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...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stop the cuts to Food Stamps! Increase the Minimum Wage to a real living wage! Don't let the Democrats get away with cutting Food Stamps and then hypocritically claiming to be for an increase in the Minimum Wage.

Please Note: 

I think every single individual and every single organization should go on record as opposed to these Food Stamp cuts and use this statement from the Emergency Labor Network as their guide. This is an emergency. 

At a time when the Democratic Party and its front groups are trying to push another poverty Minimum Wage down our throats completely unrelated to real "cost-of-living" factors, they are cutting Food Stamps. 

Just between these Food Stamp Cuts and rising unemployment and the growing trend towards part-time employment, the miserly Minimum Wage "increase" will be eaten up.

These Food Stamp cuts are a direct attack on the "standard-of-living" of working people at a time when the "cost-of-living," especially for food, is skyrocketing. 

As far as I know, this is the only national organization that has taken on these Food Stamp cuts. I think it is very important to note over and over again, that all these Democratic Party front groups like TakeActionMinnesota have not pointed out these Food Stamp cuts as they support a miserly "increase" in the Minimum Wage to $9.50 an hour which will not even off-set this cut in Food Stamps. This is the meanest and cruelest kind of hypocrisy. 

The Democrats have a mean and cruel strategy for 2014 and 2016 which goes like this:
They intend to pass all these phony Minimum Wage increases across the country where they have Democratic majorities--- claim the Republican Congress prevented a Minimum Wage increase nationally, run on that along with all the rhetoric about how they are the party of "jobs, jobs, jobs"--- elect us--- we raised the Minimum Wage where we could and now we are going to put American back to work.  

We simply can't allow this scenario to be played out without a very significant challenge to this kind of crap. Letter to the Editor, petitions, more statements like this, resolutions for precinct caucuses and organizations, demonstrations, pickets, confronting these politicians face-to-face. Everyone has to be brought together into this struggle against Food Stamp cuts. 

Justice requires an increase in Food Stamp allotments.

December 10 marks the 65th Anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This occasion should be used to fight the cuts to Food Stamps and to fight for the Minimum Wage becoming a real living wage in line with the actual "cost-of-living." 

Alan L. Maki


On June 10, 2013 the U.S. Senate, with its Democratic majority, approved a farm bill that included a $4.1 billion cut in food stamp funding over a 10-year period. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), under this proposal 500,000 households would lose $90 in food stamp benefits each month. Despite that, the Senate passed the measure by a 66-27 margin, making clear that it had bipartisan support.

Only one Senate Democrat voted against the farm bill.

Of course the Senate measure will not become law because it must be reconciled with the Republican-dominated House of Representative's version of a farm bill. 

On September 19, the House passed a farm bill cutting food stamp spending by $39 billion over 10 years. The vote was 217-210. The AFL-CIO sent members of Congress a letter blasting the House's action as "cruel." The letter stated in part:

"The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 [passed by the House] would deny millions of children, seniors, people with disabilities, low-income and unemployed Americans food assistance during a prolonged period of anemic job growth, declining or stagnant wages and growing income inequality."

[Incidentally, 15 members of Congress are the beneficiaries of subsidies provided by farm legislation, the same legislation that includes food stamp funding. As an example, one of these, Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Republican from Tennessee, and his wife collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies for 1999-2012. Yet Fincher is one of the loudest voices in Congress demanding steep cuts in food stamp funding!]  

So now representatives from the House and Senate are meeting in an attempt to reconcile the different versions. The question is how deep the cuts to the food stamp program will be. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who chairs that body's agriculture committee, has already expressed a willingness to cut food stamp funding even more than the Senate bill did.

President Obama is on record as opposing major cuts in food stamp funding, meaning that he favors cutting such funding providing that the cuts are not too drastic. Labor should demand that the president declare that he will veto any farm legislation that contains any cuts to food stamps!

What makes the proposed cuts so much worse is that food stamp funding took a big hit on November 1 of this year, when monthly benefits for all 47 million recipients of the program were cut by roughly 7 percent. This occurred due to the expiration of a benefit increase that resulted from the 2009 stimulus program. A number of Democrats supported  the November cuts, saying that the money should be used to forestall the states laying off teachers. This is a crass example of robbing Peter to pay Paul at a time when there is plenty of money available from other sources to maintain teachers' jobs while not only maintaining funding for food stamps but increasing that funding.

So unless labor intervenes in alliance with its community partners to build a powerful movement that demands no cuts to food stamp funding, further cuts are inevitable in addition to those implemented in November. In fact, we should be demanding not only that the program be maintained, it should be expanded to guarantee more adequate nutrition for children (who make up half of food stamp recipients), disabled people, seniors, veterans, military families and others who rely so heavily on food stamps.

What Happened to Labor's Proclaimed Congressional Allies?

Those politicians who like to identify themselves as "friends of labor" have, in fact, compromised away any claim to solidarity with working people. Instead of drawing a line in the sand and forcefully opposing all cuts to food stamps, they caved in, claiming that a farm bill was needed and cutting food stamps was the only way to get it passed. They also point to the fact that in the Senate they voted for an amendment to restore food stamp funding, but it was defeated 26-70. In addition, they take pains to condemn the much more extreme cuts voted by the House.

None of these rationalizations should carry any weight with trade unionists. Voting to deprive children and their families of essential meals cannot be justified under any circumstances -- period. The Senate could have voted to separate food stamp funding from the rest of the farm bill but it chose not to do so. The lopsided vote defeating the effort to restore the $4.1 billion food stamp funding shows where things now stand. Since that failed, then it was incumbent to vote against the farm bill as a whole, as only one Democratic senator did. If a majority had taken that position, the Senate would have been in an infinitely stronger position in negotiating with the Republican-dominated House and preventing additional millions from experiencing greater malnutrition.

As for the Republicans pressing for greater cuts, that hardly justifies voting for lesser cuts. That is part and parcel of the old discredited game the politicians play of supporting lesser evil legislation and claiming victory in averting a worse outcome, no matter the damage done to the working class majority by whatever is enacted. It has never occurred to Democratic Party leaders to call upon masses of people to descend on Washington to oppose any and all food stamp cuts in this epic struggle. Since when have these leaders ever sought to mobilize the people for any progressive cause?

Labor's Role

The failure of labor to mount an aggressive campaign against food stamp cuts, starting with condemning the Senate's June 10action, is due to its failed strategy of relying on Democratic Party leaders and the president to protect workers' interests. We in labor will continue to suffer painful setbacks so long as this strategy is pursued. What is needed instead is for labor to act independently in the interests of the working class majority. The immediate need is to pull out all the stops in the weeks ahead to ensure the largest possible mobilizations demanding "NO Cuts!" to food stamps. This is a needed step forward for labor and its allies to have a real voice in determining national policies, culminating in forming a party of our own: a workers party based on the unions and our community partners. The public as a whole, according to the latest polls, gives the Democratic Party a low favorability rating.  Over 60 percent have lost faith in both major parties and are looking for an alternative. Labor can provide that alternative.

It's time for a change! 

Also see my letter to the editor: 
Another "Letter to the Editor" gets published; this time about cuts to food stamps

Notice on page 1 is an article about the Food Shelf needing donations because food stamps have been cut: 


On page 4 is my Letter to the Editor about the cut to Food Stamps.

If the links don't work, just google "northern watch" and click on November 30 edition.

The buttons on the bottom enable you to flip through the pages.

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