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...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Trans-Pacific Partnership

There is a great deal of misinformation being passed about concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Here is the official united States government's TPP site:

http://www.ustr.gov/tpp

Facts---

First: At this time there is no agreement. 

Second: Less than 1,000 people in the entire world know the details concerning what has been negotiated during the 19 rounds of negotiations. 

Third: The only "public" that has been made privy to what is going on in these negotiations are about 600 corporate lobbyists.

Fourth: Congress intends to create "Fast Track" legislation which would allow the President to approve the deal. (see below about Fast Track)

Conclusion:

Because the government refuses to keep citizens informed with the same information supplied to corporate lobbyists this is the only reason to oppose the TPP not speculation as to what might be included in the TPP. Movements can't be built on speculation. Movements can be built around the democratic right of the people to be kept fully informed and the ONE KNOWN FACT at this time: The people have no access to the facts and we have no chance or opportunity to participate in the negotiating process.

Ask your U.S. Senator and member of Congress to provide you with the details agreed to in each of the 19 rounds of TPP negotiations. If they won't provide you with the same information these corporate lobbyists have been provided with you should use this as the reason you expect the Senators and member of Congress to do two things:

1. Oppose "Fast Track Legislation."

2. Call on Obama to pull out of TPP negotiations. 

Insist on being provided a letter from your Senators and member of Congress stating their views on:

1. Fast Track Legislation.

2. If they are for or against remaining in the TPP negotiating process.

3. The reason why they won't/can't provide you with the minutes of each of the 19 Rounds of TPP negotiations.


What is "Fast Track Legislation?"

Fast Track” is the process that gives the executive branch the authority to negotiate and write trade agreements and delegates away Congress’ constitutional power to set the terms of U.S. trade policy. Fast Track creates special rules for considering trade agreements by allowing the executive branch to sign an agreement before Congress votes on it and only gives Congress 90 days to vote on the trade deal.

Under Fast Track, the president is authorized to negotiate trade agreements with foreign countries without consulting Congress or state legislators. After the executive branch locks down the terms of the deal and writes the implementing legislation, Congress is only permitted a yes or no vote, while states are virtually left out of the process. Thus, state and congressional officials elected to represent the public interest have no role in the process but to approve or disapprove the whole package.

Fast Track renewal was slipped through Congress at midnight in 2002 by only two votes. On June 30, 2007, the current grant of Fast Track, now called “Trade Promotion Authority” by its supporters, expired. Fast Track is not needed to approve trade agreements, a fact proven by the dozens of trade agreements that have been passed without its use (such as the Jordan FTA, China PNTR, etc.). Fast Track unnecessarily creates a situation where negotiators cannot be held accountable by the public, and legislators are denied their constitutional authority to set the terms of trade agreements.

In recent years, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has used Fast Track to push dozens of controversial pacts through Congress including: the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and dozens of trade agreements with countries such as Chile, Singapore, Morocco, Australia, Bahrain and Oman. Trade negotiations have been accelerated to an alarming speed, denying legislators and the public the appropriate time to consider the serious ramifications of these agreements.

The TPP and NATO...
Simultaneously when TPP talks began it was announced by Obama and the U.S. Secretary of Defense that NATO would be expanding operations into the Pacific region. Will NATO be used to police and enforce the TPP?

The TPP and expanded NATO activities are part and parcel of Wall Street's imperialist agenda.

Write, don't call, your United States Senators and member of Congress. With telephone calls there is no accountability. Insist on being answered in a timely manner in writing.
A Constitutional Question
Does Congress have the Constitutional right to turn over its sole authority to the President with Fast Track Legislation?

A comment:

The United States Constitution enables only Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations; international trade agreements can be negotiated by the executive branch only with Congressional oversight, and are generally considered "congressional-executive agreements" (CEAs), which must be approved by a simple majority in both chambers of Congress. Other international agreements, such as treaties not relating to tariffs and trade quotas, can be negotiated solely by the executive branch, but such treaties must be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate in order to take effect. Once approved, policy changes required by either type of agreement can then be made immediately, but if any legislation is required to implement the agreement, then normal legislative procedures must be followed, including Congressional authorship, amendment, and debate, a process which can be lengthy and during which the legislation may "die".


Question: 

Has there been "Congressional oversight" at any time during the 19 Rounds of TPP Negotiations?

Comment: If any members of Congress have been involved in oversight someone is telling us great big lies because every single member of Congress will tell you they know nothing about the specifics of the TPP.


Conclusion:

The only sure thing we can say about the TPP at this point is that the way it is being negotiated is undemocratic; and, more importantly, the way the United States government is participating in these negotiations is blatantly unconstitutional.

-- 
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

"AFL-CIO Reaffirms Commitment to Single Payer--Demands Fixes to Obama's Affordable Care Act."


"AFL-CIO Reaffirms Commitment to Single Payer--Demands Fixes to Obama's Affordable Care Act."

This was a recent headline in a union newsletter.

But; is this true or intended to suck us into thinking the AFL-CIO intends to do something when nothing of the sort is true as a way to subvert rank-and-file action?

This kind of trickery to disrupt, stymie and thwart has become a hallmark of Obama and his supporters who include Richard Trumka and each and every member of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council.

