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

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Israeli killing machine must be stopped now!

We have seen this same scenario over and over again... Israel goes into Gaza, does its dirty deeds and the Western politicians make their pilgrimage to Israel under the guise of "diffusing" the violence urging all sides to talk.

Apparently these imperialist bastards keep some kind of scorecards tracking civilian casualties over which they deem public sentiment will not tolerate any more.

1,400 to 1,500 hundred Palestinian civilian deaths seems to be the "magic number" at which point these morons pretend to try to "talk sense" to Israel.

The intent is quite obvious: To beat the Palestinian people into submission by slowly eradicating them and making their lives a living hell which is their penalty for seeking justice.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The "Good Start" crap from the Democratic Party front groups... all over again... an e-mail exchange.

From: Alan Maki 


Date: Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 6:27 AM


Subject: Re: FOR INFO: [NJFAC] Building the Movement for Full Employment - Wed. July 9 @ 10 am.


To: "Goldberg, Trudy"


Cc: Philip Harvey , Helen Ginsburg , njfac@njfac.org, loganmartinez2u@yahoo.com, "uniting_people@lists.riseup.net" , ZZZ Ellison Keith , joe.sathe@state.mn.us, MN08RNIMA@mail.house.gov, rep.phyllis.kahn@house.mn, rep.tom.anzelc@house.mn, sen.david.tomassoni@senate.mn, Al Franken , Alice Hausman , Andrea Kieffer , Andrew Falk , Anna Wills , Barb Yarusso , Ben Lien , Bob Barrett , Bob Dettmer , Bob Gunther , Brian Johnson , Bud Nornes , Carlos Mariani , Carly Melin , Carolyn Laine , Chris Swedzinski , Cindy Pugh , Connie Bernardy , Dan Schoen , David Bly , David Dill , David FitzSimmons , Dean Urdahl , Debra Hilstrom , Debra Kiel , Denny McNamara , Diane Loeffler , Duane Quam , Erik Simonson , Erin Murphy , Ernie Leidiger , Frank Hornstein , Gene Pelowski , Glenn Gruenhagen , Greg Davids , Jason Isaacson , Jason Metsa , Jay McNamar , Jean Wagenius , Jeanne Poppe , Jeff Howe , Jenifer Loon , Jerry Hertaus , Jerry Newton , Jim Abeler , Jim Davnie , Jim Newberger , JoAnn Ward , Joe Atkins , Joe Hoppe , Joe McDonald , Joe Radinovich , Joe Schomacker , John Benson , John Lesch , John Persell , John Petersburg , John Ward , Joyce Peppin , Karen Clark , Kathy Brynaert , Kathy Lohmer , Kelby Woodard , Kim Norton , Kurt Daudt , Kurt Zellers , Laurie Halverson , Leon Lillie , Linda Runbeck , Linda Slocum , Lyndon Carlson , Marion Oneill , Mark Anderson , Mark Uglem , Mary Franson , Mary Murphy , Mary Sawatzky , MaryLiz Holberg , Matt Dean , Melissa Hortman , micah hines , Michael Nelson , Michael Paymar , Mike Beard , Mike Benson , Mike Freiberg , Mike Sundin , Nick Zerwas , Pam Myhra , Pat Garofalo , Paul Anderson , Paul Marquart , Paul Rosenthal , Paul Thissen , Paul Torkelson , Peggy Scott , Peter Fischer , Raymond Dehn , Rena Moran , "rep.ann.lenczewski@house.mn" , "rep.dan.fabian@house.mn" , "rep.joe.mullery@house.mn" , "rep.patti.fritz@house.mn" , Rick Hansen , Rod Hamilton , Roger Erickson , Ron Erhardt , Ron Kresha , Ryan Winkler , Sandra Masin , Sarah Anderson , "Sen. Amy Klobuchar" , "sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn" , "sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn" , "sen.bobby.champion@senate.mn" , "sen.carla.nelson@senate.mn" , "sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn" , "sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn" , "sen.dave.thompson@senate.mn" , "sen.foung.hawj@senate.mn" , "sen.greg.clausen@senate.mn" , "sen.jeff.hayden@senate.mn" , "sen.jim.carlson@senate.mn" , "sen.jim.metzen@senate.mn" , "sen.john.hoffman@senate.mn" , "sen.kathy.sheran@senate.mn" , "sen.katie.sieben@senate.mn" , "sen.kent.eken@senate.mn" , "sen.kevin.dahle@senate.mn" , "sen.lyle.koenen@senate.mn" , "sen.matt.schmit@senate.mn" , "sen.melisa.franzen@senate.mn" , "sen.melissa.wiklund@senate.mn" , "sen.michelle.benson@senate.mn" , "sen.rod.skoe@senate.mn" , "sen.roger.chamberlain@senate.mn" , "sen.roger.reinert@senate.mn" , "sen.scott.dibble@senate.mn" , "sen.terri.bonoff@senate.mn" , "sen.tony.lourey@senate.mn" , "sen.vicki.jensen@senate.mn" , "sen.warren.limmer@senate.mn" , Shannon Savick , Sheldon Johnson , Sondra Erickson , Steve Drazkowski , Steve Green , Steve Simon , Susan Allen , Tara Mack , Tim Bohl , Tim Faust , Tim Kelly , Tim Mahoney , Tim ODriscoll , Tim Sanders , Tina Liebling , Tom Hackbarth , Tom Huntley , Tony Albright , Tony Cornish , Will Morgan , Yvonne Selcer , Zachary Dorholt , "ddjohnson@startribune.com" , "dtice@startribune.com" , "jfriedmann@startribune.com" , jill geroy , Jill Stein , Cindy Sheehan , Rocky Anderson , Rick Spisak

