AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:13 am

"An Open Letter to Ralph Nader Voters"
by Nader's Raiders
October 22, 2004

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Dear Voters,

Many of us - former Nader's Raiders and leaders of his organizations - voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Many did not.

This November, none of us will vote for Ralph. We believe there is nothing more important than defeating George W. Bush.

Ralph argues that he is creating an independent political voice. In 2000, when he ran as the Green Party candidate, that may have been true.

In 2004, as the candidate of the increasingly reactionary, anti-immigrant Reform Party, and the recipient of financial and political support from right-wing funders and operatives, it is not credible. Unfortunately, Ralph is party to a disingenuous effort to split the progressive vote in key states.

With the major party candidates in a dead heat, Nader is poised to tip the election to Bush - again.

We do not agree with Ralph that there is little difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. We know that the country cannot afford another four years of Republicans controlling the White House, both chambers of Congress, the Supreme Court and the entire federal Judiciary. The price of a protest vote is too high for families who live from paycheck to paycheck, for those concerned about the realities of war, for those who lack decent jobs and access to health care, and for the environment.

While Ralph has pursued politically expedient alliances with the right wing, truly progressive leaders - from peace activists to unions to former Dean supporters - have made substantial progress organizing within the Democratic Party.

United, progressives can build a base for a transformed party funded by small donors, imbued with progressive values and energized by a vision of a democratic majority. Divided, we will give four more years to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft. The progressive vote can be the key to this election.

We know Ralph Nader better than anyone else. We were inspired to public service by his vision and his integrity. Now we are disappointed and saddened to see him embrace the support of reactionary forces who oppose everything we and Ralph have fought for and whose real agenda is to reelect George Bush.

Join us. Cast your vote for a progressive future and support John Kerry.

The progressive leadership that led the movements into the Kerry camp was broader than the liberal intelligentsia in the opinion-shaping universities and media. It also included the institutionalized "professional liberals," the paid staff and leaders of the unions and the big environmental, peace, civil rights, women's, gay, and community organizing groups. Selling out to the Democratic Party pays off for the professional liberals in the form of career opportunities and funding. These material benefits flow through social and organizational networks that connect the professional liberals in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to their peers in Democratic administrations and the corresponding party organizations that are built from the top down by Democratic patronage and preferment. Corporate funding -- grants for the NGOs, universities, and progressive media, and campaign cash for the Democrats-- cements it all together, co-opting institutionalized progressivism into the service of the corporate-dominated Democratic coalition. [56]

For the rank and file of the labor, community, people of color, women's, gay, and environmental movements, Kerry and the Democrats offered nothing of substance -- not one single progressive program or policy on any front that progressives could rally around. Seeking swing voters, Kerry ran to Bush's right as a war hawk and a deficit hawk, vowing to send more troops to Iraq, to increase forces in the Army and Marines, to increase the military and homeland repression budgets, and to do all that while bringing the federal budget back into balance. His Bush-like sound bites, such as promising "to hunt down and kill the terrorists," made militarism a non-issue in the Bush-Kerry horse race. Given his militaristic priorities and the tax proposals he advanced, a Kerry administration could balance the federal budget only by slashing social spending. Given these parameters, all the professional liberals could offer in support of a vote for Kerry was a defensive apology that Bush would be even worse.

The leaders of the big liberal organizations have been delivering their constituencies to the Democrats for decades.

-- Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate, edited by Howie Hawkins


Nader's Raiders,

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Brian Ahlberg - Former MN PIRG
Judy Appelbaum - Public Citizen's Congress Watch, Summers 1974, 75
Sheila Ballen - Former Executive Director, PA PIRG
Samuel Boykin - Field Director, NJ PIRG 2000-03
Michael Berg - Congress Project 1972
Robert Brandon - Director, Public Citizen's Tax Reform Research Group 1972-77
Mike Calabrese - Former Director, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1980
Marc Caplan - Executive Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1974-80
Michael Caudell-Feagan - USPIRG 1985-86; Nat'l Assoc. for Pub Interest Law 1986-91
Nancy Chasen - Lobbyist, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1973-75
Sarah K. Chiles - Former Northeast regional coordinator, Americans against Political Corruption
Elizabeth Collaton - Research Director, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1985
Karen Croft - Staff, Center for the Study of Responsive Law1979-80
Gina Collins Cummings - Organizing Director, NJ PIRG, 1984 - 1994
Beth DeGrasse - Former Director, PIRG Voter Registration Campaigns
James Dickson - Director of Organizing, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1976-78
Angela Di Leo - Staff, Florida PIRG 1984 - 86
Whayne Dillehay - Critical Mass Energy Project 1978-80
Kirsten Dunton - Organizing Director and Staff Attorney, State PIRGs 1989-2003
Joe Tom Easley - Center for the Study of Responsive Law, 1969-74
Larry Eason - Director, Training and Media Center, PIRG 2000-2001
Donna Edwards - Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1990s
David Eppler - Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1989-92
Sherry Ettleson - Former Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch
Andrew Feinstein - Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1975-79
Curtis Fisher - Executive Director, NJ PIRG, 1996 - 2002
Mark Floegel - Former USPIRG; Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1980s; VT PIRG Communications Coordinator 2002-2004
Arthur L. Fox - Public Citizen's Litigation Group 1972-90
Pamela Gilbert - USPIRG 1984-89; Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1989-94
John Gilroy - Nader Difference in '84 Campaign; Organizer, Citizen Utility Board 1985; Executive Director, VT PIRG 1988-92
David Hamilton - National Field Director, USPIRG 1987-90; Energy Lobbyist, USPIRG 1990-92
Stephanie Harris - Center for the Study of Responsive Law; Public Citizen's Health Research Group 1970s
Joan Holt - NY PIRG 1979-88
Anita Johnson - Attorney, PIRG; Public Citizen's Health Research Group 1971-77
Richard Kirsch - Public Citizen 1974-77
Ann Krumblotz - Staff, Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1978-80
Rob Leflar - Public Citizen's Health Research Group 1978-81; Coordinator, Nader's Speaking Tour of Japan 1989
Mindy Lubber - Program Director, Mass PIRG 1976-81
Mark Lynch - Former Staff Attorney, Public Citizen's Congress Watch
Bill Magavern - Staff Attorney, USPIRG 1988-92; Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project 1992-97
Tim Massad - Center for the Study of Responsive Law; Wisconsin Citizen Utility Board 1978-81
Neil McBride - Aviation Consumer Action Project 1971-72
Steve McCarthy - Executive Director, OR PIRG, 1972-74
Rich McClintock - Former Executive Director, CO PIRG
Chris McGinn - Deputy Director, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch 1991-98
David Moulton - Former Staff Attorney, Congress Watch
Michael Pertschuk - Former Chair, Federal Trade Commission
Donna F. Parsons - Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1981-87
Peter Petkas - PIRG, Corporate Accountability Research Group 1970
Ronald Plesser - Director, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse 1972-75
Rick Plunkett - MN PIRG 1976-81; CA Campus Organizer 1979-80
Tom Powers - Florida PIRG Organizing Director, FFPIR Nat'l Campus Program Director, PIRG work 1986-1995.
Nancy Rader - CalPIRG 1983-87; Public Citizen 1988-90
Miles Rapoport - Executive Director CCAG 1979-84
Neal Ritchie - Former Executive Director, Minnesota PIRG
Marty Rogol - General Counsel, Connecticut Citizen Action Group 1971-73; Director, Nat'l PIRG 1974-78
Adam Ruben -Field Director, USPIRG 1999-2002
Leslie Samuelrich - PIRG 1985-91 - Organizer, Conn PIRG; Director, National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness
Samantha Sanchez - Attorney, Public Citizen's Tax Reform Research Group 1973-75
Kerry Schumann - Former Director, Wisconsin PIRG
Gary Sellers - OSHA Project Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1969
Megan Seibel - Former Executive Director CO PIRG
Bob Shireman - Chairman, CalPIRG 1981-83; Legislative Advocate 1984-86
Lucinda Sikes - CalPIRG 1983-86; USPIRG 1989-92; Public Citizen's Litigation Group 1993-89
Daniel Silverman - Former Nat'l Field Director, USPIRG; Former Vice-Chair, Board of CalPIRG
David Stern - Former Executive Director, Nat'l Assoc. for Public Interest Law
Gene Stilp - Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1980-81
Rob Stuart - Program Director, NJ PIRG, 1984 - 91; Executive Director, VT PIRG 1991 - 93
Tom Subak - State Campaign Director, CalPIRG 1995-98
Andrea Sullivan - Organizing Director, NJ PIRG, 1983 - 84
Thomas D. Sutton - ETS Study Group 1970s; Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1979-81
Michael Totten - Critical Mass Energy Project 1982-83
James Turner - Center for the Study of Responsive Law 1968-72
Ken Ward - Executive Director, RI PIRG 1981-82; Executive Director, NJ PIRG 1983-96
Bill Wasserman - Organizer, CalPIRG 1981-86; Organizer, Public Citizen's Congress Watch 1986-89
Kathleen Welch - Former Executive Director, Nat'l Association of Public Interest Law
Harrison Wellford - Center for the Study of Responsive Law, Food and Environmental Safety Project 1969, Executive Director 1970-71
David Wood - Former General Counsel, Public Interest Research Groups
Frances A. Zwenig - Former Attorney-Advocate, Public Citizen's Congress Watch

*Organizations for Identification Only
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:10 am

Minor Parties in the 2000 Presidential Election
by BARRY C. BURDEN

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Though neither Patrick Buchanan nor Ralph Nader garnered as many votes as some earlier minor-party candidates, they had the potential to affect the 2000 presidential election in ways that their predecessors could not. This is possible because of the sheer closeness of the major-party vote. The popular vote nearly rendered the presidential contest a tie with Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush both winning about 48 percent of the vote. Moreover, the electoral college outcome, which depended on a contentious series of legal battles in Florida, gave Bush the majority by just one vote. Al Gore's 266 electoral votes are the most ever won by a losing candidate. [1] And 2000 was the first time in more than a century in which the winners of the popular and electoral votes were different. In an electoral context as balanced as this one, candidates from outside the two-party system who manage even meager showings can have remarkable effects on the election's outcome.

In this chapter I examine the roles that Reform Party nominee Buchanan and Green Party nominee Nader played in the 2000 presidential election. Using a variety of data from election returns, exit polls, and academic national surveys, I address two questions. First, how did minor-party voters reach their decisions given the great potential for sophisticated behavior in a close election? This requires that we determine the sources of minor-party support and the relationships between their electoral coalitions. Second, what effects did minor parties have on voter turnout and on who won the election? Answering this question requires us to analyze counterfactuals that estimate what would have happened had Buchanan and Nader not been running. The results expand the growing body of theoretical and empirical research on "major" minor parties in America generally as well as help us understand these parties' roles in the 2000 presidential election specifically. [2] The stark realities of this election are sure to force political scientists to rethink some of our conclusions about the dynamics of minor parties.

Minor parties have been of growing interest because their influence appears to have been increasing in recent years. In fact, five of the last nine presidential elections have seen strong minor-party showings. The most dramatic of these was Ross Perot's garnering of 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 (Jelen 2001). There has also been substantial activity at the sub-presidential level, most notably Jesse Ventura's Reform Party victory in the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election (Lacy and Monson 2002; Lentz 2001). But if the appearance of new academic work on the subject is an indicator, there appear to be broader forces at work that are conspiring to overcome the standard hurdles facing minor parties at all levels of government (Bibby and Maisel 2002; Herrnson and Green 2002; Sifry 2002). One purpose of this chapter is to explore the role of minor parties in the 2000 presidential election in the light of a burgeoning body of research.

My analysis begins by reexamining the election outcome in terms of social-choice analysis. A simple look at the preference rankings of candidates shows that, for the first time in the survey era, the winner of the presidential election was not the Condorcet winner, as explained in the next section. Moreover, almost no common voting method would have selected Bush as the winner. The analysis also shows than an unprecedented number of party supporters were strategic in 2000. The second section of this chapter analyzes Nader's standing in the polls dynamically by examining the patterns and determinants of his support over the final months of the campaign. Unlike nearly all minor-party candidates, Nader actually rose in the polls over time, even after controlling for the closeness of the major-party vote and support for other candidates. The third section turns to the effects that Buchanan and Nader had on voter participation and the major parties' vote shares. A larger number of minor-party voters would have abstained had their candidates not been in the race. Minor parties, most notably the Greens, increased turnout both directly by mobilizing votes for themselves and indirectly by adding interest to the campaign, for a total effect of around 2.5 percentage points. The next section of the chapter reexamines the possibility that Nader threw the election to Bush. It is clear that Florida almost certainly would have gone Democratic without Nader in the race. Yet it is at least possible that Bush would have won easily in the electoral college without Buchanan in the race. I then turn to examining the sources of minor- party support. Nader voters were more liberal, pro-choice, and educated than other voters on average. The factors that distinguished Nader from Gore in particular were primarily economic in nature. Nader voters disliked the administration's record and took their discontent out on Gore. Aggregate analysis shows that Nader did much better at drawing on his earlier support and Perot's base from 1996. Surprisingly, Buchanan and Nader both performed better where the major-party vote was closer. I conclude by suggesting how this multifaceted picture of results fits with existing work on minor parties in America.

A. Perverse Social-Choice Function

Elections are a key mechanism for aggregating individual citizen preferences into collective decisions. The proper way to do this is a matter of great contention. A prominent line of research focuses on the rationality of voting rules and a society's social-choice function. Though no single method of aggregation is ideal, some appear more perverse than others because they violate common assumptions about how preferences ought to be represented. Arrow (1951) has argued that seemingly trivial characteristics such as transitivity and nondictatorship should be maintained, but he has also shown that no voting system can maintain several such characteristics simultaneously. This "impossibility result" confirms that no vote aggregation method is perfect. Plenty of examples can be generated that produce rather different social outcomes from the same individual preferences simply by altering the aggregation rules. At a minimum, one would hope that some basic principles of fairness are retained that at least make the process, and thus the outcome, appear legitimate to voters (see Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 1995).

Two common voting methods are majority and plurality rule. Majority rule would have failed in 2000 because no candidate won 50 percent of the popular vote. Plurality rule would have elected Gore since he won the popular vote. Neither majority nor plurality rule is more natural than or superior to more complicated methods. Indeed, the Founders purposely created the electoral college to avoid popular election. The question becomes whether this rather unique method of election selected the same winner that other aggregation schemes might have, or whether Bush's victory was an idiosyncratic result of the particular set of institutions and events that put him into office. [3]

One of the most stringent methods of selecting a candidate was proposed by the Marquis de Condorcet more than two hundred years ago. Condorcet argued that a winning alternative ought to be capable of defeating all other alternatives in head-to-head comparisons. That is, A should be the victor only if she beats both B and C in paired situations. Even if some voters choose strategically rather than sincerely -- perhaps due to a combination of mechanical and psychological incentives (Duverger 1963) -- the Condorcet winner should also be the election winner. The Condorcet criterion is an especially desirable method of choosing among multiple candidates because it sets the threshold of victory quite high. In many elections, a Condorcet winner does not even exist.

National Election Study (NES) data from 2000 make it possible to conduct a crude analysis of strategic voting. I follow a long line of research that uses rankings of the candidates on the NES "feeling thermometers" as estimates of the relative ordinal utilities each person has for each candidate. Thermometers are reasonable proxies for respondents' utilities for the candidates and tend to predict voting decisions well (Abramson et al. 1992, 1995, 2000; Brams and Fishburn 1983; Brams and Merrill 1994; Kiewiet 1979; Ordeshook and Zeng 1997; Palfrey and Poole 1987; Weisberg and Grofman 1981; Weisberg and Rusk 1970). Abramson and colleagues (1995) show that the winners of the popular and electoral vote in three notable third-party elections -- 1968, 1980, and 1992 -- were all Condorcet winners. In each of those years the electoral college victor also would have won the popular vote using Condorcet's standard of beating each of the other candidates in head-to-head comparisons. Clinton was easily the Condorcet winner in 1996 as well (Abramson, Aldrich, and Rohde 1998).

It is reassuring that different voting schemes -- simple plurality rule, the electoral college, the Condorcet criterion, and perhaps even approval voting -- all select the same candidate in each of the past four elections with significant minor parties (Brams and Fishburn 1983; Brams and Merril11994; Kiewiet 1979). It is more remarkable that every presidential election for which adequate survey data exist seems to have chosen the Condorcet winner, regardless of minor-party showings. This is satisfying because no voting method is ideal, and the Condorcet method is so stringent.

The 2000 election is not so tidy. Not only did George W. Bush not take the popular vote, but the data clearly show that he was not the Condorcet winner either. This is apparently the first time in the survey era that this has happened. Figure 11.1 shows the pairwise rankings of the four presidential candidates in graphical form. [4] The arrows point to the candidates who lose in each comparison. Pat Buchanan is the "Condorcet loser" because each of the other three candidates beat him in head-to-head comparisons. This is indicated by the three arrows pointing toward his name. Gore is the Condorcet winner, beating each of the other candidates (see also Abramson, Aldrich, and Rohde 2002). In between these two extremes, Nader is preferred to Buchanan but loses to both major-party nominees. Bush loses to Gore but defeats both minor-party candidates.

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Several other voting methods would also choose Gore as the winner. Running through the list of voting methods that are commonly discussed in textbooks on the subject (e.g., Shepsle and Bonchek 1997), Gore wins whether one uses a plurality runoff, a sequential runoff, or approval voting procedures. [5] The 2000 election thus represents a highly unusual event in modern U.S. politics, as the electoral college appears to be the only existing nondictatorial method that would result in George W. Bush's election.

The thermometer rankings also show an unprecedented degree of strategic voting. Other presidential elections where strong minor parties ran of course saw strategic voting, but the pivotal roles that Buchanan and Nader played in 2000 took strategic behavior to a new plateau. Table 11.1 demonstrates this by comparing respondents' candidate rankings along with their vote choice and turnout decisions. The data show that a large majority of those who rated Buchanan or Nader as their most preferred candidates before the election actually voted for someone else. Among voters, over 80 percent of people who rated Buchanan or Nader highest did not vote for them. Most of the Nader preferrers who voted chose Gore, with the remainder splitting between Bush and Nader.

This suggests that many voters were deciding which candidate from outside the current administration was worth their support rather than simply whose platform was nearest their ideal points (Cho 2000; Lacy and Burden 2002). It seems that Nader preferrers and Nader voters are two distinct groups. If the Nader camp was comprised mostly of traditional liberals interested in ideological purity, a strategic voter would have chosen Gore. Presumably, a leftist voter who prefers Nader but fears that his candidacy is not viable would turn to Gore as second choice. A sizable contingent of Nader preferrers appear to have felt that way but abstained. Although many Nader preferrers who voted did pick Gore, it remains counterintuitive that so many voted for Bush instead. Many of these voters must have been motivated not just by progressive ideals but by the desire to end the Clinton-Gore reign and decided that Republican Bush was most likely to do that.

Respondents who ranked Buchanan first were even more disloyal, but their strategic votes were cast more in Bush's direction than in Gore's. More interesting are the abstention rates for each of these groups. About one in five Bush preferrers abstained while one in four Gore supporters did. But more than a third of those who favored Nader abstained, and 42 percent of Buchanan's preferrers stayed home.

This is an unprecedented amount of strategic voting among minor-party supporters (see Abramson et al. 1995; Cho 2000; Ordeshook and Zeng 1997). Strategic considerations are even more widespread if strategic "voting" means more than just choosing a candidate who is not one's most preferred alternative. To the extent that abstention is a purposeful activity akin to choosing a candidate (Aldrich 1997; Lacy and Burden 1999,2002), many Americans who preferred Buchanan or Nader found nonvoting a more satisfactory decision than either jumping to a minor-party candidate at the other end of the spectrum or stomaching one of the major-party standard-bearers.

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It is noteworthy that abstention rates were highest among voters who preferred one of the minor-party candidates. This lack of participation does not necessarily imply lack of enthusiasm for the candidate, however. The strength of support for a chosen presidential candidate was weakest for Nader. Nader voters said they felt less enthusiastic about their choice than did people who voted for one of the other three candidates. The percentage of NES respondents saying they "felt strongly" was 74 percent for Gore, 79 percent for Bush, and even 83 percent for Buchanan, but only 64 percent for Nader. The fact that so many of those who ranked Nader first abstained suggests that they were not particularly fond of any of the candidates. Those who voted for Nader probably felt tepid toward all of the candidates running and were only willing to cast protest votes because the antiestablishment Greens happened to be on the ballot. This might explain why apparently not many Nader voters regret their decisions. Only one in ten Nader voters say they wish they could change their vote after knowing how close the election was (Jackman 2000). Given the perversity of the election result shown earlier, it is simply remarkable that 90 percent would pick Nader again even knowing that Bush -- often their third- or fourth-ranked choice -- would be elected president.

Campaign Dynamics

Some of the more interesting aspects of minor parties are the changes they induce in otherwise normal presidential campaigns (Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus 1996). Among other things, a threatening outsider causes the Democratic and Republican nominees to deal with new issues, distribute their resources differently, and assemble altered coalitions. Strong minor parties introduce a great deal of uncertainty into the campaign and force the major parties to begin foraging about for votes more strategically. As a zero-sum game, any support that goes to third-party candidates effectively reduces the pool of votes available to the major parties. At the same time, the possibility of increasing turnout makes the situation look more like a positive-sum game. However, new voters mobilized by a minor party are relatively unpredictable, which often leads the major parties to shore up their bases.

To examine some of these dynamics, I have gathered trial-heat and tracking polls conducted over the last two months of the campaign. Nader's support in the polls bucks historical trends in one important way: it rises rather than falls. As Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus (1996, 41) argue, "Third-party support fades as the election approaches. This pattern of declining support has been apparent since the advent of survey data." [6] Though Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus argue that voters are apparently willing to consider minor-party candidates when the stakes are low, the electorate abandons them when the stakes increase near Election Day. They show that this pattern holds for seven different candidacies ranging from Robert LaFollette in 1924 to John Anderson in 1980.

Figure 11.2 shows that this decline does not hold for Nader. [7] Though the raw data points are a bit lumpy due to rounding, Nader's support clearly rises. A spline fit to the data shows the upturn well. Despite the variation around the main trend line, there seems to be about a percentage-point increase over the last two months of the presidential campaign.

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Nader's rise in the polls apparently defies history. Not only does minor-party support wane in most polls as the consequences of committing to a candidate rise, but the 2000 major-party race remained close enough that Nader votes could have swung the election. Because of the closeness, one might have expected Nader to fall even faster than minor parties running in more lopsided elections. A "gut check" by Nader supporters late in the campaign should have caused them to waiver and throw their support, however weak, to Gore as the second best. If sophisticated maneuvering does not explain the rise in Nader support, what does?

Table 11.2 reports several simple time-series regression models of Nader support. [8] There are five columns, each of which introduces different independent variables to the analysis. The variables include a simple daily counter, Gore and Buchanan vote percentages, and a measure of the closeness of the race. Closeness is measured as the absolute difference between the Bush and Gore percentages, so higher values indicate a more lopsided race. This is done to be sure that the relationship between time and Nader's support is not spurious. It might be, for example, that Nader's support rises only because the race gets closer.

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The first three columns of Table 11.2 examine the relationships between time, closeness, and Nader support. It appears -- both independently and jointly -- that Nader's standings rise later in the campaign and when the race is more lopsided. So Nader does better later in the campaign, even after showing that many of his supporters strategically left him when the major party campaign got tighter. The last two columns reveal how his support interacted with the nearest substitutes, Buchanan and Gore. It is perhaps surprising that Buchanan and Nader appear to do well or poorly together, as indicated by the positive and significant coefficient on the Buchanan variable. In the end, however, this analysis confirms that Nader's unique rise in the polls over the final weeks of the campaign is not due merely to closeness or the standings of the other,candidates. The daily counter remains significant regardless of the control variables introduced. In addition, the size of the coefficient confirms the finding in Figure 11.2 that Nader rose about a point over the last two months of the campaign.

Turnout and Vote-Stealing Effects

Two of the most important effects a minor-party candidate can have are in increasing voter turnout and in altering the major-party vote split (Lacy and Burden 1999, 2002). Minor parties, of course, shake things up in a host of other interesting ways, from altering the campaign agenda to fracturing the major- party coalitions. In the end, however, it is enlightening to know how the election results would have been different without minor parties in the mix. Though one can never answer these counterfactual puzzles definitively by rerunning history (Asher 1995), they are ways of gaining insight on such questions using available data. We must make do by asking how things would have been different with Buchanan or Nader out of the race, assuming that everything else about the campaigns would have remained the same. This is an unrealistic but unavoidable assumption.

Exit polls asked voters about their choices in the hypothetical situation in which neither Buchanan nor Nader was running. [9] Table 11.3 presents a cross-tabulation of these hypothetical questions and self- reported votes. Because minor parties earned so few votes, the aggregate major-party split remains right at fifty-fifty even removing Buchanan, Nader, and the other minor-party nominees.

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More intriguing is what individual voters would have done. Nearly all Bush and Gore voters would have remained loyal in a two-way race, as one might expect. This fits with the great consistency between ranking of and voting for major parties shown earlier. In contrast, many minor-party voters would have abstained. Nearly 30 percent of Nader voters and more than 40 percent of Buchanan voters would have abstained without their candidates in the race. About half of Nader's votes would have gone to Gore, the perceived next-best candidate. It might seem surprising that Buchanan's brigade would have switched to Gore at least as strongly as it lined up behind Bush, though I will provide some evidence later that Buchanan drew heavily on the normally Democratic union vote. Regardless, this result should be taken lightly since the number of Buchanan voters is too low (33) to reach firm inferences. The point is merely that Buchanan's bloc would not have all gone to Bush nor would all Nader votes have necessarily gone to Gore.

One can estimate the effects the candidates had on voter turnout by multiplying their actual vote shares by the percentage who would have abstained in a two-way race. For example, 30.5 percent of Nader's 2.5 percent of the popular vote -- or 0.75 percent -- would have stayed home if he had not run. Taken together, minor parties boosted turnout directly by roughly 1.2 percentage points in 2000.

But candidates also have indirect effects on voter mobilization. Whereas direct effects are caused by a candidate mobilizing his supporters in an immediate way, indirect effects occur when supporters of one's opponents are mobilized by systemic changes in the campaign. Indirect effects are caused by such things as increasing closeness, adding color and drama to the race, introducing issues that mobilize new voters, and simply raising voter interest. The percentage of Bush and Gore voters who would have abstained in a two-way race is suggestive of how large these indirect effects might have been. These voters presumably turned out for one of the major-party candidates because a minor-party candidate reminded them about the importance of voting or threatened their candidates' victory. Without Buchanan or Nader in the race to make things interesting, they would have abstained. The percentages of Bush and Gore voters who would have behaved this way are small since most would have voted in a two-way race as well, but they are many in number. Using the same method I used earlier, I estimate that turnout for Bush and Gore would have fallen by a similar 1.3 points, for a total (direct and indirect) turnout effect of about 2.5 points. [10]

These self-reported results are reasonable, but ought to be taken with a grain of salt given the small samples and known differences between opinions and behavior. If the results are reliable, they ought to be replicated in other data. To check this, I turn to aggregate election returns to help develop an understanding of the turnout consequences of minor-party voting in 2000. Because the electoral college operates on a winner-take-all basis within states, the first analysis relies on states as the units of analysis.

The results are found in Table 11.4. The regression models suggest that state electorates with more whites, fewer cities, more education, and higher incomes all have higher turnout. These variables capture interstate differences sufficiently well that southern exceptionalism has disappeared. As expected, the closeness of the race seems to have a positive effect on turnout after controlling for minor-party showings. This could be because closeness per se encourages potential abstainers to turn out or because a closer race causes the candidates to engage in more voter mobilization (Cox and Munger 1989). Buchanan has a negligible effect on turnout, but Nader in contrast appears to have increased voter participation directly.

This state-level analysis, in conjunction with the survey data analyzed earlier, confirms that Nader had an indisputable effect on voter turnout. Many of his supporters were so committed to him -- or dissatisfied enough with every other candidate -- that they simply would have abstained had Nader not run. It is this inverse relationship between voters' enthusiasm and their candidate's vote shares that allows some of the poorest-performing minor parties to have some of the largest direct effects on voter turnout.

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Though many would have chosen not to vote in a two-way race, the largest group of Nader voters would have gone to Gore. In fact, many journalists have speculated that the Florida fiasco could have been avoided if Nader had not run since Gore would have picked up enough net Nader supporters to defeat Bush there.

Throwing the Electoral College

The analysis presented so far indicates that the outcome of the 2000 election was perverse. Bush not only lost the popular vote but also failed to be the Condorcet winner. Nonetheless, these findings do not address whether Nader indirectly elected Bush by stealing votes disproportionately from Gore. Though many Nader voters said they would have voted for Gore in a hypothetical two-way race, it is difficult to know how well these responses would predict their actual behavior were that to occur. And the data presented so far are merely national averages that cannot reveal how minor parties affected the major- party vote in particular states.

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Florida was the center of attention for over a month following the November 7 election. The razor-thin result there was subject to ballot recounts and a series of legal maneuvers by the parties aimed at starting, stopping, and controlling the recounts. Just a few hundred votes separated Bush from Gore, yet Nader received nearly 100,000 votes. If even a small fraction of his voters had chosen Gore instead, the Democrats would have won the presidency. [11] In fact, Buchanan and six even more obscure minor- arty candidates each received more votes than Bush's margin of victory. Together, these extremely small minor parties account for 250 times the 537 votes that distinguished Bush from Gore in the end. Though Nader's absence might have given Gore a clear Florida win, the absence of a number of right-wing minor-party candidates from Buchanan to Hagelin to Browne might have allowed for a clear Bush victory.

