Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


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

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Wealth of the Poor: Managing ecosystems to fight poverty

I would encourage everyone to read this publication which is a "collaborative effort" between four international agencies including the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank.

For those who will be participating in the upcoming "Labor and Sustainability Conference" at the Ford Local 879 UAW Hall across from the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant on January 19th and 20th this publication is a must read.

Several people have suggested that I provide information regarding the "Millennium Goals of the United Nations." This publication provides a lot of this information and is loaded with statistics and commentary about poverty.

Like everything we read we need to be aware of who is involved in creating a report like this, and what their intended purpose is. Few poor people will have the opportunity to read or discuss this report, much less be invited to participate in the real decision making processes affecting their lives, communities, and ecosystems.

One would expect that those who produce a report and a publication like this are sincerely interested in eliminating poverty... this is not the case... they are interested in reducing poverty; and even this stated objective is highly suspect given the role of the World Bank in countries where poverty is becoming more the norm when it comes to real world living conditions and experiences of most working people... make no mistake, the question of poverty is a question that involves each and every person who works for a living.

The World Bank is no more interested in ending poverty than the Ford Motor Company is concerned about their employees or the surrounding communities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as they move to shut down the Twin Cities Assembly Plant--- although both the World Bank and the Ford Motor Company do have a common goal: maximizing corporate profits.

Poverty, together with issues such as global warming, war, racism and oppression go hand in hand with capitalist exploitation; this publication does not consider this fact. Of course, we could not expect any effort upon which there has been collaboration with the World Bank to be interested in exploring capitalism as the main source of poverty and the problems associated with ecosystems; in fact, this publication touts the "globalized economy" as a solution to poverty and the well-being of ecosystems... but, with any publications of this nature, one always finds some very interesting kernels of truth, and there are many such kernels of truth in this document like this:

The percentage of people living on less than $2 per day in Eastern Europe and Central Asia rose from 2 percent in 1981 to 20 percent in 2001, largely as a result of the collapse of communism in those regions (Chen and
Ravallion 2004:19).

One must ask a very simple and basic question that is never broached in this well researched publication that touts globalization as a solution to poverty--- and make no mistake, it is "capitalist globalization" being referred to: How is it that capitalism has brought poverty to such a large section of the world's peoples and anyone can still justify the destruction of socialism in these countries and advocate the capitalist road for the rest of humanity? I was going to write: "the capitalist road to development;" however, that would obviously be an oxymoron if ever there was such a thing.

This region referred to has been on the capitalist road now for at least 17 years. We were told, and more importantly the people affected were told, that free markets would bring them salvation. They now have their Bibles; but no jobs, no access to health care, or public education, which once was the one of the "crown jewel" of socialism, along with free universal health care; all is in a shambles, including life itself. And poverty, which had been virtually eliminated by any standard or measuring stick that has ever been devised in modern human history, now engulfs twenty percent of the population. Just about the same level of poverty we have here in the United States after this rotten capitalist system was introduced to the North American continent over 400 years ago.

Does anyone really believe that capitalism is going to fare any better for the people in these formerly socialist countries than it has here in the United States the last four hundred years; a country touted as the most industrially advanced, wealthiest country in the world?

Given these facts, what do we do with them? Do we place this publication on the shelves in the research departments of labor unions, environmental groups, social justice, and anti-poverty organizations? Do we allow the World Bank and all the big-business think-tanks along with the commercial media to explain to us why we have poverty in this country or any other place in the world? I would suggest that it is time for working people to begin to study publications like this and do some analysis in the same manner and with the same intent that Karl Marx studied publications similar to this; and that we draw our own conclusions, as working people--- while sitting around our kitchen tables in every "Podunk" community discussing this report and what poverty is really all about.

Over one hundred years ago the great labor and revolutionary leader and Marxist thinker, Eugene Victor Debs, made the observation that to the capitalists workers were mere "hands;" factory hands and farm hands. Debs went on to point out that one of the great problems is that the capitalist owns what we produce with our hands and the capitalist uses his head to do our thinking for us; this is a process which continues today; a process that is going to have to change if we are serious about eradicating poverty.

