I received this e-mail from someone called "twisted nelly" in response to my blog (see link below)
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 12:10 PM
Subject: You really don't get it do you?
The Crisis of Disinvestment conference is about public infrastructure not the bailout of a private entity. Maybe if the UAW was more powerful than they were they could save themselves. Maybe if they had followed the work 30 years ago, we would still have a strong home based manufacturing industry. Maybe if they had organized the foreign companies there would not have been the incentive to bring them here. Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. Maybe it is easier to sit up in northern Minnesota and watch from afar spewing out rhetoric than it is to work in the real world.
Note: This is my response to "twisted nelly" (above) who responded the blog on the “Conference on Dis-investment” being sponsored and initiated by the Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota Carlton School
First, who are you? I assume by what you write, the name “twisted nelly” is an appropriate description of you… but, come on, is this really your name?
Second, it is you who “does not get it.”
In fact, the tax-payers of Minnesota have a tremendous investment in the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant… more so than in many infrastructure projects.
The UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center certainly qualifies as “infrastructure.” I am glad you take such a cavalier attitude of having to continue paying some thirty-million dollars plus interest for a brand new training center which will be relegated to a pile of debris.
Furthermore, the hydro dam powering the Ford Plant since the day it opened providing free electricity for Ford’s manufacturing operation is “public infrastructure” by any definition of the word no matter what dictionary you use.
I resent receiving an e-mail like this which is unsigned. You certainly are not only a “twisted nelly,” you are also very ignorant.
I work in the very real world… a world presently dominated by a capitalist system which is rotten to the core just like its “infrastructure.”
I will tell you what is really “twisted;” spending trillions of dollars bombing bridges in Iraq as the I-35W Bridge collapses and a bunch of worthless politicians don’t even want to compensate the victims even though it is quite apparent everyone in government knew it was a tragedy waiting to happen and then proceeded to cover up the problem. The same politicians, by the way, who have refused to pass S.F. 607 which would save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant… and two-thousand UNION jobs along with the hydro dam.
If you would have read what I sent out, I am suggesting the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant become a “public entity” and taken out of the hands of private capital so we can save it… all else has failed according to the Governor and both Mayors of the Twin Cities and the State Legislators.
Is there something that makes a Plant so special that it cannot become a “public entity” just like a bridge or school or library or the Green Bay Packers or the Bank of North Dakota or operated on the basis of a cooperative like any of the many cooperatives in the Twin Cities? Tax-payers already own the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center connected to the Plant… why didn’t this “private entity,” the Ford Motor Company, pay for its own Training Center rather than come crying to tax-payers to fund it?
Tax-payers have been footing the bill to construct and maintain the hydro dam to power this “private entity” for free for over eighty years. You take a look at the hydro dam and how it is situated as part of the locks and tell me this hydro dam is not public infrastructure.
Tax-payers have even paid a substantial share of the wages of Ford employees at this Plant, and tax-payers have paid higher taxes because the politicians let the Ford Motor Company pay less than their fair share of taxes.
None of what I have “spewed out” is “rhetoric,” it is all facts… if you don’t believe me go ask the Governor or Mayor Coleman or R.T. or any state legislator. While you are at it, ask them to see the complete figures for what tax-payers have sunk into this “private entity,” the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
It is the Ford Motor Company and the Wall Street coupon clippers and the Summit Hill Club of real estate speculators along with the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce spewing out dirty lies in order to try to hoodwink everyone into having the tax-payers now pay for the demolition of this very usable Plant and then they will expect tax-payers to pay for the “infrastructure” required for the new “green” yuppie community of high rent segregated housing and cute little boutiques they want to create on the ruins of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
Mayor Coleman wants to create this quaint little “green” yuppie community on the Ford Site and he can’t even afford to take care of the parks in the City as it is; not to mention fill the potholes in the roads.
Did you ever consider how much tax-payers have subsidized “infrastructure” as far as the roads, bridges, highways and rail lines the Ford Motor Company has been using as part of their “private entity” manufacturing operation for the last eighty years? Consider the barge operation and the locks the Ford Motor Company has used, too. Consider the mining operation for manufacturing glass. Ford has used and abused the natural resources--- including the waters of the Mighty Mississippi together with an entire network of public “infrastructure” for over eighty years.
Or, did you ever consider that the Ford Motor Company helped to destroy public transportation system in this country, including in the Twin Cities? These street cars were “public infrastructure,” eh?
I find it amazing that the university community would see “disinvestment” in such a narrow way. I find it even more amazing that the university community has sat on its hands as the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant is relegated to a pile of rubble.
