Gloucester County Green Party

This is the blog of the Gloucester County Green Party. The opinions on this blog represent the member of the party who posted the particular entry.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Taking Back Our City by Thomas R. Knoche

Friends,
This booklet was written by Thomas Knoche of an organization called "Common Sense for Camden" in 2005. It will come up in "Adobe" so you may either read it or print out the 16 pages.

http://www.commonsensecamden.org/pdf/csCamden3_31_05.pdf


To learn more about the organization or to buy the subsequent book-length version of this subject, go to http://www.commonsensecamden.org .

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Privatizing NJ Toll Roads... Highway Robbery

Privatizing New Jersey's Toll Roads
Highway Robbery
By ANTHONY COWELL

Governor Jon Corzine intends to sell New Jersey's toll roads to private investors for $10 billion. Selling or leasing publicly owned toll roads degrades our public and financial security. Toll road takeovers led by Goldman Sachs, where Governor Corzine was the Chairman and CEO before taking elected office, prove the point.

Goldman Sachs took the Indiana Toll Road and the Chicago Skyway private in 2005. Goldman invested its own money in both deals. Goldman worked every side of these deals, collecting fees as lobbyists, deal makers and investors.

After privatization, tolls on the Indiana Toll Road and the Chicago Skyway immediately doubled. Drivers unable to afford the tolls now use alternate roads, increasing congestion and pollution. But these severely negative impacts to the public don't concern MIG Cintra, the Australian and Spanish corporations that operate these toll roads. MIG Cintra's motivator is greed. MIG Cintra prohibits any competition with its toll roads. It forbids any expansion of adjacent roads. And when MIG Cintra took over the Indiana Toll Road, the 600 people formerly employed by the Indiana Department of Transportation were told to start looking for new jobs. MIG Cintra holds a locked down monopoly where states must pay protection cash to a toll road mafia led by Goldman Sachs, foreign corporations, and super rich investors.

MIG Cintra uses "access management" schemes to squeeze every possible dollar from toll road users. "Time of day pricing" imposes punitive tolls on certain vehicles, like trucks, to keep them off the road. "Premium pricing" allows access to congestion-free express lanes, although users pay an even higher toll for the privilege. This is happening on public toll roads that taxpayers bought and paid for generations ago.

MotherJones magazine (January/February 2007) destroys the false promises of toll road privatization so desperately sought by Governor Corzine. The bottom line is that Goldman Sachs is promising New Jersey quick cash in exchange for control of public infrastructure, including toll roads, but soon airports as well.

Goldman Sachs operates as lobbyist, advisor and investor in selling public assets at fire sale prices - completing the three act play known as "Conflict of Interest." Perhaps the play should be presented in four parts, with Governor Corzine playing the lead role for his former paymaster. And who is Goldman Sachs? In 2006, Goldman paid its executives $16.5 billion; the average salary at Goldman is $623,000. A confraternity of the super rich has New Jersey's public wealth in its gun sights, but New Jersey must protect its transportation infrastructure from Wall Street snake oil salesmen.

Corporations have no duty to the public. They exist for profit, not public safety or security. Transportation infrastructure belongs to the people of New Jersey, who rightly expect that public servants will operate pubic property for the benefit of the people. Does MIG Cintra have its own police force to patrol these roads? Who will the police answer to when the Turnpike is sold, a corporate board of unaccountable, non-elected businessmen? When there's an accident, who responds? If deadly chemical, biological or nuclear agents are released on the Turnpike, will MIG Cintra's executives and Goldman Sachs' investment bankers respond in space suits to protect our citizens?

Governor Corzine insists that complicated issues are at hand. Is that really so? Goldman Sachs already worked these issues out in Indiana and Illinois. How much is at stake? The risk to New Jersey is immeasurable in lost jobs, safety and profits, but profits for Goldman and its investors are huge. Goldman's calculations on other deals show that investors break even after fifteen years - but these deals last 100 years, which proves that Goldman orchestrates public asset sales at bargain basement prices. In reality, it's fraud. Profit estimates also assume significant toll increases every year or every other year. These deals allow private owners to operate public roads as monopolies for 85 years.

