Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

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...

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

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I am working on a proposal for a presentation to the "How Class Works" Conference... I am looking for suggestions.

I would like to make a presentation to the "How Class Works Conference" on the following. I am looking for suggestions:

Class dimensions of poverty. To explore why and how poverty is something that happens to the working class, not some marginal "other" at the bottom of society.

This is my proposal which I would work from:

If workers are paid a poverty wage they are going to be poor.
Some of my ideas would include an expansion of my thoughts in the below Letter to the Editor and the comments which are responses to questions and comments on what I wrote in the Letter...

Link to my letter:
http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-letter-to-editor-on-minimum-wage-is.html

Minnesota politicians, business people and even labor "leaders" are concerned that raising the Minimum Wage to a real living wage would be too hard on "small businesses."

There is a solution to this concern if "small business" is really their concern.

Exclude all the relatives of the owners of small businesses from Minimum Wage enforcement and protection.

Let the owners of "small businesses" pay their spouses, great grand-parents, grand-parents, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins whatever wages they want to do their work for them. Exempt politicians and all their relatives from Minimum Wage protections, too, and let the people vote on how much politicians should be paid. In my opinion, politicians shouldn't be paid any more than the lowest paid workers--- this would provide these politicians to improve the standard of living for everyone. According to these politicians people need incentives; what better place to start incentive based pay than with the pay of politicians?

But, for all other workers, the Minimum Wage should be nothing less than a real living wage based on ALL "cost of living" factors which would provide working people with a decent standard of living.

We have a billionaire governor, Mark Dayton, whose inherited wealth has been derived from paying Minnesotans poverty wages for over a century.

There is a way to reduce the Minimum Wage. Institute universal social programs providing people with free health care, free child care, free higher education, low-cost public transportation, controlling the prices of food, housing, electricity, gas and home heating fuels.

Please read my "Letter to the Editor" in the Northern Light Region. Share this e-mail and my "Letter to the Editor" with your friends and fellow workers:

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-letter-to-editor-on-minimum-wage-is.html

By the way; there isn't a union "leader" in this country who would work for the pathetically miserly Minimum Wage the Democrats in Minnesota are proposing.

If we can't get a real living wage out of a Democratic super-majority, what can we ever expect to get from these Democrats?

Even Richard Nixon supported a guaranteed annual income; although he never spoke of a real living income.

But, with the anniversary on the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights coming up on December 10 it would behoove us all to engage in a discussion about what kind of standard of living and quality of life working people are entitled to living here in the richest country in the world.

Is it right and just that a billionaire Governor like Mark Dayton whose inherited wealth is derived from poverty wages should be talking about forcing a miserly poverty Minimum Wage and hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans assuring the families of these workers will continue to live in poverty?

Many of the union "leaders," like Elliot Seide of AFSCME, who are multi-millionaires themselves have turned their unions into organizations that are little more than unions on paper as they refuse to struggle to improve the standard of living of their own members and force concession contracts down the throats of those paying dues so "leaders" like Elliot Seide can make Minnesota-nice with billionaire politicians like Mark Dayton.

What gives these union "leaders" who won't even stand up and fight for the workers whose dues go to pay their big, fat salaries the right to claim they have a right to shove poverty wages down the throats of other Minnesotans?

Would Elliot Seide or any public workers he represents agree to work for $9.50 an hour? No. So why should anyone else?

Keith Ellison would never work for $9.50 an hour. His fellow member of Congress, multi-millionaire Rick Nolan, would never work for $9.50 an hour.

The Minimum Wage should be based on all cost-of-living factors; the cost-of-living factors tracked and monitored by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Don't let a bunch of over-paid labor "leaders" and a billionaire governor tell you that you should work for poverty wages while they live high-on-the-hog at our expense.

And I have a message for all those members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who collected signatures on petitions at the Minnesota State Fair urging that their fellow workers should be paid a lousy $9.50 an hour poverty wage--- it is workers being paid these kinds of poverty wages who are paying your wages. Something you might just want to think about. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. What makes you think you are entitled to a living wage but other workers are not entitled to the same living wages? Perhaps at next Minnesota State Fair you should consider circulating a petition backing a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" so all workers have a shot at living decent lives.

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-letter-to-editor-on-minimum-wage-is.html

But, the award for "The Epitome of Hypocrisy" in all of this discussion over the Minimum Wage should go to the Leader of the Minnesota State Senate, DFL'er Tom Bakk who stakes claim to being a leader in the building trades unions--- Bakk says he wants even less than the pathetically miserly Minimum Wage being proposed by the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and its union "partners" and non-profit foundation-funded front groups of $9.50 an hour because Senator Bakk feels sorry for the Minnesota hospitality industry--- the casino managements and those who made the Forbes Fortune 500 "List."

