and benefits.

The government now pays more out on tax credits and benefits to those in work than it does for who are unemployed.

So to those who say we can’t afford to do anything about wages in our country today:

I say we can’t afford not to.

And many businesses now recognise that a low pay economy is bad for them too.

I was in Bristol last Thursday night talking to cleaners who are paid the living wage.

They told how proud to work for a firm like that.

Better pay means lower turnover of staff.

Higher productivity.

So we have to end the scandal of poverty pay in this country.

We would strengthen the minimum wage, which has lost 5 per cent of its value under this government.

We are looking at the case for higher minimum wages in particular sectors of the economy, like financial services, where they can afford to pay more.

And we will go further than that too.

That is why the next Labour government from its first day in office, will offer “make work pay” contracts to employers all over Britain.

It is a simple deal.

For the first year of a Labour government, we will say to every firm:

You start to make work pay, through a living wage.

And we will give you a 12 month tax rebate of 32p for every extra pound they spend.

Make work pay contracts will raise wages, keep the benefit bill down and tackle the cost of living crisis.

It is a good deal for workers, business and the taxpayer too.

And by tackling low pay we won’t just strengthen our economy, we will strengthen our society as well.

It is not good for our country for people to be working 60 or 70 hours a week, doing 2 or 3 jobs, not having time to see their kids.

We will change it.

Under a One Nation Labour government: work will pay.

Dealing with the Cost of Living Crisis: Broken Markets

And tackling the cost of living crisis is also about ensuring markets work for working people.

And that means fixing markets when they are broken.

This power station was built in the 1920s after a Conservative government intervened to fix a broken energy market.

That government, of Stanley Baldwin, knew that if government didn’t fix broken markets, nobody else was going to.

Stanley Baldwin knew it.

John Major seems to understand it.

But David Cameron doesn’t.

His response to Labour’s energy price freeze shows how out of the mainstream he is.

He took issue with the whole idea of government intervention in a broken market.

Ever since, on energy he seems to have had a different policy every day of the week.

But what we know is that we can never expect him to stand up to the energy companies, because they are a large and powerful interest.

It is not who David Cameron is.

It is not what he does.

He stands up to the weak, never to the strong.

For the next eighteen months, people will hear scare stories from the unholy alliance of the energy companies and David Cameron.

The Big Seven.

It will just reinforce in people’s minds who he stands up for.

The six large energy companies.

Not the 60 million people of Britain.

Today, new figures confirm that most of the recent price rises weren’t caused by government levies or by a rise in wholesale prices.

But are the direct result of a broken market.

For the average increase in the price for electricity and gas since 2011, over half went straight to the costs and profits of the companies themselves.

This shows exactly why we need a price freeze now.

Because only a price freeze will protect customers while we re-set the market.

A price freeze until 2017 will happen if Labour wins the election.

A freeze that will benefit 27 million families and 2.4 million businesses.

It is workable and it will happen.

And tomorrow, Parliament will vote on that price freeze.

So Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs could vote for it now.

And if they line up against it, the British people will know the truth:

This Government is on the side of the big energy companies not hard-pressed families.

And our price freeze until 2017 will pave the way for us to radically improve the energy market for the long term.

We will publish an Energy Green Paper for:

A regulator that can cut unjustified price rises.

A ring fence between the generation and supply businesses of the energy companies, so there is proper transparency.

Forcing energy companies to trade the energy they produce in the open market.

And a new simple tariff structure that people can understand.

So we will change the way the energy market works.

In a way that will provide long-term confidence for investors and a better deal for consumers.

And we will mend other markets that aren’t working in the public interest.

Opening up competition in banking.

A cap on the cost of credit in payday lending.

Proper regulation of our train companies.

Ending unjustified charges and fees in the private rented sector.

And new social tariffs in the water industry.

The Conservative Party defends broken markets and the few people that profit from them.

I am proud that the Labour Party stands up for markets that work for working people.

Conclusion

The next general election will offer a big choice.

A choice about whether we tackle the cost of living crisis or shrug our shoulders.

A choice about whether we run a race to the top or a race to the bottom.

A choice about whether we reform broken markets or defend them.

A choice about how we succeed as a country.

Above all, the choice will be about who our country is run for.

There is a Tory vision for Britain that has low expectations for what most people should be able to expect.

Payday lenders can prey on the vulnerable.

Millions of families see stagnating living standards.

Energy companies can just carry on as they are, ripping off consumers.

My vision is different.

We can run Britain in a different way.

Different from the past.

Building a different future for our country.

Where ordinary people feel the country is run for them.

In their interests.

And for their future.

Earning our way to a better standard of living.

Sharing rewards fairly.

And making markets work for people, not the other way round.

Britain can do better than this.

And that’s what One Nation Labour will do.