Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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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...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dane Smith of Growth & Justice responds...

An exchange of views with the head of the foundation funded outfit bringing Van Jones to Minnesota:

I initially sent out this e-mail which made the rounds resulting in over 300 responses:

From: Alan Maki [mailto:alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 12:23 PM

To: Jane Hamsher; editor@tcdailyplanet.net; Editor Southsidepride.com

Subject: Van Jones is coming to Minnesota--- a former protester converted to the politics of pragmatism touted by Barack Obama and his Wall Street circle of friends

Van Jones is coming to Minnesota.

In the publicity building up his talk it is stated that van Jones has turned from being a protester to a political pragmatist.

Is Van Jones going to be suggesting to Minnesotans that protesting is no longer needed if one becomes a pragmatic politician?

Or, is it the case that if one turns away from protesting making the claim to being a pragmatic politician that the foundation funds will come pouring in in return for leading people away from protesting?

More than ever we need large numbers of people out in the street's protesting and more than ever we need a new political party which joins protests in the streets with the struggle to take political and economic power away from Wall Street to make government serve the requirements and needs of working people.

I wonder; will Van Jones be supporting Governor Mark Dayton's call to raise the salaries of Minnesota Legislators for their part-time jobs to $54,000.00 a year as the poor are handed a "ladder out of poverty" from which all the lower rungs are missing or broken?

Does Van Jones' new found "pragmatism" allow him to make these kinds of observations? If so, does Van Jones' "pragmatism" extend to calling for a new political party like the old socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party or Canada's socialist New Democratic Party?

Does Van Jones' new found "pragmatism" include being able to state that he is fed up with capitalism and these dirty imperialist wars killing our jobs and living standards while preventing solving the problem of poverty lest he loses his foundation funding?

Van Jones is coming to Minnesota--- a former protester converted to the politics of pragmatism touted by Barack Obama and his Wall Street circle of friends--- the very same "philanthropists" from whom Van Jones is receiving his foundation funding.

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/

Dane Smith, the President of Growth & Justice, the foundation-funded Democratic Party front group in Minnesota, the organization bringing Van Jones to Minnesota responded...

On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 6:58 AM, Dane Smith wrote:
Dear Alan

Obviously Growth & Justice is not a good fit at all for your philosophy and ideology, and although I think you occasionally make some valid points in your frequent e-mails to me and blasts to  others, we at Growth & Justice simply  disagree with your larger world view, especially your harsh dismissal of any value at all to  free markets and capitalism.

You too have made it abundantly clear that you think our  policy preferences and philosophy  are completely inadequate and just plain wrong, and  I can assure you that  we are not going to change to accommodate your views.   I don’t see any value in taking any more  time to answer these rhetorical questions and these harsh criticisms  of our president and of people like Van Jones.   If you’d like to be removed from our databank and send list, I’d be happy to do that.   If you still want to receive our information, that’s fine, and you can send me your stuff.    But I’m just not going to be able to respond to your criticisms. 


Dane Smith | President
Tel: 651.251.0728 | Mobile: 651.675.6360

Growth & Justice
2324 University Ave. West, Suite 120A
Saint Paul, MN 55114

Keep up to date with Growth & Justice:
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I have responded...

Dane Smith, President, Growth & Justice;

I appreciate you stating my views are at odds with you and the foundation-funded group you head, and you stating your frank and candid support for a system based on the private ownership of the mines, mills and factories resulting in the exploitation of workers who create all wealth with no small amount of help from Mother Nature. It is this capitalist system of exploitation so opposed by the former socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota Governors Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson and United States Congressman John Bernard which breeds war, racism, political repression as poverty. As you point out, I have no use for the "free enterprise" system of capitalism; but, I still appreciate reading your frequent e-mails and the views you express in your newsletter and newspapers.

I do find it interesting that the newspapers seem to like publishing your views which reflect most of the Democrats holding public office in Minnesota today who consider they have a right to part-time jobs paying a salary of $54,000.00 a year for doing nothing more than defending the interests of the Indian Gaming Industry which employs over 44,000 casino workers in loud, noisy, smoke-filled workplaces at poverty wages and without any rights under state or federal labor laws just as they protect the interests of the mining companies, the forestry, power generating, big-agribusiness and the banking industry. Just as your views in support of a crumbling capitalist system wreaking so much havoc with the lives of working people are shared by most "leaders" of organized labor who, like you, fail to recognize the continuing class struggle.

And I am sure you and Growth & Justice reflect the views of many in the civil rights organizations who have given up thinking in terms of grassroots movements struggling against racist discrimination in employment, in housing, in public education and for full equality in lieu of the foundation funding they seek to help the few instead of the many. I have noted that you and Growth & Justice support "equity" INSTEAD OF full equality as i do.

No doubt you also represent most of the environmental organizations who define their activism by how many envelopes they stuff with appeals for financial contributions and the amount of money they get back from these efforts.

I don't see anything wrong with people having different views. In a democracy we share, discuss and debate our differences of opinion.

I appreciate receiving your frequent e-mails because I find out from your publications exactly what direction Minnesota Democrats are heading--- almost always pro-corporate and in line with what Wall Street requires to continue its reactionary agenda of making money from wars abroad while profiting again from the austerity measures shoved down our throats to pay for these dirty imperialist wars which deprive us of the funds we need for human needs... universal social programs which have the potential of solving our many social problems while providing for human needs.

I do find many of the reforms you and Growth & Justice advocate to be worthwhile and deserving of support since I am always for anything that improves the lives, living conditions and standard of living of working people as we try to keep up with the constantly rising cost of living propelled, in the first place, by militarism and wars along with the monopoly domination of the economy and a thoroughly corrupt political system. While most of the reforms you advocate are far too little and way too late--- something is better than nothing and late is better than never.

