Saturday, September 28, 2013

We Need a Living-Wage! Guest Blog by Alan Maki

  • We have been hearing a lot about attacks on Social Security and the Minimum Wage.
    Labor has not had the proper response.

    Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO, hailed Jerry Brown increasing the Minimum Wage in California to $10.00 an hour--- but, we needed to read the small print: $10.00 an hour beginning in 2016!

    Anyone care to explain exactly what $10.00 an hour will buy you in a state like California with such a high cost of living?

    And the cost of living will be even higher when this $10.00 an hour kicks in in three years--- 2016.

    How much does a loaf of bread cost in California?

    How much is a gallon of milk?

    How much is a package of hot dogs or a dozen eggs?

    How much is peanut butter?

    How much is rent?

    How much is gas?

    How much is electricity?

    How much is college tuition?

    How much will Obamacare cost?

    Why isn't anyone placing this $10.00 an hour and the paltry increases in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 in perspective of what a working class family can purchase with the Minimum Wage?
    None of these politicians, the over-paid pundits or the over-paid labor leaders want to talk about "cost-of-living" and "standard-of-living."

    Games are being played for political expediency by both Democrats and Republicans trying to gain an edge, as usual, at the expense of working people.

    Here in Minnesota we have the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's leader in the State Senate, Tom Bakk, who boasts in his campaign literature that he was an officer in the Building Trades Unions calling for a pathetically miserly "increase" in the Minimum Wage opposing the billionaire DFL Governor, Mark Dayton's call for increasing the Minimum Wage a dollar an hour more than what Bakk wants it to be--- Bakk is crying the blues for the hospitality industry, billionaire Dayton--- an heir to the Dayton-Hudson-Target Store fortune--- wants to make sure Target Stores get to keep paying employees a poverty wage as profits soar.

    And then, tossed into the mix, there is Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson calling for the Minimum Wage to be raised to a miserly $10.00 an hour. Knutson knows better. Knutson comes from a family of Socialists and Communists who taught her about "cost-of-living" and "standard-of-living" yet she kowtows to a bunch of Dumb Donkeys.

    Many years ago, John Sweeney, then President of the AFL-CIO wrote a book, "America Needs A Raise." The AFL-CIO never mobilized the rank-and-file to win a raise.

    What has happened to the difference between what U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren says the Minimum Wage would be today had it just kept up with inflation--- over $22.00 an hour--- and what the federal Minimum Wage is today: $7.25 an hour?

    This has been sheer super-profits the Wall Street crowd has derived from the exploitation of working people.

    The only way to get this wealth back is to tax the rich to pay for universal social programs which create jobs from which we will all benefit--- universal health care and universal child care along with other government jobs programs.

    No one from the two parties is talking about the politics and economics of livelihood when it comes to the Minimum Wage or Social Security--- both of which are inseparably linked... as goes the Minimum Wage, so goes Social Security.

    In California, Cindy Sheehan is running on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket for Governor and she is pushing a working class agenda which includes a real living wage and a real living income for everyone.

    If you want a miserly poverty Minimum Wage, Social Security will continue to pay out a pathetic poverty income. You get out what you pay in. The more people earn the more they pay into Social Security. Living incomes during working years means a living income in retirement years. This is just plain old common sense which gets ignored as the over-paid political hacks and pundits sow nothing but confusion surrounding the Minimum Wage and Social Security.
    Again, and this needs to be stressed; none of these politicians, none of the over-paid pundits and none of the over-paid labor leaders want to talk about "cost-of-living" and "standard-of-living."

    Why not?

    Aren't these the main issues of concern to working people?

    Because we don't have a national political party like California's Peace and Freedom Party or Canada's socialist New Democratic Party backed by organized labor bringing these concepts into the proverbial "public square" which democracy requires if we are going to find solutions to our problems.

    Pay a worker poverty wages and you have a working class family living in poverty. Any school child understands this.