Although issues of ballot design and election law are important, they have overshadowed the kingmaker effects that Nader and other minor-party nominees might have had beyond the butterfly ballot. [12] For a deeper look at this relationship, Table 11.5 shows the results of a regression model that explains the Gore vote. Here the dependent variable is Gore's vote share in each county, though the specification looks much like the state-turnout model in Table 11.4. Nader's support in 1996 and 2000 are included as independent variables to determine how the Gore and Nader fortunes co-varied. In addition to a set of control variables, Clinton's share of the 1996 vote is included to measure general support for Democratic presidential candidates and the Clinton-Gore administration.

The results suggest that Gore and Nader were indeed viewed as near, though certainly not perfect, substitutes, as indicated by the negative sign on the variable for Nader's vote share in 2000. This suggests that although Nader drew some of his support from the Gore camp, a much larger share of it came from other sources. Potential abstainers appear to make up the lion's share of Nader's support. This corroborates the substantial turnout effects found in the state analysis (Table 11.4) and the self-reported estimates in which many Nader voters report that they would have abstained in a two-way election.

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However, many Nader voters also stated that they would have supported Gore had their candidate not been running. If the dynamics in Florida were at all similar to this average effect, then it is evident that Al Gore would be president today had it been a traditional two-candidate race. But was Ralph Nader able to drain away enough Democratic votes to cost Gore the presidency?

In the days following the-election itself, the unsettled Florida outcome left the electoral college up for grabs. Gore held 266 electoral votes to Bush's 246. Since 270 are needed to win the presidency outright, the Florida outcome would determine the next president of the United States, as long as the other state outcomes remained fixed. At the same time, four other states were won by razor-thin margins that could have gone either way. Even conceding Florida to Gore, Bush could have won the presidency with moderate vote shifts in Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Collectively, they could have thrown the election to Bush.

As Table 11.6 shows, Gore beat Bush by a small number of votes in each of these four states. In all four states the Bush-Gore margin accounted for less than half a percent of the total votes cast (the same threshold below which Florida law requires a recount). Yet together these four states hold thirty electoral votes, five more than in Florida. [13]

Also, in each of these states Buchanan won more votes than the difference between Bush and Gore. Had Buchanan not been on the ballot it is at least possible that Gore would have lost these states and Bush would have been elected regardless of the Florida outcome. It is difficult, however, to know for certain. All that would have been required was that enough Buchanan voters chose Bush rather than vote for Gore or abstain. Assuming for the moment that no Buchanan voters would have chosen Gore, "enough" is anywhere from a reasonable 13 percent in New Mexico to a less realistic 65 percent in Iowa. Since many Buchanan voters nationally would have picked Gore in a two-way race, the thresholds were higher than this in reality.

One cannot know for certain whether Bush would have won these four states without Buchanan in the race. It appears to be possible but perhaps not likely. National exit polls indicate that about one in four Buchanan voters would have chosen Bush, but the ratios probably vary depending on the state. Unfortunately, state exit polls included too few Buchanan voters to reach firm conclusions. Had Pat Buchanan not been running, it is at least plausible, though perhaps not likely, that Florida would have been subject to less scrutiny and that Bush would have been elected easily with as many as 301 electoral votes.

Sources of Minor-Party Support

According to exit polls, Nader's support came mostly from those who voted for Clinton in 1996 and, secondarily, from those who abstained in that election. Together, they made up 55 percent of the Nader coalition. This confirms the suspicion that he drew mostly from the left and from those less engaged with the system. As a share of previous voters, Nader drew mostly from the Perot camp, though it is only about a tenth of "Perotistas," and this smaller pool makes the total Perot contribution modest. More Perot voters broke for Bush in 2000 than for all of the others candidates combined (Rapoport and Stone 2001).

It is not yet clear what individual-level determinants drove citizens to vote for Buchanan and Nader. To address this question I estimate a vote-choice model using exit-poll data. These data have the benefit of large samples that make it possible [to] analyze minor-party voting. Otherwise rich NES data simply have too few Buchanan and Nader voters to allow firm inferences. The primary drawback of exit polls is that the sample excludes abstainers, but this is an unavoidable trade-off.

I estimate a discrete-choice model that includes a set of explanatory variables generally suspected to influence vote choice. These variables fall into four broad categories. I begin with measures of general political orientation: party identification and ideology. Both are long-term attachments shown to have strong effects on voting behavior. Next are several economic evaluations. Economics and elections are deeply intertwined, and these variables allow for national and personal as well as retrospective and prospective judgments to influence vote choice. The third set of variables measures the sociocultural nature of contemporary American elections. I include a variable that measures attitudes on abortion, a measure of religious attendance, and a variable that weighs whether a person identifies with the religious right. Finally, I include a set of demographic control variables such as race, education, gender, and age. The wordings of the questions are given in the Measurement Appendix at the end of this chapter.

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The estimates in Table 11.7 show how variables influenced the choices between each of the other candidates and Nader. Nader is chosen as the arbitrary baseline category since not all pairwise comparisons are simultaneously estimable. Using Nader as baseline allows one to examine the most interesting Gore-Nader and Buchanan-Nader comparisons. Positive coefficients indicate that higher values on the independent variables lead to a greater likelihood that voters support a candidate other than Nader. For example, the significant coefficient of .50 on the female dummy variable reveals that women are significantly more likely to vote for Gore than Nader, all else held constant. But the variable's insignificance in the remaining columns indicates that women are no more likely to vote for another candidate relative to Nader. Some classes of variables affect all of the comparisons with Nader while others influence only one or two of the pairings.

The major factors separating Gore and Nader voters are economic evaluations. Economic variables fail to achieve statistical significance in most other cases, but all three measures are strongly related to the Gore-Nader vote. In all three cases those who are less content with the economy tend to choose Nader over Gore. This might reflect a failed strategy on Gore's part in not associating himself closely enough with strong economic performance during the Clinton years. This was difficult to do, of course, since Gore also wished to distance himself from Clinton the person. It might also be that Nader voters misperceived the strong economy as weak or that they focused on different aspects of economic performance such as inequality. Although most Americans viewed the economy positively in 2000 (see Norpoth, Chapter 3 in this book), those who were dissatisfied with it clearly turned to Nader over Gore.

In accord with earlier work (Cho 2000; Lacy and Burden 1999, 2002), it seems that minor-party candidates owe much of their support to anti-incumbent sentiment. And the substantive effects of these variables are not trivial. For a voter who is undecided between Gore and Nader, viewing the current economy as "poor" rather than "excellent" increases his probability of picking Nader from .50 to .79, a change of nearly thirty percentage points. Though national retrospections turn out to matter more than national prospections and personal retrospections, all three clearly separated Gore and Nader voters in 2000.

Contrast the power that economics has to separate Gore and Nader voters with the weaker effects of the cultural variables. Attitude toward abortion and identification with the religious right have consistent effects on every comparison aside from Gore-Nader. Pro-choice voters are more likely to choose Nader than Bush, Buchanan, and other minor parties. Yet abortion attitudes do not distinguish between Gore and Nader. Again, assuming that a voter is initially torn between the candidates, the probability of voting for Nader rises by anywhere from .27 (Bush) to. 43 (Buchanan) as we move from the pro-life voter to the pro-choice voter. For at least some voters abortion was definitive. The power of these variables to shape the voting decision fits with earlier work on the importance of abortion in modern electoral politics (Abramowitz 1995; Adams 1997). But other cultural issues matter too. Belonging to the religious right makes a person 19 to 36 percent more likely to vote against Nader. These effects are strongest for the Buchanan-Nader pairing, which makes sense given the socially conservative content of the Buchanan rhetoric. Consistent with this, married respondents are far more likely to pick Buchanan over Nader, though marriage has no impact otherwise. In contrast to the denominational differences that drive voting based on sociocultural issues, religiosity itself, at least as measured by frequency of church attendance, appears unrelated to vote choice in 2000 (cf., Gilbert et al. 1999).

Long-term political orientations such as partisanship, ideology, and demographic predispositions have strong effects on vote choice. As one might expect, liberals are almost always more likely to vote for Nader than an opponent, and partisans support their nominees in most cases. The one exception to this is that both Democrats and Republicans favor Buchanan over Nader. This might reflect the fact that Nader, unlike former Republican Buchanan, comes from outside of the conventional party system. This finding reinforces two themes. First, of all voters, Nader voters were the least enamored of the entire slate of candidates. Second, minor-party candidates differ from one another about as much as they differ from their major-party competitors.

Finally, though African Americans and to a lesser degree women favored Gore over Nader, age and education had more systematic effects on the Nader vote. All else remaining constant, younger voters and those with more education were more likely to vote for Nader. This fits with conventional views of party identification and minor-party voting in which the young are expected to support minor parties disproportionately. It is noteworthy that age does not distinguish Buchanan and Nader voters, as young people tend to support minor parties of all stripes. Though income and education are often assumed to run in the same direction because they contribute to a person's socioeconomic status, they sometimes work in opposite directions here. Nader occupied a niche that attracted those with higher educations and lower incomes. Although both Buchanan and Nader raised objections to free trade, union members were more likely to favor the Reform Party than the Green Party in 2000. Whereas Nader seems to have won votes on college campuses, Buchanan collected more in the union halls.

Many Americans knew they might be electing their third-most preferred candidate, so why did so many nonetheless vote for Buchanan and Nader? The vote-choice model revealed that Nader tended to win the votes of white, liberal yet nonpartisan voters who were discontented with the economy. These findings confirm earlier work that found that economic grievances, age, and strength of partisanship are all associated with minor-party support (Abramson et al. 1995, 2000; Alvarez and Nagler 1995, 1998; Gold 1995; Lacy and Burden 1999, 2002; Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus 1996). But in addition to understanding why individuals behave as they do, we should also wonder what contributes to minor- party showings at the aggregate level.

Table 11.8 addresses this issue by regressing the Buchanan and Nader county vote shares on a series of political and demographic variables. In addition to a common set of controls, I include measures of Nader's showing in 1996 to measure support specific to his candidacy. But I also wish to see the degree to which Buchanan and Nader drew from Perot's 1996 base and the votes of other minor parties that year. Rapoport and Stone (2001), for example, find that Republicans, not minor parties, were the main beneficiaries of the Perot movement's collapse. It is reasonable to hypothesize that minor parties drew support from the Perotistas as well. Finally, the closeness of the election is included to assess strategic voting.

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The results indicate that Nader far exceeded Buchanan's ability to build on his earlier campaigns. Not only did Nader regain most of the votes earned in his lackluster 1996 run for president, but it appears that he drew from the Perot camp as well. Nader took about 15 percent of the 1996 Perot vote while Buchanan apparently pulled in none.

Once again, the analysis shows that differences among minor parties make it difficult to generalize. Much of the literature looks for commonalties in voting for different minor parties across elections (Gold 1995; Gilbert et al. 1999; Herrnson and Green 2002; Lacy and Burden 2002; Rosenstone, Behr, and Lazarus 1996). However, researchers ought to acknowledge differences as well. Nader was more likely to win the votes of those living outside the South, with more education, and with lower incomes. Buchanan did better in the South and among those with less education and those with higher incomes. Buchanan and Nader appealed to quite different kinds of voters.

After including the 1996 minor-party vote shares and controlling for demographics like race, region, and education, the lopsidedness of the election is positively related to both the Buchanan and Nader votes. This confirms a finding repeated throughout this chapter: that minor-party voters were highly sensitive to the possibility of being pivotal in a close major-party contest. The "wasted vote" logic and sophisticated voting were apparently on many Buchanan and Nader supporters' minds.

Conclusion

The 2000 presidential election has done much to enlighten our understanding of minor parties in U.S. politics. At a practical level, 2000 added two fascinating observations to the growing number of cases available for study. In some ways, this research will reinforce earlier conclusions based primarily on Wallace, Anderson, and Perot. For instance, supporters of minor-party candidates are less partisan and less satisfied with the nation's economic performance than other voters. These are the same relationships that helped and hurt earlier minor parties.

At the same time, the Buchanan and Nader candidacies stand apart from their predecessors. Among other things, these candidates could have easily affected who won the election. Gore probably would have won without Nader in the picture, and Bush could have won more easily had Buchanan not been around. These minor-party candidates occupy an important slot at the end of a string of such candidacies. Indeed, five of the last nine presidential elections have witnessed significant minor parties. Nader rather than Buchanan managed to build on these successes by tapping into the bank of Perot's voters. Nader's candidacy is unique in that his standing rose during the final days of the campaign, an anomaly among minor-party presidential campaigns. And despite the closeness of the election, minor-party voters in 2000 were far more strategic than their predecessors. A larger share of Buchanan and Nader supporters would have rather abstained than vote for another candidate. These unusual dynamics led to one of the least satisfying social-choice outcomes of any presidential election.

One of the findings of this chapter is that Buchanan and Nader introduced an unprecedented amount of distortion into the aggregation of preferences. This was possible because of the extreme closeness of the major-party contest. Though eventually chosen the victor, Bush did not win the popular vote and would not have won using just about any other democratic voting method. Nader also made minor-party history by defying the strong tendency of such candidates to lose support in the final days of the campaign. It actually appears that Nader rose in the polls in the weeks preceding election day, this despite the possibility that his presence meant the election could be thrown to many of his supporters' third-choice candidate. Building on earlier work, this chapter also showed that minor-party candidates have effects on both turnout and the major-party vote shares. Buchanan and Nader had surprisingly large turnout effects despite their small vote totals. This suggests that the most meager campaigns might actually raise turnout the most because they bring out diehard supporters who would otherwise abstain. Running as minor-party candidates in the same election, Buchanan and Nader remind us of the great, though often downplayed differences among such candidates. Nader drew support from young voters, the educated, liberals, and those upset with the economy; Buchanan won his votes in the South, from the religious right, and from the less educated. These differences warn against the development of a grand theory of minor-party coalitions.

MEASUREMENT APPENDIX

Exit-poll data were collected on Election Day 2000 by the Voter News Service. Pollsters collected self- administered questionnaires from more than thirteen thousand voters. In Table 11.3, the two-way race question is "If these were the only two presidential candidates on the ballot today, who would you have voted for? 1 Al Gore (Dem), 2 George W. Bush (Rep), 3 Would not have voted for president." The wording of the questions used in Table 11.7 are listed here. Note that several of them were recoded in the ways explained earlier in this chapter.

Democrat and Republican: "No matter how you voted today, do you usually think of yourself as a: 1 Democrat, 2 Republican, 3 independent, 4 Something else?"

Ideology: "On most political matters, do you consider yourself: 1 Liberal, 2 Moderate, 3 Conservative?"

National Prospections: "During the next year, do you think the nation's economy will: 1 Get better, 2 Get worse, 3 Stay about the same?"

National Retrospections: "Do you think the condition of the nation's economy is: 1 Excellent, 2 Good, 3 Not so good, 4 Poor?"

Personal Retrospections: "Compared to four years ago, is your family's financial situation: 1 Better today, 2 Worse today, 3 About the same?"

Abortion Attitude: "Which comes closest to your position? Abortion should be: 1 Legal in all cases, 2 Legal in most cases, 3 Illegal in most cases, 4 Illegal in all cases. "

Church Attendance: "How often do you attend religious services? 1 More than once a week, 2 Once a week, 3 A few times a month, 4 A few times a year, 5 Never."

Religious Right: "Do you consider yourself part of the conservative Christian political movement, also known as the religious right? 1 Yes, 2 No."

Married: "Are you currently married? 1 Yes, 2 No."

Homosexual: "Are you gay, lesbian, or bisexual? 1 Yes, 2 No."

Age: "To which age group do you belong? 1 18-24, 2 25-29, 3 30-39, 4 40-44, 5 45-49, 6 50-59, 7 60- 64, 8 65-74, 9 75 or over."

Income: "1999 total family income: 1 Under $15,000, 2 $15,000-$29,999, 3 $30,000-49,999, 4 $50,000-$74,999, 5 $ 75,000-$99,999, 6 $100,000 or more?"

Education: "What was the last grade of school you completed? 1 Did not complete high school, 2 High school graduate, 3 Some college or associate degree, 4 College graduate, 5 Postgraduate study."

Union Member: "Do you or does someone in your household belong to a labor union? 1 Yes, I do, 2 Yes, someone else does, 3 Yes, I do and someone else does, 4 No one does."

African American and Latino: "Are you: 1 White, 2 African American, 3 Hispanic/Latino, 4 Asian, 5 Other?"

Female: "Are you: 1 Male, 2 Female?"
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:21 am

PART 1 OF 8

06/21/08: You've Got Issues
Email from Team@VoteNader.org
Nader/Gonzalez '08

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You've got issues.

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But don't we all?

Yes we do.

And by popular demand.

Lo and behold.

The new, improved - and updated - Nader/Gonzalez issues page.

We've got issues.

Twelve Issues that Matter for 2008

Remember, these twelve issues represent the tip of the political iceberg. But they are indicative of the corporate domination of the Democratic and Republican parties.

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Twelve Issues that Matter for 2008

Adopt single payer national health insurance

Nader/Gonzalez favors a Canadian-style, private delivery, free choice of hospital and doctor, public health insurance system.

Right now, the United States spends $7,129 per capita on health care—more than twice as much per capita as the rest of the industrialized world.

And yet, the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality.

While other industrialized nations like Canada and Sweden provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, the United States leaves 47 million completely uninsured and tens of millions more inadequately covered.

According to an Institute of Medicine report, 18,000 Americans die because they cannot afford health care.

And inability to pay for medical bills is the leading cause of bankruptcies – they currently contribute to about half the bankruptcies in the United States.

In our current system, there are thousands of different payers of health care fees.

This system is a bureaucratic nightmare, wasting $350 billion—close to a third of all health care spending on things that have nothing to do with health care—overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments, huge profits and exorbitant executive pay.

In addition, there is over $200 billion in computerized billing fraud and abuse.

Nader/Gonzalez support a single payer system that would save the $350 billion and apply those savings to comprehensively cover everyone without paying more than we already do.

All Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services.

Patients would have free choice of doctor and hospital.

Costs would also be controlled in part by the single payer negotiating fees and making bulk purchases.

References:

Physicians for a National Health Program
Sicko
Healthcare Now

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Cut the huge, bloated, wasteful military budget

Nader/Gonzalez would cut the bloated, wasteful military budget.

Earlier this year, President Bush announced a military budget of over $600 billion.

And that's not counting the full cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The proposed military budget represents 58 cents out of every dollar spent by the U.S. government on discretionary programs - the items that Congress gets to vote up or down on an annual basis.

The Democrats and Republicans have been silent about this rapid escalation in military expenditures, despite many critical reports by the Government Accountability Office and Pentagon auditors.

In fact, they want to increase them.

Barack Obama, for example, has said that he wants to "bump up" the military budget.

Hillary Clinton and Obama have committed themselves to increasing the armed forces by tens of thousands of troops.

John McCain would outdo them both.

As budget analyst William Hartung points out "the United States is already spending more for defense than all the other nations in the world combined."

Hartung points out that tens of billions of dollars are being wasted on systems like the F-22 fighter plane, the V-22 Osprey (a helicopter that can be transformed into a conventional aircraft), the Virginia class submarine, and an unworkable and unnecessary missile defense system.

Right now, the military budget is being used to fuel wasteful, reckless, destabilizing foreign interventions that violate constitutional and international law.

Nader/Gonzalez would cut the military budget to a level needed to protect the country.

References:

Center for Defense Information
Project on Government Oversight
How Much Money Did You Make on the War, Daddy? by William Hartung

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

No to nuclear power, solar energy first

Nader/Gonzalez would no longer subsidize entrenched oil, nuclear, electric, coal mining, and biofuel interests.

Instead, Nader/Gonzalez would invest in an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Nader/Gonzalez would invest in a diversified and proven energy policy including renewable energies like wind and other solar power.

The American people have been held hostage for too long by the oil, coal and atomic power industries.

Over seventy percent of our petroleum is now imported at a cost of $600 billion a year – the highest rate of dependency ever.

The nuclear power industry is demanding 100 percent federal government loan guarantees because Wall Street won't loan the money for new nuclear plants without those taxpayer guarantees.

We are long overdue for the changes that need to be made.

Nader/Gonzalez would:

• End subsidies of entrenched oil, nuclear, & coal interests.
• Curtail price gouging with strict law enforcement.
• Invest heavily in renewable energies, including solar and wind technologies.
• Invest in more efficient homes, automobiles, businesses and government facilities.
• Put renewable energy before the wasteful corn ethanol.

Last year Big Oil made record profits. The price of oil has quadrupled since Bush took office and the distribution of wealth has become more polarized.

A new clean energy paradigm means more jobs, more efficiency, greater security and energy independence, environmental protection and increased health for all people.

Nader/Gonzalez will work to create an energy policy that is in the best interest of all the people and the environment we share.

Nader/Gonzalez would cut corporate welfare programs propping up the corn ethanol industry.

From the beginning, Ralph Nader has been opposed to the subsidized ethanol industry as inefficient, environmentally damaging, inflationary, and as the primary fuel sustaining the corporate welfare kings.

In September 17, 2004, the Des Moines Register article reported that Nader took on the ethanol industry while he was campaigning in Iowa.

In April 2008, Nader was in Illinois telling students that corn ethanol is devouring huge acreage, shortening the supply of wheat, soy and other food, and resulting in the increased prices being seen in the U.S. and abroad.

Historically, food prices have been a source of consumer revolt. It has toppled governments in other countries.

It takes as much or more energy to create corn ethanol -- the ethanol includes the burning of coal -- than the energy actually derived from the ethanol.

The production of one gallon of ethanol requires between three and four gallons of water. In a world already plagued with water shortages, this is simply unsustainable.

Since February 2006, the price of corn, wheat and soybeans has increased by more than 240 percent. The price of corn has gone from $1.86 a bushel at the end of 2005 to $4 in 2007 to nearly $6 today.

This dubious “food to energy” policy does the American people no good.

This is hardly a green technology, and it is certainly not sustainable.

As the Berkeley Chemical Engineer Tad Patzek puts it, “in terms of renewable fuels, ethanol is the worst solution -- it has the highest energy cost with the least benefit."

References:

The Ethanol Scam
The Case Against Nuclear Power
Nuclear Information Resource Service

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Aggressive crackdown on corporate crime and corporate welfare

Corporate crime costs Americans hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Tens of thousands of Americans are killed each year and hundreds of thousands of Americans injured and sickened each year by preventable corporate-bred violence.

From pollution, medical negligence, procurement fraud, product defects, and financial fraud, to antitrust, public corruption, foreign bribery and occupational homicide, corporate crime is widely ignored by politicians – yet acutely felt by all Americans.

Nader/Gonzalez would crack down on corporate crime and violence with a twelve point program:

• Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets: The Department of Justice’s corporate crime division and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been chronically and pitifully under funded and therefore do not have sufficient resources to combat the corporate crime wave in the United States. This results in inadequate investigation, settlement of cases for weak fines and ignoring many corporate crime violators completely. There needs to be a strong corporate law and order will in the White House.
• Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts: The US should enact a tough, serious debarment statute that would deny federal business to serious and/or repeat corporate lawbreakers. The federal government spends $265 billion annually on goods and services. These contracts should not support corporate criminals. These standards should also apply to procurement contracts in Iraq.
• Crack Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance: The US should punish corporate tax escapees by closing the offshore reincorporation loophole and banning government contracts and subsidies for companies that relocate their headquarters to an offshore tax haven. The IRS should be given more power and more budgetary resources to go after corporate tax avoiders. Publicly-traded corporations should be required to make their tax returns public.
• Democratize Corporate Governance: Shareholders should be granted the right to democratically nominate and elect the corporate board of directors by opening up proxy access to minority shareholders and introducing cumulative voting and competitive elections. Shareholders should be given the power to approve all major business decisions, including top executive compensation. Shareholders should be treated as the owners of the corporation – since, in fact, that is what they are.
• Expand Corporate Disclosure: Corporate sunshine laws should be enacted that require corporations to provide better information about their records on the environment, human rights, worker safety, and taxes, as well as their criminal and civil litigation records.
• Rein in Excessive Executive Pay: Shareholder authorization should be required for top executive compensation packages at each annual shareholder meeting. Stock options, which now account for about half of the executive compensation, should be counted on financial statements as an expense (which they are). Tax deductions for compensation 25 times above the compensation received by the lowest paid worker in a corporation should be eliminated, as recommended by the famous business guru Peter Drucker.
• Fix the Pension System: Corporations must be held more responsible for the retirement security of their employees. At a minimum we need to give workers a voice on the pension board; not require workers to stuff their 401(k) plans with company stock; and give workers the right to control their 401(k) plans. In addition, an Office of Participant Advocacy should be created in the Department of Labor to monitor pension plans.
• Restore the Rights of Defrauded Investors: Repeal the self-styled securities reform laws that block defrauded investors from seeking private restitution, such as the private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which allowed the aiders and abettors of massive corporate crime (e.g., accountants, lawyers, and bankers) to escape civil liability.
• Regulate Derivatives Trading: All over-the-counter financial instruments, including derivatives, should be subjected to the same or equivalent audit and reporting requirements as other financial instruments traded on stock exchanges. Rules should be enacted regarding collateral-margin, reporting and dealer licensing in order to maintain regulatory parity and ensure that markets are transparent and problems can be detected before they become a crisis.
• End Conflicts of Interest on Wall Street: Enact structural reforms that separate commercial and investment banking services and prevent other costly, documented conflicts of interest among financial entities, such as those that have dominated big banks and security firms in recent years. The recent instability, deception and bailouts on Wall Street provide the immediate reasons for such reform.
• Track the Extent and Cost of Corporate Crime: The Department of Justice should establish an online corporate crime database. Also, just as the FBI issues an annual street crime report, "Crime in the United States," it should also publish an annual report on corporate and white collar crime with recommendations.
• Foster a National Discussion on Corporate Power: Establish a Congressional Commission on Corporate Power to explore various legal and economic proposals that would rein in unaccountable giant corporations. The Commission should seek ways to improve upon the current state corporate chartering system in a world of global corporations and propose ways to correct the inequitable legal status of corporations as "persons." The Commission would be led by congressionally-appointed experts on corporate and constitutional law, and should hold citizen hearings in at least ten cities followed by a public report and recommendations.

References:

Taming the Giant Corporation
The Corporation
Center for Corporate Policy
Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill)

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:24 am

PART 2 OF 8

Open up the Presidential debates

Nader/Gonzalez supports the opening up of the Presidential debates.

Right now, they are limited to the candidates from the two corporate parties.

The debates are controlled by the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates, a private corporation which was created by the Democratic and Republican Parties in 1987.

The Commission is headed by Frank Fahrenkopf -- the former head of the Republican National Committee, and Paul Kirk -- the former head of Democratic National Committee.

Fahrenkopf is a lobbyist for gambling interests, Kirk for pharmaceutical companies.

Debate sponsors have included Anheuser-Busch, Phillip Morris, Ford Motor Co., Yahoo Inc., 3Com, among other companies who gave soft money to the two parties’ national committees.

In 2000, some in the press dubbed the debates as the “Anheuser-Bush-Gore” debates.

In a memo by the CPD, the avowed goal for forming the commission was to "strengthen the two parties."

In 1988, the Commission seized control of the debates from the League of Women Voters.

The League had a history of allowing third party candidates to participate in the debates. In 1980 the League invited Congressman John Anderson to join Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in the debates.

Anderson was given a boost from the public debates. At one point the polls had him at 21%. He won 7% of the vote.

When Jesse Ventura ran for Governor in Minnesota he was polling at 10 percent in the polls before the debates. After ten statewide debates he rose to 38 percent and won a 3-way race.

The Commission on Presidential Debates took a different tack from the League of Women Voters.

This Commission/corporation has excluded Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan from the debates.

In 1996 Ross Perot was excluded from the debates. Even with all his money and after having won nearly 19 percent of the vote in 1992 it was determined that he did not have "a chance to win," despite the fact that he even led in the polls at one point in 1992.

Walter Cronkite called the presidential debates under the CPD an "unconscionable fraud" because the CPD format "defies meaningful discourse."

In early years the CPD determined who could be in a debate by vague criteria including interviews with columnists, pollsters and consultants who determined whether a candidate could win.

In the year 2000, the CPD changed their criteria for third party and independent candidates -- a candidate now needed 15 percent or more support as measured by the average of five private polling organizations -- which just happen to be owned by several major newspaper and television conglomerates.

In 2000, Ralph Nader was excluded from the debates because the parent corporations that conduct these polls were giving him scant attention.

Without the mainstream media attention there is no moving up, and without moving up, candidates like Nader do not get into the debates and reach tens of millions of people.

In 2000, a Fox poll revealed that 64% of likely voters wanted to see ‘other candidates’ including Ralph Nader in the debates.

Other polls in 2004 showed similar results.

But it didn't happen, thanks to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Independents voices and third party candidates, including the Abolitionist, Women’s Suffrage Movement, Worker Protection, and Farmer Populace Party, have brought about many of the major changes in this country.

When Abraham Lincoln ran for office, the two major parties were the Whigs and the Democrats.

As a Republican, Lincoln was elected as a third party candidate -- even after being left off the ballot in the 11 states that seceded from the Union.

In 2004, 17 national civic leaders from the left, center and right of political spectrum - including Paul Weyrich, Chellie Pingree of Common Cause, Alan Keyes, Tom Gerety of the Brennan Center for Justice, Bay Buchanan, Randall Robinson, former FEC General Counsel Larry Noble, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Jehmu Green of Rock the Vote - created the Citizens' Debate Commission.

Bolstered by an advisory board comprised of 60 diverse civic groups, the Citizens' Debate Commission goal is to sponsor presidential debates that serves the American people, not political parties, first.

References:

Open Debates
No Debate by George Farah

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Adopt a carbon pollution tax

The best science tells us that the planet is heating up at a rate that, over the next century, will bring disruption to economic and social activity on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.

While the climate is a complex system, there is a simple reason why it is changing so quickly. It is because we use the atmosphere as a free dumping ground for billions of tons of greenhouse gases annually, six billion of which come from the US alone.