I am glad you take the time to read my advocacy of more universal and comprehensive reforms intended to help working people cope with the problems capitalism creates for them as we struggle to take power out of the hands of Wall Street and place power where the founders of this country intended--- in the hands of the people even though thoughts of workers in power may have made some of them--- like you--- quite squeamish.

Needless to say, you are quite content being represented by the present Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and Obama's Wall Street Democrats of which many people are increasingly becoming contemptuous as they feel betrayed and sold out.

I do hope you will share my concerns with Van Jones so he might be able to better address Minnesotans from a more informed point of view in the interest of sparking a much wider discussion and debate.

Perhaps sometimes you would like to have a debate with me concerning these issues or participate in some kind of round-table discussion where we could more publicly share our views and concerns. In this way we could find out more from people from all walks of life with many different views how we might work together to make Minnesota free from poverty and racism? Let me know if you are interested.

Sincerely appreciative of your many liberal and sometimes progressive reform efforts, but not a supporter of any of your pro-capitalist views,

Alan L. Maki

And Dane Smith responds...

Glad to have this respectful response Alan, and as I said, your critiques of private-sector failures have value.   I’m very much a history buff, understand very well the origins of the Farmer-Labor Party and social justice crusades of the left, and understand how those movements helped steer us in the right direction.   As a Unitarian Universalist, I belong to a faith tradition that has been radical since the early 1800s on all manner of human rights and civil rights and environmental movements (although many of these folks were successful capitalists!).   Let’s do keep the communication open and it might indeed be possible to have some sort of public discussion or debate some day.

Dane Smith | President
Tel: 651.251.0728 | Mobile: 651.675.6360

Growth & Justice
2324 University Ave. West, Suite 120A
Saint Paul, MN 55114

Keep up to date with Growth & Justice:

My response back to Dane Smith...


Below you will find Elmer Benson's obituary which includes a quote from him about him and his wealth which pertains to your statement:

"As a Unitarian Universalist, I belong to a faith tradition that has been radical since the early 1800s on all manner of human rights and civil rights and environmental movements (although many of these folks were successful capitalists!). 

My argument doesn't have the intent to attack capitalists as people but the role of capitalists in society. There were, in fact, a number of capitalist supporters of the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party but most of these capitalists were farsighted enough to understand that the capitalist system had to go. In fact, society needs capitalism and capitalists about as much as my dog Fred needs ticks and fleas. Here is Elmer Benson's obituary:


The obituary journalist wrote:

After leaving politics, Benson grew wealthy in banking. A television reporter once asked him how his wealth squared with his critical views of capitalism.

"It worked for me," he shot back. "But look at all the thousands of people it hasn't worked for."

Elmer Benson and his fellow socialists and Communists never argued for capitalism as a solution to problems being experienced by workers, farmers, professionals and small business people. Benson and his fellow socialists argued for reforms to assist those suffering and to improve the lives of people as they struggle to replace capitalism with socialism continued. I am not sure how many of Benson's fellow socialists and Communists became "successful capitalists" but we can say that what Elmer Benson declared in his response to the reporter that for every person who attains success (great wealth) additional thousands of people suffer--- because of capitalism.

Here is Benson's obituary as published in the LA Times:

Socialist Elmer Benson Dies at 89 : Radical Played a Prominent Role in Minnesota Politics

March 16, 1985|

MINNEAPOLIS — Elmer A. Benson, an unreconstructed leftist radical who served one stormy term as governor of Minnesota and helped create the Democratic-Farmer-Labor coalition that continues to dominate Minnesota politics, died Wednesday night. He was 89.

Benson, who had been in ill health in recent years, died at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Benson had been state banking commissioner under Gov. Floyd B. Olson, who appointed him in 1935 to serve the 1 1/2 years remaining in the U.S. Senate term of Thomas D. Schall, who died in a car accident.
Then Benson came home to run for governor and won a landslide victory in 1936, only to be turned out by Republican Harold Stassen in 1938.

Although the 1937 Legislature had given Benson--an early Socialist sympathizer--little of what he sought, many of his proposals became law during the 40 years that followed--property tax relief for homesteads; higher income tax rates for high-income individuals and corporations; mandatory workers' compensation coverage for employees; a state Civil Service system; expanded state aid for schools, financed by income taxes; party designation for legislators.

In an interview two years ago, Benson remained an ardent foe of capitalism and called Hubert H. Humphrey "a war criminal." He even had a good word for Josef Stalin.

"Communists are decent people, too. We don't have a monopoly on decency," he said. "Stalin did some things that were pretty rough. But maybe, just maybe, if he hadn't done it, maybe the nation would have been taken over by the worst enemies of mankind--the Nazis."

The policies of President Reagan also brought a feisty response.

"The tax program the federal government passed last year?" he said then. "Why, it's exactly what they said it was--taking from the poor and giving to the rich."

Benson also said he never forgave himself for agreeing to the 1944 merger of the Farmer-Labor and Democratic parties into the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the dominant force in Minnesota politics since then.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for the merger and Humphrey helped bring it about.

"I think it was a mistake because the party became part of a larger party that's been taken over by political hacks," Benson said.

Benson split with Humphrey by backing Henry A. Wallace as the Progressive candidate for President in 1948. However, it was Humphrey's support of the Vietnam War that most upset Benson.

"Humphrey was a war criminal," he said. "He was the chief ballyhoo artist for the war. I remember him saying, 'This is America's greatest moment and I'm sure glad to be part of it.' "

After leaving politics, Benson grew wealthy in banking. A television reporter once asked him how his wealth squared with his critical views of capitalism.

"It worked for me," he shot back. "But look at all the thousands of people it hasn't worked for."

Alan L. Maki