It is all about barking loud with no intent to bite.

I would note that at its previous national convention, in order to win support for Obamacare the AFL-CIO's "leadership" had to agree to support a resolution calling for single-payer.

Has anyone seen or heard any indication since then that the AFL-CIO intended to launch a campaign for single-payer which would have to include the creation of a new working class political party since the Democratic Party is solidly opposed to single-payer?

By once again pretending concern about ACA and feigning support for single-payer, Trumka and his fellow blowhards hope to undermine and head off a real struggle for single-payer.

The ACA was intended to be a further attack on the working class and true to their selfishness, these labor "leaders" hope to work out an agreement acceptable to their members by selling out the majority of the working class on health care the same way these AFL-CIO "leaders" have sold out the rest of the working class on the Minimum Wage and in refusing to call for repealing and rescinding "At-Will Employment" legislation which is an attack on democracy, rights at work and the main and primary impediment to union organizing.

Many people ask me this question:

What reason would union "leaders" have to work more closely with Wall Street and its politicians instead of for the good of their own members and the rest of the working class?

The motive for this kind of class collaboration is kind of hidden until one looks more closely at the real connection between Wall Street and these labor "leaders."

Well; check out this letter I got from Mike Stotz which came on stationary with the AFL-CIO's letterhead. Reading this letter one has to ask if Wall Street hasn't chosen Richard Trumka to "lead" the AFL-CIO in the same way the Big Three chose Bob King to "lead" the UAW and the same way US Steel and INCO/Vale chose Leo Gerard to "lead" the USW and the same way Verizon chose Larry Cohen to "lead" the CWA:


September 9, 2013


Contact:
Josh Goldstein
(202) 251-7438

www.aflcio-indexfund.com


AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund Reaches Financial Milestone,
$4 Billion in Pension Plan Commitments to the Fund



Los Angeles - The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund, a collective investment fund available to qualified pension plans, today announced it has grown to more than $4 billion in investment commitments by union, Taft-Hartley and public employee pension plans since its inception in 2011.


“The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund reaching $4 billion is a great accomplishment. It shows that the pension plans of union workers have a strong interest in pooling their investment dollars and demonstrates their belief in the power of shareholder activism,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.


The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund provides a low cost investing strategy with an annual investment management fee of just 1.5 basis points (0.015%). The objective of the Fund is to track the returns of the U.S. large cap equity market as represented by the S&P 500 Index, resulting in low fees and expenses.


The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund promotes good corporate governance through proxy voting and shareholder activism. Unlike many competing index fund products, the Fund votes entirely in line with the AFL-CIO Proxy Voting Guidelines, as does ASB Capital Management which manages the Fund.


“The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund is a powerful opportunity for pension plans to reduce investment costs while promoting good corporate governance through proxy voting and responsible capital stewardship,” said Michael Stotz, President of the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation. “The growth shows that the labor movement is willing to literally invest in its values.”


In 2013, the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund submitted shareholder proposals to reform executive compensation practices and to establish independent chairs of corporate boards. After filing these proposals, the Fund successfully negotiated changes in executive compensation practices at Citigroup and Chesapeake Energy, and Pitney Bowes established an independent board chair.


Overall, CEOs of S&P 500 Index companies made 354 times the average wages of rank-and-file workers in 2012. The Wall Street Journal commented on the Fund’s activism that “changes pushed by activist investors are helping tie management compensation more closely to corporate performance, and eliminating several practices that critics have seen as excessive or unfair.” (“Longstanding Pay Practices Under Attack by Activists,” March 20, 2013.)


The Fund has shown strong performance by tracking the S&P 500 Index closely, and beat the Lipper S&P 500 Index Fund Universe average return by 60 basis points in the 12-month period ending 6/30/13. The Fund ranks in the top 15 percent in returns in the Lipper S&P 500 Index Fund Universe Rankings.


The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund is one of several pension investment vehicles licensed by the AFL-CIO. Other AFL-CIO licensed investment programs include the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust and the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. The AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust is an open-ended, commingled core real estate fund. The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust is a fixed-income investment fund that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


###

About the AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation:

The AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation (ITC) is an institutional investor relations firm that provides non-fiduciary marketing services to investment funds seeking to grow within the multi-employer and public fund markets. The fund is managed by ASB Capital Management, a registered investment adviser based in Bethesda, MD.

Fund is subject to market risk. The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund is not a mutual fund. It is a collective investment fund established by Chevy Chase Trust Company under Maryland banking law, and its units are exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933. Investments in the Fund are not deposits, obligations of, or insured by Chevy Chase Trust Company, ASB Capital Management LLC, the United States government, or any United States government agencies. This is not a prospectus and has not been approved by the SEC.

AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund
The AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund is a collective investment fund available to AFL-CIO affiliated qualified pension plans. The AFL-CIO is sponsor of the AFL-CIO Equity Index Fund.
As a union member you have a right to know what investments are being made. Request this information and you will find that the AFL-CIO has invested a good chunk of your pension fund in the for-profit health care industry--- now, do you really expect these union "leaders" who reap huge salaries and perks for sitting on pension fund boards to bite their Wall Street friends?