We simply cannot stem the free flow of greenhouse gases (GHG) without making them more expensive to emit. If we must pay to pollute, we will opt to pollute less.

Nader/Gonzalez proposes a straightforward carbon tax—set to annual benchmarks to bring, with the expansion of solar energy, US emissions to at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

A phased in initial price of $50 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions would harness $300 billion annually—money that would be put back in the pockets of American taxpayers, and money that would finance a green industrial revolution, providing a boon of 10 million new green collar jobs (in efficiency retrofits, cogeneration, geothermal, solar energy generation, and green grid enhancements) in the first five years.

The carbon tax will be most efficiently levied at carbon bottlenecks, the key points where flows of carbon are the most concentrated—trunk pipelines for gas, refineries for oil, railroad heads for coal, LNG terminals, cement, steel, aluminum, and GHG-intensive chemical plants.

Because carbon is such a pervasive substance, any one country that tries to put a serious price on carbon alone would face the risk of driving its carbon intensive companies and jobs overseas to other jurisdictions that opt to give their companies a free ride on carbon costs.

In order to be fair and effective, the only way that a meaningful price on carbon works is if there is one single globally accepted price. In other, words, if we don’t have the same price on carbon everywhere, it won’t work very well anywhere.

After a long period of obstructing global progress to protect our climate, it is time for the U.S. government to assume the mantle of global leadership to broker a global climate treaty covering all major emitters.

Winning the confidence of the developing nations will require deft diplomacy.

Planting a Global Climate Compact in the foundation of a universal polluter pays principle will minimize the chance for countries to become carbon-pollution havens, while providing developing countries with time and money to tackle GHG reductions in a way that they can accept.

References:

Carbon Tax Center

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East

Nader/Gonzalez would reverse the current policy in the Middle East.

The current political strategy of pre-emptive war in the Middle East is a disaster for both the American people and the people of the Middle East. It has bloated the already wasteful military budget and has cost at present over 4,000 American lives, nearly 100,000 American injuries, and over a million Iraqi civilian lives, plus the destruction of their country.

Nader/Gonzalez propose a rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

A target of withdrawing troops in six months will be set.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans want troops withdrawn from Iraq and a January 2006 poll shows that 72 percent of American soldiers in the field in Iraq wanted the U.S. out of Iraq within six to twelve months.

The war is costing taxpayers nearly $4,600 every second -- and that doesn't include the long-term reconstruction costs.

Nader/Gonzalez proposes that a rapid negotiated withdrawal from Iraq, with UN sponsored elections, is the first step toward delivering peace to Middle East.

On Israel/Paleastine, a recent Haaretz poll showed that 64 percent of Israeli people want negotiations for peace between Israel and Hamas, while only 28% oppose it.

The Israeli people want peace. The Palestinian people want peace.

All kinds of people to people peace groups are forming in Israel and Palestine.

Among them:

• The Combatants for Peace – fighters on both sides of the divide who have put down their guns to join together for a non-violent solution.
• The Bereaved Families for Peace – the brave Israelis and Palestinians who have lost a loved one to the conflict and who are joining together to seek a non-violent solution.
• The Arab-American and Jewish Americans who have stood up courageously together for a non-violent solution to the unending conflict.

And of course, the majority of the American Jewish community want peace.

By a 46-to-43 percent plurality American Jews continue to support the creation of a Palestinian state. Other polls show even higher support, among Jewish Americans, for a two-state solution.

Instead, both Democrats and Republicans reflexively support the militarists in Israel.

Israel has militarily occupied Gaza for forty years. It pulled out its colonies in 2005 but maintained an iron grip on the area -- controlling all access, including its airspace and territorial waters.


Its F-16s and helicopter gunships regularly shred more and more of the areas’ public works, its neighborhoods and inflict collective punishment on civilians in violation of Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Israeli government's blockade of Gaza prevents critical food, medicine, fuel, electricity and other necessities from coming into this tiny enclave through international relief organizations.

The resulting humanitarian crisis is received with predictable silence or callousness by members of Congress, including John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Nader/Gonzalez will continue to speak out about this humanitarian crisis and side with the strong and courageous Israeli/Palestinian peace movements who are working for a peaceful two-state solution.

References:

Washington Reporter on Middle East Affairs
Encounter Point
Palestine: Peace not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter
Jewish Voice for Peace

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Impeach Bush/Cheney

Prominent Constitutional law experts believe President Bush has engaged in at least five categories of repeated, defiant “high crimes and misdemeanors”, which separately or together would allow Congress to subject the President to impeachment under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution. The sworn oath of members of Congress is to uphold the Constitution. Failure of the members of Congress to pursue impeachment of President Bush is an affront to the founding fathers, the Constitution, and the people of the United States.

In addition to a criminal war of aggression in Iraq, in violation of our constitution, statutes and treaties, there are the arrests of thousands of Americans and their imprisonment without charges, the spying on Americans without juridical warrant, systematic torture, and the unprecedented wholesale, defiant signing statements declaring that the President, in his unbridled discretion, is the law. No man is the law. Never in our country’s history have we seen the rule by fiat as we have seen under the outlaw rule of Bush.

In 2005, a plurality of the American people polled declared that they would favor impeachment of President Bush if it was shown that he did not tell the truth about the reasons for going to War in Iraq. Congress should use its authority to officially determine what President Bush knew before going to war in Iraq.

Congressional files and retrieval systems are bulging with over-whelming evidence behind all these five categories. Constitutional duty combined with the available evidence requires the action of Congress. Inaction by Congress -- its Senators and Representatives -- amounts to the suppression of that evidence from constitutional implementation and the erosion of the constitution.

When the Democrats were heading for a net election gain in 2006 in the House of Representatives, many observers of presidential accountability entertained the hope that the House Judiciary Committee would hold hearings on an impeachment resolution. The people were disappointed. The next backup was the belief that there would an impeachment inquiry. The people were disappointed. The next lowered expectation backup was just a hearing on impeachment urged by several present and former Congressional collaborators. So far, we have seen nothing done by Congress. No wonder Congress enjoys the lowest approval rating in 33 years.

The fourth fallback by Congress was simply a hearing on the criminal and constitutional violations of Bush-Cheney by the House Judiciary Committee.

Former Senators George McGovern and James Abourezk, and Representatives Andy Jacobs and Paul Findley, along with Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City – all urged the House Judiciary to consider impeachment.

So far, the American people have seen no progress made by its Representatives.

Since January 2007 – the politically expedient option of doing nothing has triumphed.

Volumes can and will be written, about what can go down as the most serious abdication of impeachment responsibilities by a Congress in its history. No other president has committed more systemic, repeated impeachable offenses, with such serious consequences to this country, its people, to Iraq, its people and the security of this nation before, than George W. Bush.

James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and their colleagues had just these kinds of monarchical abuses and violations in their framework of anticipation.

Declarations by Bush on the somber occasion of the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq this past March 20, 2008 demonstrated his criminal, unconstitutional arrogance and his confidence that this Democratic Congress will continue to be cowed, continue its historic cowardliness, and continue to leave the American people without representation.

The Democratic Party has abandoned its critical role as an opposition Party in this and other serious matters.

More than two out of three polled Americans want out of Iraq, believing it was a costly mistake.

In a January 6, 2008 op-ed in The Washington Post, former Senator George McGovern joined these Americans and wrote an eloquently reasoned plea for the impeachment of George W. Bush.

Repeatedly during the past seven years, Mr. Bush has lectured the American people about “responsibility” and that actions with consequences must personal incur responsibility.

So, why does Congress not hold Mr. Bush accountable?

It is never too late to enforce the Constitution. It is never too late to uphold the rule of law. It is never too late to awaken the Congress to its sworn duties under the Constitution. But it will soon be too late to avoid the searing verdict of history when on January 21, 2009, George W. Bush escapes the justice that was never pursued by those in Congress so solely authorized to hold the President accountable.

Is this the massive Bush precedent we should send to our elected leaders who may be similarly tempted to establish themselves above and beyond the rule of law? Is this the message we should send to future elected leaders in Congress? Do nothing?

References:

Why I Believe Bush Must Go by George McGovern
The National Coalition to Impeach Bush/Cheney
Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table /Off the table

Repeal the Taft-Hartley anti-union law

For sixty years, the American people have lived under the anti-union Taft Hartley law.

It's passage was a great blow to democracy.

The law was drafted by employers.

The law impedes employees' right to join together in labor unions, undermines the power of unions to represent workers' interests effectively, bans secondary boycotts and authorizes an array of anti-union activities by employers.

The political damage of Taft-Hartley was just as severe.

The law kicked off an era of red-baiting with the American labor movement which led to harmful internal division. A now-invalidated provision of Taft-Hartley required union leaders to sign anti-communist affidavits.

The Taft Hartley law sent a message to employers: It was OK to bust unions and deny workers their rights to collectively bargain.

Taft-Hartley entrenched significant executive tyranny in the workplace, with ramifications that are more severe today than ever.

Union membership is at historic 60-year lows, with only 8 percent of the private economy's workforce unionized.

Employer violations of labor rights are routine, and illegal firings of union supporters in labor organizing drives are at epidemic levels.

Nader/Gonzalez would abolish Taft-Hartley and not concede this monumental employer usurpation, during this period of giant multinational corporate power and massive job exports.

It is past time for the repeal of Taft-Hartley. That would be one important step in restoring workers right to organize into unions, achieve a living wage in the Wal-Marts, McDonald's and other workplaces, and in revitalizing American democracy.

References:

Labor Notes

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Adopt a Wall Street securities speculation tax

Nader/Gonzalez favor a securities speculation tax.

Securities speculation -- buying and selling blocks of derivatives to profit from rapid fluctuations in price -- is one cause of the escalation in oil prices at the pump, the mortgage industry meltdown, and the dot.com bust.

A securities speculation tax would reduce speculation in the markets and increase stability.

Noble Prize winning economist James Tobin proposed a similar tax on currency transactions (The Tobin Tax).

As economist Dean Baker points out, the securities speculation tax would make the tax code more fair since most financial speculation is conducted either directly or indirectly by wealthy people.

"Just as poor and moderate income people pay taxes when they gamble at a casino or buy a state lottery ticket, a financial transactions tax would simply be applying a comparable tax to gambling in financial markets," Baker observed.

Nader/Gonzalez would apply the significant revenues raised by the securities speculation tax to the pressing needs of the American people, including lower income taxes on workers.

References:

The Feasibility of a Unilateral Speculation Tax in the United States by Dean Baker

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table /Off the table
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

Postby admin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:31 am

PART 3 OF 8

Put an end to ballot access obstructionism

Nader/Gonzalez favor one federal standard for federal ballot access in all of the states.

Right now, each state sets its own standards and third party and independent candidates must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours for a chance to get on the ballots of the various states.

In some states, it is fairly simple to get on the ballot.

For example, in Louisiana, Nader/Gonzalez writes a check for $500, line up electors—and we’re on the ballot.

But that’s the exception.

Check out the requirements in these nightmare states: (And remember, we need to collect double the number required in each state because many are arbitrarily invalidated.)

• Texas, requires 74,108 valid signatures between March 5 and May 8. Deplorably, anyone who has voted in the primary cannot sign the petition.
• Oklahoma, requires 43,913 by July 15.
• North Carolina requires 69,743 by June 12. In 2000, it cost Pat Buchanan $250,000 to collect enough signatures for ballot access in that state.
• Indiana requires 32,742 by June 20.
• Georgia requires 42,489 by July 8th

Ballot access was much easier in the nineteenth century. Voters had more candidates and small parties to choose from. Ballot access is much, much easier in other Western democracies.

As a result small parties were able to pioneer the great social justice movements such as abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, and protections for workers and farmers.

Currently, ballot obstruction can consume upwards of a quarter million dollars in a federal campaign’s budget to get on the ballot in one or more states.

Without candidates’ rights to be on the ballot—in a country where ninety percent of House districts are one-party dominated heavily due to gerrymandering—voters are becoming further disenfranchised.

References:

Ballot Access News

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Work to end corporate personhood

In 1886 the Supreme Court, in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, was interpreted to have ruled that corporations were “persons”—before women were considered persons under the 19th amendment to have the right to vote.

Ever since, corporations have enjoyed most of the same constitutional rights granted to real people.

But corporations are not humans. They don’t vote. They don’t have children. They don’t die in Iraq.

The people who work for the corporations are of course real people, but the corporate “entity” should never be given equal constitutional rights to real human beings.

Even Business Week magazine, in a 2000 editorial, declared that “corporations should get out of politics.”

We cannot have equal justice under law between real people and corporations like Exxon Mobil.

Multinational corporations can be in 1000 places around the world at the same time obstructing governments, states, buying and renting politicians, and going to Washington to get bailed out by taxpayers.

Congress did not legislate corporate personhood. The courts performed this jolting display of runaway activism all by themselves.

The courts destroyed the semblance of equal protection under law because there is no way even an individual billionaire can approximate the raw power of these large corporations with their privileged immunities, and their control over technology, capital and labor.

Nader/Gonzalez will work to end corporate personhood.

Nader/Gonzalez will work to subordinate the artificial corporate entity to the constitutional sovereignty of the people.

Right now it is the reverse. The sovereignty of the people is subordinated to the sovereignty of the giant multinational corporations.

But the constitution still reads, “we the people”, not we the corporations.

Corporations were chartered in the early nineteenth century by state governments to be our servants, not our masters.

They are now are masters.

Time to restore the supremacy of real people.

References:

Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann
Taming the Giant Corporation
The Corporation
Center for Corporate Policy
Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Nader / Obama / McCain
On the table / Off the table / Off the table

Shift the Power

To illustrate how little has changed in four years, other than conditions becoming worse, the 2008 Nader/Gonzalez campaign is posting these policy positions on various injustices, necessities, and redirections that were prepared initially for the 2004 Nader/Camejo campaign. Such a short historical context should give our supporters and viewers an even greater sense of urgency to stop the corporate interests' and the corporate governments' autocratic control -- and the resulting deterioration -- of our society and country.

Affirmative action

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After more than 300 years of de facto affirmative action to benefit white males, we definitely need affirmative action for people of color and women to offset enduring historic wrongs as well as present day inequalities. Affirmative action programs should not be based on quotas. Race and gender should not be the predominant factor in choosing qualified applicants. A good affirmative action program uses a variety of methods to achieve the goal of increasing diversity, including using race and gender as one of many factors in evaluating the suitability of an applicant.

More structural solutions are required to promote economic and educational equality, including a long overdue and practical Marshall Plan to eliminate poverty in the United States, and an education-focused restitution trust fund.

However, affirmative action remains an important opportunity-enhancing tool, as Americans for a Fair Chance, a coalition of civil rights organizations, has demonstrated. At the federal level, authentic minority set-asides and affirmative-action arrangements are a modest way to support the growth of businesses owned and controlled by people of color. Affirmative action is a modest means for businesses to redress historic discrimination. Affirmative action at universities is an important tool to promote campus diversity and educational equality.

On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its landmark ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, concerning the admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School. In a 5 to 4 decision, the majority ruled that student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify using race in university admissions. On the same day, in Gratz v. Bollinger, the Court ruled, in a 6 to 3 opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, that the undergraduate university's use of race was too broad to achieve the university's asserted interest in diversity and needed to be recast.

The federal government should maintain its commitment to affirmative action -- even though such arrangements may violate the rules of the World Trade Organization binding on the US. We believe the WTO's powers to be unconstitutional. The Justice Department should intervene to oppose judicial rulings against affirmative action in higher education and other spheres.

Agriculture

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American agriculture is being dominated by two contrary trends in the 21st Century. First, conventional family farm agricultural production is being destroyed by low prices and lack of market access due to mergers, acquisitions by big agribusinesses and their monopsony power over farmers. Second, there is a boom in more sustainable agricultural production and consumption due to increased consumer awareness and demand for healthy, fresh, and nutritious food. Federal policy must focus on the farm and food system as a continuum that provides many benefits. We must advance the production, marketing, use and disposal of food and fiber in accordance with consumer, environmental, worker and family farm standards of justice and sustainability. Additionally, we must challenge misallocation of resources caused by the growing concentration and wealth by agribusiness, chemical, biotechnology and financial corporations over the food and fiber economy. This entails shifting government policy to provide research and information relevant to independent food producers, organic farmers, insuring open and competitive markets, promoting new food infrastructures, and preventing pollution and degradation of natural resources.

Department of Agriculture Devolves into the Agribusiness Industry Department

Ralph Nader concurs with USDA, Inc.: How Agribusiness has Hijacked Regulatory Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report illustrates how an agency that President Lincoln once described as the "People's Department" has become the agency for Agribusiness over a series of Administrations during the last several decades supporting big corporate farming that destroys the environment, produces often unhealthy food, and undermines traditional farming, families, and their rural way of life.

USDA Inc. highlights what occurs in many federal agencies: appointees are representatives of industry and trade associations, their lawyers, and lobbyists. It is a prime example of how Washington, DC has become corporate-controlled territory. The Department of Agriculture epitomizes this big-business takeover of government. For example:

• Current USDA Secretary Ann Veneman previously served on the board of biotech company Calgene (later taken over by Monsanto)
• Veneman's Chief of Staff, Dale Moore, previously served as director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen's Association
• USDA Deputy Secretary James Moseley was a co-owner of a large factory farm in Indiana, Infinity Pork LLC
• Deputy Under Secretary Floyd Gaibler, was the executive director of the dairy industry-funded National Cheese Institute
• Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations Mary Waters was a senior director and legislative counsel for ConAgra Foods, one of the country's largest food processors.

The voices of consumers, environmentalists, and family farmers have been shut out. As a result of this agribusiness takeover, the short-term profits of a few economically powerful companies come before protection of the environment and the family farm, production of healthy food, and the interests of consumers. USDA has:

• Blocked Regulation for "Mad Cow Disease": USDA has resisted strict safety measures and testing procedures (recommended by most independent experts) and blocked efforts by meatpackers to install their own testing mechanisms, for fear that consumers might come to think meat from other meatpackers unsafe. USDA has also prevented country-of-origin labeling, preventing consumers from having information relevant to their food purchases, after a breakout of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in Canada.
• Allowed Captive Supply in Meatpacking: Meatpacking is dominated by a handful of giant corporations, forcing ranchers into one-sided contracts favoring the packers. USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration is required to guard against anti-competitive practices but has looked the other way. GIPSA Administrator Donna Reifschneider previously served as president of the National Pork Producers Council.
• Weakened Meat Inspection Policies: Despite a resurgence of problems like E. coli bacteria, listeria, and other hazards, USDA has endorsed a watered-down version of the meat trade association proposal, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), while at the same time relying on the questionable procedure of irradiation for dealing with contamination.
• Advocated for Biotech Foods: USDA Secretary Veneman has been a strong advocate of biotech, vilifying critics, downplaying safety concerns by scientists, and falsely claiming that biotech's opponents are blocking solutions to world hunger. See http://www.genewatch.org/. USDA leaderhsip has continued the previous Administration's opposition to the overwhelming desire by consumers to have genetically engineered food products labeled in the supermarkets.
• Promoted "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations": Massive livestock facilities, which house and feed 1,000 or more animals in closely confined conditions, contribute greatly to agricultural pollution. These factory animal farms produce enormous quantities of manure, polluting water, air, and land. USDA has promoted factory animal farms with little concern for the impact on the environment or smaller farms. The official in charge of regulating these massive livestock facilities, Deputy Secretary James R. Moseley, was a partner in Infinity Pork LLC, a factory animal farm that raised 50,000 hogs annually.

The Nader Campaign endorses the proposals of the Organization for Competitive Markets:

• Re-appraisal of ethics rules, in order to prevent government officials from overseeing policies that directly affect the interest of their former employees
• Enhancement of Congressional oversight over regulatory appointees
• Independent evaluation of the viability of USDA's dual role as both a promoter of U.S. agricultural products and a regulator of food safety
• Further research on revolving-door conflicts-of-interest at USDA

The past and future financial interests of many regulators (who usually return to their industries) are getting in the way of effective legislation, effective regulation that advances protection of the environment, the public health, and a diverse farm economy. With each decade the perspectives of family farmers, consumers, and environmentalists are being increasingly shut out of USDA and being replaced by the destructive policies and demands of giant agribusiness corporations.

• For a PDF of the report: USDA, Inc.: How Agribusiness has Hijacked Regulatory Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, visit agribusinessaccountability.org
• See also the Organization for Competitive Markets, at competitivemarkets.com

Food Safety

The Nader campaign is concerned about food safety in the United States. Agribusiness has taken control of the Department of Agriculture, ramping up advocacy for biotech food and support for agribusiness production approaches, while weakening inspection policies and limiting regulation of food. At the same time, increased consumer awareness and demand for healthy, fresh, and nutritious food is resulting in the production of more healthy, organic foods.

Federal policy must focus on the farm and food system as a continuum that provides many benefits. We must advance the production, marketing, use, and disposal of food and fiber in accordance with consumer, environmental, worker, and family-farm standards of justice and sustainability. The Nader campaign favors shifting government policy to provide research and information relevant to independent food producers and organic farmers, thereby insuring open and competitive markets, promoting new food infrastructures, and preventing pollution and degradation of natural resources. We support the following campaigns of the Center for Food Safety (CFS):

• Genetically Engineered Food
• Food Irradation
• Mad Cow Disease
• Aquaculture
• rBGH/Hormones
• Sewage Sludge, and
• Organic Foods

These issues are described by the CFS below.

Genetically Engineered Crops

The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, "super" pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 40 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as is 80 percent of soybeans. It has been estimated that upwards of 60 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves--from soda to soup, crackers to condiments--contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as "new animal drugs." Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government's negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

• centerforfoodsafety.org

Mad Cow Disease

For over 30 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have been flirting with a mad cow disease epidemic. The public has largely been kept in the dark about regulatory decisions leading toward this potential public health catastrophe and even about the dangers associated with eating contaminated meat and meat products. Recently, some of the glaring deficiencies in the regulation of the U.S. meat production system were revealed when a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Washington.

Mad cow disease, or BSE, belongs to a group of related brain-wasting diseases known as "transmissible spongiform encephalopathies" (TSEs). While TSEs are known to occur spontaneously, they also are spread through cattle herds by feeding infected nervous system tissue to other animals. Beginning in the 1970s, the meat rendering industry began processing dead, dying, disabled, and diseased animals for use in livestock feed--and pet feed--as a way to increase the protein consumption of cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry (cattle can get the disease by eating less than one gram of diseased meat and bone meal fed to them as a protein source). Consequently, these quasi-cannibalistic feeding practices quickly spread the fatal TSE diseases, resulting in hundreds of thousands of diseased animals, some of which ended up in the food supply in Britain and Europe. Over 140 people in Britain have been infected with vCJD from contaminated beef.

Humans who eat contaminated beef products are at risk of contracting the human version of mad cow disease known as new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (vCJD). The disease slowly eats holes in the brain over a matter of years, turning it sponge-like, and invariably results in death. There is no known cure, treatment, or vaccine for TSE diseases.

Tissue from infected cows' central nervous systems (including brain or spinal cord) is the most infectious part of a cow. Such tissue may be found in hot dogs, taco fillings, bologna and other products containing gelatin, and ground or chopped meat. The process of stripping every last piece of meat from a cow carcass, including connective tissue from bone, can contaminate this meat with infected nervous system tissue. Transmission of vCJD between people has also occurred in over two-dozen cases as a result of transplants or injections of body tissue from infected people.

Despite the adoption of additional safeguards following the discovery of mad cow in the United States, the FDA still allows the risky practice of recycling animal offal into feed: ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats, deer) are fed to non-ruminants (pigs and poultry), and these non-ruminants are rendered and fed back to ruminants. Such practices are banned in Britain and Europe. Also, in spite of the wake-up call the FDA and the USDA recently received, only a small percentage of slaughtered or soon-to-be slaughtered cows are tested for BSE in the U.S. By contrast, Britain tests 70 percent of its beef cattle and Japan tests 100 percent.

So far, none of the vCJD cases diagnosed in the U.S. have been linked to domestically-produced beef, but this fact may have little bearing on the reality of the situation: the disease has a long incubation period and few dementia-related deaths in the U.S. are investigated. Creutzfeld-Jakob disease is not yet a reportable disease with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CFS seeks to make CJD a reportable disease so occurrences can be tracked, and to plug the loopholes that still exist in FDA and USDA regulations, i.e., require testing of all cattle over 20 months of age and ban all animal products from feed.

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/mad_cow_di3.cfm

Aquaculture

The farming of fish and seafood, often referred to as aquaculture, is the fastest growing sector of the world food production industry--and one of the fastest growing threats to our water environments and native species. More than 100 fresh and marine water species are farm-raised in open-water net pens, land-locked ponds and fully enclosed land-based systems. Rapidly increasing demand for fish and fish products has outpaced our regulatory agencies' ability to manage emerging environmental and human health threats from the burgeoning aquaculture industry. The exponential growth in the industry has created enormous pressure on fresh water and marine environments and native, non-farmed species. In the absence of minimal state and national regulatory standards, this country's 4,000 aquaculture facilities are largely left to their own designs.

The environmental problems arising from the industry are altering the biodiversity of entire ecosystems. Some of the impacts include the introduction of non-native farmed fish species that diminish or replace indigenous fish populations; the propagation of deadly fish diseases; and the over-fishing of vast quantities of non-commercial fish to feed carnivorous farmed fish, such as salmon. Yet fish are not the only organisms affected--federally protected marine mammals and birds are continually harmed by entanglement in net pens and by the concentration of harmful wastes and industrial drugs and chemicals escaping into open waters.

Consumption of aquaculture-bred fish is raising serious human health and food safety concerns as well (almost all the catfish and trout, and close to half the salmon and shrimp sold in the U.S. are raised in aquaculture facilities). Farmed fish often receive large doses of antibiotics to protect them from disease and are exposed to a variety of pesticides used to kill parasites and body fungi--all of which accumulate in the fish's tissues.

CFS is working to activate and educate federal agencies, consumers, chefs, grocers, fish retailers and legislators on the need to protect seafood consumers and our water environments from the dangers posed by existing aquaculture practices.

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/aquacultur.cfm

rBGH/Hormones

With little regard for the cows or the humans that eventually eat them, the beef industry pumps growth hormones into upwards of 80 percent of beef cattle raised in the U.S. each year. These hormones are intended to boost growth rates and increase body mass--think cows on steroids. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow producers to treat chickens or pigs with hormones, the agency does permit the practice for cattle and sheep.

In addition to hormones used to increase milk production (see rBGH), there are six hormones approved for use in beef cattle. Two of these hormones, estradiol and zeranol, are likely to have negative human health effects, including cancer and impacts on child development, when their residues are present in meat. Concerns about these potential health impacts have left many scientists doubtful of the safety of hormone use in meat production.

The negative environmental impact of hormones entering waterways from livestock feedlots also is cause for alarm. Researchers have found that fish can exhibit significant effects from this pollution, e.g., females begin to exhibit male characteristics, and vice versa, in areas of high hormone concentrations.

The European Union has criticized the use of hormones in meat production since the 1980s due to strong concerns about their safety. The EU prohibited the use of hormones for non-therapeutic purposes in 1985, and banned the importation of U.S. beef in 1988 to avoid importing hormone-treated meat. Since then, there has been a heated dispute between the United States and the EU over the ban, and, in a 1999 ruling, the World Trade Organization (WTO) decided in favor of the US. However, in April of that year, the EU's Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH) released a report indicating that the use of the six growth hormones posed a risk to consumers. The EU ban remains in place.

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/rbgh_hormo.cfm

Sewage Sludge

Every time you flush your toilet or clean a paintbrush in your sink, you may be unwittingly contributing fertilizer used to grow the food in your pantry. Beginning in the early 1990s, millions of tons of potentially-toxic sewage sludge have been applied to millions of acres of America's farmland as food crop fertilizer. Selling sewage sludge to farmers for use on cropland has been a favored government program for disposing of the unwanted byproducts from municipal wastewater treatment plants. But sewage sludge is anything but the benign fertilizer the Environmental Protection Agency says it is.

Sewage sludge includes anything that is flushed, poured, or dumped into our nation's wastewater system--a vast, toxic mix of wastes collected from countless sources, from homes to chemical industries to hospitals. The sludge being spread on our crop fields is a dangerous stew of heavy metals, industrial compounds, viruses, bacteria, drug residues, and radioactive material. In fact, hundreds of people have fallen ill after being exposed to sewage sludge fertilizer--suffering such symptoms as respiratory distress, headaches, nausea, rashes, reproductive complications, cysts, and tumors.

The compounds added and formed during the sewage treatment process create an unknown and unpredictable product, one that should fall under the category of hazardous waste. Monitoring and regulating the content of these dangerous combinations has fallen terrifyingly short of protecting public health and the environment. Currently, no records are kept on the date or location of these lethal land applications, allowing these toxins to enter the soil of our nation's cropland untraced.

Despite the apparent danger of using sludge in food production, federal regulations are woefully lax. The EPA monitors only nine of the thousands of pathogens commonly found in sludge; the agency rarely performs site inspections of sewage treatment plants; and it almost never inspects the farms that use sludge fertilizer. Regulations governing the use and disposal of sewage sludge have been criticized by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Research Council, as well as numerous medical professionals, engineers, and activists.

CFS seeks to end the use of sewage sludge as an agricultural fertilizer--first through an immediate moratorium on its application to croplands. CFS strongly suggests that the government launch an independent investigation into all specific claims that sludge has caused harm to people, animals, and the environment.

• centerforfoodsafety.org/sewage_slu.cfm

Organic and Beyond

An historic struggle is currently raging in this country over the future of food in the 21st century. A grassroots movement for organic, ecological and humane food is now challenging the decades-long dominance of "industrial" corporate-controlled agribusiness. While industrial agriculture still dominates our crop fields and supermarkets, organic agriculture is now expanding faster than any other sector in U.S. food production. It is now a $9 billion industry growing at 20 percent per year. Moreover, thousands of farmers and producers are even pushing beyond organic to establish food production systems that are locally based, humane, and socially just and that encourage biodiversity.