Here we go again with this "good start" crap.

Wall Street gets what it wants when it wants it from these politicians... including the ones participating in your conference but working people are supposed to endure the poverty being imposed on them through unemployment and poverty wages.

I am very familiar with this H.R. 1000. It is one more scheme and a scam that will leave millions of workers unemployed and in poverty wage jobs.

A "good start" would be legislation making it mandatory that the president and Congress be legislatively responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment with real living wage jobs.

We have heard this "good start" crap before from these Wall Street bribed politicians and foundation-funded outfits posing as liberal, progressive and leftist think-tanks (they provided Obama a cover for his Wall Street agenda) when it comes to raising the Minimum Wage to a real living wage. During the political campaigns to get these politicians elected to office their campaign rhetoric is perfectly fine-tuned and properly framed to present progressive sounding policy directives in line with the thinking of George Lakoff but they are careful, as advised by George Lakoff, not to bring forward any specific progressive solutions to our problems which include massive unemployment and millions forced to work for poverty wages.

Then after getting elected things change from this nice sounding rhetoric to passing legislation in a "bi-partisan" manner without any regard for the rhetoric used during the campaign... hence we get these "good starts" where instead of real living wages which are wages in line with the real and actual cost-of-living we get more poverty wages of $9.50 and $10.10--- not now (just like Jobs Now!) but over time on the installment plan. 

Just like "$15 Now!"... but, again, what is meant is years later.

Everything is pushed as wanting it "Now!" during the press conferences passed off as "struggle."

But some how "Now!" turns into not now but a "good start."

We had "Single-payer Now!," too. And what did these "coalitions" cobbled together by millionaire labor leaders, preachers paid $250,000.00 a year and the directors of these foundation-funded outfits do to that? They accepted a "good start" with Obamacare which justifiably should be called the "Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry Bailout and Profit Maximization Act of 2010."

"Good start."

How much longer do you think the U.S. working class which is being pushed further and further into poverty by wars, monopoly price-fixing and Wall Street seeking super-profits through poverty wages is going to fall for the Democrats' agenda of "good starts?"

There is a reason so many people are not happy being stuck in Wall Street's two-party trap. 

