Social Democrats,USA proudly endorses the candidacy of Jeff Ballinger, our former Executive Director, in the September 4th Democratic Primary in Massachusett’s 3rd Congressional District.
Jeff grew up seeing mistreatment of workers by companies that raked in profits. He decided early on to fight for the little guy. Starting with voter registration in college, he became a national student coordinator for a boycott of an unfair clothing manufacturer.
Jeff joined the Textile Workers Union of America and assisted on the real-world “Norma Rae” campaign. He attended New York School of Law at night with a focus on international and human rights, graduating in 1983.
Jeff founded and ran the non-profit Press for Change that helped force Indonesia’s strongman, Suharto, to nearly triple the country’s minimum wage, from 86 cents per day to $2.46.
Jeff knows the global nature of our economic problems at home and is ready to take on the corruption of big money in politics. Unbeholden to special interests, he will focus on the interests of regular people in the district.
Champion For Labor
Jeff helped support the birth of the Polish labor union, Solidarnosc and changed the face of Europe. He brought teacher-union leaders from the West Bank to meet with Paul Tsongas in his Senate office, in a quest for peace in the Middle East. Jeff became deeply involved in labor movements – here and globally – with the goal to end exploitation of the workers who make our clothes, electronics, appliances, and so much more.
The most moving experience Jeff had was going door to door on the gritty West side of Indianapolis to register voters. Time and again he heard African-Americans tell him how it was the first time they registered to vote since coming North in the 1950s.
Jeff has appeared as an expert commentator on global political economy issues on NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and CNN. He has appeared in documentaries by Japan’s NTK, UK’s Channel Four and ARTE (French/German). His writing has been published in Harper’s, NY Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, Dissent, Brown Economic Review and Los Angeles Times.
His Vision and Plan
Here is a heartbreaking headline that pretty much sums up why I chose to run: “Money Pouring into Massachusetts for a Key Race.” My number one issue will be changing the word “money” to “activist.” We can do this partly through public financing of campaigns but principally by getting both parties to stop seeking contributions from banks and insurance companies and Wall Street.
Before unions were seriously weakened, labor provided the Democrats with most of the help they needed to compete with Republicans. We need a Corporate Crime Database at the Department of Justice with an emphasis on psychological persecution often used to thwart union organizing campaigns. It’s no coincidence that the defeat of Labor Law Reform in 1977 began an ever-widening wealth gap in America.
Along with the increase in corporate control of politics in D.C. came virtual impunity for crimes against workers, consumers and the environment. There’s been almost no Democratic pushback against four decades of Republican anti-government and anti-regulation rhetoric.
As a life-long activist and organizer, I feel uniquely qualified to draw attention to this issue and, indeed, lead the fight! We need workers and unions back fully on board with the Democratic Party and I will fight to make this a reality.
MONEY IN POLITICS
Corporate contributions to political campaigns have been an unmitigated disaster for our party and America. Corporate influence drove the enactment of unfettered free trade policies like NAFTA, thereby alienating workers and their unions further from the party which used to represent the Left in American politics. This party is now virtually indistinguishable from the party traditionally dependent on contributions from banks, insurance companies and Wall Street firms. Public financing of campaigns is an essential element of getting money out of politics. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School has done a deep dive into the issue of public financing of campaigns. I recommend their work highly.
Additionally, my biggest problem with American foreign policy has to do with money in politics. I believe that there’s no other issue that can explain the following: one year ago, 60% of House Democrats voted for a defense budget $50 billion more than Donald Trump proposed. The only explanation for such a vote is to curry favor with defense contractors; until we get money out of politics we really cannot reform the Department of Defense, the way it needs to be reformed.
We need to rebuild union power by reversing years of anti-union policies – first by reestablishing the National Labor Relations Board’s Division of Economic Research. Our workplaces and the very nature of work itself is changing so rapidly that unions need to get reliable information about organizing targets and new opportunities for growth.
Secondly, the Department of Justice needs to establish a Corporate Crime Database and Annual Report (first introduced in the 112th Congress). Prominent among the crimes to watch and repot on are: union-busting – often a form of psychological persecution of union supporters and, also, the refusal of bosses to bargain, even after workers win bargaining rights. Both are addressed in the new ‘‘Workplace Democracy Act,’’ recently introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
We also need to revive the Division of Economic Research of the NLRB (shut down during the Red Scare); our new workplaces and often-precarious employment relations need to be studied with an eye toward leveling the playing field for workers in addressing management prerogatives. Much can be done to increase skills-training for low-income youths, but we need to define what types of resource training to provide.
There are over 40 million under-insured Americans and almost 30 more with no health insurance at all. The expansion of Medicare must not be prevented by lobbyists from the Medical and Insurance industries. Medicare for all would create enough bargaining power to lower drug prices and many other costs in the medical care system.
America has the most expensive and one of the least-efficient medical care delivery systems in the world. We need to eliminate health insurance companies who do nothing but add complexity to the system while making some of the highest executive salaries of any industry. Additional reforms will also be necessary to avoid corporate subsidies on a massive scale.
As the chief rule-of-law officer for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni Province 2012-13, I had a significant economic development portfolio. When we turned our attention to Afghanistan’s mineral development possibilities, I took a careful look into the province’s two promising “lithium brine” salt lakes. (Afghanistan was dubbed “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” by the Pentagon in 2009.) After checking with the US Geological Survey, I discovered that the northern lake in our province was an important “wetland preserve”. After months of back-and-forth with an Afghan PhD student working at the USGS, I made certain that this was an important factor in our “mineral resources exploitation” report.
Our country suffers greatly from a bitterly divisive issue. When we need to come together and make progress on many fronts we are being pulled apart. We need legislation that extends temporary protective status and also addresses the need to get the DACA people settled in.
It should be noted that we are suffering an immigration crisis mainly because nothing was done for almost two decades. The unauthorized population grew and neither party addressed the issue. There have been numerous “path to citizenship” bills introduced with bipartisan support under both of the last two Democratic & Republican administrations. What happened to stop their passage? They were killed by lobbyists for corporate interests that benefit from people living in the shadows. These migrant workers can be paid lower wages, bosses don’t have to worry about workers organizing, and there is virtual impunity from prosecution for employers. We must come together to overcome the special interests and fix this now.
Weatherization = Climate Action + Jobs
This is an urgent issue and there is abundant “low-hanging fruit.” Hundreds of rich institutions in the Northeast and Upper Midwest (many pay no taxes, but that’s another issue) should be required to do detailed energy audits and remediation plans. Cornell University is a very positive example.
We must address income inequality
President Donald Trump has crowed that the U.S. economy has never been so strong – never in such great shape, “and jobs are flooding back.” Yet, there’s nothing on the horizon that suggests a reversal of 30+ years of growing income inequality. We must address this now.
Congress needs to debate the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
I’ve lived 11 years in Muslim-majority countries. I was in Ghazni for 10 months in 2013 – side-by-side with our troops. When John Kerry, then Secretary of State, visited Afghanistan, I told him about the murderous Haqqani network operating in our province; they’re worse than the Taliban because they corrupt local officials and warlords. Smuggling is rife – partly because after a decade and tens of millions of dollars to the Mines Ministry, there is still no mining law!
Notes from the Administrator:
Over the past months you may have noticed some appearance problems at our blog-site. These were caused by software incompatibilities with the widgets. Today I changed WordPress themes in order to fix those problems. Everything other than the look should be the same. All previous blog posts, comments, media, and site contents are retained. If you run into any problems, please let me know.
I came across this pictue that I thought was interesting. It shows our torch logo as it originally appeared. This is a flyer for the Social Democratic Party in Peekskill, New York in 1900. Compare it to our current logo on our home page.
And finally, a reminder that Subscribe and Unsubscribe functions are User-Controlled on our home page in the right hand column.
Following a successful tabling at the Democratic convention in June, Massachusetts Social Democrats unveiled its new web site and Facebook page last Saturday. Eldon Clingan, Chair of the Bay State group, said that its purpose is to disseminate social democratic ideas to the progressive movement and to provide space for their discussion. “We welcome social democrats from several activist groups in our state,” he said. “We don’t seek to supplant such groups but to supplement their efforts with education and advocacy.” He said that MSD is planning future distribution of social democratic printed materials, in addition to its web site, and that the group is hoping to sponsor a conference on the future of progressive politics after the fall general election. He pointed out that MSD has made arrangements with Dissent Magazine to provide each member with a digital subscription, normally a $19.95 value, as a member benefit. “Since member dues are only $20 a year, we think that’s a good deal,”. Clingan said.
MSD’s Secretary/Webmaster is Michael Passarini, a student at the University of Massachusetts- Boston. The web site can be found at masocialdemocrats.org.
Families Belong Together—Attend a June 30 Event!
Donald Trump and his administration have cruelly separated thousands of children from their families. Now they’re jailing families — and they haven’t yet reunified the families already brutally torn apart.
But we won’t allow it to continue. On June 30, we’re rallying in Washington, D.C., and around the country to tell Donald Trump and his administration to permanently end the separation of kids from their parents. End family internment camps. End the “zero-humanity” policy that created this crisis. And reunify the children with their parents.
Trump and his administration have been systematically criminalizing immigration and immigrants, from revoking Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to ramping up intimidating ICE tactics.
Join us on June 30 to send a clear message to Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress: Families Belong Together!
If there’s not an event near you, keep checking back or create an event at the link below.
- : Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
- AK: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Sitka, Valdez
- AL: Andalusia, Auburn, Birmingham, Dothan, Florence, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery
- AR: Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock
- AZ: Bisbee, Chandler, Flagstaff, Kingman, Nogales, Payson, Phoenix, Pinetop, Prescott, San Luis, Tucson
- CA: Alameda, Angels Camp, Avalon, BOLINAS, Bakersfield, Barstow, Berkeley, Bishop, Boonville, Burbank, Calexico, Camarillo, Carlsbad, Carpinteria, Chico, Claremont, Concord, Dublin, El Cajon,, Eureka, Fairfax, Fort Bragg, Fremont, Fresno, Grass Valley, Greenfield, Half Moon bay, Healdsburg, Hollister, Idyllwild, Irvine, King City, Laguna Beach, Lakeport, Lancaster, Livermore, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Merced, Modesto, Monterey, Moreno Valley, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, National city, Nipomo, Oakland, Ojai, Oxnard, Palm Springs, Palo Alto, Pasadena, Petaluma, Piedmont, Pittsburg, Pleasanton, Point Arena, Ramona, Redding, Redondo Beach, Redwood City, Richmond, Riverside, SOLVANG, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Sonora, Stockton, Temecula, Tracy, Truckee, Ukiah, Vacaville, Valencia, Vallejo, Ventura, Victorville, Visalia, Watsonville, West Hollywood, West Point, Westlake Village, Yucca Valley
- CO: Alamosa, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Edwards, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Longmont, Montrose, Paonia, Pueblo, Salida, Steamboat Springs, Telluride, Yuma
- CT: Deep River, East Haddam, Fairfield, Greenwich, Litchfield, Middletown, Milford, New London, Salisbury, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Watertown, West Hartford, Willimantic, Wilton
- DC: Washington
- DE: Dover, Wilmington
- FL: Boca Raton, Clermont, Dade City, Daytona Beach, Deland, Fort Myers, Gainesville, Gulfport, Hollywood, Inverness, Jacksonville, Jensen Beach, Key Largo, Lake Worth, Lakeland, Melbourne, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Palmetto Bay, Panama City, Pensacola, Saint Augustine, Sarasota, Sebastian, Sebring, Tallahassee, Tampa, The Villages, West Palm Beach, spring Hill
- GA: Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Brunswick, Dalton, Lawrenceville, Lumpkin, Savannah, Valdosta
- HI: Hawi, Hilo, Honolulu, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Kamuela, Lihue
- IA: Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Fairfield, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City, Muscatine, Okoboji, Sioux City
- ID: Boise, Coeur D Alene, Idaho Falls, Ketchum, Lewiston, McCall, Meridian, Pocatello, Sandpoint, Twin Falls
- IL: Arlington Heights, Aurora, Barrington, Carbondale, Champaign, Chicago, Downers Grove, Elgin, Frankfort, Glenview, Highland Park, Joliet, Macomb, Ottawa, Peoria, Quincy, Rockford, Saint Charles, Springfield, Sycamore, Ullin
- IN: Anderson, Angola, Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Goshen, Hammond, Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, Logansport, Madison, Richmond, South Bend, Terre Haute
- KS: Dodge City, Lawrence, Wichita
- KY: Bowling Green, Louisville, Madisonville, Morehead, Pikeville
- LA: Baton Rouge, Covington, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans, Shreveport
- MA: Andover, Barnstable, Belchertown, Boston, Brewster, Brookline, Buzzards Bay, Chatham, Colrain, Dennis, Eastham, Falmouth, Framingham, Granville, Great Barrington, Greenfield, Harwich, Haverhill, Hyannis, Lunenburg, Mansfield, Mashpee, Nantucket, Natick, New Bedford, Newburyport, North Dartmouth, North Truro, Northborough, Orleans, Peabody, Pittsfield, Provincetown, Reading, Springfield, Vineyard Haven, Wellfleet, Westborough, Williamstown, Worcester
- MD: Baltimore, Cumberland, Frederick, Salisbury, University Park, Westminster
- ME: Augusta, Bangor, Bar Harbor, Bath, Brunswick, Damariscotta, Farmington, Lewiston/ Auburn, Machias, Portland, Presque Isle, Prospect Harbor, Vinalhaven
- MI: Adrian, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Big Rapids, Detroit, East Tawas, Flint, Fort Gratiot, Grand Rapids, Hart, Holland, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Ludington, Manistee, Marquette, Mt Pleasant, Muskegon, Petoskey, Pontiac, Saint Helen, Saint Joseph, Sault Ste Marie, Traverse City, Troy
- MN: Albert Lea, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, GRAND MARAIS, Grand Rapids, Lanesboro, Mankato, Minneapolis, Rochester, Virginia
- MO: Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Kansas City, Saint Joseph, Saint Louis, Springfield, Troy, West Plains
- MS: Bay St Louis + Pass Christian, Hernando, Jackson, Starkville, Tupelo
- MT: Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Libby, Livingston, Missoula
- NC: Asheville, Burlington, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Davidson, Durham, Franklin, Gastonia, Greensboro, Greenville, Hendersonville, Morganton, Nags Head, Newton, Ocracoke, Pittsboro, Raleigh, Salisbury, Southport, Statesville, Wilmington, Winston Salem
- ND: Antler, Fargo, Grand Forks
- NE: Alliance, Chadron, Lincoln, Mc Cook, Omaha, Scottsbluff
- NH: Concord, Conway, Hanover, Keene, Littleton, Manchester, Moultonborough, Nashua, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Wilton
- NJ: Asbury Park, Bedminster, Bordentown, Bridgeton, Cape May, Clifton, Edison, Englewood, Flemington, Glen Ridge, Glen Rock, Lambertville, Leonia, New Brunswick, Newark, Princeton, Red Bank, Rutherford, Toms River, Woodbury
- NM: Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Columbus, Farmington, Gallup, Roswell, Santa Fe, Silver City, Socorro, Tierra Amarilla, Truth or Consequences
- NV: Carson City, Las Vegas, Reno
- NY: Albany, Arkville, Bayside, Beacon, Binghamton, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Canton, Cobleskill, Cooperstown, Cortland, Dunkirk, East Meadow, East Quogue, East Setauket, Elmira, Fair Harbor, Fire Island, Geneva, Glens Falls, Great Neck, Greenport, Hamilton, Huntington Station, Ithaca, Jackson Heights, Kingston, Lido Beach, Malone, Monticello, New City, New Paltz, New Rochelle, New York, Oswego, Plattsburgh, Potsdam, Rhinebeck, Rochester, Rockville Centre, Rouses Point, Saranac Lake, Saratoga Springs, Staten Island, Syracuse, Warwick, Watertown, West Leyden, Westbury, White Plains, Woodstock
- OH: Ashland, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Delaware, Norwalk, Oberlin, Oxford, Port Clinton, Portsmouth, Toledo, Wilmington, Youngstown
- OK: Oklahoma City, Tahlequah, Tulsa
- OR: Albany, Astoria, Bend, Coos Bay, Corvallis, Eugene, Grants Pass, Hillsboro, Madras, McMinnville, Medford, Port Orford, Portland, Redmond, Roseburg, Salem, Sherwood, The Dalles
- PA: Ambler, Beaver, Bethlehem, Bridgeport, Doylestown, Harrisburg, Horsham, Indiana, Johnstown, Kennett Square, Lancaster, Milford, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Sharon, State College, Swarthmore, West Chester, Wilkes Barre, York
- PR: San Juan
- RI: Cranston, Providence
- SC: Bluffton, Charleston, Columbia, Darlington, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill
- SD: Aberdeen, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Vermillion
- TN: Buchanan, Chattanooga, Cookeville, Greeneville, Jackson, Johnson City, Knoxville, Memphis, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Smyrna
- TX: Abilene, Alpine, Amarillo, Austin, Brenham, Brownsville, Bryan, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Decatur, Deer Park, Denton, Edinburg, El Paso, Fort Worth, Galveston, Granbury, Houston, Kerrville, Kingsville, Laredo, Liberty, Longview, Lubbock, Lufkin, McAllen, McKinney, Midland, Nacogdoches, Odessa, Paris, San Antonio, Sherman, Waco, Wichita Falls
- UT: Kanab, Logan, Moab, Provo, Salt Lake City, St George
- VA: Alexandria, Big Stone Gap, Bristol, Charlottesville, Crozet, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Staunton, Tappahannock, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Woodstock
- VT: Barre, Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Essex Junction, Manchester Center, Rutland, Williston, Woodstock
- WA: Anacortes, Bellingham, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Bremerton, Coupeville, Eastsound, Edmonds, Ellensburg, Everett, Friday Harbor, Langley, Longview, Lynnwood, Mount Vernon, Ocean Shores, Olympia, Port Angeles, Pullman, Richland, Seatac, Spokane, Tacoma, Tonasket, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Wenatchee, West Seattle, Yakima
- WI: Amery, Appleton, Ashland, Delavan, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Menomonie, Milwaukee, Mineral Point, Minocqua, Oconomowoc, Onalaska, Oshkosh, Racine, Shorewood, Stevens Point, Sturgeon Bay, Viroqua, Washington Island, Waukesha, Wausau, Wisconsin Rapids
- WV: Hinton, Huntington, Parkersburg, Wheeling
- WY: Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Jackson, Laramie, Pinedale, Riverton, Sheridan