Monday, October 27, 2008

Make way for the working class to have a say…

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This enormous economic mess we are now experiencing, along with the heavy debt the bankers and the politicians of both major political parties have saddled us with, can be summed up very simply: The capitalists have taken all the profits and left the working class with all the problems.

There are only two sources of wealth: Labor and Mother Nature.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that if you allow labor to be continually exploited and Mother Nature to be repeatedly abused and raped there will be severe consequences.

We are now reaping the consequences for allowing this parasitical monster of state-monopoly capitalism to have spun its web of corruption in the form of a cannibalistic military-financial-industrial complex which now threatens to consume and destroy our families, our communities, our State and our Nation while wreaking havoc in other lands.


The time has come to put the needs of people before corporate profits.

There is only one alternative; for working people to come together to build a new society on the foundation created by the socialists of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party.

We need to fight and struggle to re-establish the liberal, democratic and progressive socialist traditions for which Minnesota is known around the world.

We have complex problems before us… but, any country which can spend trillions of dollars on wars to steal the oil of other nations, and trillions of dollars bailing out corporations and bankers looking for using socialism to solve the problems of their own creation as they have sought to prop up their rotten capitalist system--- which they have touted to the world as being the best--- at our expense… This Nation can now come up with the resources to use socialism to solve the problems for the rest of us, too.

What is good for the goose is, in this case, is even better for the gander.

Let Barack Obama and John McCain volunteer to go off exploring the caves of Afghanistan and Pakistan looking for Osama Bin Laden; we have better things to do.

Our first priority is to end these dirty wars for oil and redeploy those funds--- as we bring home the troops--- to creating a world class socialized health care system which will create millions of new jobs; five messes the money-grubbing Wall Street coupon clippers and their bought and paid for politicians created, all solved at the same time by ending these dirty imperialist wars for oil and regional domination--- we get health care not warfare, and we begin to solve the problem of unemployment--- and when we put people to work in this way we begin to create a new--- functioning--- people oriented, cooperative, socialist economy where democracy will flourish because it will require the full participation and involvement of all people working together in order to succeed.

Second, without further delay, we need to establish the State Bank of Minnesota to accomplish for our State what the State Bank of North Dakota was set up, by workers and farmers, to do--- fund enterprises to keep people working.

Third, we need a minimum wage which is a real living wage arrived at by the calculations of the United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development--- based upon the real figures relating to the real cost of living and this minimum wage should be required by legislation to be updated quarterly right along with the release of all economic indicators to assure a quality life and decent standard of living for all working people and their families.

We have finally come to the point where even the parasitic bankers and the exploiting industrialists now concede that only socialism can bail them out of this horrible mess and solve their problems... capitalism has reached the end of the line and the only thing now to be had from the system is unending human misery.

At the point where society has to pay to clean up the corrupt mess these parasitic predatory lenders and financial institutions have created, this is the time to say:


What tax-payers finance, tax-payers must own.

If Warren Buffett and Goldman Sachs do not like these terms, these greedy pigs should make the trip to their off-shore banks in the Cayman Islands and make withdrawals from their accounts to pay to solve their own problems.

The time has come to roll up our sleeves, come together, and get to work quickly before this entire rotten system collapses---like the I35-W Bridge--- and crushes us all while leaving our children and grandchildren with the clean-up and the bills.

I firmly believe working people can run our country and our state better than any of the big-business politicians being funded by the corporate lobbyists.

Effectively using the tools of public ownership and nationalization combined with modern, scientific planning for the common good, we can put people to work in decent jobs at real living wages... we hear it all the time just before Election Day: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs... but we never see the jobs, and if we do, these jobs are poverty wage jobs no one can live on.

I intend to run for Governor of Minnesota in 2010.

I invite all working people who think that it is possible to create something better than the mess we are now in, to come together and work from where socialist Governors Floyd B. Olson and Elmer A. Benson left off in trying to create a just and decent society where people live and work in harmony with Mother Nature, to join with me, in establishing the Minnesota Party to give the bankers, the mining, forestry and power generating industries along with the industrialists and big-agribusiness a real run for their money.

Let’s run these parasites that have been living off of our labor and destroying Mother Nature right out of our state. We can get along just fine--- even better--- without them.

