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...

Monday, March 31, 2014

A guide to climate change

U.N. Working Group on Climate Change:

http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/



Surprise, surprise; poor will suffer the most from Climate Change:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/01/world/climate-study-puts-diplomatic-pressure-on-obama.html?_r=0



The discussion and debate over climate change will be heating up; this is my contribution to this discussion:

http://canadiandimension.com/articles/5890/

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jim Michaud and "rap sheets."

I hear that Jim Michaud, working in cahoots with crooked and corrupt Leech Lake tribal leader Carri "all I can steal" Jones, likes to distribute "rap sheets" of other people.

These goddamn thieves rob the people blind and then they cry about having to pay people decent wages.

Carri Jones and Jim Michaud became millionaires just off their their tribal salaries and yet they are so greedy they still have to steal from the people.

I wonder what kind of kick-back scam Michaud and Carri Jones are running now?

What I can't figure out is why this felon, Jim Michaud, doesn't distribute and post his own rap sheet... I bet John McCarthy could make him a real deal printing his rap sheet:

Ojibwe News, The
10-02-1998
Arrest of former Leech Lake tribal officials well worth the wait

The arrest and arraignment today of former Leech Lake tribal secretary-treasurer Jim Michaud and 5 others by federal agents on 14 count indictment for allegedly stealing $1.1 million in tribal funds, sounds only to familiar to the insurance scam of Skip Finn and company of a few years ago. No wonder the Leech Lake people have had such a hard making ends meet in the early to mid 1990's Bob, Charlie and Jim Michaud, Bob Gotchie along with David Murray and his wife Donna are charged in the indictment with allegedly conspiring to steal nearly $1.1 million of tribal funds, money laundering and tax offenses.

Ojibwe News, The
01-29-1999
Fosston husband and wife plead guilty in Leech Lake fraud scheme

A couple implicated in the diversion of $1.1 million from the Leech Lake Band of Chippewa has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud programs receiving federal funds.

Federal prosecutors said David Murray, 55, and his wife, Donna, 52, of Fosston, Minn., participated in a scheme involving the misuse of Leech Lake tribal checks. Indicated along with the Murrays was former tribal leader James D. Michaud, 42, of Bena, who allegedly agreed to send Donna Murray checks labeled "donations," for her to cash and kick back money to him.

Michaud later asked David Murray to send him an invoice for payment of construction work that hadn't been done, the indictment said, alleging that "Murray would cash the tribal check and give the proceeds back

A "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity."


I think we need to be bringing forward into the public square via "letters to the editor," forums, debates, tabling and leafleting some kind of demand for a "package of reforms" expanding on the New Deal as part of our participation in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

When I write about this I call it the "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity."

While I believe raising the Minimum Wage to a real living wage based on actual "cost-of-living" is very important, this alone won't solve the problems of working class poverty.

Workers without jobs are going to be poor.

Workers paid poverty wages are going to be poor.

Part-time employment has become the "new normal" along with massive unemployment.

The "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" would legislatively mandate the president and Congress to work together to attain and maintain full employment, make the Minimum Wage a real living wage based on actual "cost-of-living" factors, include a Basic Income Guarantee in line with the Minimum Wage and include creating massive job-creating universal social programs like a National Public Health Care System (12 to 15 million new jobs) and National Public Child Care System (3 to 5 million new jobs)--- free health care and free child care together with re-establishing the WPA, CCC and C.E.T.A. programs. Pay for everything with a Peace Dividend obtained from ending militarism and wars--- what this won't cover, tax the hell out of the rich.

Living in the wealthiest country in the world, is this too much to expect?

Why is it so difficult for some people and most politicians to understand that if you pay a worker poverty wages they and their families are going to be poor?

There are other things that should be included in this package of reforms, too.

Things like:

Earlier retirement with expended Social Security benefits.

A shortened work week with forty hours pay.

Four weeks vacation for everyone.

All of this creates jobs.

All of this combined makes every job a good, decent job.

Politicians talk about "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" when they are running for office; but once elected they run away from anything that provides these jobs and a better and improved standard-of-living for working people.

We need to understand that militarism and these dirty wars are killing our jobs the same way they kill people while squandering the wealth of our Nation created by labor... we need to "beat swords into plowshares" and this is what a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" would be all about.

Democrats have created the most massive job creating program since FDR's New Deal employing almost two-million people in over 350 communities spread out across the country...

These jobs are in the hideous Indian Gaming Industry where workers are employed in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages and without any rights under state or federal labor laws...

All of this created under the terms of special "Compacts" agreed to by politicians and the mobsters who own the slot machines.

Just like with the Minimum Wage, these Democratic Party politicians have used the levers of government to provide employers with cheap labor to enforce poverty when the objectives of government should be just the opposite--- to eradicate poverty by raising wages and putting everyone to work in safe and healthy workplaces.

There is a reason the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association has spent over fourteen-million dollars lobbying--- bribing politicians--- not to raise the Minimum Wage.

Poverty wages mean super-profits for employers.

The chronic sectarianism of the left is going to have to go.

These left-wing leaders had it right...








It's time for some roundtable discussions to sit down and talk these these through to get a meeting of the minds.





Saturday, March 29, 2014

Unity















W. E. B. Du Bois had the right idea about how to achieve unity in our progressive movements when he brought together the Socialist Party's Norman Thomas, Robert Baldwin, A. J. Muste, and the Communist Party's Eugene Dennis to discuss peace, labor and civil rights.