As Governor Corzine arranges the sale of the Turnpike, you can rest assured of two things: Turnpike tolls will climb every year, and New Jersey politicians will make the super rich even richer by giving them the roads you own. For political cover, the Governor may choose another investment bank, or require Goldman to partner with another bank. The rotten result for us is the same. If that's good public policy, I'm proud to be thick-headed.

Governor Corzine, Ray Lesniak, and Bill Gormley are desperate to sell the Turnpike. They whine that toll increases are intolerable, that maintaining toll roads costs too much. So they won't raise tolls. Rather, they'll sell the roads to private operators, and let them raise the tolls. In reference to privatizing the Turnpike, Mr. Lesniak has said "we are going to allow tolls to go up every year." Where is the public benefit? A few dollars in property tax relief? It's not worth it.

Aren't Democrats against selling out our public wealth, not to mention our safety, to private corporations? Don't Democrats oppose privatizing Social Security? Isn't toll road privatization the same thing? Our toll roads are vital, money making assets, but privatizing toll roads is the public finance equivalent of strip mining, which permanently destroys the environmental infrastructure level by level.

We can't trade transportation infrastructure for a few bucks up front, because, in the end, we'll be much poorer, and much less safe.



Anthony Cowell is a writer and a lawyer, and was a Deputy Attorney General in New Jersey. He can be reached at cowellma@verizon.net.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The so-called "Death Tax".

** This was printed by the Gloucester County Times on 07/25/06 with some strange editing. This is the original.


To the Editor:

This is in response to (the) letter from July 21 supporting the repeal of the inheritance tax, which opponents like to call the “death tax”.

In recent years the U.S. Congress has made deep cuts to taxes on capital gains, stock dividends, other investment income, and the inheritance tax itself, which is now being considered for full repeal. The common thread here is that they are all taxes on “unearned” income. We are moving towards a reliance on 2 types of taxes to run the country. The first is the “earned” income tax, which is familiar to those of us who must work for a living. The other is, of course, the local property tax. When there is less money to channel to the states, and in turn to the local governments, property taxes must go up by “default”. They are the catch-all.

The inheritance tax has already been fully repealed for the year 2010, oddly enough, and the issue now is whether to make the repeal permanent. The 1st ten years of this repeal will, by some estimates, cost the government a trillion dollars in lost revenue. Funding cuts to the states will certainly result, and the burden will trickle down to the homeowners.

Even before Congress started tinkering with the inheritance tax only 2 percent of all estates were actually taxed. That is because the first 2 million dollars are exempt. That covers a fair number of family heirlooms. In the compromise bill being floated, that exemption would go up to 5 million dollars. So this repeal actually affects only the very wealthy. Bill Gates’ heirs, for example, would pay zero taxes on a 50 billion dollar inheritance.

Three types of people would be in favor of this repeal: 1) The very wealthy. 2) Politicians whose campaigns are funded by the very wealthy or by their corporations. 3) Middle and upper-middle class people who mistakenly believe that the repeal benefits them. It could never happen without the uninformed support of that 3rd group.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Alternative Transportation

As oil once again reaches new highs, I am amazed that we have so few viable alternative methods of transportation available to us in Gloucester County. It seems as if light rail and viable bike routes are always just a few years away but never seem to materialize. We are now confronted with high fuel costs and a state government that seems to be running on empty.

Today I was looking into the progress of how we are progressing with the Statewide "Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan" of 1995. Last year as part of this master plan an inventory was done of proposed and planned bicycle facilities suitable for commuting. In the study it was found that Gloucester County had approximately 82 miles (132 km) of existing and proposed bike routes. The problem with this is that when we look deeper at the numbers only 0.1 mile (160 meters) of this 82 miles is existing on-road bike paths.

