The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

When I was 14 years old, I heard Ralph Nader say that box cereal was less nutritious than the box it came in, and you'd get more nutrition out of tearing up the box and pouring sugar and milk over it, and eating that for breakfast. That's the kind of genius that Ralph Nader produces constantly, and why his ideas changed the world for Americans more than perhaps any political thinker of the late 20th century. He remains more relevant than virtually every other political thinker currently on the scene.

Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:15 pm

INCREASING BURDENS ON THE WORKING CLASS

It's been a dismal three decades for working people in the United States. With big corporations displaying an ever-heightening degree of ruthlessness, business has seen its profits rise dramatically relative to wages.

In the face of aggressive employer demands for concessions, the downward pull of international competition, an overvalued dollar, weak and barely enforced labor and workplace safety laws, relatively high unemployment rates, and a sclerotic labor movement, most workers have seen wage rates stay practically flat over the past several decades -- even as CEO salaries and profitability have skyrocketed.

The executive class has captured almost all of the gains in wealth from the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in recent decades. And George W. Bush's recession and jobless recovery has only worsened the problem.

Here's what a Wall Street analyst said in March 2004: "We'd thought that the labor share of national income was in the process of bottoming out, but whether we're talking outsourcing or just old-style downsizing, the effort by U.S. business to pare costs (and extract productivity gains in services) continues apace."

Meanwhile, employers have slashed benefits for those workers lucky enough to retain a job. And workplaces remain far more hazardous than necessary.

There are glimmers of hope that the situation can be improved. Some unions and communities have won important victories that have made a difference in workers' lives, but they remain a rarity.

Wages

Here's the basic story of wages in this country over the past thirty years: Most people earn no more an hour than they did three decades ago (adjusting for inflation), but those at the top have enjoyed substantial increases in salary and those at the very top -- the CEOs and top company executives -- have seen their compensation go through the roof.

Most people struggle to get by with rock bottom net worth. They're working more and more -- either working longer hours or picking up a second or third job-to pay the bills and meet rent or mortgage payments. (Americans worked on average two hundred hours a year more from 1973 to 2000 -- the equivalent of five fulltime weeks.) In two-parent families, increasingly both parents are in the workforce. Just to meet everyday expenses, they're borrowing. more and more from credit .cards, home equity loans, or second mortgages, or from legal loan sharks at check-cashing operations. If someone in the family gets sick and lacks health insurance -- forty-five million Americans are in that boat -- the family is in a jam. Even if they have insurance, the extravagant price of medicine may not be covered, or covered entirely, and paying for the pills can drive a family into despair.

Meanwhile, the executive class rakes in more money than ever before, and indulges new forms of conspicuous consumption. We have competition among CEOs over who has the bigger yacht. If an executive has to go to the hospital, they can check into platinum class luxury suites offered by leading medical institutions -- for $10,000 a night. The New York Times recently reported on a new convenience for rich New Yorkers: private indoor pools, with start-up costs of $500,000.

Any way you slice the numbers, you get the same result: a deeply divided America with a struggling majority and a super-rich clique. It's a story of a gap between haves and have-nots more severe than anything this country has witnessed for a century, since the start of the Manufacturing Age:

• For the private production and nonsupervisory workers who make up 80 percent of the workforce, it took until the late 1990s to return to the real earnings levels of 1979.
• CEOs at large corporations now make about three hundred times more than the average worker at their firms. In 1982, they made just forty-two times more; in 1965, twenty-six times more.
• The top fifth of households own more than 83 percent of the nation's wealth, the bottom 80 percent less than 17 percent.
• The top 1 percent owns over 38 percent of the nation's wealth, more than double the amount of wealth controlled by the bottom 80 percent. The top 1 percent's financial wealth is equal to that of the bottom 95 percent.
• In 1979, the top 5 percent had eleven times the average income of the bottom 20 percent. By 2000, the top 5 percent had nineteen times the income of the bottom 20 percent.
• Whatever the data examined, it's worse for women and people of color, who receive lower wages and have much less accumulated wealth than White men. Women and minority males earn 70 percent to 80 percent of what White men make. More than a third of single mothers with children live in poverty.

Thanks to low levels of unemployment in the late 1990s, worker wages started rising, eventually catching up to the levels of twenty years earlier. But the recession and high rates of unemployment that have persisted into the new millennium have almost surely ended that trend.

The effective stagnation in worker wages for three decades occurred even though productivity rose steadily. Productivity is the amount of output per person hour worked. In other words, workers were making and producing more, but not receiving any share of the increased wealth. Virtually all of it was captured by increased corporate profit taking.

CEO pay grew at a much faster rate even than corporate profitability. From 1990 to 2003, inflation rose 41 percent. Average worker pay rose 49 percent. Corporate profits jumped 128 percent. CEO compensation rose 313 percent.

If the federal minimum wage had increased as quickly as CEO pay since 1990, it would today be $15.71 per hour, more than three times the actual minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, as calculated by Boston-based United for a Fair Economy.

Reasons for Stagnant Wages

There are many reasons why wages have remained stagnant, although ultimately it comes down to reduced worker power.

Corporate globalization has created a system where workers in the United States must compete with their desperately poor brothers and sisters in countries like China and Mexico. Many manufacturing companies that would like to maintain factories in the United States find they cannot compete with lower cost plants overseas. That has led to the massive outflow of well-paying manufacturing jobs from the United States, and forced many workers who are able to hold on to factory jobs to accept lower wages and benefits. Even employers who operate profitably in the United States frequently move overseas in search of greater profits, or threaten workers with plant closings to extract more concessions.

The U.S. steel industry has shed thousands of jobs in the face of low-wage competition. Warren Dillon, a fifty-five-year-old with thirty-seven years at Bethlehem Steel, is one of the victims, having lost his white-collar job at a Maryland steel plant in April 2003. "I figured it was a stable position," Dillon told the Daily Record of Baltimore, Maryland, about his decision to take a job with the steel company decades earlier. "You go down to Bethlehem Steel and just stay there. They stay there until they want to retire. And then they retire and you have a pension and medical coverage and your days are done."

After he'd lost his job, the Daily Record reported, Dillon enrolled in resume-writing and job search classes. He thought he might become a computer technician. His career counselors instead suggested courses in truck driving or nursing assistance, areas he wasn't interested in pursuing. Dillon sent out dozens of resumes, with no success. Thirty-seven years experience at the steel plant didn't seem to mean much. He did receive an invitation to interview for a store manager position, with a salary of $36,000 to $42,000. But he was told he was overqualified.

Eventually, he landed a job as an airport screener with the Transportation Security Administration at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Salary: $28,000. After looking so hard, Dillon was happy to get anything.

The competitive pressure from corporate globalization is just one component of an economy that has been bad for workers over most of the past three decades. Especially when unemployment rates are high -- as they have been for the past several years -- people take jobs at whatever wage they can find. Many aren't in a position to hold out for ,a better job or bargain for a better salary.

When workers try to act collectively, they confront a host of union-busting tactics, including physical intimidation. These actions are often illegal, but legal protections are so flaccid, and the labor rights police so weak, underfunded, compromised, and embattled, that employers can act with virtual impunity.

Unions

Globalization and union-busting reinforce one another. In a 2000 study sponsored by the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission, Cornell University researcher Kate Bronfenbrenner found that more than half of all employers facing union-organizing drives threaten to close all or part of their plant, even though such threats are generally illegal. For mobile industries -- companies that can more plausibly threaten to move, like auto plants, as opposed to hotels -- the plant-closing threat rate approached two-thirds. This study, the most comprehensive ever undertaken, concluded that the "threats are even more pervasive than they were in 1993-1995, and the threat of capital mobility has discernibly affected union organizing strategies."

Bronfenbrenner proved what every worker knows: the threat to move a plant is among an employer's most potent tactics. "The data suggests that most workers take even the most veiled employer plant-closing threats very seriously," she writes. "When combined with other anti-union tactics of employers, as they are in the overwhelming majority of employer campaigns, plant-closing threats are extremely effective in undermining union organizing efforts, even in a context where the majority of workers in the unit seem predisposed to support the union at the onset of the organizing campaign." Bronfenbrenner found that "union election win rates were significantly lower in units where plant-closing threats occurred (38 percent) than in units without plant-closing threats (51 percent). Win rates were especially low (24 percent) in those campaigns where employers made specific threats to move to another country."

Threatening to close the plant is only one device in the employers' toolbox. In at least one out of four union-organizing campaigns, union supporters are illegally fired. Employers facing a union drive frequently give unscheduled wage increases, and make unilateral changes in benefits and working conditions, according to Bronfenbrenner. Many promote union activists out of the bargaining unit. More than a third give bribes or special favors to those who oppose the union, and more than a third assist an anti-union committee. A significant number put union activists under electronic surveillance.

Three quarters of employers facing a union drive hire management consultants and security firms to run anti-union campaigns and intimidate workers. In more than nine out often cases, employers facing a union drive require employees to attend captive meetings, where they are forced to listen to anti-union propaganda. In most cases, workers are forced to attend one-on-one meetings with their supervisors. These and other legal and illegal tactics make a huge difference. According to Bronfenbrenner, the union election win rate drops precipitously when employers use more than ten tactics.

There is little to deter corporations from employing these tactics, even when they are illegal. Employers found to have illegally discharged an employee in connection with union organizing are required only to give the employee backpay minus whatever the employee earned in replacement jobs. There are no criminal charges, no civil penalties, no fines. In short, it pays for employers to violate the labor laws.

At its giant meat-packing facility in North Carolina, Smithfield Foods has pulled out all the stops and defeated organizing efforts by the United Food and Commercial Workers. The National Labor Relations Board has cited the company for egregious violations of the law -- including conspiring with the local sheriff's department to physically intimidate and assault union supporters -- but violating the law pays off. In June, 2002, one manager at the plant told a U.S. Senate committee how she fired workers for supporting the union. "Smithfield Foods ordered me to fire employees who supported the union, telling me it was either my job or theirs."

The plant manager, Sherri Buffkin, said the company promoted racial tension to undermine the union-organizing effort. "Smithfield keeps Black and Latino employees virtually separated in the plant, with the Black workers on the kill floor and Latinos in the cut and conversion departments. The word was that Black workers were going to be replaced with Latino workers because Blacks were more favorable toward unions."

LaTasha Peterson, a former Smithfield worker, told the Senate committee how the company paid her to be part of a group of workers who spied on coworkers and campaigned against the union. "I earned twice as much money campaigning against the union and I didn't have to do any work," she said.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions issues periodic reports on countries' respect for labor rights. It regularly rates the United States as a terrible labor rights violator. "There is insufficient protection against anti-union discrimination" in the United States, the Confederation concludes. "The right to strike and the right to collective bargaining are severely restricted."

Assessing the pathetic enforcement of weak labor laws in the United States, the Confederation states, "Remedies for intimidation and coercion are both limited and ineffective. A backlog of some 25,000 cases of unfair labor practices by employers existed in 2002 and it takes an average of 557 days for the National Labor Relations Board to resolve a case, discouraging many workers from using them."

The Confederation points to Wal-Mart to illustrate the point. In 2002, some 43 charges were brought against Wal-Mart in twenty-five states by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), alleging, among other things, illegal surveillance, threats, and intimidation against union workers. Wal-Mart, the giant global retailer based in the United States, has repeatedly stated that it will not bargain with any union and has taken drastic steps to prevent workers from organizing in stores across North America. Wal-Mart stores routinely, violate the legal rights of their employees who try to unionize. Since 1995, the government has issued at least sixty complaints of antiunion activities. However, the maximum penalty Wal-Mart has incurred has been a requirement to post notices in various stores that it will no longer threaten, discipline, or fire employees who engage in "concerted activity" or require employees to report their contacts with unions.

Whether workers unionize makes a big difference in their compensation and treatment. The Economics Policy Institute reports that unionization provides a 28 percent wage premium to workers -- meaning the same person in the same job, on average, will earn 11.5 percent more if the job is unionized -- and a much larger edge in the area of benefits (more than 100 percent for insurance, nearly 200 percent for pensions).

Given the major economic benefits, not to mention other advantages of union membership, it is not surprising that, unobstructed and unintimidated, workers overwhelmingly choose to join unions. In the government employee sector, for example, where the employer generally does not contest unionization efforts and workers do not fear punishment, unions win approximately 85 percent of elections.

Unfortunately, the story is entirely different in the private sector. Where organized labor once made up about 35 percent of the working population in the United States, the figure has plummeted to below 15 percent -- and below 10 percent of private employment.

When workers do manage to unionize, in the face of overwhelming odds, they confront still more employer stubbornness and resistance. In 40 percent of cases, employers refuse to enter into a first contract with a new union.

Even where unions are firmly rooted, their bargaining power has been severely eroded. The factors that have made it harder to organize -- corporate globalization, contract labor, high levels of unemployment -- have also made it harder for unions to bargain effectively. Declining rates of unionization make it much more complicated; in industries with low unionization rates, unionized firms can plausibly argue that they cannot afford to pay higher wages or benefits because of market pressure from nonunion competitors. Call this the WalMart factor.

Most unions have also practically lost the use of their most powerful tool, the strike. Since 1939, the United States has been burdened by a bizarre Supreme Court decision. While acknowledging that labor laws prohibited firing workers for exercising their protected right to strike, the Court held that employers could "permanently replace" them. To everyone but the Supreme Court, that appeared to be a distinction without a difference.

For decades, employers declined to exercise their right to permanently replace their workers. But things changed in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan's decision to fire striking air traffic controllers (members of the PATCO union) ushered in a new era of strike-breaking. Strike activity diminished dramatically in the 1980s, with labor suffering a series of bitter defeats (and a very occasional victory, such as the coal miners at Pittston, in West Virginia, who used uncommonly aggressive tactics and successfully conveyed their message to the public).

Today, large-scale labor strikes are exceedingly rare. In every year but two in the 1960s and 1970s, there were more than two hundred work stoppages (inclusive of both strikes and lockouts) involving 1,000 or more workers. In the 1980s, the numbers dropped into the dozens, and the past few years have witnessed very few strikes. In 2003, there were only fourteen work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers. The overwhelming number of missed work days due to stoppages involved the supermarket strike/lockout in Southern California, and that was entirely provoked by Safeway and other area supermarkets.

The Southern California supermarket situation was an unfortunate bellwether. Safeway provoked a strike, and in a show of corporate solidarity, the other major supermarkets locked out their employees. Citing. the competitive threat from Wal-Mart -- which had not yet entered the region -- the grocery chains demanded major givebacks from their employees. After a long time off the job, the workers capitulated, accepting a two-tier setup that provides for dramatically inferior wages and health benefits for new workers. Over time, as current employees retire and new ones join the workforce, this contract will help drive wage and benefit rates down toward the Wal-Mart goliath's lowest common denominator.

Health Care and Pensions

The slash in health benefits for the Southern California grocery workers is typical. With health care costs skyrocketing, private employers have demanded that their employees pay more and more of their insurance costs -- and in many cases, they just don't provide insurance at all.

Pension benefits have also been slashed, often through sleight-of-hand maneuvers that trick employees into thinking they'll have an opportunity to turn a guaranteed steady income stream into a pile of riches upon retirement. Have any doubts what this involves? Just ask former Enron employees.

The key corporate deception was to switch employees from defined-benefit to defined-contribution pension plans. Defined-benefit plans are the traditional plan that guarantees workers a certain monthly payment upon retirement. It's the kind of deal that lets people who worked at solid companies know they would be secure in retirement. It's the kind of commitment that helped define a good job.

In the 1980s, corporations came up with something new. They started switching to defined-contribution plans, which set aside a certain amount of money for employees' retirement accounts (in 401(k)s or similar accounts) which the employees would be able to manage -- with some notable restrictions. This became very popular in the 1990s when it seemed to many that they could get rich in the booming stock market.

But a key feature of the defined contribution plan is it shifts risk to employees. When the stock market bubble burst, millions of employees saw their retirement nest egg go up in flames. Under the old system, the burden would have been borne by the employers. But no more.

Another feature of the defined contribution plan is it enables employers to NY employees in their own stock, which has tremendous tax and accounting advantages for the companies. Often, however, that stock comes with limitations, so that employees are not freely able to sell it. Even when employees retain the right to diversify, many corporations urge them to concentrate their share holdings in their employers' stock. CEOs and top executives, however, labor under no such restrictions. In many cases, they sell their stock while it is peaking.

In his book Perfectly Legal, David Cay Johnston relates the representative story of John Patrick Pusloskie Jr. A college graduate, Pusloskie decided to follow in his father's footsteps as a telephone repairman for Rochester Telephone Company. He liked the work, and knew it would deliver a decent salary and retirement package that would enable him to raise a family and retire comfortably. He started working for the company in 1989. Then, under an ambitious CEO, Ronald L. Bittner, Rochester Telephone morphed into Frontier, a company that wanted to be a national player. On the last day of 1996, Frontier froze its pension plan and announced it would switch to a defined-contribution plan. The CEO promised workers the sky. The company's contribution was made in Frontier stock, with the condition that it could not be sold for five years. In 1999, Frontier was sold to a high- flying telecom company on the make, Global Crossing. Although Global Crossing never earned a profit, Wall Street mavens sent its stock value soaring. But it was a short-lived flight. In 2002, the company declared bankruptcy. The Global Crossing share of Pusloskie's retirement account, which had peaked at $100,000, was worth nothing. But Global Crossing's executive insiders hadn't been so unlucky. They managed to unload $5.2 billion in stock between August 1998 and the company's bankruptcy in January 2002. So much for secure retirement.

