Ralph Nader Radio Hour-logo

Ralph Nader Radio Hour

News & Politics Podcasts

Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all. www.ralphnaderradiohour.com


United States


Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all. www.ralphnaderradiohour.com




Clean(er) Capitalism

Ralph welcomes Toby Heaps, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Canadian magazine “Corporate Knights,” which ranks the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations. And we welcome back Dr. Bandy Lee, psychiatrist and editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” to discuss Donald Trump’s continuing hold on 30% of the American population. Toby Heaps is the CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, and Editor-in-Chief of Corporate Knights magazine. He spearheaded the first global ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations in 2005, and in 2007 coined the term “clean capitalism.” Toby has been published in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Globe and Mail, and is a regular guest speaker on CBC. You see these stories happening all over the world, whether it’s from the oil companies or the electric power companies, fossil power companies, or food companies, or real estate companies. And the ones who are going all in, investing big in the green economy and the more sustainable economy are, more often than not, the ones who are hitting the biggest numbers financially. Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights We don’t want to just be doing a beauty contest or be subject to the latest headline. We’re trying to do something that’s reasonably rooted in evidence, and it can be defensible, and it can be considered fair. And we recognize that none of the big companies that we rank are perfect— they all have major issues, which is kind of the nature of the human condition. Toby Heaps, Corporate Knights Dr. Bandy Lee is a medical doctor, a forensic psychiatrist, and a world expert on violence who taught at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Law School for 17 years before transferring recently to Columbia and Harvard. She is currently president of the World Mental Health Coalition, an educational organization that assembles mental health experts to collaborate with other disciplines for the betterment of public mental health and public safety. She is the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President and Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul. Essentially, [Trump] did not have the capacity to have ideologies or policies. He can’t think at that level. What he can do is to manipulate psychologically those who are vulnerably predisposed and those who have formed emotional bonds with him. Dr. Bandy Lee These are the kinds of effects that we expect from having a person with severe mental symptoms holding an influential position and having lots of public exposure. We do have a propagation of symptoms. I’ve been calling this the “Trump Contagion” but what it really is is shared psychosis, which is a psychosocial phenomenon that’s been researched and described since around the mid-19th century. Dr. Bandy Lee [Trump voters] are still with him. But they would never support a friend or a neighbor who lied all the time, who had power over them, who described things that weren’t real about what was going on around them or what he did in the past, or who cheated his workers. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The United Autoworkers Union is on strike against the big three automakers. Just before the strike began, the Lever reported that General Motors claimed the union’s demands “would threaten our ability to do what’s right for the long-term benefit of the team.” Yet, for all their crying poverty, the Big Three “have reported $21 billion in profits in just the first six months of 2023,” and “have authorized $5 billion in stock buybacks.” The union’s strategy is also worth touching on, as it is novel for this industry. Instead of all workers going on strike at once, the union plans on “targeting a trio of strategic factories while keeping 90 percent of its members working under expired contracts,” per Axios. However, this story notes the ways industry plans to strike back, notably by utilizing quasi-lockouts at active plants. 2....


Reducing Gun Deaths

Professor David Hemenway, the author of “Private Guns, Public Health” joins us to explain how we can reduce gun deaths if we treat the problem more like a public health issue, just like Ralph proved when dealing with the auto industry. Plus, Ralph weighs in on the repeal of the child tax credit, and Francesco DeSantis reports news items that tend to get ignored in the corporate media in our segment “In Case You Haven’t Heard.” David Hemenway is an economist, Professor of Health Policy at Harvard University, and director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center. He is a former Nader’s Raider, and he is the author of Private Guns, Public Health, and While We Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention. Just by making it harder for criminals to get those guns, we have fewer criminals using those guns. That’s a fundamental law of economics and of psychology— if you don’t want people to do something, make it harder. If you want them to do it more, make it easier. David Hemenway The key about public health is: what we’re trying to do is prevent. Prevent. Prevent. Prevent. And too often, in the United States, what we try to do is blame. And often, blaming, all it does is say “Oh I don’t have to do anything. It’s somebody else’s fault.” David Hemenway [Reinstituting the Child Tax Credit] is something so simple, it’s something that helps so many families, it increases consumer demand because most of this money is spent on the necessities of life… and the Republicans are blocking it in Congress and not paying a political price. And that’s the story of the Democratic Party— they don’t make the Republicans, who are as cruel as any Republicans in history, pay a price. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. A Princeton University study, published at the end of August, traces the effects of unconditional cash transfers on homelessness. Focusing on Vancouver, Canada, researchers gave homeless people $7,500 Canadian. Conforming to the results of previous studies, the subjects used this money to get into housing – yet, what was remarkable about this study is it showed this program actually saved taxpayers money overall by relieving $8,277 per subject by removing them from the shelter system. 2. From Axios: 15 Senators have penned a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urging him to stop the planned admission of Israel into the Visa Waiver program. This program allows a country’s citizens to travel within the United States for 90 days without a visa. Built into this program is a provision demanding US citizens in a given country are treated equally – which is not the case for Palestinian Americans living in the West Bank. Israel claims that they are working to achieve compliance with this section of the law; however, this group of Senators argue that “There is no provision in law that provides that a visa waiver country can discriminate against certain groups of U.S. citizens for the first seven months of the program simply because a country claims they will treat all U.S. citizens equally for the last five months." 3. California Democrat Ro Khanna is making his pitch that President Biden should campaign on reelection on an anti-corruption platform, per the Huffington Post. Khanna, who previously chaired the Bernie Sanders campaign in California, has authored a five-point plan, consisting of “banning candidates for federal office from receiving donations from lobbyists or political action committees of any kind, banning members of Congress from trading stocks, limiting Supreme Court appointees to 18-year terms, imposing 12-year term limits on members of Congress, and requiring federal judges and Supreme Court justices to adhere to a new and more robust code of ethics.” Beyond the hard policy though, is a political point – Khanna argues “What we cannot allow to happen is for a former president ― twice impeached and four times...


