Monday, August 19, 2013

Prosperity Economics, Building An Economy For All

Sisters and Brothers, Fellow Workers;

Uniting People (UP) is a new national organization for PeaceEqualityFull EmploymentUniversal 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:

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.

Uniting People [UP] Letter to Foreign Relations Committee Plus National Lawyers Guild [NLG] Statement in opposition to Senate Bill 462

Chairman Robert Menendez, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Boxer, Barbara (CA)               Corker, Bob (TN), 
Cardin, Benjamin L. (MD)       Risch, James E. (ID)
Shaheen, Jeanne (NH)           Rubio, Marco (FL)        
Coons, Christopher A. (DE)    Johnson, Ron (WI)
Durbin, Richard J. (IL)             Flake, Jeff (AZ)
Udall, Tom (NM)                      McCain, John (AZ)
Murphy, Christopher (CT)       Barrasso, John (WY)
Kaine, Tim (VA)                       Paul, Rand (KY)
Markey, Edward J. (MA) 

RE:  SB 462                                                                                                          
Chairman Menendez and Members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:

Uniting People for Peace, Equality, Full Employment, Universal Health Care and Environmental Protection is a newly formed national organization with participants in many states.  At our latest meeting we took up the question of SB 462 and what is does to human rights in Israel/Palestine.

We were extremely disturbed to see that many U.S. Senators, some on this committee, were willing to deny equal rights to American citizens who wished to visit their homeland or to investigate human rights abuses in the area.  Whether Christian, Muslim, Jew or Atheist, those who criticize Israel are being denied visas in large numbers.  Section 9 of SB 462 adds insult to injury by allowing Israelis to enter the U.S. without visas while Israel has no obligation to  allow Americans to enter Israel without a visa.  This would codify the existing discrimination into U.S. law and make a mockery of the existing reciprocal agreements with other countries.

While this is both insult and injury, the major injury in the bill is the continuation of providing the means of occupation, repression and oppression of the Palestinian people.  We oppose any further aid to Israel until such time as Israel has withdrawn from the Occupied Territories.  Sanctions against
Israel would be a more human rights oriented proposal.

We fully support the statement by the National Lawyers Guild and have attached it for your convenience.

Thank you for your consideration.


Linda Boyd, State Chair, Justice Party of Washington State
Lenny Brody, Justice Party of Chicago, Illinois
Will Crain, Green Party of Billings, Montana
Liane Gale, Coordinating Committee, Green Party of Minnesota
Robin Hensel, Occ-u-pie, Little Falls, Minnesota
Dave Jette, Treasurer, Justice Party of Washington State
Alan L. Maki, Minnesota, Director of Organizing, Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
Michael McGee, Justice Party, Quinault, WA/Strasbourg, France
Devon Nola. Justice Party of New York
Casey Peters, educator/organizer, Maggie Phair Institute
Darcy Richardson, State Chair, Peace and Freedom Party of Florida
Sally Soriano, Justice Party of Washington State
Vernon Simula, Vets for Peace/Occupy Duluth, Minnesota
Maureen Smith, Peace and Freedom Party of California, Santa Cruz County Chair
Frank Valdez, Green Party of San Antonio, Texas
C. T. Weber, Peace and Freedom Party of California, Legislative Committee Chair
Georgia Williams, Peace and Freedom Party of California, Fresno County Chair

N A T I O N A L  LA W Y E R S  
132 Nassau Street, Room 922, New York, NY 10038 212-679-5100 Fax 212-679-2811
June 26, 2013
Dear Sen. Barbara Boxer and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
I am writing on behalf of the National Lawyers in opposition to Senate Bill 462, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 20131introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer. The bill would negatively impact U.S. immigration policies and facilitate discrimination against U.S. citizens by Israel under the existing U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
The existing Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of a designated country to enter the
United States without visas so long as the designated country reciprocates by allowing U.S. nationals to enter the designated country without visas and without discrimination.
We oppose SB 462 because the Israeli government routinely denies entrance to Arab and Muslim American travelers, and to Americans supportive of Palestinian rights. For example, well-known academics Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have been denied entry to Israel.2 Officially recognizing the discrimination the Israeli government practices against Palestinian Israelis, Palestinian-Americans, and Arabs and Muslims, the U.S. State Department currently provides a travel warning that states, “Some US citizens holding Israeli nationality, possessing a Palestinian identity card, or of Arab or Muslim origin have experienced significant difficulties in entering or exiting Israel or the West Bank."3 This statement indicates that the State Department officially recognizes that Israeli discriminatory practices apply to various groups of Americans.4
The State Department’s Visa Waiver Program requires participating countries to maintain a U.S. “visitor visa refusal rate of less than 3 percent.”5 The Jewish Telegraph Agency has reported “Israel’s failure to stay under the maximum 3 percent threshold of denied visas.”6Israel may not be the first country to be granted visa waiver privileges while violating the 3 percent requirement. Importantly, however, there is no evidence that any of the other countries allowed to violate the program conditions deny entry based on categories that would be unlawful under U.S. civil rights laws, such as national origin or religion, or based on holding a certain political position, i.e., support for Palestinian rights.
1 S. 462: United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013, GovTrack,
3 US Department of State, Travel Advisory, 4 Maysoon Zayid, Barbara Boxer: Withdraw your biased bill, The Daily Beast, 29 April
5 US Department of State, Visa Waiver
Program, Ron Kampeas, In U.S. fight over visa waiver exemption for Israel, both sides cite discrimination, JTA, 11 April 2013, for-israel-both-sides-cite-discrimination#ixzz2UKw1Qpjn.
Heidi Boghosian Jean Stevens
2 Toni O'Loughlin, US academic deported and banned for criticising Israel, The Guardian, Sunday 25 May 2008