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council


Candidate for Governor of Minnesota

Former member: Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Central Committee

The crisis of the working class family debt

There is broad consensus among labor unions and progressive organizations, economists and politicians that we need a bottom-up solution to the economic crisis. That is, the priority should be fixing Main Street, not Wall Street. The main proposals include:

1) A moratorium on home foreclosures, and giving bankruptcy courts the power to renegotiate mortgages.

2) Extend unemployment benefits and increase funding for food stamps, heating assistance, and other survival programs.

3) Aid to state and local governments so they can avoid layoffs and reductions in vital services.

4) Rebuilding the infrastructure of America: clean energy, roads, bridges, water systems, schools, and housing, providing good-paying jobs.

Bailing out Wall Street without fixing Main Street is like fixing the cracks in the wall while your foundation is crumbling. The measures listed above, as well as more basic changes, are necessary. But with more than 100,000 families losing their homes each month, I would like to focus on one critical part of the foundation -- stopping foreclosures and keeping families in their homes.

The root of the crisis is that working families have been squeezed from all sides, especially since the recession of 2001. Household income has been falling behind the increasing cost of necessities. The squeeze has been aggravated by the decline of medical coverage and retirement plans, shifting these costs, along with soaring costs for education, food and energy, onto over-strained family budgets.

Many have dealt with this strain by going into debt. They were pushed deeper by the mortgage brokers, real estate agents, appraisers, and credit card vendors, who piled on fees, charges, and hidden interest rates, often based on wildly inflated housing prices. Even when this debt was not the result of outright fraud and conspiracy by the financial and real estate industries, it was in violation of any reasonable banking standards. Financial institutions, staffed by MBAs, PhDs and other highly-trained experts, made loans that no first-year economics student should have approved.

The immediate cause of the financial crisis on Wall Street is this mountain of debt smothering people on Main Street. In simplified form, here is what happens.

● Hard-pressed families fall behind on their mortgage and credit card payments.

● When homeowners can't make payments, the banks foreclose, but the home frequently stands empty and the bank is unable to recover much of the outstanding loan.

● The bank, with less money coming in, has trouble paying other banks and investors that it borrowed money from.

● Those other banks and investors have trouble paying banks and investors they borrowed from.

● Banks, investors, and ordinary businesses are afraid to lend money to other banks, investors and ordinary businesses.

Families owe more on their mortgages and their credit cards than they can ever pay back. And their effort to save their homes and meet creditors' demands is undermining their families, their neighborhoods and the local economy, as family members work multiple jobs and cut back on health care, local purchases, local taxes, utilities, and home maintenance.

The bailout package just approved by Congress doesn't address this problem at all. Homeowners and consumers still have the same debt, still face the same monthly payments. The only change is that the U.S. government has become a collection agent for the banks and investors.

The solution is to reduce the amount that working people owe. Reduce homeowners' and consumers' debt to the level it would be at if reasonable lending standards had been applied in the first place. Conservative practice is that families should pay no more than 25 percent of their income for housing. So a people's bailout plan would mandate that mortgages be reduced so that monthly payments will be 25 percent of household income. But in no case should the debt be for more than the real value of the house, as determined by historical price levels adjusted for inflation. Credit card debt, second mortgages, and home improvement loans, college loans, and medical debt could also be adjusted by similar calculations, to a maximum of 10 percent of household income.

This would not cost the government a penny -- it would force banks and investors to recognize the losses resulting from their own bad judgment and fraudulent practices. Millions of people would still be in their homes, and neighborhoods and local tax bases would be stabilized. And the financial system would be more stable because the banks could now be confident of receiving a steady stream of payments, even though these payments would be less than what they originally expected.

The proposals to revive the economy, listed at the beginning of this article, should still be adopted. The economic stimulus package that was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster a few weeks ago included some of those provisions. And major reform and regulation of the financial industry is necessary; there are some excellent proposals to take over failing banks, regulate the financial industry, and tax financial transactions and exorbitant compensation to control speculation and help pay for the program. But until we clear up the massive, unfair, and often illegal debt that has been fastened on working families, it will act as an anchor dragging down the economy, and Main Street will be haunted by insecurity and misery.