Despite organic agriculture's positive growth, it has reached a critical juncture in its struggle for a more sustainable food future. On October 21, 2002, national organic standards became law. While these standards are worthy of celebration, they are not the final word in the protection and promotion of organic food systems.

Unfortunately, the future of organic food is in the hands of an Administration and a regulatory agency -- the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- that are backed by powerful agribusiness interests, all of which are openly hostile to the organic and beyond alternative. In less than a year from passage, the Bush administration has sought to seriously undermine the national organic standards in a number of significant ways, including creating numerous potential loopholes that would allow placing unacceptable chemical materials on a list of substances approved for organic use; a number of unapproved additives to be used in processing organic foods; eliminating outdoor access requirements for poultry; eliminating the requirement that livestock feed be 100 percent organic; and forcing small-scale, farmer-based organic certifiers out of the program. If the Bush administration's current policies are continued, the integrity of all organic food could be fatally compromised, and this crucial alternative to industrial agriculture would be lost.

CFS seeks to maintain strong organic standards that live up to the quality and integrity that consumers expect from organic foods while evolving the ethic by promoting agriculture that is local, small-scale and family operated, biologically diverse, humane, and socially just. The ultimate goal of the Organic & Beyond campaign is to replace the industrial agriculture model with a new vision of farming with the natural world.

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/organic_an.cfm

Hemp: A Plant that is Consistent with a Sustainable Future

In September 2004, the Bush Administration decided that it will not appeal to the US Supreme Court a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (February 6, 2004), Hemp Industries Association v. DEA. The decision allowed the sale and consumption of hemp food products in the United States. Three years ago the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a rule attempting to ban hemp food products. For more information on the decision, visit: http://www.votehemp.com.

Nader's Position on Hemp

Ralph Nader supports industrial hemp as a renewable resource with many important fuel, fiber, food, paper and other uses. Industrial hemp is a commercial crop grown for its seed and fiber and the products made from them such as oil, seed cake, and hurds (stalk cores). Industrial hemp is one of the longest and strongest fibers in the plant kingdom, and it has thousands of potential uses. In need of alternative crops and aware of the growing market for industrial hemp - particularly for biocomposite products such as automobile parts, farmers in the United States are forced to watch from the sidelines while Canadian, French and Chinese farmers grow the crop and American manufacturers import it from them. Federal legislators, meanwhile, continue to ignore the issue. They have failed to hold a hearing or introduce a bill that would remove industrial hemp from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration list of illicit substances. The United States should implement a licensing system, similar to the one that Canada has in place, that ensures only legitimate farmers are allowed to grow industrial hemp from seeds certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The certified seeds would guarantee that the psychoactive substance in the plant is so low that it has no effect (analogous to the negligible amount of psychoactive material in poppy seeds).

Grown in rotation, industrial hemp increases the yields of future crops grown on the same field. Because it is weed resistant, hemp production is less reliant on herbicides, and because it is naturally bright, paper made from hemp requires no chlorine bleach, which produces environmental toxins, in addition to its rail transportation risks.

As a fast-growing plant, it can be a good candidate for biobased fuel blends, helping to minimize our reliance on petroleum. This is why James Woolsey, former head of the CIA strongly supports legalizing industrial hemp agriculture. It is already making automobiles more sustainable by replacing toxic and difficult to recycle glass-filled car parts.

One of the most promising technologies to come from the hemp plant is bio-composites -- plastics reinforced with natural fiber. Already, more than 2 million automobiles made in the United States by Ford and DaimlerChrysler contain interior parts made from hemp fiber. These parts are lighter, cost less to manufacture and recycle more easily than conventional fiberglass-reinforced parts. Although they are the most promising large market for industrial hemp, biocomposite automobile parts are not the only products that could rely heavily on industrial hemp. If a domestic supply of industrial hemp were available, Interface, Inc., the largest commercial carpet company in the world said it would produce industrial hemp carpets. And, the clothing manufacturer Patagonia would be able to use domestically produced hemp rather than hemp from China. Other opportunities for industrial hemp use exist in the beauty products, clothing and paper markets.

Hemp seed is one of the very few significant dietary sources for omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid, which is chronically deficient in the American diet. Alternative sources for omega 3 are increasingly important as fish and fish oil supplements. These traditional omega 3 sources, have been found to be contaminated in many cases with unhealthy levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants.

The U.S. government is waging an expensive and unnecessary war against industrial hemp. In 1999, the U.S. Customs Service seized a shipment of hemp seed from Canada, intended for use as bird feed. The New York Times called this "one of the more bizarre episodes of Washington's campaign to curb illicit drug use." In October, 2001, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a rule banning the sale of foods produced from industrial hemp. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) sued to force the DEA to rescind its rule, and last February they won their case in a unanimous 3-0 decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a continuing waste of taxpayer money, however, the U.S. Department of Justice has petitioned for a rehearing of the HIA v. DEA decision by the full Ninth Circuit, asserting that the three-judge panel misread the law.

In March 1998 a petition was filed with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Agriculture by a coalition of farmers, businesses, environmental groups and others seeking the enactment of regulations permitting the domestic production of a crop known as industrial hemp. Groups petitioning included Essential Information, Resource Conservation Alliance, AHA - Vote/ American Hemp Association, The Body Shop, Co-op America, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Joe American Horse, North American Industrial Hemp Council, Patagonia Inc., Penokee Mountain Products Co., Preston Parish, Farmer, Rainforest Action Network, Real Goods, Rethink Paper, Tierra Madre Co., Neal Jorgenson, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, U. of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin Agribusiness Council, Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, Wisconsin Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Wisconsin Industrial Hemp Initiative, Wisconsin National Farmers Organization, Ohio Hempery, Deep E Co. Interface Inc. Without addressing the substance of the issue the DEA denied the petition during both Clinton and Bush II administrations.

Even more shameful is the government's ongoing assault on First Native American sovereignty in the persecution of Alex White Plume for growing industrial hemp on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in accordance with Oglala Sioux Ordinance No. 98-27, under which growing hemp is legal and growing marijuana is not. In 2000 the DEA raided South Dakota's prime ridge Indian reservation, near the Black Hills. The DEA used helicopters and agents spread across White Plume's property on the Pine Ridge Reservation to uproot the growing plants. These Native Americans were trying to eek out a living in an area that is one of the poorest in the nation with a per capita income of one-quarter the nation's average. The Lakota claim they have the right to grow hemp on their land under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty that encouraged the Oglala to take up farming as a way to end their nomadic travels across the plains. The treaty gave each family the right to take up to 320 acres for farming, and promised free seeds and supplies.

U.S. farmers, universities, and workers should be allowed to benefit from the research development of bio-composites and from the other outcomes of growing industrial hemp in the United States. These benefits can only be realized with reasonable regulations.

More and more state legislatures are recognizing the importance of hemp as a cash crop. State laws concerning research on the use of hemp, the economic impact of hemp and decriminalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp have been passed in Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia. For a detailed review of legislative activity on hemp see: http://www.votehemp.com/state_legis.html

There are a lot of companies, large and small, involved in importing hemp and hemp products in the U.S. Among them are Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Johnson Controls, Wal-Mart, Michaels, The Body Shop, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Living Tree Paper Company, and the list goes on and on with all kinds of manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and Mom & Pop's. See http://www.thehia.org/membersites.cfm for a listing of members of the Hemp Industries Association. The North American Industrial Hemp Council, a trade association, is made up a variety of corporations including International Paper, Booz Allen Hamilton, Interface Research Corp., as well as government officials, academics and researchers to advocate for hemp production in the United States. See http://naihc.org/

Hemp has long been demonized by the DEA, other government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to advance their dragnet agendas -- and their budgets -- to the detriment of legitimate U.S. businesses and consumers. In September, 2003 the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture passed a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to "collaboratively develop and adopt an official definition of industrial hemp that comports with definitions currently used by countries producing hemp." The Canadian Mounties, the British Bobbies, and the French Gendarmes have all found a way to address the law enforcement issues associated with industrial hemp while allowing their country's farmers to grow and profit from the crop. U.S. law enforcement officials should be able to adopt similar reasonable standards.

For additional information on the hemp food ban and industrial hemp in general, visit:

• The Hemp Food Industry Association
• Vote Hemp
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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PART 4 OF 8

Civil Liberties

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Restoration and Expansion of Civil Liberties & Constitutional Rights

Civil liberties and due process of law are eroding due to the "war on terrorism" and new technology that allows for easy invasion of privacy. Americans of Arab descent and Muslim-Americans are feeling the brunt of these dragnet, arbitrary practices.

Mr. Nader supports the restoration of civil liberties and the repeal of the Patriot Act. He also supports an end to secret detentions, arrests without charges, restricting access to attorneys, the use of secret "evidence," military tribunals for civilians, misuse of non-combatant status, and the shredding of "probable cause" determinations.

These policies represent a perilous diminishment of judicial authority in favor of concentrated power in the executive branch. Sloppy law enforcement and dragnet practices are wasteful and reduce the likelihood of apprehending violent criminals. Mr. Nader seeks to expand civil liberties to protect basic human rights in employment regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.

Civil Rights of Muslims and Arab Americans

The Nader Campaign urges the Department of Justice to take action regarding civil rights violations against Muslim and Arab Americans.

According to a report released on March 3 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States 2004, Muslims in the United States experienced more than 1,000 incidents of asserted harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment in 2003, a jump of 70 percent over the previous year.

The largest number of incidents had to do with employment and the refusal to accommodate religious practices. But there were, however, 93 reported hate crimes (i.e., incidents of anti-Muslim violence), more than double the total in 2002. And there were numerous cases in which Muslims alleged that laws were applied to them more harshly because of their ethnic or religious identity.

The report also noted that the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act has been associated with law enforcement abuses. The report points to a number of questionable national security policies including:

• The rounding up of Muslim Americans and Arab Americans by the government that blurred the clear distinction between immigration cases and terrorism investigations. CAIR cites a report by the Office of Inspector General of the Justice Department which found that between September 11, 2001 and August 2002, the government arrested 738 Muslims and Arabs whose entry visas had expired. In doing so, government officials interfered with their access to lawyers, blocked communication with family members, and even denied their constitutional right of obtaining information about the charges filed against them. The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General also reported that many were held in inhumane conditions including being detained in jail cells for 23 hours a day, and taunted and abused by guards. Guards also allegedly slammed prisoners against walls. Security tapes of the Bureau of Prisons show 308 incidents of physical abuse perpetrated by staff of federal prisons. None of these hundreds of detainees were found to have links to terrorism.
• The singling out of Muslim visitors and immigrants by requiring them to report to government offices to be fingerprinted, photographed and assigned a registration number or be deported. Thirteen thousand of the people who complied were still subject to deportation for violation of minor immigration regulations.
• The CAIR report points to widespread incidents of prosecutorial and law enforcement bias against Muslims. Violations of local ordinances for minor offenses like failure to cut lawn, or leaving garbage cans outside, have increased as have discretionary criminal prosecutions.
• Enforcement of the PATRIOT Act has also led to harassment by banks and financial institutions. People with Muslim or Arab names are being arbitrarily requested to provide detailed documentation of their identities as well as financial and tax records.

The Ralph Nader Campaign urges:

• Passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, championed by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. in the House and Senator Russell Feingold in the Senate. The Act would dissuade law enforcement from engaging in profiling by requiring collection of race data, and providing legal options to victims of racial profiling.
• The Department of Justice to implement regulatory and procedural reforms suggested by its own Office of Inspector General designed to restore constitutional protections in government investigations and handling of detainees.
• Congressional hearings on post 9-11 rules and procedures enacted by the Bush Administration in order to examine their impact on security and civil liberties.
• Opposition to the extension of provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that are set to expire in 2005.
• Reinstatment of the Federal Communications Commission's "Fairness Doctrine" -- an attempt to ensure that coverage of controversial public issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair. In the spring of 1987, both houses of Congress voted to put the Fairness Doctrine into law but President Ronald Reagan vetoed the legislation.

Equal Rights for Asian Americans

The Nader-Camejo campaign strives for equal opportunity and justice for all.

During times of war, civil liberties and due process of law are threatened. During World War II the United States moved to intern Japanese-American families. This was shameful. It must never be repeated again.

Today, in the war on terror, civil liberties are eroding as Muslims, primarily of Arab and Asian decent, are targeted. Even from a law enforcement perspective, racial profiling is sloppy law enforcement that leads to ineffective and unjust dragnet sweeps, which is wasteful and reduces the likelihood of apprehending violent criminals. The Nader campaign seeks to expand civil liberties to include basic human rights in employment and equal rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.

This specifically includes passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, championed by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. in the House and Senator Russell Feingold in the Senate, that would dissuade law enforcement from engaging in profiling by requiring collection of race data, and providing legal options to victims of racial profiling.

Regarding discrimination in employment, after more than 300 years of affirmative action to benefit white males, we definitely need affirmative action for people of color and women to offset enduring historic wrongs as well as present-day inequalities. Affirmative-action programs should not be based on quotas, and race and gender should not be the predominant factor in choosing qualified applicants. A good affirmative- action program uses a variety of methods to achieve the goal of increasing diversity, including using race and gender as one of many factors in evaluating the suitability of an applicant. Regarding Asian Americans, the Nader-Camejo campaign supports the enforcement of Executive Order 11246 which forbids any organization from receiving federal money if they practice discrimination. This should be applied to Asians as it is to other groups. Cases of racial discrimination should be vigorously prosecuted.

The United States government should set an example regarding discrimination against Asian Americans by appointing qualified Asian Americans to policy-making positions in the Judicial and Executive branches of the federal government.

Asian issues have been a long-term concern of Ralph Nader's, as an undergraduate at Princeton University his major was East Asian studies including language study in Chinese.

Equal Rights for Gays and Lesbians

Ralph supports equal rights for gays and lesbians, including equal rights for same-sex couples.

He opposes President Bush’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. All adults should be treated equally under the law. The Nader campaign believes that by attempting to mandate inequality, President Bush is leading the country in the wrong direction.

The Nader campaign agrees with Marie C. Wilson, the president of the Ms. Foundation, who recently said: "The most important thing is really having equal rights. It's not about the marriage. It's having the same rights that you would get if you were married."

The Nader campaign also believes that love and commitment is not exactly in surplus in this country and should be encouraged. The main tragedy of marriage, what undermines marriage, is divorce, as Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago recently said.

The Nader campaign supports full equal rights for gays and lesbians. While civil unions are a step in the right direction under current federal and state law, they do not afford full and equal rights. There are 1,049 federal rights that are only conferred with marriage. Additionally, at the state level, a civil union is only recognized in the state where it occurs, while a legal marriage, and all the rights that go with it, is recognized in all the states. Thus, the only way to ensure full equal rights is to recognize same-sex marriage.

In more than 200 years of American history, the U.S. Constitution has been amended only 17 times since the Bill of Rights and in each instance (except for Alcohol Prohibition, which was repealed), it was to extend rights and liberties to the American people, not restrict them. For example, our Constitution was amended to end our nation's tragic history of slavery. It was also amended to guarantee people of color, young people and women the right to vote.

The amendment urged by President Bush (called the Federal Marriage Amendment) would be the only one that would single out one class of Americans for discrimination by ensuring that same-sex couples would not be granted the equal protections that marriage brings to American families.

Equal Rights for Women

Ralph Nader endorses the full eleven-point agenda for economic, social and political rights of women advanced by the National Organization for Women (NOW).

The NOW agenda endorsed by Nader includes:

• Feminization of Power: If we are to reverse the feminization of poverty, we must have a Feminization of Power. We must move more feminist women into policy-making positions in government, business, education, religion and all the other powerful institutions of society. Women are barely tokens in the decision-making bodies of our nation, so the laws that govern us are made by men. In Congress, women make up only 10% of the lawmakers; in state legislatures, the number is less than 25%. NOW's Political Action Committees support candidates, both women and men, who support feminist goals. NOW encourages women to be politically active, to run for office from any political party, and to participate in the decision-making processes of the nation.
• Economic Rights: NOW is fighting for equality in jobs, pay, credit, insurance, pensions, fringe benefits, and Social Security through legislation, negotiation, labor organizing, education, and litigation. We are helping women break through the "glass ceiling" of the executive suite, and break loose of the "sticky floor" the dead-end, low wage jobs that keep so many women in poverty. NOW is actively opposed to punitive welfare reform that harms the most vulnerable women and children in our society.
• Equal Rights Amendment: Women are still not in the fundamental law of the land. The Equal Rights Amendment is essential to establish equality under the law for women. Equality in pay, job opportunities, insurance, social security, and education will remain an elusive dream without an ERA in the U.S. Constitution, and we are committed to its passage and ratification. The progress we have made for women's rights, and must continue to make, can be lost at any time without the strength of a Constitutional foundation.
• Reproductive Rights: NOW affirms that these are issues of life and death for women, not mere matters of choice. NOW supports access to safe and legal abortion, to effective birth control, to reproductive health and education. We oppose attempts to restrict these rights through legislation, regulation (like the gag rule) or Constitutional amendment. NOW supports the right of women to have children, including appropriate pre-natal care and quality child care. We oppose government efforts to limit or discourage childbearing, such as family caps and involuntary sterilization.
• Lesbian/Gay Rights: NOW is committed to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation in all areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, child custody, and military and immigration policy. NOW asserts the right of lesbians and gays to live their lives with dignity and security.
• Eliminating Racism: NOW condemns racism and takes action against racism as one of the organization's top priorities. Seeing human rights as indivisible, we are committed to identifying and fighting against those barriers to equality and justice that are imposed by racism.
• Early Childhood Development: NOW supports public programs to provide early childhood development as well as quality child care to meet the needs of children of all ages and their parents of all economic backgrounds.
• Older Women's Rights: NOW is dedicated to ensuring economic protections for older women, who are all too often condemned to lives of poverty. NOW is working to change the discriminatory Social Security system, pension, retirement programs, and health insurance plans to assure older women dignity and security.
• Homemakers' Rights: NOW actively supports full rights for homemakers and recognition of the economic value of the vital services they perform for family and society. We also support legislation and programs reflecting the reality of marriage as an equal economic partnership.
• Ending Violence Against Women: NOW challenges and acts to change the image of women as victims, which leaves them vulnerable to sexual assault and spouse abuse. We pioneered model rape and spouse assault legislation as well as support programs for battered women, and NOW was instrumental in passing groundbreaking federal legislation, the Violence Against Women Act. In recent years, increasing anti-abortion violence has been used to limit women's access to reproductive health services, and NOW has brought a precedent-setting racketeering case against these terrorists.
• Ending Education Discrimination: NOW pursues the rights of girls and women to education without discrimination or segregation, equal opportunity in recreation and sports, and the inclusion of girls and women in all programs and educational institutions.

War on Drugs

The Nader campaign calls for the decriminalization of marijuana, the legalization of industrial hemp, and an end to the war on drugs.

Medical marijuana: The criminal prosecution of patients for medical marijuana must end immediately, and marijuana must be treated as a medicine for the seriously ill.

The current cruel, unjust policy perpetuated and enforced by the Bush Administration prevents Americans who suffer from debilitating illnesses from experiencing the relief of medicinal cannabis.

While substantial scientific and anecdotal evidence exists to validate marijuana's usefulness in treating disease, a deluge of rhetoric from Washington claims that marijuana has no medicinal value.

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 defines marijuana as a Schedule One narcotic, making it very difficult for American researchers to perform rigorous double-blind scientific studies on marijuana. Even without these difficulties, research has shown marijuana to be a safe and effective medicine for controlling nausea associated with cancer therapy, reducing the eye pressure for patients with glaucoma, and reducing muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, para- and quadriplegia.

Internationally, scientists are undertaking massive studies to determine the healing powers of cannabis. In August 2003 the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet reported that the world's largest study into the medical effects of cannabis have confirmed that the drug can reduce pain and improve the lives of people with multiple sclerosis. The three-year study was the first proper clinical appraisal of whether cannabis-derived drugs can help treat MS.

Harvard medical doctor Lester Grinspoon has said he would have loved to do a similar study, but has been held back by the law. On his website, http://www.rxmarijuana.com, and in his book The Forbidden Medicine, Grinspoon documents how marijuana relieves the pain of people enduring more than 110 different medical conditions like AIDS, Crohn's Disease, glaucoma, cancer, and many more. Marijuana helps increase appetite, reduce blood pressure and intraocular pressure.

Whenever given the chance, the American public has voted to allow seriously ill people to relieve their pain with marijuana. Despite well-funded opposition from the federal government, citizens in nine states have cast ballots to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana. No state has ever rejected such a voter initiative.

Medical marijuana community health centers have opened up in the states, like California, only to be aggressively attacked and closed by federal law enforcement agents.

Physicians must have the right to prescribe this drug to their patients without the fear of the federal government revoking their licenses, and doctor-patient privacy must be protected. The Drug Enforcement Administration should not be practicing medicine.

Industrial hemp: The Nader campaign supports industrial hemp as a renewable resource with many important fuel, fiber, food, paper, energy and other uses. Industrial hemp is a commercial crop grown for its seed and fiber and the products made from them such as oil, seed cake, and hurds (stalk cores). Industrial hemp is one of the longest and strongest fibers in the plant kingdom, and it has had thousands of uses over the centuries. In need of alternative crops and aware of the growing market for industrial hemp—particularly for bio-composite products such as automobile parts, farmers in the United States are forced to watch from the sidelines while Canadian, French and Chinese farmers grow the crop and American manufacturers import it from them. Federal legislators, meanwhile, continue to ignore the issue of removing it from the DEA list. It is time to allow hemp agriculture, production and manufacturing in the United States.

Clemency for Non-Violent Drug Offenders: In 2004, Ralph Nader wrote President Bush urging that he grant clemency to 30,000 non-violent drug offenders. Nader’s letter highlighted the three decade long failed, and unjust, drug war. His call for clemency highlighted a similar request made by 400 clergy members to President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Nader’s letter recalled President Bush’s substance abuse problems and noted that if he had been incarcerated for cocaine use he “probably would not have gone on to have the career you have had.” The letter also highlighted the rapid expansion of the prison system in the United States which now houses more than 2.1 million people – one-quarter of the world’s prison population. Clemency for non-violent drug offenders would save more than $1 billion annually.

“It is urgent that the U.S. reverse the incarceration binge. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that if incarceration rates remain unchanged an estimated 1 of every 20 Americans and greater than 1 in 4 African Americans can be expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime,” said Nader. “It is time to make the failed war on drugs a central issue in the American political dialogue. For too long we have let this injustice continue to grow unhindered. Taking action on clemency at the federal level will set an example for the states and begin the process of reversing this failed policy.”

Nader Reiterates Need to Heed Lessons of Native Peoples:

In 2004, Ralph Nader personally welcomed representatives of the thousands of American Indians and Alaska Natives who visited Washington to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. A contingent from Albuquerque, New Mexico briefed Nader on the continuing neglect of two million-plus off-reservation Indians by the federal and state governments, as well as some tribes, in matters of health care and educational support. So-called welfare-to-work programs have had the impact of other historic Indian removal programs and sent single mothers and their families into cities far away from health care, tribally influenced education, or even extended family support.

Nader's concern with Native Americans first blossomed when he published a lengthy article in 1956 on tribal sovereignty during the termination era in the Harvard Law Record. He has steadfastly supported tribal authority and America's commitment to treaty obligations pertaining to human services, land rights, governmental authority and hunting and fishing rights.

Nader sees the Museum as an opportunity for non-Indians to understand the continuing Constitutional obligation of a government-to-government relationship between the United States and the five hundred-plus tribes. He views the fidelity of our commitment to treaty and statutory commitments, which flow from this trust relationship between our government and the tribes, as a test of the application of our Constitution.

The museum's focus on modern Indian communities offers a second opportunity for non-Indians, according to Nader. Indian peoples have developed critical survival skills over many generations as each confronted systematic efforts to destroy their cultures and their communities. These tribes offer object lessons of stamina for American citizens who must now confront powerful efforts by concentrated corporate power to erode our culture and our democracy.
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PART 5 OF 8

Climate Change

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Global Climate Change Requires Us to Break Our Addiction to Fossil Fuels

The Nader campaign believes it is time to break our addiction to fossil fuels. The evidence of global warming is mounting. We threaten the global environment with our continued use of fossil fuels. Not only is this an ecological threat, it is a tremendous economic threat, facing all of humanity. Global warming will bankrupt the re-insurance industry, spread infectious tropical diseases, cause massive ecological disruption, and increased severe and unpredictable weather all of which will significantly impact commerce, agriculture, and communities across America and throughout the world.

We urge a new clean energy policy that no longer subsidizes entrenched oil, nuclear, electric and coal mining interests -- an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. We need to invest in a diversified energy policy including renewable energy like wind and other forms of solar power, more efficient automobiles, homes and businesses that would break our addiction to oil, coal, and atomic power. A new clean energy paradigm will mean more jobs, more efficiency, greater security, environmental protection, and increased health.

The Nader campaign endorses the statement below, Greenpeace on Climate Change, and urges people to get involved with Greenpeace's efforts, as well as the efforts of others, to forge a new energy policy that is sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

• See greenpeace.org for more information.

Greenpeace on Climate Change

For more than a century, people have relied on fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas for their energy needs. Now, worldwide, people and the environment are experiencing the consequences: global warming, caused by burning fossil fuels, is the worst environmental problem we face today.

People are changing the climate that made life on earth possible and the results are disastrous extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, disruption of water supplies, melting Polar regions, rising sea levels, loss of coral reefs, and much more. Scientists and governments worldwide agree on the latest and starkest evidence of human-induced climate change, its impacts, and the predictions of what is to come.

It is not too late to slow global warming and avoid the climate catastrophe that scientists predict. The solutions already exist. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, offer abundant clean energy that is safe for the environment and good for the economy.

Other green technologies, such as the refrigeration technology Greenfreeze, offer viable alternatives to climate-changing chemicals.

Corporations, governments and individuals must begin now to phase in clean, sustainable energy solutions and phase out fossil fuels. Major investments must be made in renewable energy, particularly in developing economies, replacing current large scale fossil fuel developments.

At the same time, immediate international action must be taken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (the gases that cause global warming), or the world may soon face irreversible global climate damage.

Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the climate treaty finally agreed at Marrakech in November 2001, is a crucial first step in this process. However, the greenhouse gas reduction targets agreed at Marrakech are only a fraction of what is needed to stop dangerous climate change and the Kyoto Protocol is under fierce attack.

The US refuses to sign the climate treaty and take action to reduce emissions. With less than 5 percent of the world's population, the US is the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases and is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions. Also, governments continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industries, keeping dirty energy cheap while clean energy solutions remain under-funded.

Greenpeace is campaigning globally on a variety of fronts to stop climate change from the campaign to pressure the ExxonMobil and George W. Bush to work with the rest of the world to halt climate change to researching and promoting clean energy solutions.

Protecting the Oceans

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (COP) issued a report on April 20, 2004 that recognizes that the coasts and oceans are in serious trouble. The problems on our coasts and oceans are caused by bad decisions by government that allow overfishing for the global seafood market, in addition to coastal development and sprawl, agricultural and industrial, pollution and fossil-fuel driven climate change.

The report echoes concerns raised by the independent Pew Oceans Commission report that came out in June 2003. While the two commissions made similar findings, they had different recommendations. Pew's commission was made up of scientists, fishermen, and environmentalists; US COP emphasized industry reps, academics and admirals. Not surprisingly, the former had stronger recommendations. Below is a comparison by the Blue Frontier Campaign -- a non-profit environmental group.

They both agree on the need for Ecosystem management (recognizing that nature doesn't recognize political boundaries). They both call for a National Ocean Council within the White House. But where Pew also calls for an independent ocean agency, COP suggests strengthening the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while keeping it within the trade-driven Department of Commerce. Where Pew suggests establishing Watershed based Regional Councils to carry out ecosystems management, COP suggests establishing voluntary programs on a trial basis. While Pew suggests establishing no-take Marine Protected Areas (like National Parks in the sea), that could also help restore depleted fisheries, COP takes a far more timid position calling for more study and definition.

Both Commissions call for reorganizing fisheries management to separate the science ("dead fish tend not to reproduce") from the allocation ("who gets the last fish?") The U.S. Commission doesn't really challenge built-in conflict-of-interest however. The eight regional fisheries councils that set fishing policy in US waters are the only federal regulatory bodies exempted from conflict-of-interest law. The result is they're dominated by the fishing industry. The original idea is that the fishermen had the expertise, which is true. They're expert at killing fish. Now even many fishermen are suggesting it's time for a more radical change.


The Nader Campaign shares the views of the Blue Frontier Campaign's official comments on the US Commission on Ocean Policy Draft Report, which are on the web at bluefront.org and reprinted below.

Public Comment on US Commission on Ocean Policy Draft Report: Submitted by David Helvarg, President Blue Frontier Campaign, Washington, DC

America is and always has been an Oceanic society. From the Bering Sea Land-bridge to the Jamestown Settlement to the processing lines of Ellis Island we have been a tempest tossed people, a saltwater people, a coastal people.

We have lived well on the abundance of our seas and coastlines from the earliest canoe tribes setting fish-traps along the Jersey shore, to today's giant gantry crane operators unloading container ships at the Port of Long Beach.

As the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Draft Report emphasizes, America owes much of its wealth, bounty and heritage to the blue in our red, white and blue. It provides us the oxygen we need to breath, is a driver of climate and weather, brings rain to our farmers and food to our tables. It provides us recreation, transportation, food, medicine, energy, security, and a sense of awe and wonder from sea to shining sea.