You may be some kind of "students of history" but instead of merely consulting text books written by others working off foundation grants who understand that if they tell the truth about history from a working class, class struggle perspective they won't be receiving any more foundation grants as these foundations rely on the great Wall Street "philanthropists"--- the Wall Street warmongers, exploiters and robber barons--- for their funding.

You may be "aware" of the "Full Employment Act of 1945" as "historians" but you certainly have done nothing to promote it and the idea that the president and Congress must be made legislatively responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment with full employment being a state where anyone who wants a job has a job at real living wages in line with actual cost-of-living factors.

Never mind "historians;" any school child can tell you that in a capitalist society which lacks respect for working people, any worker without a job and any worker paid poverty wages is going to be poor.

I imagine your solution to ending poverty is more campaign rhetoric like, "End Poverty Now!" as you bring forward H.R. 1000 which has few teeth and by the time these Democrats get done preparing it for "bi-partisan support" it will be completely toothless.

To get your conference on the road to a really "good start" I would suggest that you distribute this article by former Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party Governor Elmer Benson. It might help place things in a better historical perspective:

http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/47/v47i04p154-161.pdf

I really think you should distribute both the Benson article and the entire Congressional Hearing transcript for the "Full Employment Act of 1945" to those attending and participating in your "Jobs For All!" Conference so you get a really "good start" with everyone thoroughly understanding the treachery and betrayal of the Democratic Party.

Thanks for your response--- the dialog and discussion is another "good start." But clearly what is being offered is a meatless bone. How much longer will you encourage working people to accept the campaign rhetoric with "properly framed progressive policy directives" in place of real progressive solutions?

How much longer will you try to pass off conferences and press conferences as "struggle" instead of as actions required to mobilize millions of people to take to the streets and take action at their places of employment until we get full employment with real living wages?

The legislation you are promoting will leave millions of people unemployed and millions more working for poverty wages... I suggest you ask those workers who will be living in poverty if they think this is a "good start."

Alan L. Maki




On Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 12:46 AM, Goldberg, Trudy <trudygoldberg@njfac.org> wrote:
Dear Alan Maki,

Thank you for your message and for your recommendation that we consult your blog.

Be assured that we are students of history, well-acquainted with the 1945  full employment bill that passed the Senate and was later defeated in the House. We have also pondered  the reasons for its defeat. We believe that the current H.R. 1000, The Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act that we have had a hand in drafting is a good start and that it is closer to jobs for all than the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 (Humphrey Hawkins Act).

We are also students of the Great Depression, the job creation programs of the New Deal, their strengths and weaknesses and of FDR's Economic Bill of Rights that began with "the right to a useful and remunerative job" which he considered "the most fundamental [right], and one on which the fulfillment of the others in large degree depends" (1945, Annual Message to Congress).
We invite you to visit our website, njfac.org
Sincerely,
Trudy Goldberg 

Sincerely,
Trudy Goldberg




On Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 8:32 AM, Alan Maki <alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com> wrote:
I regret I am unable to attend your "Jobs For All" conference.

However, I would encourage you to bring forward the idea first developed around the original "Full Employment Act of 1945" that it should be made legislatively mandatory for the president and Congress to attain and maintain full employment--- full employment being anyone who wants a jobs gets a job at real living wages; wages in line with actual cost-of-living factors not these phony figures of $9.50 or $10.10 politicians pull from their hats for political expediency and to satisfy the needs of employers looking to keep their profit margins high through cheap labor.

I would encourage you to check out my blog which has the complete transcript of the Full Employment Act of 1945 Congressional Hearing.

I think it is imperative we study the past in order to gain an understanding of where we want to go with a movement for full employment.

Here is my blog:

http://fullemploymentnow.blogspot.com/
I am also including two other links which may be of interest to you:

http://www.newprogs.org/


I would be interested in receiving any materials coming out of your July 9 & 10 conference.

I do find it interesting that so many organizations will allow the very politicians who campaign on a platform of "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" are let off the hook simply because they mouth the "correct" progressive policy directives but then when provided the opportunity once elected they do absolutely nothing to implement full employment in practice.