People have become billionaires as a direct result of paying workers poverty wages. Had the wealthy been paying workers real living wages no doubt they would remain mere multi-millionaires.

I am sick and tired of hearing about the poor "small businesses" who will suffer if the Minimum Wage is increased to a real living wage--- exempt the small businesses and the relatives they hire from enforcement and protection of the Minimum Wage.

Let State Senator Tom Bakk clean the hotel rooms for a poverty wage.

Billionaires telling workers they should be satisfied with $9.50 an hour. Union "leaders" who have turned trade unionism into a racket getting big fat salaries. Politicians who have never worked a day in their lives. All telling us what the Minimum Wage should be. When do we hear from the workers and their families who are forced to live in poverty with the decisions made by all of these people living high-on-the-hog more often than not on the backs of poverty wage paid workers.

A poverty Minimum Wage as proposed by Minnesota Democrats with their super-majority and their front groups like Growth & Justice, Take Action Minnesota and the AFL-CIO affiliated unions discriminates most against people of color, women, youth and the elderly. And undocumented workers suffer as they are at the very bottom when it comes to being paid poverty wages and new immigrants don't fair much better.

Minnesota Education endorsed the most reactionary, right-wing Republican State Representative, Tony Cornish, for re-election. Cornish has been a major opponent of a living Minimum Wage.

The AFL-CIO has endorsed Democratic State Senator Tom Bakk time and time again and Bakk has joined the Republicans in opposing an increase in the Minimum Wage.

We all know the unions would be without any paid staff if people like Jim Gleb and Tamara Jones who rent the scab facilities of the Indian Gaming Industry had to work for a miserly poverty wage of $9.50 cents an hour and the foundation-funded outfits would be without any staffs.

Remember, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party with its super majority didn't raise the Minimum Wage a plug nickle in the last legislative session--- thus providing billionaires with extended super-profits.

All discussions about the Minimum Wage should center around: "Cost of Living" and "Standard of Living."

Perhaps these union "leaders" who are trying to shove a poverty Minimum Wage down the throats of working people would like to submit papers for your consideration on the topic:


Class dimensions of poverty. To explore why and how poverty is something that happens to the working class, not some marginal "other" at the bottom of society.

Michael, isn't it time to bring your gatherings out into the nitty-gritty of the class struggle where the discussions will have some real impact outside the sheltered life of academia?

What we need is a united working class struggle for a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity."

http://fullemploymentnow.blogspot.com/

Also see:
http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/grand-forks-herald-publishes-my-letter.html

Sunday, October 27, 2013

More about the Minimum Wage.

Several Minnesota State Legislators--- including Republican Joyce Peppin, an aid to Governor Mark Dayton and a leader of Take Action Minnesota responded to my "Letter to the Editor" I sent them that was published in the Northern Light Region newspaper. I sent them back the following response:

Link to my letter:
http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-letter-to-editor-on-minimum-wage-is.html


Minnesota politicians, business people and even labor "leaders" are concerned that raising the Minimum Wage to a real living wage would be too hard on "small businesses."

There is a solution to this concern if "small business" is really their concern.

Exclude all the relatives of the owners of small businesses from Minimum Wage enforcement and protection.

Let the owners of "small businesses" pay their spouses, great grand-parents, grand-parents, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins whatever wages they want to do their work for them. Exempt politicians and all their relatives from Minimum Wage protections, too, and let the people vote on how much politicians should be paid. In my opinion, politicians shouldn't be paid any more than the lowest paid workers--- this would provide these politicians with the "opportunity" to improve the standard of living for everyone. According to these politicians people need incentives; what better place to start incentive based pay than with the pay of politicians?

But, for all other workers, the Minimum Wage should be nothing less than a real living wage based on ALL "cost of living" factors which would provide working people with a decent standard of living.

We have a billionaire Governor, Mark Dayton, whose inherited wealth has been derived from paying Minnesotans poverty wages for over a century.

There is a way to reduce the Minimum Wage. Institute universal social programs providing people with free health care, free child care, free higher education, low-cost public transportation, controlling the prices of food, housing, electricity, gas and home heating fuels.

Please read my "Letter to the Editor" in the Northern Light Region. Share this e-mail and my "Letter to the Editor" with your friends and fellow workers:
http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-letter-to-editor-on-minimum-wage-is.html

By the way; there isn't a union "leader" in this country who would work for the pathetically miserly Minimum Wage the Democrats in Minnesota are proposing.