What prevents activists from our different organizations, parties and movements from coming together today concerning the problems we are experiencing?

Ryan Unsuited to Lead ‘Adult Conversation’ About Povert

Ryan Unsuited to Lead ‘Adult Conversation’ About Poverty



Note: Bill Moyers has so far NOT allowed my comment to be posted to this article:

Ryan Unsuited to Lead ‘Adult Conversation’ About Poverty


http://billmoyers.com/2014/03/29/ryan-unsuited-to-lead-‘adult-conversation’-about-poverty/

Are the Democrats any more suited than Ryan to talk about eliminating poverty?

Even when they have super-majorities like here in Minnesota they refuse to raise the Minimum Wage to a real living wage based on empirical data when it comes to actual cost-of-living factors.

Any school child knows that when you pay someone a poverty wage they are going to be poor and their family will live in poverty.

Given the fact that these Democrats campaigned on the pretext of being for a "living wage" they are just as big of liars as Ryan.

Or does it make a difference what the lie is that is being told?

A kid going to school on an empty belly probably doesn't care if Ryan is lying about poverty or Minnesota's "liberal" Democratic Governor Mark Dayton or the racist Minnesota State Senator Tom Bakk whose campaign is funded by the mobster-controlled Minnesota Indian Gaming Association which is the main business group lobbying to keep the Minimum Wage a poverty wage.

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association has now spent over fourteen-million dollars lobbying to keep the Minimum Wage from becoming a real living wage. Where does that kind of money go?

Hint:

John McCarthy, a very wealthy racist white man heads up the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association with the offices maintained in his own home, a multi-million dollar estate at 8925 Cove Dr. NE Bemidji, MN 56601.

John McCarthy also owns Tony Doom Supply Company http://www.tonydoom.com/ which sells campaign paraphernalia like yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons and even office furniture to the very politicians he is doling out campaign contributions to.

So, with one hand John McCarthy as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association is doling out tens of millions of dollars to Minnesota while with his other hand he is taking this money back in by selling these very politicians their campaign materials and office furniture.

And, as anyone can see, the head of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, Ken Martin, is working in cahoots with both John McCarthy and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and McCarthy's personal business, Tony Doom Supply Company.

I would suggest Bill Moyers and Company investigate why working people can't get a real living wage out of the Democrats when the Minnesota DFL Platform specifically states:

      "LABOR And EMPLOYMENT

      We promote the American labor movement and the rights of all workers.

      We Support:

      A minimum wage that keeps pace with inflation and provides full time
      workers with an income above the poverty level
."

Now, watch this video, or listen to the audio recording, of the members of this Minnesota Legislative Committee discussing the Minimum Wage:

http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/committees/committee_media_list.php?ls&cmte_id=3060


If this isn't a scandal for Bill Moyers and Company to investigate, I don't know what is.

Lori Swanson, Minnesota's Attorney General says that all of this is within the law; but, is it? Swanson is a Democrat taking campaign funds from the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.

Why would the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association spend over fourteen-million dollars lobbying Minnesota state legislators on one issue like maintaining the Minimum Wage as a poverty wage when Native American people have more to gain than anyone from the Minimum Wage being raised?


There must be a hell of a lot of profits to be made from paying casino workers employed in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos without any rights poverty wages, eh?

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/

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where do we go from here?

What to do? What to do?

Where to shop?

Who to vote for?

It's easy to avoid the corporate sponsored politicians; this includes ALL Democrats and Republicans in Minnesota.

It isn't so easy to avoid corporate stores; most people can't afford to "buy local."

People being paid poverty wages simply have to buy the cheapest and even the cheapest they more often then not can't afford.

If you are making less than $30.00 an hour, you simply shop the cheapest prices.

I don't think well-heeled upper middle class people understand this no matter how much empathy they have for the poor.

I walk through some of these food "co-ops" and most people can't even afford to shop in these places... they have become the exclusive privilege of the yuppy crowd.

Up here in Warroad, Minnesota there is only one grocery store without any competition; prices are sky high in this multi-family owned super-market... owned by a bunch of Republicans.

Poverty wages with sky-rocketing prices doesn't leave people with real alternatives to choose from.

Not one single Democrat in Minnesota has had the moral or political courage to take a stand for the Minimum Wage to be a real living wage.

Not one single Democrat in Minnesota has had the moral or political courage to suggest that prices must be rolled back and controlled on the basic necessities of life.

Why would I give these Dumb Donkeys my one precious vote?

What we should probably do is circulate lists of write-in candidates for every office. Candidates running on the "we are fed up" slate. This wouldn't be expensive and we just might be able to begin getting rid of some of these worthless politicians.

We could organize by Congressional District which would give us the opportunity to field full slates.

Maybe we should start to hold some round-table discussions to find out who wants to run as write-in candidates to challenge these corporate bribed politicians.

We could sell pencils to raise the funds. Take the pencils to the polls and never vote for a corporate bribed politician again. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Generation Next

Mr. R. T. Rybak, Executive Director, Generation Next;

Thanks for the invitation to participate in this "Generation Next" discussion in seeking solutions to the problems in education.

Put an end to poverty and fully integrate the public schools, and instead of paying for wars fully fund all public schools including reducing the property taxes while taxing the rich and this will solve 95% of the problems our public schools are experiencing.

Of course it doesn't help to have a teacher union like Minnesota Education supporting and funding the campaigns of politicians who are the enemies of public education like Republican State Representative Tony Cornish.