I do think it is just as relevant to talk about the future of the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center as it is to talk about the future of public education in New Orleans… in fact, I, unlike you, see a direct relationship between what happened in New Orleans and what is going on with the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
Hey, here is an idea… why not just do away with all “public infrastructure” and privatize everything from our roads to our schools and universities to our libraries and public parks and let the Wall Street coupon clippers manage it all by charging us “user fees”… then you wouldn’t have to have a conference on “disinvestment” at a tax-payer supported university.
By the way… the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant could play a major role in developing the kind of equipment needed to create the kind of “infrastructure” required for “greening” our world.
Wait until you don’t have two-thousand Ford workers paying taxes to fund your “infrastructure” projects… then you will see another aspect of how important this Plant is to life here in Minnesota.
As far as my living up here in northern Minnesota and commenting on what goes on down there in the Cities… have you ever asked your legislators where the contractors doing all this work on “our public infrastructure” are coming from and where they carry the profits off to? In your twisted way of thinking it is okay for these contractors to come into our state looking to profit off rebuilding a bridge that was allowed to collapse and wasn’t built right to start with, but I am supposed to keep my mouth shut… perhaps you should offer the same advice to the Ford Motor Company running things from Detroit and suggest the future of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant should be left to the decision making of the Ford workers and the people residing in the local community.
Maybe you should also offer the same advice to 90% of the State Legislators.
Hey, why take kids from up here in northern Minnesota to fight your dirty wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
As far as what I do for a living which you seem to be so concerned about--- I travel around talking to people about how unjust it is that thirty-thousand Minnesotans go to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws as public “infrastructure” is maintained by tax-payers to get the suckers into these casinos.
Hey, why don’t you keep your mouth shut when I say we need to renegotiate the “Compacts” which created all these casinos to include protecting the rights of workers? Better yet, why don’t you open your mouth and speak out against these injustices?
Alan L. Maki
Then as a result of my letter to "twisted nelly," I received this e-mail:
From: Connie Wanberg [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 8:01 AM
To: Alan Maki
Subject: Re: You really don't get it do you?
Hi Alan, please take me off your email list. Thanks, Connie Wanberg
From: Alan Maki [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:31 AM
To: 'Connie Wanberg'
Cc: 'Robert Killeen'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Subject: RE: You really don't get it do you? A response to Professor
Dear Professor Connie Wanberg, Chair and Departmental Director of the Labor Education Service of the University Of Minnesota;
I am complying with your request to be taken off my list in voicing my concerns about your upcoming “Conference on Dis-investment.”
However, I find it very strange that I would receive notice of this Conference inviting my attendance and participation, and then when I voice my concerns that the university community in the Twin Cities has failed to become involved in the struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, two-thousand jobs AND a very important component of the Twin Cities and our State’s infrastructure, the hydro dam which tax-payers financed, built and provided for Henry Ford to power--- for free--- this very profitable manufacturing operation for so many years including profiting from this operation from war production during World War II even while he threw his political support behind the fascist Adolf Hitler and Italy’s Mussolini and Spain’s fascist Franco as my father, my aunts and uncles and most of humanity was engaged in the struggle to defeat these fascists, the Ford Motor Company raked in fabulous profits off the war including from the manufacture of armaments at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
Even now, the Ford Motor Company sells its Rangers to the Blackwater Agency and the other “contractors” in Iraq who are trying to put down the Iraqi resistance to having their oil stolen from them.
Now the Labor Education Service organizes a conference on “Dis-investment” and you invite the participation of all working people to pay an unusually high fee to attend your conference which uses the problems workers at the other end of the Mighty Mississippi River are experiencing to intentionally take the focus away from the issues surrounding the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, two-thousand jobs and two very important components of Minnesota’s infrastructure: the hydro dam and the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center. When, what you should be doing is explaining how the problems in New Orleans and what is taking place with the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the loss of two-thousand jobs, the hydro dam and the Training Center are all related problems.
As is very apparent from the e-mail I received below, there is tremendous ignorance concerning how what is going on in New Orleans and here in Minnesota is related… in fact, this e-mail clearly demonstrates the complete failure of educational institutions including the Labor Education Service when it comes to issues like this.
In fact, for many decades the Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota has been intentionally mis-educating working people when it comes to providing the real history of the labor movement, the facts about this rotten capitalist system being the source of the problems working people are experiencing, and the need for a socialist solution as articulated by our State's late great socialist governors, Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson.
If in fact the Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota was doing a legitimate job of education working people, rank-and-file activists, elected labor leaders and union staff, organized labor would have come out swinging in response to Ford’s intent to close, then demolish, the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
Obviously, the members of UAW Local 879 and their Local leadership did not even know how to effectively lobby for passage of S.F. 607. Why not? Because your Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota which is part of the Carlson School of Management has not taught these strategies, tactics and techniques that workers need to fight back in this very mean, dirty and nasty period of “neoliberalism;” or, more appropriately, in the era of US imperialist domination of the world which has the military-financial-industrial complex of U.S. state monopoly capitalism trying to run the entire world in quest of squeezing greater profits from working people.