If we can't get a real living wage out of a Democratic super-majority here in Minnesota, what can we ever expect to get from these Democrats?

Even Richard Nixon supported a guaranteed annual income; although he never spoke of a real living income.

But, with the anniversary on the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights coming up on December 10 it would behoove us all to engage in a discussion about what kind of standard of living and quality of life working people are entitled to living here in the richest country in the world.

Is it right and just that a billionaire Governor like Mark Dayton whose inherited wealth is derived from poverty wages should be talking about forcing a miserly poverty Minimum Wage down the throats of hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans assuring these workers, and the families of these workers, will continue to live in poverty?

Many of the union "leaders," like Elliot Seide of AFSCME, who are multi-millionaires themselves have turned their unions into organizations that are little more than unions on paper as they refuse to struggle to improve the standard of living of their own members and force concession contracts down the throats of those paying dues so "leaders" like Elliot Seide can make Minnesota-nice with billionaire politicians like Mark Dayton.

What gives these union "leaders" who won't even stand up and fight for the workers whose dues go to pay their big, fat salaries the right to claim they have a right to shove poverty wages down the throats of other Minnesotans?

Would Elliot Seide or any public workers he represents agree to work for $9.50 an hour? No. So why should anyone else?

Keith Ellison would never work for $9.50 an hour. His fellow member of Congress, multi-millionaire Rick Nolan, would never work for $9.50 an hour.

The Minimum Wage should be based on all cost-of-living factors; the cost-of-living factors tracked and monitored by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Don't let a bunch of over-paid labor "leaders" and a billionaire governor tell you that you should work for poverty wages while they live high-on-the-hog at our expense.

And I have a message for all those members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who collected signatures on petitions at the Minnesota State Fair urging that their fellow workers should be paid a lousy $9.50 an hour poverty wage--- it is workers being paid these kinds of poverty wages who are paying your wages. Something you might just want to think about. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. What makes you think you are entitled to a living wage but other workers are not entitled to the same living wages? Perhaps at the next Minnesota State Fair in 2014 you should consider circulating a petition backing a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" so all workers have a shot at living decent lives.
http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-letter-to-editor-on-minimum-wage-is.html

But, the award for "The Epitome of Hypocrisy" in all of this discussion over the Minimum Wage should go to the Leader of the Minnesota State Senate, DFL'er Tom Bakk who stakes claim to being a leader in the building trades unions--- Bakk says he wants even less than the pathetically miserly Minimum Wage being proposed by the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and its union "partners" and non-profit foundation-funded front groups like Take Action Minnesota of $9.50 an hour because Senator Bakk feels sorry for the Minnesota hospitality industry--- the casino managements and those who made the Forbes Fortune 500 "List."

People have become billionaires as a direct result of paying workers poverty wages. Had the wealthy been paying workers real living wages, no doubt they would remain mere multi-millionaires instead of having become billionaires.

I am sick and tired of hearing about the poor "small businesses" who will suffer if the Minimum Wage is increased to a real living wage--- exempt the small businesses and the relatives they hire from enforcement and protection of the Minimum Wage.

Let State Senator Tom Bakk clean the hotel rooms for a poverty wage.

Billionaires telling workers they should be satisfied with $9.50 an hour. Union "leaders" who have turned trade unionism into a racket getting big fat salaries. Politicians who have never worked a day in their lives. All telling us what the Minimum Wage should be. When do we hear from the workers and their families who are forced to live in poverty with the decisions made by all of these people living high-on-the-hog more often than not on the backs of poverty wage paid workers.

--
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/

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What is Obamacare?

Obamacare. It isn't even "insurance reform." It is more accurate to say that Obamacare is the governmental enforcement of the unfair and unjust for-profit driven health care system. What we have with Obamacare is a claim that "free-market" health care is the best health care system in the world so the government is helping us by shoving it down our throats through Obamacare instead of providing real health care reform which would be a National Public Health Care System that uses a means of financing that is publicly administered and which would be publicly delivered just like public education. It took one hell of a fight to win public education in this country and it is going to take an even bigger fight to win real health care reform. obamacare is simply one more way to redistribute the wealth in this country by robbing the poor to fatten the rich. Doctors, health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry will profit from Obamacare as labor "leaders," Democratic Party hacks and over-paid media pundits sow confusion and try to mislead people into thinking that Obamacare is some kind of "reform" when it is a thoroughly reactionary ploy to hoodwink and further fleece the American people.