The Procrastination Equation

Mark Twain once said, “Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow.” As an antidote to that Ralph welcomes Professor Piers Steel, author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done.” Plus, Ralph urges listeners to sign up for The Capitol Hill Citizen Association, another way to organize citizens to put pressure on the branch of our government where things must get done, the United States Congress. Dr. Piers Steel is one of the world’s leading researchers and speakers on the science of motivation and procrastination. Dr. Steel is a professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources area at the University of Calgary, and is the Brookfield Research Chair at the Haskayne School of Business. He is the author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done. The root of procrastination is impulsiveness. Impulsiveness is valuing the now more than the later… We’re designed to value the now. And this was really adaptive for a long time. It’s not a bad trait. It’s just that we’ve designed a world to take advantage of every little flaw that we have in our decision-making system. Dr. Piers Steel You have to deal with yourself as an imperfect, flawed creature and deal with the reality of that. We’re not robotic angels of perfection. We have limitations. And when I actually act within my limitations, I get stuff done. Dr. Piers Steel We’re superstars of self-control in the animal kingdom. We’re able to hunt and kill most anything because we’re willing to actually put in the delay of gratification. That’s really what makes us great. But we’re still not ready for things that are happening even a year off, much less five or ten. Dr. Piers Steel More people will listen to what we just said about becoming part of the Capitol Hill Citizen Association and say to themselves, “I’m going to get around to doing that,” than the actual number of people who do it in a prompt period of time. So it would be very good to listen to Professor Steel’s suggestions and read his book, because we cannot afford procrastinatory citizens. We have a procrastinatory Congress, and the citizens have got to get them to anticipate, to foresee, to forestall so many of the omnicidal urgencies that are coming at our country and other countries around the world. Ralph Nader To become a member of the Capitol Hill Citizen Association, click here. In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. On August 28th, 20 groups – ranging from Left-wing anti-war organizations like Veterans for Peace to Right-leaning government transparency groups like R Street Institute – sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees demanding they maintain Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s Cost of War amendment in the final National Defense Authorization Act. This provision “requires public disclosure about the cost of the U.S.’ overseas military footprint and gives the American people greater transparency on military spending.” Hopefully, the left-right consensus on this issue is enough to maintain this amendment. 2. In other Pentagon news, the Intercept reports that Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, has introduced an amendment demanding the Pentagon “collect information on trainees who overthrow their governments,” following the recent spate of coups in Africa. Gaetz told the Intercept “The Department of Defense, up until this point, has not kept data regarding the people they train who participate in coups to overthrow democratically elected — or any — governments.” This could become a flashpoint as Congress prepares to consider the 2024 NDAA when it returns from recess in September. 3. As expected, tensions are running high in Guatemala following the upset victory of anti-corruption crusader Bernardo Arevalo. Opponents of Arevalo had urged the country’s electoral tribunal to suspend his Semilla party on...


The San Quentin News

Ralph welcomes newspaper publisher, Steve McNamara, to discuss the "San Quentin News," California's largest resident-run newspaper and the birthplace of the San Quentin News Forum— where incarcerated men and visiting police, attorneys, and judges share their perspectives on the criminal justice system. Then Peter Lurie, President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) joins us to talk about CSPI's work advocating for a safer, healthier food system, as well as their newsletter "NutritionAction." Plus, Ralph questions why the US still hasn't ratified the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child— everyone else has done it! Steve McNamara is a newspaper publisher, editor, and reporter. He has previously written for and edited the Winston-Salem Journal, The Miami Herald, Car and Driver magazine, and the San Francisco Examiner. From 1966 to 2004 Steve and his wife, Kay McNamara, published the Pacific Sun—the country’s second-oldest alternative weekly newspaper— and Steve has served as president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors and as founding president of the National Association of Alternative Media. In 2008 he helped revive the San Quentin News— a newspaper written and edited by incarcerated men at San Quentin Prison— and continues to work as a volunteer adviser at the paper. The recidivism rate among the inmates is zero… And actually, the problem that we have is the turnover is terrific because they keep getting paroled or serving their sentence. Steve McNamara, San Quentin News Prisons are little empires and the emperor is the warden, and what he decides goes. And many, if not most of the other wardens in California wanted no part of this damn newspaper. So we had a lot of trouble getting it distributed. But by now it's become very popular with the inmates throughout the state, and with many of the correctional officers as well. Because we've made some intelligent decisions. One was to write the personality profiles of some of the better correctional officers and of the programs that take place in the prison. Steve McNamara, San Quentin News Most people in the criminal justice system think that it goes this way: somebody breaks into a house, and then they get caught, and they go before a judge, and they get sentenced, and they disappear. And as far as many, many people in the criminal justice system are concerned, that's the end of it. These people have disappeared. We don't need to worry about them any more. But as everybody should know, 80-90% of them will be back on the streets…So do you want these guys to have the same sort of attitude about life as they did when they went into prison? If not, here's a chance maybe to move things in a better direction. Steve McNamara, San Quentin News I've credited the Center for Science in the Public Interest with transforming the nutritional habits of perhaps 40 million people. It generated front page news, it was on the evening television news, Congressional hearings. Recently, and this has happened to a lot of citizen groups, the media has not been covering what we're doing. Ralph Nader Dr. Peter Lurie is President and Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest—an independent, science-based consumer advocacy organization that advocates for a safer, healthier food system. The CSPI also publishes NutritionAction, a healthy-living guide for consumers. Dr. Lurie previously worked with the Food and Drug Administration and Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, where he co-authored their Worst Pills, Best Pills consumer guide to medications. We at CSPI try to educate consumers on the one hand. And on the other hand, we try to take care of the environment such that consumers in some ways don't even need to be as educated because the environment is different. Peter Lurie, President of Center for Science in the Public Interest I think that most people—including in all likelihood the Current Commissioner— understand that the...


Join or Die

Ralph welcomes civic activist, writer and filmmaker, Pete Davis, to discuss “Join or Die,” a film about why you should join a club—and why the fate of America depends on it. Then Professor Scott Sklar, an expert on sustainable infrastructure joins us to talk about one of the easiest ways we can reduce our energy consumption and slow down the pace of our overheating planet: white roofs. Plus, Ralph has some choice words about the media’s coverage of the Republican presidential campaign and also how we don't truly celebrate Labor Day. And speaking of labor, Steve gives us an update on the Writers’ and Actors’ strike. Pete Davis is a writer and civic advocate. He is the author of Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in An Age of Infinite Browsing, co-founder of the Democracy Policy Network— a policy organization focused on raising up ideas that deepen democracy— and co-director—with Rebecca Davis— of the film Join or Die. 43% of Americans are part of zero organizations, and another 20% are only part of one organization. So we’re talking about two-thirds of the country that are not part of anything. So they don’t know how to run a meeting. They don’t know how to do an invitation. They don’t know how to deal with tension between neighbors. They don’t know how to plan something together in public. Pete Davis The real basic, atomic-level skills that eventually flourish into hardcore political action often start with softer civic organizing. Pete Davis Scott Sklar is Energy Director of George Washington University’s Environment & Energy Management Institute and Director of GW’s Solar Institute. Mr. Sklar is an expert on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructure, and runs The Stella Group, Ltd., a clean energy technology optimization and strategic policy firm. White [roofing] is preferable, but even the lightest gray or lightest brown reflects out. We need building codes to do this, we need community activists to do this, we need to train roofers and builders to do this, and we need to create a sort of social compact that [recognizes] this is very easy to do. And so with this and things like tree canopy we can reduce the heat on the ground, which will save lives, make people healthier, and use less energy. Scott Sklar The obvious 800-lb gorilla in the room is the contradiction, where corporations in energy arenas make more money selling waste (by the overuse of energy) and consumers save money by the efficient use of energy. So there’s a dead-on conflict between the two interests, and guess who has the most power in the country over government and media. So what Scott is saying is, the more you realize what you personally can save—quite apart from what your community and world can save— the more powerful you have to become. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. Capping off a campaign defined by underhanded tricks and legal brute force by the corrupt right-wing establishment, Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arevalo triumphed on Sunday – winning the presidential election in a landslide, with nearly 60% of the vote. However, even with this victory in hand, the road ahead remains perilous. As renowned investigative journalist Allan Nairn noted just before the election, “Arévalo…won't be due to be sworn in until January 14, 2024, and…members [of the corrupt ruling clique known as El Pacto] have made it clear that they will do what's needed to prevent that.” 2. Ecuador also held elections on Sunday, including the first round of their presidential contest. Moving to the runoff are Luisa Gonzalez, a left-wing leader backed by Ecuador's former president Rafael Correa and Daniel Noboa, a businessman and scion of a powerful family of banana tycoons, per AP. Yet, looming larger than either candidate is the specter of political violence directed at the left. Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated earlier this month, as was a local leftist politician,...