In the whole county they were able to find only a swatch of on-road bike path that was shorter than the perimeter a typical high school track (400 meters). I typical biker would be able to cover this distance in less than 20 seconds.

If the state and county are really serious about giving us alternatives to getting to work without burning fossil fuels, they must do better and they must do so now.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Need for Run-off Elections.

*** This article was submitted, just as it appears here, to the Courier Post for its Sunday "Rabble Rouser" column. It was printed by them in an "edited" form on July 2, 2006.


Most of my liberal friends bristle at the very mention of Ralph Nader. One friend recently stated that he would vote for serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer if the Democrats ran him, rather than an Independent. In a moment of political passion he was serious.

If Nader had not run for office, these same people would probably admire him. Most agree that politicians from both major parties have been corrupted by campaign money from corporations and special interests, which is Nader’s major theme. However this piece is not about Nader per se. Rather, it is about an electoral system which strangles all Independent efforts and in doing so diminishes Democracy itself. And it is about the simple and obvious solution to the “spoiler” problem which neither major party wants to talk about.

In America today many people despise the very Independents and Third Party candidates with whom they most agree on the issues, due entirely to the candidates’ perceived ability to “spoil” elections. We are very conscious of the “spoiler effect”. It has become ingrained into our political system. It is the thing that restricts America to the so-called two-party system, by guaranteeing that Independents and Third Parties can not get a foothold.

Our two-party system is really a one-choice system as it relates to a given voter. If you fear the Republicans or just strongly reject them on principle then you must vote Democrat, regardless of how lousy the specific candidate’s record or character, regardless of how far the party has drifted from its traditional ideology, regardless of a well-publicized “boss” system in the case of New Jersey politics, and regardless of the Democrats fast-tracking the path for developers while thumbing their noses at environmentalists and ignoring the property tax crises. You must vote for the Democrats to prevent “spoiling”. The Democrats know it. And because they are virtually guaranteed of being reelected in most of the Blue States they have no reason to change a thing.

They own you, or at least your vote. Just as the Republicans own those voters who hate and fear liberals. And the two parties are united in their effort to crush Independents, so that each can retain the loyalty of its respective voter base without having to earn that loyalty.

There is a very obvious solution to the problem of “spoiling” which the major parties will not discuss. It is runoff elections. The “spoiler effect” hinges entirely on the fact that elections can be won without a majority. A vote for Nader could not be construed as a vote for Bush if there were to be a runoff between the top 2 vote-getters anywhere no one got a majority.

Imagine that a candidate needed a majority to win, that runoff elections were the norm, just as if we lived in a “true” Democracy. One could vote for Third Parties and Independents without in any way helping the Republicans’ chances. One could express one’s real opinion via one’s vote, rather than issuing the Democrats a “blank check”.

Independents and Third Parties would get far more votes if the “spoiler effect” were eliminated. And good people would be far more willing to run. The New Jersey Democrats would actually face competition at the polls. And competition is precisely what is needed to force them to clean up their act.

When your elected officials tell you that runoff elections are too expensive or too time consuming, remember that they are enjoying the gravy train which results from no competition. Consider the price we are paying for Not having runoffs. Not just in the cost of pay-to-play government, developer subsidies and corporate welfare, but in the loss of real choices and real Democracy.

There are ways to make runoffs cheaper and easier, such as “Instant Runoff Voting”. Runoffs are vital to a Democracy regardless. Our current election laws allow both major parties to ignore their respective voter bases and concentrate on serving their big campaign contributors. We in the Blue States are bent on perpetuating the reign of a group of corporate-bought and corporate-serving politicians, solely out of the fear of an even worse group. Ideology is a distant memory. “Lesser-evilism” has taken over.

Please demand that your state legislators fix this no-win situation by enacting runoff elections. Ironically if you are committed to preventing “spoiling” by blindly pulling that Democratic lever then you will have zero influence on them, in regards to this or any other issue. Your vote is your only bargaining chip.