Our oceans also extend our identity as a frontier nation. Unfortunately our frontier waters are facing a cascading series of disasters that could turn America and the world's oceans into dead seas within our lifetime. We are witnessing the collapse of marine wildlife with over 90% of the world's large fish decimated by unrestrained global fishing. We're seeing our nearshore waters poisoned by toxic and nutrient runoff from factory farms and city streets, leading to growing numbers of beach closures, harmful algal blooms and oxygen-depleted dead zones where nothing can live. Uncontrolled coastal sprawl is degrading and destroying the salt-marshes, mangroves, seagrass meadows, and barrier islands that act as the filters and nurseries of the seas, while fossil-fuel fired climate change, which the draft report unfortunately fails to address in a meaningful way is causing sea-level rise, beach erosion, coral bleaching and intensified hurricanes that put growing numbers of Americans at risk.

What the Draft report confirms is that there are common sense solutions that can save our blue frontier. Protecting and restoring our nation's public seas makes sense both morally and economically. Healthy seas also help assure vibrant coastal communities and economies.

Protecting our blue frontier has to be as integral a part of our public polices as protecting our terrestrial environment, our trade routes, our health, our sciences, and our national security, because in the end, they too depend on our oceans. Just as broad sectors of the nation mobilized in the last century for passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts that have helped revitalize our environment, and improved the quality of our lives, the time is right for an American Oceans Act for the 21st Century.

Having reviewed the Ocean Commission Draft Report and its more than 200 recommendations, we believe that the following key principles should to be incorporated in US Ocean Policies and also be used to inform any Ocean Act that focuses on on erring on the side of what is known about how marine ecosystems function.

• Commit the funding necessary to reduce overcapacity and harmful practices in our fishing fleet while assuring the long-term viability of fishing communities through collaborative efforts free of conflict-of-interest. Expand the commitment to ocean exploration and science needed to better understand our living seas, while fully protecting special areas of interest in our public seas such as unique coral reefs, deep-sea sponge gardens, submarine mountains, and kelp forests.
• Reduce polluted runoff into coastal waters. Establish and cap total daily maximum loads for pollutants flowing down America's rivers and waterways. Commit to upgrading our national sewage treatment infrastructure to improve both public health and the environment. Commit to nutrient reduction programs for agriculture, urban storm drains, tailpipe emissions and other sources, and expand public education on the problems of dumping waste on streets and down storm drains. Reduce the dumping of toxic wastes and plastics into our waters. Assure that shipping and port operations are done in a coordinated, economically and environmentally beneficial way that does not spread contaminated sediments or exotic species.
• Establish watershed based regional planning that recognizes the link between land and water protection for our families and our future. Develop incentives for more permeable roads, parking lots, and other urban surfaces to reduce polluted runoff and recharge our aquifers. Through zoning, tax-incentives and other democratic means encourage sustainable development that includes urban brown fields, conservation easements, and setbacks from high-risk areas of coastal flooding and erosion. Assure public access to public beaches. Reform or eliminate federal subsidies that place people in harm's way. Expand the Coastal Barrier Resources Act to protect those areas at highest risk of storm surge and flooding, while providing full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Work for full and vigorous enforcement of Clean Water Act provisions that protect coastal wetlands and salt marshes.
• Control and mitigate climate change impacts. It's unfortunate the commission draft report did not more fully address the critical role of human-enhanced climate change on our oceans. We need to commit full funding to the Estuaries Restoration Act, and support efforts to restore coastal Louisiana, the Everglades, and other projects that enhance mangroves, salt marshes, barrier islands, coral reefs, and other ecosystems that act as protective storm barriers for America's coastlines. Support efforts aimed at a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable non-carbon based energy systems, including a full re-evaluation of energy-development in our offshore waters. By becoming a leader in new energy technologies the United States will not only help protect itself from the impacts of climate change, but can also regain its competitive edge in the global energy market while achieving true energy independence.
• Create a new model of public governance for our public seas. Recognizing all Americans have a common stake in our Blue Frontier we need to unify America's ocean management systems. This has to be based on the precautionary principle (what the report calls ecosystems management), a recognition of the unitary nature of water from the top of our watersheds to the depths of our seas, and an understanding that when we do harm to the parts, we damage the whole.

Ocean Management should be multi-jurisdictional, open to public participation, and transparent. Decision-making should be based on the best available science and the ethical standards of society.

At the regional level it should be organized around watersheds rather than arbitrary political boundaries and include participants from local, state, tribal and federal agencies.

Nationally there should be an independent ocean agency, a kind of EPA for the seas, whose primary mission is the sustainable use, exploration, protection and restoration of America's seas as a common public trust. In addition, following the Commission recommendation, there should be an interagency national oceans council within the executive branch to coordinate the work of all agencies that impact America's seas.

We believe this is all necessary and achievable but only when we're able to mobilize a seaweed rebellion of citizen activism and convince large sectors of the public who get so much out of our living seas that it's now time to give something back. As has been said before, when the people lead the leaders will follow.

The Nader Campaign is committed to stewardship of the oceans, their protection, and restoration of America's seas and coastline. The Nader Campaign urges immediate action to restore one of the great public trusts of the United States.

Corporate Crime

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Nader Proposes Crackdown on Corporate Crime, Fraud and Abuse

The US needs to crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse that have in the last four years looted and drained trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders and consumers. Among the reforms needed are resources to prosecute and convict the corporate executive crooks and to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power; pay back ill-gotten gains; rein in executive pay; and enact corporate sunshine laws, among others.

Below are twelve initial steps for an effective crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse. The Nader campaign will return to this issue and expand the discussion on the solution to corporate crime and abuse.

Twelve Steps to an Effective Crackdown on Corporate Crime

• Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets: The Department of Justice's corporate crime division and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been chronically under funded and therefore do not have sufficient resources to combat the corporate crime wave in the United States. This results in inadequate investigation, settlement of cases for weak fines, and ignoring many corporate crime violators completely. There needs to be a strong corporate law and order will in the White House.
• Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts: The US should enact a tough, serious debarment statute that would deny federal business to serious and/or repeat corporate lawbreakers. The federal government spends $265 billion annually on goods and services. These contracts should not support corporate criminals. These standards should also apply to procurement contracts in Iraq.
• Crack Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance: The US should punish corporate tax escapees by closing the offshore reincorporation loophole and banning government contracts and subsidies for companies that relocate their headquarters to an offshore tax haven. The IRS should be given more power and more budgetary resources to go after corporate tax avoiders. Publicly-traded corporations should be required to make their tax returns public.
• Democratize Corporate Governance: Shareholders should be granted the right to democratically nominate and elect the corporate board of directors by opening up proxy access to minority shareholders and introducing cumulative voting and competitive elections. Shareholders should be given the power to approve all major business decisions, including top executive compensation. Shareholders should be treated as the owners of the corporation since, in fact, that is what they are.
• Expand Corporate Disclosure: Corporate sunshine laws should be enacted that require corporations to provide better information about their records on the environment, human rights, worker safety, and taxes, as well as their criminal and civil litigation records.
• Rein in Excessive Executive Pay: Shareholder authorization should be required for top executive compensation packages at each annual shareholder meeting. Stock options, which now account for about half of the executive compensation, should be counted on financial statements as an expense (which they are). Tax deductions for compensation 25 times above the compensation received by the lowest paid worker in a corporation should be eliminated, as recommended by business guru Peter Drucker.
• Fix the Pension System: Corporations must be held more responsible for the retirement security of their employees. At a minimum we need to give workers a voice on the pension board; not require workers to stuff their 401(k) plans with company stock; and give workers the right to control their 401(k) plans. In addition, an Office of Participant Advocacy should be created in the Department of Labor to monitor pension plans.
• Restore the Rights of Defrauded Investors: Repeal the self-styled securities reform laws that block defrauded investors from seeking private restitution, such as the private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which allowed the aiders and abettors of massive corporate crime (e.g., accountants, lawyers, and bankers) to escape civil liability.
• Regulate Derivatives Trading: All over-the-counter financial instruments, including derivatives, should be subjected to the same or equivalent audit and reporting requirements as other financial instruments traded on stock exchanges. Rules should be enacted regarding collateral-margin, reporting and dealer licensing in order to maintain regulatory parity and ensure that markets are transparent and problems can be detected before they become a crisis.
• End Conflicts of Interest on Wall Street: Enact structural reforms that separate commercial and investment banking services and prevent other costly, documented conflicts of interest among financial entities, such as those that have dominated big banks and security firms in recent years.
• Track the Extent and Cost of Corporate Crime: The Department of Justice should establish an online corporate crime database. Also, just as the FBI issues an annual street crime report, "Crime in the United States," it should also publish an annual report on corporate and white collar crime with recommendations.
• Foster a National Discussion on Corporate Power: Establish a Congressional Commission on Corporate Power to explore various legal and economic proposals that would rein in unaccountable giant corporations. The Commission should seek ways to improve upon the current state corporate chartering system in a world of global corporations and propose ways to correct the inequitable legal status of corporations as "persons." The Commission would be led by congressionally-appointed experts on corporate and constitutional law, and should hold citizen hearings in at least ten cities followed by a report and recommendations.

Education

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Education for Everyone

Education is primarily the responsibility of state and local governments. The federal government has a critical supporting role to play in ensuring that all children -- irrespective of the income of their parents, or their race -- are provided with rich learning environments, equal educational opportunities, and upgraded and repaired school buildings.

The government has an important role to play in keeping undermining influences out of the public schools -- among them, commercialism and private school voucher programs. The federal government must not impose an overemphasis on high-stakes standardized tests. Such testing has a negative impact on student learning, curriculum, and teaching by resulting in excessive time devoted to narrow test participation, de-enrichment of the curriculum, false accountability, equity and cultural bias, and excessive use of financial resources for testing, among other problems. Federal law should be transformed to one that supports teachers and students -- from one that relies primarily on standardized tests and punishment. The government should encourage schools to infuse their curriculum with civic experiences that teaches students both how to connect classroom learning to the outside world and how to practice democracy.

Education: Over-emphasis on standardized testing

The Nader campaign opposes the over-reliance on high stakes standardized tests included in federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as "No Child Left Behind." High stakes standardized tests have a negative impact on student learning, curriculum, and teaching. Using high frequency test scores to determine funding for a school, retention and graduation of students results in numerous unintended consequences. Citizens for Quality Assessment of the Education Department of Southwestern University in Texas highlights many of these negative consequences including:

• Use of single (limited) rather than multiple (comprehensive) measures of assessment
• Excessive time devoted to narrow test preparation
• Negative, unnecessary and often lasting labeling of children
• De-enrichment of the curriculum
• False accountability
• Movement away from widely accepted standards of teaching principles of best practice as articulated by the national Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of English, National Science Teachers Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and American Education Research Association.
• Issues of equity and cultural bias
• Assessment practices contrary to recommendations of most professional organizations (these associations widely condemn the use of high-stakes testing) and even of the companies producing the tests
• Excessive use of financial resources for testing

The Nader campaign agrees with Citizens for Quality Assessment that federal policy needs to be transformed from one that uses punishments to control schools to one that supports teachers and students; from one that relies primarily on standardized tests to one that encourages high-quality assessments. Broader measures of student learning are needed that include reliance of classroom-based assessments along with testing. Also, broader curricula are needed to enrich students, including development of the civic skill of engagement in understanding the world around them.

Equal Access to Education

Education is primarily the responsibility of state and local governments. The federal government has a critical supporting role to play in ensuring that all children, irrespective of the income of their parents or their race, are provided with rich learning environments and equal educational opportunities.

A recent study by Harvard's Civil Rights Project reports that schools in the United States are becoming increasingly segregated 50 years after Brown vs. Board of Education. Inner city public schools are in need of major repair and often replacement. These same schools are often short of the financial resources needed to attract and retain good teachers and to provide a quality learning environment for children. The Leave No Child Behind Act -- with its focus on high frequency, high-stakes, standardized testing -- is a counter-educational, a narrow gauge of assessment, and for tens of thousands of children, highly deleterious to their emotional and intellectual development.

The government has an important role to play in keeping negative or depleting influences out of the public schools -- among them, commercialism and private school tax-funded voucher programs. The federal government must not impose useless, costly and counterproductive mandates on schools. It should discourage, not demand, the use of misleading and narrow multiple choice standardized tests. And the government should encourage schools to infuse their curricula with a citizenship emphasis that teaches students both how to connect civic skills classroom learning to the outside world and how to practice democracy.

The United States stands now as the overall richest nation in the history of the world. There is no excuse for not smartly investing sufficient resources in education.

Working with the states where appropriate, the federal government must:

• Immediately provide full funding for Head Start;
• Guarantee pre-school education for all children;
• Adequately fund nutrition programs in the schools;
• Ensure that the nation's crumbling schools are repaired within three years.

There is, as well, a critical positive role for the federal government to play, by promoting the vision, curricula, programs and projects for a K-12 civics education for democracy. In an era when children are overwhelmed with marketing images that reduce their attention spans and vocabulary, and orient them to an overweening focus on immediate gratification, low-grade sensuality and conspicuous consumption, an emphasis on civics for democracy promises instead to take students from instruction to learning to knowledge to application ,until the highest educational goal is reached -- the sustained onset of educational self-renewal of, by and for the confident, motivated student

Electoral Reform

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Electoral Reform that Creates a Vibrant, Active, Participatory Democracy

Our democracy is in a descending crisis. Voter turnout is among the lowest in the western world. Redistricting ensures very few incumbents are at risk in one-party districts. Barriers to full participation of candidates proliferate making it very obstructive, for most third party and Independent candidates to run. Obstacles, and deliberate manipulations to undermine the right to vote, for which penalties are rarely imposed, are preventing voters from voting. New paperless voting machines are raising questions about whether we can trust that our votes are being counted as they are cast. Finally, money dominates expensive campaigns, mainly waged on television in sound bite format. The cost of campaigns creates a stranglehold making politics a game for only the rich or richly funded. Major electoral reforms are needed to ensure that every vote counts, all voters are represented through electoral reforms like instant run-off voting, none-of-the-above options, and proportional representation, non-major party candidates have a chance to run for office and participate in debates, and that elections are publicly financed.

Instant Run-off Voting

Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) is an approach that needs to be tested at the local level and, if successful, applied to state and national elections as well. The US electoral system is in crisis; less than half the potential voters vote - the lowest in the western, industrialized world. The winner-take-all election system often pushes voters to vote their fears and not their beliefs. We have not had a President win an election with majority support of voters since the first President Bush. It undermines the perceived voter mandate of the government to have a president with less than majority support of actual votes. IRV may help fix both of these problems and allow more voters to vote for the candidates they support. Nobody knows how IRV will actually work in the United States - no matter what its fervent supporters may hope for. It has to be tested and also clarified within the context of local, state and national campaign funding laws.

On June 14, 2004, the Ferndale, MI City Council unanimously voted for a proposal to place IRV on the November 2004 ballot. The proposal would amend the city's charter to use IRV in future mayoral elections. A citizen's group, Ferndale for Instant Run-off Voting, asserts that with IRV the winner always has a majority vote and minor-party and independent candidates are no longer viewed as "spoilers," unfair as that sneeringly selective noun is in our rigged two party system.

Instant Run-off Voting allows voters to rank their vote -- voters indicate a one for a first choice, two for a second choice, and three for a third choice. This simple but ground-breaking advance in elections ensures that in an election with more than two candidates, your vote can count for your second choice if your first choice can't win. Here's how it works: if a candidate receives a majority of first choices, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and a second round of counting occurs wherein the eliminated candidate's votes go to each voter's next choice. Rounds of counting continue until there is a majority winner.

Advances for IRV are being made around the world and around the United States. In 2002 San Franciscans voted 55%-45% to adopt instant runoff voting. A Vermont League of Women Voters proposal to use instant runoff voting for statewide elections was debated in over 50 town meetings in 2002; of the 51 towns reporting results, 49 supported adoption of instant runoff voting, most by overwhelming margins. And Oakland, California voted 75.9 to 24.0 in favor if IRV on March 5, 2002 but it has not yet been implemented. IRV is used in major elections in Australia, Ireland and Great Britain. A few examples:

• This spring, the Utah Republican Party made effective use of IRV at its state convention in battles for the gubernatorial and congressional nomination.
• San Francisco is in the process of educating voters on the use of IRV for use in this November's seven Board of Supervisors district elections. The use of IRV, backers say, will have a big impact on voter turnout which has been declining.

As former Independent candidate John Anderson said in an article about the Ralph Nader 2004 Independent campaign: "Having an election between two candidates is obviously better than a one-party dictatorship, but having an election among more than two candidates is better than a two-party duopoly." He went on to highlight how Ross Perot's candidacy increased voter interest in the presidential election and how that was healthy for our democracy. Anderson concluded: "With Instant Run-off Voting, we would determine a true majority winner in one election and banish the spoiler concept. Voters would not have to calculate possible perverse consequences of voting for their favorite candidate. They could vote their hopes, not their fears."

Let us see. Let some demonstrations begin so we can find out what we don't know.

For more information visit:

• The Center on Voting and Democracy
• Ferndale for Instant Runoff Voting
• Instant Runoff Voting (A project of the Midwest Democracy Center)
• Reclaim Democracy
• Massachusetts Citizens for Instant Runoff Voting
• Citizens for Instant Runoff Voting in New York State

Paperless Electronic Voting

A bedrock of democracy is making sure that every vote counts. The counting of votes needs to be transparent so people can trust that their vote is counted as they cast it. Paperless electronic voting on touch screen machines does not provide confidence to ensure votes are counted the way voters intend. The software on which votes are counted is protected as a corporate trade secret and the software is so complex that if malicious code was embedded no analysis could discover it. Further, because there is no voter verified paper record, it is not possible to audit the electronic vote for accuracy, nor is it possible to conduct an independent recount. This Primary Day six million voters will be voting on paperless electronic voting machines. This is a grotesquely designed, over-complicated expensive system fraught with the potential for mistakes and undetected fraud.

On July 23, 2003 the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute reviewed the electronic voting system in Maryland and found that it had security far below even the most minimal security standards . . . . Johns Hopkins computer security experts concluded: If we do not change the process of designing our voting systems, we will have no confidence that our election results will reflect the will of the electorate.

Computers are inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering. If we are to ensure fair and honest elections, and retain voter confidence in our democratic process, we need to ensure that there are no such questions. Therefore, it is crucial that any computerized voting system provide a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and that random audits of electronic votes be conducted on Election Day. Paperless electronic voting machines make it impossible to safeguard the integrity of our vote thereby threatening the very foundation of our democracy.

The seller of the machines, the Diebold Corporation, is a supplier of money to one of the major party candidates, George W. Bush. The CEO and top officers of Diebold are major contributors to the Bush campaign. This does not pass the smell test. Voters should report immediately any suspected malfunctions and deficiencies at voting precincts around the country to their Board of Elections. And voters should urge their legislators to require a voter verified paper ballot trail for random audits and independent recounts.

Ralph Nader's Statement on Blanket Primary Initiatives

Initiatives in California (Proposition 62) and Washington State (Initiative 872) play into the dislike of the two parties but manipulate voters into blocking non-major party choices and entrenching major party candidates.

The two initiatives would create a blanket non-partisan primary whereby all candidates would be included. The top two contenders would be the only two included on the November ballot. While a primary for all candidates is tempting to voters because it seems to subordinate political parties, the result will be to prevent non-major party candidates from being on the ballot in November.

The initiatives were bankrolled by the insurance, finance, development and banking industries as well as John Walton of Wal-Mart. These initiatives will increase the costs of campaigns since candidates would have to run in what amounts to two general elections. Through direct mail, radio and television advertising candidates will need to communicate with all voters in two general elections. This will dramatically increase costs. The likely beneficiaries will be wealthy candidates denying persons of modest means the opportunity to offset the money advantages of a wealthy candidate.

In jurisdictions where one party dominates it is likely that the two final candidates will be from the same party. Thus, entrenched interests and virtual one-party jurisdictions will be created. At the same time, third party and independent candidates will be at a disadvantage because name recognition, major funding and party machinery would be essential in the "primary." Insulating the top two political parties from competition eliminates an important check and balance on their political power.

Jesse Ventura, who has come out against the approach, points out, It is no surprise to me that big money is behind Proposition 62, and its efforts eliminate real choice for the voters in upcoming California Elections. If passed, Proposition 62 will prevent minor parties from appearing on the November ballot. This is because only the top two vote getters in the Primary Election will emerge to the General Election in November.

Ventura added, In Minnesota, September 1998, I only received 3% of the primary vote in the race for Governor. Despite these numbers I went on to win the general election in November. Under Proposition 62 "I would have been excluded from the general election in November and never would have been able to serve as Governor of Minnesota."

The solution to the problems in the anemic U.S. democracy is more choices and voices not less. Restricting the ballot to only two candidates will limit voter choice to the point of repressing other voices outright. Nader opposes these initiatives.

Statehood for DC!

More than 500,000 people live in the District of Columbia. As the capital of this nation, the District is the symbol of freedoms for which that nation stands. The light of democracy shines from the District, but does not illuminate this city. The core is hollow. The values of equality and political participation that the city promises are denied right here, in our nation's capital.

Most Americans do not know, and many would find it hard to believe, that under our current system D.C. residents are second-class citizens. The District is denied local control Congress must approve the District's budget, and can override any action of the city government. At the same time, District residents do not even have one voting representative in the Congress that controls them. D.C. is effectively a colony, with all local decisions directly subject to change by a Congress largely out of touch with local realities.

Most people who live outside of the District do not know that D.C. citizens pay about $2 billion a year in federal income taxes more than several states yet cannot elect people to decide how their money is spent. D.C. residents have served and died in our armed forces over the last half century in disproportionately high numbers, but have no representation in the Congress that decides whether or not to go to war. The U.S. is the only democracy in the world that deprives the residents of its capital city the basic rights granted to other citizens.

Even more damaging than the lack of the congressional representation is the colonial-style control that Congress exerts over the District. Adding one, or three, D.C. representatives to the 535 members of Congress would, by itself, do little to solve this problem.

Unaccountable power is by its nature abusive. The places where unaccountable power is exercised are, and must be, dysfunctional. Unaccountable power is uninformed. Members of Congress don't know this city. They don't know what's right for its people. They approve the budget and all the legislation, but they do not themselves have to live with their decisions. They foist pet projects on citizens who are perfectly capable of deciding these issues locally. They prevent the District from taxing income where it is earned. They regularly overturn the judgment of local elected officials on public health, tax, budget, school issues all with impunity.

Unaccountable power is destructive. It chokes the ability and destroys the responsibility of people to govern themselves. There is no place in the world where second-class citizens who live side by side with first-class citizens and fare as well. It just doesn't happen. What happens to a community where the people cannot exercise authority, where there is no democracy? People stop participating. They don't run for local offices. The civic culture of the community withers away.

The results of Congressional interference and the inefficiency of colonial-style management are distressing as they are predictable. Poverty has increased during a time of economic expansion, with the percentage of residents in poverty going from 16.6 % in 1988 to 22.1 % in 1998. Even more astonishing was the growth in income inequality. The richest 20 % of D.C. residents earned 16.4 times as much as the poorest 20 % in the late 80s and 27.1 times as much in the late 90s.

The voters of the District of Columbia should be allowed to hold a referendum to choose their future status.

Local control is what will make it possible for the District to start fixing its problems. With legislative and appropriations delays, regular governing confusion, and congressional interference eliminated, the District would be more able to deal with its pressing problems. The solution for the problems of democracy is more democracy!

Ralph Nader Favors Youth Voting: Lowering the Voting Age to 16

Ralph Nader favors lowering the voting age to 16 years old. He recognizes that 16 year olds work, pay taxes and more and more often are subjected to criminal laws passed that treat them like adults. In addition, democracy in the United States needs to be re-invigorated. Allowing youth the right to vote will increase voter participation, not only of 16 to 18 year olds, but also in the longer term as youth are taught at an early age the importance of voting. With this change in law Ralph also favors increased instruction in school about civics, government and the importance of voting. Some say youth are not smart enough to vote, so rather than explaining all the very good reasons for allowing the youth vote, Ralph believes it is best to let youth speak for themselves.

"At the founding of our nation, only rich, white, land-owning men over the age of twenty-one could vote. Later, it was any white man over twenty-one. Following the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment gave the vote to African American men. Next, in 1920, women's suffrage finally paid off with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Finally, in 1970 the voting age was lowered to 18 due to the counter-cultural movements of the 1960's. Over hundreds of years, the vote has spread from the clutches of an elite few to an ever-greater percentage of the population. Youth are simply the next item on the timeline of Democracy's growth." "Youth Suffrage," Brad Vogel, Between the Lines, http://www.btlmag.org:

"What kind of twisted message do we send when we tell youth they are judged mature, responsible adults when they commit murder, but silly, brainless kids when they want to vote? This is a double standard, no different than during the Vietnam War. War isn't a dead issue now either, leaders who youth can't vote for today may send them to war tomorrow. Lowering the voting age is the just, fair way to set things straight."

"For several reasons lowering the voting age will increase voter turnout. It is common knowledge that the earlier in life a habit is formed the more likely that habit or interest will continue throughout life. If attempts are made to prevent young people from picking up bad habits, why are no attempts made to get youth started with good habits, like voting? If citizens begin voting earlier, and get into the habit of doing so earlier, they are more likely to stick with it through life.

"Not only will turnout increase for the remainder of young voter's lives, the turnout of their parents will increase as well: 'A 1996 survey by Bruce Merrill, an Arizona State University journalism professor, found a strong increase in turnout. Merrill compared turnout of registered voters in five cities with Kids Voting with turnout in five cities without the program. Merrill found that between five and ten percent of respondents reported Kids Voting was a factor in their decision to vote. This indicated that 600,000 adults nationwide were encouraged to vote by the program.'"

"When the USA was founded, suffrage was restricted to white male landowners. Over time, it was extended to non-landowners, women, lower-class people (through the elimination of the poll tax), and minority races. There are no longer any groups whose voting rights are automatically denied except for people under 18. It's a matter of social progress. When other groups demanded the right to vote, many treated their cause with hesitation or ridicule, but eventually social progress prevailed. But the evolution of suffrage is not complete until it is extended to everyone who deserves it, and we're working to move closer to that goal."

• Proposal to Lower Voting Age

Energy Policy

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A New Energy Policy

We urge a new clean energy policy that no longer subsidizes entrenched oil, nuclear, electric and coal mining interests -- an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly. We need to invest in a diversified energy policy including renewable energy like wind and other forms of solar power, more efficient automobiles, homes and businesses one that breaks our addiction to oil, coal and atomic power. A new clean energy paradigm means more jobs, more efficiency, greater security, environmental protection and increased health.

Ralph Nader praises the Apollo Alliance's "Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence," an overdue agenda for the country's energy future, as a welcome contrast to the shortsighted policies of the Bush Administration. By increasing the diversity of the United States' energy portfolio, aggressively investing in the industries of tomorrow, facilitating the construction and retrofitting of high performance buildings, and working in cooperation with public servants at the state and local level to rehabilitate our urban infrastructures, the Apollo Project promises to revitalize the engine of the American economy. As the Alliance illustrates in its report, New Energy for America, the Apollo Project's design articulates a new paradigm for setting America's energy woes aright and serves up an authoritative refutation to the irresponsible policies of the entrenched fossil fuel and nuclear energy lobbies.

In the spirit of its namesake, which galvanized the will of the American people into a national effort to put an American on the moon, the new Apollo Project advocates a full engagement of the federal government with the initiative of the American people in the service of revitalizing our country's approach to its energy plight. Over the course of a single decade, beginning in 2005, the Apollo Project proposes the establishment of a viable infrastructure for the achievement of American energy independence. Calling for a $313.72 billion dollar federal investment in that ten-year period, Apollo progressively shifts the burden of American energy consumption away from fossil fuels and onto domestic renewable energy markets such as the wind, biomass, and solar energy industries. The United States has fallen dreadfully behind in these areas and will be well served to reestablish itself as a leader in technological innovation.

"While the Apollo Project places more emphasis on tax incentives instead of tax penalties, and more emphasis on subsidies than on technology-forcing regulation supported by in-house government research and development than I would have preferred," says Nader, "at least it shines over the darkness of the fossilized Bush position."

Full implementation of the ten-year Apollo Model Policy Agenda will reduce transportation-related petroleum consumption by 1.25 to 2.55 million bpd (or between 54 and 110% of our current level of imports from the Persian Gulf); reduce national energy consumption by 16% ; and put the United States on pace to meet 20% of its total electricity demand from renewables by 2020-more than three times 2003 levels. The Apollo Project further promises to revitalize the American job market with an injection of 3.3 million jobs-largely within areas of industry demanding greater skills and providing higher wages, better job benefits, and improved social equity.

Over the course of Apollo's ten-year implementation period the overall economy will benefit from an increase of $1.4 trillion dollars in new Gross Domestic Product. Within that same decade-long timeframe, the Apollo Project will pay for itself through savings in energy costs and tax revenues, with further and greater fiscal benefits to ensue thereafter. This is to say nothing of the benign environmental benefits to be reaped from the consequent decreases in air and water pollution and greenhouse gases.

The Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence excerpted from the Apollo Alliance's "New Energy For America" Jobs Report, jointly produced by The Institute for America's Future & The Center on Wisconsin Strategy, with economic analysis provided by The Perryman Group, Waco Texas:

• Invest In More Efficient Factories: Make innovative use of the tax code and economic development systems to promote more efficient and profitable manufacturing while saving energy through environmental retrofits, improved boiler operations, and industrial cogeneration of electricity, retaining jobs by investing in plants and workers.
• Encourage High Performance Building: Increase investment in construction of "green buildings" and energy efficient homes and offices through innovative financing and incentives, improved building operations, and updated codes and standards, helping working families, businesses, and government realize substantial cost savings.
• Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances: Drive a new generation of highly efficient manufactured goods into widespread use, without driving jobs overseas, by linking higher energy standards to consumer and manufacturing incentives that increase demand for new durable goods and increase investment in US factories.
• Modernize Electrical Infrastructure: Deploy the best available technology like scrubbers to existing plants, protecting jobs and the environment; research new technology to capture and sequester carbon and improve transmission for distributed renewable generation.
• Expand Renewable Energy Development: Diversify energy sources by promoting existing technologies in solar, biomass and wind while setting ambitious but achievable goals for increasing renewable generation, and promoting state and local policy innovations that link clean energy and jobs.
• Improve Transportation Options: Increase mobility, job access, and transportation choice by investing in effective multimodal networks including bicycle, local bus and rail transit, regional high-speed rail and magnetic levitation rail projects.
• Reinvest In Smart Urban Growth: Revitalize urban centers to promote strong cities and good jobs, by rebuilding and upgrading local infrastructure including road maintenance, bridge repair, and water and waste water systems, and by expanding redevelopment of idled urban "brownfield" lands, and by improving metropolitan planning and governance.
• Plan For A Hydrogen Future: Invest in long term research & development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and deploy the infrastructure to support hydrogen powered cars and distributed electricity generation using stationary fuel cells, to create jobs in the industries of the future.
• Preserve Regulatory Protections: Encourage balanced growth and investment through regulation that ensures energy diversity and system reliability, that protects workers and the environment, that rewards consumers, and that establishes a fair framework for emerging technologies.
• Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars: Begin today to provide incentives for converting domestic assembly lines to manufacture highly efficient cars, transitioning the fleet to American made advanced technology vehicles, increasing consumer choice and strengthening the US auto industry.

Environmental Policy

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A Real World Environmental Policy

The epidemic of silent environmental violence continues. Whether it is the 65,000 Americans who die every year from air pollution, or the 80,000 estimated annual fatalities from hospital malpractice, or the 100,000 Americans whose demise comes from occupational toxic exposures, or the cruel environmental racism where the poor and their often asthmatic children live in pollution sinks located near toxic hot spots (that are never situated in shrubbered suburbs), preventable, harmful, situations abound.

Now, as the evidence of global warming mounts, it is evident that we threaten the global environment with tremendous economic threats facing humanity, including bankrupting the reinsurance industry, the spread of infectious tropical diseases, massive ecological disruption and increased severe and unpredictable weather, all of which will significantly impact commerce, agriculture, and communities across America. Toxic standards need to be strengthened. Currently toxic standards are designed for adults, not for more vulnerable children. This should be reversed. We need to make environmental protection a priority for our energy, trade, industrial, agricultural, transportation, development, and land use policies. Indeed, protecting the environment must be weaved throughout our governance.

Fair Tax

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Fair Tax Where the Wealthiest and Corporations Pay their Share; Tax Wealth More than Work; Tax Activities We Dislike More than Necessities

The complexity and distortions of the federal tax code produces distributions of tax incidence and payroll tax burdens that are skewed in favor of the wealthy and the corporations further garnished by tax shelters, insufficient enforcement, and other avoidances.

Corporate tax contributions as a percent of the overall federal revenue stream have been declining for fifty years and now stand at 7.4% despite massive record profits. A fundamental reappraisal of our tax laws should start with a principle that taxes should apply first to behavior and conditions we favor least and pinch basic necessities least, such as the clearly addictive industries (alcohol and tobacco), pollution, speculation, gambling, extreme luxuries, instead of taxing work or instead of the 5% to 7% sales tax food, furniture, clothing or books.

Tiny taxes (a fraction of the conventional retail sales percentage) on stock, bond, and derivative transactions can produce tens of billions of dollars a year and displace some of the taxes on work and consumer essentials. Sol Price, founder of the Price Clubs (now merged into Costco) is one of several wealthy people in the last century who have urged a tax on wealth. Again, it can be at a very low rate but raise significant revenues. Wealth above a quite comfortable minimum is described as tangible and intangible assets. The present adjustment of Henry George's celebrated land tax could also be considered.

Over a thousand wealthy Americans have declared, in a remarkable conflict against interest, that the estate tax, which now applies to less than 2 percent of the richest estates, should be retained. The signers of this declaration included William Gates, Sr., Warren Buffett and George Soros. Ralph Nader does not believe that "unearned income" (dividends, interest, capital gains) should be taxed lower than earned income, or work, inasmuch as one involves passive income, including inheritances and windfalls, while the latter involves active effort with a higher proportion of middle and lower income workers relying on and working each day, some under unsafe conditions, for these earnings.
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Re: AN unREASONABLE MAN, directed by Henriette Mantel

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PART 6 OF 8

Fair Trade

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Fair Trade that Protects the Environment, Labor Rights and Consumer Needs

NAFTA and the WTO make commercial trade supreme over environmental, labor, and consumer standards and need to be replaced with open agreements that pull up rather than pull down these standards. These forms of secret autocratic governance and their detailed rules are corporate-managed trade that puts short-term corporate profits as the priority. While global trade is a fact of life, trade policies must be open, democratic, and not strip-mine environmental, social and labor standards. These latter standards should have their own international pull up treaties.

Federal Budget

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A Federal Budget that Puts Human Needs Before Corporate Greed and Militarism

The United States needs a redirected federal budget that adequately funds crucial priorities like infrastructure, transit and other public works, schools, clinics, libraries, forests, parks, sustainable energy and pollution controls. The budget should move away from the deeply documented and criticized (by the US General Accounting Office, retired Admirals and Generals and others) wasteful, redundant "military industrial complex" as President Eisenhower called it, as well as corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthy that expand the divide between the luxuries of the rich and the necessities of the poor and middle class.

The Wasteful and Redundant Defense Department Budget Needs to Be Cut

Half of the operating costs of the U.S. federal budget is spent on the military. The federal budget should move away from the wasteful, redundant "military industrial complex." Wasteful spending on expensive military equipment and post World War II deployments that we do not need makes the U.S. less secure in many other neglected ways.

The Task Force on A Unified Security Budget for the United States, drawing on the knowledge of analysts with expertise in different dimensions of the security challenge, made recommendations in March 2004 that would cut defense spending by $51 billion. The Task Force was organized by the Center for Defense Information, Foreign Policy in Focus, and Security Policy Working Group. In addition, they recommend a unified approach to fighting terrorism and increasing security that includes increases in non-military expenditures, noting that in a 2002 speech President Bush identified development assistance as a security tool, linking the desperate resort to terrorism with the hopelessness of persistent poverty.

The Task Force report is excerpted for your information. Our views go beyond these positions.

Our military is still dominated by an obsolete conventional and nuclear structure, designed to counter the least likely threat: a large-scale conventional challenge. As a result, the United States is burdened with a very expensive but misdirected military prepared for large-scale warfare rather than the challenges and operations that American forces now face with increasing strain. The dangers we face today come less from a potential superpower rival and more from failing states that have the potential to destabilize entire regions and to become magnets for transnational terrorist groups.

Currently seven times as much is spent on military vs. non-military security spending. The Task Force brings this into greater balance reducing the ratio to 3:1. In order to achieve this better balance the Task Force notes that the nature of today's threats allows the U.S. to:

• Reduce the pace of investment in the next generation of weapons. The U.S. has a technological edge over all nations, including all of its adversaries. Nonetheless, the U.S. continues rushing expensive new generations of fighters, helicopters, ships, submarines, and tanks into production. Most of these weapons were designed to fight the now-collapsed Soviet Union.

New technologies and systems will be developed and tested as prototypes, but they need not be manufactured in quantity unless the threat warrants it. It is simply a waste of money and other resources to keep a huge military force on hair-trigger readiness for the conflicts of the last century.

In addition, a more restrictive policy of exporting advanced aircraft and other weapons to potentially unstable regions would also help us to safely slow down the pace of developing future weapon systems.

• Stop deployment of the national missile defense system until the technology is proven and the threat warrants, while maintaining a robust research program. This would save billions of dollars and insure that America does not close the door on any promising technology. So far, despite spending over $75 billion, we have not found any that is works, and we cannot plan our security around doing so. Nor can we risk antagonizing Russia and China and possibly driving them into a military alliance, or alienating our European allies, or sparking a new nuclear arms race in Asia.
• Reduce our expensive and largely redundant strategic nuclear arsenal to 1,000 warheads, as a first step to further cuts; take our nuclear forces off hair-trigger alert.
• Close unnecessary military bases. While force structures and manpower have been reduced by 37% since the end of the Cold War, bases overseas have been reduced by only 25% and bases in the U.S. by only 20%. There is probably room for even larger reductions since in 1988, before the end of the Cold War, an official estimate put excess base capacity at 40%. After the end of the Cold War and the reduction of potential threat, presumably the excess capacity is now even greater.
• Overhaul the Pentagon's financial management operations. In 2003, the Defense Department (DoD) failed its General Accounting Office audit for the seventh year in a row. The DoD Inspector General found that it had failed to account for more than a trillion dollars in financial transactions, not to mention planes, tanks, and missile launchers. The Pentagon has about 2,200 overlapping financial systems, which cost $18 billion a year to run.
• The Bush administration has laid out a Defense Transformation initiative that is supposed to fix these problems. The positive features of this initiative, the ones that actually create new accountability and controls, should be pursued. The initiative has, however, embedded within it, proposals that will actually weaken accountability by reducing Pentagon reporting requirements to Congress and the public, while also weakening labor and environmental protections. These proposals need to go.
• Realign forces to better prepare them for likely missions, including counterterrorism, peacekeeping, reconstruction, security, and stability operations.

At the same time, the Task Force recommends increases in spending on non-military security including:

• Reinvesting in diplomacy. We will refocus resources on diplomacy as preventive action to resolve conflicts before they become violent.
• Developing international security forces. The U.S. cannot meet every contingency by itself. The vain attempt to do so only stretches our resources and leaves us with inadequate forces. Nor can we simply recast outlaw states in our own image by threatening and using military force. This strategy breeds resentment, fosters countervailing coalitions, and overburdens our resources.
• Reinvigorating the nonproliferation regime. The first line of defense against the spread of WMD is the interlocking set of treaties and institutions that form the global nonproliferation regime. This must include:
o Expanding significantly the budget of the Nunn-Lugar program and other initiatives designed to help secure and dismantle the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union, since this may be the most likely place for terrorists to get their hands on WMD.
o Solidifying the norms against proliferation through multilateral regimes. The U.S. must strengthen the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by ratifying an IAEA Additional Protocol permitting more rigorous inspections, asking for assurances that all states implement full-scope IAEA safeguards agreements, and proposing increases in that agency's funding. And we must ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which will create a more powerful nonproliferation tool through its intrusive verification regime.
o Working for more effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, including an improved inspection system, and resume participation in meetings to develop a biological weapons protocol and strengthen verification and enforcement obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.
o Ratifying the Small Arms Control Pact, the Antipersonnel Landmine Treaty, and the Rome Treaty establishing the International Criminal Court.
o Strengthening existing export control authorities, focusing especially on regulating truly sensitive exports to hostile and unstable regimes.

The collapse of the cold war, changing trade relationships with China, Russia, and other countries, and the post-9/11 world require a rethinking of U.S. security spending. Continuing to build weapons for old threats results in waste that we cannot afford. The recommendations of the Task Force are a good beginning point for a re-evaluation of U.S. security strategies and spending.

The full report of the Task Force on A Unified Security Budget for the United States, March 2004 is available at:

http://www.cdi.org

Healthcare

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Health Care for All

The state of health care in the United States is a disgrace. For millions of Americans it is a struggle between life, health and money. The Nader Campaign supports a single-payer health care plan that replaces for-profit, investor-owned health care and removes the private health insurance industry (full Medicare for all). This approach is supported by Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP); the American Nurses Association; the U.S. Labor Party; the California Nurses Association; the National Association of Social Workers; the Associations of Physicians Assistants; and the National Association of Midwives, among others.

The United States spends far more on health care than any other country in the world, but ranks only 37th in the overall quality of health care it provides, according to the World Health Organization. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not provide universal health care. More than 44.3 million Americans have no health insurance, and tens of millions more are underinsured. Private corporations pay less than 20% of health costs. Thus, even if you have insurance, you may not be able to afford the care you need, and some treatments may not be covered at all.

For a family living on the edge financially and facing the onset of a serious illness or disabling injury, a lack of health insurance can trigger bankruptcy or even homelessness. Homelessness only leads to more health care problems a world of inadequate hygiene, communicable diseases, exposure to the elements, violence, and emotional trauma. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine find that the homeless are far more likely to suffer from chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and asthma.

The Nader campaign favors replacing our fragmented, market-based system with a single-payer health plan - where the government finances health care, but keeps the delivery of health care to private non-profits, and allows free choice of doctors and hospitals for patients.

The U.S. health care system has many grave faults that could be remedied by a system of universal coverage, including serious gaps in coverage for: prescription drugs and medical supplies; dental, vision, and hearing care; long-term care; mental health care; preventive care for children; and treatment for substance abuse. A recent study by National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine estimates that 18,000 25- to 64-year-old Americans die every year as a result of lack of coverage. That is 18,000 human beings every year, not counting younger Americans.

Shrinking Choices for the Health Consumer

Health care should be provided by a national, single-payer health insurance program funded by the federal government and providing comprehensive benefits to all Americans throughout their lives. Under the current system, hundreds of billions of dollars a year are wasted by health-care sellers on billing, fraud and administrative expenses. Excess profits and high CEO (and other executive) salaries at large HMOs and other health-care companies add further costs. PNHP highlights the trend:

Our pluralistic health care system is giving way to a system run by corporate oligopolies. A single-payer reform provides the only realistic alternative.

A few giant firms own or control a growing share of medical practice. The winners in the new medical marketplace are determined by financial clout, not medical quality. The result: three or four hospital chains and managed care plans will soon corner the market, leaving physicians and patients with few options. Doctors who don't fit in with corporate needs will be shut out, regardless of patient needs.


Dr. Steffie Woolhandler of Harvard Medical School points out that "we are already spending enough to provide every American with superb medical care - $5,775 per person this year [2003]. That's 42% higher than in Switzerland, which has the world's second most expensive health care system, and 83% higher than in Canada." Indeed, 14.9 percent of our gross domestic product is spent on health care and the cost is growing rapidly. Japan spends 7.6% of its GDP, Australia 8.5%, Holland 8.6% and Canada 9.5%. By 2013, per capita health care spending in the U.S. is projected to increase to 18.4 percent of GDP.

A recent study by David U. Himmelstein, MD and Dr. Woolhandler found that our current system is wasteful and obstructively bureaucratic:

Over 24% of every health care dollar goes to paperwork, overhead2, CEO salaries, profits, and other non-clinical costs. Because the U.S. does not have a system that serves everyone and instead has over 1,500 different insurance plans, each with their own marketing, paperwork, enrollment, premiums, rules, and regulations, our insurance system is both extremely complex and fragmented. The Medicare program operates with just 3% overhead, compared to 15% to 25% overhead at a typical HMO.


Some research has found even higher levels of administrative cost in our current health care system. A December, 2002 report for the state of Massachusetts, designed to develop a statewide plan for "universal health care with consolidated financing," reported that 40 percent of every health care dollar spent in the state goes to administrative costs. Prepared by the pro-HMO consulting firm Law & Economics Consulting Group, the report studied three options; only the single-payer option met the developmental criteria.

Studies show that savings from a single-payer system would be more than enough to provide universal coverage for the same amount that we are now paying. In 2001, a federally funded study of single-payer universal health coverage, prepared for the Office of Vermont Health Access by the Lewin Group, found the state could save more than $118 million a year over current medical insurance costs-and still cover every Vermonter. "Our analysis indicates that the single payer model would cover all Vermont residents, including the estimated 51,390 uninsured persons in the state, while actually reducing total health spending in Vermont by about $118.1 million in 2001 (i.e., five percent). These savings are attributed primarily to the lower cost of administering coverage through a single government program with uniform coverage and payment rules."

The impact of overhead on private physicians is also significant.

Physicians in the U.S. face massive bureaucratic costs. The average office-based American doctor employs 1.5 clerical and managerial staff, spends 44% of gross income on overhead, and devotes 134 hours of his/her own time annually to billing. Canadian physicians employ 0.7 clerical/administrative staff, spend 34% of their gross income for overhead, and trivial amounts of time on billing (there's a single half page form for all patients, or a simple electronic system).


Fraudulent Billing

Typical government estimates put the figure for billing fraud and abuse at 10 percent of annual spending, amounting to over $150 billion annually. PNHP urges the banning of investor-ownership health care sellers in order to dramatically reduce fraudulent billing. Single-payer will reduce fraud because all of the medical information will be in one system - not multiple systems, i.e. multiple insurance companies, employer records, hospital records. Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard University points out that about 90% of hospital bills have mistakes, with overcharges comprising two out of three of the errors, according to business surveys. Unlike the single-payer system in Canada&mdashwhere everybody has health insurance and no one sees a bill here in the U.S. complex and fragmented bills devour huge amounts of time and resources. Single-payer would reduce both bureaucracy and the opportunity for fraud and bring to light patterns regarding outcomes or other areas needing attention.

Waste in Health Care Practices

A recent study by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School suggests that care in the U.S. could be just as good, or better, and cost a lot less - perhaps as much as 30 percent less - if conservative practice patterns were adopted. In regions with nearly identical health care needs, the Dartmouth team found that the overall quantity of services performed could vary by as much as 60 percent. The differences were due to more frequent physician visits, greater use of specialists and minor tests, and more in-patient stays. More expensive care does not necessarily result in better chances of survival or greater levels of satisfaction with that care. Indeed, by some standards, such as quality of care, access to outpatient services, and preventive care-like flu shots and Pap tests-higher-intensity regions actually fared worse than conservative regions.6 Sometimes too much medical care does harm to a patient, such as unnecesary x-rays, and even operations, having adverse side effects. The single-payer system helps to minimize this problem-physicians ordering unnecessary tests or performing needless surgeries will be spotted. This can only contribute positively to every patient's ability to do real health planning.

The Seeds of Single Payer Sound Proposals & Reputable Endorsements

The Nader campaign finds persuasive a plan based on Physicians for a National Health Program's A National Health Program for the United States: A Physicians' Proposal, first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1989, and A National Long-Term Care Program for the United States; A Caring Vision, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1991 (both available at http://www.pnhp.org). Founded by Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler of Harvard Medical School, PNHP has received endorsements for its plans from over 12,000 physicians and medical students, among them: former Surgeons General David Satcher and Julius Richmond; Marcia Angell, MD-Past Editor, New England Journal of Medicine; Quentin Young, MD-Past President, American Public Health Association; Joel Alpert, MD-Past President, American Academy of Pediatrics; Christine Cassell, MD-Past President, American College of Physicians; Elinor Christiansen, MD-Past President, American Medical Women's Association; and Gary Dennis, MD-Past President, National Medical Association (titles for affiliation only).

Under PNHP's proposed plans:

• Everyone would be included in a single, comprehensive public plan covering all medically necessary services, including acute, rehabilitative and long-term care, mental-health services, dental care, prescription drugs and medical supplies.
• Everyone would have access to personalized care with a local primary care physician, and free choice of doctors and hospitals at all times. In a publicly-financed, universal health care system medical decisions would be left to patients and doctors, not to insurance companies or the government.
• Health care sellers would stay private, and the health plan would provide for different payment schemes for health-care sellers, to minimize disruption to the existing system. The payment schemes would be designed to prevent profit motives from unduly influencing physicians, so there would be no structured incentives to recommend too much or too little care.
• A transition fund would be established for insurance-company employees whose jobs would be eliminated due to the simplicity of the single-payer system.

The Nader Campaign wishes particularly to applaud the soundness of PNHP's focus on prevention as a critical part of health care. Adequate provision of prevention services not only fosters healthier lives but also proves highly cost-effective in the long run. A commitment to prevention services will require the implementation of systems ensuring the reduction of environmental factors leading to chronic illness (i.e. reducing or eliminating lead in our water, mercury contamination in our food, and asthma-inducing air pollution), especially in our urban areas. Public health policies are needed to wean our culture away from fatty fast foods and encourage healthier life styles, via sound diets, exercise regiments, and reductions in smoking and drug use. As PNHP notes:

Quality requires prevention. Prevention means looking beyond medical treatment of sick individuals to community-based public health efforts to prevent disease, improve functioning and well-being, and reduce health disparities. These simple goals, articulated in {the National Center for Health Statistics'} Healthy People 2000, remain elusive. Nine preventable diseases are responsible for more than half of the deaths in the United States, yet less than 3% of health care spending is directed toward prevention.


A single-payer health plan that includes a prevention focus will be integral to mitigating behaviors and environmental conditions that increase health problems. Again, in the words of PNHP:

Health care financing should facilitate problem solving at the community level. Community-based approaches to health promotion rest on the premise that enduring changes result from community-wide changes in attitudes and behaviors as well as ensuring a healthy environment. Stores that refuse to sell tobacco to minors and promote low-fat foods, schools that teach avoidance of human immunodeficiency virus infection, and a (public) health department that can guarantee clean air and water have a more vital role in ensuring health than does private health insurance.


The views of nurses are also persuasive. As Deborah Burger, RN, President of the California Nurses Association notes:

• As caregivers responsible for protecting patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, registered nurses see clearly the failure of our current healthcare system and the crisis in access, availability, and quality of health care for everyone in this nation.
• The roots of the crisis lie in the growth of a healthcare industry concerned primarily with revenue, profits, and market share rather than quality healthcare.
• The California Nurses Association favors creation and implementation of a new system based on a single, universal standard of care for all that respects the humanity and the right of all our residents to quality healthcare. Key components should include:
o Single, universal standard of care applied to all patients
o Universal access for all; not to be tied to income, residency status or other exclusionary criteria
o Uniform benefits
o Mandated and enforced safe caregiver staffing ratios based on patient need
o Expansion of clinical and economic reporting requirements
o Giving priority to healthcare problems associated with race, gender or socio-economic status
o A shift away from private administration and financing to a model of public administration and financing
o Require hospitals provide all necessary and appropriate care to any patient needing emergency care
o Prohibit healthcare providers from seeking to limit care to only the most healthy, and thus least expensive, patients Computer-based technologies based on patient and caregiver safety standards and skill enhancement, rather than skill displacement
o Transition employment programs for workers displaced as a result of healthcare reforms

The U.S. Labor Party's Prescription for a Healthy America also makes a contribution to the cause of fundamental reform. The Labor Party Plan, called Just Health Care, calls for:

• Taking the profit out of health care noting that as much as 30 cents of every premium dollar is squandered on enormous CEO salaries, shareholder profits, advertising and administration.
• Providing comprehensive coverage of all appropriate care, including:
o Doctor visits
o Nursing home and long-term care
o Hospitalization
o Preventive & rehabilitative services
o Access to specialists
o Prescription drugs
o Mental health treatment
o Dental & vision services
o Occupational health services
o Medical supplies & equipment
o Guaranteeing access to health care (The Labor Party plan notes: "The number of Americans without health insurance continues to increase each year. Of the 44.3 million uninsured, nearly half aged 18-64 work full time. Just Health Care will extend coverage to every U.S. resident whether working full or part time, retired, laid off, in school or between jobs. By taking health care off the bargaining table, quality health care becomes a right, not a benefit.")
o Fair financing (The US Labor Party points out that the cost of health care is rapidly rising. The United States will spend $1.6 trillion on health care in 2004.)

Consumer Oversight

Any system, even one animated by service and our non-profit structures, requires oversight by the consumers-requiring inserts in communications (paper or electronic ) from health care vendors and the single-payer agency, inviting consumers to join and voluntarily contribute minimum membership dues. The Nader campaign proposes that a federally-chartered non-profit membership organization be created through a Congressional charter to serve as a national patient watchdog (with state chapters) to keep this large part of our economy on its toes. Patients would be able to sign up at their local doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. This organization -- call it the Consumer Health Vigilance Association -- would have full-time advocates overseeing relevant governmental agencies, Congress, and the private health sector. Empowered with all the rights that corporations wield-advocacy, lobbying, litigation, research, and alliance-development with other citizen groups-this modest organization would be chartered so as to ensure that public policies affecting the provision, quality, and cost of health services reflect fairly the needs and concerns of consumers and continue to be informed by their organized voices.

Financing

Although we can easily provide universal, single-payer health insurance for the same amount that we spend and waste on health care now, public funding will be required to replace the portion now paid for by employers and individuals. Consider PNHP's model:

A universal public system would be financed this way: The public financing already funneled to Medicare and Medicaid would be retained. The difference, or the gap between current public funding and what we would need for a universal health care system, would be financed by a payroll tax on employers (about 7%) and an income tax on individuals (about 2%). The payroll tax would replace all other employer expenses for employees' health care. The income tax would take the place of all current insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and any and all other out of pocket payments.

For the vast majority of people a 2% income tax is less than what they now pay for insurance premiums and in out-of-pocket payments such as co-pays and deductibles, particularly for anyone who has had a serious illness or has a family member with a serious illness. It is also a fair and sustainable contribution. Currently, over 44.3 million people have no insurance and thousands of people with insurance are bankrupted when they have an accident or illness. Employers who currently offer no health insurance would pay more, but they would receive health insurance for the same low rate as larger firms. Many small employers have to pay 25% or more of payroll now for health insurance - so they end up not having insurance at all.

For large employers, a payroll tax in the 7% range would mean they would pay less than they currently do (about 8.5%). No employer, moreover, would hold a competitive advantage over another because his cost of business did not include health care. And health insurance would disappear from the bargaining table between employers and employees.


However, before assessing any income tax, the Nader campaign would tax the corporations polluting the environment, industries manufacturing addictive products, and stock speculation -- in addition to closing corporate tax loopholes. These tax law changes will be more than sufficient to make an income tax surcharge on most individuals unnecessary.

Providing universal health care can only be accomplished through a single-payer system: no country ever achieved universal coverage with private health insurance. President Harry Truman proposed universal health care in 1948 but was rebuffed by Congress. The time to act is yesterday. Let us end our disastrous descent into the corporatization of medicine and its callous consequences.

Israel

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Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader continued his dialogue with Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. The dialogue, which began this summer when Foxman criticized Nader for questioning the militaristic approach of the Sharon government and the U.S. government's puppet-like support of Israel, has focused on whether criticizing Israel is akin to anti-semitism.

Nader favors a two-state solution and believes that the United States needs to highlight the broad and deep peace movement in Israel and its counterparts among Palestinians and among Americans of the Jewish faith. In this letter Nader urges Foxman to meet with these people so Foxman "can play a part in the historic effort to establish a broad and deep peace between the two Semitic peoples."

Criticizing the Israeli Government is not for Israelis Alone

October 12, 2004

Mr. Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League
823 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Foxman:

You started your last letter with the sentence: “We are not engaged in a dialogue about the issues you raised in your letter.” That is precisely the point, is it not, Mr. Foxman. For many years you have eschewed engaging in a dialogue with those in Israel and the United States who disagree with your views. Your mode of operation for years has been to make charges of racism or insinuation of racism designed to slander and evade. Because your pattern of making such charges, carefully calibrated for the occasion but of the same stigmatizing intent, has served to deter critical freedom of speech, you have become sloppy with your characterizations when it comes to attempts to hold you accountable. Of course citizen groups make charges all the time but their critics and corporate adversaries do review and rebut which keeps both sides more alert to accuracy especially when they desire press coverage. Few groups get the free ride that has been the case of the ADL when it ventures beyond its historic mission into covering the Israeli militaristic regime and its brutalization and slaughter of far more innocent Palestinians it occupies, than the reverse casualties inflicted on innocent Israelis.

Your insensitivity here is legion. You fail to understand that your studied refusal to reflect the condemnations of Israeli military action and mayhem against civilians, by the great Israeli human rights organization B’T selem and the major international human rights organizations, contributes to the stereotypic bigotry against Palestinian Arabs and the violent Gulag that imprisons them in the West Bank and Gaza. Yours is more than the “crime of silence” so deservedly condemned in other periods of modern history when despots reigned. You go out of your way to silence or chill others who are raising the same points that B’T selem and Rabbis for Justice and other U.S. and Israeli peace groups, such as Rabbi Lerner’s Tikkun initiative, do.

You are not above twisting words of those you take to task in order to be able to deploy the usual semantic vituperatives. My comments related to the Israeli government – with the fifth most powerful and second most modern military machine in the world – through its prime minister possessing the role of puppeteer to puppets in the White House and Congress. You distorted the comment into “Jews controlling the U.S. government.” Shame on you. You know better. If you do not see the difference between those two designations, you yourself are treading on racist grounds. Indeed, you are too willing to justify any violence against innocent Palestinian children, women and men in the mounting thousands on the grounds of inadvertence and security when such casualties are either direct or foreseeable results of planned military operations. Your refusal to condemn bigoted language, cartoons, articles and statements in Israel up to the highest government levels, can be called serious insensitivity to “the other anti-Semitism.” Both Jews and Arabs belong to the ancient Semitic tribes of the Middle East –either genealogically or metaphorically. There is, as you know so well, anti-Semitism against Jews in many places in the world. There is, as you always ignore, aggressive anti-Semitism against defenseless Arabs in many places in the world and in Israel whose military might and nuclear weapons could destroy the entire Middle East in a weekend.

Consider for example, one of many, many episodes of similar impact excerpted from a publication by Jules Rabin, “An Israeli Refusnik Visits Vermont, The Man Who Didn’t Walk By,” August 3, 2004:

The man who “didn’t walk by” is Yonatan Shapira, until recently pilot of a Blackhawk helicopter and captain in the elite Israeli Air Force. I met Yonatan not many days ago when he came to speak in my town, Montpelier, Vermont, about a major turning point in his life.