Specifically, I am interested in knowing if your organization is going to be bringing forward legislation similar to the Full Employment Act of 1945 fully updated to take on the new problems workers and working class families are experiencing.

I also hope your conference will be addressing the "Cost-of-Living Crisis" every single working class family in this country is experiencing.

Alan L. Maki




---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael McGEE <michael.mcgee.1@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Subject: FOR INFO: [NJFAC] Building the Movement for Full Employment - Wed. July 9 @ 10 am.
To: Alan Maki <alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com>


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: National Jobs for All Coalition <njfac@njfac.org>
Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 5:01 PM
Subject: [NJFAC] Live! Jobs for All for Goes to Washington! Wed. July 9 @ 10 am.
To: GoodJobs <goodjobsforall@googlegroups.com>


Live! Jobs for All for Goes to
Washington! Wed. July 9 @ 10 am.

Here's the link for the stream. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfaqVIx6vaU


Jobs for All!
Enacting Job Creation Legislation
and
Building the Movement for Full Employment
National Conference July 9 & 10, 2014
Washington D.C.

Join us for a strategy discussion on job creation andbuilding a national movement for full employment.
This meeting will kick off two days of dialogue among national and grassroots jobs creation advocates for the purpose of developing a coordinated national strategy for job creation.
Featuring Members of:
 The Congressional Full Employment Caucus

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
2226 Rayburn House Office Building

Jobs for All Strategy Briefing
Representative John Conyers, Jr. (MI)
Representative Frederica Wilson (FL)
Representative Marcy Kaptur (OH)  
Representative Barbara Lee (CA)
Rev. Rodney S. Sadler, Jr., Ph.D.
Moral Monday
Associate Professor of Bible
Union Presbyterian Seminary

Debby Szeredy
Executive Vice President, American Postal Workers Union

Kevin Bradshaw
President, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco, Workers
& Grain Millers Union 
Local 252G
Kellogg's Workers in Memphis, TN have been off the job since October 2013.

George H. Lambert, Jr.
President and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League,

Philip Harvey
Professor of Law & Economics
Rutgers School of Law
Executive Committee, National Jobs for All Coalition

Josh Nassar
Legislative Director, United Auto Workers

Chris Horton
Worcester Unemployment Action Group (MA)
Voices of Unemployed Workers
  
Deborah Weinstein
Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg  
Chair, National Jobs for All Coalition
Professor Emerita of Social Policy, Adelphi University


Jessica Schieder
 Policy Associate, Center for Effective Government

Lunch with Witness Wednesdays, the critical effort to renew extended unemployment benefits, will be at the Triangle on the Capitol Hill lawn.

Witness Wednesdays for July 9 will be hosted by Representative Barbara Lee (CA) and will feature the stories of unemployed African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans.


Strategy Session A, July 9,  2014
2226 Rayburn House Office Building
2:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Chuck Bell , Facilitator
National Jobs for All Coalition

Robert Creamer
Democracy Partners

Miriam Pemberton
Institute for Policy Studies

Bill Barclay
Chicago Political Economy Group

Andrea Miller
Progressive Democrats of America

Local Reports

Kae Halonen
South East Michigan Jobs with Justice

Sheena Foster
Worker's Interfaith Network, Memphis, TN

Rev. Glencie Rhedrick 
Mecklenburg Ministries, NC 

Clinton Smith
Gray Panthers, Austin, TX

Joel Segal
Progressive Democrats of America, VA
Former Senior Legislative Assistant, Representative John Conyers, Jr.

