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5/10/2002 Socialism and Capitalism in the United States.
This final paper is on experiences with socialism and capitalism in the United States and will draw on many of the other aspects of business history we learned this term. Now as we all know the United States is considered a capitalistic country. So one would question how could a capitalistic country have socialism within its own borders?
During week one our objective study was to understand several key problem areas of the world. One of the main issues of learning during that week addressed was the difference between capitalism and socialism. For this I used a different approach than what was normally expected. Instead of going with the classical approach of using other countries like Russia to show socialism; I used something closer to home, Native American Tribes residing in the United States.
I found an article in the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indian’s newspaper on its election process and used it to write my own paper showing how even within the borders of the United States you could find socialism being actively practiced by Native American Tribes.
I completely showed how a Native American Tribe could use sovereign immunity to protect its socialistic ways, which goes against the United States Constitution even though it is housed in the same physical boundaries of this country, which uses a capitalistic approach to its government. To begin the next part is a summary of the article on elections from the Sault Tribe newspaper.
Source: Sault Tribe News March 2002 edition Title: Election committee ensures fair process
The main title of the article was Election committee ensures fair process. The article starts out explaining that over 17,000 notices of the election were recently sent out, which explains the election process to members. The election committee consisting of 13 members oversees the entire election process. Currently there is one seat open for appointment. They meet a few times during the non-election years and as the elections draw near the amount of meetings increase. They serve 4 years terms and try to ensure a fair election process. “They come in all shapes, sizes and ages on the committee.” Said Chairperson Lori Jump.
The committee is always looking for volunteers to help them with all of their work, such as mailing and counting ballots. Last election ballot returns were up 64%. The committee hopes to increase this to even greater numbers in the future. The committee is also responsible for checking personal financial information and doing criminal checks on all candidates. After each election the committee gets together to brainstorm to see what went right or wrong and how it can be fixed or made better. One current idea the committee is looking into to present to the Main Board is electronic balloting, which will speed up the counting process considerably.
The final section of the article again ask for volunteers and gives a little more description on the work the committee does. They register voters, prepare a list of eligible voters, prepare and send out ballots, prepare and post a list of eligible candidates, account for all returning ballots and count them and in the event of a tie the committee decides the election by drawing lots.
First of all this paper travels all over the United States. I feel the article itself was written poorly and even the comment of the chairperson is odd. Now what the article does not tell you is that it is the current Board of Directors who appoints these people to their terms not the members of the Tribe. If they fail to follow the Boards directives they find themselves replaced with people who will comply with the Chairman of the Board of Directors. You can see how this looks very socialistic.
I really liked the title of the article Election committee ensures fair process. Yet in the entire article it did not mention what they do to make things fair. Why? Could it be the Government at hand does not want a fair election, but wishes you to think that it actually does have one? Also during election time the incumbents try to tell you how much they have helped the Tribe and how great things are. While they each have large incomes and the majority of the tribal members live below the national poverty level.
The Board of Directors and the Chairman also control what is printed in that newspaper. There is no such thing as freedom of the press and if you try to raise a fight against these ideas you could be labeled as a dissident or if you try to take them to a real court to fight for your rights as a United States citizen or if any group or part of the U.S. Government tries to go against them or charge them with crimes they claim Tribal Sovereignty.
What many of the Native Tribes in the United States claim is Tribal Sovereignty or sovereign immunity. This is basically their claim to govern themselves with out outside interference from the United States Government. It is also the claim used to justify that they are in fact their own nation residing in the borders of the United States, almost similar to another country having an embassy here. This is the simplest way to briefly explain sovereign immunity.
Now we shall get a little more background on Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and their elections since this is an election year for its board. The board consists of twelve elected officials whom are believed to represent the rest of the members of the Sault Tribe. The Sault owns several businesses though out Michigan. Its main businesses are its seven casinos, one of which was just opened in Detroit.
The Tribe provides several services to the membership. However membership services are limited to a seven county area in the Upper Peninsula, if you live outside of these areas you receive no services. This service area takes care of about 10,000 members out of a total Tribal membership of 30,000.
Now even though the board is suppose to be making the decisions of what happens within the Tribe and all of the laws and resolutions, it does not quit happen this way, because we have a group that we like to refer to as the golden trio. The golden trio actually influences all of the decisions by their blatant conflicts of interest, which will be plain to see in a moment.
The top two positions on the board are the chairman and vice-chairman. We will start with the chairman. The chairman is also the Chief Executive Officer of the new Greektown Casino in Detroit, which is a million dollar a day business. As CEO he reports to the Tribal Board of Directors, which he is the chairman of.
Next we have the Director and Deputy Director of Tribal Operations whose job description is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Tribe’s governmental and membership services and programs. The first of those two is the Vice-Chairman whom is also the Deputy Executive Director of Tribal Operations and again reports back to the Tribal Board. Then we have the Executive Director of Tribal Operations, which is the boss of the Assistant Executive Director of Tribal operations and all of the Tribal employees and is also another Board member reporting back to the other Board members and himself.