Democratic leaders in Congress had a number of proposals that would have reduced the amount families owe on their mortgages. They were blocked by the Republicans, who don't support any meaningful relief for homeowners.

During the vice presidential debate, Senator Biden expressed support for bankruptcy reform to reduce the amount owed by homeowners, and said that he thought that McCain opposed it. Governor Palin said that Biden was wrong, implying that McCain also supports the measure, and said that McCain is on the side of the people against “the greed and corruption on Wall Street.”

There is a simple test to see if Palin's claim has any substance. Will McCain show leadership and bipartisanship by proposing that Senators Obama and Biden join him in pushing to pass this bankruptcy legislation immediately? The proposal was killed in the Senate last April after encountering “stiff opposition from many Republicans as well as the banking and mortgage loan industries,” according to the New York Times. (April 4, 2008) But with McCain's backing, there should be no problem getting this legislation through Congress now.

Art Perlo ( is chair of the Communist Party’s (CPUSA) Economic Commission.

Detroit labor legend reflects on possibly electing first Black president

Dave Moore

DETROIT, Mich. — These days, as millions nationwide work to elect the first African American president, 96-year-old Dave Moore, longtime labor and community leader, wonders if it’s all just a dream.

“I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but I’ve been Black all my life, and sometimes I don’t know if I’m dreaming,” Moore told the World. He said he was “blown away” at how many white votes Barack Obama won during the primaries and the impressive display of thousands of white voters at Obama rallies across the country.

“When I wake up the next day after the election and Obama wins, then I will know that this country has begun to take a turn for the better,” said Moore.

Born April 6, 1912, as a teenager Moore left what he calls the “slave state of South Carolina” with his family and moved to Detroit. New to the big city, he says he had never seen so many people before hustling and bustling about.

Moore recalls joining a community water polo team as a youth on the city’s East Side, at a time when “colored” and “white” signs were common. His team made it to the finals and traveled across town to a park in a predominantly white area to face an all-white team. Although the park required segregated seating, Moore said the players ignored the rule and sat where they wanted because the mayor of Detroit had declared the city’s public areas open to all. “And we won the city championship,” Moore said proudly.

Moore remembers the Great Depression of the 1930s when people had little food and ate rotten vegetables and fruits to get by. “And we didn’t have heat in the winter so we would use wood from the porch out front to stay warm,” he said. People at that time lived through “hardships, suffering, pain and agony while the fat cats gobbled up all the money.” His parents lost $500 when banks closed. That was a lot of money back then, said Moore. “All of us were suffering like hell.”

Moore became active with the Unemployed Councils, which mobilized people to fight against mass hunger and home evictions. Those experiences taught Moore the importance of unity among Black, white and Latino workers. People came together and rallied for their basic rights against rich employers who left millions out in the cold.

Moore’s most memorable and proudest moment came in 1941 when he was instrumental in organizing workers into the United Auto Workers union at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich. At the time Ford was the third largest industrial giant in the world and 75 percent of the workforce there had been laid off with no public relief. People were dying from cold and hunger.

In 1932 Moore helped lead a hunger march where five union members fell victim to machine guns fired by thugs hired by anti-union Henry Ford. It was the multiracial unity among the workers that overcame the divisions that Ford tried to provoke. That struggle eventually opened the door to the organization of the nation’s auto industry and the founding of the UAW.

Moore was eventually elected to leadership positions at UAW Local 600, the powerful Ford local. Like many others, however, Moore fell victim to McCarthyism and was dismissed from his elected position in 1951. But as McCarthyism waned, he was reinstated in 1963 and was assigned as a national UAW representative. Moore was a founding member of the National Negro Labor Council and served as a legislative assistant to legendary Rep. George Crockett. Later Detroit Mayor Coleman Young appointed Moore the city’s senior citizens director.

Reflecting on the history he has lived and battled through, Moore said the Black community has been hit the hardest with the current economic crisis. “We got a lot of people unemployed today,” he said, adding that many of his neighbors have been laid off from the once booming auto industry. Moore believes the economic meltdown is going to propel Obama to become the first Black president, but “it’s not going to be easy for him.”

During the Depression of the 1930s, President Roosevelt had the people behind him, said Moore. “And that is what Obama needs to do — have the people behind him. I believe the key to Obama’s campaign lies with the working people.”