Leonard Mell
National Jobs for All Coalition, VA

Larry Bresler
Organize Ohio

More, TBA
__________________________________________________________________ 

Thursday Morning  Panel, July 10, 2014
10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
2226 Rayburn House Office Building

Logan Martinez,   Facilitator
Miami Valley Full Employment Council and National Jobs for All Coalition

Frank Peterson
Unemployed Veteran

Other panelists, TBA 

Thursday afternoon we will be meeting members of the US Congress  regarding  job creation legislation

Conference Host: National Jobs for All Coalition
  
Co-sponsors
Gray Panthers
Social Democrats
Progressive Democrats of America
People's Empowerment Coalition of Ohio
Jobs For All Campaign 
Worcester Unemployment Action Group


If you are able to attend the meeting, please RSVP using our online form

For more information Contact:
Trudy Goldberg, National Jobs for All Coalition

Logan Martinez, Miami Valley Full Employment Council (Dayton, Ohio)    loganmartinez2u@yahoo.com   / 937-260-2591

The National Jobs for All Coalition is dedicated to the propositions that meaningful employment is a precondition for a fulfilling life and that every person capable of working should have the right to a job. The Coalition not only fights to make these propositions facts of life, but it publishes invaluable research by noted scholars to support them. 


-- 
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org/
-- 
This list is only for announcements, so you may not post.
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-- 
Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Cell: 651-587-5541




-- 
Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Cell: 651-587-5541



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Don't get sucked into believing in incremental change... reforms and revolution aren't about waiting for better things to come. Capitalism only has one trajectory--- from bad to worse.

The Wall Street ruling class and their chosen (bribed) politicians always want people to think there is time before there is need for change. This takes away from the required urgency needed for change. People mobilize and struggle based on urgency. I can remember as a teenager drinking from the streams, rivers and lakes of northern Minnesota. Only a fool would drink from any stream, river or lake today in northern Minnesota. Change has come very rapidly; not slowly and incrementally. The problem is that change has not been good for most people and Mother Nature as corporations exploit workers in the process of raping Mother Nature and a good deal of what has been extracted, processed and manufactured has been wasted in preparation for wars, on wars and rebuilding in the aftermath of these murderous and destructive dirty imperialist wars from which humanity loses as Wall Street profits. Let this system continue for another fifteen years and we are going to be in one hell of a mess.

Wall Street should not be allowed to dictate the terms of life to humanity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BTNjeKqpEk

Monday, July 7, 2014

Appropriating heroes: Mandela




·                                 Written by  Ken Fuller 
·                                 Tuesday, 08 July 2014 00:00
·                                 Daily Tribune
When he died last December, in the mainstream media there was wall-to-wall praise for Nelson Mandela the “statesman.” British PM David Cameron, for example, seemed to have forgotten that his own party (and its then leader Margaret Thatcher) had labeled the African National Congress (ANC) a “terrorist organization;” indeed, a younger Cameron had himself supported South Africa’s apartheid regime. And we were subjected to a string of homespun homilies from Bill Clinton, who failed to explain — the tame media never asked him to — why Mandela’s name was not removed from the US “terrorist” list during his presidency.

This amounted to an attempt to appropriate a national liberation hero by people who had never supported that struggle.

In praising Mandela, the obituary-writers in the conservative press distorted both history and the meaning of the man’s life. Choosing its words carefully, The Economist rated him as the “most inspirational” statesman of the 20th century for “many people, in many lands.” While conceding that he “made some common cause” with the South African Communist Party (SACP), the journal considered that “his writings were then full of sub-Marxist drivel.” Thus, the man who entered prison in 1962 was hardly deserving of praise, whereas it was heaped upon the man who emerged in 1990, as if some dramatic transformation had occurred on Robben Island.

This left The Economist unable to explain Mandela’s continuing warmth toward countries like Cuba, Libya and China, except by reason that they had supported him and the anti-apartheid struggle. Downplaying Mandela’s role in the overthrow of apartheid (and of course that of Cuba is simply ignored), the magazine considers that his “greater achievement was to see the need for reconciliation, to forswear retribution and then to act as midwife to a new, democratic South Africa, built on the rule of law.”

The SACP, obviously alert to this international attempt at hero-appropriation, stated after his death that Mandela, far from merely making “some common cause” with the party, had in fact been a member of its central committee at the time of his arrest. Following his release from prison, Mandela made no attempt to distance himself from the SACP, speaking to an audience of 50,000 at its re-launch in late July 1990.
In London in 2003, he unveiled a plaque commemorating Joe Slovo, the late general secretary of the SACP, and his wife Ruth First. Addressing the assembled crowd, Mandela made no secret of the fact that the Slovos had been communists; he went on to praise the SACP for its organizational skills and solidarity.