Yonatan is a lover of his country, a composer, and a handler of extraordinary machines. He was dismissed from Israel’s air force in 2003 because he refused to take part in aerial attacks in areas of the Occupied Territories of Palestine where there exist large concentrations of civilians liable to become a “collateral damage.” In Yonatan’s view, such attacks are both illegal and immoral because of the near-inevitability of their killing innocent civilians. In support of his position, Yonatan cites the authority of the Israeli army’s own code of ethical behavior, and the fact that, (by a recent reckoning) of 2,289 Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defense Forces in the current Intifada, less than a quarter (550) were bearing arms or were fighters.

At the same time, Yonatan has declared himself absolutely ready to fight in the defense of Israel proper.

Yonatan was shocked into his refusal to obey orders by two occurrences, among others.

One was the action of a fellow Israeli pilot who fired a 1-ton bomb from his F16 fighter jet, as ordered, at a house in Al-Deredg, where a suspected Palestinian terrorist was staying. Yonatan identifies Al-Deredg as one of the most crowded districts of Gaza, and indeed of the world. Besides the targeted Palestinian, 13 local people were killed in that attack: 2 men, 2 women, and 9 children, one of whom was 2 years old. 160 other people were wounded in the explosion. A 1-ton bomb, Yonatan calculates, has approximately 100 times the explosive power of the type of lethal belts worn by Palestinian suicide bombers. In proportion to the US population and the fatalities of the original 9/11 disaster, now an icon and classic measure of terrorist devastation, the fatalities of that single attack on tiny Gaza (population 1,200,000) were greater by 10% than the fatalities in America’s own 9/11.

Nor was the bombing of Al-Deredg unique in the scale of its impact on civilian life. Yonatan has cited the casualties resulting from 7 other targeted assassinations conducted in Palestine by the Israel Defense Forces, where, along with 7 other targeted individuals, 44 bystanders were killed. Taking Palestine’s overall population at 3,500,000 and that of the US at 290 million, those 44 bystander deaths would represent, in proportion to the US population, another one and a-third 9/11’s.

As a volunteer in Selah, a group that assists victims of Palestinian terror, Yonatan has first-hand knowledge of the appalling effects of the multiple 9/11-scale attacks that Israel has itself experienced, at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. He was nevertheless – or – consequently – appalled by the action in Al-Deredg of his fellow pilot. He considered the means used in the attack, a 1-ton bomb, and its goal, the assassination of one man, to be wildly disproportionate to the attack’s predictable collateral effects, and a violation of the rules of engagement concerning which all Israeli soldiers are instructed. Those rules, as Yonatan has understood them, include the obligation to refuse to obey orders that are clearly illegal and immoral.

The other occurrence Yonatan cited, that pushed him to become a refuser, came out of a disturbing exchange he had with the commander of the Israeli Air Force, General Dan Halutz, concerning his refusal to serve on a mission in the Occupied Territories. In Yonatan’s words:" In the discussion of my dismissal, I asked General Halutz if he would allow the firing of missiles from an Apache helicopter on a car carrying wanted men, if it were traveling in the streets of Tel Aviv, in the knowledge that that action would hurt innocent civilians who happened to be passing at the time. In answer, the general gave me his list of relative values of people, as he sees it, from the Jewish person who is superior down to the blood of an Arab which is inferior. As simple as that."

As simple as that.

Yonatan is convinced that actions like those of his fellow-pilot and attitudes like those of his commanding general are destroying Israel from within, whatever their effect on Palestine.

Superficially, Yonatan conforms to a stereotype of a career military officer, air force style. He’s tall and lithe, dresses trimly and wears his hair closely clipped.

He departs from the military stereotype in other respects. There’s nothing of the eagle in his bearing. He’s unassuming, and in conversation and argument, he’s almost humble in his appeal to his interlocutor’s reason and understanding. He listens and speaks with the innate respect and the close attention of a scholar pursuing an investigation, or a navigator studying a chart.


If you do not condemn such behavior as anti-Semitism against Arabs, by your international stature, you are not restraining the present Israeli government’s sense that it can conduct such operations with impunity, with a free pass from moral condemnation by a man so accustomed to moral condemnations.

Attached is a copy of my letter to you of August 5, 2004 in which I urged you once again to address. In addition, would you use the same words in your previous letter regarding my characterization of the puppeteer-puppets relationship to the writings of Tom Friedman, Rabbi Michael Lerner and many other Americans and Israelis of the Jewish faith? If not, why not? Is there a thinly veiled bias working here or would you have to use another one of your semantic sallies – portraying them as “self-hating” Jews?

In conclusion, Abraham Foxman has a problem. He is in a time warp and cannot adjust to the new age of total Israeli military domination of the Palestinian people. A majority of the Israeli and Palestinian people believe in a two state solution – an independent, viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel. This is the way to settle this conflict and live in peace for future generations. The ADL should be working toward this objective and not trying to suppress realistic discourse on the subject with epithets and innuendos. As former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak stated in Chicago last June, Israel needs to begin disengaging from the occupied territories and not wait for the right Palestinian Authority. The overwhelming preponderance of military force permits this to happen.

If you have not met frequently with the broad and deep Israeli peace movement, you might wish to change your routine so that you can play a part in the historic effort to establish a broad and deep peace between the two Semitic peoples. The exchanges should be videotaped and widely distributed to further the cause of peace and to witness Abraham Foxman dialoguing without his customary lines that evade the issues.

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

Jobs

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Create More Jobs by Investing in America's Future

Since January 2001, 2.7 million jobs have been lost and more than 75% of those jobs have been high wage, high productivity manufacturing jobs. Overall 5.6% of Americans are unemployed while 10.5% of African Americans are unemployed. Unemployment among Latinos is nearly 30 per cent higher than January 20, 2001. By requiring equitable trade, investing in urgently needed local labor-intensive public works (infrastructure improvements), creating a new renewable energy efficiency policy; by fully funding education and redirecting large bureaucratic and fraudulent health expenditures toward preventive health care we can reverse this trend and create millions of new jobs.

Media Bias

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Opposition to Media Bias and Media Concentration

The mass media in the United States is extremely concentrated, and the messages that they send are too broadly uniform. Six global corporations control more than half of all mass media in our country: newspapers, magazines, books, radio and television. Our democracy is being swamped by the confluence of money, politics and concentrated media. We must reclaim our democracy from the accelerating grip of big-money politics and concentrated corporate media. This requires real campaign finance reform, which means public financing of public elections; some free access to ballot qualified candidates on television and radio; vigorous antitrust regulation and enforcement; ending broadcasters' free licensed use of the public airwaves; and the reversion of some organized time on our publicly owned airwaves to establish audience-controlled radio and TV networks to ensure the diversity of voices and solutions necessary for a really free press and a true civic democracy.

Middle East Peace

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Below is the complete letter Ralph Nader sent to the Washington Post in response to an editorial criticizing his comment that Israel is a puppeteer of the US government. When it published the letter on August 21st, the Post edited out the 4th to 6th paragraphs. These are important paragraphs illustrating that Nader's positions are consistent with those of many Israelis and American Jews. These paragraphs highlighted the views of the Refuseniks, members of the Israeli Defense Force who refuse to participate in the occupation of Palestinian territory; and the views of over 400 rabbis who criticize the demolition of homes of hundreds of Palestinians. They also highlighted Senator John Kerry's failure to face up to the human rights abuses of Israel.

Below that is another letter the Post refused to publish that highlights how charges of anti-semitism are used to stifle debate on Israel-Palestine in the United States.

Nader Continues to Urge Peace in Middle East

Dear Editor

Your editorial's (Aug. 14th) juxtaposition of my words, taken from my statement which was rooted in an advocacy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, with a passage from a domestic group, rooted in prejudice, was shameful and unsavory, at the very least. Suffice it to say that your objection to my description of the need to replace the Washington puppet show with the Washington Peace Show serves to reinforce the censorious climate against open and free discussion this conflict in the U.S., as there has been among the Israeli people. When Israelis joke about the United States being "the second state of Israel," it sounds like they are describing a puppeteer-puppet relationship. Or, would The Post prefer using the descriptor "dominant-subordinate?"

The New York Times columnist and Middle Eastern Specialist, Tom Friedman, used stronger words than "puppet" when on February 9th, he wrote: "Mr. Sharon has the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat under house arrest in his office in Ramallah, and he's had George Bush under house arrest in the Oval office. Mr. Sharon has Mr. Arafat surrounded by tanks, and Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who's ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates . . . all conspiring to make sure the president does nothing."

When AIPAC works to obtain a recent 407-9 vote for a House of Representatives' resolution which supported the latest Sharon strategy and rejected any mention of an independent Palestinian state, how would you describe such a surrender of the privately held positions of many Representatives, favoring a two-state solution?

Half of the Israeli people and over two-thirds of Americans of the Jewish faith believe the conflict can only be settled by allowing an independent Palestinian state together with a secure Israel.

Four hundred American rabbis, including leaders of some of the largest congregations in the country, protested the Israeli government's house demolition policy. Hundreds of Israeli reserve combat officers and soldiers signed a declaration refusing, in their words, "to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people." http://www.seruv.org.il

That these and many other Israeli and American peace advocates with impressive political, business, academic, military and intelligence experience, receive no hearing in official Washington is further indication of a serious bias inside both political parties. George W. Bush is a messianic militarist with a tin ear toward these courageous collaborators in peace. And what is John Kerry's problem? He told us he has "many friends" in the broad and deep Israeli peace movement. Yet, Mr. Kerry issues a pro-Sharon statement that in its obeisance goes to the right of Bush.

Given that your editorial did not have any problem with these views, why do you object to a description of AIPAC as an awesome lobby on Capitol Hill, labeling it "poisonous stuff?" AIPAC has worked hard over the years to enlist the support of both Christians and Jews. Its organizing skills are the envy of the NRA and other citizen groups. Muslim-Americans are trying to learn from its lobbying skills to produce a more balanced Congressional debate on Middle Eastern policies. How does acknowledging such an achievement "play on age-old stereotypes?" The bias may be in your own mind.

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

Debating Israel

August 19, 2004

To the Editor:

It is difficult to find an acceptable language with which to criticize the hard-line policies of successive Israeli governments.

Ralph Nader is charged (Washington Post Editorial, August 14, 2004) with anti-Semitism for speaking of the Israeli government and the Israeli Jewish lobby as "puppeteers" and American politicians as the "puppets" by the same people who charge Arafat and the Palestinians of being the "puppeteers" who mastermind votes critical of Israel in the General Assembly and in the Security Council of the United Nations.

The danger of anti-Semitism is a red-herring in a country in which the two major parties and their presidential candidates – cheered on by Christian Zionists -- are competing for first prize in championing the cause of Sharon.

It is an open secret that the Israeli-Jewish lobby is among the most influential lobbies in Washington and beyond. Indeed, the leaders AIPAC and of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations would be the first to make this claim. What is so distressing is that these leaders arrogate to themselves the right to be more Catholic than the Pope in their support of Israeli hard-liners but also far more hard-line than most American and Israeli Jews. Indeed, the likes of Ronald Lauder and Malcolm Hoenlein never accepted Oslo and the principle of "land for peace."

The American supporters of the Peace Now and affiliated peace organizations in Israel are frozen out of these Jewish-American organizations.

In any case, the accusation of anti-Semitism is a tried and effective tactic for silencing criticism or opposition to the policies of Israeli governments and of American administrations.

The Nader campaign is a natural home for American Jews committed to the peace process who are appalled at Kerry's efforts at out-Bushing Bush on the Israeli question and many others. It is neither Jewish nor Democratic to stifle debate with false charges of anti-Semitism.

Arno J. Mayer

Arno J. Mayer is professor emeritus of history at Princeton University and the author of "Why Did Not the Heavens Darken?: The 'Final Solution' in History."
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PART 7 OF 8

Poverty

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Seven Point Plan to End Poverty in the United States:

As the wealthiest country in the world, with high productivity per capita, a country that produces an abundance of capital, credit, technology and food, we can end poverty. Yet, according to the Bureau of the Census, poverty and hunger for children and adults is increasing rather than decreasing -- 34.6 million Americans lived in deep poverty, 12.1% of the U.S. population. Many millions of Americans live in what is called 'near poverty' by the Labor Department. We must make ending poverty a priority and weave that goal into a network of policies:

• Truly Progressive Taxation
• An End to huge Corporate Subsidies and Military Budget Waste
• Job Creation
• Equal Pay for Women
• Child-Care
• Living Wages for All Workers
• Restore the critical Social Safety Net

Shift the Power

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Shift the Power with these "Tools of Democracy"

The three documents below provide the "tools of democracy" that shift the power so people can regain control of their government, empower themselves as consumers, and strengthen themselves as workers. Without the facilities making it easy for Americans to band together to develop organizations with staff and budget to protect their interests workers, consumers, and voters have few ways to challenge those organized for other purposes for example corporations organized with contrary policies and demands. These "Shift the Power" organizations are voluntarily funded by citizens who choose to participate. The documents below deal with three issues: reclaiming our democracy, gaining some control over the public airwaves (owned by the people!), and giving consumers bargaining power over telephone, gas, electric and utility monopolies. These facilities for a stronger democracy provide models that could be applied to any aspect of our lives, so that corporations become more our servants than our masters.

The Audience Network Act

The Audience Network Act would take back just a small portion of the television and radio airwaves -- the precious resource our Government gives away, mostly to the benefit of wealthy corporations -- and put it in the hands of the American people.

Despite rapid changes in the communications field, television remains the most powerful medium -- and television licenses and franchises the most desired properties -- in communications today. At the same time, market consolidation, aided by the laissez-faire attitude of federal regulators, has led to increased concentration of possession of scarce broadcast licenses and cable franchises -- all of which the Government gives away for free. The limited broadcast spectrum, which is owned by the public, and valued cable monopolies, conferred by public authorities, are increasingly controlled by a handful of powerful media conglomerates.

Television today suffers not merely from a concentration of power but also from a shortage of quality, thought-provoking programming. There are some quality entertainment, educational and public affairs programs. The major broadcast and cable networks sometimes come through with intelligent entertainment and solid news reporting. C-SPAN has substantially expanded access to the raw material of democracy -- the proceedings of government, interest groups and elections. Public television stations have offered quality programming, particularly for children. The Independent Television Service (ITVS), created by Congress in 1988 to address the needs of unserved and under served audiences, has added an important voice.

But the vast bulk of what appears on television today is of low quality -- tabloid, sensationalist "news," both from local stations and national syndicators, ugly talk shows, mindless comedies, endless violence, half-hour toy advertisements disguised as children's shows, and, everywhere, droning commercials and "infomercials." The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS, and ITVS face yearly threats from Congress to eliminate or sharply reduce Government funding for public television efforts. Public broadcasters are thus turning increasingly to corporate sponsors and advertising and to commercial network cast-off programming, and coming more and more to resemble their commercial cousins. C-SPAN's funding and distribution is at the mercy of cable operators, many of whom have eliminated one or both C-SPAN channels to make room for commercial offerings. Public access channels, provided by many cable operators as a price of obtaining franchises from local governments, offer a forum but few resources -- resulting, for the most part, in no-budget vanity programming that is difficult to watch. Television's "vast wasteland" -- the famous description provided by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow in 1961 -- has become vaster and no less of a wasteland. As Bruce Springsteen has described it, what Americans are generally offered today is "57 channels and nothing on."

The television industry's lobbyists insist that the struggle for ratings and revenues is free-market democracy in action -- people vote with their eyeballs, and the most popular shows and channels are the winners. But that is simply not the case. Commercial programming choices are driven by appeal to the demographic group advertisers seek -- young adults. Older Americans and children receive short shrift. Moreover, the drive for ratings leads to lowest-common-denominator programming, often devoid of subtlety, creativity, or responsibility. The cable revolution, once seen as promising far greater diversity and appeal to a wider range of audience, has failed. There is just more of the same. As a society, we deserve better.

The Communications Act of 1934 and the regulatory framework established under it conferred public trusteeship status on broadcasters. Broadcasters, while succeeding in their effort to enrich themselves, have generally failed to meet the obligations of their trusteeship.

To return to the people just a small slice of the airwaves -- not just television but also the powerful medium of radio -- in order to improve the quality, diversity and responsiveness of programming, we propose the Audience Network Act. The Act would empower the television and radio audience -- the people of this country -- by providing the public with limited access to television and radio time and facilities. The Audience Network proposal was the subject of a 1991 hearing before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and finance, then chaired by Representative Edward Markey.

The Act would create Audience Network, a federally-chartered national non-profit membership organization. Anyone sixteen years or older who contributed $10 or more annually would be a member of Audience Network. The Act would grant Audience Network one hour of prime time television and one hour of drive time radio on every commercial station every day. Audience Network could then lease some of these desirable time slots to station owners in order to finance varieties of engrossing quality programming to be shown at other times. The control of these time slots would give Audience Network, and hence citizens concerned with diverse, high-quality broadcasting, strong bargaining power vis-a-vis broadcasters.

Audience Network would function as a separate FCC licensee. Its management would be chosen by direct election of the members. Audience Network would air programming shaped by member interests and needs. It would produce and acquire for presentation a range of quality public affairs and entertainment programs. Management would conduct quarterly membership surveys to ascertain the programming priorities of members. Boards comprised of Audience Network staff, members and contributing creative artists would select programming. Audience Network would provide national programming, while local Audience Network chapters would contribute additional local programs.

Audience Network public affairs and entertainment programming, aired without commercials, would address issues of interest to a broad range of viewers -- including, as a core concern, issues related to communications policy. Audience Network would provide a strong outlet for the discussion of social and political issues, elections and referenda at the national and local levels. It would also help turn the passive television medium into a vehicle for action by focusing on citizen participation, education and organization -- ways for people to become involved in social and political causes of concern to them. Audience Network would frequently provide viewers with names of groups to contact, events to attend, publications to read. An Audience Network site on the Internet would provide computer-capable viewers with additional, detailed information on matters addressed on television and radio. It would also provide computer users in this country and around the world with access to audio and video materials from Audience Network programming.

Non-profit organizations -- from community groups to the Girl Scouts to the Sierra Club to the American Cancer Society to the Junior Chamber of Commerce to labor unions -- would be offered opportunities to create and broadcast programming. Such groups have a wealth of important information to share with the public, yet rarely have an opportunity to communicate over the airwaves at any length.

Well-known entertainers and civic leaders would be recruited to participate, to lend their talents to the cause of more diverse and intelligent media and to educate audiences on issues of concern to them. Less well-known creative artists and citizen advocates would be given an opportunity to reach broader national and local audiences.

There is a precedent for the Audience Network approach, and it works. In the Netherlands, radio and television air time is apportioned to citizen groups, with the size of membership determining the extent of access to the airwaves.

Audience Network would also maintain a small staff of communications policy experts who would be charged with representing consumer interests before the Federal Communications Commission, Congress and the courts, and communicating with the public on communications issues, including not only traditional television and radio but the whole range of issues affecting our technological future, such as telephone, cellular, high-definition TV, direct-broadcast satellite, the Internet and other computer on-line services. When the FCC considered proposed hikes in cable television rates or rules for awarding scarce broadcast and cable frequencies, and the giant media corporations appeared with scores of lawyer-lobbyists, Audience Network's presence would help ensure that the consumer viewpoint was not lost in the crowd.

Audience Network, as conceived by the Act, is fully consistent with the First Amendment rights of broadcasters. Under the Communications Act, a broadcast license does not confer ownership, only temporary use of a designated frequency, with the First Amendment rights of viewers and listeners remaining paramount. The scarcity inherent in the broadcast spectrum, the Supreme Court and the FCC have long recognized, justifies government regulation in the public interest. The advent of cable television has not undermined that rationale: 40 percent of households have no cable service, and rising cable subscription prices, resulting from government deregulation, may increase that percentage, especially among lower-income families. The "must-carry" provisions enacted by Congress, and the entry of new cable channels owned by the broadcast networks are just some of the indications of the continued economic and political power of broadcasters. Moreover, even cable has not eliminated scarcity; there are more channels but even more programmers seeking access.

The Supreme Court has clearly left the door open for Congress to expand access to the airwaves. As the Court stated in CBS v. Democratic National Committee, 412 U.S. 94, 131 (1973), "Conceivably, at some future date Congress or the Commission -- or the broadcasters -- may devise some kind of right of access that is both practicable and desirable."

The Audience Network Act would not strip from broadcasters editorial control of their own broadcast time or otherwise implicate the free speech rights of broadcasters. Instead, it would in effect redefine the broadcast license to cover 23 hours, instead of 24, with the remaining hour becoming the property of Audience Network. In no respect would the content of the Audience Network's programming be imputed to the broadcast licensees sharing a particular piece of the spectrum. The Supreme Court, in its landmark decision in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367, 390-91 (1969), recognized that "[r]ather than confer frequency monopolies on a relatively small number of licensees, ... the Government could surely have decreed that each frequency should be shared among all or some of those who wish to use it, each being assigned a portion of the broadcast day or broadcast week." The only connection between the television and radio broadcasters and Audience Network would be that the national broadcast networks and local broadcasters would provide Audience Network with reasonable access to their transmission facilities, and Audience Network would reimburse the broadcasters for the actual costs.

The Audience Network Act says that we can free ourselves of the trap we have set: We have given away the people's airwaves and received very little in return that enhances the public interest. We need not be at the mercy of broadcasters and cable providers and simply hope that these enterprises will offer high-quality, public-spirited programming. We can reserve for the public just a small piece of the airwaves, and thereby enhance our culture and our democracy.

Citizen Utility Boards

CUB is a non-profit, consumer-controlled organization that represents residential utility ratepayers before regulatory agencies, courts, and legislatures on telephone, gas, electric, and water rates, as well as other safety and economic issues involving utility monopolies. It is designed to redress more closely the imbalance of consumers' power vis-a-vis the utility companies. The utilities spend millions of dollars of your ratepayer money hiring armies of lawyers, economists, and scientists to advocate th ecompanies' interests before state Public Service Commissions and legislatures. Although residential ratepayers have direct interest in proceedings, they lack the resources, expert advocates, or organization to respond to the utilities' arguments. The cost and complexity of a typical ratecase effectively prohibit regualr active consumer participation.

CUBs help rectify this imbalance by giving consumers a mechanism to pool their resources and hire their staff of professionals. At the heart of the idea is CUB's right by law to enclose notices inside monthly utility bills to communicate with the public and solicit memberships. This enclosure provides CUB with an efficient and effective way to reach and organize ratepayers: the insert is cheap to print, costs CUB no postage to deliver and reaches the residential ratepayer at the peak moment of interest (or outrage), upon opening the monthly bill.

Organizationally, CUBs have broad appeal, they do not cost the taxpayer a cent, are voluntary to the consumer to join and do not create another government agency. In states where CUBs operate, any residential consumer can join by contributing a minimum of $5 per year. Members are entitled to vote in the election of the CUB Board of Directors, which governs the organization, determinesits policies, and hires its staff. Because CUB depends on donations, it must work for public support if it does not perform, or if it is not accountable to its members, people will not contribute and CUb will shrink or go out of business.

The experience of Wisconsin CUB shows the impact that even a modestly-well financed, well-organized consumer group can have. Established by the state legislature in 1979, CUB has developed into the largest and most effective consumer group in Wisconsin, with about 110,000 members. CUB is credited with saving consumers more than $80 million in unneseccary rate increases, defeating measured billing for local telephone calls and securing a $23 million refund (about $15 per customer) from Wisconsin Bell.

The success of Wisconsin CUB has sparked interest in the model throughout the country. In late 1983, after a two-year campaign by consumers, the Illionois legislature approved a CUB bill. Illinoin CUB, in full operaiton for just 16 months, has 120,000 members and is involved in several major rate cases. the city of San Diego, California has a CUB which focuses on the local gas and electric utility. Last November, Oregon became the third state to set up a CUB when voterspassed a ballot measure despite a utility-backed anti-CUB campaign which outpsent CUB supporters 20 to one. CUB proposals are pending in almost a dozen other states, including Massachusetts, New York, and Rhose Island.

A key ingredient in the successful campaign to establish CUBs is the broad-based, grassroots support for the proposal. Consumer, environmental, church, labor, and senior citizen groups, recognizing the need for ratepayer input in the regulatory and legislative arenas, have led the legislative fight for CUB. Their task has not been an easy one the utilities are well financed and have considerable influence in the state legislatures. But as experiences in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Oregon demonstrate, if consumers are organized on the grassroots level, they can counteract the utilities' clout and break thorugh with this important institution.

The CUB concept an indpendent group of full-time staffers funded by and working on behalf of consumers of a particular service has many applications. Tenants, insuranc epolicy holders, and banking customers can all band together in groups this way to protect their interests (the Audience Network is an extension of the idea to television and radio users). These groups have one jey feature in common: the right to enclose a solicitation in the billing envelope or other seller's communication of the service industry they wish to reform.

Democratic Revolution in an Age of Autocracy

By Ralph Nader originally published April 1993 in Boston Review

The Clinton Administration says it has big plans for "fundamental change" in the way our government and economy work. Change was certainly the mandate of the 1992 election, and the Clinton people have already set out some ambitious plans (keeping in mind, of course, that virtually any presidential leadership seems bold after four years of the Bush administration).

But is fundamental change achievable?

What neither Clinton, nor his Cabinet, nor most other Democratic Party proponents of change seem to realize is that significant, enduring change will require an institutionalized shift of power from corporations and government to ordinary Americans. While politicians have now made an art of populist symbolism, virtually none have a serious agenda to strengthen Americans in their key roles as voters, taxpayers, consumers, workers, and shareholders.

To deliver on his promise for change, President Clinton must adopt a more fundamental priority: the rejuvenation of the democratic culture of this nation through specific institutional reforms. It is, after all, the failure of our "civic infrastructure" not simple fate or isolated mistakes that is the root of many of our intractable national problems. If civic standards got the television airtime of Morris the Cat and associates, the savings and loan scandal would have never occurred: outraged citizens would have intervened long before it became a $500 billion scandal.

Thomas Jefferson said that "a little rebellion now and then" might be a good thing. He was right, and we need such a rebellion now: a democratic revolution that will reinvent and rediscover democracy. All sorts of latent energies are waiting to be tapped. But they will never be released by simple exhortations to "good citizenship," or by celebrating the values of civic engagement, praising a thousand points of light, and hosting quadrennial candidate forums.

Instead, reinventing democracy requires that we create new tools of empowerment: new mechanisms of civic communication, political organization, government assistance, and legal rights that can advance the distinct interests of citizens, taxpayers, consumers, workers and shareholders. These structural and procedural reforms will help to foster a new "fifth estate" of individual Americans, capable of acting independently from entrenched institutional that is, chiefly corporate and governmental power. Pursuing new forms of joint action, we can reclaim our government from the oligarchy that has made it a caricature of the Jeffersonian vision and overcome the sense of powerlessness, alienation, and fatalism that threaten to erode the commitment to democracy itself.

Here, then, is the North Star of a democratic revolution: reassert democratic principles by giving the ideal of self-government new and creative applications in everyday life. What follows are ten urgent, practical empowerment strategies that will help to advance the democratic promise by reclaiming democracy and checking corporate power.

Reclaiming Democracy

1. Facilitate voter initiatives. The 1992 campaigns dramatically illustrated the depth of voter disillusionment with politics as usual and the deep yearning of ordinary Americans to participate in the democratic process. Unfortunately, except for a few media-driven vehicles such as call-in talk shows and candidate forums (which, significantly, were convened by candidates, not by voters), citizens have few opportunities to take the initiative in bringing issues to public attention.

One of the best tools for breaking this logjam is the voter initiative the process by which citizens may enact or reject laws directly through the voting booth rather than through elected officials. The process is simple: citizens gather a specified number of signatures on petitions. An initiative then appears on the ballot, and is enacted or rejected by popular vote. Through this initiative process citizens can propose new laws, state constitutional amendments, or city or county charter amendments.

Citizen initiatives are an important democratic remedy for unresponsive state legislators or city officials. Without initiatives, self-government all too often means only giving voters a choice of electing the lesser of two evils. With the initiative process, voters can control specific policies of government, and even change its structure. Frequently, just filing an initiative petition inspires legislators to pay attention to a citizen or community campaign. Government becomes more responsive. Political power cannot be so easily monopolized by a few influential officials. New and often crucial items can be put on the political agenda. And citizens, reacting to direct democracy, are more likely to participate in civic life.

Any politician who is serious about rejuvenating our democratic traditions must promote the use of the initiative process. Where initiatives are not now permitted -- at the national level and in some states this means changing the rules that prevent them. Congress, by majority vote of both houses, could create a non-binding national initiative process or mandate national advisory referendums on any subject at any time. This act alone would send a powerful message to the American public: that democratic principles are indeed valued; that citizen-driven participation is important in our public life; and that legislators are willing to be directly responsive to the public will.

2. Reform our corrupt campaign finance system. It is now a well-accepted fact that our system for financing presidential and congressional campaigns is fundamentally corrupt and pernicious. The only way to ensure effective and honest representation by lawmakers is through decisive campaign finance reform, with public funding of campaigns. Ellen Miller's article on "Money, Politics, and Democracy" (in this issue of the Boston Review) presents one proposal for such reform.

An important first step in the campaign to limit the impact of money in politics was taken in February. A major coalition of 300 citizen organizations launched a massive "Clean Up Washington" campaign, announcing its own 800 number to marshal citizen support (800-847-6611). The object of the campaign is overall spending limits for congressional races, a reduction in the limits on P.A.C. and individual contributions, a ban on "soft money" contributions (which are channeled through political parties), and the elimination of special tax breaks for lobbying. By loosening the grip of entrenched interests, these reforms promise to unleash other new possibilities for the culture of citizenship.

3. Set term limits for Members of Congress. Few issues have so galvanized spontaneous citizen action as the idea of term limits. The chief value of such limits is their ability to liberate new energy for political elections. A fresh crop of candidates can emerge and win and more citizens can become excited recruits to electoral campaigns. Because incumbents typically have a hammerlock on re-election, ordinary citizens who used to participate actively in campaigns have largely given up. They reasonably say, "Why bother? How could I possibly make a difference? There's no chance that a challenger-candidate could possibly unseat a well-funded lifetime politician."