Charles Woodrow
Barnsboro, NJ

Friday, March 31, 2006

Son's Death in Iraq Prompts Bid for Congress

(From the New York Times website).

March 29, 2006
Son's Death in Iraq Prompts Bid for Congress
By IAN URBINA

WILMINGTON, Del. — Michael S. Berg and his son Nick could not have been more different.

Nick Berg, who was pro-Bush and a supporter of the Iraq war, was, in his father's words, a "marine wannabe" and a devoutly religious Jew. Michael Berg has been a pacifist and an atheist most of his life.

But Michael Berg says he and Nick shared a belief in taking a principled stand. It is this belief that Mr. Berg says inspired his Green Party bid for Delaware's only Congressional seat in the wake of Nick's kidnapping and killing in Iraq two years ago.

"Nick stood by what he thought was right," said Mr. Berg, a 61-year-old former teacher who is trying to unseat a seven-term Republican, Michael N. Castle. "I plan on doing the same."

The videotaped beheading of Nick Berg, a 26-year-old freelance radio-tower repairman, shocked a world audience after it was broadcast on the Internet.

And while Mr. Berg admits that he faces an uphill battle to topple a popular incumbent, he faces an even tougher personal struggle to find political purpose in the anguish over his son's death.

"I'm in this race to win," said Mr. Berg, wearing his standard outfit — jeans and an antiwar T-shirt — while seated in the cafe in downtown Wilmington that he uses for interviews, since his wife forbids members of the news media in their home. "But the larger point is to get more people talking about the war."

In a state where only 621 of 545,000 registered voters are signed up with the Green Party, Mr. Berg said he had raised a little over $5,000 of the $250,000 that his campaign director says he needs to be competitive.

As he bicycles across the state giving speeches at schools and churches and holding fund-raising house parties, he says he has found a receptive audience, not just to his call for an immediate withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq but also to the rest of his platform: universal health care, a livable wage and increased spending on education.

"A lot of voters are frustrated by the lack of options beyond the two major parties," Mr. Berg said. "And a lot of these people have not been voting before."

Elizabeth Wenk, a spokeswoman for Mr. Castle, said, "All I can say is that we welcome him into the race."

Mr. Castle, a moderate Republican who supports the war, is a former two-term governor and is the longest-serving congressman in Delaware history.

Mr. Berg said that he was originally approached by a representative of the state's Democratic Party to oppose Mr. Castle but that he opted to go with the Greens because "the Democrats have the money to get the message out, but they have the wrong message."

Dennis Spivack, 58, a Wilmington lawyer and a Vietnam veteran who is pursuing the Democratic nomination for the Congressional seat, said he could not imagine the trauma that Mr. Berg's family had experienced. But he added that he advocated a more responsible plan for withdrawal of American troops.

"We don't want to pull out in a way that will make things worse in that region, especially at a time when Iraq is on the verge of a civil war," Mr. Spivack said.

Mr. Berg said that in deference to his family's desire for privacy he initially avoided speaking in public about his son's death. But he soon changed his mind, drawing attention after telling reporters that his son "died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld."

He has not stopped talking about the war since.

"It is pretty discouraging that there are so many families in the same awful position," he said, adding that since his son's death he has become a close friend of Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in the war and has become a highly visible war protester.

Mr. Berg concedes that his campaign has put strains on his family. His daughter, Sara, 33, a lawyer in Virginia, has sought answers about her brother's death by filing freedom of information requests with various branches of the government.

"Most of what she has received is useless," Mr. Berg said.

Mr. Berg also has a son, David, 35, who works in the print industry in New Jersey.

Mr. Berg moved from West Chester, Pa., 10 months ago because, he said, the news media were putting too much of a burden on his wife, Suzanne. When the Wilmington newspaper printed a profile article on Mr. Berg, his wife canceled their subscription because she did not want to risk seeing again the now-famous photograph of Nick kneeling in front of his masked executioners.

"This is not an easy balancing act," Mr. Berg said of his life as a political candidate.