When it comes to jobs, Affirmative Action needs to be enforced if the youth being trained for jobs are going to get the jobs they are being educated and trained for.

Mr. Rybak, I think you are trying to make the problems more complex and confusing than what they really are.

Oh, and feed the kids free breakfast and free lunch in school... I don't know if you understand this or not, but it is very difficult to learn on an empty stomach.

Get rid of all the pop machines and give the kids free milk and juice.

A very simple and inexpensive project kids of all ages could be learning from is preparing the soil, planting and harvesting from community gardens. Kids learn to read, write, do math, learn history, art and science from projects like this... but, then again, corporations don't make big profits from projects like this. Older students can learn the same things from remodeling, rehabilitating and building homes.

Keep public libraries open more days and longer hours.

Have more recreational programs for the youth; ask the youth what programs they want. Some kids might want to play sports, others sing and dance or play Scrabble or do arts and crafts. Lots of kids seem to be interested in photography.

Want to make sure more youth graduate from high school--- let them know there is free higher education... vocational training, college and university available to them.

Make sure there are jobs at good living wages available for youth once they get their high school diploma.

Do you think I should keep a list of these things to check off what you get done? 

Of course it would be good if we had politicians and government where the needs of children and youth come first; this would require a free National Public Child Care Program and a National Public Health Care System--- both could be established on the public education model: public funding and financing, public administration and public delivery.

No child or youth should have to suffer of go without an adequate education because adults have messed up priorities where wars are funded before these human needs.

Keep those darn lying military recruiters out of the public schools.

One other thing; start sending kids at a young age to special classes designed for them in the colleges and universities on Saturdays. Let the kids get a little feel for higher education.

Good luck in your efforts to improve our public schools.

Looking forward to your response,

Sincerely,

-- 
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

A "culture of graft and corruption" now threatens to throw the Ukrainian economy into chaos.

Now the EU and the United States are backing away from bailing out the Ukraine because, they say, they can't trust these two-bit, half-assed fascist bastards they brought to power because they have a "culture of graft and corruption."

On top of this, these Ukrainian fascists have begun harassing the Crimeans by sporadically shutting down their electricity and water and threatening to raise the prices of electricity and water sky high.

Just like when the fascists came to power in Spain going into world War II; these fascists are going to push things to the limit in order to start World War III.

It won't be long before these fascist bastards start implementing austerity measures against their own people and all hell is going to break loose.

The Wall Street banker crooks don't trust the Ukrainian fascists with their money; the crooks don't trust the crooks... what a world!

Beyond the Minimum Wage: Interview With Jobs With Justice's Sarita Gupta

This is an interesting interview which raises some very important questions and concerns.

Questions to consider while reading this interview:

Why aren't these national organizations waging a united national struggle around an agreed upon way to establish the Minimum Wage? Why has there been no agreement on what constitutes a real living Minimum Wage? Why hasn't the relationship between wages and cost-of-living become the primary focus of these struggles to raise the Minimum Wage? Is there a way to establish the Minimum Wage that allows for increases in cost of living, inflation and which provides a regular increase in the Minimum Wage which would be to improve the standard-of-living? Should we be fighting for a package of reforms which would include, in addition to a real living Minimum Wage, some kind of Basic Income Guarantee based on a forty hour work week providing a real living wage and the right to employment, a legislated full employment which would make it mandatory for the president and Congress to attain and maintain full employment? Should "At-will Employment" laws be repealed?

What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" that would bundle these reforms in order to expand the New Deal reforms based on the requirements of work and employment in the 21st Century.


We need to popularize the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights by pushing for legislative action which would make these rights a reality:
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/


Beyond the Minimum Wage: Interview With Jobs With Justice's Sarita Gupta

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 11:15By Amy B Dean, Truthout | Interview
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22697-beyond-the-minimum-wage-an-interview-with-jobs-with-justice-executive-director-sarita-gupta

Raising the minimum wage is an idea whose time has come. Long an important grass-roots demand, campaigns to raise the wage are taking place throughout the country. Even the national Democratic Party has recognized it as it winning issue that its candidates should embrace. Yet, although a minimum wage boost is long overdue, an increase from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour will not bring the working poor out of poverty. Nor will it restore the type of labor rights and collective organization that built the American middle class in the mid-20th century.

This dilemma raises a critical question: How do we use the enthusiasm around this issue to promote a more robust and thoroughgoing vision of economic justice?
Sarita Gupta is one progressive leader who is searching for an answer to this question. Gupta is executive director of Jobs With Justice, a national organization whose mission is to "win real change for workers by combining innovative communications strategies and solid research and policy advocacy with grassroots action and mobilization," according to its web site. A dynamic contributor to the effort to build coalitions between labor and community, Gupta has led Jobs With Justice since 2007 in campaigns alongside employees at Walmart for better treatment, to help extend labor law protections to domestic workers and to defend immigrant workers from deportation.

In a recent interview, I talked with Gupta about connecting today’s minimum-wage demands to a more far-reaching strategy to counter inequality. In our discussion, Gupta emphasized a new generation of organizing tactics, such as the Retail Action Project’s Just Hours campaign for workers to be guaranteed enough hours on the job to have a living wage. This is the sort of tactic that could contribute to a comprehensive strategic agenda for economic justice. The following is a condensed and edited version of our conversation.