While the mainstream media ignored the role of Cuba in the liberation of southern Africa, Mandela was fulsome in his praise and gratitude. In 1975, after South African forces invaded Angola in support of the US-backed UNITA, the MPLA government sought Cuban assistance. Thousands of Cuban troops — all of them volunteers — arrived to preserve the independence Angola had just achieved from Portugal, and within months the South African forces were chased into Namibia, then a South African “protectorate.”

However, UNITA incursions into Angola continued and when in 1987 Angolan government forces moved south to crush the pro-Western rebels, the South Africans invaded once more to support their UNITA allies, and by early 1988 it seemed that they might inflict a major defeat on the Angolan army, but in March that year Cuban troops once more arrived and saved the day.

Apologists for the apartheid regime still claim that their troops won the battle of Cuito Cunavale; they may well have suffered less casualties than the Angolans and their Cuban allies, but the fact of the matter is that the engagement sealed the fate of the regime, which was forced to concede independence to Namibia in March 1990 and the following year to repeal the apartheid laws, leading to the first free elections in 1994 at which Mandela was elected president.

Shortly after his election, Mandela visited Cuba, telling his hosts that Cuito Cunavale “destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor. The defeat of the apartheid army served as an inspiration to the struggling people of South Africa. Without the defeat of Cuito Cuanavale our organizations would not have been legalized. The defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale made it possible for me to be here with you today. Cuito Cuanavale marks the divide in the struggle for the liberation of southern Africa. Cuito Cuanavale marked an important step in the struggle to free the continent and our country of the scourge of apartheid.”

Mandela also noted that Cuban assistance had not been merely military: “What other country,” he asked, “can show as much selflessness as Cuba has in its relations with the African continent? How many countries in the world have benefited from the assistance of Cuban health workers and educators? What country has ever asked for Cuban assistance and been denied it? How many countries threatened by imperialism or struggling for their national liberation have been able to count on the help and support of Cuba?”

He had little time for those who, like the Cuban émigrés in Miami, sought to persuade him to speak out against alleged human rights abuses in Cuba. “Who are they to call for the observance of human rights by Cuba? They kept quiet for 42 years when human rights were being attacked in South Africa. Who are they now to be so concerned about human rights? They are not concerned with the violence in which 10,000 of our people have been killed in South Africa. Who are they to teach us about human rights?”

Next week, we’ll look at another example of hero-appropriation, this time a little closer to home: Jose Rizal.

*           *           *

For those interested in all aspects of the South African liberation struggle, I recommend London Recruits (2012), edited by Ken Keable. This contains accounts by young white volunteers recruited by the African National Congress in London to undertake missions in South Africa. Fascinating.
 

Elmer Benson wrote an important article... it should be discussed and shared widely.

This is a very important article.

I am going to keep re-posting it from time to time.

I would encourage people to organize small discussion groups around this article, organize public forums and debates.


This article has never received the consideration due because Elmer Benson was one of Joe McCarthy's and Hubert Humphrey's primary targets.


Now is the time to discuss this article:


http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/47/v47i04p154-161.pdf


Share it widely or with just a friend or two.


Print it off and circulate some copies.

Post it to bulletin boards.


This article is as timely, if not more so, than the day it was written.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"The GMA and GMOs" by Kenneth Fuller... corporations versus the people; corporate science versus science for the people.



The GMA and GMOs
·                                 Written by  Ken Fuller 
                               Tuesday, 01 July 2014 00:00
·                                 Daily Tribune
This column has recently made mention of the increasingly common practice by which corporations, sometimes aided by “free trade” agreements, sue governments that take decisions which, while they might serve the interests of the people of the country concerned, run counter to those of the corporate bottom line.