    The best way to protect and expand Social Security is through Full Employment with real living wage jobs and with a Minimum Wage that is a real living wage based on--- and legislatively tied to--- all cost-of-living factors indexed to inflation with regular increases to constantly improve the living standards of working people which would have the impact of pushing all wages and living standards up for all working people. This would result in increased payments into the Social Security Trust Fund which should be held and managed by a National Public Bank and these funds would then be available to help finance a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity"--- the solution to unemployment and any financial problems plaguing Social Security; everyone works and pays in, everyone get a real living income out upon retirement which should be at age 55 for all workers.

    What the working class needs to get behind is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity;" legislation that would be brought forward by a new working class based progressive people's party like labor has in Canada with its socialist New Democratic Party.
    I do not understand why Richard Trumka and the fifty-seven members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council would piddle around with these Democratic Party politicians who are nothing but whores for Wall Street vultures and parasites who are cutting social programs and forcing austerity measures down our throats to pay for what Mark Twain called "dirty imperialist wars."

    We need to ask ourselves:

    How is Barack Obama's Wall Street war economy working for us?

    Chances are, most working people will tell you that it isn't working out very well for them.

    In fact, these dirty wars are killing our jobs just like they are killing people and with millions of workers unemployed that means fewer people paying into Social Security.

    We need to put America back to work as Stewart Acuff has suggested and the only way to do this is through massive public works jobs programs.

    The American people need a National Public Child Care System which would create another 5-million new jobs providing working class families--- and all families--- with free child care.
    Our system of public education works just fine. It was organized labor and the working class which fought for our system of public education which creates millions of jobs--- National Public Health Care and National Public Child Care would be based on the public education model.

    A National Public Health Care System would create some 15-million new jobs providing the American people with free health care through a network of community and neighborhood clinics; instead of a network of health care clinics.

    The Democrats and Republicans are squandering our taxes and resources maintaining over 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil.

    Over one-hundred years after the Spanish American War we still have U.S. troops occupying the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. These dirty imperialist wars don't come cheap and the expensive, undemocratic occupations never end.

     We need the restoration of the WPA, CCC and CETA--- these three public works programs combined would create well over ten-million new jobs.
    Paying for all of this would come from "peace dividends" as we end these dirty wars and shut down these foreign military bases. If this isn't enough then tax the hell out of the rich--- make those Forbes 400 Billionaires pay through the nose until they cry.

    The wealth being squandered on these dirty wars and that extreme, obscene wealth being horded by these millionaires and billionaires is all wealth that we as working people have created.

    We need a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would contain all of this. By putting America to work this is the way we protect, defend and expand Social Security.

    Where are the voices of Richard Trumka and the 57 members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council when it comes to supporting such legislation?

    We need more than Richard Trumka's bark if we are going to challenge Wall Street for political and economic power--- we need to fight in a way that these Wall Street bribed politicians feel our bite.

    We placed before Richard Trumka and the 57 member AFL-CIO's Executive Council, the delegates to the National Convention, the State Feds and local labor councils this statement upon invitation to participate in the discussion and we haven't heard back a word from one single member of the Executive Council or Richard Trumka... we are asking working people to check this out to see if it doesn't make more sense to advocate for a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" instead of going along to get along with a bunch of Dumb Donkeys:

    Sisters and Brothers, Fellow Workers;

    Uniting People (UP) is a new national organization for Peace, Equality, Full Employment, Universal Health Care and Protection of the Environment. We appreciate the invitation extended by the AFL-CIO to all people and organizations to comment on its White Paper, “Prosperity Economics, Building An Economy For All” by Jacob S. Hacker and Nate Loewentheil, intended to create discussion about the direction of organized labor and the kind of country we all want to live in where peace, social and economic justice for working people prevail.

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

    We agree with the concept of “prosperity economics” by “building an economy that works for everyone.” There are several very basic facts left out of this “White Paper” and it is very hazy, vague and nebulous as to what our concrete and specific goals and objectives are to be and 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.