Amy Dean for Truthout: Why are we encountering a national movement to raise the minimum wage at this moment?
Sarita Gupta: I think we're seeing a rise of low-wage workers who are demanding a conversation about economic inequality. One way to address this would be raising the minimum wage.

People just can't make it in today's economy. There's a growing population of people who have to make ridiculous choices between paying for food or paying for rent or paying for health care - basic necessities. With the help of a lot of good organizing that has happened over the years around issues of wages, I really think we've reached a point [of being able to see how] this has impacted so many people.

The Democratic Party has recognized the minimum wage as an issue that should be a priority for its candidates. Is this a good development? Is it just sheer opportunism? Or is it something else?

There's a growing population of people who have to make ridiculous choices between paying for food or paying for rent or paying for health care - basic necessities.

I think it's a good thing that more elected officials or candidates are talking about the need for raising the minimum wage. What I worry about is that the conversation begins and ends with raising the minimum wage. It's really, really important for politicians today to understand that more and more Americans are fed up and really cannot survive in this economy the way it is. The need for them to look at policy changes beyond the minimum wage is going to be really critical.

Two Workforces On the Move
What has Jobs with Justice's role been in fanning the flame around the minimum-wage issue?
A few years ago at Jobs With Justice, we made a decision that there were two sectors of the workforce that we wanted to dive into more deeply, because we felt we could push for new jobs to be created and make sure these were good-quality jobs. Those were the retail sector and the care sector.

We actually dug in pretty deeply with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) to talk about retail workers at Walmart. These workers are organizing through the Making Change At Walmart campaign and forming as OUR Walmart (the Organization United for Respect at Walmart). We made the decision to broaden the definition of who a Walmart worker is - to include logistics workers, the workers along the supply chain, in the warehouses, that are making the products that are being sold. They are a broader set of workers who fundamentally need to bargain with Walmart for better wages and working conditions.

The reason I use that example of retail is because if you look at Black Friday from 2012 to Black Friday 2013, the discourse dramatically shifted. From 2012 being, "Are these workers legitimate?" to, in 2013, really being about the responsibility of one of the largest private-sector employers in the US. What does it mean that their employees can't make enough money and depend on social safety net programs that are also being gutted today? What's the role and responsibility of major corporate forces like Walmart?

This isn't just about the minimum wage. It's actually about a much broader conversation about wages and the responsibility of government, the responsibility of corporate actors in our economy to help our economy thrive.

There's actually a need for us right now to create a whole new generation of smart policies. These are about raising wages but also about a whole slew of other issues that would help more contingent labor and low-wage workers to have a chance at a decent standard of living.

Then you add the care sector in for us. Many care workers have historically been excluded from the Fair Labor Standard Act. But now, based on last year's regulatory change that President Obama signed, home care companions for the elderly and people with disabilities have gained basic workplace protections - including the right to get minimum wage and overtime protection. What care workers need is not only for their work to be valued and visible - but also to be paid a decent wage, so that they can have a decent standard of living.

What does it mean in our economy to have food workers who put food on our table at restaurants but can't put food on their own tables? Or care workers who care for our loved ones, but who can't afford to care for themselves or their own families? There is something fundamentally wrong here.

A Next Generation of Living Wage Policies
How does winning a higher minimum wage affect domestic workers specifically, given their exclusion from the NLRA?
What we're finding is that, with shifting employment structures, we have a growth of contingent labor across the board. So with the growth of part-time workers, temporary workers, subcontracted workers, what's happening more and more is that workers are falling outside of basic labor protections and standards.

There's actually a need for us right now to create a whole new generation of smart policies. These are about raising wages but also about a whole slew of other issues that would help more contingent labor and low-wage workers to have a chance at a decent standard of living.

What that means is we need to be organizing wage campaigns, campaigns like Just Hours [which would mandate fair scheduling of work hours] together in much smarter ways. Our wage campaigns again can't just be about the minimum wage. We're experimenting on this front with new kinds of wage ordinances across the country.
At the end of the day, that's why we don't believe the minimum wage is the only solution. This moment of raising the minimum wage we think is an opportunity to actually push open a much broader set of reforms that we need right now.

Raising the minimum wage is important, but it has limitations with respect to labor rights or the restoring of the place of worker organizations in the economy. I'm wondering how you think labor and other economic justice groups should approach this issue?

I feel like the fight for raising the minimum wage and all these wage campaigns are actually part of creating a long-term vision around what economic democracy looks like and needs to be.

Let me talk about how we're thinking about this in a place like San Francisco. Here's a city where there's an enormous retail sector, including food service. It's stable and it's a growing employment sector in San Francisco. But we know the jobs are predominantly poor-quality - with low wages, part-time schedules, limited employer-provided benefits and fundamentally a lack of a voice on the job. There are 116,000 workers in this sector in San Francisco, in the Bay Area, yet here's a city that actually has the highest minimum wage in the country.
In San Francisco, working together with labor and community partners in a deeper way, how could we move some really innovative policy reform? What we're trying to do there is pass what we're calling a "formula retail ordinance." It's like a living-wage law covering all chain stores and restaurants. It can serve a model for other areas, just as the Bay Area's local minimum wage, paid sick leave and universal health care ordinances have.

The idea would be to create a much stronger set of local labor standards. We know, for example, that in San Francisco the minimum wage is set to increase to $10.74 an hour this year. Yet we know the cost-of-living crisis is really urgent. Most people still can't survive on $10.74 an hour. So we want to move this formula retail ordinance, which would essentially index wages for retail, food service and other low-wage occupations to 125 percent of the minimum wage.

