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, April 2, 2015

Are you fed up?

I’m fed up; are you?

We the People need to come together if we are going to turn this country around. We need to bring our views into the proverbial public square which Wall Street has been monopolizing for far too long.

Some people, mostly well-heeled intellectuals, have initiated a campaign around the need for a national dialog concerning an alternative to this problem-plagued system. The system is capitalism in its most moribund, brutal, bestial and barbaric stage of imperialism where Wall Street monopolies dominate the government from local to national

We need a “Prosperity Economics, An Economy For All.” Most people know this as socialism. As far as I can tell, socialism is the only alternative to capitalism.

We need to create discussion about the direction of organized labor and the kind of country we all want to live in where peace, social justice and economic justice for working people prevail.

Democracy --- as well as social, economic and environmental justice --- requires no less than a full and broad discussion of important concerns and issues.

At a time when democracy needs to be expanded it is being smothered by big money, government decrees and sheer arrogance on the part of politicians and prosecutorial police repression.

We need to advocate for “prosperity economics; an economy that works for everyone.”

There are several very basic facts left out of discussions in our country when it comes to using the wealth of our Nation created by workers.

Politicians seeking election are very hazy, vague and nebulous as to what the concrete and specific goals and objectives are to be and how the wealth of our Nation will be spent.

The politicians try to “frame” issues in a way to trick us into giving up our votes thinking we are actually going to be getting something of substance in return for our votes when they have no intention at all in solving our many problems. There is a never-ending bunch of over-paid “pundits” who are nothing but liars and professional tricksters. Are we not entitled to something in return for our votes?

Millionaire labor “leaders” are equally as vague about what kind of movement and struggle it will take for the working class --- organized and unorganized together --- to create a prosperity economics for us all. They are all hot air; bark without bite but they aren’t shy about living off our union dues.

Because of the lack of rank-and-file empowerment within the working class, we do not hear a clear articulation that our main enemy is Wall Street. Politics and working class activism haven’t risen to reflect the fact that we, as working people, need to be engaged in a social, political and economic struggle for power with the intent, of not just curbing Wall Street’s power and influence, but ending Wall Street's dominance over every aspect of our lives --- in our schools, at work and in our communities.

Let's state right up front --- workers create all wealth, but workers have had no say in how this wealth is distributed and used. This needs to change. Democracy requires no less. Without economic democracy there is no democracy at all.

We have no say in how our tax dollars are spent. Most people want peace; what we get are costly wars. This is not democracy.

Let's also put it right out there before the American people that militarism and wars are squandering the wealth of our Nation to such a large extent we don't have the resources to solve our many domestic problems.

These dirty imperialist wars, as Mark Twain correctly called them, are killing our jobs and our standard of living just like they kill people.

Militarism and wars are a major contributing factor to the world-wide collapsing capitalist economy. No nation can continue to endlessly squander the wealth of the nation to prepare for wars and to fight wars. This is sheer insanity. We might as well be dumping the wealth of our Nation into the deepest depths of the oceans.

Wall Street's greedy drive for profits results in wars which exacerbate our problems.

Detroit goes broke; the rest of our cities are sure to follow as Wall Street wallows in profits.

Working people go without adequate health care. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies get fabulously wealthy. Shorter work weeks/longer vacations with no cut in pay would create jobs and would keep us healthier, too. Working ten, twelve and fourteen hours a day certainly can’t be healthy for human beings while the resulting unemployment ruins lives and wrecks families.

Our public institutions like public education fall apart, crumble and collapse just like our roads, highways and bridges because we are constantly feeding a war machine intended to fight never-ending wars waged to protect Wall Street's interests, assets and profits abroad.

Prosperity for all begins with the recognition peace is required to achieve full employment and a Basic Income Guarantee for every citizen.

Full employment is about the government seeing to it that jobs are created for all at real living wages. It is about putting people to work by creating massive universal social programs like a National Public Health Care System and a National Public Child Care System all financed, administered and delivered just like public education but with adequate funding instead of job destroying legislation and trade agreements like the TPP and TTIP as detrimental to our health and jobs as are these wars. Without providing real health care reform the price of health care goes up when the intent should be to the push the real prices down while providing adequate health care for all.

Eliminating militarism and wars eliminates the largest carbon footprint contributing to global warming and climate change. The Military Industrial Complex wastes our precious resources in a huge, monstrous complex that ruins our environment and our health --- power generation for mining and manufacturing. Resources like oil and gas are required to fight wars. Preparation for war, and war itself, creates a mammoth sized carbon footprint destroying our living environment while creating massive joblessness and poverty and ill health for our people as our air, water and land gets polluted. Rebuilding in the aftermath of these wars is a double whammy inflicted upon people and Mother Nature. The stupidity of destroying what precious human labor has created--- sheer insanity.

There are only two sources of wealth: Labor and Mother Nature. Wall Street exploits Labor and rapes Mother Nature. Common sense should tell us this can’t continue.

The Wall Street selected and bribed politicians talk about “jobs, jobs, jobs” when their hidden agenda is really about “profits, profits, profits” and “war, war, war”… more war, more profits for Wall Street’s merchants of death and destruction… so Bob Dylan’s song “Masters of War” goes.  War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

The time has come to make politicians legislatively responsible for full employment and peace because prosperity economics requires: peace and full employment --- a healthy people and a healthy environment.