The situation in Elsipogtog; international solidarity required.

Re: Labour and democratic solidarity with the national liberation struggle in Canada

Dear Friends, Sisters and Brothers,

The Aboriginal peoples in Canada have never given up fighting for their full national rights and stolen lands. They continue to feel the full weight of the racist, non-Aboriginal State through police violence, incarceration, discrimination in health and education, jobs and so on.

The police act with the encouragement of the Capitalist State authorities. The State in Canada embodies the interests of the giant corporations who own Canada and its resources. The State expresses the views of the financial and industrial oligarchy, a few hundred extremely wealthy families.

For three years, the Mi'kmaw Aboriginal people in New Brunswick have asked for consultation with the government about the extraction of natural gas from their land by means of "fracking," with no result.

Two days ago, Canada's federal police, the RCMP, violently attacked a mainly Aboriginal protest against fracking. The protest was part of a large campaign against fracking in New Brunswick encompassing 28 organizations. Mayors in the region voted 16-1 in July to ask the government to impose a fracking moratorium (rogerannis.com), so this is not only an Aboriginal rights protest. The attack was an attempt to divide and conquer the anti-fracking movement, using anti-Aboriginal racism and smears.

Fortunately for people who support the Truth, the police failed to find and destroy several excellent videos (below). It is possible to write with some confidence about the event. A detail here or there may be wrong, but the overall picture is quite clear.

The Elsipogtog First Nation is located close to where fracking could take place. It is the largest First Nation in New Brunswick, with 80 per cent unemployment, a mainly young population and a severe housing crisis - up to five families sharing one home.

Since at least July, RCMP officers began to flood the area. You can see them on video (below), telling people they can't park or encamp near a community cemetery, a pretty inviolable place for any society and one the community wanted to protect. The protests continued to build, including a blockade to protect the sovereign claim of the Elsipogtog First Nation.

On October 17, at least two hundred heavily armed RCMP used extreme brutality, threats and mass arrests against about 80 peaceful protesters near Elsipogtog. The RCMP had police dogs and pointed rifles at the protesters. They beat people with truncheons and trampled women. They used pepper spray and "non-lethal" bullets against children, women and Elders. They pinned people to the ground and punched their faces while making arrests. 

It is a falsehood when the RCMP claim their bullets are not lethal. People in Northern Ireland know better. The RCMP official responsible for making such a claim to the media ought to face discipline for making such a self-serving and false statement. They were lucky no one was killed or severely injured.

The RCMP first arrested people at a Warrior encampment, away from the injunction area. The RCMP officers pointed 60 rifles of various calibre at people while arresting 18 unarmed people, including a media photographer. The police allege one protester was armed and fired a gun during their assault, but this is unproven. Arresting warriors who are "protectors of the people" made it easier to arrest the other protesters.

The videos show that the violence was 100% caused by the police. No one claims there was violence before the police attack. The damaged police property - a few burnt police cars - pale in comparison to the criminal RCMP assault. The violence and mass arrest were contrived, pre-meditated.

The main purpose of the RCMP's raid was to make an unsupported allegation that collectively smeared and scandalized the entire anti-fracking movement. It is a dirty police smear to say that weapons allegedly found in the protest camp posed a danger to society, without any supporting evidence. Yet but the baseless allegation was dutifully reported widely by the bourgeois press. This is unacceptable and Stephen Harper must discipline the responsible police official immediately, or it will be clear that he agrees with the collective smear tactic.

The RCMP is obviously trying to conceal its own violence by lying about alleged dangers from the protesters, who were and are overwhelmingly peaceful. This is a dirty canard. Offensively, the RCMP is smearing Aboriginal people and environmentalists as "terrorists." For years, Harper's ministers and government officials have called environmentalists and Aboriginal rights activists "terrorists." Such lying smears are a big step towards fascism in Canada.

Very welcome and needed solidarity rallies took place across Canada and in other countries almost immediately (at least 30 on the same day, including blockades in Ontario and Quebec). The police attack needs to reverberate through all of the labour and democratic movements to strengthen solidarity for the full rights and just claims of Aboriginal peoples.

During their attack, the police acted with impunity, swaggering and ordering people around. As you can see in the videos, it is the people who are free, liberated because they have lost all fear from the brutal police and their State. One shouted "shoot me." They know they are right, and they are. ("Elsipogtog: Tensions, anger, and courage 17 October", below.)

The RCMP inflicted this violence against people who have a sovereign and legal right to be where they are. The Mi'kmaw Aboriginal people in the Atlantic provinces were not starved into signing treaties that "extinguished" land ownership, the practice followed on the Prairies (in international law, duress invalidates such concessions).

