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...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Testimony of Green Party activist Liane Gale before the Minnesota Select Committee on Living Wage Jobs.

I gave testimony yesterday at the H.F. 92 (Minimum Wage Increase) Conference Committee:

"I would like to remind those members of the committee, who belong to the DFL that the DFL platform supports a minimum wage that keeps pace with inflation and provides full time workers with an income above the poverty level. To be not poor, people need to earn enough money to afford them the necessities for a dignified life. This is certainly not possible with the current state minimum wage, it is not possible with the $7.75 senate version and it is also not possible with the $9.50 house version. These are all poverty wages. Again, even $9.50/hr would not put an end to poverty wages here in MN.

As Rep. Winkler mentioned yesterday, 40% of MN jobs pay $14 or less. Let’s be honest. These are all poverty wages and they all contribute to rising inequality, a major issue in the U.S. For example, you may be familiar with the statistics that 95% of income gains in the last five years went to the top 1%. Inequality continues to increase and the modest minimum wage increases that are being discussed here and elsewhere will not reverse this trend.

I am currently taking an online class “Sustainable Development” taught by Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned professor of economics, a leader in sustainable development and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He considers” social inclusion” as a pillar of sustainability. Inequality is not sustainable.

I am asking the question “who allows the economy to exploit people and the planet? Isn’t it time we put the economy in service of the people, while at the same time dealing respectfully with the planet? Isn’t it time we put people before profit? I am also asking the representatives here: Where does your primary responsibility lie? Is it with the people, or is it with corporations?

The DFL has a rare super-majority. Governor Dayton is on the record with his support of living wages. Minnesota has long been considered a progressive bellweather. You have a unique opportunity here to do something significant for 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 would be entirely in your power to enact the Minnesota Living Wage Act of 2014."

For a living Minimum Wage.

Many articles are being written about the Minimum Wage. Most of these articles are nothing but nonsense as far as working people are concerned--- or should be concerned.

Most of the articles in the mainstream media only have one purpose: to confuse and disorient working people.

But even articles in the alternative media often fail to get it right.

I think some of the articles makes a lot of good points but have some very faulty conclusions in my opinion.

The number one problem is these articles mainly compare the Minimum Wage to everything except the actual "cost-of-living" and this is the one and only thing that really counts.

Also, I don't agree that 60% of the industrial wages is what we should be aiming for.

First of all because industrial wages are falling mainly because of concession contracts--- even in Canada, but worse here in the U.S. where labor is much weaker.

Second; because everyone has the right to real living wage jobs no matter what those jobs are.

Third; most industrial workers can't get by without using at least several credit cards usually always nearly maxed out.

Working class debt is not even part of the discussion at this point--- because you can purchase what you need to live on credit does this mean you are receiving a real living wage? Of course not.

Studies show most working class families are only a paycheck or two or three away from poverty and often bankruptcy and losing their homes and cars.

At least Canadians don't experience medical bankruptcies but even excluding this, most working class families in the United States and Canada are living at, or very near, poverty--- when actual cost-of-living factors are considered.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics is the most thorough and credible government agency in the world when it comes to tracking actual "cost-of-living" factors which the U.S. Congress has required them to call the "Consumer Price Index" which includes eight categories with each of those eight categories having 200 or so sub-categories.

You won't find most U.S. or Canadian politicians, nor even labor leaders, talking about "cost-of-living;" and, in my opinion, this is why we haven't been able to win a Minimum Wage that is a real living wage.

I think this concept is very important:

We shouldn't be talking about a living wage as if it is not connected to the Minimum Wage.

We need to be very clear: We want the Minimum Wage to be a real living wage. If anyone disagrees with this let them have the moral, political and intellectual courage to argue otherwise.

The whole idea is to win, through struggle, a Minimum Wage that is a real living wage and the ONLY way to accomplish this is to legislatively tie the Minimum Wage to all "cost-of-living" factors, then determine the LEGITIMATE inflation rate and recalculate for inflation quarterly with periodic increases in the Minimum Wage just for the sole purpose of improving the Standard of Living of working people.

The fact of the matter is, the working class has one inflation rate and the wealthy quite another. Inflation doesn't matter to anyone if you have the money to purchase whatever you want. Have you ever heard a wealthy person complain about the price of hamburger or a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread or the price of gas or electricity or the cost of heating their home?

I challenge anyone to tell me there is any other way to arrive at a just Minimum Wage other than tying it to "cost-of-living."

In fact, the greatest advances in union organizing have been achieved when the unions focused on wages in relation to "cost-of-living."

Employers cringe when they hear wages compared to "cost-of-living." And they should because when workers fight for wages in line with "cost-of-living" business profits are going to be diminished--- should we care about their profits? Hell no! Because workers create the wealth.