There is no reason for poverty here in the wealthiest country in the world. If we can’t end poverty here in the United States, how can much poorer countries put an end to poverty? It is all about priorities.

We need a government that provides jobs.

We need a government that will assure a Basic Income Guarantee for every citizen just as our own revolutionary hero, Thomas Paine, advocated.

The central goal of the American labor and working class movement needs to be the building of an economy for all that is inseparably linked to peace, full employment and a Basic Income Guarantee which must include:

A Minimum Wage tied to all cost of living factors indexed to inflation. Jobs and a living income for all.

A National Public Health Care System… twelve-million new jobs.

A National Public Child Care System… three-million new jobs.

Protect, defend and expand Social Security programs.

Legislation prohibiting lockouts and scabbing.

The repeal and rescinding of “At-Will Employment” legislation --- the primary obstacle to worker empowerment and union organizing needs to become a priority.

Price roll-backs and Price controls are needed for food, medication, gas, home heating fuels and electricity.

A healthy economy means a healthy living environment and a healthy planet.

We need a quality of life index as called for in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The two-party system is a trap for working people. We must free ourselves from the Democrats and Republicans. A working class based progressive, populist people's party like the old socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party of Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson and John Bernard is required if we are going to have a prosperity economics that works for all of us.

We can learn a thing or two about health care and politics from our Canadian Brothers and Sisters who are now challenging Wall Street and it junior partner in crime, Bay Street, for political power.

We are now at a crossroads

We will continue to have an economy that serves Wall Street or we will create the kind of economy that works for the rest of us --- we can't have both, just like we can't have both wars and full employment.

I would encourage the use of what was the proposed Full Employment Act of 1945 pushed by the left-wing led CIO unions and authored by liberal Texas Congressman Wright Patman and the associated hearing testimonies to broaden this discussion. You can check it all out here:

I also call to your attention the excellent Op-Ed piece by journalist Bob Herbert, “Losing Our Way.” This was his last piece published in the New York Times (March 25, 2011 [See full article at very end]), in he which declares:

"The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare, but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.”
As a trade unionist, I am asking:

What ever happened to William Winpisinger's "Rebuild America Act" and the “peace dividend”? The AFL-CIO should bring back to life its Committee on Conversion launched under the initiative of William Winpisinger --- from military production to producing for human needs; swords into plowshares is what was advocated by the International Association of Machinist's former President.

Where is this advocacy for peace and reordering our Nation's priorities now?

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my views. I thought it was important that as a working class activist and concerned trade unionist I speak up and bring forward an alternative perspective.

As a working class youth I fought to end that dirty war in Vietnam.

As a rank-and-file worker and often an elected union leader and union organizer, I have fought to expand the rights and defend the livelihoods of working people. I felt now as we approach another election this was an appropriate time to share my views. We are living in a very dangerous world with wars and crumbling economies all around us. Wall Street is trying to solve its problems at the expense of working class families while making even larger profits in the process of taking advantage of our problems.

We have been forced into a crisis no one wants to talk about: A Cost-of-Living Crisis. Anyone who doesn’t understand what I am talking about has never had to make a choice about what to buy in a grocery store or tried to figure out how to pay the winter’s heating bill or to pay for health insurance or child care. Prices for goods and services soar; wages stay the same or go down.

We need a broad-based campaign to win a “21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity” as part of a populist agenda which would include the kinds of reforms which I have described. Together we can win.

Let’s talk about the politics and economics of livelihood from a rank-and-file working class perspective for real change.

I’m fed up with Wall Street’s agenda and I am ready to move on to the “next” agenda which I believe to be a socialist agenda which includes fighting and struggling for reforms working class families require to get beyond these systemic problems and on the road to socialism. Are you fed up, too? If so, let’s get our two-cents into this discussion.

In solidarity and struggle,
Alan L. Maki

Please check out my Blog, The Podunk Blog:

Contact me by e-mail:

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Feel free to write me at:

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Something to think about: Instead of free health care and child care which would create millions of decent new jobs we get warfare. This just isn’t right; especially when we could put everyone to work solving the problems of the people. What happened to the only justified war; the war on poverty?

Another thing to think about: Minnesota politicians had a blitz to shove a football stadium, a billion dollar plus boon-doggle, down our throats from which the billionaire owners of the Minnesota Vikings will profit. But they won’t mount a similar blitz to end the scourge of poverty; what the hell is going on here?

Losing Our Way

So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home.

Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living.

Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

A stark example of the fundamental unfairness that is now so widespread was in The New York Times on Friday under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.

As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You can understand how ordinary workers might look at this cozy corporate-government arrangement and conclude that it is not fully committed to the best interests of working people.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.

This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I’m off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years. I can be reached going forward at: bobherbert88@gmail.com
What you can do:

* Gather a few friends around your kitchen table to discuss all of this

* Share this leaflet with your friends.

* Write a “Letter to the Editor”

* Express your views often. What good is any discussion about the problems we are experiencing if the views of workers are not included in a discussion about the solutions?

Wall Street is very powerful. Wall Street is our common enemy. Individually, as workers, we are like one little rain drop; we don’t amount to much. But, together with a common agenda of shared concerns and united movement we become a torrential downpour.