Azadeh Shahshahani President
Ian Head Nadia Kayyali Executive Vice Presidents
Executive Director Student Vice President
Roxana Orrell
Illustrating the problem, Nour Joudah, an American of Palestinian descent, was denied entry to teach English at a Quaker school in the West Bank in February 20131 even though she held a valid visa. Intervention by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), which had arranged her visa, was unsuccessful. While Joudah was detained and awaiting deportation, the U.S. Consulate contacted her to say: “We're calling to check on your health and safety. But when it comes to Israel, we really can't do very much.”2 In view of the admission that the U.S. government "can't do very much" to stop illegal and immoral discrimination against its citizens by Israel based on their national origin, efforts to provide lawful assistance to Palestinians or lawful opposition to Israeli policies, the National Lawyers Guild opposes the inclusion of Israel in the Visa Waiver Program. Inclusion under these circumstances would give U.S. government stamp of approval to discrimination that is unconstitutional and unlawful under U.S. law.
Normally, negotiation of a reciprocal agreement gives the United States leverage to discourage discrimination against U.S. citizens abroad. But SB 462 harms American citizens and U.S. standing in world opinion by accepting discrimination practiced by the Israeli government that is illegal and unconstitutional in the United States.
In addition, SB 462 discards the principle of reciprocity to the disadvantage of U.S. citizens. To avoid the Visa Waiver Program’s requirement of non-discriminatory access for U.S. citizens, SB 462 includes a special exemption for Israel that U.S. immigration laws do not include for any of the other 37 nations in the Visa Waiver Program. Rather than requiring reciprocal non-discriminatory access for U.S. citizens to Israel, just as Israeli citizens have non-discriminatory access to the U.S., SB 462 conditions Israeli participation only on the State Department finding that the Israeli government “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.” This provision places a stamp of legitimacy on Israel's routine discrimination against and rejection of American travelers based on bogus, unexplained “security” concerns.
The importance of equal rights and non-discrimination against American citizens was recognized by Senate staff attorneys who “privately advised that complying with the request [for participation in the Visa Waiver Program by the Israeli government on a discriminatory basis]... would undermine the U.S. government's call for the equal protection of all its citizens traveling abroad."3
1 Amira Hass, Israel denies entry to American teacher working in West Bank, Ha’aretz, 27 February 2013, bank.premium-1.506018.2Ali Gharib and George Hale, Critics Fear Visa Waiver For Israel Glosses Over Discrimination Against Americans, The Daily Beast, 16 May 2013, visa-waiver-for-israel-glosses-over-discrimination-against-americans.html.
3 Mike Coogan, AIPAC's legislative agenda dividing members of Congress, The Hill’s Congress Blog, 5 April 2013, of-congress#ixzz2UKwtAuEp.
The National Lawyers Guild also opposes Senate Bill 462 because it promises "to continue to provide Israel with robust security assistance." The United States provides Israel with more than $3 billion a year in foreign aid -- far more than to any other country. Yet the U.S. government has failed to enact measures that do more than offer lip service against Israel’s numerous grave violations of international law. These include the establishment of hundreds of Jewish-only settlements housing some 650,000 people in the occupied West Bank and administering them under a separate legal system; confiscation of much of the territory’s land from Palestinian owners and construction of the “separation barrier” (wall and fence) denying residents access to their land; demolition of tens of thousands of homes and other structures; maintenance of segregated roads and “checkpoint” barriers that restrict movement for Palestinians; the implementation of a plan that will result in the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab
Bedouin citizens of Israel and the destruction of 35 “unrecognized” villages, the refusal of the right of the return of Palestinian refugees, and denial of residency status for many longtime occupants of Jerusalem.
In addition, Israel continues to hold the Gaza Strip under a state of siege, severely restricting travel and commercial contact with the outside world and denying most residents any means of livelihood. And on two occasions since 2008, Israel has pummeled the Gaza Strip with large scale military assaults, killing more than 1,000 civilians, wounding countless others and inflicting massive amounts of damage to property.
For all these reasons, we call upon the Committee to reject SB 462. Should the bill move forward, we will call upon Congress to defeat the legislation, and on President Obama to veto SB 462, should it come to his desk.
Azadeh N. Shahshahani President
National Lawyers Guild

Support and Solidarity with Moral Monday Movement

We extend our support to and solidarity with the North Carolina NAACP and all the participants in the Moral Monday Movement.

Uniting People for Peace, Equality, Full Employment, Universal Health Care and Environmental Protection held a national Conference Call on Sunday, June 23, 2013 as part of our organizing efforts to break free from Wall Street's domination of our economy and electoral system.

We are in the process of forging a national movement around the issues as our call to the conference suggests. Our organizing initiative includes people from North Carolina and from many states across the country.

As long as our Nation's wealth is being squandered on militarism and wars we will not be able to solve the problems people are experiencing. 

Government budgets at the national, state and local levels are a reflection of priorities. 

The needs of the people for living wage jobs, quality public education, adequate housing and Medicare for All, food, access to affordable public transportation, and recreational programs for youth must take precedence over militarism and wars. 

We condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly racist edge this Republican assault on the people of North Carolina is having on people of color.

We are in support of, and in solidarity with, your Moral Monday Movement as you struggle for  justice and look forward to working with you on shared concerns. 

Please let us know what kind of support and solidarity is required.

For further information contact Uniting People (UP)