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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...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How movements can be initiated.

Working people can initiate movements and have greater say in existing movements.

Here is what we often do:

1. Write a Letter to the Editor;

2. Send the Letter to the Editor to politicians;

3. Turn the Letter to the Editor into Precinct Caucus resolutions, resolutions for different organizations;

4. Turn the Letter to the Editor into a petition or statement for others to sign;

5. Turn the Letter to the Editor (often two or three letters on the same topic but from slightly different perspectives) into leaflets;

6. Use all the above for tabling with banners;

7. Use the Letters to the Editor as a call to meetings, pickets and demonstrations.

8. Use the Letter to the Editor as an outline for talks, speeches, forums and debates.

9. Use the Letter to the Editor as a platform to run for public office.

10. Always conscious of trying to build a movement.

The thing is to be persistent and never give up until you get what you are after or unless you lose... if you lose, then try to merge your work with another ongoing struggle so all is not lost.

"Kitchen table" issues require working people coming together around the kitchen table creating organizations which become part of larger movements. Try to fill all four chairs around the kitchen table.

Obviously there are fairly well organized movements for peace, a living wage, health care reform we can all plug into.

Other issues are out there that movements need to be built around from the ground up.

I guess we have to think in terms of every person a "citizen lobbyist" but it sure would help if we had a massive "People's Lobby" we could all plug into that was serving notice on politicians that we intend to build a political party that would be part of our movements challenging Wall Street for political and economic power so we could finally get the kind of country we can all be proud to live in.

In my opinion, and what I have found, is that when you are willing to write down your views and sign your name for the public to consider, you immediately gain credibility.

Try writing a Letter to the Editor and experiment with the above suggestions.

Example of a Letter to the Editor that has helped to influence a movement and served as a catalyst to spark a movement:

Where is the real minimum wage?

Published 9:00am Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Albert Lea Tribune

Holiday shoppers and voters should beware of the bait and switch.

Bait and switch is an illegal advertising gimmick in the retail world; but, in politics bait and switch has become the way of life, the new normal.

For example: Obama campaigned for the Democratic Party’s nomination telling everyone, everywhere he went, he was for a single-payer universal health care system like they have in Canada; this was the bait.

Once elected, Obama pulled a switch and delivered Obamacare/Romneycare or as it should be known, the Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry Bailout and Profit Maximization Act of 2010.

Another example: Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Gov. Mark Dayton campaigned for office saying he would raise the minimum wage to a real living wage — this was the bait. Once elected, Dayton, a multibillionaire, is now pushing a miserly increase in the minimum wage which would keep the minimum wage a poverty wage — the switch.

Buyer (voter) beware of bait and switch.

The Minnesota DFL Party has a super-majority. Republicans have no say about anything; all they can do is cry.

We should at least be able to get a real living minimum wage out of these Democrats corresponding to actual cost-of-living factors as tracked and monitored by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics — the minimum wage should also be indexed to inflation with periodic increases to improve the living standards of working people.

Working people are entitled to this in return for their votes, especially from a political party which makes the claim that it is for labor.

If there are any obstacles the Democrats are encountering that would prevent them from implementing a real living — non-poverty — minimum wage, I would like to hear what the impediment is.

Alan L. Maki
director of organizing
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

The above Letter to the Editor led to this Open Letter to the Governor of Minnesota being drafted with the participation and agreement by many people. It is now being circulated:
January 2014
An Open Letter . . .
TO:  Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Legislative Caucus.
FROM:  Your Constituents

Enough!  We are not waiting any longer!
As DFL candidates, you campaigned on a promise to enact legislation that provides low-wage workers a real, living wage  not just a “minimum” wage.
Your campaign language explicitly called for “workers being entitled to living wages!”  It promised a Living Wage Act, but no progress was made in your first super-majority session.

All it would take, you said, was for Minnesotans to give the DFL a super-majority. Well, we voters delivered it to you!  You have it! But now, instead of advancing Living Wage legislation, the DFL is floating another “minimum wage” bill that will just perpetuate poverty wages for many Minnesota workers!

For years, the DFL leadership has claimed Republicans were the lone obstacle to establishing a Living Wage in our state. That obstacle has been removed. You are now in the driver’s seat!
We, the workers of Minnesota, gave you the legislative votes to enact the Living Wage legislation you promised us.
We expect you now to do so.  You could call it “The Minnesota Living Wage Act of 2014.”

Most importantly, we need to begin with a realistic dollar amount. Living Wages need to be calculated based on realistic levels of cost-of-living. U.S. Census data suggests at least $15 per hour; while, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hourly wages of $22 and $26 at 40 hrs/week are needed to cover basic necessities. When making decisions on determining basic needs for a dignified life, the testimony from low-income Minnesotans should also be taken into consideration.

 A Living Wage must also be subject to regular cost-of-living adjustments. The Consumer Price Index is our best indicator, and it should be used to adjust a new Minnesota Living Wage level quarterly or at least semi-annually.

If you should fail to enact such legislation, we will assume that you were just baiting us with nice-sounding campaign rhetoric, and that you are pulling a switch on us by simply advancing more employer-friendly “minimum wage” legislation, that does nothing to alleviate the hardships of Minnesota’s working poor.
Perhaps you think any increase is better than nothing.  We don’t!

Minnesota has long been considered a progressive bellwether.  Do something significant now for her working men and women. It is what everybody morally deserves  —  the prospect of a dignified life.

Be courageous. Lead our state — and our nation — in securing the right of every worker to earn a decent living. 

It can begin with the Minnesota Living Wage Act of 2014.

You can make it happen!


Your fellow Minnesotans 
(as the undersigned, with our signatures attached herein)