Couple that with moving a Just Hours strategy, which would force employers to give each worker enough hours on the weekly schedule for them to make a living wage. There are a number of folks at Retail Action Project who are looking at issues across the board like Just Hours to look at scheduling reforms.

What we're also moving in San Francisco is a whole new effort to pass a "bad employers tax" or "bad employers fee." We're working with groups like National People's Action, the Guest Workers' Alliance and a number of economists on this. In a locale like San Francisco, if you have major employers who are not willing to bargain and negotiate with workers in their work site, then can we create a public entity that would collect a bad employers tax or fee from them. The pool of money from this could be used to fund some of the services and safety-net programs that low-wage workers depend on.

The goal is actually that all these strategies are needed to fundamentally create some new on-ramps for how we think about organizing workers. Because our traditional methodology of organizing workers is no longer relevant for too many workers, given the changes in employment structures. Can we imagine bargaining in a new way? Bargaining by geography, bargaining by sector, bargaining by region?

The minimum-wage fights become important launchpads, because you begin a discourse on wages. You talk about setting the minimum. You're setting the floor. But what you want to do is then build off of that to say, "Actually we want to have the ceiling be much higher, and so here are some opportunities in different sectors of how we might do that." You start to re-imagine bargaining.

Toward Economic Democracy
Your work and the work of others have made the minimum wage seem achievable for many, yet Congress is deadlocked. How do you address this?
I think we all know we have a broken political process. We've got to be smart about the ways in which we use our political power and our voice in this moment.

What we're telling many of our members is that, in addition to pushing for the national minimum wage, folks should be looking for opportunities at the local level. There are a lot of states moving state minimum wage campaigns right now. There are a number of cities looking at smart, thoughtful ordinances, like those I described in San Francisco. Folks should really be pushing their elected officials to pay attention to the multiple ways in which we are trying to find solutions to the income crisis. As voters, it's important for folks to say to their elected officials, "We need you to raise the minimum wage and to know that's not the end of the story here. There's more change across the country that's needed."

People being able to tell their stories of their own experiences [and those of] their neighbors, their friends, family members is really critical in this moment. We're in an economy where we have a safety net that was created based on an economy where people had access to jobs and only experienced short bouts of unemployment. Today, the situation is the opposite. So we actually need to reimagine our safety-net programs to catch up with where workers are today.

Who are the big opponents that people should be aware of in terms of in these campaigns?
Walmart is a huge player in trying to combat and oppose much of what we're pushing for right now. And a number of the fast food companies are behind things like "Worker Center Watch (a website devoted to attacking worker centers)." We need to understand that these are forces aren't just attacking workers' centers. They're fundamentally attacking the notion that people should have a decent standard of living.

I feel like the fight for raising the minimum wage and all these wage campaigns are actually part of creating a long-term vision around what economic democracy looks like and needs to be. That's defined by working people and low-income people in this country. My hope is that people begin to see these fights not as separate fights, but actually in relationship to one another, to ultimately build the kind of economic democracy that we want and need.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. some people would like us to forget.

Honoring Dr. DuBois

By: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tonight we assemble here to pay tribute to one of the most remarkable men of our time. Dr. Du Bois was not only an intellectual giant exploring the frontiers of knowledge, he was in the first place a teacher. He would have wanted his life to teach us something about our tasks of emancipation. One idea he insistently taught was that black people have been kept in oppression and deprivation by a poisonous fog of lies that depicted them as inferior, born deficient and deservedly doomed to servitude to the grave. So assiduously has this poison been injected into the mind of America that its disease has infected not only whites but many Negroes. So long as the lie was believed the brutality and criminality of conduct toward the Negro was easy for the conscience to bear. The twisted logic ran if the black man was inferior he was not oppressed-his place in society was appropriate to his meager talent and intellect. Dr. Du Bois recognized that the keystone in the arch of oppression was the myth of inferiority and he dedicated his brilliant talents to demolish it. There could scarcely be a more suitable person for such a monumental task. First of all he was himself unsurpassed as an intellect and he was a Negro. But beyond this he was passionately proud to be black and finally he had not only genius and pride but he had the indomitable fighting spirit of the valiant.


To pursue his mission, Dr. Du Bois gave up the substantial privileges a highly educated Negro enjoyed living in the North. Though he held degrees from Harvard and the University of Berlin, though he had more academic credentials than most Americans, black or white, he moved South where a majority of Negroes then lived. He deliberately chose to share their daily abuse and humiliation. He could have offered himself to the white rulers and exacted substantial tribute for selling his genius. There were few like him, Negro or white. He could have amassed riches and honors and lived in material splendor and applause from the powerful and important men of his time. Instead, he lived part of his creative life in the South-most of it in modest means and some of it in poverty, and he died in exile, praised sparingly and in many circles ignored.
But he was an exile only to the land of his birth. He died at home in Africa among his cherished ancestors, and he was ignored by a pathetically ignorant America but not by history.


History cannot ignore W. E. B. DuBois. Because history has to reflect truth and Dr. Du Bois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded discloses the great dimensions of the man.


Yet he had more than a void to fill. He had to deal with the army of white propagandists - the myth-makers of Negro history. Dr. Du Bois took them all on in battle. It would be impossible to sketch the whole range of his intellectual contributions. Back in the nineteenth century he laid out a program of 100 years of study of problems affecting American Negroes and worked tirelessly to implement it.