When he returns home, he makes sure to put away his antiwar and campaign materials so his wife does not see that photo, which is on a poster he carries with him while campaigning.

"The truth is, when I'm not at work, I don't want to see it either," he said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Woodrow for Freeholder Blog: Link

We are pleased to announce the creation of a new blog that will be used by Charles Woodrow to lay out his positions on issues important to Gloucester County residents. The address of this blog is

Woodrow05.blogspot.com


We will keep moving this link to the top as new posts are added.. until the election.

Matt Thieke: The First Governor-Candidates' Debate

GREEN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR GIVES HIS ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FROM
FIRST CORZINE-FORRESTER DEBATE

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Matt Thieke was at NJN studios
in Trenton this past Tuesday for the first two-parties-only
candidate debate and was denied entry into the event. Thieke
criticized the exclusionary debate as a "pay to play event", and
gave his replies to the questions that were asked of Jon Corzine and
Doug Forrester.

Thieke issued the following statement: "If New Jersey Network and
the other sponsors of this debate had seen fit to include me, here
are the answers I would've given to the questions posed by the
panelists:"

"The first question was does Jon Corzine's gift of over $450,000 to
Carla Katz create a conflict of interest? My reply is YES. While a
candidate's personal relationships should not be an issue, when you
give almost half a million dollars to the head of the largest state
workers union, it is a gross error in judgment and if the Senator
doesn't realize that creates at least the appearance of a conflict,
then that shows just how disconnected he is from the lives of
ordinary people."

"Question 2 asked Doug Forrester about his Benecard company
benefiting from 'pay to play' contracts.
My reply: We can't trust Doug Forrester to clean up corruption and
pay to play when he himself has benefited from it. And it's
ludicrous to hear him say he's followed the 'spirit and letter of
the law' when his so-called out-of-state insurance company is
nothing more than a post office box in Washington D.C."

"Question 3 asked would I use an executive order to ban the use of
eminent domain.
My reply: YES, immediately. We need a law to ban the use of eminent
domain for private development projects."

"Question 4 asked Doug Forrester to explain how he'd pay for his
property tax plan.
My reply: Good question! My proposal for tax reform includes
replacing the school property tax with a more progressive state
income tax, combined with merging the hundreds of smaller school
districts into regional districts, a massive conversion to solar,
wind and clean vehicle fuels, and cutting out patronage."

"Question 5 asked about the amount of borrowing done by the state
government.
My reply: Both Democrats and Republicans have been continually
guilty of "borrow and spend" policies. We are now in debt to the
tune of about $3000 for every man, woman and child in New Jersey!
The Green Party believes in fiscal responsibility, which means we
can't borrow to balance the budget. Borrowing via bond issues should
only be done for long-term capital projects, like our proposal to
convert to cheaper, cleaner energy sources like solar, wind, and bio-
fuels."

"Question 6 was would I pledge to never raise taxes?
My reply: No. That's a very irresponsible stand. There could always
be another 9/11 type emergency, or economic disaster that could
happen."

"Question 7 asked should we lease the Turnpike?
My reply: No. The Green Party is opposed to the increased
privatization of public property. My administration will cut
spending by saving on energy costs, and cutting out the abuses of
patronage and corruption. Leasing is another short-term revenue
gimmick."

"Questions 8 and 9 asked if Jon Corzine's ties to certain Democrats
and Doug Forrester's contributions to various Republicans should be
something for voters to think about.
My reply: YES! Both these men are members of corrupt parties and
can't be trusted to bring about any kind of real reform. The
Democratic and Republican parties both put party loyalty first above
the public interest. Even though Jon Corzine and Doug Forrester are
both multi-millionaires, neither of them could rise to the top of
their party without 'playing ball' and turning a blind eye to the
corruption in their midst. The Green Party and I have zero tolerance
for corruption. We don't operate the way the two parties do."