    The “White Paper” does not clearly articulate our main enemy: Wall Street. The “White Paper” doesn't reflect the fact that we, as working people, are engaged in a social, political and economic struggle for power with the intent to replace 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.
    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 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 use the wealth of its nation to prepare for wars and to fight wars. This is sheer insanity.

    Wall Street's greedy drive for profits results in wars which exacerbates 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 workweeks/longer vacations with no cut in pay create jobs and would keep us healthier, too.

    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 assets and profits.

    Prosperity for all begins with the recognition peace is required to achieve full employment.
    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 Medicare for All, not job destroying legislation like Obama-care as detrimental to our health and jobs as wars without providing real health care reform while pushing the price of health care up instead of its stated intent to push prices down.

    Eliminating militarism and wars eliminates the largest carbon footprint contributing to global warming and climate change as the Military Industrial Complex wastes our precious resources in a huge, monstrous complex that ruins our environment--- power generation, mining, manufacturing, the resources like oil and gas 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.

    The Wall Street selected politicians talk about “jobs, jobs, jobs” when their hidden agenda is really “profits, profits, profits” and “war, war, and more war.”

    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.

    Therefore, we propose that a 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 and full employment which must include:

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

    Medicare for All. Protect, defend and expand Social Security programs.

    Legislation prohibiting lockouts and scabbing. Repeal of “At-Will Employment” legislation--- the primary obstacle to worker empowerment and union organizing.

    Price controls are needed for food, 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.

    The two-party system is a trap for working people. We must free ourselves from the Democrats and Republicans. A working class based people's party 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.

    We are now at a crossroads.

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

    We encourage the use of the proposed Full Employment Act of 1945 pushed by the CIO unions and authored by liberal Texas Congressman Wright Patman and the associated hearing testimonies to broaden this discussion:;seq=10;view=1up

    We also call to your attention the excellent Op-Ed piece by Bob Herbert, “Losing Our Way,” his last piece in the New York Times (March 25, 2011), 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."
    We ask: 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--- from military production to producing for human needs; swords into plowshares is what was advocated by the International Association of Machinist's former President, William Winpisinger. Where is this advocacy for peace and reordering our Nation's priorities now?
    Thank you for allowing us to offer our critique of the AFL-CIO's “White Paper” and our alternative perspectives.

    In solidarity and struggle. Uniting People (UP) for peace, equality, full employment, universal health care and protection of the environment.


    Contact by e-mail:

    Finding solutions to our problems means building powerful movements backed by our own political party.

    We need to get thousands of Americans to endorse the idea of a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity."

    This means creating neighborhood and community organizations to go out and educate, organize and unite people into a powerful movement.

    Meetings, petitions, letters to the editor, tabling, educational picket-lines, demonstrations.

    Most important, we need to talk about all of this with our friends, neighbors and fellow workers where ever we find people.

    Let's really defend and protect Social Security and make the Minimum Wage a real living wage.

    Let's talk about the politics and economics of livelihood for a change.

    As Stewart Acuff says, "Every worker needs to become a warrior for justice."
    But, the question needs to be asked:

    Why isn't the AFL-CIO supporting a long-time warrior for peace, social and economic justice running for Governor of California?

    Obama campaigned on a promise to raise the Minimum Wage; instead of forcing employers to pay a living Minimum Wage, Obama forced workers to buy health insurance from private insurance companies--- one more cut in the standard of living of the working class... poverty waged workers and senior citizens hit the hardest in the pocketbook with Obamacare. So much for concern about the Minimum Wage and Social Security.

    -- 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: E-mail:
For more information on Cindy Sheehan's EPIC (End Poverty In California) Campaign go to

1 comment:

  1. Cost of living is the panoramic element and is designed to help multinational corporations and government to design the compensation packages for expats.


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