The False Promise of Small Nuclear Reactors

Ralph is joined by M.V. Ramana, professor at the “School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia,” to lay out the false promise of small nuclear reactors, which still carry the risk of accidents, still produce waste, still produce plutonium for the weapons industry and are still economically noncompetitive with wind and solar. Plus, in an interview recorded before the tragic wildfires in Maui we welcome back citizen activist and organizer, Paul Deslauriers, to break down how his progressive group was able to take over the governance of Maui County and how with a little “Common Sense” you can do the same. M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and a professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia. Professor Ramana is the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, and is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, the International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group, and the team that produces the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report. It seems inconceivable to me that anybody who has any sense of history would think about nuclear power— either the fission version or the hypothetical future nuclear fusion version— as an environmentally sustainable source of electricity. Professor MV Ramana What we are lacking in climate change today—simply because we’ve been so late in trying to act on it—is the urgency. The IPCC puts out report after report saying how high emissions are, how rapidly it has to be decreased if we have even a fighting chance of meeting a 1.5℃ target. And by putting off this kind of action, those calls are becoming more and more desperate. And I think that desperation is probably what’s driving some of these groups to say, “Well, you know, let’s make friends with everybody, and so on, and so forth.” But the challenge there is that every dollar we spend on nuclear power is a dollar that’s not spent on renewables, on energy efficiency, on other ways of trying to deal with [the climate crisis.] Professor MV Ramana As I’ve said on prior programs— nuclear power today is unneeded, unsafe, uninsurable, uncompetitive, irresponsible, very secretive, and not willing to suffer the verdicts of the marketplace. Ralph Nader Paul Deslauriers is a grassroots organizer, who has consulted over two hundred organizations involving mergers, restructuring, work process flows, teamwork, management coaching, and asset management. The work involved diverse groups such as the Alaskan Inuit, Icelandic communities. In 2002 Mr. Deslauriers became a full-time activist, coordinating nearly three hundred grassroots groups focused on government system change. He has written a number of guidebooks on organizing including Seven Steps to Reclaim Democracy: An Empowering Guide For Systemic Change, Reclaim Paradise: RESET for the Common Good, and Common Sense: How we are Reclaiming Democracy and Resetting for the Common Good. When you have a core team that is really dedicated in trying to bring about systemic change, and you have the foundation that you need, then you can really develop and grow this without a lot of divisiveness. Paul Deslauriers When you have volunteers, you have to have the right motivation, the right structure, the right training so that you can work cohesively and collaboratively together. And that’s so crucial for anyone who wants to start a similar group. Paul Deslauriers In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis1. National Review reports that Senator Marco Rubio is leading the neo-McCarthyist inquisition against left-wing anti-war groups, most notably CODEPINK. Following a New York Times report supposedly linking the group to Chinese influence networks, Rubio is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate this connection. CODEPINK and their allies have decried this move, calling the article a pack of “lies, distortions, innuendo and hate.” David Swanson...


Financing Co-ops

Ralph welcomes the CEO of the National Cooperative Bank, Casey Fannon to discuss his bank’s work serving cooperatives and other member-owned organizations. The NCB helps finance affordable housing, healthy food, renewable energy, small businesses, community-driven health care, and non-profit organizations and generally advises cooperatives around the country on how to build and grow. Plus, Ralph talks a little more about the Trump indictments and responds to some of your feedback. Casey Fannon is President and CEO of National Cooperative Bank, a leading financial services company dedicated to providing banking products to cooperatives and socially responsible organizations nationwide. Access to capital is one of the major stumbling blocks for any small business, but particularly small cooperative and new, young cooperatives. Casey Fannon There’s a small tent view of cooperatives and a large tent view of cooperatives. And I think that by focusing on the big tent…allows for a better NCB. I think NCB is better, and I think our consumer cooperatives are better off that we are tied into the cooperative ecosystem in a more fulsome way. Casey Fannon In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The progressive, Wisconsin-based legal group Law Forward has filed a brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court alleging that the state’s legislative maps violate the state constitution due to rampant partisan gerrymandering. Not only are the petitioners demanding new legislative maps, they are also calling on the court to cut all existing senate terms short. In practice, this would mean the entire legislature would be up for election in 2024. This could mean a political sea-change in the Badger State. 2. The LA Times reports that AOC, along with ten other progressive members of Congress, are planning to visit Latin American nations led by Leftist governments, in order to “learn from our counterparts in these countries, including how to confront disinformation and violent threats to our democracies.” She went on to add “It’s long past time for a realignment of the United States’ relationship to Latin America…The U.S. needs to publicly acknowledge the harms we’ve committed through interventionist and extractive policies, and chart a new course based on trust and mutual respect.” 3. In a win for workers, the Department of Labor has issued a rule on the Davis-Beacon Act, which “sets a wage floor for construction workers on public-works projects,” per the American Prospect. This law is also known as the “prevailing wage,” law as it sets benchmarks for wages in a given area. This rule could have major positive ramifications for workers as President Biden’s infrastructure package and the CHIPS Act are put into action. This New Deal era labor rule was significantly weakened under the Carter and Reagan administrations, and labor groups have been pushing for its restoration ever since. The article notes however that “the rule…is expected to be immediately challenged,” with the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group poised to file a lawsuit as early as next week. 4. In more labor news, the Washington Post reports that 11,000 Los Angeles city employees joined the writers, actors, and hotel employees in a one day strike to “shut down the city of Los Angeles,” according to David Green, executive director and president of SEIU Local 721. Green added “The message we’re sending is that our workers are just fed up. They’ve reached a breaking point. And we need these folks in the city to come back to the table for the good of the city.” 5. VICE reports that a group of 32 economists have sent a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency in support of rent control. This is the latest tactic in a campaign led by People’s Action. The article notes that “Economists have historically been the strongest critics of rent control,” but, like on the issue of minimum wage “some economists believe the orthodoxy on the topic has been contradicted by...