Safe Workplaces

Of course, working is about more than wages and benefits. Work should be organized to give employees some control and influence, so they derive a sense of meaning and fulfillment from their jobs. And no workplace issue is more important than ensuring job sites are safe and devoid of preventable hazards.

The mission of safe and healthful workplaces should be highly visible and backed by an adequately funded and enforced program. Far more Americans have lost their lives due to trauma and toxins in places of employment -- especially factories, farms, construction sites, and mines -- than in all the nation's wars. Nonetheless, for generations it has been a reluctant push and a strained pull to eke out minimal governmental safety initiatives in these arenas. Until 1970, the states had this jurisdiction to themselves and their expenditures and resolve were minuscule. Only high-profile fatal tragedies nudged their feeble efforts along until customary lethargy reasserted itself.

My associates and I worked to draft and secure passage of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act, that established the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), along with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Along the way, we encountered various syndromes of disinterest among the relevant professions and among many trade union leaders. Of course, there was always active opposition among industry and commerce groups and their corporate law firms. Fortunately, the OSHA legislation passed and President Nixon signed it into law. But it was not long before OSHA became a favorite whipping boy for reactionary politicians on the industry take. With its tiny budget, and surrounded by hostile elements in Congress and the business world, OSHA could scarcely begin fulfilling its charge. Still, with the occasional leadership of people like Eula Bingham, OSHA helped steer the country toward significant successes in reducing mortality and morbidity on the job.

Despite an unconscionable number of opportunities lost, OSHA stands as an example of successful government regulation even discounting automation-reducing exposures to risk. Workplace fatalities from trauma have been halved since passage of the OSHA, even though the total workforce has increased by almost 60 percent. In the mining sector, regulated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the fatality rate is approximately one quarter of that during the preregulatory era. In construction, fatalities are down 80 percent and injuries have decreased by 40 percent.

These improvements are a testament to how even a modest degree of political will can translate into thousands of lives saved every year.

Nearly 6,000 workers still die in the United States every year from traumatic injuries. The death toll from occupational diseases, easier for industry to ignore because the diseases frequently manifest after a worker has left the job voluntarily or involuntarily and because causation from the silent violence of toxins is less obvious, is far higher. At least 50,000 to 60,000 American workers, as many as 100,000 by some respectable estimates, die from occupational disease every year. Millions suffer every year from serious workplace injuries. The cost to the nation, the financial burden upon bereaved families, and the societal losses associated with workers dying early in their productive lives -- totals well over $100 billion annually, according to the National Safety Council. This doesn't even count the pain and suffering involved.

Human costs cannot be reduced to numbers. Mike Cade, who continues to work at Equilon's Puget Sound refinery, where his brother Ted was killed, is still haunted by the explosion that took his brother's life.

"In the morning, it's kind of that depression, you don't want to get up. It's a fight to leave the bed; it's a fight to leave the room; it's a fight to leave the house," Mike Cade told the Seattle Times. "At night, I still have the nightmares. It's a lot of waking up with the bed moved a couple feet and me all drenched," Cade said. "Luckily, I don't remember most of them."

Since the explosion, equipment was installed allowing workers to stand two hundred feet away when performing the dangerous operation that led to Ted Cade's death. That and other safety reforms following the disaster may prevent other families from suffering the horrors that Mike Cade and Ted's widow and children must now endure.

As this example highlights, much of the national toll of work-related death, disease, and suffering could be prevented, if only employers were forced to take preventative action -- to follow the basic nostrum, "Better Safe Than Sorry." OSHA has not been given the requisite funding, authority, and political backing to protect American workers, and things have gotten progressively worse over time. This includes during the Clinton administration, which through cowardice rather than hostility, diminished enforcement levels even from the preceding Bush administration. The current Bush administration takes a hostile approach toward OSHA, seeking, through a variety of means, to weaken the lifesaving agency even further.

The agency's tiny budget -- less than $500 million a year -- is far less than it needs to do its job. One former agency chief, Charles Jeffress, estimates that, for the agency to adequately monitor the American workplace, it would need a budget at least 20 times as much as Congress has allotted it.

There are six million workplaces in the United States. There are 2,000 job safety inspectors. In some states where a state agency rather than the feds has responsibility for workplace inspection, an average job site will be visited less than once every two hundred years.

When an employer is caught violating workplace safety rules -- often as a result of a retrospective review following an accident -- the penalties are shamefully trivial. The average OSHA penalty for a willful violation of the workplace safety laws (an instance where an employer had knowledge of a hazard likely to cause death or serious harm but failed to comply with the law) is $27,000. The maximum penalty is $70,000. That's for knowingly putting an employee's life at risk.

Compare that penalty to the proposed $500,000 fine for each time a radio or television station broadcasts an indecency. That tells you a little about the lack of priority placed on saving workers' lives.

According to Drs. Sidney Wolfe and Peter Lurie, for over ten years, there has been no new occupational health standard for a toxic chemical issued by OSHA.

About a million people in the United States annually lose time from work due to repetitive motion, or musculoskeletal, injuries. These are the kind of injuries that come from typing on computer keyboards, jumping on and off a delivery truck many times a day, or running goods over scanners as a check-out clerk. If you've ever suffered one of these injuries, or know someone who has, you know they can be excruciating.

OSHA first promised to develop a rule to address repetitive stress in 1990, when Elizabeth Dole was Secretary of Labor. Under Bill Clinton, OSHA was slow to move on the rule. By the mid-1990s, Republicans in Congress blocked OSHA from adopting a rule. Clinton finally put a rule into effect in post-election November 2000, but it was rescinded by President Bush. Fifteen years after being promised relief, workers are still without a regulatory rule to protect them from repetitive motion injuries.

The modest rule that was briefly in place required employers to identify hazards and fix them to reduce -- not eliminate -- the problem. It's what any responsible employer would do anyway. If the rule were in place, it would probably spare a half million such injuries a year.

Or, consider the government's failure to limit exposure to hexavalent chromium, a carcinogenic chemical used in producing stainless steel, chrome plating, and pigments. For more than two decades, the government has known of the chemical's toxicity, which roughly doubles the lung cancer risk of the hundreds of thousands of workers exposed to it over time. In 1993, Public Citizen's Health Research Group and the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union petitioned OSHA to issue a regulatory standard to reduce permissible exposure levels. More than a decade later, and despite a lawsuit, OSHA has done nothing. Thousands of hexavalent chromium-exposed workers will die as a result.

The story is the same for other life-saving and harm-reduction regulations that OSHA refuses to issue.

Progress in the Workplace

Despite the overall record of retreat and defeat, there have been some positive gains by unions and community groups in recent years.

With the minimum wage falling in real terms and unionization rates declining steadily, ACORN and other groups have led communities around the country to rally behind living wage ordinances. These ordinances require employers to pay not just the minimum wage, but a living wage -- often defined as enough for a family of four to get by on. The ordinances typically apply to employers receiving government contracts, but sometimes require all employers in the jurisdiction to satisfy living wage requirements. More than seventy communities have adopted such laws, which get to the heart of what an economy is supposed to be: a means to enable people to support themselves at an acceptable standard of living.

While most unions still do not invest sufficient resources in organizing, an increasing number are doing so. One of the most impressive organizing efforts in recent years was the Justice for Janitors campaign of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This campaign organized almost entirely immigrants, traditionally a difficult group to organize because of their vulnerability to employer pressure and fear of government repression. Over the past several decades, the janitorial services industry has grown rapidly. Most large building owners outsource their work. When unions tried to organize workers at a particular company -- a difficult challenge, because they would be spread among many different buildings -- the firms would frequently fire and intimidate the workers leading the effort. If the unions succeeded, the firms would go out of business and reopen as a nonunion shop. The innovation of the Justice for Janitors campaign was to switch attention from the janitorial firms and simply demand that major buildings employ unionized janitors. With this change in focus and an aggressive worker-community coalition campaign that featured colorful protests and civil disobedience, tens of thousands of janitors were able to join unions.

The AFL-CIO has brought some new blood and energy into the labor movement through its union summer and college intern programs. These internship programs have been a synergistic success. As much as the students have helped the programs with organizing and research efforts, the internships have been of benefit to the students. Many have graduated from these programs and gone on to full-time work for some of the more progressive unions. Hundreds of college students have been involved in the nitty-gritty of union organizing campaigns. They come to see the challenges posed by oppressive employers who intimidate their vulnerable workforce as a matter of course. Many bridge class divides as students (many from relatively privileged backgrounds) and have witnessed and learned about everyday hardships experienced by working families. Inspired by their summer work, students have offered critical solidarity to union campaigns on their own campuses and led campaigns to demand that their universities stop using sweatshops to make official university apparel.

Some smaller unions have also demonstrated how to effectively represent workers. The United Electrical Workers has a long tradition of engaging and educating their workers and have become real advocates for progressive change both in and out of the workplace. The union's leadership leads by example, turning over frequently and accepting modest salaries commensurate with what their members earn.

The California Nurses Association (CNA) has strengthened their bargaining leverage and improved health care by advocating for patient rights. In recent years it has successfully lobbied several California bills into laws to protect consumers. The nurses' union highlights the abuses of HMOs and does careful analysis of the health care industry's profiteering and its pay packages for top bosses. CNA refuses to accept workplace changes that will compromise care, demanding adequate staffing ratios for patients in hospitals. In defending the general principle of patient care as well as nurses' particular interests, the CNA has shown nurses that they can best uphold their professional ethics by supporting the union. As a result, the union's membership has grown rapidly.

What these examples show is that, for all the immense power corporations have accumulated, for all their success in tilting the playing field of employer-employee relations, creative and aggressive campaigning can still yield results-improving wages and benefits, making jobs and workplaces more fulfilling, and directing the economy in a more humane direction. Corporations have succeeded in holding workers down by creating more levers of power. Organized labor has tapped the surface of a deep well of potential new tools to empower workers. To take just one example, it's past time for organized labor to invest in radio, television, and cable communications properties.

"American workers aren't going to sit still if things continue to come apart," prophesized the late Tony Mazzocchi, founder of the Labor Party and a former top official in the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers. "If you look at the history of American workers, you'd think they're in a sleepy lagoon, and then all of a sudden there is an explosion."
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:18 pm

CORPORATE CRIME AND VIOLENCE: WITHOUT SHAME

It's not unusual for a politician to return a political contribution after finding out that it comes from a disreputable source. So what does it say that the two major political parties received $9.3 million from convicted criminals during the 2002 election cycle and didn't blink an eye? Without shame, they just pocketed the cash.

What does it say? It says that the money came from criminals who are themselves without shame: corporate criminals. It says that despite all of the publicity surrounding the most recent corporate crime wave, we still see such violations as less violent or abusive than street crime: while the latter is evil, the former is just business as usual.

After all, the two parties would never consider accepting cash from street thugs, muggers, and crooks. But corporate thugs, muggers, and crooks? No problem.

According to Corporate Crime Reporter, thirty-one major convicted corporations gave the $9.3 million to the two political parties in the 2002 election cycle. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) tops the list. In 1996, ADM pled guilty to one of the largest antitrust crimes ever. The company was convicted of engaging in conspiracies to fix prices, eliminate competition, and allocate sales in the lysine and citric acid markets worldwide. ADM paid a $100 million criminal fine -- at the time, the largest criminal antitrust fine ever.

ADM then gave $1.7 million to Democrats and Republicans during the 2002 election cycle.

In May 2004, Warner-Lambert, a unit of Pfizer Inc., pled guilty and paid more than $430 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liabilities in connection with its Parke-Davis division's illegal and fraudulent promotion of unapproved uses for one of its drugs products.

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, is the maker of Lipitor, Viagra, and Zoloft. In 1999, Pfizer pled guilty to fixing prices in the food additives industry. The company paid $20 million in fines. During the 2002 election year cycle, Pfizer gave $1.1 million to the Democrats and Republicans. Chevron was convicted in 1992 of environmental crimes and paid a $6.5 million criminal fine. Chevron gave $875,400 to both parties during the 2002 election cycle. And both political parties said thank you and looked the other way.

How can that be? How can our two major political parties knowingly deposit money from guilty corporate criminals that do real damage to average Americans and not be ashamed? It happens because of a failure of our institutions -- educational, political, civic, and media -- to tackle a problem that strikes at the heart of our democracy -- the double standard.

Corporate Attack on Law and Order

A case in point is the recent major financial frauds that dominated the headlines over the past few years and cost investors trillions of dollars. These crimes resulted directly from a calculated decades-long effort by big business and its lobbyists in Washington to compromise, weaken, or effectively dismantle the policing agencies and institutions -- the regulatory agencies, the lawyers, the accountants, the civil justice system, and the banks. Inside the beltway, this dismantling is affectionately known as deregulation.

Once the law and the police were emasculated, an immoral and unethical managerial class ignored the tattered constraints that remained, cooking the books and setting up a market crash that would wipe out the pension funds and savings of millions of innocent investors and workers.

According to William Lerach's seminal article, "The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost," the 1990s attack on corporate crime police was led by the Big Five accounting firms (now, with the demise of convicted criminal Arthur Andersen, the Big Four), the securities industry, high-tech firms, and their law firms and lobbyists in Washington. They were driven by bad memories from the 1980s, when trial lawyers representing securities fraud victims and federal prosecutors, including former U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani, held Wall Street cheats like Michael Milken accountable by demanding multimillion dollar settlements and federal prosecutions.

Determined to escape accountability and seeking revenge for these mild efforts at justice in the 1980s, Big Business launched its attack on and in the courts and in Congress in the 1990s. The Supreme Court weighed in on the side of the crooks with two major rulings. First, the Court held that the federal racketeering statute doesn't apply to securities fraud. Next, it held that professionals like lawyers, accountants, and bankers who knowingly aid and abet a securities fraud artist are not liable under federal securities law.

Then, in 1995, Congress, in its questionable wisdom, passed a law making it more difficult for victims of securities fraud to recover from the crooks. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act established a difficult standard of proof, imposed a freeze on plaintiffs' ability to discover evidence until much later in the legal process, and replaced joint and several liability with proportionate liability.

In 1999 at the behest of the securities industry, Congress and President Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall law, which for six decades had separated the business of commercial banking from investment banking to prevent conflicts that contributed to the financial disarray of the 1930s.

At the same time, Republican and Democratic presidents put corporate lawyers and executives at the helm of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), arguably the top corporate crime beat in the country. President Clinton named Arthur Levitt, a Wall Street executive who, despite his reputation as a reformer, sided with the securities industry in its hour of need and helped push through the 1995 law limiting investor protections.

President Bush named Harvey Pitt, the accounting industry's lawyer, to succeed Levitt. True to form, upon taking office Pitt said he wanted the SEC to have a "gentler" relationship with his former client, the accounting industry. (This same Harvey Pitt, according to Forbes magazine, gave the following advice at an October 2000 seminar for in-house counsel: Chief financial officers whose e-mails detail cozy conversations with analysts about earnings estimates should "destroy" the incriminating messages "because somebody is going to find this, and it will probably be the SEC when they investigate." The destruction should stop "when you hear about an inquiry ramping up.")

Like Schoolyard Marble Games

In testimony to Congress and through articles in major newspapers, citizen, consumer, and investor groups warned that history was about to repeat itself, that naming corporate lawyers to police their own would destroy the legal structure that had kept the corporate chieftains in check and would result in a wave of corporate crime that would rival the 1930s.

In January 2000, I wrote in the Progressive magazine about the newly passed bill to gut Glass Steagall and the Bank Holding Company Act:

Never underestimate the ability of Congress to repeat its mistakes. A decade ago, after it gambled and lost on deregulation, Congress was forced to launch a $500 billion taxpayer-financed bailout of the savings and loan industry. Congress has just rolled the deregulation dice again. This time, the outcome may be even more costly. The current gamble, which President Clinton signed into law on November 12 to the enthusiastic applause of Congressional leaders, makes the savings and loan schemes of the 1980s look like schoolyard marble games.


Warren Buffett, the conservative Omaha investor, also saw the wave of corporate frauds coming. In 1999, Buffett wrote:

In recent years, probity has eroded. Many major corporations still play things straight, but a significant and growing number of otherwise high-grade managers -- CEOs you would be happy to have as spouses for your children or as trustees under your will -- have come to the view that it's OK to manipulate earnings to satisfy what they believe are Wall Street's desires. Indeed, many CEOs think this kind of manipulation is not only OK, but actually their duty. These managers start with the assumption, all too common, that their job at all times is to encourage the highest stock price possible (a premise with which we adamantly disagree). To pump the price, they strive, admirably, for operational excellence. But when operations don't produce the hoped-for result, these CEOs resort to unadmirable accounting stratagems. These either manufacture the desired "earnings" or set the stage for them in the future.


Fortune magazine predicted the same. In an August 1999 article, "Lies, Damned Lies and Managed Earnings," Fortune's Carol Loomis wrote that the "eruption of accounting frauds ... keeps suggesting that beneath corporate America's uncannily disciplined march of profits during this decade lie great expanses of accounting rot, just waiting to be revealed."

Exposure of these frauds began with corporate restatements of earnings -- the most watched indicator of corporate fraud. The numbers of restatements, complied by the Huron Consulting Group, rose steadily from 158 in 1998 to 233 in 2000 to 270 in 2001, and 330 in 2002.