“I think Obama has the best program, but no matter what happens the fat cats of Wall Street and tycoons of big industry are the ones who control the finances of this country,” he said. “They don’t want to see a movement for unity of all people coming together.”

“It’s a long, long road that working and poor people have to travel but we have to remember this is a capitalist country and the fat cats on Wall Street will do whatever they can to keep it that way. Take a look at this country’s history — big business has always called the shots. I hope Obama goes all the way when he says he’s for change.”

When it comes to fighting for unions, multiracial unity, civil rights and peace, Moore has seen it all, he said — he knows what it means to struggle for a working people’s agenda in victory and defeat. Today, he sees great hope for the future.

“I’d like to see unity of all people one day where racism in this country is behind us,” he said. “I’d like to see a world where people don’t have to worry about starvation or unemployment. Where youngsters can get an education and become contributors to the betterment of society. Where our country’s government truly plays a role to help educate our children in a world based on peace, understanding and brotherhood regardless of race, creed, religion or color.”

Moore is looking forward to seeing a step in that direction with the election of Obama on Nov. 4

CAW's Ken Lewenza: A throwback?

By Michael Hammond, Record staff

I thought it would be a shame not to post this photo of Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza from Thursday's labour rally in front of Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht's office in Kitchener. The photo was taken by Record photographer Mathew McCarthy. I was struck by how easily Lewenza went from calm to passionately loud in half a second (I was right beside a speaker, so maybe it just seemed loud to me). Lewenza then proceeded to deliver a 12-minute speech completely off the cuff. Whether you agree with his politics or not, anyone that has heard this guy speak would be hard pressed to argue that he isn't an effective voice for a certain point of view. It kind of struck me today that he is a speaker along the lines of the labour leaders of decades gone by. He is passionate and not afraid to go on the attack. He really strikes me as a throwback to the firebrand union leaders of decades past.

In the photo, you can see a few kids beside him, one trying his best to shield Lewenza from the rain. Lewenza, ever the shrewd leader, insisted the kids accompany him on the stage, which was the back of a pickup truck. The reason? He said he fears for their generation because the manufacturing industry is disappearing at an alarming rate. The banner behind him says "Manufacturing Matters." Having seen his predecessor Buzz Hargrove speak a number of times, it's not difficult to see why the CAW chose Lewenza as their new president. This guy is intense.


Canadians Have Rejected Harper's Vision, says CAW President

October 15, 2008, 1:41 PM EST


CAW President Ken Lewenza congratulated the majority of Canadian voters who did not support Stephen Harper's uninspiring right-wing vision for the country and held him to a minority government.

"Despite shamelessly manipulating all the powers of incumbency, including pre-election spending announcements and breaking his own law on fixed election dates, Stephen Harper failed to achieve the majority mandate he and his party were looking for," said Lewenza.

"A large majority of Canadians oppose his vision for this country," Lewenza added. "This election has proven that Canadians do not endorse his vision, which means Stephen Harper and his Conservatives will have to work with the opposition parties, focusing on issues that matter most to Canadians."

Lewenza also congratulated CAW members Malcolm Allen who won for the NDP in Welland, Luc Desnoyers who won the seat for the Bloc Quebecois in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, just north of Montreal and NDP MP Peter Stoffer who won in the Sackville-Eastern Shore riding in Nova Scotia. Lewenza also thanked former NDP MP Peggy Nash for her two and a half years of service and progressive voice in the House of Commons, especially most recently as the industry critic for the NDP.

Lewenza noted that Harper ran an incredibly negative campaign which failed to inspire Canadians, remarking that voter turn-out was at an all-time low.

The CAW campaigned hard to prevent a Harper majority in this election, with rallies, protests, newspaper ads and mass leaflet distribution. The union urged Canadians to vote for the candidates with the best chance of defeating a Conservative. This strategy resulted in CAW support for specified candidates from all four of the opposition parties - including NDP candidates, some Liberals, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Bloc Québécois candidates in Québec.