Digital Addictions

Ralph welcomes Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and an expert on culture and therapy, mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics to talk about our addictions to screens and how to break out of them. Plus, our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, opens the program with everything you need to know about the latest Trump indictment. Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall. I think it’s important for the audience to recognize that 100% of the incriminating evidence was supplied by Trump appointees or supporters. No Democrat made a cameo appearance. There was no incriminating evidence from any opponent of Donald Trump. It’s all his own people. And therefore, when you think about the indictment, the idea that it’s a witch hunt by Trump’s political enemies is facially lunatic. Bruce Fein These expressions by Trump were not good-faith belief that there may have been a few blunders someplace or other. And [they demonstrate] that the whole goal was to defraud the American people out of the right to have a peaceful transition of power based upon a free and fair count of the electoral votes. Bruce Fein Sherry Turkle is Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle is a sociologist, a licensed clinical psychologist, and she is an expert on culture and therapy, mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics. She is the author of several books, including Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, and The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir. That’s really what you’re fighting— this ethos that says, “When technology makes a problem, technology will solve that problem. In a friction-free manner. It will not involve changing capitalism, changing the structures of power, or saying that science and engineering need to be dethroned as the moral and cultural arbiters for the society we live in.” So, I think that the resistance movement has to come from politics and really has to come from political organization. Sherry Turkle [If I were king in this domain,] you absolutely have legislation that treats generative AI as though it were nuclear energy. In other words, do not say, “Well, there’s kind of an analogy. Maybe there’s an analogy because it’s very powerful.” But to really say, “This is going to disrupt us, it’s a national security threat, and it’s certainly a threat to our elections…” So, it can wreak havoc— unless you’re extremely vigilant and the thing is controlled— with every aspect of our democracy. Sherry Turkle There’s always a big-time gap between the damage of new technology and accountability catching up with it, or public awareness. Ralph Nader Hi everybody, Steve Skrovan here. This is halfway between a shameless plug and some useful information. As some of you may know, I have my own Substack page called Bits & Pieces. It’s mainly funny stories and essays. I wanted to alert you specifically to the last piece I wrote concerning the Writers’ Guild Strike. It’s funny but also packed with a lot of information for those of you who are interested. Some of you may think writers and actors striking is not a big deal, but our strike is emblematic of what is going on across many industries where the corporations are trying to turn us all into gig workers. On the RNRH, we have talked a lot about AI for instance, especially on the program you just heard. The writers and the actors have a chance to be the first entities to address regulating AI in a meaningful way. We are on...


Wonder Drug

Ralph spends the whole hour with Jennifer Vanderbes, author of “Wonder Drug: The Secret History Of Thalidomide In America And Its Hidden Victims.” Thalidomide was never “commercially available” in the U.S., but American doctors handed out samples to patients even though no one could prove the drug was safe. Or could definitively say what the drug did. And by the time thalidomide landed at the FDA for approval, whistleblowers, journalists, doctors, and patients in Germany, Australia, and the UK were sounding the alarm about its shocking side effects. Jennifer Vanderbes is an award-winning novelist, journalist and screenwriter. Her latest book is Wonder Drug: The Secret History Of Thalidomide In America And Its Hidden Victims. It did not shock me researching this story that the pharmaceutical firms operated with a focus on profit, and that allowed for cutting corners. What really did shock me in my research was realizing that the doctors uniformly gaslit these patients. And it was stunning to me that you didn’t have any of these physicians who had given the drug to pregnant women who realized. Jennifer Vanderbes I was very surprised to be looking through materials that were so at odds with what had been reported. And in many ways this became, to me, a story about what can happen when the media accepts at face value a certain spin on the story. The FDA was very dependent initially on what the drug firms were telling it, and then the press was depending on what the FDA was telling it, and then everybody sort of moved on. It was also a happy story that people wanted to believe: “we were the one wonderful country that had stopped this drug.“ Jennifer Vanderbes Their number one tactic is to just not even argue the merits of [thalidomide cases], but get them dismissed on the basis that, “All these people should have known.” And I would say six years of my life—and this book— is really an examination of how incredibly reasonable and understandable it is that these individuals did not know. They were not given the information, and the government was quite complicit. Jennifer Vanderbes The best investigative reporters in America didn’t uncover this story, until [Jennifer Vanderbes] put it together in a book. Because it took unbelievable energy, curiosity, travel, interviewing the survivors, going to their homes, and the most recent development— which was really incredible that it didn’t get national TV and radio coverage— was the gathering, for the first time, of thalidomide victims in San Diego. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis1. On July 25th, The Teamsters reported that UPS caved to their demands, narrowly avoiding a massive strike. The wins in the new contract include higher wages, more jobs, ending the two-tier wage system, air conditioning in UPS trucks, part-time Rewards, and drivers getting Martin Luther King Day off. The union has triumphantly declared “We’ve Changed the Game” If these negotiations had fallen through, 340,000 UPS Teamsters would have gone on strike. Other employers, such as the Hollywood AMPTP, should take notes. 2. The Intercept reports that the Sanders-led Senate HELP Committee has passed an amendment to the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act allocating $3 million to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to explore new options to pay for developing pharmaceuticals, specifically through public funding or “innovation prizes.” These drugs would then enter the public domain so they could be sold as generic medications. Sanders has made the cost of prescription drugs a high priority during his chairmanship on the committee, and hopefully this effort will bear fruit. 3. Following months of protest, CNN reports that Israel has rammed through their controversial judicial reform legislation. This law will limit the independence of the Israeli judiciary, which has been a bulwark against the most extreme Right-wing factions in the country. This...


Stop Ignoring The People!

Ralph and our resident constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, discuss how they compiled letters they sent to various government officials and representatives that have gone unanswered into a book titled “The Incommunicados” and how this unresponsiveness violates our First Amendment right to petition our government for redress of grievances. Then Washington Post opinion columnist, Helaine Olen, highlights the corporate equivalent, how hard it is to reach a human being for customer service and how all of this plays into the free-floating anger and general unrest of an American population that feels unheard. Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar and an expert on international law. Mr. Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and he is the author of Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall. Today, I couldn’t have gotten through to members of the Senate or House on the auto safety issue. We couldn’t have gotten through for them to even consider (much less pass) the auto safety legislation that they did in 1966. Because I could get on the line and even if I couldn’t get a member, I could call and get the chief of staff or get the legislative director in order to have access. I could go down to Capitol Hill and get the hearings, get the media attention, and get the law to save millions of lives. So, this is serious. It isn’t just a matter of literary courtesy here. Ralph Nader What we have in the right to petition for the redress of grievances is an effort to prevent a repeat of the deaf ear that King George was turning to the grievances of the colonists. And the right to petition implies a corollary obligation to respond… That’s the heart of what democratic discourse is about. Part of what holding government officials accountable is about— requiring them to explain their decisions. They don’t have to agree with us, but they can’t just ignore us and treat us as though we’re not human beings. Bruce Fein Helaine Olen is an expert on money and society, and an award-winning columnist for the Washington Post. Her work has appeared in Slate, the Nation, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and many other publications, and she serves on the advisory board of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She is co-author of The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated and the author of Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry. This is part of why Americans are so angry. Is our lives as consumers. In the United States we often confuse our consumer lives with being a citizen. We think if the phone line isn’t working if the airline isn’t working, if we can’t get through to the doctor’s office, there’s something wrong with the state of the country. And every time one of these interactions deteriorates, there’s this sense of ‘things don’t work,’ which I think is pervasive in the United States… and I think it translates into this free-floating anger that then gets turned around and leveled at random people at the government, fill in the blank.” Helaine Olen There’s this dominant narrative out there right now that American consumers are becoming greedy and grasping and they’re abusing the help— which happens, I don’t want to say every consumer is a perfect citizen by a long shot— but I think it is partly a response to the fact that people are often treated very very badly. And there’s really no one to complain to that will actually do anything about this. Helaine Olen In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA, has joined the Writers Guild in going on strike following the collapse of negotiations with the studios. This new strike covers 160,000 actors and coming as it does amid the writers strike, will effectively shut down Hollywood production for the foreseeable future. In a widely shared video, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher decried the...


Young Swing Voters

Ralph welcomes Maxim Thorne director of the non-partisan Civic Influencers, an organization that trains young people to inspire their peers to vote and therefore swing elections toward issues they care about and also fights “generational gerrymandering,” efforts by certain states to make it harder for 18 to 29-year-olds to vote. Plus, Ralph gives his take on some recent news items, answers your questions, and comments on your recent feedback. Maxim Thorne is a lawyer, activist, philanthropist, and a Lecturer at Yale. He has worked with the NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, New Jersey Head Start Association, GLAAD, the Executive Committee of the Yale Law School, and the Yale Alumni Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He currently serves as Chief Executive of Civic Influencers, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to inspiring young people to make their voices heard—and their votes count. When we think about how important young people are to saving our democracy, and voting on pro-democracy candidates, and voting on issues like climate change and abortion rights and LGBTQ rights— what are we giving them? If you are not moving to relieve their student debt, and you are not moving to allow them to organize so they get better paid jobs that allow them to lead a decent life, you’re not giving that most important part of our electorate what they need and what they’re demanding. Maxim Thorne We can show [young people] the power of their vote— that’s the marching band, the glee club, the gospel choir, the football team, the cheerleaders alone could swing that election. One dorm could swing that election. That is power. Maxim Thorne It’s really amazing how, after the civil rights battles and the civil rights laws in the 1960s and ‘70s, most people thought, “That battle is over, it’s up to you to vote, and no one’s going to obstruct you.” And along come some of these rightwing corporate lawyers for the GOP. And they say, “Hey, we can develop all kinds of ways to harass, delay, expunge, purge, and not count votes!” And that’s what a lot of Republican governors are doing from Florida to Texas. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. For the first time in 20 years, Israel has attacked the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp, the New York Times reports. Less than two weeks earlier, far-right Israeli defense minister Itamar Ben Gvir went on record saying “We have to settle the land of Israel and at the same time need to launch a military campaign, blow up buildings, assassinate terrorists. Not one, or two, but dozens, hundreds, or if needed, thousands.” This brutal attack has reignited international outcry against Israeli apartheid, including from the United Nations, but few expect the Biden administration to impose serious penalties in response. 2. A group of congressional progressives is speaking out in response to the White House’s decision to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine. In a statement, this group wrote “Cluster munitions have been banned by nearly 125 countries…because of the indiscriminate harm they cause, including mass civilian injury and death.” This statement also notes that the administration is circumventing clear directives from Congress restricting the transfer of these weapons. This statement was signed by Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, and Ilhan Omar, among other progressives. 3. Per Ryan Grim of the Intercept, on the other side of the aisle, Matt Gaetz – the dissident House Republican – has committed to cosponsoring the amendment to bar the transfer of cluster munitions. One hopes this Left-Right coalition can expand and stop this move. 4. The Verge reports that Microsoft has won the first round of its legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC sought a preliminary injunction to prevent the tech giant’s acquisition of the video game conglomerate Activision Blizzard. The ruling follows “five days of grueling testimony.” Despite their victory, Microsoft still...


The American Dream: And Other Fairy Tales

Ralph welcomes Abigail Disney, to discuss her work trying to get her namesake’s company to pay their workers a fair, livable wage as told in her documentary, “The American Dream: And Other Fairy Tales.” Plus, Erica Payne cofounder of The Patriotic Millionaires and co-author of “Tax The Rich!” returns to update us on their latest work educating ordinary Americans about how they can advocate for a fairer tax system. Abigail Disney is a social activist, philanthropist, and an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. She is also Chair and Co-Founder of Level Forward, an ecosystem of storytellers, entrepreneurs, and social change-makers dedicated to balancing artistic vision, social impact, and stakeholder return. She also created the nonprofit Peace is Loud, which uses storytelling to advance social movements, and the Daphne Foundation, which supports organizations working for a more equitable, fair, and peaceful New York City. She is Co-Founder of Fork Films, a nonfiction media production company, which produces original documentaries and the podcast All Ears. Her latest film, which she co-directed with Kathleen Hughes, is The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales. Heirs and heiresses have gotten into a lot of trouble down the years trying to impose their will on the world. I think that my job, if I have one, is to impose the will of the world on wealthy people instead of the other way around. Abigail Disney We need to reinvigorate the IRS, we need to reinvigorate OSHA, we need to reinvigorate the NLRB and the other referees that have been made anemic by the constant assault of budget cuts. Abigail Disney It is amazing to me that, as this far rightwing guy, [Roy Disney] would never have treated his workers in a million years the way that the CEO at the time—Bob Iger, who was toying with running for president as a Democrat—was treating them on the regular. And that was the total capture of the entire American political spectrum by an idea about work and working that was the inverse—in a relatively short period of time— of what my grandfather was doing as a matter of course. Abigail Disney Erica Payne is the founder and president of Patriotic Millionaires, an organization of high-net-worth individuals that aims to restructure America’s political economy to suit the needs of all Americans. Their work includes advocating for a highly progressive tax system, a livable minimum wage, and equal political representation for all citizens. She is the co-author, with Morris Pearl, of Tax the Rich: How Lies, Loopholes and Lobbyists Make the Rich Even Richer. As far as I can tell, the billionaire class bought up the entire Republican Party and a sufficient number of Democrats that they got a stranglehold on this economy. What they basically created is a system that guarantees we become more unequal more quickly over time, they destabilize the entire country, they threaten democratic capitalism around the world…Mathematically, there’s absolutely no direction this country can go in other than more unequal. And we’re looking at a game of economic Jenga, where we’re basically pulling money out of the bottom and the middle and putting it on the top and the whole thing’s in the process of collapsing. Erica Payne If they are talking to you about something other than money, they are stealing your money. So the next time someone is talking to you about abortion, or transgender rights, or critical race theory, or any of these other things, you can rest assured that these politicians on the back end are stealing your money. Erica Payne I’m glad you mentioned Reagan, because I think liberals and progressives underestimate the gigantic impact this cruel man with a smile had on the culture with his market fundamentalism. Ralph Nader The book giveaway for "Tax the Rich!: How Lies, Loopholes, and Lobbyists Make the Rich Even Richer" by Erica Payne and Morris Pearl is now closed. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who showed...


What’s The Matter With Delaware?

Ralph welcomes journalist and executive director for intellectual capital at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Hal Weitzman, to discuss his book “What’s The Matter With Delaware? How the First State Has Favored the Rich, Powerful, and Criminal—and How It Costs Us All.” Hal Weitzman is Executive Director for Intellectual Capital at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and editor-in-chief of Chicago Booth Review. A former Financial Times editor and foreign correspondent, he is the author of Latin Lessons: How South America Stopped Listening to the United States and Started Prospering and What’s the Matter with Delaware?: How the First State Has Favored the Rich, Powerful, and Criminal—and How It Costs Us All. We know that lawyers and investors in corporations hate political uncertainty because it might affect their profit-making process. And in Delaware they’ve perfected that system. They have completely bypassed any political uncertainty, and therefore also bypassed any oversight or regulation. Hal Weitzman The state of Delaware, the major law firms, the legislature, and the State Secretary of State over the years have created a very powerful embrace to make sure that Delaware stays #1 in terms of being a haven for these kinds of corporations, and in terms of making sure that the federal government interferes the least. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis 1. The Lever reports that in Delaware, The Company State, in a little town called Seaford, corporations may soon have the right to vote. The town has proposed an amendment to their charter granting LLCs, corporations, trusts or partnerships suffrage in municipal elections. Claire Snyder-Hall, executive director of Common Cause Delaware called this a "shocking...attempt to [give] artificial entities… voting rights," and characterized it as the “flipside [of voter suppression]." This proposal would require the blessing of both houses of the Delaware legislature, and while unlikely to pass, the corporate control of the First State is so powerful that passage cannot be entirely counted out either. 2. Senate HELP Committee Chair Bernie Sanders has launched an investigation into safety at Amazon. Chairman Sanders wrote on Twitter “If Amazon can afford to spend $6 billion on stock buybacks last year, it can afford to make sure its warehouses are safe. If Amazon can afford to pay its CEO $289 million over the past 2 years, it can afford to treat all of its workers with dignity and respect, not contempt.” To further this investigation, the HELP committee has launched an online portal allowing “current or former workers, supervisors, medical staff, or anyone else in Amazon's warehouses,” to submit their stories of mistreatment. 3. A troubling new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlights the rise in pedestrian fatalities in recent years. According to the data, over 8,000 pedestrians were killed on US roadways in 2022, more than double the number who were killed in 2010 and higher than any year since 1980. Regulators must take pedestrian safety as seriously as that of automobile drivers. 4. Last Thursday, Indian Prime Minister and Right-wing extremist Narendra Modi addressed Congress, following his meeting with President Biden. A number of progressive Democrats boycotted the event, including Reps. Summer Lee, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Rashida Tlaib, and AOC. In a joint statement issued by Bush and Bowman, the members wrote “by bestowing Prime Minister Modi…the rare honor of a joint address, Congress undermines its ability to be a credible advocate for the rights of religious minorities and journalists around the world.” This from the Hill. 5. People’s Dispatch reports that the New York City Council has passed a resolution calling for the United States to end the blockade on Cuba. New York City now joins Washington, D.C. and Chicago in passing such resolutions. This resolution...


War Made Invisible

Ralph spends the entire hour with co-founder of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Norman Solomon, to discuss his latest book, “War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine,” which examines how our “military-industrial-media-intelligence complex” conspires to suppress the truth about war. Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of War Made Easy, Made Love, Got War, and his newest book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine. The tacit motto of huge media outlets like the New York Times is: Being pro-war means never having to say you’re sorry. If a journalist or a media outlet is in favor of the US engaging in war, that is couched as “objective.” If a journalist (such as Phil Donahue on MSNBC) in the leadup to the war even raises questions, serious questions critical of an impending invasion or ongoing US war then that's considered “biased.” Norman Solomon These wars are treated as though they aren’t wars. That they don’t exist. That “there’s nothing to see here, folks!” Because we say so. We have our own criteria. And part of that is the jingoism and the nationalism and the racism that says if the people at the other end of US firepower don’t look like us, are not in a country aligned with us, then we don’t think there’s really a reason to consider it a major problem. It’s only a problem when Americans are dying. Norman Solomon This was a real sociocide—thousands and thousands of bombs and missiles dropped on Iraq. And here’s the New York Times, being fed by one of their reporters Judith Miller total lies about Saddam importing uranium from Niger and Africa and other falsehoods that made page one in the New York Times. What is clearly probably its darkest journalistic chapter… There doesn’t seem to be anything learned today. They could just as well do it today against another country. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard 1. On Wednesday, The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Amazon, alleging that the online retailer “tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions [for Amazon Prime] without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money,” according to FTC Chair Lina Khan. Khan added “These manipulative tactics harm consumers and law-abiding businesses alike.” According to internal documents “Amazon named [the cancellation] process ‘Iliad,’…refer[ing] to Homer’s epic about the long, arduous Trojan War.” More about this lawsuit is available at the Washington Post. 2. As the Teamsters continue to negotiate for a better deal with UPS, the membership has voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike. This vote – which passed with 97 percent support – gives the union “maximum leverage to win demands at the bargaining table,” according to the union’s statement. The statement goes on to note that the Teamsters represent more than 340,000 UPS package delivery drivers and warehouse logistics workers nationwide. Teamsters president Sean O’Brien added “The strongest leverage our members have is their labor and they are prepared to withhold it to ensure UPS acts accordingly.” 3. For the fist time since 2019, the Democratic-controlled Senate Banking committee will hold a “mark-up” session on a bill – a key step toward enacting any legislation. This bill – sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown, who chairs the committee, and Tim Scott of South Carolina – seeks to claw back excessive compensation from executives at failed banks and penalize them for misconduct. This legislation was almost certainly drafted in response to the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. The draft text of this bill is available at Punchbowl News. 4. The American Prospect reports that, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” or FSD has led to at least 736...


Tribute to Ford, Robinson, and Belafonte

This week we welcome back Professor Randall Kennedy to help us pay tribute to three principled, uncompromising African American activists, Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report, human rights champion, Randall Robinson, and legendary actor, singer, and activist, Harry Belafonte. Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He is the author of several books, including Contracts: Happiness and Heartbreak, For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law, and Say It Loud! On Race, Law, History, and Culture. You’ve chosen three very interesting people [Randall Robinson, Harry Belafonte, and Glen Ford]. And I think that one thing that the listeners should keep in mind is that the three that you’ve chosen are all progressive; they are very different… Because the tent of progressivism should be a large tent— not everybody’s going to think the same, and indeed there’s going to be some friction between various tendencies among progressives. Randall Kennedy I don’t think that progressives pay enough attention to the people who have been in their camp. We don’t pay enough attention to people who have passed away. We don’t pay enough attention to recalling people who have been heroic in our midst. And, again, I say this as a person who is sometimes extremely critical of some of the people that you’ve mentioned. Randall Kennedy We need people like Glen Ford to pull in one direction uncompromisingly—because the corporate interests always pull in the other direction uncompromisingly—and then we need people who are in between and sometimes have to face the hard realities you’ve pointed out. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard 1. The Wall Street Journal and the Corporate Crime Reporter have announced that, following decades of citizen pressure, and action last year by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, the Department of Justice has finally created a Corporate Crime Database. Under President Biden, the Justice Department has taken a tougher rhetorical stance on corporate crime, but as Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco notes, the department “cannot ignore the data showing overall decline in corporate criminal prosecutions over the last decade...We need to do more and move faster.” Among civic groups, The Center for Study of Responsive Law and Public Citizen lead the charge to create these corporate rap sheets and are already working to expand and strengthen this new resource for corporate crime data. 2. If you live on the East Coast, you have likely experienced dangerous levels of air pollution in the last week due to smoke moving South from Canadian wildfires. Yet, the Lever reports that under current air quality rules, fossil fuel producers will not have to curb their emissions to offset this spike in air pollution because they have successfully lobbied for a loophole protecting themselves in the case of “exceptional events” outside their control. Environmental regulators are currently mulling a new rule to clamp down on this type of air pollution, but face stiff opposition from industry groups. 3. The Washington Post reports that, in an exercise of his leverage in the tightly divided Senate, Bernie Sanders has vowed to oppose all Biden health nominees until the administration produces a “comprehensive” plan to lower prescription drug prices. Sanders’ role as Chair of the Health Education Labor and Pensions committee means these nominees cannot advance without his blessing. This notably includes Biden’s nominee for director of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH. Sanders said “Politicians for years have talked about the high cost of prescription drugs, relatively little has been done, and it’s time that we act decisively.” 4. The Progressive International has issued a statement decrying the “soft coup” underway against left-wing President Gustavo...