"Question 10 asked if Atlantic City has been helped by legalized
gambling.
My reply: No, not much. The casino companies and their investors
have benefited the most, while the people of Atlantic City haven't.
I'm not against companies making a fair profit, but the casinos can
give more back to the people. We need a thorough audit to
investigate where the money is going, and the CRDA should focus on
providing better jobs and housing for the people of Atlantic
City."

"Question 11 asked Doug Forrester if his '30 in 3' plan is just a
gimmick.
My reply: Yes, it is. He doesn't say where the money will come from
other than by 'cutting waste and corruption'. I agree there's plenty
of waste to cut, but I don't believe he can do it. He'd have to take
on the bosses of his own party. Frankly, the only Republican in New
Jersey that I see doing anything about corruption is Chris Christie,
and he's not running."

"Question 12 asked Jon Corzine why he couldn't come up with
something better than a property tax rebate.
My reply: Because he doesn't want to rock the boat and thinks he can
win this election without any bold ideas. I've already said that I'd
like to replace the local school property tax with the state income
tax, so people pay what they're able to pay and aren't forced out of
their homes. And we'd cut costs by merging and regionalizing school
districts."

"Question 13 asked about gay marriage.
My reply: The Green Party and I support gay marriage. Gay couples
should have all of the same rights and benefits that heterosexual
couples do."

"Question 14 asked the candidates if they'd ask for the resignation
of all current political appointees in state government.
My reply: Yes, absolutely! Every position will be looked at, and
I'll only keep those who are qualified for their jobs, and who are
honest and non-partisan."

"Question 15 asked the candidates what they'd do if a jet crashed
into the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant.
My reply: Say a quick prayer for the thousands of people who are
about to die from radiation. If there's any large release of
radiation from either Oyster Creek or the Salem plants, tens of
thousands of New Jerseyans will likely die. There won't be enough
time to evacuate in that example. That's one reason why we have to
shut down these nuclear plants. We have to switch to renewable
energy like solar and wind power."

"Question 16 asked about embryonic stem cell research.
My reply: The Green Party and I support embryonic and adult stem
cell research. Jon Corzine wants to spend hundreds of millions of
tax dollars on this. I'd also like to. However, I'm not sure we can
afford this given the state's current level of debt. Before spending
tax money, I'd like to see the pharmaceutical companies and Wall
Street invest their money in this good cause."

"Question 17 was about the money wasted by the School Construction
Corporation.
My reply: The SCC should be dismantled. What happened was criminal
and I'd like to see some indictments. The problem was that the state
created a corporation. And it worked just like a corporation -- like
Enron. If contractors over-charged the SCC for work, I want those
contractors to pay the money back before they ever get another dime
of taxpayer money."

"Question 18 asked Doug Forrester if there would be enough money for
programs for the disabled, and for DYFS.
My reply: There will be in a Green Party administration. The main
problem at DYFS is that there aren't enough case workers to handle
the load. Children won't slip through the cracks if we give DYFS the
resources it needs to hire more investigators, provide better
training, and pay wages comparable to the private sector. For the
disabled, we need to strongly enforce the Americans with
Disabilities Act."

"Question 19 asked about banning smoking indoors.
My reply: The Green Party and I support a ban on indoor smoking.
It's a matter of public health."

"Question 20 asked the candidates if they support a bear hunt.
My reply: No, I do not. I don't believe we can't come up with a
workable program of contraception or sterilization. And, if
necessary, I'd rather see us capture and transport bears to more
remote areas than to kill them. The bears aren't taking over our
habitat. We're taking over theirs every time we bulldoze another
forest or farm to build more sprawl."

"In conclusion, I hope that my answers show that I am running a
serious campaign on the issues, and that I have earned the right to
take part in any future debates. I challenge Jon Corzine and Doug
Forrester, again, to please explain why I should not be allowed to
debate them."

###

Raimonde on Unionism, Part 2

Raimonde for THE NEWS, "Other Voices" for Saturday September 17,2005.

Growing Pains-Rebirth of Unionism, Part 2.