Obviously, the World Bank is only paying lip service in stating that it has any intent to reduce poverty... the World Bank would like to hold up the "hope" to people living in poverty that something is really going to be done to eliminate poverty; when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Capitalism not only breeds poverty but requires masses of impoverished people in order for the system to survive... it is the impoverished peoples of the world who have been held over the heads of working people everywhere as they struggle for a better life... we see full well the examples here in Minnesota of corporations blackmailing working people as companies, large ones like Ford Motor Company closing its Twin Cities Assembly Plant, and small ones like Mattracks expanding from a small operation in Karlstad, Minnesota to a much larger operation in China. This sends a clear signal to working people: work for less or we will move to where there is massive poverty and people starving will do what you do for much less and corporate profits will soar.

Any school child knows what this study has avoided: that poverty cannot be ended so long as corporations pay working people poverty wages.

While this report's intent is to place the need to protect ecosystems into the context of creating an integrated framework for economic globalization to proceed smoothly as the solution to all our economic and social ills, it fails to address the real problem: capitalism. In fact, it intentionally obscures the fact that what is being referred to as "economic globalization" is really "capitalist globalization." When one further studies beyond this report we understand that the World Bank does not intend to allow socialist economies to integrate into, or become a part of, this economic globalization unless they prove that they are well on their way to restoring capitalism... apparently something that has been over-looked in China.

Rather than creating jobs while protecting ecosystems, capitalism destroys the people and ecosystems by using people to rape the land in quest of greater profits... this is the nature of imperialism, the highest and last stage of capitalism... we now have a choice to make, we can stand up and rid the world of capitalism or die along with this decadent, rotting system that has turned parasitic and moribund itself... it is time to bury capitalism out in the Big Bog and let socialism sprout from its decay along with wild orchids of spring.

"The Wealth of the Poor: Managing ecosystems to fight poverty"--- This is an excellent read, but read it with eyes wide open and read between the lines... read this publication in order to grasp the complexities of the problems before us with a view to resolving this mess to the benefit of the working class... with cooperation and socialism.

One of the problems with a publication like this is that it deals with poverty as mere facts and figures... we must remember that behind every fact and figure is a living, breathing human being who is suffering--- often in the process of dying as a result of drought, hunger, malnutrition, or a disease going untreated.

I will have more to say about this publication relating to ecosystems and poverty in the near future concerning the struggles now underway to halt peat mining in the Big Bog and MinnTac's contamination of our living environment. I would encourage everyone to study this publication very thoroughly. Minnesota politicians might want to figure out how the thousands of people trapped on Indian Reservations fit into "managing ecosystems to fight poverty."

Many years ago, Roger Jourdain, the long-time serving Chairman of the Red Lake Nation who used public and cooperative ownership successfully to fight poverty came to many of the same conclusions about the relationship of ecosystems to wealth and poverty--- that is why he fought so hard to stop peat mining in the Big Bog. It is a sad irony that those like Roger Head--- who working with Chairman Floyd Jourdain, have destroyed all the programs Roger Jourdain labored so hard to create aimed at ending poverty in the same manner that the dilipidated old shacks were burned to the ground as new housing replaced the old. Not coincidentally, the same politicians who lambasted Roger Jourdain's achievements as "socialism in the north woods and swamps of Minnesota" now hail the new direction of "casino capitalism." And, like the people of the formerly socialist countries referred to above, poverty is on the rise for the people of the Red Lake Nation when the course had been set that was eliminating it.

Roger Jourdain understood what Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro understands, that it is public ownership of industry and cooperatives through which poverty is combatted not through "free enterprise,""free markets," and "capitalist globalization"... again, it is no coincidence that Roger Head and his reactionary thinking would lead him to reject a helping hand from Hugo Chavez in the form of heating assistance to the impoverished people of Red Lake Nation.

The United Nations and the World Bank spent millions of dollars to create this report and all they would have had to have done is contacted Jody Beaulieu at the offices of the Red Lake Nation archives to obtain Roger Jourdain's call to defend the Big Bog from peat mining in order to learn that it is necessary to protect ecosystems because they are the wealth of the poor.

A basic and fundamental question is: Why is the entire ecosystem of the Big Bog now being destroyed as it is drained by a Canadian multinational corporation and polluted by Minntac... all intentionally, given everything we know?

I hope we are not going to wait for the United Nations and the World Bank to do another study to explain to us why poverty is on the rise in Minnesota as ecosystems are being destroyed.