Finally we have our Chief of police who reports to the Executive Director of Tribal Operations and he is also a Director on the Tribal Board of Directors. So any intelligent person can see people reporting to themselves is a conflict of interest. Yet each of them will tell you they do not see a conflict. Each Tribal Board position is also a paid position. Yet none of these Board members who have more than one career is ever seen putting in 40 hours a week in each position. The CEO of the Detroit casino does not even reside in the Lower Peninsula where the job is.
It does not stop there; almost every committee in the Tribe has at least two Board members on it. Every committee must report back to the Tribal Board of Directors. The worst committee conflict is our school board, which has five board members on it and only a couple of parents. So if you disagree with the school board decisions your out of luck as you have basically reached the end of the line. The Tribal members would like to see the Board of Directors removed from all of the committees and replaced by regular members or at least make them ex-official.
The actual Tribal members receive several services from the Tribe. Some of the larger ones are, a school for the children, educational benefits, health care, affordable housing, low income rent, elder services, USDA food program, employment, community and family services and several other smaller services like recreational activities. Unfortunately a large number of the members live below the National poverty level while the Tribal Chairman alone makes over $250,000 per year. Another thing to point out is that all of these programs are subsidized if not completely funded by Federal grants and dollars.
The Tribal constitution states that we shall follow the US Constitution, however when a lot of members try to voice their political opinions they are labeled as dissidents or accused of attacking the board members and if you work for the Tribe you risk becoming unemployed for exercising your right to freedom of speech. Many of these socialistic ideas were presented in an article in the Detroit news in its November 11th 2001 edition.
The Tribal Board of Directors controls everything that happens within the Tribe. They control the only newspaper. Anyone seeking employment has to be approved by the Chairman and the Executive Director of Tribal Operations, basically to be hired the golden trio must like you. All of the other services provided, all of its court system and they control the Tribal police. The Board controls even the school and the election process.
The Tribal Board also has many closed door meetings preventing members from knowing exactly what they are up to even though we have an open meetings act. This is what they did when they decided to make the Chairman the CEO and when they gave themselves pay raises.
Recently many complaints were submitted to the election committee only to be thrown out. A majority of the Tribal members want our election process changed in several ways, but the Board refuses to listen, as they are not willing to give up their dictatorship powers. One of the main issues is the members want a primary election. Another is we want the Board to follow the Tribal Constitution and eliminate a Board resolution, which requires a blood quantum to become a director, which was illegally enacted. Some members would also like the elections controlled by an outside neutral party to prevent election fraud.
Also millions of dollars have been wasted by this board on failed business attempts or pay offs (political contributions) to US Congressmen. This is all an example of socialism right here inside our own boarders. The Tribal members continue to be oppressed while the members of the Board of Directors especially the golden trio continue to grow richer. Just last year they voted themselves a 35% retroactive five year pay raise.
Another interesting thing to point out is that our local casino has concerts which every seated incumbent gets unlimited tickets to which they could use to persuade members to vote for them or the golden trio can offer people who work for the Tribe pay raises or employment to get votes. This all makes it harder for political challengers to get elected.
Now you must be asking yourself why would someone want to go through this and be a Tribal member? First lets look at another example. In World War 1 and World War 2 did the Jewish people stop being Jews just because Hitler a Dictator wanted to destroy all of them? No, it is part of their heritage and race. They did not give up but continued to fight the dictator until they were freed. Now life is better for most of them, especially the ones living in the United States whom enjoy all of the rights afforded to US citizens.
So it is the same for Native Americans, we have fought oppression for centuries it is our heritage and race; it is a part of who we are. Simply put some of us are proud to be Native Americans and hope to someday change our Board of Directors from a Dictatorship to a Government of the people by the people for the people. Eventually we plan on having a free democratic and capitalistic government guiding our Tribe. We must do this to secure the future for our children so they too can be proud to be Americans and Native Americans.
As a Disabled American Veteran, I have all ready given a part of myself for this country and I will continue until socialism is removed from our borders. As a Native American I will try to help protect the rights of other Native Americans whom are afraid to speak their minds for fear of reprisal from the Tribal Board of Directors. So that someday they too will enjoy the same rights afforded to any other US citizen.
“Where men cannot freely convey their thoughts to one another, no other liberty is secure.” Harvard philosopher William Hocking wrote in 1947.
This final paper has shown many of the aspects of business history we learned this term. Mainly it has shown socialism and capitalism in the United States. Also it has revealed aspects of poverty, dictatorship, political oppression, poor management and complete disregard for the rights of others. With all that we have learned in history this term I leave you with one final thing to consider. Would people who are US citizens working for any Tribe be considered expatriates? This is a tough one because there are people who live on Tribal property and work for the Tribe even though they are all US citizens. You could argue it either way.
References: Include but not limited to Articles from the Detroit News November 11th 2001 edition, Many articles from the Sault Tribe paper, the Tribal and US Constitutions.