In many of the cases, the details of the frauds were exposed by investors, by reporters, by former executives. For example, a group of investors caught the WorldCom fiasco early, but a politically connected judge dismissed their complaint in 2001. A year later, WorldCom collapsed in the largest bankruptcy in American history. In July 2002, one month after the WorldCom collapse, Forbes magazine ran an article titled "Asleep at the Switch" that described the debacle:

WorldCom book-cooking was laid out chapter, line and verse in a shareholder suit over a year ago. Sadly, a judge with knotty political ties tossed it out as directors, auditors, regulators -- and the press -- snoozed. WorldCom's board of directors, shocked by word in late June that WorldCom had buried $3.8 billion in costs in one of the biggest accounting frauds in history, had good reason not to be shocked at all. Over a year ago a raft of former employees gave statements outlining a scandalous litany of misdeeds deliberately understating costs, hiding bad debt, backdating contracts to book orders earlier than accounting rules allow.


According to Forbes, the shareholder complaint "was backed by one hundred interviews with former WorldCom employees and related parties."

"The allegations were startling in their breadth and detail," Forbes reporter Neil Weinberg wrote. "A former New York sales rep told of WorldCom's cutting bandwidth prices in half for client Aubrey G. Lanston & Co., then booking the order twice -- once at the old rate and once at the new one. A Tulsa, Oklahoma, quality-assurance analyst said WorldCom's balance sheet listed assets that included receivables as much as seven years past due. A billing specialist in Hilliard, Ohio said the company held off paying suppliers to delay recognizing expenses and to boost profits."

The judge who dismissed the case? U.S. District Court Judge William H. Barbour Jr., a first cousin and former law partner of Haley Barbour, former Republican National Committee chairman and now governor of Mississippi.

The pattern exhibited in the WorldCom case was repeated over and over again: "alleged" fraudulent activity, predicted and documented in the mainstream press, and preventable with law and law enforcement tools at our disposal. The result: huge sums lost to investors. Thousands of jobs displaced or lost. Pension funds wiped out.

Let's take a quick tour of some of the damage:

• Adelphia Communications Corp.: Prosecutors alleged that the founding fathers of the cable company and other executives used the Company as their own private piggy bank. Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of $2.5 billion and seeking to put the bosses in prison.
• Enron Corp.: Federal officials say the energy giant created off-the-books partnerships and employed "aggressive accounting methods" to hide debt and inflate the firm's bottom line. The company's accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, was convicted of destroying documents and forced out of business. Michael Kopper, the former managing director, pled guilty to money laundering and wire fraud. Former CFO Andrew Fastow pled guilty to fraud. Enron, once the nation's seventh biggest company on paper, collapsed, throwing thousands out of work and costing investors, pensioners and employees an estimated $100 billion.
• HealthSouth Corp.: Federal officials say that the hospital company's executives inflated earnings by $3.8 billion and $4.6 billion to meet Wall Street expectations. Fifteen former HealthSouth executives have been convicted. The founder and former chair and CEO of the company, Richard Scrushy, has been indicted, has pled not guilty, and awaits trial.
• Rite Aid: Federal officials alleged that the company inflated its net income by $1.6 billion. To cover up the alleged fraud, company officials destroyed some documents and fabricated others, the prosecution alleged. Several former executives pled guilty. The company's former CEO Martin Grass pled guilty, was fined $3.5 million, and will spend up to eight years in prison. Franklin Brown, the former general counsel and vice chairman, was found guilty of obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to federal investigators.
• Tyco: The company admits to booking $2 billion in erroneous accounts. Federal prosecutors charged that the former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and the former CFO Mark Swartz stole $170 million from the company and used questionable accounting to hide the illegalities. After a six-month trial, a New York state judge declared a mistrial. State prosecutors say they will try the two men again. Mark Belnick, the company's former general counsel, is charged with falsifying records to cover up improper loans.
• WorldCom: Federal officials alleged that a massive fraud hid more than $11 billion in cost and inflated profits. The company filed for bankruptcy. The company changed its name to MCI. WorldCom's former CEO, Bernard Ebbers, has been charged with many counts of fraud, and awaits trial. WorldCom's former CFO, Scott Sullivan, pled guilty and is cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation.

Interestingly, the banks and brokerage firms following these and other failing companies knew something was up but didn't blow the whistle. They, along with the law firms and accountants, were conflicted out of an independent judgment. They made money and looked the other way.

In June 2002, Weiss Ratings released a study that found that among the fifty brokerage firms covering companies filing for bankruptcy that year, forty-seven continued to recommend that investors buy or hold shares in the failing companies even as they were filing for Chapter 11. Lehman Brothers maintained six buy ratings on failing companies, while Salomon Smith Barney maintained eight hold ratings up through the date the companies filed for bankruptcy. Also sticking with buy ratings on failing companies until the very end were Bank of America Securities, Bear Stearns, CIBC World Markets, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Goldman Sachs, and Prudential Securities.

"This analysis shows that Wall Street's record is far worse than previously believed," says Martin D. Weiss, chair of the independent ratings firm Weiss Ratings. "Even when there was abundant evidence that companies were on the verge of bankruptcy, over 90 percent of the latest ratings issued by brokerage firms continued to tell investors to hold their shares or buy more."

Merrill Lynch was caught recommending stocks in failing companies to the regular Joe investors, while accurately telling investment banking clients that the stocks were "crap" and "junk." New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer exposed some e-mails from Merrill Lynch analysts and forced the company to pay $100 million.

A handful of other big Wall Street banks settled similar cases, paying fines barely worth a day's revenues, and the executives got away. But not Martha Stewart. The executives engaged in wrongdoing on a scale far greater than what she has been convicted of doing.

The Cost of Corporate Crime

Every year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) releases an annual report titled "Crime in the United States."

The report should more accurately be titled "Street Crime in the United States," since it surveys primarily crimes like murder, manslaughter, robbery, assault, burglary, and arson. Last year, I wrote to Attorney General Ashcroft asking that the Justice Department produce a parallel report on corporate crime, documenting the financial and accounting frauds and the environmental, workplace safety, consumer products, and food safety crimes that kill, injure, and sicken millions of Americans every year.

It's clear why the attorney general chooses not to produce such a report. It would galvanize public opinion to support the local, state, and federal corporate crime police -- a threatening prospect to an attorney general and president so closely allied with big business interests.

Without such a comprehensive annual report, we are left to rely on outside evidence as to the nature and scope of the problem. But such evidence suffices to establish, without question, that corporate crime and violence inflict far more damage on society than all street crime combined.

In 2002, the FBI estimated that the nation's total loss from robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson was a not insignificant $18 billion. Let's compare that to just one segment of corporate fraud: health care fraud. The General Accounting Office puts health care billing fraud at $150 billion, but Malcolm Sparrow, a professor at Harvard and author of the authoritative License to Steal: Why Fraud Plagues America's Health Care System, says fraud could account for as much as 30 percent of all health care expenditures. Last year, health care expenditures were $1.6 trillion. A Dartmouth study estimated that about a third of health care is useless, redundant, or harmful.

And that's just health care fraud.

The savings and loan fraud, which former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh called "the biggest white collar swindle in history," cost us anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion. Then you have the lesser frauds: auto repair fraud, $40 billion a year; securities fraud, $15 billion a year before the recent crime wave hit; and on down the list.

Corporate crime is about more than just money. It's also about inflicting physical injuries and even the taking of innocent human life.

In 2002, the FBI documented 16,204 homicides in the United States. Compare that to the more than 55,000 deaths on the job or from occupational diseases, the 420,000 who died from promoted tobacco-induced disease, the 10,000 who die every year from illnesses caused by asbestos, the 65,000 deaths from air pollution, and the 80,000 people who lose their lives from medical incompetence in hospitals annually.

In 1995, Ralph Estes, a professor emeritus of accounting at American University, took a comprehensive look at what he called the social costs that corporations externalize onto workers, consumers, and the environment. This is another way of looking at the costs of corporate crime, both prosecuted and not. Estes totaled private and government estimates of these various costs, including: pollution $307.8 billion; defense contract overcharges $25.9 billion; price-fixing, monopolies, deceptive advertising $1.16 trillion; unsafe vehicles $135.8 billion; workplace injuries and accidents $141.6 billion; death from workplace cancer $274.7 billion. He came up with a total cost of $3 trillion. He calls this "the public cost of private corporations." Many of these costs in turn generate economic demand for goods and services -- health care, insurance, repairs, and so on.

Every once in a while, corporate crime explodes into the headlines in a spectacular fashion:

• In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil onto 1,500 miles of Alaskan shoreline, killing birds and fish, and destroying the way of life of thousands of Native Americans. In March 1991, the company pled guilty to environmental felonies and was fined $125 million. Alaskans sued Exxon and were awarded $287 million in compensatory damages and $5 billion in punitive damages. Exxon has been appealing the award ever since. In the latest decision, a judge earlier this year put the punitive damage award at $4.5 billion -- but Exxon promises to appeal that decision.
• In 1984, a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, released 90,000 pounds of the chemical methyl isocyanate. The resulting toxic cloud killed several thousand people and injured hundreds of thousands. Union Carbide (now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical) and its former CEO, Warren Andersen, still face manslaughter charges in Bhopal.
• Eighty years ago, clean, quiet, and efficient inner and outer city rail systems dotted the U.S. landscape. They were eliminated in the 1930s and 1940s to make way for dirty and noisy gasoline-powered automobiles and buses. The city rail systems were destroyed by the very companies that would most benefit from destruction of inner city rail -- oil, tire, and automobile companies, led by General Motors. By 1949, GM had helped destroy major metropolitan electric trolley systems in forty-five cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles.

In 1949, a federal grand jury in Chicago indicted GM, Standard Oil of California, and Firestone, among others, of criminally conspiring to replace electric transportation with gas- and diesel-powered buses and to monopolize the sale of buses and related products to transportation companies around the country. GM and the other convicted companies were fined only $5,000 each, for what some analysts called the economic crime of the century. Everyday people continue to pay the price for clogged highway traffic unrelieved by adequate modern transit systems on these old trolley-rail rights of way.

Corporate Homicide: "A Simple Lack of Guts and Political Will"

Despite these convictions, for the most part, the drip, drip, drip of intentional, serious corporate wrongdoing that takes one life at a time, or steals one pension plan at a time, remains either underprosecuted or not prosecuted at all -- because of either the failure of the law or the failure of law enforcement.

Let's look at corporate homicide, for example. For most of the 16,000 street murders in the United States, a criminal homicide prosecution results. Tens of thousands of Americans die every year due to corporate criminal recklessness, yet you can count the annual corporate criminal prosecutions every year on your fingers.

Why so few? Lack of political and prosecutorial will.

In July 2003, in a state courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware, attorneys for Motiva Enterprises (a joint venture company between Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell) entered a plea of no contest -- the equivalent of a guilty plea -- to one felony count of criminally negligent homicide and six misdemeanor counts of assault in the third degree. The charges arose out of an explosion and fire at the company's Delaware City facility in 2001 that resulted in the death of boilermaker Jeffrey Davis and injuries to six other workers. Delaware Attorney General M. Jane Brady said the "company did not take their responsibilities to the plant workers or the community seriously, and disregarded the potential consequences of their decision-making. "

Of the thousands of Americans killed on the job every year, how many are deserving of a homicide prosecution to bring a modicum of justice to their families and loved ones? Surely more than the tiny handful whose cases are currently tried every year in the United States.

Homicide prosecutions are for the most part state law prosecutions. When a tough, principled state prosecutor comes along, corporate homicide prosecutions are sure to follow. But tough, principled prosecutors are few and far between. The last homicide prosecution brought against a major American corporation was in 1980, when a Republican prosecutor in northern Indiana charged Ford Motor Co. with homicide for the deaths of three teenage girls who were incinerated when their Ford Pinto was rear-ended -- the gas tank collapsed and spilled fuel, starting the fire that caused their deaths. The prosecutor alleged that Ford knew it was marketing a defective product. But Ford brought in a top-flight criminal defense lawyer, who, together with a local lawyer who was a friend of the judge, secured a not guilty verdict after convincing the judge to keep key evidence out of the jury room.

In January 2003, the New York Times ran a series of articles exposing McWane, Inc., a privately held company based in Birmingham, Alabama, and one of the world's largest manufacturers of cast iron sewer and water pipe. The Times' investigation determined that McWane is one of the most dangerous employers in America. Since 1995, at least 4,600 injuries have been recorded in McWane foundries, hundreds of them serious. Nine workers have been killed. McWane plants, which employ about 5,000 workers, have been cited for more than 400 federal health and safety violations.

One McWane worker, Frank Wagner, was killed in an industrial explosion in upstate New York that, according to a team of state prosecutors, resulted from reckless criminal conduct by his employer. "The evidence compels us to act," the prosecution team wrote in a confidential memorandum to then state attorney general, Dennis C. Vacco, in 1996.

According to the Times, the team of prosecutors urged Vacco to ask a grand jury to indict McWane and its managers on manslaughter and other charges. But Vacco never sought a criminal indictment against the company. The company did eventually plead guilty to a state hazardous waste felony and paid $500,000, but it was not held accountable for Mr. Wagner's death.

According to the Times report, three of the nine workers killed at McWane facilities since 1995 died as a result of wanton violations of federal safety standards. But referrals to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution of fatalities resulting from federal safety crimes are considered a waste of time. Why? Because under federal law, causing the death of a worker by willfully violating safety rules is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum prison term of six months. (Harassing a wild burro on federal lands, apparently considered a more serious crime, is punishable by a year in prison.) As a result, according to the Times, McWane viewed the burden of regulatory fines "as far less onerous than the cost of fully complying with safety and environmental rules."

"At the time of Mr. Wagner's death, company budget documents show McWane calculated down to the penny per ton the cost of OSHA and environmental fines, along with raw materials," the Times reported.

According to the Times, Wagner's death is similar to at least one hundred deaths of Americans every year -- the results not of accidents, but of intentional wrongdoing or indifference. These are, acts deserving of homicide prosecutions. "They happened because a boss removed a safety device to speed up production, or because' a company ignored explicit safety warnings, or because a worker was denied proper protective gear," the Times reported.

The investigation found that from 1982 to 2002, OSHA investigated 1,242 of these horror stories, instances in which the agency itself concluded that workers had died because of their employer's "willful" safety violations.

Yet in 93 percent of those cases, OSHA declined to seek prosecution. "A simple lack of guts and political will," John T. Phillips, a former regional OSHA administrator in Kansas City and Boston told the Times. "You try to reason why something is criminal, and it never flies."

The same for tobacco. Ira Robbins, a professor of law at American University in Washington, D.C., argues that the time is ripe to bring a homicide prosecution against tobacco executives.

"Government should not ignore the criminal aspects of what the tobacco companies were doing," Robbins said last year. "In fact, a good argument can be made that, over time, tobacco company executives consciously disregarded the substantial. and unjustifiable risk that people might be killed. If this could be proven, then it would come under the classic definition of involuntary manslaughter."

As Robbins observes, to gain a second-degree murder conviction, a prosecutor must show "the conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would occur under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life." Professor Robbins argues that a 1,400-page summary of evidence against the tobacco companies filed in the Justice Department's civil racketeering case against these companies lays the groundwork for homicide charges. The Justice Department is seeking to recover $289 billion from tobacco companies.

The Department alleges that in 1953 the tobacco companies launched a decades-long "fraudulent scheme to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking and discredit scientific and medical evidence that smoking was a cause of disease."

How about the petrochemical industry? In 2001, Bill Moyers ran an expose of the chemical industry and how it killed hundreds of workers on the front lines, "how the chemical companies, through their silence and inertia, subjected at least two generations of workers to excessive levels of a potent carcinogen, vinyl chloride, that targets the liver, brain, lungs, and blood-forming organs."

Dan Ross died at age 46 of a rare brain cancer. According to Moyers, Ross was convinced that his job was killing him, and he died not knowing how right he was. The documentary shows his widow, Elaine Ross, who vows to her dying husband that she would "never, ever let the chemical industry forget who he was -- never." She joins up with Louisiana trial attorney Billy Baggett, who through legal discovery amasses thousands of internal company documents. The documents formed the basis of a twelve-part series by then Houston Chronicle reporter Jim Morris ("In Strictest Confidence") that ran from June 1998 to December 1998.

Morris and Moyers reported on a 1959 Dow Chemical memo showing that vinyl chloride exposure at 500 mg "is going to produce rather appreciable injury when inhaled seven hours a day, five days a week for an extended period." The memo says, "As you can appreciate, this opinion is not ready for dissemination yet and I would appreciate it if you would hold it in confidence but use it as you see fit in your own operations."

Then there is the 1973 Ethyl Corp. memo claiming that results on rat tests "certainly indicate a positive carcinogenic effect." And the 1971 Union Carbide internal memo that voices a general worry about the political climate in the United States and warns that: "a campaign by Mr. R. Nader and others could force an industrial upheaval via new laws or strict interpretation of pollution and occupational health laws."

Yes, big corporations know that their workplace hazards are taking the lives of workers. They also know how to create a political climate to avoid being brought to justice. But they ought to be criminally prosecuted. The evidence is there. What's needed is the will to enforce the law.

Facing Down the Corporate Crime Lobby

Facing down the corporate crime lobby presents a formidable task. For one thing, Washington, D.C., and the state capitals are corporate-occupied territory. Corporate lobbyists, corporate PACs, white-collar criminal defense attorneys, corporate propaganda tanks, public relations firms, their apologists at law schools -- all work in conjunction to create a climate of leniency for corporate criminals.

First, the brain trust lays down a foundation of amorality. Frank Easterbrook and Daniel Fischel are University of Chicago law professors -- Easterbrook is also a federal judge -- who believe that nothing, not even law and order, should stand in the way of making money. Twenty years ago, writing in the Michigan Law Review, Easterbrook and Fischel stated that "managers not only may but also should violate the rules when it is profitable to do so."

The Chicago School considers such corporate crimes as fraud, corruption, pollution, price- fixing, occupational disease, and bribery "externalities" and claims that fines for such "externalities" should be considered "costs of doing business." Others, like George Mason University Law Professor Jeffrey Parker argue that corporate crime does not, indeed cannot, exist.

"Crime exists only in the mind of an individual," Parker argues. "Since a corporation has no mind, it can commit no crime."

Parker argues that a since a corporation is not a person, it should not be treated like one in the criminal law arena. (Very well, Professor, should the Supreme Court revoke the legal fiction of the corporation as person, and all the rights and privileges that follow, including the First Amendment right to speak and associate, the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, and the Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection?) Parker argues that "there is no legitimate function of corporate criminal liability that cannot be served equally as well, if not better, by civil enforcement." (How about shaming and deterring wrongdoers and sending a serious message through criminal prosecution? Civil fines can't do that very effectively.)

Milton Friedman says the only moral imperative for a corporate executive is to make as much money for the corporate owners as he or she can. Management guru Peter Drucker concurs: "If you find an executive who wants to take on social responsibilities, fire him. Fast." And William Niskanen, chair of the libertarian Cato Institute, says that he would not invest in a company that pioneered in corporate responsibility.

John Braithwaite, one of the world's foremost corporate criminologists, says that the Friedman, Parker, Drucker, Niskanen position amounts to an argument that corporations are not part of the moral community -- it is a "rationalization to insulate corporate actors from shaming by the wider community."

While the brain trust works from the outside to create a legal system that insulates the corporate actors from shaming by the wider community, the corporate defense attorneys work the system from the inside to the same ends. The corporate criminal justice system has been compromised by an imbalance of power and resources.

Opening just a few windows on this world will give you an idea:

• The Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice is responsible for criminally prosecuting all environmental crimes in the country. It has only thirty full- time lawyers.
• The Securities Fraud Task Force of the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan has just twenty-five lawyers on its staff The results are predictable. According to a recent article in Fortune magazine in March 2002, "Enough Is Enough: White-Collar Criminals: They Lie They Cheat They Steal and They've Been Getting Away With It for Too Long," in the ten years from 1992 to 2001, SEC enforcement attorneys referred 609 cases to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges. Federal prosecutors decided what to do on 525 of the cases -- declining to prosecute 64 percent of them. Of those they did pursue, the feds obtained guilty verdicts in 76 percent. But even then, 40 percent of the convicted white-collar crooks -- most of them from smaller corporations -- didn't spend a day in jail. Only eighty-seven did.

When these or any of the other small, specialized prosecutorial offices bring a charge against a major American corporation, they are overwhelmed by a corporate law firm with hundreds of lawyers and paralegals.

Take the exceptionally unique prosecution of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. It is a testament to the federal prosecutors in that case that the company was eventually convicted of criminally polluting the nation's oceans. Despite overwhelming evidence leading to that conviction, the company was determined to beat the rap.

To defend itself, Royal Caribbean hired Judson Starr and Jerry Block, both of whom served as head of the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section, and former Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti. Also representing Royal Caribbean were former federal prosecutors Kenneth C. Bass III and Norman Moscowitz. Donald Carr of Winthrop & Stimson also joined the defense team. As experts on international law issues, the lawyers hired former Attorney General Eliot Richardson, University of Virginia law professor John Norton Moore, former State Department officials Terry Leitzell and Bernard Oxman, and four retired senior admirals.

As the case proceeded to trial, the company engaged in a massive public relations campaign, taking out ads during the Super Bowl, putting a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator on its board of directors, and donating thousands of dollars to environmental groups.

Federal prosecutors overcame this legal and public relations barrage and convicted the company in July 1999 on twenty-one counts. The company paid a record $18 million criminal fine for dumping waste oil and hazardous chemicals into the ocean and lying to the Coast Guard about it.

But it is this display of corporate crime defense prowess that makes prosecutors think twice about proceeding against a major company. Increasingly, prosecutors go after lower- level executives instead. Even so, scores of major American corporations like Royal Caribbean have been criminally prosecuted and sanctioned in recent years, which tells us something about the extent of corporate crime. Corporate Crime Reporter's list of the Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s ranks these corporate criminals by amount of the criminal fine.

Last year Corporate Crime Reporter also published its report on the top 100 False Claims Act settlements. The federal False Claims Act is a remarkable law that says to citizens of the United States: If you have information about corporations that are defrauding the federal government, come forward, tell federal prosecutors about it, and if federal prosecutors can verify your claim, they will join with you and sue the corporation to recover the amount of money that the corporation defrauded from the United States. If you can prove your case, and the government recovers the defrauded money, then you, ordinary citizen, will get a share of the recovery -- anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent. And the law is working. Since 1986, when strengthening amendments to the False Claims Act were passed into law, the government has recovered $12 billion in taxpayer monies from corporate crooks -- and more than a few whistleblowers have became millionaires as a result.

There are enforcement actions the public doesn't hear about. Bob Bennett, one of the nation's premiere white-collar crime defense lawyers, says that "90 percent of the work I do never sees the public light of day." Bennett and his colleagues burn the midnight oils to keep their clients out of the public spotlight -- cutting special deals, giving up corporate executives to save the corporation from criminal prosecution, seeking civil settlements where criminal prosecutions are warranted. After all, for big corporations, reputation is everything.

Take corporate bribery. In the late 1970s, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked corporations to come forward and disclose bribes and other improper payments overseas. More than four hundred major companies did so, and the revelations led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. companies from bribing overseas.

Corporate lawyers handling foreign bribery cases report a sharp increase in business in the past couple of years. Some businessmen say it is impossible to do business in China without paying bribes. But where are the criminal prosecutions for bribery? They are few and far between.

Homer Moyer Jr., a partner at the corporate defense firm of Miller & Chevalier, likens his practice of defending corporations against charges of bribery to an "iceberg."

"Very little of this practice is publicly visible," Moyer said. "Many of these cases are resolved informally, without publication of consent decrees -- many are just dismissed." When an enforcement action results, information that is made publicly available is often sketchy because defense counsels "negotiate what information can be released," Moyer said.

Only a handful of bribery charges are brought every year by the Justice Department's understaffed Fraud Section -- a dozen in 2002 -- and the charges rarely carry criminal sanctions.

It took a lawsuit to unearth a secret settlement practice at the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury. OFAC enforces the laws governing doing business with designated enemies of the United States. Big banks and other financial institutions had a sweet deal with OFAC: OFAC would bring an enforcement action against the banks for doing business with, say, Libya. The bank would settle the case, and OFAC would agree not to publicize it. Hundreds of enforcement actions against major American corporations never saw the light of day.

Ira Raphaelson, a defense attorney at O'Melveny & Myers, told reporters last year about how he settled a criminal case brought by the Justice Department against a corporate client of his, and the press never caught wind of it because there was an agreement not to publicize the case. Raphaelson said that there have always been "side deals" between the government and defense attorneys not to publicize a case:

There are settled criminal cases that the government and the defense attorneys agree not to talk about in public. There always have been these side deals. If there. is a prosecution that is a bad prosecution that is settled, and I have a side deal with the prosecutors not to talk about the prosecution, I'm not going to talk about it. In my case, the government put out no press release. There was no publicity to the case.


Lanny Breuer, a partner at Covington & Burling, concurs about the existence of a secret settlement practice. "There is this kind of practice of keeping information about criminal cases out of the press," Breuer said.

Even when prosecutors overcome all odds, and successfully bring a criminal prosecution, and the prosecution is publicized, so the world knows that it happened, there is a price to pay for the imbalance of power.

Take the case of Ball Park Franks. Bil Mar Foods is a unit of the Chicago-based giant Sara Lee Corporation, the maker of pound cakes, cheesecakes, pies, muffins, L'Eggs, Hanes, Playtex, and Wonderbra products. Bil Mar makes hot dogs -- Ball Park franks hot dogs.

In July 2001, Sara Lee pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts in connection with a listeriosis outbreak that led to the deaths of at least twenty-one consumers who ate Ball Park Franks hot dogs and other meat products. One hundred people were seriously injured. The company paid a $200,000 fine. Close examination of the evidence shows that a felony charge was warranted but federal prosecutors were overpowered by lawyers for Sara Lee; in particular, the Chicago firm of Jenner & Block, led by former Chicago U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas.

Think of it -- twenty-one dead and only two misdemeanors and a $200,000 fine. To announce the slap-on-the-wrist plea agreement, federal prosecutors and Sara Lee issued a joint press release. It was perhaps the first joint press release with a convicted criminal defendant in Justice Department history. Imagine the Justice Department issuing a joint press release with a convicted terrorist or child molester. They would not. They could not.

Rigging the System

Larry Thompson, is not the kind of lawyer who should have been heading up a Corporate Fraud Task Force. Thompson, a former corporate lawyer, knows the ins arid out of corporate wrongdoing. Before his Senate confirmation as deputy attorney general, Thompson sat on the board of Providian Financial Corp. a credit-card company that paid more than $400 million to settle allegations of consumer and securities fraud. He was also chair of the company's audit and compliance committee.

According to the Washington Post, "Providian was one of the biggest credit-card companies in the so-called subprime market, which targets people with low incomes and bad credit histories." In 2001, the company settled charges that it inflated its financial results by charging excessive fees and engaging in other practices that state and federal regulators said broke consumer protection rules.

As head of the President's Corporate Fraud Task Force, appointed by George W. Bush, Thompson told reporters that he wanted to hold corporations accountable for the criminal culture and conduct they promote. Instead, he helped rig the system so that corporations have a way to get out of a criminal jam. In a memo issued under his name in January 2003 (known in defense circles as "the Thompson memo"), Thompson opened a loophole for corporations to escape punishment for criminal behavior.

The memo, titled "Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations," gives prosecutors discretion to grant corporations immunity from prosecution in exchange for cooperation. These immunity agreements, known as deferred prosecution agreements, or pretrial diversion, were previously reserved for minor street crimes and never intended for major corporate crimes. The U.S. Attorneys' Manual explicitly states that a major objective of pretrial diversion is to "save prosecutive and judicial resources for concentration on major cases."

Thompson's memo was followed by a rash of deferred prosecution agreements in cases involving large corporations, including a settlement with a Puerto Rican bank on money- laundering charges and a Pittsburgh bank on securities charges. Corporate defense attorneys are seizing on these agreements with the Justice Department so as to avoid any publicity.

"This is a favorable change for companies," Alan Vinegrad, a partner at Covington & Burling in New York, told Corporate Crime Reporter last year. "The memo now explicitly says that pretrial diversion, which had been reserved for small, individual, minor crimes, is now available for corporations." Vinegrad said that while there have been a handful of publicized pretrial diversion cases, the Justice Department can cut these kind of deals with companies without filing a public document -- and therefore without any publicity to the case.

When in Doubt, Shred It

Much of the history of corporate crime and violence in this country has never seen the light of day because of a simple dictate widely followed in corporate boardrooms: When in doubt, shred it.

In 2002, Arthur Andersen was indicted for obstructing justice. Federal officials alleged that on October 23, 2001, Andersen partners assigned to the Enron audit launched "a wholesale destruction of documents" at Andersen's offices in Houston, Texas.

"Andersen personnel were called to urgent and mandatory meetings," the indictment alleged. "Instead of being advised to preserve documentation so as to assist Enron and the SEC, Andersen employees on the Enron management team were instructed by Andersen partners and others to destroy immediately documentation relating to Enron, and told to work overtime if necessary to accomplish the destruction."

During the next few weeks "an unparalleled initiative was undertaken to shred physical documentation and delete computer files," according to the indictment. "Tons of paper relating to the Enron audit were promptly shredded as part of the orchestrated document destruction," the indictment alleges. "The shredder at the Andersen office at the Enron building was used virtually constantly and, to handle the overload, dozens of large trunks filled with Enron documents were sent to Andersen's main Houston office to be shredded. A systematic effort was also undertaken and carried out to purge the computer hard-drives and e-mail system of Enron-related files."

Andersen was convicted by a jury in Texas and forced out of business. But who is to say that many sizeable American corporation could not be convicted of a similar crime?

Again, the former chair of the SEC, Harvey Pitt, was notorious for giving advice to his fellow defense lawyers on when and how to destroy incriminating documents. For example, in a 1994 article in the Cardozo Law Review titled "When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies: A Crisis Management Primer," Pitt wrote: "Ask executives and employees to imagine all their documents in the hands of a zealous regulator or on the front page of the New York Times .... Each company should have a system for determining the retention and destruction of documents. Obviously, once a subpoena has been issued, or is about to be issued, any existing document destruction policies should be brought to an immediate halt."

In a 1980 law review article, "Document Retention and Destruction: Practical, Legal and Ethical Considerations," former SEC enforcement chief John Fedders took this advice one step further. "On occasion, counsel will be shown a document which could expose the corporation to liability if it became available to adverse parties," Fedders wrote. "If the document is not yet scheduled for destruction under the terms of the program, management may advocate a waiver of the program to allow the document to be promptly destroyed."

This sort of advice has been followed. For example, in April 2002 an Australian judge found that British American Tobacco (BAT) engaged in a massive document-destruction scheme intentionally designed to thwart smokers or former smokers from bringing suit against the company. After the conclusion of one plaintiff's case and before the beginning of another, BAT's chief counsel told an associate, "now is a good opportunity to dispose of documents if we no longer need to keep them. That should be done outside the legal department." Thousands of the 30,000 documents were then destroyed, along with electronic versions of the documents, summaries, indices, and ratings.

"The decision to destroy all such lists and records, can only have been a deliberate tactic designed to hide information as to what was destroyed," the judge wrote.

Crack Down on Corporate Crime

In response to corporate crime waves, the government usually passes a series of meek reforms (like the Sarbanes Oxley law of 2002). Over the years, our citizen groups have introduced numerous proposals to crack down on corporate crime, including: the FBI creation of an annual Corporate Crime in the United States report; tripling the budgets of the federal corporate crime police; adopting three-strikes-and-you're-out policies for corporate criminals; banning corporate criminals from government contracts; expanding the False Claims Act to include environmental and securities fraud areas; and creative sentencing alternatives, such as sentencing fit coal mine executives, convicted of violating safety laws resulting in casualties, to working with the miners in the mines.

Some of the shrewdest observers of corporate crime come from that former penal colony, Australia. John Braithwaite, who has written many books on corporate crime, argues that "if we are serious about controlling corporate crime, the first priority should be to create a culture in which corporate crime is not tolerated." He believes that "the moral educative functions of corporate criminal law are best achieved with heavy reliance on adverse publicity as a social control mechanism."

"The policy instruments for harnessing shame against corporate offenders include adverse publicity orders as a formal sanction, the calling of press conferences following corporate convictions, encouraging consumer activism and investigative journalism," he writes.

Braithwaite's prescription would take us in the opposite direction we've been heading in recent years with the Thompson memo, deferred prosecution agreements, and secret settlements. It would move us away from a criminal justice system massaged by the corporate crime lobby to limit adverse publicity.

What is needed is political leadership uncompromised by corporate influence, leadership that will not just talk the talk on corporate crime enforcement, but deliver justice to the American people. For too long people have suffered at the hands of big corporations that defraud consumers; pollute our• air, water, and soil; bribe our public officials, injure and destroy the health of workers, and steal from our governments.

Creating a culture in which corporate crime is not tolerated in word, law, or deed is long overdue.

Crack Down on Corporate Crime
(citizenworks.org)

1. Track the Extent and Cost of Corporate Crime. Establish a public online corporate crime database at the Department of Justice. The FBI should also produce an annual corporate and white-collar crime report as an analogue to its "Crime in the United States" report, which focuses on street crime.

2. Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets. Both the Securities and Exchange Commission and especially the Department of Justice's corporate crime division have been chronically underfunded. Without proper resources, it is difficult to apply the rule of law to corporate criminals. As a result, government prosecutors and regulators are forced to settle for weak fines and ignore many more violators entirely.

3. Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts. Enact a tough, serious debarment statute that would deny federal business to serious and/or repeat corporate lawbreakers. These standards should apply to corporate contracts in Iraq. The federal government spends $265 billion a year on goods and services. Let's make sure taxpayer money isn't supporting corporate criminals.

4. Crack down on Corporate Tax Avoidance. 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. Give the IRS more power and resources to go after corporate tax cheats. Require publicly traded corporations to make their tax returns public.

5. Restore the Rights of Defrauded Investors. Repeal self-styled securities "reform" laws that block defrauded investors from seeking restitution, such as the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which allowed the aiders and abettors of massive corporate crime (e.g., accountants and lawyers) to escape civil liability.

6. Democratize Corporate Governance. Grant shareholders 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. Require shareholders to approve all major business decisions, including executive compensation. Shareholders, after all, are the owners.

7. Rein in Excessive Executive Pay. Require shareholder authorization of top executive compensation packages at each annual shareholder meeting. Require that stock options, which now account for about half of executive compensation, be counted on financial statements as an expense (which they are). Eliminate tax deductions for compensation above twenty-five times the compensation received by the lowest paid worker in a corporation, as business guru Peter Drucker has suggested.

8. Regulate Derivatives Trading. Regulate all over the-counter financial instruments, including derivatives, so that they are subject to the same or equivalent audit and reporting requirements as other financial instruments traded on the 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.

9. Expand Disclosure. Enact corporate sunshine laws that force 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.

10. End Conflicts of Interest on Wall Street. Re-enact structural reforms that separate commercial. and investment banking services and prevent other conflicts of interest among financial entities, such as those that have dominated big banks in recent years.

11. 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 a right to vote for their 401 (k) stock. In addition, an Office of Participant Advocacy should be created in the Department of Labor to monitor pension plans.

12. 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 through federal chartering of global corporations and propose ways to correct the evasive legal status of corporations, such as being treated as "persons" under our Constitution. The Commission should be led by a congressionally appointed expert on corporate and constitutional law, and should hold public citizen hearings in at least ten cities.
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:23 pm

CORPORATISM UBER ALLES

The evolving multinational corporatism is a gigantic control machine. Calibrated with thousands of antennae, feedback mechanisms tell its brain how far it can go in taking control until it meets resistance from countervailing forces. These forces have been disappearing or declining for three decades, creating vacuums and advantages quickly filled by these ever-larger companies and their coordinated trade associations. Remarkably attuned to controlling markets and properties, to seeking lower cost venues by externalizing responsibilities, the big corporation is largely oblivious to those past restraints .that moderated its excesses and enhanced its successes. Its determination to abolish these external restraints powers forward. Unified internally by the singular yardstick of sales .and profits, this conglomerate drives relentlessly to push away all boundaries to its domination. Obviously, it does not always succeed. Like older bull elephants losing to younger challengers, corporations rise, remain, decline, fall, but unlike elephants, they merge and even mutate into other lines of commerce. However, taken together, global companies possess a common personality that must strive to co-opt or subjugate governments, oppose or weaken trade unions, close off avenues for remedy by others and always, always find ways to concentrate more power in their hands. Control comes to them naturally -- it falls under their definitions of self-interest.

Maximum expediency is the corporation's mantra. Nothing reveals this more than the willingness of these behemoths to turn on the very economic ideology that legitimizes them -- capitalism. Big business is in the advanced stage of destroying the very capitalism that gives it ideological cover. Consider the following assumptions of a capitalistic system:

1. Owners are supposed to control what they own. For a century, big business has split ownership (shareholders) from control, which is in the hands of the officers of the corporation and its rubber-stamp board of directors. Investors have been disenfranchised and told to sell their shares if they don't like the way management is running or ruining their business. Nowadays, with crooked accounting, inflated profits, and executive self-dealing, it gets harder for even large institutional investors to learn the truth. As Robert Monks says: "Putting owners in charge of what they own is of course the purest form of capitalism."

2. Under capitalism, businesses are supposed to sink or swim, which is still very true for small business. But, larger industries and companies often become "too big to fail." They demand that Uncle Sam serve as their all-purpose protector, providing a variety of public guarantees and emergency bailouts. Some wildly mis-run firms such as Enron are allowed to fail and go bankrupt. By and large, however, in industry after industry where two or three companies dominate or warn of a domino effect on their industry, as with a large bank, Washington, D.C., becomes their guarantor.

3. Capitalism is supposed to exhibit a consensual freedom of contract -- a distinct advance over feudal society. Yet, the great majority of contracts for credit, insurance, software, housing, health, employment, products, repairs and other services are standard-form, printed contracts, presented by sellers on a take-it-or- leave-it, noncompetitive basis.

4. Capitalism requires a framework of law and order. Adam Smith, John Locke, Frederick Hayek, and Milton Friedman all understood this necessity. Rules of economic fair play are needed to prevent mayhem, fraud, deception, and predatory practices. Easily the most powerful influence over most of government are the large industries that receive privileges and immunities. Only those caught in positions of extreme dereliction, like Enron, ever have reason to expect more than a transferable slap on the wrist for violating legal mandates.

5. Capitalist enterprises are expected to compete on an even playing field. Corporate lobbyists, starting with their abundant cash for political campaigns, have developed a "corporate state" where government lavishes many subsidies on big business while denying comparable benefits to individuals and family businesses. We have a government of big business, by big business, and for big business.

In summary, corporate socialism -- the privatization of profit and the socialization of risks and misconduct -- is displacing capitalist canons. This worsening condition prevents an adaptable capitalism, served by equal justice i1nder law, from delivering higher standards of living. Civic and political movements must call for a decent separation of corporation and state. Otherwise invasive commercial imperatives will erode the civic and spiritual values of our democratic society.

Corporate executives, as a class, have pulled off nothing short of a coup d'etat by seizing power from shareholders -- the real owners. It is remarkable how the corporate owners lost their rights to effectively control what they own. That means the ability to nominate their own board of directors and to have real elections to decide who will run the company. The staggering compensation plans for CEOs rubber stamped by a selected board of compliant directors has led to inflating profits, downloading debt, and other crooked accounting. The purpose, always, is to increase stock prices to make the bosses' stock options more valuable. All too often top executives end up jeopardizing their own companies. "Surveying continuing record executive pay," Fortune headlined in its May 3, 2004 issue, "the average CEO in 2002 earned 282 times what the average worker did. In 1982, the ratio was 42 to one."

Robert Monks, whose experience with corporate board membership activity is extraordinary, has listed "six major inappropriate powers giving rise to serious conflicts of interest by corporate management." He concludes, "Market capitalism cannot fulfill the requirements of allocating resources efficiently if shareholders -- individual, institutional and beneficial -- accept de facto disenfranchisement of their powers, leaving important decisions almost wholly to senior corporate managements with conflicting interests."

To be sure, shareholders, as owners, with the authority to approve or disapprove the payment packages of their top managers, would have stopped cold these vast excesses in greed, and in Warren Buffetts' judgment, that would have in turn stopped the cooking of the books at the heart of the recent corporate crime wave. Again, a fish rots from the head down.

Humanitarian Yardsticks

Given what large companies often do to their owners and to capitalism, it is no surprise that they damage our political economy in asking to be deregulated, undertaxed, and subsidized. Start with the control of the yardsticks by which progress is measured. Economic indicators, except for unemployment data that are understated, are not measures of the well-being of children, women, and men in the society. Imagine Alan Greenspan going to Congress for his regular state of the economy testimony before the Joint Economic Committee. Mr. Greenspan is customarily given indicators that are based on bloodless aggregate data -- such as inventory levels, investment flows, interest charged to businesses, profits, inflationary signs, deficits. It is mostly about the gross domestic product (GDP) -- a peculiar but dominant yardstick of economic growth. But the GDP hides more than it reveals. It ignores distributional benefits of economic activity -- who gets the benefits and who doesn't. So I wonder what it would be like if just once Chairman Greenspan testified on economics as if people matter -- to use E. F. Schumacher's felicitous phrase. Perhaps, he would start in the following way:

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Joint Economic Committee, I am here today to declare that the state of our economy is not good. The recent 5 to 8 percent quarterly increases in the GDP rate are accurate but misleading. Most of the gains are going to the wealthy classes. Unemployment is increasing, under- employment is increasing, jobless Americans who have given up on finding a job are increasing and thereby no longer counted as unemployed. Child poverty is growing. and if you add "near poverty" as a classification it becomes a national disgrace. In California, fully 45 percent of all children are either "poor" or "near poor." This is unacceptable in such a wealthy country. The number of those without health insurance continues to climb, now over 45 million people. The underinsured population is growing as copayments, deductibles, exemptions, and other insurance trapdoors lead' to inadequate coverage. Consumer debt continues to set records, beset as it is with such high consumer credit interest rates even though I have kept the federal funds rate at near forty-year lows. Law enforcement for consumer protection would amuse my old mentor, Ayn Rand, for it scarcely exists. Consumers are being defrauded and overcharged in the tens of billions of dollars yearly. Most times they are not even aware of these heists, as in the computerized billing frauds and abuses in the health care industry, not to mention auto .repair rackets, predatory lending, credit card and bank charges, adulterated food, and medical quackery. Notwithstanding consistent economic growth, a majority of workers is still falling behind in inflation-adjusted wages and, our data show, there is an additional incomparability with peak wage years such as 1972 and 1973. Namely, today's workers must spend more money commuting to and from work and other work-related family costs, are much larger. Daycare can cost a worker $500 a month alone.

Affordable housing continues to be elusive for over five million working families. Housing prices are in a period of irrational exuberance. It qualifies as a "bubble" and makes it more difficult for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates when other economic factors such as inflationary trends call for such increases.

We are commencing a project to refocus GDP figures from a human perspective. For example, child malnutrition and hunger are not incorporated indicators in our assessments of the economy's health. Buying a Nintendo game for a child jiggles the GDP but a parent spending quality time with a child is not an economic activity. Some of these nonmonetary intangibles cannot be calculated because they are not for sale. We cannot deal with not-for-sale inputs such as volunteerism. But we should do a better job in providing you with information on changes in distributional effects of aggregate economic activity on real people. Corporate crime and natural resource depletion indicators should detract from the GDP but we have no database available from the Justice Department and the EPA. I say should because people lose money or health due to corporate crime. But so elastic is our economy that corporate crime may generate considerable economic activity simply from law enforcement with all the expenditures for prosecution and especially for defense. Other trends like workplace casualties, auto crash injuries, and medical malpractice deaths should be subtracting from the GDP but instead are viewed as contributing to it by increasing demands for goods and services. Troubling.

I once was asked by your colleagues whether I was concerned about the nation's trade deficit. I replied, Mr. Chairman, only if it persists. Well, twenty-eight straight years of growing trade deficits merits the word persistent. The buying more abroad than we are selling trend boggles my free trade mind enough to leave some options open for future revisions.

Well, Mr. Chairman, I trust that I did not confuse you and your colleagues too much or at least as much as I have confused myself. You see, all my professional life I have been a quantitative economist and these preliminary soundings in my testimony have given me a case of cognitive dissonance. But it sure beats just believing. More next time. Thank you.


If Chairman Greenspan gave testimony like this, it would produce seismic waves among the corporate crowd. For they use similar quantitative yardsticks. Exxon did not subtract from its own GDP the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster in Alaska: .It instead deducted it as an expense and probably made it up in the following months when gasoline prices spiked on the West Coast as a reaction to the tanker's large leak. Nor is depleting minerals considered for subtraction under customary GDP accounting practices. As Herman Daly has noted, "growth in GDP, so-called economic growth, has for some countries literally become uneconomic growth, because it increases unmeasured costs faster than it increases measured benefits. Consequently, many policies justified mainly by their contribution to GDP growth, such as global economic integration, lose their rationale. Maybe that is why the World Bank lost interest in correcting the national accounts."

The dominance of essentially corporate yardsticks for evaluating our economy distracts and obscures the true economic condition of the people arid the nation's assets. It is a sensational controlling process because it affects what is and what is not publicly discussed. It misdirects what's considered important for societal priorities. Only when people declare independence from the games being played and demand accurate descriptions of reality will yardsticks begin to measure the people's welfare. Before labor unions were formed, there was little attention paid to the horrible working conditions and pay. There was even less study or statistics about these conditions. Workers were expendable and replaceable. Until the use of the automatic coupler, it was cheaper for the railroads to put workers between the freight cars to couple them and be crushed to death in the thousands than to establish safer practices. As organized labor became more influential in the economy and the councils of government, all working people learned more about their aggregate condition because the government felt obliged to collect these statistics.

In understanding the webs of control that big business is always extending over its subjects, we should realize how they have outpaced the traditional checks and balances. Indeed, we are lunching off those past reforms and allowing them to depreciate -- namely, union organizations, federal and state regulation, judicial actions, democratization of credit for community-based entrepreneurship, large farm cooperatives, social safety nets, and heightened community standards and organizations that keep up with ever new corporate outrages and technological hazards.

While traditional restraints have atrophied or been subject to active corporate attrition, the globals have concentrated power and wealth in new and more remote ways. Many top executives are always testing the likelihood of opposition in order to push the envelope. In 1940, the compensation of a CEO in a large U.S. company was twelve times that of the average worker in that same company. They would never have dared to push the shareholders, much less their unions, to give themselves a multiple of forty or eighty times. In 2000, according to Business Week, their successors dared. They reached a pay multiple of nearly 531 times! That is not only expansion of CEO power, but given what Buffett observed was its effect on our economy, it was a large expansion of their abuses of power.

Growing Inbalances

The same testing of the waters has been going on against the labor unions. An unequal two-tier system -- one for present workers and the other for all new workers -- would not have been proposed by management in the 1950s or 1960s. Now it is a concession by unions in various industries, along with more co-payments and deductibles in company health insurance plans. The ease with which factories can be shipped overseas or white- collar jobs outsourced has given big bargaining chips to companies either with unions or, as is mostly the case, without unions where workers may be thinking of forming one. Globalization depresses worker wages and other legitimate demands and is doing so at an accelerating pace. Accountants, legal researchers, radiologists, engineers, and computer programmers are among an army of occupational categories whose practitioners are at risk of being sent abroad. More and more, there is this feeling among transnational companies that they can get away with almost anything -- from where they choose to pay or not pay taxes. Their brazen schemes become hydra-headed with collateral demands for packages of subsidies for locating or building their structures in a given community. One that went right through the window was the way Microsoft and General Electric pulled the plug on some New Jersey taxes. In a move of wondrous effrontery, they demanded from then Governor Christie Todd Whitman a subsidy package for locating their MSNBC headquarters and three hundred workers in that state. Included in this bundle of goodies was a refund to Microsoft-General Electric's joint venture for the equivalent of all the taxes paid by those workers to the state of New Jersey. The corporate attorneys who figured out this recycling apparently were not inhibited by their knowledge that their corporate clients were among the most profitable companies in the world. I cannot imagine this occurring thirty years ago nor the current municipal and county moves to use taxpayer monies to build sports arenas for billionaires. Any company demanding such largesse years ago would have been laughed out of town. In those days, real capitalists used their own or their friends' investment funds.

Such severely growing imbalances of power illustrate both corporate supremacy and the growing vassaldom of public officials. These subsidies for big time sports entertainment are not popular with a majority of taxpayers of either conservative or liberal background. Nor do people like the use of eminent domain to destroy homes, churches, schools, or hospitals for a company's installation when it could be located nearby. Some of the condemned land is ultimately used for a mere parking lot or not used at all. Promises by the company of certain levels of employment and the like in return are not binding and Can be broken at any time. Fortunately, there is a brewing revolt reflecting itself through unlikely coalitions between conservatives and liberals. Rejections have resulted when voter referenda are permitted.

The political economy, not just the economy, is being turned over to these global powers, including the most sensitive government and security secrets and data through their corporate contracts with federal departments. What have they been delivering with all that power? Isn't responsibility supposed to accompany great power? Well, let's look further at the record.

They have been pushing commercialism into every unwanted corner of American life. More and more, these companies have been breaking faith with their retirees' pensions and health insurance. They are increasing demands for complete immunity or indemnity from Congress wherever they cannot break the tort system from holding them accountable. Over the past generation, with varying degrees of success, tobacco companies, the weapons industry, HMOs, the airline companies, the nuclear and chemical companies, the cruise companies, biomaterials producers, and insurance companies have all tried to evade the all-American proposition that bad or reckless behavior has legal consequences. Ultimately, they have taught the country that the law is for sale in our legislatures.

Big companies win big victories over the people, but not always, so they have a contingency plan. Quit the country. This used to mean mostly making use of very permissive national havens, as do shipping companies carrying the flags of Panama or Liberia. Today, fleeing U.S. jurisdiction is much more sophisticated, for free-loading companies that receive the benefits of the United States.

Enter the new kind of international trade agreements so cleverly designed as not to be restricted to trade. NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are international systems of autocratic governance. They are brilliantly suited to the long-held desire of mega-corporations to go around pesky domestic regulations into any arena they want to call their own. These agreements, enforceable upon their signatory nations, reverse priorities of social progress by subordinating worker, consumer, and environmental priorities to the supremacy of international commerce. Recall that when social justice advanced in our country, it was because commercial interests were subordinated to the higher human need. Lawmakers and the laws told the auto companies that their bottom line will adjust to improved motor vehicle safety and not the reverse. They told the polluters that their profits must take into account the toxic harm their operations inflict on innocent human beings. Over the decades, civic values over commercial values improved life in numerous countries where this priority could work. When allowed to operate, the tide of democracy does lift all boats including the yachts of big business executives and the property of their companies.

A genuinely democratic society is good for good business but it is properly bad for bad business. Democracies expand economies, standards of living, and enhance corporate profits in the aggregate far more than authoritarian regimes do. When business plutocrats get whatever they want in the form of monopolies, concessions, little taxation, subsidies, and military protection at the sacrifice of citizens, everybody suffers including many businesses. Let's make a comparison between countries roughly of equal size and resources -- Brazil and the United States. The different levels of democratic development produce starkly different levels of economic output. The GDP of California alone is much larger than the GDP of Brazil which has over five times the population.

Let us review the process by which this unpopular trade autocracy was imposed on unwilling Americans (as polls showed). Such unpopularity mystified many observers, given the avalanche of corporate, media, and government propaganda behind passage of these trade deals in the Congress from 1992 to 1995. George H. W. Bush sent the proposed NAFTA treaty with Canada and Mexico to Congress and William J. Clinton did the same with the WTO treaty. Both presidents employed the anti-democratic "fast track" procedure, one that Congress had agreed to adopt. This meant that Congress would have. a certain set time either to pass or reject these hundreds of pages without any amendments being permitted. I do not believe that voters send their Senators and Representatives to the Congress so that they can tie their own hands and not exercise their judgments in the form of amendments. In any event, autocratic procedures lead to autocratic outcomes and the two treaties passed. But they were characterized as trade agreements and not treaties (which is what Harvard constitutional law scholar Lawrence Tribe thought they were). Treaties require a two-thirds majority to pass in the Senate. So their names were changed to trade agreements, which needed a simple majority vote. No American is permitted to have the legal standing to challenge this legerdemain in federal Court.

While intensively opposing the WTO treaty by visiting many congressional offices, there was no indication that any legislator or staffer I met had ever read the several hundred pages. They had a year to do so. Their salary checks do not bounce. These treaties represented the greatest surrender of local, state, and national sovereignty in Our history. One would think it was time for a little reading of the entire text, not just orating from decidedly slanted memos prepared by the U.S. Trade Representative's office located near the White House or the innumerable business associations and law firms serving global industry and commerce. This abdication amazed us as we related one disturbing provision after another about which they were not aware. So we had an idea. We challenged any member of Congress to read the entire treaty and answer ten simple questions in public. Senator Hank Brown (Rep. Colorado) called and accepted the challenge. He agreed to reserve the Senate Foreign Relations Committee room for the questioning. I called my friend, Richard N. Goodwin, who was being portrayed as a congressional investigator in the movie Quiz Show, to come down from Massachusetts and ask the questions which by then had lengthened to twelve. Senator Brown sat in the witness chair encircled by television cameras, radio mikes, and reporters. I sat with Richard Goodwin where the Senators usually sit during a hearing. One by One Goodwin asked the questions. One by One Senator Brown answered them correctly. He had really done his homework. We Congratulated him on his perfect score. Then the Senator said he had something else to say. He said he was a free trader and he had voted for NAFTA, but after he read through the WTO agreement, he was appalled by the various anti-democratic sections and decided to vote against approval when it came to the Senate floor. Which he did. His was an exemplary performance but no other member of Congress emulated his dedication. His example had no influence on his col. leagues. None changed their vote and the WTO was approved, but not without considerable dissent. It was a sobering episode that taught people about the many slovenly puppets masquerading as denizens of "the world's greatest deliberative body."
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:25 pm

THE PRIORITIES OF INSTITUTIONAL INSANITY

He came as a penniless youth of fifteen from Syria, put himself through college and Washington University (St. Louis) medical school and settled in Elk City, Oklahoma. In 1929, Dr. Michael Shadid opened the first cooperatively owned hospital in America, which served the impoverished farmers and their families. Dr. Shadid pioneered prepaid group medicine and, against the ferocious opposition of medical societies, spread the doctrine of cooperative medicine allover the United States and Canada. Twenty-five hundred farmers owned their own hospital in Elk City providing medical and health care, both preventative and curative. Their prepayment was a fraction of what they would pay under the usual fee- for-service medicine. Following this inspired, politically astute physician came the prepaid group practice of medicine at Puget Sound and Kaiser Permanente on the West Coast. Imagine controlling your own health care! Fee-for-service held on for most of the century until, in the 1970s, the federal government started promoting Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) on a large scale.

The dream began turning into a nightmare as smaller nonprofit HMOs were replaced by ever-larger for-profit HMOs, hospital chains, and the perennial health insurance company giants. Today, our country is under the yoke of corporate medicine dominating the Washington landscape. It ties the hands and judgment of physicians and nurses, secures and often defrauds the government of huge amounts of taxpayer dollars and, in contrast to nonprofits, delivers poorer, more rationed, more expensive, less accessible, choiceless health care. Obscenely compensated executives contrive to undermine Medicare with your own tax dollars. The picture is not pretty and costs are spinning out of control. A Dartmouth study estimates that almost a third of the health care sub-economy of $1.6 trillion this year goes to either duplicate or useless care or makes matters worse!

You've probably read, or viewed on television, the many exposes of this industry, its denial of care, its overbilling, its rip-off of Uncle Sam, its large monetary settlements with the Justice Department. The benefits go mostly to the CEOs worth hundreds of millions of dollars each, according to the data provided by the California Nurses Association. HMO overhead and profits as a percent of premium ranged from 14 percent for Pacificare to 33 percent for Cigna in 1999. With big money, ruthless organization, and lobbying, they prevail over superior non-profit health care services that are nonprofit. The latter do not have organized consumer-patient groups to seek and bargain for the best arrangements. Instead, large employer groups, which could be more aggressive and in some recent instances have asserted themselves, routinely deliver groups of employees to these HMOs that have managed through mergers to reduce the level of competition in geographical areas.

One third of all Americans are either uninsured or underinsured. This is the case despite our country spending much more money per capita on health care as does Canada, France, Switzerland, and Sweden, whose universal systems cover everybody in their countries and produce better health outcomes. We're paying as taxpayers, workers, and consumers and still tens of millions of people have no health insurance. That number has been increasing year after year.

The unwritten rule beneath the monetized minds of the HMOs, for-profit hospitals, and the drug companies is "Pay or Die." And die the poor do. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies estimates that about 18,000 Americans die every year because they cannot afford to pay for diagnosis, treatment, or cures. That is 1,500 people a month! What about the preventable sickness, the pain, the family disruption? Add to this human toll the medical malpractice, the medical mistakes, the over-prescription of drugs and their adverse effects, the assembly-line pace of pressured physicians and understaffed nurses, the drug company bribes and kickbacks to many physicians, and it spells mayhem -- a silent form of preventable violence, far greater than many more publicized trauma and disease totals in other sectors.

Years ago, I suggested to a group of psychologists that they expand their research into the mental health or outright insanity of organizations, both corporate and government. They could find fertile ground studying the drug companies for kleptomania, General Motors for endless resistance to being toilet-trained out of its gaseous emissions, the HMOs for attention-deficit disorder. They laughed, but I was serious. Were humans to behave this way, they would be viewed as manifestly deviant.

Jamie Court, whose book Making a Killing: HMOs and the Threat to Your Health, was not just about data, and the aggregate statistics. He documented the travails of many real people -- the consequences of profiteering run amuck. There was five-month-old Chad Aitken who was given vaccine shots that caused a reaction. When his mother called their HMO for assistance, she was told, incorrectly, that her insurance had lapsed and was refused care. Chad died. David Goodrich was diagnosed with stomach cancer but was unable to get HMO approval for recommended treatment. He finally started therapy with his physicians anyway. By then it was too late. He died leaving his wife Teresa, a kindergarten teacher, with $750,000 in medical bills. No wonder nearly half of all personal bankruptcies in this country involve illness or medical debts.

Suffering the Consequences

One of Jamie Court's many poignant cases comes. from the Olsen family. Two-year-old Steven Olsen fell on a twig that punctured his cheek and sinus. A few days later, he developed a fever and his parents took him twice to the urgent care physician. They were told not to be concerned. Steven was lethargic. On the third visit, the little boy was admitted to the HMO-approved hospital where Mrs. Kathy Olsen asked the medical staff to do a CT scan. Since the hospital's contract with the HMO specified that money spent on patients like Steven come out of hospital funds or the monthly per-patient fee paid them from their HMO, there was a tendency to ration care. They told the Olsens that a scan was unnecessary. Three days later, Steven fell into a coma due to a brain abscess that could have been detected easily by a scan. Steven became blind and has cerebral palsy. He and his parents face a lifetime of expensive tests and treatments along with around-the-clock care, pain, anguish, and immense costs.

When I met Steven and his parents -- who were waiting to see their Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California) but had to settle for a staffer -- I recalled that HMOs were originally promoted as being keen on prevention. Maybe that belief was premised on a nonprofit HMO. Perverse incentives and awful consequences come from the rampant profit motives of today's commercial HMOs. These HMOs rake off tens of billions of dollars from consumers and taxpayers, yet deliver no health care themselves. These corporations just regulate more and more doctors and nurses and pay for more and more politicians to let them continue their harmful practices. They are indeed a profitable bureaucracy piling up expenses, restricting medical judgments and corporatizing the practice of medicine, just as if their profits are the first and foremost priority. While the American Medical Association was living in the past by rejecting a universal health insurance system, they discovered that in the 1990s more and more of their members fell into a spider's web of private corporate government -- HMO style -- and lost their professional independence. In reaction, thousands of interns, residents, and other physicians, to defend themselves, are doing the formerly unthinkable -- organizing or joining unions.

Physicians are moving toward support of a single-payer, universally accessible and affordable health care system. Polls show the public is already there, even with the massive daily propaganda by the corporations to slander the concept, which is really only a fuller version of Medicare with built-in protections from commercial looting. A very recent survey of physicians in Massachusetts shows about two-thirds favor a single-payer system that preserves choice of doctor and hospital, unlike the current HMO restrictiveness.

Over eleven thousand doctors have already signed on to the Physicians for a National Health Program (NHP) which was drafted by a broad panel of experienced practitioners and professors of medicine. In their book Bleeding the Patient -- The Consequences of Corporate Health Care, describing both the necessity and the practicality of the NHP, Drs. David Himmelstein, Steffie Woolhandler, and Ida Hellander write,

Non-profit national health insurance can expand coverage, improve care, and limit costs by slashing health care bureaucracy and outrageous profits. Our resources for care -- hospitals, clinics, high-tech machinery -- are already plentiful, your personnel ready and willing and our current spending levels are sufficient.... Overall, the average American would pay no more for health care under the NHP than they do at present.


The difference is that the coverage would be universal, comprehensive and without co- payments, deductibles, and the other maddening fine print of exclusions and denial of remedies for the patients. Health outcomes would be better also, as the authors demonstrate: "The experience of many nations -- that spend less and get more health care -- proves that national health insurance works." These are nations where workers are paid as much or more than in the United States -- as in Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany.

Only in America

Visitors from these and other countries like France, Italy, and Holland can scarcely believe how American workers (who work longer hours than they do) have to endure what they in their countries take for granted.

In the world's richest country, three-quarters of the millions of uninsured are children or working adults. Long-term health care is not available to their elderly relatives unless they pay directly or demonstrate that they have no assets. Despite the economic boom of the 1990s, eight million more Americans were uninsured at the end of the decade. Workers have to accept paying a higher share of their premiums through co-payments and deductibles -- a major issue in union-management negotiations. The elderly are forced to increase their out-of-pocket costs. Americans go into bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills. Thousands of Americans die every year because they cannot afford health care. Large numbers of other people delay prenatal care or do not see a doctor after discovering a breast lump or chest pain because they cannot pay for the service. Seriously ill patients ask to die because they do not want to burden their families with more bills. Other uninsured citizens are forced to choose between medical care, drugs or food, rent or heat. European visitors shake their heads in disbelief. They give another meaning to the phrase "Only in America." The system is not working.

We really don't have to take this anymore. Already, half of health care in this country is now paid for by taxpayers (Medicare; Medicaid; federal, state, and municipal employee plans; etc.), as well as a large portion of the medical research and support of medical schools and teaching hospitals. Take the $1.6 trillion (and mounting) that will be spent every year (nearly $6,000 per person already, on the average) and shift it to health care -- preventative and treatment -- for the people and away from the canyons of corporate greed and looting of taxpayers, replete with costly bureaucracies, billing fraud and denials of care.

Here is what the NHP would comprise. Every person receives a health care card assuring payment for all needed care. There would be complete free choice of doctor and hospital. Physicians and hospitals would remain independent and nonprofit and negotiate fees and budgets with NHP. There would be far less billing fraud and paperwork (in Canada patients rarely see a bill) for health care providers, patients, and their beleaguered families. There would be far less bureaucratic interference in day-to-day clinical practice. We would learn both from the successes and the mistakes of other nations with universal coverage. I would add that patients would be able to join their own fully staffed consumer watchdog associations through simple voluntary dues check-offs. No longer would the health care system have profit incentives that ignore working with patients for safe workplaces and environments, good diets, exercise, and cessation of addictions. The NHP is both health care, prevention, and a payments system.

My guess is that if the various national groups (unions, church groups, civic organizations) that support the NHP would deploy 1,000 full-time, experienced organizers in the needed congressional districts and states, together with their own additional mobilizations, the present 25 percent of the Congress now in favor of universal health care would grow to a majority in months, not years. Organization and coordination are all that NHP lacks because the general public registers majority support already. Think about it: An oligarchy, with a corporate-dominated government demands the future expenditure of trillions of dollars against projected stateless terrorism. But, it refuses, decade after decade, to put in place a health care and health care payment system to save hundreds of thousands of American lives and prevent larger numbers of injuries and diseases certain to occur year after year. This behavior is not sane. It fits the clinical definition of insanity by deliberately leaving fellow Americans defenseless, having to pay or die, pay or get sicker, pay or stay disabled. No fire department or neighbor would refuse to put out a house fire if the owner was delinquent on her property taxes.

Let's make this point another way. Put yourself in the place of your members of Congress. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a federal agency, has been warning of a coming pandemic from East Asia that could be as devastating as the 1919 influenza epidemic that took almost a million American lives. Infectious disease specialists at the CDC say such a pandemic is overdue. Each year a flu strain is announced and a vaccine is prepared. Often the strain has a Chinese name because the same sequence repeats itself again and again. Ducks or chickens get the flu, give it to the pigs on farms in China. Then it passes to farmers and the virus is off and running to North America and around the world. CDC has about five full-time infectious disease specialists stationed in China to work on early alerts, lab testing, and other indicators with the Chinese authorities. CDC knows that there are not enough specialists there or here, not enough facilities there or here, not enough research and vaccine production capabilities there or here. We are not ready, put simply, for a viral attack that could take more American lives than did World War II. So you are sitting in a congressional chair. You hear that David Kay has returned to Washington, D.C., empty handed after managing 1,500 U.S. inspectors for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction on a budget of $500 million. The entire budget of the CDC is $7.2 billion. Kay was on a mission to vindicate George W. Bush's political reputation and failed. But neither Congress nor George W. Bush appear ready to grapple with saving untold American lives by forestalling the human devastation from a pandemic. Is this sane?

But, then, even in the realm of stateless terrorism, sanity is in short supply. During the early 1970s, during the hijacks of commercial passenger aircraft to Cuba, our aviation safety group began urging the FAA, the airlines, and the aircraft manufacturers to harden cockpit doors and strengthen their latches. Some foreign airlines have done so. Three decades passed and all three of these decision makers could not be bothered. Year after year, they ignored the advice of airline security specialists. It was too expensive, or not necessary. As airline regulator, the permissive FAA has long had what close observers call a "tombstone" mentality. That is, the FAA, at best, acts after crashes point to a problem long known, but ignored. Well, the families of 9/11 victims have learned about the FAA's tombstone mentality the hard way. Finally, on a leisurely schedule, the airlines are now equipping their planes with cockpit doors that would keep hijackers from turning the aircrafts into giant, lethal, fuel-loaded missiles. Were these airline organizations in government and business acting sanely? Can anyone say these are unrealistic priorities? Storekeepers shutter their shops in high crime neighborhoods.

The concentration of greed and power breeds institutional insanity as a matter of course and misdirection. It is driving America backward into the future.

Military vs. Civilian Investment

I wonder how Seymour Melman feels these days. For over half a century, this Columbia University professor of industrial engineering has been meticulously connecting the massive overspending and waste in our military budget With. the de-industrializing of the. United States and the draining of public investment in public works -- repairing the crucial physical capital of America. He sees the permanent war economy weakening the civilian economy and draining the scientific and engineering talent it needs. This results in the loss, he believes, of millions of good paying jobs.

Melman cites the "Report Card for America's Infrastructure" that was issued in 2002 by the American Society of Civil Engineers (asce.org/reportcard). One and a third trillion dollars, the Engineers say, is needed just for repair of twelve categories of public works. These include schools, drinking water systems, solid waste, sewage systems, airports, dams, navigable waterways, public transit, bridges, and roads. Melman's knowledge of U.S. industry is legendary. The federal government's military spending crowds out civil manufacturing whose products repair and modernize America's infrastructure, he states. Unsurprisingly, not one U.S. company submitted a bid in 2002 for supplying a new fleet of subway cars for New York City -- a contract worth $3 to $4 billion.

Other studies have shown that a billion dollars in civilian investment creates considerably more jobs than a billion dollars in a military weapons system. Melman questions why thirteen years after the fall of the Soviet Union, this military budget continues to expand the massive redundancy and costliness of weapons systems such as the next wave of fighter planes, missiles, submarines, and aircraft carriers. He sees our domestic economic needs being strip-mined right down to libraries, fire and police departments, sanitation departments, schools, health care, and services for elderly people.

In a more detailed manner than President Eisenhower's famous comparison of the cost of weaponry to civilian needs, Melman shows what we could have by way of domestic public investment if we tame our military expenditures. Jobs in public works in our country are usually good paying jobs in local communities improving public services. Such jobs cannot be outsourced to China. The manufacturing base to supply these public works projects would be expanded with a similar expansion in employment. Melman does not subscribe to the thesis that we can have a prosperous economy without a strong manufacturing foundation and its multiplier effects. He characterized our present economic system not as capitalism but as state capitalism fusing big business with big government.

As an aside, now in his mid-eighties, Melman does his own research and has just written a new book. When I asked him who researched his finding that in the fall 2002 L.L. Bean catalog, 92 out of the 100 products offered were imported, he replied, "I did."

Now, if there is ever a consensus about any jobs programs, investing in public works or infrastructure wins the prize. In communities around the country, support comes from the construction industry; trade unions and workers; the local mayors; the banks; insurance companies; sellers of fuel, food, and real estate; and local chambers of commerce. One could go on and on. Yet, apart from highway funds" the allocations are woefully small. Just ask our only struggling passenger train system -- AMTRAK -- which can scarcely get the $1.5 billion it needs for capital improvements and operating needs each year. In contrast, the missile defense system took $9.1 billion this year and over $140 billion since Reagan's folly got underway. Moreover, according to Professor Theodore Postel and other scientists, the system is unworkable because, among other reasons, it is very easy to decoy.

The Growing Gap

So, if just about everyone back home favors such repair and modernization, why isn't it happening? The easy answer is that the military industrial complex is much more organized and entrenched in Washington, D.C. Right off, a major public works program faces the charge that our country would be plunged into a deficit it cannot afford. That is the usual argument. Well, George W. Bush inherited a surplus. What did he and his supporters in Congress do? They pushed through, over an anemic Democratic Party opposition, two large tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, that will cost far more than the American Society of Civil Engineers' estimate of $1.3 trillion, upgraded in 2003 to $1.6 trillion. Blocking such tax cuts could have led to community rehabilitations. Now, there is a massive deficit, as far as the forecast can predict from tax cuts, justified by President Bush as a way to expand the economy. These tax savings are not going to public investment infrastructure. Nor do rich people who already have far more than they spend rush into the market to spend their newly received mega-tax savings. Last year, Bernard Rapoport, founder of the American Income Life Insurance Company, called me and said: "Ralph, what am I going to do with another $150,000 a year? I've got more money than I can spend. Bush is talking economic nonsense."

Making connections between how the super-rich and corporations rig the tax system in their favor requires dedication -- how they make sure that the IRS has neither the mandate nor budget to audit their schemes needs a further effort of enquiry. We must learn how their lobbyists and PACs go beyond the ways they've already legalized to shift the tax burden to lesser-endowed humans whose children inherit the deficits and interest payments. With this effort and knowledge, we can turn this Great American Rip-Off into a Great American Political Issue before elections.

One sensible and surprising institution involves very rich people like Warren Buffett, George Soros, Paul Volcker, and William Gates Sr. Responsible Wealth has over 1,000 rich members opposed to the repeal of the estate tax-a refreshing transcendence of their own economic interest. Gates is so passionate about the reasons and morality behind the estate tax that, in addition to lobbying Congress, he co-authored with Chuck Collins the book Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes.

The bookstores have many fine investigative books on tax loopholes, tax breaks, tax shelters, tax havens, and the scurrilous greed of tax escapes, whether super-rich or large companies. Among the best recently are The Cheating of America by Charles Lewis and Bill Allison and Perfectly Legal by David Cay Johnston. These books help us understand what is going on. Understanding the complex web of connections is essential. Otherwise, people will not see what they are losing where they live, work, and play in the cruel trade- off between consummate greed and public need.

Enter John O. Fox, who after thirty-six years as a Washington tax lawyer quit and moved to western Massachusetts (an exciting civic region). There he has pioneered, teaching undergraduates at Mt. Holyoke College, a course on U.S. tax policy. Fox is on a mission. His new book is titled 10 Tax Questions the Candidates Don't Want You to Ask. Among them are: "Would you limit the home mortgage interest deduction so that it subsidized the purpose of one basic home, and would you redirect some of the tax savings to help qualified renters purchase a basic home? Would you stop giving tax breaks for much higher pension contributions for highly paid employees (managers) than for rank-and-file employees? Should Congress prohibit pension plans from depriving employees of their pensions after they have been employed for at least three years?"

John O. Fox, despite his many years in the grim world of corporate tax law, is idealistic. Given the insipid, stagnant, sloganized, debateless campaign culture, how can reporters, much less voters, get a foot in the door of the bubble that encloses the candidates and their microphones? What does he think that we live in -- the Lincoln-Douglas era when debates continued for hours before large standing audiences?

Let us start evaluating our institutions -- local, state, national, and international -- by the same yardsticks that we judge people. Depersonalization runs rampant and thereby runs away from familiar frameworks of accountabilities. Let's stop the institutional insanity!
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:28 pm

FOREIGN POLICY FOLLIES

The shortcomings of America's political leaders do not stop at our borders. The conduct of foreign policy is equally shortsighted and more undemocratic.

When the president beats the drums of war, the dictatorial side of American politics begins to rear its ugly head. Forget democratic processes, congressional and judicial restraints, media challenge, and the facts. All of that goes out the door. It's the president, stupid -- plus the clique that surrounds him and the vested interests that reflexively support him. Dissenting Americans may hold rallies in the streets, but their voice is drowned out by the bully pulpit.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the resulting quagmire, is Bush's most egregious foreign policy folly, but reflects a broader dynamic. Listen to retired General Wesley Clark's stinging indictment of the administration: "President Bush plays politics with national security. Cowboy talk. The administration is a threat to domestic liberty."

But Clark was a Democratic candidate for president. So let's listen to Michael Kinsley, the respected columnist who has written for Time and the Washington Post, and is now editorial and opinion editor for the Los Angeles Times. In March 2003, Kinsley wrote that "in terms of the power he now claims, George W. Bush is now the closest thing in a long time to dictator of the world." An unelected dictator at that.

Bush a dictator? You'd never know it from the words he uses most often -- "freedom," "liberty," "our way of life." You'd never know it from public opinion polls, which respond favorably to an unchallenged jingoism. The politics of fear sells. Cold war politics sold. The war on terrorism sells. But it's a very expensive sale for the American people. Even with the Soviet Union long gone, America's military budget amounts to half the operating federal budget. While vast resources and specialized skills are sucked into developing and producing redundant and exotic weapons of mass destruction, America's economy suffers and its infrastructure crumbles.

As the majority of workers fall behind, Bush has appointed himself ruler of Baghdad and, with the complicity of a fawning Congress, is draining billions of dollars away from rebuilding America's public works -- schools, clinics, transit systems, and the rest of our crumbling infrastructure.

How does Bush sell America on this diversion of funds and focus? With the politics of fear. He, John Ashcroft, and company openly tout the state of permanent war.

Are there no limits to their hubris? The same Bush regime that applies rigid cost-benefit analysis to deny overdue government health and safety standards for American consumers, workers, and the environment sends astronomical budgets to Congress for the war on stateless terrorism. Bush's own Office of Management and Budget throws its hands up and observes that the usual controls and restraints are nowhere in sight. To appropriate runaway spending in the name of homeland security, the powers-that-be need only scream one word: Terrorism!

If you ask the Bushies how much this effort will cost, they recite a convenient mantra: "whatever it takes to protect the American people." In fact, trillions of dollars annually would not suffice to fully secure our ports, endless border crossings by trucks and other vehicles, the rail system, petrochemical and nuclear plants, drinking water systems, shipments of toxic gases, dams, airports and airplanes, and so forth. So "whatever it takes" is actually a prescription for unlimited spending.

Much of the war on terrorism involves domestic guards and snoops. The word "terrorism," endlessly repeated by the president and his associates, takes on an Orwellian quality as a mind-closer, a silencer, an invitation to Big Brother and Bigger Government to run roughshod over a free people who in the past fought real wars without losing their liberties or composure.

A country with numerous and highly complex vulnerable targets cannot be fully secured against determined, suicidal, well-financed and equipped attackers. That obviously doesn't mean we shouldn't take prudent measures to reduce risks, but our allocation of funds must be made realistically, rather than just throwing money at the problem. Domestic security specialists know that we are spending unwisely, but they are not about to blow the whistle. As one expert told me, these specialists do not speak out because they wish to get on the gravy train, gathering lucrative contracts.

Then there's the great unmentionable. If you listen to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and crew, well-financed suicidal al Qaeda cells are all over the country. If so, why haven't any of them struck since September 11? No politician dares to raise this issue, though it's on the minds of many puzzled Americans.. As General Douglas McArthur advised in 1957, and General Wesley Clark much more recently, it is legitimate to ask whether our government has exaggerated these risks facing us, especially when such exaggeration serves political purposes -- stifling dissent, sending government largesse to corporate friends, and deflecting attention from pressing domestic needs.

George Bush willingly moves us toward a garrison state, an American Sparta, through the politics of fear. We're experiencing a wave of militarism resulting in invasive domestic intelligence gathering and disinvestment in civilian economies. The tone of the president becomes increasingly imperial and even un-American. As he once told his National Security Council, "I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President ... I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

The president has implied that he occupies his current role by virtue of divine providence. His messianic complex makes him as closed-minded as any president in history. Not only is he immune from self-doubt, but he fails to listen to the citizenry prior to making momentous decisions. In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, Bush didn't meet with a single citizens' group opposed to the war. In the weeks leading up to the war, thirteen organizations -- including clergy, veterans, former intelligence officials, labor, business, students -- representing millions of Americans wrote Bush to request a meeting. He declined to meet with a single delegation of these patriotic Americans and didn't even answer their letters.

Bush's authoritarian tendencies preceded the march to Baghdad. First he demanded an unconstitutional grant of authority from Congress in the form of an open-ended war resolution. Our King George doesn't lose sleep over constitutional nuance, especially when members of Congress willingly yield their authority to make war to an eager president.

Next, Bush incessantly focused the public on the evils of Saddam Hussein (a U.S. ally from 1979-1990), specifically how his weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda posed a mortal threat to America. The administration's voice was so loud and authoritative, and the media so compliant, that all other voices -- of challenge, correction, and dissent -- were drowned out.

And so Bush plunged the nation into war based on fabrications and deceptions, notwithstanding notes of caution and disagreement from inside the Pentagon, the CIA, and the State Department. This was a war launched by chicken hawks, counter to the best judgment of battle-tested army officers inside and outside the government.

In retrospect, it seems clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction except those possessed by the invading countries. It also seems clear that Saddam Hussein was a tottering dictator "supported" by a dilapidated army unwilling to fight for him and surrounded by far more powerful hostile nations (Israel, Iran, and Turkey). The notion that this man posed a mortal threat to the strongest nation in the world fails the giggles test.

Bush's war arguably meets the threshold for invoking impeachment proceedings under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution. But not a chance with today's compliant, complicit Congress. Not a chance in an environment that considers dissent unpatriotic. An environment in which the media neglects its role as watchdog.

Some brave Americans did speak out against the war, or at least expressed grave reservations. How much coverage did they receive on television or in other mass media? This will go down as a disgraceful chapter in the history of journalism. The media were mostly cheerleaders -- uncritical of the leader, dismissive of dissenters, indifferent to their obligation to search for truth and hold officialdom's feet to the fire, and grateful to the spike in ratings occasioned by the build-up and eventual war. MSNBC, or, in reality, owner General Electric, fired Phil Donahue at least in part for his willingness to criticize the White House war effort.

In the end, the media felt betrayed. David Kay, Bush's chief arms inspector in Iraq, returned in February 2004 after 1,500 inspectors scoured the country, and summed up his findings in a sentence: "We were wrong" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Only then did the media respond with fury at having been duped. Too little, too late. A democratic society needs media to do their job prospectively, not after an unnecessary and pre-emptive war.

What about the leaders of the legal profession, the national and state bar associations, people presumably devoted to the rule of law? You might expect them to speak out. Don't be silly! Apart from select criticisms of enforcement of the Patriot Act, the organized bar has neglected its role as sentinels for our democratic processes. Few lawyers, law school deans, and state attorney generals have met their professional obligations. (There were a few shining exceptions, such as law professors David Cole and Philip Heyman.)

If there was precious little organized resistance to the Bush war from outside government, the situation was even worse within government. The system of checks and balances requires three vigilant branches, but Congress has disgraced itself from virtually the beginning of the Bush administration, assisting an extraordinary shift of power to the executive branch.

In October 2001, a panicked Congress passed the Patriot Act, giving the Bush administration unprecedented powers over individuals suspected (and in some cases not even suspected) of crimes. Two years later, Congress gave the president a virtual blank check to wage a costly war.

In these respects, and others, the war on terrorism has important parallels to the Cold War. Domestically, the latter was characterized by relentless focus on a bipolar world largely dictated by the iron triangle of giant defense companies, Congress, and the military leadership, mutually reinforced with campaign contributions, lucrative contracts, new weaponry, and bureaucratic positions.

A foreign policy responsive to the iron triangle produced some perverse results. The United States overthrew any number of governments viewed as too congenial to similar reforms that our own ancestors fought for -- land reform, workers rights, and neutrality toward foreign countries. We replaced such governments with brutal puppet regimes. We also used our armed forces to protect the interests of the oil, timber, mining, and agribusiness industries.

Actually, such policies long proceeded the Cold War. No one articulated it more clearly or candidly than Marine General Smedley Butler, whose provocative eyewitness accounts rarely made their way into our history books:

I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.

I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American Sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.


"War is a racket," Butler wrote, noting that it tends to enrich a select few. Not the ones on the front lines. "How many of the war millionaires shouldered a rifle?" he asked rhetorically. "How many of them dug a trench?"

Butler devoted a chapter of his long-ignored book, War Is a Racket, to naming corporate profiteers. He also recounted the propaganda used to shame young men into joining the armed forces, noting that war propagandists stopped at nothing: "even God was brought into it." The net result? "Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability."

Does this all sound familiar? The September 11 attack gave rise to a corporate profiteering spree, including a demand for subsidies, bailouts, waivers from regulators, tort immunity, and other evasions of responsibility. Before the bodies were even recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center, the Wall Street Journal was editorializing that its corporate patrons should seize the moment.

Foreign policy amounts to more than national defense, and national defense amounts to more than a mega-business opportunity for weapons and other contractors. All too often, corporate sales priorities have driven defense priorities, leading to militarization of foreign policy.

Consider the 1990's "peace and prosperity" decade, possibly the greatest blown opportunity of the twentieth century. In 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed in a bloodless implosion. Suddenly we faced the prospect of an enormous "peace dividend," an opportunity for massive savings or newly directed expenditures since the main reason for our exorbitant military budget had disappeared.

Not so fast, said the military-industrial complex, there must be another major enemy out there -- maybe Communist China, or a resurgent Russia, or some emerging nation developing nuclear weapons. We allegedly needed to prepare for the unknown, hence went full-speed ahead with billions for missile defense technology. In the battle for budget allocations, what chance did the "repair America" brigades have against the military- industrial complex? More B-2 bombers or repaired schools? F-22s or expansion of modern health clinics? More nuclear submarines or upgraded drinking water systems? We know who won those battles. And after 9/11, it was no contest.

As the perceived threat shifted from the Soviet Union to stateless terrorism, the weapons systems in the pipeline from the Cold War days moved toward procurement. On top of that is the chemical, biological, surveillance, detection, intelligence budgets to deal with the al Qaeda menace. Everything is added, almost nothing displaced.

We are constantly told by politicians and the anti-terrorist industry that 9/11 "changed everything." This sentiment suggests the lack of proportionality of our new permanent war. It's also a sentiment that must make Osama bin Laden ecstatic. Bin Laden wanted to strike fear in America. He did so, and then watched as the first response to this fear was a crackdown on anyone with a Muslim or Arab name or visage. Thousands were detained or arrested or jailed on the flimsiest of suspicions, opening the Bush administration up to the charge of hypocrisy when we challenge Islamic nations about due process violations. All of this created more contempt for America among young people throughout the Middle East, no doubt helping the recruiting efforts of our enemies.

Bin Laden must have delighted in attempting to push America toward becoming a police state and sowing discord among us. He must have been thrilled by red and orange alerts, inconvenience at airports, all kinds of excessive expenditures damaging our economy. And bin Laden must have taken perverse delight in press reports that Bush believes he was put on this earth by God to win the war on terrorism. Bin Laden met his counterpart when it comes to a messianic impulse. If he wished to inspire a clash of civilizations, he apparently found a willing collaborator in Bush.

As all this suggests, America's response to 9/11 was not only disproportionate but also counterproductive. Recently on ABC's Nightline, a Washington think tank fellow said something sensible: "When you are fighting terrorism, you want to do it in a way that does not produce more of it." Are we doing that?

Terrorism takes many forms, as in the Sudan, as in the Rwanda rampage that claimed 800,000 lives, the state terrorism of dictators, the added terrorism of hunger, disease, sex slavery, and man-made environmental disasters. With no major state enemy left, what can we do to prevent and diminish these various forms of terrorism, as well as deter more suicidal attacks from fundamentalists? Perhaps we need to redefine national security, redirect our mission, reconsider our relations with other countries.

Starting with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Whether cause or pretext, this conflict gives rise to widespread animosity against the United States, the chief ally and supplier of economic and military aid to Israel. The outlines of a peaceful resolution are known and supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians -- a two-state solution creating a viable, independent Palestinian nation with its capital in East Jerusalem and in charge of its own air, water, land, and boundaries. Compensation of Palestinians for lost property, and the return of some refugees to Israel to rejoin their relatives are issues warranting negotiation.

To make peace a reality, the United States must connect with the peace movement in Israel. The "refuseniks" -- veteran Israeli officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (over 1,300 of them) -- have rejected duty in the Occupied Territories. Their declaration states: "We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate, expel, starve, and humiliate an entire people." (For their entire statement, see www.seruv.org.il. ) PEACE NOW has been pushing the Israeli government to seek peace through negotiations and mutual compromise. In a recent call-to-action, PEACE NOW said, "A small minority of settlers has taken over the government and country. The disengagement plan has failed -- and the government of Sharon and Lapid are not offering any alternative options for an end to the conflict!" Within the Knesset, leaders of the Meretz Party have been very critical of Sharon's policies. MK Yossi Sarid (a leader of the Meretz Party), referring to Sharon said, "You don't have the right to destroy Menachem Begin's life work, and his establishment of peace with Egypt, and you don't have the right to destroy the labors of Yitzhak Rabin's life, and his forging of peace with Jordan." Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun, is an outspoken critic of occupations by both Israel and the United States. Rabbi Lerner said, "The Bush/Sharon axis of occupation has little chance of bringing lasting peace, but they may bring temporary electoral advantages, even as they erode the moral authority of two countries which could have been beacons of hope and instead have become symbols of insensitivity and arrogance."