Deepening economic crisis

Safeguard jobs and incomes for Canadians in response to the deepening economic crisis

The Central Executive of the Communist Party of Canada released the following statement this morning in response to the deepening economic crisis:

September 30, 2008

Stephen Harper’s claim that the Canadian economy is on “a solid footing” looks utterly foolish after the staggering fall in stock prices on Monday, Sept. 29. In reality, Canada is on the brink of a “Dirty Thirties” depression, thanks largely to the neo-conservative policies pushed by Harper, Bush, and other advocates of ‘unfettered capitalism.’

The Communist Party of Canada warns that instead of more self-congratulating Tory speeches, the country needs emergency measures to protect working people from the pending economic disaster spreading from our largest trading partner, the United States.

Consider some harsh facts. Exports of goods and services, consumer spending, residential housing construction, and investments in plant and equipment are all declining. The loss of almost 400,000 manufacturing jobs in recent years has left working people struggling to stay afloat, compelled to take low-wage, part-time service sector employment to pay the bills. No wonder that Canadian households now carry $1.25 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.

Meanwhile, corporate profits shot up another 8.3% in the second quarter of this year. Most of this profiteering is the result of higher energy prices – in other words, corporate gouging for gas and for home heating fuel. This feeds the spiral of declining disposable incomes for working families.

The emerging crisis has been worsened by deregulation, privatization, brutal cuts to the social safety net, and huge tax breaks for the rich and the corporations. In Canada and other capitalist countries, the needs of the people have been ruthlessly sacrificed as right-wing governments help big business rack up ever larger profits. By removing any meaningful restrictions on the predatory business practices of big capital, these policies sucked untold billions from the pockets of working people and into the bank accounts of the rich.

Now the chickens have come home to roost, and the list of victims of this economic binge grows longer every week: Bear Stearns, “Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae”, Lehman Brothers, the American International Group, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia. Losses are mounting into the trillions of dollars, and the “bailout” just voted down in Washington would put the burden squarely on the backs of working people, guaranteeing an even deeper crisis in the very near future. Now there are ominous warnings that “a hurricane of bad credit card debt will start crashing ashore in the United States.” In other words, the worst is yet to come.

Politicians who claim that Canada is ‘insulated’ from this catastrophe are lying. And those who want to shovel more truckloads of taxpayers’ dollars into the coffers of the corporations are simply pushing the same policies which helped generate this crisis in the first place.

The capitalist economic debacle presents grave dangers, but also an opportunity to debate fundamental changes in Canadian society. This is a time to say “NO” to corporate greed, and “YES” to Canadian sovereignty and independence, “YES” to the needs of the Canadian people.

The Communist Party of Canada calls for an immediate action plan to protect the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs, pensions, social programs and living standards.

This action plan must include:

Canada’s immediate withdrawal from NAFTA, a halt to the “Security and Prosperity Partnership” (SPP) negotiations, and the adoption of a much more diversified, multilateral trade policy based on mutual benefit;

the nationalization of the energy industry to guarantee domestic supply and to provide the material basis for the economic rebuilding of Canadian industry and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs;

protections for Canadian working people through the immediate introduction of plant closure legislation to stop the exodus of manufacturing jobs, legislation to protect workers’ wages and pensions, and the expansion of EI to cover all workers for the full duration of unemployment;

an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15/hr. to help raise all wage levels and stimulate domestic consumption;

sweeping progressive tax reform based on ability to pay, and the revocation of all corporate tax breaks, hand-outs, write-offs and deferrals at every level – measures that will shift the tax burden from working people onto the corporations and the wealthy;

emergency measures to protect and extend our public healthcare, education and other social programs, including the establishment of a universal system of quality public child care;

a massive public investment program to construct affordable social housing, to rebuild Canada’s decaying infrastructure, in environmental protection and conservation, and in job creation programs for youth;

and Canada’s immediate withdrawal from the disastrous war of occupation in Afghanistan, and a 50% cut in military spending.

Defeating the Harper Tories and blocking the right on October 14 is the first essential step to ensure that it is the big corporations, and not working people, who will bear the costs of this crisis.

Canada needs a new government and new policies that put people’s needs before corporate greed. By electing MPs, including Communists, who are committed to the kind of policies outlined here, Canadians can dramatically alter the balance of forces inside Parliament, and improve the terrain of battle for the extra-parliamentary struggles resuming October 15th.