Long before sociology was a science he was pioneering in the field of social study of Negro life and completed works on health, education, employment, urban conditions, and religion. This was at a time when scientific inquiry of Negro life was so unbelievably neglected that only a single university in the entire nation had such a program, and it was funded with $5,000 for a year's work.


Against such odds Dr. Du Bois produced two enduring classics before the twentieth century. His Suppression of the African Slave-Trade, written in 1896, is Volume I in the Harvard Historical Studies. His study The Philadelphia Negro, completed in 1899, is still used today. Illustrating the painstaking quality of his scientific method, to do this work Dr. Du Bois personally visited and interviewed 5,000 people.
He soon realized that studies would never adequately be pursued nor changes realized without the mass involvement of Negroes. The scholar then became an organizer and with others founded the NAACP. At the same time he became aware that the expansion of imperialism was a threat to the emergence of Africa. He recognized the importance of the bonds between American Negroes and the land of their ancestors, and he extended his activities to African affairs. After World War I he called Pan-African Congresses in 1919, 1921, and 1923, alarming imperialists in all countries and disconcerting Negro moderates in America who were afraid of this restless, militant, black genius.


Returning to the United States from abroad, he found his pioneering agitation for Negro studies was bearing fruit and a beginning was made to broaden Negro higher education. He threw himself into the task of raising the intellectual level of this work. Much later, in 1940, he participated in the establishment of the first Negro scholarly publication, Phylon. At the same time he stimulated Negro colleges to collaborate through annual conferences to increase their effectiveness and elevate the quality of their academic studies. But these activities, enough to be the life work for ten men, were far from the sum of his achievements. In the six years between 1935 and 1941 he produced the monumental seven-hundred-page volume on Black Reconstruction in America, at the same time writing many articles and essays. Black Reconstruction was six years in writing but was thirty- three years in preparation. On its publication, one critic said: "It crowns the long, unselfish and brilliant career of Dr. Du Bois. It is comparable in clarity, originality and importance to the Beards' Rise of American Civilization." The New York Times said, "It is beyond question the most painstaking and thorough study ever made of the Negroes' part in Reconstruction," and the New York Herald Tribune proclaimed it "a solid history of the period, an economic treatise, a philosophical discussion, a poem, a work of art all rolled into one."


To understand why his study of the Reconstruction was a monumental achievement it is necessary to see it in context. White historians had for a century crudely distorted the Negro's role in the Reconstruction years. It was a conscious and deliberate manipulation of history, and the stakes were high. The Reconstruction was a period in which black men had a small measure of freedom of action. If, as white historians tell it, Negroes wallowed in corruption, opportunism, displayed spectacular stupidity, were wanton, evil, and ignorant, their case was made. They would have proved that freedom was dangerous in the hands of inferior beings. One generation after another of Americans were assiduously taught these falsehoods, and the collective mind of America became poisoned with racism and stunted with myths.


Dr. DuBois confronted this powerful structure of historical distortion and dismantled it. He virtually, before anyone else and more than anyone else, demolished the lies about Negroes in their most important and creative period of history. The truths he revealed are not yet the property of all Americans but they have been recorded and arm us for our contemporary battles.


In Black Reconstruction Dr. DuBois dealt with the almost universally accepted concept that civilization virtually collapsed in the South during Reconstruction because Negroes had a measure of political power. Dr. DuBois marshalled irrefutable evidence that, far from collapsing, the Southern economy was recovering in these years. Within five years the cotton crop had been restored, and in the succeeding five years had exceeded pre-war levels. At the same time other economic activity had ascended so rapidly the rebirth of the South was almost completed.


Beyond this he restored to light the most luminous achievement of the Reconstruction--it brought free public education into existence not only for the benefit of the Negro, but it opened school doors to the poor whites. He documented the substantial body of legislation that was socially so useful it was retained into the twentieth century even though the Negroes who helped to write it were brutally disenfranchised and driven from political life. He revealed that, far from being the tragic era white historians described, it was the only period in which democracy existed in the South. This stunning fact was the reason the history books had to lie because to tell the truth would have acknowledged the Negroes' capacity to govern and fitness to build a finer nation in a creative relationship with poor whites.


With the completion of his book Black Reconstruction, despite its towering contributions, despite his advanced age, Dr. DuBois was still not ready to accept a deserved rest in peaceful retirement. His dedication to freedom drove him on as relentlessly in his seventies as it did in his twenties. He had already encompassed three careers. Beginning as a pioneer sociologist, he had become an activist to further mass organization. The activist had then transformed himself into an historian. By the middle of the twentieth century, when imperialism and war arose once more to imperil humanity, he became a peace leader. He served as chairman of the Peace Information Bureau and, like the Rev. William Sloane Coffin and Dr. Benjamin Spock of today, he found himself indicted by the government and harried by reactionaries. Undaunted by obstacles and repression, with his characteristic fortitude he fought on. Finally in 1961 with Ghana's independence established, an opportunity opened to begin the writing of an African Encyclopedia, and in his ninety third year he emigrated to Ghana to begin new intellectual labors. In 1963 death finally came to this most remarkable man.


It is axiomatic that he will be remembered for his scholarly contributions and organizational attainments. These monuments are imperishable. But there were human qualities less immediately visible that are no less imperishable.