Economic False Prophets

Ralph welcomes New York Times reporter, Binyamin Applebaum, author of “The Economists' Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society” about how Chicago School economists of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s “who believed in the power and the glory of markets… transformed the business of government, the conduct of business, and, as a result, the patterns of everyday life.” Binyamin Appelbaum is the lead business and economics writer on the Editorial Board of the New York Times. From 2010 to 2019, he was a Washington correspondent for the Times, covering economic policy in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. He previously worked for the Charlotte Observer, where his reporting on subprime lending won a George Polk Award and was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. His latest book is The Economists' Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society. The central attraction of neoliberalism—of market fundamentalism— is that it tells rich and powerful people that they are right and good. It underscores for them, it affirms them, it tells them that their priorities—their interests— are the right ones. And if society just does what it can to enrich them and empower them, then everyone will be better off. That’s an enormously attractive message. Binyamin Applebaum In area after area, we saw economists reaching broad conclusions about theories, about long-term truths, about how the world works on the basis of very limited data. Broad data. Data that aggregated everyone and treated them as if they were a single individual, rather than acknowledging the important differences among actors in the economy. Data that took very brief periods of history and extrapolated out to the unforeseeable future. And on that basis, economists reached conclusions that have proven to be empirically wrong as we’ve learned more about it. Binyamin Applebaum Economic analysis tends to exclude things that don’t fit neatly into its formulas— that can’t be easily counted or tabulated, that don’t count as data in the view of the economists… We can have very good real-world experience of the effects of drug regulation regimes or of corporate behavior and monopolistic contexts, and if it doesn’t tally on the data sheet it gets excluded from the analysis. It doesn’t become part of our policy-making conversation. Binyamin Applebaum We have a huge societal problem with our conception of spending on corporations as investment and spending on people as spending. When we talk about education, it’s an expense. When we talk about semiconductors, it’s an investment into the future. That’s insane. Spending on education is the most productive investment that we can make. Binyamin Applebaum What the market fundamentalist economists fail to take into account is greed and power, connected to one another, are infinite. There’s no discernible boundary. And that leads to a regulation by corporations of the competitive free market. So, monopolies distort markets. Subsidies and bailouts by the government distort market discipline. Political influence of big business over small business distorts market discipline. And consumer fraud, corporate consumer crimes, deceptive advertising distorts market discipline. Ralph Nader Get full access to Ralph Nader Radio Hour at www.ralphnaderradiohour.com/subscribe


License to Loot

A “license to loot” is what our guest, economist William Lazonick, calls stock buybacks. Until the Reagan Revolution, stock buybacks were considered market manipulation and at the very least are an unproductive use of profits used only to pump up the stock price and enrich upper management, while neglecting workers’ wages, capital expansion, and innovation. Ralph and Professor Lazonick break it all down for you. William Lazonick is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. His recent work includes Predatory Value Extraction: How the Looting of the Business Corporation Became the US Norm and How Sustainable Prosperity Can Be Restored, and the forthcoming book Investing in Innovation: Confronting Predatory Value Extraction in the U.S. Corporation. The ideology that enables buybacks, that makes a lot of people including economists say, “Oh, they’re just fine. The money’s just going to the economy,” is what I call the myth of the market economy—the way in which we get capital formation in the economy is just by money zipping around. But it doesn’t work that way. The money has to stop somewhere. William Lazonick It’s not because the United States does not have the capability to do these things— the capability is in the wrong hands. And it’s being wasted and destroyed. So it’s not simply the amount of money that’s making people rich. But those people who are getting rich are actually getting rich by helping to destroy the industrial base of the United States, including the middle class. William Lazonick These giant companies— these US companies that grew in the USA on the back of their workers, went to Washington for subsidies or bailouts when they were greedy or in trouble, and had the US Marines defend them around the world— are not only disinvesting on a massive scale in the necessities for a productive economy. But they are engaging in the ironic trend that can be called the corporate destruction of capitalism, whose base, in essence, is investment. Ralph Nader While these corporate bosses insist on massive domination of our political economy—from Washington to Wall Street— they’re not delivering. For the economy, for the workers, for the people who are trying to make it through every day and protect their families and their descendants. In behaving this way, they have reached a historic level of conflict of interest with their own companies. Ralph Nader In Case You Haven’t Heard 1. The automotive news website Jalopnik reports that a whistleblower has turned over 100 gigabtyes of “Tesla Secrets” to German media. These files contain “more than 2,400 self-acceleration complaints and more than 1,500 braking function problems, including 139 cases of unintentional emergency braking and 383 reported phantom stops resulting from false collision warnings. The number of crashes is more than 1000.” 2. While national Democrats dither and cave to outrageous Republican demands on the debt ceiling, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has delivered on an expansive progressive agenda. In the current session, with only a single-vote majority in the upper house, Common Dreams reports that they have passed bills to mandate 20 weeks of paid family and medical leave, legalized recreational cannabis, and made school meals free for public and charter students. They also passed a bill codifying Roe v. Wade, established legal protections for transgender youth, set a livable minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers, and approved Right to Repair legislation. While not all of these will be signed into law, it is clear that Minnesota is setting the bar for Democratic-controlled state legislatures throughout the country, and putting Congress to shame. 3. A new piece in the Lever covers “The $20 Billion Scam At The Heart Of Medicare Advantage.” The article details how insurers are manipulating the medicare privatization scheme and “milking massive profits from systematic overbilling and kneecapping modest...


Predatory Capitalists

Ralph welcomes Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, co-author of “These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs – And Wrecks – America,” where they name names in this “heads we win, tails you lose” system of predatory capitalism. Gretchen Morgenson is the senior financial reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit. A former stockbroker, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her “trenchant and incisive” reporting on Wall Street. Previously at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal,” she and coauthor Joshua Rosner wrote the bestseller Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon about the mortgage crisis. Their latest book is These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America. The way corporate criminals get their way is by trying to make things too complex and too abstract for your daily lives. But when Gretchen [Morgenson] talks about these plunderers, and let’s call them “predatory capitalists”, don’t think that you’re not being affected— whether your loved ones are patients in nursing homes, whether you’re workers being laid off, whether you’re consumers being gouged for drug or healthcare prices, whether your community’s going to be hollowed out because the company that was doing okay was taken over by these vultures and closed down after they extracted the wealth. Ralph Nader It’s interesting now that David Rubenstein is retired [from the Carlyle Group], he’s a philanthropist. This is what these wealthy people do once they’ve finished their careers and made so much money. They become philanthropists… We’ve all read about David Rubenstein and Steve Schwarzman and Leon Black and Henry Kravis. We read about them constantly. They are always lauded for their brilliance and their billionaire status. What we just don’t hear about are the people on the other side of their transactions. Gretchen Morgenson, co-author of “These Are The Plunderers.” The disappointing thing about the Justice Department is that when they bring these cases against the companies that are doing Medicare fraud (like in the Manor Care situation), they don’t move up the corporate ladder to the owner of the company. The Justice Department does the work on the particular company that is owned by private equity, but they don’t go up the ladder. And that has a way of allowing the firms—like Carlyle in the Manor Care case— to escape scrutiny and to escape accountability. So that would be an ideal thing to change. Gretchen Morgenson co-author of “These Are The Plunderers.” In Case You Haven’t Heard 1. Amid the debt limit fight, progressives are calling for President Biden to invoke the 14th amendment, which they believe would allow Biden to bypass the Republican House and raise the debt limit without concessions like adding further work requirements to public benefits. In a press conference by the Senate progressives, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania said "This is the whole reason why the 14th Amendment exists, & we need to be prepared to use it. And, if our unelected Supreme Court Justices try to block the use of the 14th amendment and blow up our economy, that’s on them.” However, POLITICO reports that the administration is privately telling progressives to stand down. Instead, the White House seems more interested in negotiating with Speaker McCarthy, even if that means caving to outrageous Republican demands.2. As the Writers Guild strike grinds on – at a cost of $30 million per day according to Deadline – the Screen Actors Guild is now on the verge of their own strike. Last week, SAG-AFTRA’s National Board voted unanimously to ask members for strike authorization, and the Daily Beast reported that SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher urged members to “make three a charm with an emphatic ‘yes’ for a strike authorization vote!” adding that to do so would be “an unprecedented show of solidarity.” An actor’s strike against the studios has not happened since...


Defeating a Boondoggle

Auto safety expert, Byron Bloch, joins us to tell the story of how citizens in conjunction with the Sierra Club defeated a highway widening boondoggle in Maryland. Then we welcome microgrids manager at the Green Justice Coalition, Sari Kayyali, to tell us how microgrids in his community have saved money and the environment. Finally, we catch up with the director of Progressive Democrats of America, Alan Minsky, in Washington DC to talk about high speed rail and the post-Bernie progressive movement. Byron Bloch is an independent consultant and court-qualified expert in Auto Safety Design and Vehicle Crashworthiness. Over the years, he has fought for safer fuel tanks, stronger seats, the need for airbags, better truck underride guards, and has testified on these safety issues at Congressional Hearings, and to NHTSA. He contributed to the Sierra Club’s successful campaign to strongly oppose and stop the proposed widening of the 1-270 and Capital Beltway and the scheme to also add privatized toll lanes. What we have to do is refocus and say, “We are a people-oriented nation. Not a vehicle-oriented nation.” And if you look at it in those terms—people-oriented nation— then you say, “Well, what are the economics, what are the health and safety issues that affect people?” But instead, it becomes the almighty vehicle-ization of the nation and that means more lanes, more traffic, more lanes, and then more traffic. Byron Bloch Activist and auto safety expert The corporate state arrives in different manifestations— the military industrial complex, the Pentagon, and this is what’s going on at the state level. It doesn’t get many national headlines, but it's the merger of corporations with state government. And there’s a lot of secrecy involved, a lot of phony promises, a lot of misleading rhetoric, and the legislators are compromised by the campaign contributions and the pressure from the governor’s office. Ralph Nader Sari Kayyali is a mechanical engineer and the Microgrids Manager at Microgrids Chelsea and Chinatown Power. The technology around clean electric generation—solar panels and battery storage—are experiencing a revolution. Just in the last decade alone, solar panels have dropped to a third of what they used to cost to manufacture. Battery storage has improved dramatically in terms of energy density, cost, and reliability. And so, a lot of places around the country are looking to these as solutions. Microgrids have been around for a while, they don’t necessarily need to use clean technology but specifically clean microgrids are really catching on all around the country, and around the world. Sari Kayyali Microgrids Manager at the Green Justice Coalition Alan Minsky is a lifelong activist, and Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America. Alan has worked as a progressive journalist for the past two decades, he was Program Director at KPFK Los Angeles from 2009-2018, and he has coordinated Pacifica Radio’s national coverage of elections. He is the creator and producer of the political podcasts for The Nation and Jacobin, as well as a contributor to Common Dreams and Truthdig. There’s a whole bunch of elements that the progressive movement hasn’t been that attentive to. Including things like industrial production and the transformation it requires between business and government to transform American society, so that it’s operating on clean energy, so that its industrial manufacturing doesn’t have breaks in supply chains… So I got involved with a lot of projects that aren’t that common for progressives to be involved in. Alan Minsky, Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis1. CNBC reports that the FTC is mulling a proposal to bar Meta (formerly Facebook) from monetizing the data of minors. This follows the agency’s allegation that the company violated a 2020 privacy order. The FTC quoted an independent assessor who found “several gaps and...


Writers Strike!/Occupy the Library!

We welcome former Writers Guild of America (West) president and current co-chair of the negotiating committee, David Goodman, who also happens to be the head writer for many of your favorite TV shows like “The Family Guy” to tell us why TV and movie writers are on strike. Then, grad students Sandra Oseguera and Jesus Gutierrez stop by to update us on their continuing fight to save the anthropology library at UC Berkeley, a battle that has wider implications for how more and more universities across the country are becoming corporatized. Plus, Ralph highlights some trenchant listener feedback. David A. Goodman has written for over 20 television series. His best-known work is as head writer and executive producer on Family Guy. He was the president of the Writer’s Guild of America West from 2017 to 2021. In that capacity, Mr. Goodman led the Guild in a campaign to force the Hollywood talent agencies into adopting a new Code of Conduct to better serve the needs of their writers. Today, he serves as co-chair of the WGA negotiating committee in their strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. These companies that we work for are spending billions of dollars, making billions of dollars on the product that we create. And writers currently (many of them) can’t afford to pay their rent. Can’t afford to live in the cities where they’re required to work. Need to take second jobs. Now, that’s a very familiar situation in labor across this country. And what we’re saying is if these companies are profitable… we need to fight. David Goodman, co-chair of the WGA negotiating committee The reason that our strike does have power is because America and the world relies on this product that we create. Those stories that we create are a connection, are a way for people to connect. And because of corporatization some people are losing sight of that, and hopefully this strike will bring them back. David Goodman, co-chair of the WGA negotiating committee Let our listeners know that a lot of those programs that they watch on TV or listen to on the radio all over the country are written by the people who are on the picket lines and are pretty mercilessly exploited by the corporate titans that rake off the profits. Ralph Nader Sandra Oseguera and Jesús Gutiérrez are graduate students in the Anthropology department at the University of California, Berkeley. Earlier this year, campus administration announced their plan to close the Anthropology Library, one of only three dedicated Anthropology libraries in the US. In response, stakeholders including students and faculty have organized to demand that the Anthropology Library be protected and fully supported by the University. We truly disagree with the vision that the administration has for this university, and we believe that it can be different. That this can truly be a public university for students, underrepresented minorities, but also for the public. The public can come here—especially to our library— and be curious, collect knowledge, and have a refuge where they can find themselves in the shelves. Sandra Oseguera It has been really inspiring to see our occupation space make our Anthropology Library into the space of encounter and transformation that it is supposed to be. The administration— and the press, to some degree initially— portrayed us as passively occupying, just sleeping and reading in the space. But the reality on the ground has been that the library has become an organizing space. Those of us who are occupying also gather, and then from there we fan out and make plans to go talk to our fellow students, make plans to go confront these core decision makers and hold them accountable for what they are doing to our education, what they are doing to these essential public resources. Jesús Gutiérrez We are not chasing symbolic wins. We want a fully functional library. That is what matters to us. And the overwhelming desire of the department, faculty,...