Limiting terms to twelve years changes this equation. Congressional elections matter again. New blood enters the democratic process. Diversity of representation is enhanced. Legislators can be elected who have energy and determination, who are not burnt out or bought off. Newcomers will generally be closer to their constituents than the career politicians of Washington. Their arrival can help end the reign of the ruling cliques, whose entrenched power is such a potent barrier to progressive change.

Opponents of term limitations warn that inexperienced citizen legislators will be at the mercy of special-interest lobbyists and that the voters will lose the experience and wisdom of career lawmakers. This argument is not convincing, given what the established "experience and wisdom" has accomplished in Washington. There were a lot of amateurs in Philadelphia 200 years ago; they didn't do too badly. Constitutional objections may be more formidable. Some experts argue that congressional term limits require a constitutional amendment, and not simply legislation in individual states. This was the method used to limit presidential terms in 1951. At the very least, however, it is clear that the states can limit the terms of state officials. Twenty-three states already limit the number of terms that their governors can serve.

Members of Congress are not likely to approve a constitutional amendment limiting their own terms. So attention must turn to ways to compel Congress to act. The 22 states with the initiative/referendum process where voters have direct access to the ballot box will have a head start in organizing term limit campaigns. These states account for nearly half of the House of Representatives, and 44 of the nation's 100 senators. A state-by-state blitz of term limitation initiatives will create tremendous national momentum to limit Congressional terms, even in the 28 non-initiative states. In those states, citizens must demand that their legislators vote for term limits, or that the question be placed on the ballot for the public to make their voice heard.

4. Expand citizen standing rights. What can be done when government itself becomes lawless, flouting the very Constitution and congressional laws that it is duty-bound to uphold? This is one of the most important yet neglected problems of self-governance of our time.

Historically, one important tool for citizens and taxpayers has been a broad right of legal standing a right to gain access to the courts to sue the government and challenge its arbitrary and capricious actions, its failure to enforce existing laws, and its illegal behavior. The Supreme Court recognized the importance of broad taxpayer and citizen standing in a series of decisions in the 1960s and early 1970s. They upheld, for example, the standing of taxpayers to challenge expenditures of tax revenues that were alleged to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and the standing of ordinary users of the environment to challenge the legality of environmentally harmful government regulations even though the interest of the particular plaintiffs was generalized and diffuse.

Unfortunately, since the mid-1970s the Supreme Court has reversed this tradition, and developed an increasingly restrictive law of standing. Narrowing citizen access, the Court has transformed the law of standing into a smokescreen that masks and sanctions many governmental misdeeds. The Court has refused, for example, to grant standing to taxpayers who were challenging government spending alleged to violate the Establishment Clause, or to taxpayers arguing that secret C.I.A. funding violated the Constitution's requirement of a public accounting of public expenditures. These changes in effect license government officials to violate the law whenever it is expedient for them to do so, because no one, except perhaps an attorney general, will ever be able to hold them accountable in court.

This is no way to promote official compliance with law or citizen confidence in the operation of government. If public confidence in the legitimacy of government is to be restored, Congress must immediately enact remedial legislation that gives taxpayers and citizens broad standing to sue government. Such a reform would be a virtually cost-free way to improve the quality and responsiveness of government operations. It would also send a strong message that our nation is indeed governed by law and not by the arbitrary caprice of political officials or government bureaucrats.

5. Regain control over "taxpayer assets." On behalf of the American people, the U.S. government owns and manages a wide variety of taxpayer assets: national forests, grazing lands, mineral deposits, power projects, information resources, research and development rights, broadcast frequencies, among others. The Reagan and Bush administrations boasted of their intention to run government "like a business" before proceeding to host a massive fire sale of taxpayer assets to assorted corporate interests. Here, too, citizens and taxpayers must be empowered to stop the widespread abuses of government stewardship of publicly owned assets.

The federal government has historically funded about half of all U.S. expenditures on research and development (R&D) some $74 billion in fiscal year 1992. Over the past twelve years, the allocation of property rights in these research projects has dramatically changed. Before Reagan/Bush, the government generally sought to have research products enter the public domain, or to patent its inventions or license them on a non-exclusive basis. Exclusive licenses were used, but only sparingly, and often for limited terms. After 1980, however, a series of statutes, rules, and policy memoranda sanctioned a broad use of exclusive licenses. In effect, taxpayers invest billions of dollars in R&D every year and then the returns on these investments are privatized.

One of the more egregious abuses of taxpayer assets involves azidothymidine (AZT), the A.I.D.S. treatment developed chiefly through government grants. Despite the government's development funding, Burroughs Wellcome later gained monopoly rights to the drug, initially charging $10,000 ($3,000 today) to A.I.D.S. patients, many of whom have no health insurance.

This same pattern is replicated in the government's stewardship of federal information resources, many of which are available through electronic means. The U.S. Government is the largest publisher of information in the world. Yet the government has raised prices sharply for these taxpayer-sponsored information resources; has given them away to private vendors who sell the identical materials at inflated prices; and has eliminated many publications altogether, effectively barring public access to government information and policy.

One partial solution that deserves immediate congressional action is pending legislation that would require the Government Printing Office to set up a one-stop-shopping program for on-line access to hundreds of federal databases. The service would be free to 1,400 federal depository libraries, and would be available to everyone else through subscriptions priced at the relatively low "incremental cost of dissemination."

Another way to help taxpayers defend public assets against waste and abuse is to create a taxpayer watchdog group, in the form of a set-aside program, as a requirement for all uses of taxpayer assets. This money say one or two percent of a given subsidy would finance ongoing citizen oversight of private use of taxpayer assets. Like other accountability mechanisms, this expenditure could be one of the most cost-effective ways for the government to prevent waste and abuse of public assets.

The government does seem newly receptive to such ideas. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt recently announced, for example, that the U.S. Government will no longer charge nominal fees for grazing rights, mineral rights and other private exploitation of federal lands. Instead, taxpayers will begin to receive market rates, and that will encourage private users to treat these resources more responsibly. Whether President Clinton will be able to overcome the cattle, farming and mining interests is, of course, another matter which is precisely why democratic reforms are so vital.

6. Reclaim the public airwaves. The privatization of the broadcast airwaves one of our most important taxpayer assets has caused serious deformations of our politics and culture. The basic problem is that private broadcasters control what the public owns. And in return for free licenses to use taxpayer property, broadcasters give us a steady stream of increasingly coarse, redundant, superficial programming and, of course, exclusively decide who says what on our public airwaves.

The result is that there is no place to hold a public discussion. Ordinary citizens can speak to their neighbors, but they cannot speak to millions of their fellow Americans without paying a giant toll and obtaining the permission of large corporations. The grotesque paradox is that a First Amendment originally intended to empower citizens for self-government is now being used to shield business entities, who control the major channels of communication and have little interest in using them as public fora. (See Cass Sunstein's article "Is Free Speech the Enemy of Democracy?" in this issue of the Boston Review).

To give the audience access to the airwaves that it already owns, Congress should create a new broadcast vehicle, the Audience Network. A national, nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization, Audience Network would be granted one hour of prime-time television and one hour of drive-time radio on every commercial channel each day. It would function as a separate licensee, airing diverse programming shaped by the membership, which would be open to all citizens over age 16 for a nominal fee (say, $10 annually). In addition, Audience Network would represent consumer interests before the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.), Congress, and the courts. This would redress the long-standing disenfranchisement that millions of viewers and listeners have suffered under the current regulatory regime.

The Audience Network would be democratically controlled. The Network and its professional staff would be managed by persons accountable to the membership through a direct elective process. Besides membership fees, it could lease some airtime back to stations or networks. This would help assure the Network's financial security, and allow it to avoid paid advertisements. During its time slot, the Audience Network could air a variety of cultural, political, entertainment, scientific or other programs that it produced or obtained. Freed from the constraints of corporate advertisers, the Audience Network would air major abuses which are not publicized for years by the commercial media.

Over time, Audience Network would transform a powerless, voiceless audience, conditioned to a debased regime of programming, into an active audience with the ability to initiate innovative and consequential programming and reforms. Its open programming by diverse non-commercial groups would greatly invigorate the civic marketplace of ideas a signal challenge for our times.
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PART 8 OF 8

Checking Corporate Power

7. Create shareholder democracy. Corporate democracy has been an illusion for nearly 100 years which has not of course deterred business executives and the New York Stock Exchange from annually proclaiming its vitality. What is the scope of management power and what are the checks upon it? In nearly every large American business corporation, one person or a small coterie of executives have unquestioned operational control. In theory, this small group of managers serves as an agent of the board of directors; in reality, it is just the reverse. The chief executive or executive clique chooses the board, and, with its acquiescence, controls the corporation.

The legal basis for such a consolidation of power is the proxy election what British law professor L.C.B. Gower calls "this solemn farce." Given the nearly insuperable barriers faced by insurgents challenging management, it is no surprise that the board of directors has ceased to perform its statutory function of "managing the business and affairs of every corporation." Indeed, it is often hard to tell whether the boards of many corporations perform any independent function at all. "Directors," William O. Douglas complained as early as 1934, "do not direct." Management control has overwhelmed the rule of law.

Such autocratic corporate governance imposes serious economic and social costs -- in terms of self-dealing, inefficiency, and illegality. Even Business Week now concludes, "So much of this trouble for America's corporate titans [General Motors, IBM, Westinghouse, American Express] might have been avoided had the same parochial perspectives not clouded the judgment of many outside directors. They simply failed in their duties." Many institutional shareholders such as the California State Employees Pension Fund, newly aware of the long-term economic costs of unaccountable managements, have mounted campaigns to oust lackluster management teams. This is a step in the right direction, but the impulse needs to be taken much further.

What is needed is a Corporate Democracy Act to give all stakeholders in corporate decision-making a real voice in corporate governance. Redesigning the rights and obligations of shareholders, boards of directors, and executives can make giant companies both more efficient and law-abiding. Critical to this task is installation of full-time outside directors selected by beneficial owners in elections entirely funded by the company. To short-circuit wasteful competition among states to woo corporate investment by sanctioning unfair labor practices, pollution, and wasteful subsidies federal chartering of corporations with minimum national standards are essential. Moreover, victims of corporate malfeasance workers, consumers, local communities, shareholders, and small businessmen should be accorded greater access to the court system to redress their complaints (see point 9 below for more details).

Adding together all the social costs of our baroque, ineffectual sham of corporate governance, it becomes clear that corporate autocracy is not conducive to a prudent, productive economy nor to socially benign corporate behavior. But this will not change until corporations begin to abide by minimal national standards of business responsibility and shareholders are empowered to gain greater access to reliable corporate information, participate in fair elections for board seats, and exercise meaningful oversight of management.

8. Establish a new model of consumer representation. Mancur Olson, in his excellent book, The Logic of Collective Action, asks, "Why is it that throughout history large numbers of people are preyed upon by small numbers of people? What is it about the victim class that makes it incapable of asserting itself?"

One answer is that the "victim class" has great difficulty in bringing itself together, as a group. If only because of sheer numbers, it typically lacks organizational means for asserting its collective will or developing a common identity and culture. This dynamic is played out in dozens of milieus in our political economy. For example, sellers who are consummately capable of organizing themselves to protect their interests develop myriad means to exploit buyers who have preciously few means of organizing themselves. Public interest groups can help, but they often cannot provide a consistent presence that is technically competent, financially stable, and directly accountable to consumers.

The 1980s saw the emergence of a promising new solution to this classic problem. The Citizens' Utility Board, or C.U.B., is a model approach for bringing together large numbers of diffuse consumers into a voluntary organization, which can then pursue a common citizen/consumer agenda in banking, insurance, housing or dozens of other arenas. It is the "silicon chip" for the citizen movement because it is a low-cost, high versatility, powerfully effective device.

How does a C.U.B. work? Typically, residential consumers lack the organization, resources, or expertise to respond to utility arguments on such matters as ratesetting and safety. C.U.B. offers an ingenious way to provide effective citizen representation. By authority of state legislatures, a C.U.B. is given the right to enclose notices inside certain company and state mailings to invite the public to become voluntary members of the C.U.B. for a modest annual fee of $5 to $10. C.U.B. pays for this enclosure. This "piggybacking" on state mailings provides a convenient, effective way for the C.U.B. to organize a membership and to communicate with it, and a basis for self-sufficiency and financial accountability.

All members of the C.U.B. have the right to vote in the election of the C.U.B. Board of Directors. This process ensures that the leadership of C.U.B. reflects the interests of the ratepayers. The Directors serve without pay and hire full-time staff of accountants, attorneys, economists, organizers, and lobbyists. The staff can intervene, for example, in rate proceedings; advocate before the legislature; research issues of concern to consumers; survey public opinion on energy and telecommunications issues; analyze the way the utilities are handling complaints; and provide information and assistance to consumers interested in conserving energy.

Illinois C.U.B., for example, attracts tens of thousands of members and has blocked literally billions of dollars in gratuitous rate hikes. It would be easy to apply the C.U.B. idea to organizations like the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Postal Service. Big mailers (magazine publishers and the direct-mail industry) routinely use lobbyists and trade associations to advance their interests in postal commission rate hearings. Don't residential mailers deserve their own independent voice?

The beauty of the C.U.B. concept is that, as a voluntary group, it costs taxpayers virtually nothing. It is anti-bureaucratic, because no new government personnel or procedures are needed. It enhances civic participation, because the C.U.B. depends for its success on the energy and vision of its members. And it counters the massive inequities of power that afflicts consumers in their dealings with government and business.

9. Protect victims' rights. Another constituency of individuals that is increasingly impotent are the innocent victims of dangerous products, unsafe workplaces, toxic waste, and other hazards. In recent years, insurance companies, manufacturers, and other corporate interests have waged a massive campaign to roll back the legal rights of plaintiffs to obtain full compensation for their injuries. In one of the most unprincipled public relations scams in the history of American industry, this coalition has pursued a draconian package of changes that it calls "tort reform." Among others, the proposals seek to place arbitrary caps on "pain and suffering" awards; eliminate punitive damage awards (often the only effective deterrent against intentionally unsafe practices); impose mandatory limits on plaintiff lawyers' contingency fees (without setting any corresponding limits on fees for defense lawyers); eliminate strict liability (one of the most effective deterrents against unsafe products and workplaces); and restrict the role of both judge and jury.

The coalition's fundamental message is that the jury system is out of control because the common law and jury awards are so unpredictable. Claiming a ruinous "litigation explosion," insurance companies dislike the jury system because they cannot precisely budget damage awards as a cost of doing business. But this unpredictability is the very essence of deterrence a function of the civil justice system which is just as important as compensation and which, like the system's other social benefits, cannot be precisely quantified in dollars and cents.

A citizen empowerment agenda must deal with the structural problems of the insurance industry. Congress should repeal the industry's exemption from antitrust laws, federal regulation, and Federal Trade Commission scrutiny. A cycle of surge-and-decline of cash flow almost every decade has precipitated the bogus "insurance crisis." Congress should also establish a federal office of insurance to monitor the industry and establish standards for state regulators to follow. Voter Revolt, a California-based citizen group, broke important new ground by mobilizing broad-based support for Proposition 103 an initiative measure that reformed the property-casualty insurance industry in California and rolled back excessive insurance rates.

At the state level, insurance companies must be required to disclose routinely how much they take in on premiums and investment income, and how much they pay out in verdicts and settlements (plus reserves and other expenditures). State insurance departments need more authority and funding, and consumers need greater consumer representation before insurance regulatory bodies. Insurers should be required to engage in greater loss prevention efforts, and to disclose evidence of known defective products or hazardous conditions to appropriate law enforcement and regulatory authorities. And, C.U.B. style insurance-consumer organizations should be established to enable consumers to grapple with this powerful industry.

Eroding basic victims' rights will not stop premium-gouging and policy cancellations. Only effective insurance reforms will stop the cyclical insurance crisis which leads to the volcanic eruptions of premiums and contracted coverage.

10. Ensure an hospitable environment for whistle blowing. Alfred North Whitehead wrote, "Duty arises from our potential control over the course of events." Since the early 1970s, this insight has given rise to the ethics of whistle blowing -- the lone individual of conscience within a corporate or governmental organization who sees wrong and tries to right it, often at great personal risk.

Society has an acute interest in fostering a more muscular whistle blowing ethic. Corporate and government employees are among the first to know about fraud and corruption, industrial dumping of toxics into waterways, defectively designed automobiles, or undisclosed adverse effects of prescription drugs and pesticides. They are the first to understand how to prevent existing hazards. But they are very often the last to speak out.

There is a great need now to extend the reach of this ethic into such organizations as corporate and governmental bureaucracies. But the ethic will only flourish in these settings if employees have the right to due process within their organizations, and if rights now used to protect people from state power for example, the right to speak freely are expanded into protections from corporations and comparable bureaucratic powers. Large corporations should have a bill of rights for their employees and a system of internal appeals to guarantee these rights. Unions and professional societies should strengthen their ethical codes. The courts, professional and citizen groups, the media, the Congress, and other sectors of society must actively work to prevent the trammeling of a fortified conscience within their midst.

If carefully defined and protected by law, whistle blowing can become another of those adaptive, self-implementing mechanisms which distinguish a free society, which empowers people to govern themselves instead of being subordinated to autocratic controls.

Conclusion

The tools for democracy have fairly common characteristics. They are universally accessible; they provide instruments of self-funded voluntary community action; they can make government deliver, and have constructive effects on other areas of policy. Without a reconstruction of our democracy in order to ensure facilities for informed civic participation to all citizens, no ambitious program of political and economic change will succeed. Nor can worries about poverty, discrimination, joblessness, the troubled conditions of education, environment, street and suite crime, budget deficits, costly and inadequate health care, and energy boondoggles be addressed in a constructive and enduring way. These facilities are the magnets for the genuine exercise of rights, remedies, and responsibilities.

So it is time for a civic rebellion, Jefferson style.

Worker's Rights

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Expand Worker's Rights by Developing an Employee Bill of Rights

The rights of workers have been on the decline. It is time to reverse that trend and begin to give workers, the backbone of the US economy, the rights they deserve. Workers need a living wage not a minimum wage; access to health care and no unilateral reductions in medical benefits and pensions for current employees and retirees. Employers should not be able to avoid these benefits by hiring temporary workers or independent contractors. The privacy of employees needs to be vigorously protected. The notorious Taft-Hartley Act that makes it extremely difficult for employees to organize unions needs to be repealed. It has resulted in less than 10% of the private workforce being unionized, the lowest in 60 years and the lowest percentage in the western world. Non-union workers need upgraded rights against the likes of Wal-Mart.

Labor Day: A Call for Rights for Working People

Washington, DC: The Nader Campaign joins Paul Tobias of Workplace Fairness in calling for a civil rights movement for workers. Under current law, a worker's freedom is subordinated to employer property rights.

The general rule of law for employees is employment at will: an employee can be fired for any reason, no reason, or a bad reason, without recourse. Workers gained rights in the early twentieth century when the union movement developed, with workers joining together to bargain with employers. But that movement was stalled by laws that put up barriers to workers' joining together in a union. The civil rights movement for workers should seek a Bill of Rights for Workers, including the right to organize a union and the right to earn a living wage for all full-time workers.

America's working men and women have been abandoned by the corporate-dominated two-party system. The evidence is everywhere. The percentage of union members in the private economy has dropped below ten percent, the lowest in over sixty years. At the heart of this decline are labor laws which throw insurmountable barriers before organizing efforts. A professional class of public relations consultants and lawyers has evolved to counsel employers on ways to take full advantage of the Taft-Hartley Act in fendeng off organizing efforts. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employers plenty of ways to prevent workers from exercising their supposed right of freedom of association.

The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 makes it extremely difficult for employees to organize unions and should be repealed. Among the key provisions of

Taft-Hartley

• Taft-Hartley authorizes states to enact so-called 'right-to-work' laws. These laws undermine workers' ability to build effective unions by creating a free-rider problem workers can enjoy the benefits of union membership in a workplace without actually joining the union or paying union dues. Right-to-work laws increase employer leverage in resisting unions by enabling them to benefit from free riders. Vastly decreased union membership follows, dramatically diminishing the unions' bargaining power.
• Taft-Hartley outlaws the closed shop, which required that persons join the union before being eligible for employment with the unionized employer (still permitted are provisions that require any member of a bargaining unit to pay a portion of dues to that union).
• Taft-Hartley defines employee for purposes such as excluding supervisors and independent contractors. This diminishes the pool of workers eligible to be unionized. The exclusion of supervisors from union organizing activity facilitates their use by management as a buffering front line in anti-organizing efforts.
• Taft-Hartley permits employers to petition for a union certification election, thus undermining the ability of workers and unions to control the timing of these elections during the sensitive organizing stage, invariably forcing an election before the union is ready to hold one.
• Taft-Hartley requires that election hearings on matters of dispute be held before a union recognition election, thus delaying the election. Delay generally benefits management, giving the employer time to coerce workers.
• Taft-Hartley establishes the "right" of management to campaign against a union organizing drive, thereby scuttling the principle of employer neutrality.
• Taft-Hartley prohibits secondary boycotts directed to encourage neutral employers to pressure the employer with which the union has a dispute. Secondary boycotts had been one of organized labor's most potent tools for organizing, negotiating, and dispute settlement.

The president needs to appoint federal judges who are supportive of the rights of workers, not those judges who summarily dismiss employee claims, who narrowly read the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or who do not allow punitive damages. Efforts to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, to create explicit employer neutrality, and even to make modest reforms such as card check voting have been abandoned by the two-party system, with few exceptions among legislators. This systemic failure to enforce labor rights allows for retaliatory firings of organizers and even those who vote to unionize in secret elections.

With the demise of union influence, almost every aspect of workers' rights is given short shrift. The minimum wage has been allowed to languish far behind inflation as executive pay skyrockets. The gap between the wages of now two-job (or more) working families and wealth of the privileged widens, even as worker productivity rises. The average worker takes home takes home $517 per week, while the average CEO of the largest companies takes home $155,769 per week. The gap between workers and large companies is now greater than 300-to-1. In 1982 the gap was 42-to-1. Over 45 million workers one in three do not make a living wage, namely under $10 per hour gross. This is insufficient for an individual to live on and certainly not enough for a family. The Nader campaign advocates immediately increasing the minimum wage to $8 per hour, from its current $5.25 per hour. Two years after that increase, we advocate a $10 per hour living wage.

The battle for a living family wage and battles to repair the workers compensation systems to secure the rights of injured workers to treatment and re-training are fought without the steadfast support of most unions or major political parties. Universal health care, available in nearly all democracies, languishes as a movement in this country for lack of power by organized labor within the American political system. Finally, the Enron scandal showed the need for employees to be allowed to diversify their stock holdings in 401(k) accounts and the need for employees to sue under ERISA for breach of fiduciary duty when employers deliberately deceive employees in matters that will affect anticipated benefits. Where employee rights are at the pleasure of management, management takes care of its own.

The marginalization of organized labor and its agenda for working people within our corporate-dominated political process is in sharp contrast to Western Europe. There unionization is industry -wide and not within a single company. The political support enjoyed by labor results in statutory rights available to union member and non union member alike. A month's paid vacation, longer sick, maternity and family leave and of course health care that is entirely portable are benefits taken for granted in other Western capitalist economic systems. Landmark legislation in 2000 prohibited companies within the European Union from discriminating against workers based on their age, disability, sexual orientation, religion in addition to racial and sex discrimination.

With every election, unions are pressed to donate and get out the vote to protect the political status quo. Yet the same candidates whom unions seek to reelect stand by passively (or actively support), trade agreements which allow vast outsourcing of skilled jobs to third world countries where labor laws are much less protective if they exist at all.

How then can working Americans transform the landscape?

One idea is to view labor rights as civil rights. Suppose workers enjoyed the same rights to form or join a union as they enjoy for other forms of discrimination? If workers seeking to unionize could sue under the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (instead of depending on existing unions to press for remedies before toothless federal agencies) they could secure:

• Compensatory damages, not just back pay, but damages for serious humiliation or grave emotional distress.
• Punitive damages, to send a message to outlaw employers that behave contemptuously, whether it is Microsoft or a big city sweatshop.
• Injunctive relief, including temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions so that employers can be in court defending themselves, or at least in depositions, within days or weeks of an unlawful firing.
• Legal fees, not only to give employers an incentive to settle but to empower individuals to bring their own law suits, even start their own organizing drive, and to enlist the private bar as a new army of organizers.

For the first time every citizen would be empowered to go out and push the cause of dignity and fair pay at work.

A Worker's Bill of Rights is needed because the rights of worker's have been on the decline. It is time to reverse that trend and begin to give workers the backbone of the US economy the rights they deserve. Among the items that should be included in a Worker's Bill of Rights are:

• Workers need to be given a living wage not a minimum wage.
• Access to health care and unilateral reductions in medical benefits should not be allowed.
• A pension plan should be included for employees and pensions for current employees and retirees should not be allowed to be reduced unilaterally.
• Employers should not be able to avoid these benefits by hiring temporary workers or independent contractors.
• The privacy of employees need to be protected, e.g. the monitoring of employee email.
• When downsizing of a company is necessary, employees need to be given adequate notice and sufficient severance pay.
• The pernicious dominant employment law of employment at will that allows for an employee to be fired for any reason, no reason or a bad reason needs to be replaced with an employee's bill of rights.

When it struck down Alabama's debt peonage law in Bailey v. Alabama, 219 U.S. 219 (1911), the United States Supreme Court wrote that the purpose of the Thirteenth Amendment was not simply to eliminate slavery, but to make labor free by prohibiting that control by which the personal service of one man is disposed of or coerced for another's benefit without the rights to organize, strike, boycott, and picket. (at 241) Early labor law, notably, the Norris-LaGuardia Act, was grounded in this Constitutional imperative and the guarantees of speech and association flowing from the First Amendment. During the New Deal worker freedoms under the Thirteenth Amendment diminished when the U.S. Supreme Court made the Commerce Clause dominant. This interpretation even turned the pro-worker Wagner Act into a law that gave the government power to eliminate strikes. The Commerce Clause put the needs of business first asking whether labor organizing encumbers the free flow of business and led to the federal government having the power to intrude into union organizing, as well as in disputes between labor and business on the side of business to keep commerce moving. An entirely new initiative must be undertaken to ground freedoms of speech, association and an effective freedom of labor on firm constitutional grounds.

The restoration and expansion of the rights of workers are timeless principles about basic human rights, fairness and justice.

Restore Retirement Security

AN AGENDA TO RESTORE RETIREMENT SECURITY FOR MILLIONS OF OLDER AMERICANS

In recent years, hundreds of large companies have broken long-standing pension and health insurance promises to their loyal, longtime employees and retirees. These unfair practices are accelerating, rather than diminishing, and are undercutting the retirement security of millions of people. The Ad Hoc Coalition to Restore Retirement Security is asking candidates for elective office to pledge to work to:

STOP COMPANIES FROM BREAKING PENSION PROMISES TO OLDER EMPLOYEES BY UNFAIRLY CHANGING PLAN RULES:

AT&T's switch to a cash balance "pension plan" increased its operating earnings by millions of dollars, at the expense of long-service salaried employees who lost as much as half of their expected pensions. The AT&T employees are asking candidates to support legislation that would require companies to make good on their pension promises by giving employees the choice at retirement between receiving their promised pensions and those offered under any new rules.

STOP COMPANIES FROM BREAKING PENSION PROMISES TO OLDER EMPLOYEES BY THEIR SELLING DIVISIONS:

Halliburton's sale of its Dresser-Rand division seemed like a routine business deal, until employees learned that it would cost them the full early retirement pensions they had spent their careers working for. Although the employees continue to work in the same jobs for the new owner, a loophole in the law allowed Halliburton to shift the money put into their plan to pay their expected benefits into a plan for its own employees. The Dresser-Rand employees are asking candidates to support measures that would prevent companies from using the sale of a division as a pretext to short-change employees of their promised pensions.

STOP COMPANIES FROM BREAKING PENSION PROMISES TO OLDER EMPLOYEES BY RECLASSIFYING THEM:

Just as thousands of Allstate insurance agents were reaching eligibility for their promised early retirement pensions, Allstate changed their status to independent contractors, and told them they would get a small fraction of their anticipated benefits. The action increased Allstate's reported earnings and infuriated the agents, who filed a lawsuit claiming that the reclassification unlawfully deprived them of their pensions. The Allstate employees are asking candidates to support measures to restore their full benefits.

STOP COMPANIES FROM BREAKING PROMISES TO RETIREES THAT THEY WOULD PAY THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS:

Thousands of GM retirees accepted early retirement packages because they were promised generous pensions supplemented by lifetime health insurance coverage. Years into retirement their companies told them that fine print allowed the companies to cutback (and even cancel) health insurance payments. The GM retirees are asking candidates to support measures that would make it unlawful for companies to change the rules after people have retired.

STOP COMPANIES FROM BREAKING PROMISES TO EMPLOYEES ABOUT THE VALUE OF THEIR COMPANY'S STOCK:

MCI/WorldCom employees believed their company officials when the officials told them that WorldCom was a sound investment for the employees 401(k) money. In fact, the officials knew that the company was in financial trouble and were selling their WorldCom stock. After the company collapsed, the employees learned that gaps in the law could prevent them from being made whole. The WorldCom employees are asking candidates to support proposals that would ensure full remedies for misrepresentations by company officials.

These are but a few of the many ways that companies have failed to keep pension and health insurance promises to employees and retirees. While we recognize that there are other retirement policies that beg for urgent attention, we believe fulfilling these commitments would be a critically important first step toward restoring retirement security for older Americans.

And now you've got issues, too.

By the way, one of our favorite restaurants in D.C. is holding an online pre-election poll. Please vote now.

Onward

The Nader Team
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