Dr. DuBois was a man possessed of priceless dedication to his people. The vast accumulation of achievement and public recognition were not for him pathways to personal affluence and a diffusion of identity. Whatever else he was, with his multitude of careers and professional titles, he was first and always a black man. He used his richness of talent as a trust for his people. He saw that Negroes were robbed of so many things decisive to their existence that the theft of their history seemed only a small part of their losses. But Dr. DuBois knew that to lose one's history is to lose one's self-understanding and with it the roots for pride. This drove him to become a historian of Negro life, and the combination of his unique zeal and intellect rescued for all of us a heritage whose loss would have profoundly impoverished us.


Dr. DuBois the man needs to be remembered today when despair is all too prevalent. In the years he lived and fought, there was far more justification for frustration and hopelessness, and yet his faith in his people never wavered. His love and faith in Negroes permeate every sentence of his writings and every act of his life. Without these deeply rooted emotions his work would have been arid and abstract. With them his deeds were a passionate storm that swept the filth of falsehood from the pages of established history.


He symbolized in his being his pride in the black man. He did not apologize for being black and, because of it, handicapped. Instead he attacked the oppressor for the crime of stunting black men. He confronted the establishment as a model of militant manhood and integrity. He defied them and, though they heaped venom and scorn on him, his powerful voice was never stilled.


And yet, with all his pride and spirit he did not make a mystique out of blackness. He was proud of his people, not because their color endowed them with some vague greatness but because their concrete achievements in struggle had advanced humanity, and he saw and loved progressive humanity in all its hues, black, white, yellow, red, and brown.


Above all he did not content himself with hurling invectives for emotional release and then to retire into smug, passive satisfaction. History had taught him it is not enough for people to be angry--the supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force. It was never possible to know where the scholar DBois ended and the organizer DuBois began. The two qualities in him were a single, unified force. This life style of Dr. DuBois is the most important quality this generation of Negroes needs to emulate.


The educated Negro who is not really part of us and the angry militant who fails to organize us have nothing in common with Dr. DuBois. He exemplified black power in achievement and he organized black power in action. It was no abstract slogan to him.


We cannot talk of Dr. DuBois without recognizing that he was a radical all of his life. Some people would like to ignore the fact that he was a Communist in his later years. It is worth noting that Abraham Lincoln warmly welcomed the support of Karl Marx during the Civil War and corresponded with him freely. In contemporary life the English speaking world has no difficulty with the fact that Sean O'Casey was a literary giant of the twentieth century and a Communist or that Pablo Neruda is generally considered the greatest living poet though he also served in the Chilean Senate as a Communist. It is time to cease muting the fact that Dr. DuBois was a genius and chose to be a Communist. Our irrational, obsessive anti-communism has led us into too many quagmires to be retained as if it were a mode of scientific thinking.


In closing, it would be well to remind white America of its debt to Dr. DuBois. When they corrupted Negro history they distorted American history, because Negroes are too big a part of the building of this nation to be written out of it without destroying scientific history. White America, drenched with lies about Negroes, has lived too long in a fog of ignorance. Dr. DuBois gave them a gift of truth for which they should eternally be indebted to him.


Negroes have heavy tasks today. We were partially liberated and then re-enslaved. We have to fight again on old battlefields, but our confidence is greater, our vision is clearer, and our ultimate victory surer because of the contributions a militant, passionate black giant left behind him.


Dr. DuBois has left us but he has not died. The spirit of freedom is not buried in the grave of the valiant. He will be with us when we go to Washington in April to demand our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


We have to go to Washington because they have declared an armistice in the war on poverty while squandering billions to expand a senseless, cruel, unjust war in Vietnam. We will go there, we will demand to be heard, and we will stay until the administration responds. If this means forcible repression of our movement, we will confront it, for we have done this before. If this means scorn or ridicule, we will embrace it, for that is what America's poor now receive. If it means jail, we accept it willingly, for the millions of poor already are imprisoned by exploitation and discrimination.


Dr. DuBois would be in the front ranks of the peace movement today. He would readily see the parallel between American support of the corrupt and despised Thieu-Ky regime and Northern support to the Southern slave masters in 1876. The CIA scarcely exaggerates, indeed it is surprisingly honest, when it calculates for Congress that the war in Vietnam can persist for one hundred years. People deprived of their freedom do not give up-Negroes have been fighting more than a hundred years, and even if the date of full emancipation is uncertain, what is explicitly certain is that the struggle for it will endure.


In conclusion let me say that Dr. DuBois' greatest virtue was his committed empathy with all the oppressed and his divine dissatisfaction with all forms of injustice. Today we are still challenged to be dissatisfied. Let us be dissatisfied until every man can have food and material necessities for his body, culture and education for his mind, freedom and until rat-infested, vermin-filled slums will be a thing of a dark past and every family will have a decent, sanitary house in which to live. Let us be dissatisfied until the empty stomachs of Mississippi are filled and the idle industries of Appalachia are revitalized. Let us be dissatisfied until brotherhood is no longer a meaningless word at the end of a prayer but the first order of business on every legislative agenda. Let us be dissatisfied until our brother of the Third World- Asia, Africa, and Latin America-will no longer be the victim of imperialist exploitation, but will be lifted from the long night of poverty, illiteracy, and disease. Let us be dissatisfied until this pending cosmic elegy will be transformed into a creative psalm of peace and "justice will roll down like waters from a mighty stream."