This is more than a shameful attack on protesters concerned about fracking. This is a racist, criminal attack by the Capitalist State where Authorities should be Charged. Powerful people need to face charges.

The RCMP and its boss Stephen Harper must no longer act with impunity, protected by the deep, ingrained racism of Canada's capitalist oligarchy. All of Canada's people's movements need to make this plain, and so do the opposition parties in parliament.

The 40 people arrested included most of the Elsipogtog First Nation leadership, including Chief Arren Sock.

The mass arrest is a blatant violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all people in Canada, an attempt to demonize peaceful protesters. It is a racist act protecting the profits of the fracking corporations operating in New Brunswick. It is a criminal, state-terrorist campaign to put profit before nature, people and science.

This concerns more than the international solidarity of non-Aboriginal workers with Aboriginal workers, because they are paid worst and hired last. This concerns the right of nations to determine their future and about the very existence of Aboriginal nations in Canada, the matter of continuing genocide through lethal discrimination and denial of rights.

If readers, like me, are appalled at the brutal police-state gang-up in Elsipogtog, please urge your union or group to condemn this attack and to express full solidarity with the democratic rights of Aboriginal nations and all people in Canada.

Canada can and will stop being a prison house of nations. How Canada resolves the national liberation struggle in our own country can be a beacon for all countries. But first, we have to ensure that the RCMP have no place at peaceful protests. 

We have to build the solidarity movement. We have to fight for the full equality of Aboriginal nations. We have to fight for the rapid end to racism that weakens the unity of workers in Canada. Trade unions need to be in the front line of this struggle.

In Solidarity,
Darrell Rankin
Manitoba office, Communist Party of Canada - Manitoba

* * * * * *
Here is a link to a good story by a media photographer, arrested by the RCMP. His arrest was a far greater injury to press freedom than the justified anger behind the temporary confiscation of today's Global TV equipment, which may have been part of the uncritical reporting of the RCMP character assassination of the protesters. http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/story/rcmp-bring-60-drawn-guns-dogs-assault-rifles-serve/19358 

Below are relevant, short videos about the situation in Elsipogtog.

The best written summary of the nation's determination and position, announced with massive, enthusiastic support on Oct. 1, 2013. Click on "show more" below the video to read the full text.Elsipogtog Chief and Council Resolution - Eviction Notice(length 2:40)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ppYXodbo4
The most popular video - well done!The last 48 hours tell us a lot about the next 2 years in Canada(length 1:46; 80,000+ views)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr7rPxVjZl0
The start of the police attack, which ended in extreme violence and injuries to protesters. Elsipogtog: RCMP move in on peaceful protesters 17 October(length 2:22; 2 ,000+ views)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAWPSv2Vfkw
During the police attack - pushing and shoving. Police bossing, kicking, pepper spraying, swaggering. Police dogs and guns. People who are liberated because they have no fear in fighting for what is right.Elsipogtog: Tensions, anger, and courage 17 October(length 4:38; 3,000+ views)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipp_KC6Hexw
Much later in the day, the police retreat. The spirit of resistance by the people is unbroken.Elsipogtog: Ending to standoff with RCMP(length 1:35; 600+ views)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoMo398xukU
Dignity, respect for all, democracyNews Conference Elsipogtog june 18th 2013 peace keepers, about SWN (length 2:54 - part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBtQjPsea7k
Elsipogtog, News Conference, part 2, about SWN and Protest Peace Keepers(length 21:08)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2W4U4YMTJU
Elsipogtog Frack Off(length 3:33 - 7,000+ views)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmH4irplxqw&feature=youtu.be*

Elsipogtog: Unity(length 8:10)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DKaM7EGtjY"This video is posted to emphasize the solidarity and unity between First Peoples, Acadian and Anglophone communities within New Brunswick, who have united in their opposition to shale gas exploration and stand for a sustainable future for future generations."

Showing the unity of all the people in support of the protest against fracking.Elsipogtog: Chief Aaron Sock arrives to blockade site(length 5:56, 1,000+ views)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7nsbShZXzI
A most excellent explanation of the gang-up by the police, big business politicians and the legal system against the protesters. July 2013:Elsipogtog Female Native Amy Sock very upset that Judge ordered Warrior Chief John Levi to Jail 
(length 4:57)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQld-Q-TxLM
RCMP telling people they cannot visit their community's graveyardElsipogtog: Undoing RCMP Harassment July 22, 2013(length 5:17)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuyCwYsSKgE