Ralph Nader: ‘Time to Topple Corporate Dictators’

Excerpted below, by Ralph Nader, via CounterPunch.org:

Americans Need to Start Showing Up

Time to Topple Corporate Dictators

By RALPH NADER

The 18 day non-violent Egyptian protests for freedom raise the question: is America next? Were Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine around, they would likely say “what are we waiting for?” They would be appalled by the concentration of economic and political power in such a few hands. Remember how often these two men warned about concentrated power.

Our Declaration of Independence (1776) listed grievances against King George III. A good number of them could have been made against “King” George W. Bush who not only brushed aside Congressional War-making authority under the Constitution but plunged the nation through lies into extended illegal wars which he conducted in violation of international law. Even conservative legal scholars such as Republicans Bruce Fein and former Judge Andrew Napolitano believe he and Dick Cheney still should be prosecuted for war and other related crimes. The conservative American Bar Association sent George W. Bush three “white papers” in 2005-2006 that documented his distinct violations of the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

Here at home, the political system is a two-party dictatorship whose gerrymandering results in most electoral districts being one-party fiefdoms. The two Parties block the freedom of third parties and independent candidates to have equal access to the ballots and to the debates. Another barrier to competitive democratic elections is big money, largely commercial in source, which marinates most politicians in cowardliness and sinecurism…

Half of democracy is showing up. Too many Americans, despairingly, are not “showing up” at the polls, at rallies, marches, courtrooms or city council meetings. If “we the people” want to reassert our proper constitutional sovereignty over our country—we can start by amassing ourselves in public squares and around the giant buildings of our rulers.

28 thoughts on “Ralph Nader: ‘Time to Topple Corporate Dictators’

  1. Gene Berkman

    The headline is misleading. Mr Nader attacks actions by the federal government and the bipartisan party, not actions by corporations.

    GE did not invade Iraq, nor did Microsoft. The U.S. government under President Bush carried out an illegal attack on Iraq.

    Bank of America did not restrict ballot access for third parties – Democrat & Republican politicos did.

    Focus, Mr Nader, Focus! The government is the problem. Take it away and the means of corporate abuse is taken away.

  2. Steven Wilson

    If Nader were more of a salesman he would get much further than he has. His altruism gets hit by his ego, and the objective goes out for lunch.

  3. Ross Levin Post author

    Aside from what Paulie is saying, the government didn’t just invade Iraq on a whim – plenty of corporations, like GE and Halliburton and Blackwater for instance, benefitted from the invasion.

  4. Gene Berkman

    Sure, corporations benefitted from the invasion of Iraq. And other corporations have lost because of the dislocations of the economy caused by the war.

    Still, it was not the board of directors of Halliburton or GE that voted in favor of the invasion. It was Congress, including Sen Hilary Clinton, Sen John Kerry, Sen John Edwards etc along with almost all the Republicans.

    Blaming corporations for the Iraq War is like blaming an attractive woman for the rape that happened to her.

  5. paulie

    The rest of Nader’s article:

    Our legislative and executive branches, at the federal and state levels, can fairly be called corporate regimes. This is corporatism where government is controlled by private economic power. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called this grip “fascism” in a formal message to Congress in 1938.

    Corporatism shuts out the people and opens governmental largesse paid for by taxpayers to insatiable corporations.

    Notice how each decade the bailouts, subsidies, hand-outs, giveaways, and tax escapes for big business grow larger. The word “trillions” is increasingly used, as in the magnitude of the rescue by Washington of the Wall Street crooks and speculators who looted the peoples’ pensions and savings.

    It is not as if these giant companies demonstrate any gratitude to the people who save them again and again. Instead, U.S. companies are fast quitting the country in which they were chartered and prospered. These corporations, which were built on the backs of American workers, are shipping millions of jobs and whole industries to repressive foreign regimes abroad, such as China.

    Over 70 percent of Americans in a September 2000 Business Week poll said corporations had “too much control over their lives.” It’s gotten worse with the last decade’s corporate corruption and crime wave.

    Wal-Mart imports over $20 billion a year in products from sweatshops in China. About a million Wal-Mart workers make under $10.50 per hour before deductions—many in the $8 an hour range. While Wal-Mart’s CEO makes about $11,000 a hour plus benefits and perks.

    This scenario has metastasized through the economy. One in three workers in the U.S. makes Wal-Mart level wages. Fifty million people have no health insurance and every year about 45,000 die because they cannot afford diagnosis or treatment. Child poverty is climbing as household income falls. Unemployment and underemployment are near 20% levels. The federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation since 1968, would be $10.00 per hour now. Instead, it is $7.25.

    Yet one percent of the richest Americans have financial wealth equivalent to the bottom ninety-five percent of the people. Corporate profits and compensation of corporate bosses are at record levels. While companies, excluding financial firms, are sitting on two trillion dollars in cash.

    On February 7, President Obama showed us where the power is by walking across LaFayette Park from the White House to the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Before a large audience of CEOs, he pleaded for them to invest more in jobs in America. Imagine, CEOs of pampered, privileged mega-companies often on welfare and in trouble with the law sitting there while the President curtsied.

    With Bill Clinton in the Nineties, corporate lobbies tightened their grip on our country by greasing through Congress both NAFTA and the World Trade Organization agreements that subordinated our sovereignty and workers to the global government of corporations.

    All this adds to the growing sense of powerlessness by the citizenry. They experience hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths and many more injuries every year in the workplace, the environment, and the marketplace. Massive budgets and technologies do not go to reduce these costly casualties, instead they go to the big business of exaggerated security threats.

    While the ObamaBush deficit-financed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been destroying those nations, our public works here, such as mass transit, schools and clincs crumble for lack of repairs. Foreclosures keep rising.

    The debt servitude of consumers is stripping them of control of their own money as fine print contracts, credit ratings and credit scores tighten the noose on family budgets.

    Half of democracy is showing up. Too many Americans, despairingly, are not “showing up” at the polls, at rallies, marches, courtrooms or city council meetings. If “we the people” want to reassert our proper constitutional sovereignty over our country—we can start by amassing ourselves in public squares and around the giant buildings of our rulers.

    In a country that has so many problems it doesn’t deserve and so many solutions that it doesn’t apply; all things are possible when people begin looking at themselves for the necessary power to produce a just society.

  6. paulie

    You can disagree with Nader all you want. I agree with some parts of what he says here and not others. But I don’t agree that “The headline is misleading. Mr Nader attacks actions by the federal government and the bipartisan party, not actions by corporations.”

  7. Gene Berkman

    No Paulie, the headline is misleading. The actions he attacks are actions taken by government. He ascribes responsibility for those actions to corporate power, but his evidence never rises above the level of assertion.

    Yes, American companies employ people in “repressive China” but China is less repressive since American, European & Japanese companies began to employ people there.

    And for all the movement offshore, the U.S. economy remains three times as large as China’s economy – or as large as the economies of China, Japan & Germany combine.

    The masses in Egypt revolted because more than half the population in Egypt makes less than $2 a day. Mr Nader is complaining that too many Americans make only $10 an hour.

    Let’s look at the real responsibility – American companies go overseas not mainly to take advantage of cheap labor. They go overseas to avoid the litigation that Mr Nader and his allies promote.

    Name a single consumer good that Mr Nader is responsible for making available to American consumers, or a single wage hike he can take responsibility for. Jeering from the Peanut Gallery is always very easy.

  8. Porn Again Christian

    “Notice how each decade the bailouts, subsidies, hand-outs, giveaways, and tax escapes for big business grow larger. The word “trillions” is increasingly used, as in the magnitude of the rescue by Washington of the Wall Street crooks and speculators who looted the peoples’ pensions and savings.”

    Sounds like the big corporations are getting screwed by government. And getting paid pretty well for it, too.

  9. Porn Again Christian

    “Yet one percent of the richest Americans have financial wealth equivalent to the bottom ninety-five percent of the people. ”

    Whoah. I knew there was disparity, but this sounds like it’s much greater than anything I thought. Is this statistic accurate?

  10. paulie

    No Paulie, the headline is misleading. The actions he attacks are actions taken by government. He ascribes responsibility for those actions to corporate power, but his evidence never rises above the level of assertion.

    I can certainly understand that you disagree with him, but it’s just not accurate to say that the headline is unrepresentative of his article. What you are saying is that you believe his thesis here is wrong, and that his evidence for it is unpersuasive. That’s a different assertion than saying that article is mislabeled. Nader delivers what he claims; whether you buy it or not is a separate matter.

  11. Gene Berkman

    “Is this statistic accurate?”

    It’s accurate in the same way that the statement “The illuminati hired Karl Marx to create the Federal Reserve” is accurate.

  12. paulie

    The masses in Egypt revolted because more than half the population in Egypt makes less than $2 a day.

    The masses in Egypt have made that little for decades. They revolted in large part because the government there lost control over the flow of information.

  13. paulie

    “Yet one percent of the richest Americans have financial wealth equivalent to the bottom ninety-five percent of the people. ”

    Whoah. I knew there was disparity, but this sounds like it’s much greater than anything I thought. Is this statistic accurate?

    Sounds fishy. Anyone have some sources on that?

  14. Gene Berkman

    I didn’t say the article was mislabeled. I said the title is misleading.

    I did not say his evidence was unpersuasive. I said he did not offer any evidence other than assertion.

  15. paulie

    I didn’t say the article was mislabeled. I said the title is misleading.

    You said the headline is misleading. To me that means that the content of the article does not match the headline. In this case, it does. If you want to say that the entire article is misleading, that’s an entirely different argument.

    I did not say his evidence was unpersuasive. I said he did not offer any evidence other than assertion.

    He offers various points in support of the idea expressed in the headline. You can certainly disagree with those, and I disagree with many of them myself, but that does not make the headline misleading.

  16. paulie

    Don’t get me wrong – thanks to Ross for posting a lot of articles the last few days…not sure why I’m burned out, but I am.

  17. MLS

    Yes, but the key word there is *financial* wealth, which is net worth minus net home equity — the thing that makes up by far the biggest chunk of net worth for most non-rich Americans. According to a 2006 paper from the Fed, the top 1 percent (in terms of net worth) in 2004 held 33.4 percent of net worth while the bottom 95 percent held 42.4 percent. The rich and super-rich tend to have a much larger proportion of their wealth (and debt) tied up in financial vehicles, so Nader’s statistic is misleading if you’re talking about true wealth inequality.

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