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, January 26, 2013

Is capitalism working?

[Please note: I added the links to the original leaflet in order to make this a study guide for workers and a guide for promoting cross-border understanding between workers and joint working class action & solidarity. I hope you find this information useful. Feel free to copy, use and distribute... yours in struggle and solidarity, Alan L. Maki]

Our northern working class friends across the border say:

Capitalism is Not Working

As delegates to the British Columbia Federation of Labour convention you will be aware that there is a continuing economic crisis in the developed capitalist countries.  This is a crisis brought on by the greed of the 1%. The origins of this greed are not abstract; they are rooted inextricably in the capitalist system.

Since the 1970s capital was faced with falling rates of profit from manufacturing, so capital sought out new and higher sources of profit.  In general terms, this meant a shift of capital from the manufacturing to the financial sectors of the economy.

A second attempt to spur profits was to close plants in the U.S. etc and to open branch plants of new plants in the Maquiladora zone or in the “free economic” zones in China, Vietnam or wherever labour was cheap.  This had the desired effect on profits but contributed to unemployment at home.  Unemployment meant competition for jobs and a harder negotiating climate for unions and eventually declining real wages.

The right wing pundits called for tax reductions in order to stimulate spending to boost their economies.  Significant tax reductions were carried out for both the wealthy and for corporations.  Working people got small cuts,but user fees seem to have absorbed these.  The long term effect of tax reductions is that national governments had deficits and reduced transfer payments (education, health) to regions, provinces, and states.  The regional governments having also reduced taxes then found themselves in deficit positions and passed on many expenses to cities and municipalities who pass them on to us.  In the end the infrastructure suffers because there are limits to property taxes that people will accept.

In Europe the solution to the crisis has varied but it always seems that it is the working class that suffers.  In Greece, bond-holders lost a significant portion of the “value” held but the government also had to reduce wages for the public sector and had to lay off many workers in order to get the financial relief needed to keep the country going.  In Spain as in the U.S., there have been large transfers of money to the banks so that they do not default.  This money does not seem to be stimulating either economy - just the banks’ profits and their managers’ bonuses.  The situations in Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Cyprus seem to be facing the same problems.  However, there always seems to be enough money for the military - F35's, warships, but not for First Nations housing. Of course there is also corporate welfare; “And in Canada, between 1994 and 2007, governments spent $202 billion on all types of subsidies to multiple corporations in all sort of industries.” (Vancouver Sun 2012/09/26) but not for marine safety. 

Working Class Reaction?

In Europe there have been continuing massive demonstrations against these cut backs.  The reaction to these demonstrations has primarily been police and tear gas. Yet in many cases these governments are led by, or have large components of, social democrats (and in some cases socialists) who are going along with the European Union’s and European Central Bank’s insistence that major reforms be carried out in order to protect the integrity of the European Union itself. Their goal is only to improve and moderate capitalism and not to replace it with a better economic model. They fail to recognize that the interests of the bosses are opposed to those of workers and that capitalism can not be reformed to serve working peoples interests.

In the Arab countries we have seen what has been termed the “Arab Spring”, a democracy movement which was spurred by the neoliberal austerity measures of governments. In some cases these movements even had success in overturning reactionary governments.

But here in Canada the labour movement has reacted to austerity assault launched at the behest of the 1% by the Harper government largely like a deer in the headlights. The Quebec student movement have demonstrated the type of organizing and action that is required across the country if we are to defeat the neoliberal austerity agenda. The Occupy movement, and other movements, demonstrate that there is an appetite for change. The labour movement has a key role to play in making that change possible.


            The NDP appears poised to take office here in BC in 2013. Given the level of support provided to the NDP by the labour movement, not to mention its historical origins, the issues of this Convention should be its top priority.

Yet we are concerned that important issues such as Labour Code reform i.e. card check, sectoral bargaining, and successorship rights for workers whose jobs are contracted out may be avoided as controversial during the election campaign, and rejected as inexpedient after the formation of the new government. The labour movement must be prepared to fight tooth and nail for the interests of working people, regardless of what government is in power.                            

At this convention delegates should bring pressure on the incoming leadership to develop labour’s independent programme - independent of all political parties. Such a programme could include the previous issues as well as the use of BC resources for BC jobs, and end to private public partnerships, stopping and reversing privatization, and more.

Included in such a programme is the need to pressure any and all political parties to enact such legislation as soon as possible - not when politically expedient.  This programme can not be limited to mere lobbying. Action is needed, from teach-ins to sit-ins, rallies, marches, pickets, and strikes.

We also need to ensure that the labour movement is a movement that represents, and fights for, the working class – not just those with union cards. It must be activist oriented, and rooted in solidarity and struggle, not business unionism.

Ultimately we also need to discard the mistaken belief that the interest of workers and bosses can be reconciled, and that the labour movement has a role in helping to better manage capitalism as if it is a system with the potential to serve workers interests.

What we need is the Socialism as defined by Marx and Engels in the 1800s; a society in which the value produced by labour is used by society rather than expropriated by corporations and sold for profit.  This of course means the public ownership of banks, major resources, and producers, and placing political and economic power in the hands of working people.

November 2012   

This leaflet is posted on my blog. 

Capitalism isn't working in Canada and it sure as heck isn't working here.