Professor Wanberg, your Labor Education Service is not teaching working people what they need to know to participate in the class struggle… in fact, your Labor Education Service still sees labor as “the middle class,” because talking about the “working class” implies that there is something inherently wrong with a social and economic system which has a working class creating all the wealth while the capitalist class is stealing all the wealth the working class creates through a very simple to explain system of exploitation of labor; a very simple concept that the Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota intentionally chooses not to explain to working people.
Professor Wanberg, I always thought the objective of education was to teach the truth.
By failing to link the situation surrounding the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the lives of two-thousand workers and the future of infrastructure like the hydro dam and the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center to the problems in New Orleans and collapsing bridges and the attempts being made to privatize public education you are doing a great “dis-service” to the discussion needed on “dis-investment” and the “neoliberal agenda.”
Quite frankly, I think it is by intent that the Labor Education Service has refused to acknowledge the problems surrounding the declared closing of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant because the Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota is afraid to acknowledge what Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson, John Bernard and the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party and its coalition partner the Communist Party USA pointed out long ago: capitalism has failed.
The Labor Education Service fears acknowledging that it is only through public ownership that the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the hydro dam, the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training center AND the livelihoods of two-thousand workers will be saved.
Professor Wanberg, your pay-check comes from a public institution… why shouldn’t the workers at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant draw their pay-checks from a publicly owned enterprise, too?
In closing, I will just note that thirty-thousand Minnesotans are going to their jobs in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws because the staff and faculty of the Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota refused to warn State Legislators that they were approving “Compacts” that specifically were drafted to place Minnesota workers into a Draconian situation at the hands of very mean, ruthless and violent managements. The Labor Program Service refused to educate the labor movement here in Minnesota that creating a network of “right-to-work-for-less without-any-rights” colonies strung out across this state would be used as a club over the heads of all workers and wielded as viciously as any policeman’s billy-club by the capitalist class.
As you know, many miners, forestry workers, and auto workers are now employed in the Indian Gaming Industry under these atrocious conditions… if you don’t believe me perhaps you would like me to take your staff and faculty on a tour of each of the casinos operating in Minnesota.
I find it ironic the infrastructure in our state--- the roads and bridges of our state, when they are not collapsing, buckling and filling with potholes--- can carry workers to poverty wage jobs employed under the most disgraceful Draconian conditions in casinos, but will not be carrying workers to good paying union jobs at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant largely because you and your Labor Program Service arrogantly try to saddle working people with the outmoded way of thinking that ownership of the manufacturing industry is some how the exclusive right of the corrupt, completely incompetent and parasitic class of Wall Street coupon clippers, real estate vultures and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce representing them all through their control of both the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and the Republican Party.
Please don’t think I am just picking on the Labor Education Service… I attended several functions at McAllister College including the national conference of the Labor Educators and a play by Howard Zinn brilliantly performed by the actor about the life of Karl Marx in which he presented, in general terms, every issue under the sun confronting working people but refused to address the issue of the closing of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant. This may not be a “conspiracy” among academia to ignore the plight of two-thousand workers at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, but academia certainly seems to understand the “limits” imposed by that “class in control.”
By the way, I am still wondering who this cowardly “twisted nelly” is… you wouldn’t happen to know, would you?
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
I would be remiss not to point out that the Labor Education Service of the University of Minnesota is part of its Carlson School of Management.
This is a very important point because the purpose of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management is to teach neoliberalism.
Needless to say, the Carlson School of Management's Labor Education Service has as its primary purpose to indoctrinate labor officials and union activists with capitalist ideas not in the working class' interest.
In effect, the role of the Labor Education Service is to "lead the cattle to slaughter," so-to-speak. To make workers putty in the hands of the bosses; to convince workers that it is best if they let their bosses do all the major thinking for them.
Working people need to create their own "think-tanks" and "action centers" based on their own class' interest--- the working class. Working people need to have a full voice in all decision-making, from deciding when, and if, a plant will close to what is produced and how production is carried on. Working class communities need a full voice in the decision-making process, too... this is what democracy is supposed to be all about.
What the heck is "neoliberalism" anyways? The topic of a future blog.
A twisted pretzel to "twisted nelly" and Professor Wanberg for their illuminating responses.
Three important working class concepts:
United Working Class Action
Three important books to go with these concepts:
"Super Profits and Crisis" by Victor Perlo... Education
"Working Class USA; the power and the movement" by Gus Hall...Organization
"Always Bring A Crowd; the story of Frank Lumpkin, steelworker" by Beatrice Lumpkin... United Working Class Action
A legacy of progressive struggle... yesterday and today---