The Centennial Address delivered by Nobel Laureate Dr. Martin Luther King at Carnegie Hall in New York City, February 23, 1968. The occasion was the International Cultural Evening sponsored by FREEDOMWAYS Magazine on the 100th birthday of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois and launching an "International Year" (1968) honoring his life and works.

Minnesota legislators and the governor, working in cahoots with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, try to pull a fast one on the Minimum Wage issue; they promised a living wage but deliver increased poverty.

I have circulated this letter today about the Minimum Wage to a diverse group of people including Minnesota State Legislators:

I know, given the circus atmosphere surrounding Minnesota state politics, trying to figure out what these politicians are doing with the Minimum Wage is really hard.

I get different answers from different legislators.

They want this confusion so they can pull off a bogus Minimum Wage increase.

This three tiered crap with the Minimum Wage is wrong when it comes to employer size. 

The lower "training wages" can be lived with provided its for a short duration of time (3 to 6 months) which corresponds to the employer's current probationary period but wrong if it is just giving the employer lower wages for a year or two or more. By defining the jobs as "training" this also provides huge tax breaks for employers.

As far as the tables they want to use this is a joke because what they are doing is tying the Minimum Wage increases (there would also be severe decreases) to two things: a.) production and b.) consumption, instead of the actual prices of goods and services as reflected by the Consumer Price Index. In other words, because people earning more have restricted purchasing power, the same or worse restrictions would be placed on the lowest paid workers meaning they will have even less access to goods and services than they have now.

In other words, as long as the capitalist economy is going downhill, the Minimum Wage would remain very low, and the worse the economy gets the lower the Minimum Wage goes.

What this means is the lowest paid workers will bear the brunt of economic collapse.

All of this is part of a strategy by business to drive down the overall standard of living of working people--- more enforced austerity.

They don't expect working people to be able to figure out what they are doing.

This is something like Alan Greenspan would want for the Minimum Wage.

Do they mention the names of any of the "think tanks" they are getting their information from?

What the Democrats with their super-majority are trying to pull off here is just plain mean and cruel they need to be exposed but it is going to be difficult to expose this because I doubt most legislators are competent (and intelligent enough) to understand what is going on here. This is all part of Mark Dayton's "secret" deal with the Chamber of Commerce to keep the Minimum Wage below $8.00. Knock off 15 cents to 50 cents an hour and this is where the "compromise" will bring the final Minimum Wage "increase" in at. Democrats "negotiating" and "compromising" with themselves at the expense of working people when the Republicans have no say about anything given the MN DFL's super-majority: a Democratic governor, Democratic majority in the State House and a Democratic majority in the State Senate... Democrats controlling almost every major city council and county commissions.

Even sadder is the fact that those pushing "15 or fight" don't understand any of this.

What is happening here is a perfect example of what happens to the working class when the left can't get past its sectarianism and go after the employers instead of one another.

I have been trying to put together a "letter to the editor" in about 250 words explaining what they are trying to get away with but I haven't figured out how to do this yet. Maybe someone else can. But, the other problem we have is the unwillingness of so many activists to take on these Democrats out of fear they will be retaliated against.

I tried to get a woman sympathetic to labor from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota to write an Op-Ed piece for the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press exposing all of this and she won't do it because she doesn't have tenure.

The silence on the part of the Minnesota AFL-CIO is just disgusting and shameful and shows just what kind of unprincipled dim-wits head up that outfit and their "allies" in these foundation-funded think-tanks.

I have shared our correspondence with others because I think it is very important that people know how these Democrats are betraying working people on this Minimum Wage issue--- I don't think any of these people should be allowed to get off the hook by saying they didn't understand or know what is going on.

The entire process has been intended to restrict and limit worker/citizen participation while hidden behind a thin veneer of "democracy"--- holding hearings in places people could not even find, refusing to provide video/audio transcripts of hearings, failing to provide adequate photo copies for the public and media attending, the refusal and unwillingness of legislators to communicate in a timely manner with constituents, the dishonest manner in which the Minimum Wage is being discussed in relation to everything under the sun EXCEPT for actual "cost-of-living" factors.  

That the Democratic Party and the unions would allow a stupid bozo like Senator Tom Bakk who claims to be a voice for labor together with a billionaire like Governor Mark Dayton whose wealth has been almost wholly derived from paying workers poverty wages and then meets in secrecy with the Business Caucus of the Democratic Party (the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce) can get away with this all under the "watchful eyes" of a "free" media is just the epitome of what betrayal looks like.

Even a very impoverished Indian Nation like the Leech Lake Indian Nation, with its tribal council, the Leech Lake Business Organization recently enacting, under tremendous citizen pressure, a Minimum Wage of $10.25 an hour for all of its employees--- including its casino workers... no hideous strings attached.

The levers of government should be used to improve the standard-of-living for everyone; not to assure employers this huge pool of cheap labor, which, in conjunction with massive unemployment, drives all wages down more effectively than any union-busting policeman's billy club.

We need to return to the original purpose of the Minimum Wage which was intended to protect working people from greedy employers--- not enable this important legislation to be used by employers to derive super-profits from the exploitation of working people.

These politicians are trying to tie the Minimum Wage to the Implicit Price Deflator and National Data for Personal Consumption Expenditures from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis instead of the COLA and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.


These same legislators just passed a huge tax cut for the very wealthy together with a largely insignificant tax cut for the well-heeled upper middle class to shut these selfish people up and keep the campaign coffers filled instead of the "tax the rich" that was promised.


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