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...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

CWA’s Cohen: Can Labor and Allies Create an ‘American Spring?’

This was the comment I added to an article which appeared in In These Times that was an interview with Larry Cohen, the President of the CWA.



I wonder why Cohen isn't bringing forward the demand for full employment in line with the "Full Employment Act of 1945?"

Larry Cohen has been a big Obama booster and supporter. He and this coalition of his which is mobilizing the "leadership" while leaving out the memberships raises some important concerns.

Obviously if these 70 organizations mobilized their memberships around a real progressive agenda with peace and full employment at the very top Obama's and the Democrats' "feet would be held to the fire."

Has anyone noticed all these preparations are being made for celebrations surrounding Obama's second inauguration yet all of these "progressive for Obama" who have chastised us for not building the movements required that would supposedly "holdObama's feet to the fire" to force him to do what is right and just by the American people; these people aren't doing anything to make sure
these "celebrants" have to consider an alternative to Obama's Wall Street agenda of wars abroad paid for with austerity measures shoved down our throats?

These 'progressives for Obama" are not insisting these wars and occupations end so we can reap a "peace dividend."

These "progressives for Obama" are not organizing any kind of "people's lobby" to insist on peace and full employment--- why aren't they insisting Obama bring forward the "Full Employment Act of 1945" that was never passed since this legislation contained what Franklin Roosevelt was trying to achieve?

Here is a little history in a capsule as to what happened with "The Full Employment Act of 1945;"

The bill centered major powers and responsibilities in the presidency. In cases where the private sector failed to provide full employment, the bill directed the president to prepare a program of federal investment and expenditures to close the gap. The president would review federal programs on a quarterly basis and alter their rate as he considered necessary to assure full employment. The Senate passed this bill in September 1945 by an overwhelming vote of 71 to 10.

Critics in the House charged that the bill contained within it the seeds of paternalism, socialism, and even communism. They claimed that the bill jeopardized the existence of free enterprise, individual initiative, and business confidence by vesting of power in the federal government and the president. It was predicted that the Full Employment Act would lead to excessive government spending, a dangerous concentration of power in the presidency, and crippling inflation.

This criticism led the House to remove or dilute several substantive and forceful passages in the Senate bill. For example, the basic commitment to employment as a human right was taken out, two sections on presidential discretionary powers were deleted, the original goal of full employment was whittled down to "maximum employment," and, instead of the federal government assuring government, it would only "promote" it. Moreover, the specific reliance on public works and federal loans as instruments of economic recovery was replaced by the noncommittal phrase "all practicable means."

The resulting declaration of policy in the Employment Act of 1946 stated that the federal government, assisted by industry, labor, and state and local governments, was responsible for coordinatingplans, functions, and resources for the purpose of creating and maintaining conditions—consistent with the free enterprise system—that would offer "useful employment opportunities, including self-employment, for those able, willing, and seeking to work, and to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power.

If you would like to look into this a little further I would encourage you to check out
the transcript of the hearings held on the "Full Employment Act of 1945:"

Reading the transcript of this hearing is a real eye-opener.

We need a "people's lobby" to push for peace and a full employment economy.

We need a new progressive working class based people's political party backed up by a powerful "people's lobby" advocating full employment through peace in order to challenge Wall Street for power.

By advocating the creation of "an American spring," Larry Cohen does think we should be challenging Wall Street for power; doesn't he?

Now is the time to break free from Wall Street's two-party trap.

What ever happened to the "Peace Dividend?"

Cohen doesn't even mention the word "peace" in conjunction with jobs just like he omits the need for full employment.

Cohen must understand the connection between unemployment, militarism and wars; doesn't he?

Did this "coalition" discuss the need for peace in order to free the resources of this country to create jobs and full employment?

Unemployment suppresses wages; full employment pushes all wages up--- why aren't Cohen and other union leaders pointing out that peace is the path to full employment?

If Larry Cohen, Leo Gerard and Richard Trumka could free themselves from "thinking Democratic" perhaps they could lead the working class into the struggle for peace and full employment this would put an end to all this "concession bargaining" and strengthen the hand of labor. Probably add some numbers to labor's dwindling ranks, too. And put an end to all this scabbing like we have here in the Red River Valley where American Crystal Sugar Company has locked out 1,300 workers who refused "the final offer" and brought in scabs hired from among the unemployed to take the jobs of these workers.

Peace and full employment should be labor's answer to Obama' wars and austerity measures.

Full employment would solve any problems with Social Security, too--- everyone pays in; everyone gets what they are entitled to out.

Peace and full employment are never mentioned by Larry Cohen--- what gives? And since Cohen never mentioned peace and full employment; why didn't Moberg ask?

Of course, nothing is preventing Larry Cohen from speaking up by placing his comments on peace and full employment here. This article is meant for stimulating dialog and discussion; is it not?

It would also be interesting to hear Larry Cohen's and the AFL-CIO's thoughts on "Idle No More;" the Canadian Labour Congress has provided insight and solidarity in this struggle and so should U.S. unions--- including the AFL-CIO.

Interesting, also, David Moberg didn't ask Cohen for his thoughts regarding the proposed merger between the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the CEP (Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada).

But, then again, Moberg didn't ask Cohen if U.S. labor needs its own political party like labor in Canada has with the socialist New Democratic Party.

Like myself, Larry Cohen was one of the founders of U.S. Labor Against the War; one would expect that Cohen would be able to articulate how peace and full employment are inseparably connected.

If unemployed workers want jobs they are going to have to fight for a "peace dividend."

Has anyone noticed that Barack Obama's proposed 2013 budget with massive funding for wars and militarism is in direct opposition to what a progressive agenda requires?


Obama claims the war in Iraq has ended; yet, the cost of this war in Iraq continues to grow; why?


The American people are paying for these dirty imperialist wars with unemployment when peace would enable us to create a full employment.

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council