Andy Stern, the leader of the Change to Win Coalition recently wrote that CTW is "committed to acting independently from any political party-Democrats or Republicans." And once again, that is a great start. But a start is just the beginning of a means to an end. To truly be independent you must answer to no one but your constituents. And the constituents of organized labor are the rank and file. They are the beginning and the end. The CTW strategy is grow, grow, grow. And that's the way to go. No longer will Labor be treated like an ATM machine only to be forgotten after election day. We can't compete with corporate money, nor should we try. Grow, grow, grow.

In the Ben/Holly column of 8/15/05 there was an email which said so much in so few words. It was written by an employee of GGI in Millville, formerly known as Wheaton Glass. He said the "four unions in the Millville plant have bent over backwards to keep the plant open. "In November of '04 the Unions made concessions, they were-a "10% wage reduction, no double time or raises for 3 years, plus health insurance of a lesser caliber with increased employee contributions and the whole time GGI knew they would be filing Chapter 11 in February 2005." And the writer pointed out that two of GGI's higher up's "did not file Chapter 11 on their 48% holding in the GGI China based glass plant." Signed, "Need my job till the end."

Working people have been sold out by the two major political parties. We are the victims of a service economy whose workers are distributed over a large number of smaller employers. And so Labor must work that much harder to organize. Grow, grow, grow. Peter Morici recently wrote a column in the LA Times-Washington Post in which he said Andy Stern "is no fool and has learned to cozy up to Republicans." Morici went on to say that perhaps Stern "could ensure that organized labor has friends in the White House all the time." Oh, really? Let's not forget that "our friends" gave us NAFTA,CAFTA,GATT and the WTO.

This calls to mind a phone conversation I had in 1998 with Congressman Frank LoBiondo. I called to ask him to vote against a piece of legislation (HR 3246) which would allow employers not to hire anyone they "suspected" of being union organizers. My pleas fell on deaf ears, but fortunately this piece of garbage never made it to the Senate floor. And LoBiondo is generally viewed as a "friend" of organized labor.

This short conversation was not only a turning point in how I viewed LoBiondo but it also gave me an insight into the narrow relationships between organized labor and our elected officials. For me, it was a "wakeup call." You can count on one hand the number of real friends working people have on Capitol Hill. In 1947, Taft-Hartley was passed over the objections of President Harry Truman who called it a "slave-labor bill." In today’s world, both major parties are corporate owned and operated, and they will never rescind Taft-Hartley. And here's why. Taft-Hartley -1)Re-instituted court injunctions against strikes. 2)Gave the government the ability to break strikes by declaring 80 day "cooling off" periods. 3)Gave employers the right to hire permanent replacements for striking workers. 4)Banned election campaign contributions from Union dues and Union treasuries(thus the creation of PAC's) but NOT from corporations. 5)Prohibited Unions from expelling company spies as long as they paid union dues.

The Wagner Act of 1935 was the predecessor of Taft-Hartley and it effectively tied the Labor movement to the state via the National Labor Relations Board. As my friend Robert "Gabe" Gabrielsky points out, the NLRB "was not unlike the institution of a publicly funded primary system for the major political parties, which went a long way toward transforming them from society to agents of the state, which is one reason why Eugene Genovese, over 35 years ago characterized the US as the "most flexible of totalitarianisms." As Peter Camejo said in his "Advocado Declaration", the Dems and GOP "share similiar economic platforms, the GOP boast's a platform which benefits the wealthy while the Dems act as a broker, selling influence among the people to support the objectives of corporate rule. "Camejo went on to say that the value of the Dems to the corporate world is that it "makes the GOP possible, which is essential to business as usual."

So what are we working people to do? The most immediate priority of both the AFL-CIO and CTW is to grow, grow, grow. Capture the hearts and minds of our members, harness our resources and fulfill the late Tony Mazzochi's dream. We're now over 100 years behind the rest of the industrialized world. Australia "did it" in 1891,and the UK in 1900. It's time for a political party that serves the interests of working people. It's time to build a US LABOR PARTY.