Well, there is now a further example, although the respondent in this case is not a country but a state: Vermont, the second least populous state in the USA. And what is Vermont’s crime? Earlier this year it passed a law which is not to the liking of Monsanto, the agriculture giant responsible for much of the world’s genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Vermont has taken the position, which most people would find eminently reasonable, that if there is no scientific consensus concerning the safety of GMOs (the truth of the matter is that there have been no studies “proving” their safety apart from those funded by the corporations that produce them), then the consumer should at least be alerted to the fact that a product contains them. Products containing GMOs should, in short, be labeled.

In mid-June, a suit was filed against Vermont by a coalition consisting of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers. The first-named of these consists of over 300 of the world’s largest food manufacturers, including Monsanto, which threatened to sue as long ago as 2012, causing Vermont legislators to place the labeling measure on hold.

Monsanto is notoriously litigious, having filed almost 150 lawsuits between 1997 and 2010, many against independent farmers who made allegations against its GMO products.

It is not, however, that the Grocery Manufacturers Association is against labeling per se. Far from it, for in December last year the New York Times reported that the GMA had written to the Food and Drug Administration advising that it would be petitioning that body to rule that food containing GMOs should be labeled as “natural.” For the GMA, therefore, labels are okay as long as they lie.

The GMA argues in this case that the labeling of GMO products would be a “burden” for industry (a burden that suddenly vanishes, it would seem, if GMOs are labeled as “natural”), and that Vermont has usurped the powers of the federal government, which alone has responsibility for such regulation. The GMA is also promoting a congressional bill to this latter effect — a useful illustration of the nature of US “democracy” as recently discussed in this column.

The impact of this case will extend beyond Vermont, as several other states have said that they will follow suit — if Vermont survives the legal challenge. Connecticut already has a labeling law, but its implementation is conditional upon other states, with a total population of at least 20 million, enacting similar legislation. Likewise, implementation of the law in Maine is dependent upon five other states adopting the measure.

Such qualifications were inserted, says the Center for Food Safety’s lead attorney, because these states feared what Vermont now faces — “getting sued by Monsanto, the GMA, the biotech industry.”

Some states like Washington and California have already rejected labeling requirements. Did citizens in those states arrive at their decisions by exercises in Jeffersonian democracy, attending town meetings where arguments pro and con were advanced and the issue was soberly debated? Of course not. The industry giants spent at least $20 million in Washington state and $46 million in California to achieve those negative votes.

Some Filipino columnists have over the past year or so taken the side of the GMO corporations by presenting the conflict in this country as being one between “our farmers” and “our scientists” against the “powerful, European” campaigning organization Greenpeace. The truth, of course, is that Filipino scientists and farmers were involved in the case against the GMO trials at UP Los Baños, alongside the Filipino arm of Greenpeace. The foreign interest was represented by the GMO-producing corporations, often concealed within innocent-sounding research institutes.

To present the Filipino case as a David vs Goliath struggle in which Greenpeace takes the latter role is a ludicrous misrepresentation of the facts. The corporate interest plays the role of the giant in both the Philippines and Vermont, and in the latter case this is as clear as it can possibly be.


Vermont’s population in 2013 was 626,630, its total revenue $1.732 billion. Monsanto’s net sales in 2011 came to $11.82 billion. And that’s just Monsanto. Its power in this case is augmented by that of the other 300 members of the GMA (to name just a few: Dow, Mars, Kellogg, Proctor & Gamble, Hershey, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Heinz, Unilever, Kraft, Campbell Soup) and those of the other three members of the coalition.

Last December, the Food and Drug Administration announced that there would be no labeling requirement for GMOs in this country as they were virtually no different from organic foods and were not cancer-causing, as “numerous tests” had demonstrated. The Court of Appeals in the Los Baños case took a different view — as have the 60 countries which have either banned GMOs outright or have a labeling requirement.

Had the decision been different (and, of course, it’s still possible for a more enlightened administration to reverse this one), those who attempt to conceal the role of corporate interests in the trialing and promotion of GMOs would have received an education as those interests would have targeted the Philippines just as they’re targeting Vermont. That being the case, it makes one wonder whether, considering this possibility, the FDA decided to play the role of Maine and Connecticut.