Unfortunately, our government has supported the Sharon government, which remains dominated by those who believe that Israel can achieve a military solution to the conflict. America cannot effectively mediate peace unless it is seen as pro-Palestinian as well as pro-Israeli. We can start by recognizing that there is far greater freedom inside Israel than in America to discuss candidly the conditions of the conflict.

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has observed, interviewed, and thought about how to break the cycle of violence in this conflict between a massively more powerful Israel and its Palestinian adversaries, both of whom he has criticized.

On February 5, 2004, his column evidenced his frustration with the governments of Israel and the United States:

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, and by political handlers telling the president not to put any pressure on Israel in an election year -- all conspiring to make sure the president does nothing.


A second task for a redirected national security strategy involves arms control -- reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. This requires choosing between encouraging the lucrative private export of arms (the current position) or seeking the systematic diminution of such lethal trafficking.

There's been much good work in this area, both by the Arms Control unit of the Defense Department and by various private prominent scientists and disarmament experts. There have also been setbacks, including the Bush administration's rejection of the ABM Treaty and the Clinton administration's rejection of treaties abolishing landmines and prohibiting the trafficking in small arms.

The goals of Mid-East peace and worldwide disarmament would both benefit from a shift toward more multilateralism. We must work with friends and neighbors to address all the problems of this tormented world -- settling conflicts, heading off human and ecological disasters, early detection of epidemics, spreading peaceful scientific and technological advances, and making available proven solutions to all areas of the world.

An energized and serious media is indispensable. Our media traffic in the trivial, devoting thousands of prime-time hours to the trials and tribulations of Madonna, Michael Jackson, O. J. Simpson, Tanya Harding, and the like. But how many Americans have heard of the annual Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program? This report makes a great case for global optimism, demonstrating the availability of inexpensive life-saving measures. For far less than we spend on gambling, or cosmetics, and cigarettes, the world could have health, clean drinking water, and schooling. We are sorely in need of what William James called the "moral equivalent of war." We should declare war on worldwide misery and deprivation, and contribute to raising the quality of life for billions of people worldwide.

In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the innovative thinker and architect Buckminster Fuller used to astonish audiences with a detailed explanation of how world poverty could be ended with an annual expenditure equivalent to one month's spending on weapons. Billions of devastated lives later, Fuller's plan remains unfulfilled.

The late James Grant, one of America's unsung heroes and the head of UNICEF, helped save millions of young lives by negotiating entry into countries where deadly diseases could be easily prevented. My Princeton class of 1955 formed a global tuberculosis project to call attention to the relative ease with which this destroyer of two million lives a year could be combated.

Slowly but surely, the World Health Organization, prodded by various private and public foundations, has been highlighting the need for a multinational assault on global infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria. At long last, Western Economists recognize what rural villages have known forever -- disease undermines economic development. Fighting disease is justified on economic as well as human grounds.

Democracy is also good for economic development, but only if done properly. Today, spreading democracy has become a mantra for plutocratic propaganda and a justification for unwise actions like the invasion of Iraq. If the Bush administration wants to spread democracy, it doesn't have to do so with tanks and missiles. We can nurture democratic growth in the Third World by assisting institutions already in place. In some cases, we have done the reverse. For example, over the decades, Washington has reduced the very modest contributions to the American University of Cairo and the American University of Beirut, even though these universities are rare success stories in a troubled region.

Power without accountability is a bad formula, and a commonplace one in the conduct of foreign policy. Our government spends billions for blunders, and no one is forced to resign. Our government violates our own laws and international laws, and reporters never ask, "What is the legal authority for this operation?" Our government props up brutal regimes and turns millions of people against us, and justifies such actions with a slogan -- fighting communism, or a war on terrorism, or a war on drugs.

The foreign policy and intelligence agencies operate in secrecy and rarely have to explain themselves, even to each other. (The 9/11 Commission provides a welcome exception, but received a chilly reception from the Bush administration.) Federal Judge Damon Keith wrote, "democracy dies behind closed doors." The U.S. Constitution requires publication of the government budget, but when an American citizen challenged the secrecy of the CIA budget in federal court, the case was dismissed. The judge said that this taxpayer had no legal standing to bring the action. Then who does have standing -- the attorney general? Don't hold your breath waiting for the attorney general to sue his own president.

There's an impressive catalog of actions taken by our government and shrouded in secrecy: illegal spending, government overthrows, corporate tax havens, sovereignty-shredding trade agreements, circumventing our courts and agencies, taking nuclear waste from other countries, and allowing advanced weaponry and data to be sold by companies to oppressive regimes. Often such actions remain unknown and unchallenged. (A few years ago, the General Accounting Office explained that the sprawling Pentagon budget is unauditable. A one-day news story, long forgotten.)

In 2000, Chalmers Johnson, a professor and former naval officer, wrote a book called Blowback and defined the word, invented for internal use by the CIA, as follows: "the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people." Johnson explains that the actions of terrorists, drug lords, rogue states, and arms merchants "often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations." Johnson's book is devoted to instances of blowback and their cumulative impact. These boomerangs, he writes, "hollowed out our domestic manufacturing and bred a military establishment that is today close to being beyond civilian control."

Our government acts in our name. When it resorts to violence or bribery abroad, or supports crude force on ordinary people to benefit repressive regimes and global corporations, the American people should know about it. When billions of our taxpayer dollars go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and workers worldwide get their wages and services cut and taxes raised because of "structural adjustments" imposed by the IMF, Americans are entitled to be in the loop.

In his book Fortress America, William Grieder asks a fundamental question: "Are the armed forces deployed in behalf of U.S.-based multinationals or U.S. citizens?" Grieder believes that our national defense policy does not serve the interests of our citizenry, but there is no debate on this subject. He claims the American people are "open to more dramatic changes in national defense than a status quo Washington imagines. They await a real debate."

We wait and we wait. But citizens have an obligation to at least try and learn what our government is doing abroad, especially since our government acts in our name. Apart from ethnic groups interested in the "old country," Americans pay far too little attention to foreign policy. This is regrettable. Americans have too much goodness and too much talent not to play a more fundamental role than that of passive spectator. America's foreign policy might not consist of a succession of follies if it were conducted and monitored more democratically.
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:31 pm

GLOBALIZATION

In approving the far-reaching, powerful WTO and smaller international trade agreements, such as NAFTA, the U.S. Congress, like the governments of other nations, has accepted harsh legal limitations on what domestic policies it may pursue and thus ceded much of its capacity to protect citizens. This new governing system is designed to exert control over minute details in the lives of the majority of the world's people. This system is structured not to enhance the well-being of human beings, but rather the well-being of the world's largest corporations and financial institutions.

Unlike members of Congress, Big Business knew what the WTO agreements contained. That's because corporate lobbyists helped draft them. Big Business has crafted these agreements to circumvent national and local governmental democratic processes, to undermine citizens' ability to force effective regulation of corporate activity, and to lock in rules that enable corporations to shut plants in one country and move elsewhere, even to a country under the thumb of a repressive regime, with virtually no restrictions.

Under these trade deals, U.S. and other nations' laws, whether federal, state, or local, must comply with the special business-friendly rules of the trade agreements. Laws to protect consumers, or to ensure that products are not made with child labor, or to safeguard the environment -- all such laws risk being decreed impermissible "nontariff trade barriers" under the tricky rules of trade agreements.

Secret tribunals established by the trade agreements render binding judgment on U.S. and other national laws. If the secret tribunals declare an American consumer protection law, say, to be in violation of WTO, NAFTA, or some other agreement, the United States has a choice: change the law or pay fines or accept sanctions to maintain it. The potential sanctions are so severe that governments now regularly repeal laws, or even withdraw them from consideration, lest they be challenged at the WTO or another trade body.

These are thus pull-down agreements: They pull down our accumulated victories and achievements in the areas of wages and hours, union organizing, food safety protection, consumer safeguards, and protections for our natural environment, among others, and have a chilling effect on future advances. For example:

• The WTO ruled that the United States must revise the gasoline cleanliness rules adopted to implement the Clean Air Act. The oil companies had tried to block these rules in U.S. courts and failed. But a successful challenge to the rules at the WTO by Venezuela led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt replacement regulations, rules that the agency itself had previously rejected as unenforceable.
• In 1997, Massachusetts passed a law saying that it would not do business with companies doing business in Burma, which is governed by a vicious military dictatorship. The European Union challenged the law at the WTO, saying Massachusetts did not have the right to refuse to contract with European companies based on where they did business. Shortly thereafter, Maryland considered a similar law for companies doing business in Nigeria, then also ruled by brutal dictatorship. The bill was unexpectedly defeated, after the U.S. State Department -- which feared it would spark another WTO challenge -- testified against it. (The Massachusetts law was ultimately overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, as an interference with Congress's power to regulate foreign commerce.)
• Laws that prohibit the import of goods made with child labor (several of which been proposed by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin) are flat-out illegal under the WTO whose rules say an importing country cannot be concerned with the process by which an imported product is manufactured, except in the case of prison labor.
• The United States, operating at the behest of the biotech industry, has announced its intention to file a WTO challenge to a European de facto moratorium on approval of genetically modified crops. The United States says, correctly, that WTO rules require countries to accept food products unless they can prove them unsafe with a high degree of scientific certainty. The Europeans' position -- one that should be adopted in the United States -- is that they do not want to expose consumers to biotech foods until they are shown to be safe. But this application of the Precautionary Principle asks that proof of safety be supplied by the entity introducing a new product. As such, it conflicts with the WTO's corporate-friendly rules.

The threatened action on biotech foods follows an earlier case at the WTO, where the United States successfully challenged a European ban on the import of hormone- treated beef. To preserve this consumer protection measure, Europe must now pay an annual fine to the United States.
• The WTO requires countries to adopt the pesticide and food safety standards maintained by an industry-dominated international organization based in Rome, called the Codex Alimentarius. Codex standards permit higher residues of many dangerous chemicals on foods than do U.S. rules, meaning these food safety rules could be ruled in violation of WTO mandates.
• In their important book, Whose Trade Organization?, Lori Wallach and Patrick Woodall report: "At its 1999 meeting, the Codex approved maximum residue levels for the pesticide methyl parathion that did not take into account the impact of the level on children, as is required by U.S. law. Two months after Codex made the methyl parathion determination the U.S. EPA banned the use of the chemical on fruits and vegetables because of the risk it posed to children. As a result, the U.S. regulation is now exposed to challenge under the WTO ... because it provides greater protection than the WTO-recognized international standard."

Perhaps nothing has shifted as much power to multinational corporations as the investment chapter of NAFTA, known as Chapter 11. Chapter 11 contains two key features: First, it provides an array of strong protections against government action or regulation that might affect foreign investors. One gift to corporations is a prohibition on "expropriation," or actions "tantamount" to expropriation, except for public purpose and with fair market value compensation. In theory, expropriation would seem to apply only in cases where a government exercised eminent domain, such as taking over a factory. But in NAFTA, the definition is far, far more expansive. The second key feature of Chapter 11 is that it permits investors to bring suit for compensation directly against governments that have allegedly infringed on their investment rights.

NAFTA's Chapter 11 has provided the basis for a number of eyebrow-raising cases. In the largest Chapter 11 suit yet brought against the United States, in 1999 the Canadian corporation Methanex sued the U.S. government for $970 million because of a California executive order phasing out the sale of a Methanex product. Methanex claims that California's phase-out of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive, violates the company's special investor rights granted under NAFTA because the California policy limits the corporation's ability to sell MTBE. MTBE poisons groundwater. Methanex says that instead of banning MTBE, California should enforce rules prohibiting improper disposal. This case is pending.

The MTBE case is reminiscent of a 1998 case brought against Canada by the U.S.-based Ethyl Corporation. In that case, Ethyl sued Canada for $250 million after Canada banned the gasoline additive methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT) because of health risks. The state of California had banned MMT and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was working on a similar regulation. Ethyl claimed the Canadian ban violated NAFTA because it "expropriated" future profits and damaged Ethyl's reputation. After learning that the NAFTA tribunal was likely to rule against its position, the Canadian government revoked the ban, paid Ethyl $13 million for lost profits, and, as part of a settlement with Ethyl, agreed to issue a public statement declaring that there was no evidence that MMT posed health or environmental risks.

In another pending case, the U.S.-based United Parcel Service (UPS) is pursuing a NAFTA Chapter 11 case against Canada for $100 million, arguing that the Canadian postal service's involvement in the courier business infringes upon the profitability of UPS operations. Canada Post is a government-owned corporation that does not receive public subsidies. Nevertheless, in this case, the first NAFTA investor-to-state case against a public service, UPS claims that by integrating the delivery of letter, package, and courier services, Canada Post has cross-subsidized its courier business in breach of NAFTA rules. For example, UPS argues that permitting consumers to drop off courier packages in Canada Post mailboxes unfairly advantages Canada Post as against other courier services.

Yes, you read this right. According to UPS, to comply with NAFTA, Canada Post should have separate boxes to drop off courier packages, picked up by nonpostal worker personnel, taken to separate facilities, processed by workers who don't handle the regular mail, and delivered by personnel not associated with the regular mail. This case is still pending. The United States, Canada, and Mexico should amend NAFTA, if they chose not to repeal it entirely, by revoking this notorious Chapter 11 immediately.

The Ravages of Corporate Globalization on America

The pull-down effect is imposed through other means, as well. U.S. corporations long ago learned how to pit states against each other in "a race to the bottom" to profit from whatever state would offer lower wages, pollution standards, and taxes. In the world of corporate globalization, companies pit countries against each other. When one city, state, or country works to ensure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes, provide their employees a decent standard of living, or limit pollution, they are typically met with the refrain: "You can't burden us like that. If you do, we won't be able to compete. We'll have to close down and move to a country that offers us a more hospitable climate."

Complying with the much too modest standards of the international global warming treaty would "harm U.S. competitiveness," alleges a leading U.S. business-backed study on global warming. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions would be "suicidal for competitiveness," British industry told the U.K. government in January 2004. In the face of such warnings, and the implicit threat that jobs will move elsewhere, governments are reluctant, to say the least, to act. As a result, the rich countries have moved at a snail's pace to confront global warming, probably one of the greatest looming threats to planetary well-being.

Frequently, the threats by industry to close or move factories are a bluff But often they are not, especially when it comes to the matter of wages. Two parallel developments are proceeding at a stunning pace: U.S. manufacturers are closing factories, in large part either because they can't compete with low-wage competitors in China or elsewhere. And large multinationals like General Electric are themselves shifting operations from the United States to low-wage havens abroad.

In significant part due to the ravages of corporate globalization, the United States has lost more than two million manufacturing jobs since 2001. The much-pruned but still vital manufacturing centers of the Midwest have been devastated, whole communities ripped apart by plant closings.

For example, Galesburg, Illinois, a town of34,000, is dealing with the pain of the closure of a Maytag refrigerator manufacturing plant. The factory employed 1,600 in good-paying jobs, and provided jobs to one-in-twelve adults in the local workforce, according to the Chicago Tribune. Maytag said it had no choice but to move its factory to Mexico, so it could match the lower production costs of Whirlpool and General Electric, which have already shifted much of their manufacturing out of the United States. On the day of the closing announcement, Diana Stephenson, who worked at the plant for twenty-eight years, told the Chicago Tribune; "I never saw chins drop so far, with men and women crying. Everybody that talked to me was worried about their children and their future."

More than half-a-million U.S. workers have been certified under one narrow government retraining program as having lost their jobs due to NAFTA. And notwithstanding predictions from NAFTA's backers to the contrary, these job losses have not been offset by new jobs in facilities manufacturing for export to Mexico. Of course, it's not exactly clear that NAFTA's corporate backers ever believed these rationalizations for entering into the agreement.

Corporate globalization provides big companies seemingly endless routes to escape the civilizing effects of citizen controls and imposed obligations-like taxes. Business has long been masterful at devising loopholes and shelters to avoid paying taxes, of course, but globalization has significantly enhanced their escape capacities.

In a particularly brazen move, more than two dozen major U.S. corporations have reincorporated offshore in order to lower their tax rate. The reincorporated companies don't close their U.S. headquarters; they simply engage in the paper transaction of filing incorporation papers in a tax haven country. One Ernst & Young tax partner put it plainly to the New York Times: "We are working through a lot of companies who feel that ... just the improvement on earnings is powerful enough that maybe the patriotism issue needs to take a back seat."

But the reincorporation gambit is small potatoes compared to the more exotic offshore tax shelters used by Halliburton and others. Employing such devices as tax payment deferrals, income stripping, and parking intangibles offshore, multinationals manipulate their assets and income to avoid billions in taxes. Montana Senator Max Baucus, ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee estimates that offshore tax shelters cost the public treasury $70 billion a year. Then there's the transfer-pricing maneuver, by which companies manipulate internal transactions between subsidiaries to shift income to the subsidiaries located in lower tax national jurisdictions. North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan estimates the annual cost of transfer pricing at more than $50 billion.

Corporate Globalization Ravages the Third World

The damage done to the United States by corporate globalization pales in comparison to the violence inflicted on the Third World. With weaker governments and frail civic institutions, most of the Third World is far less able to counterbalance the growing power of multinational corporations. Consider the following snapshots from around the world.

HIV/AIDS-Drug Availability

HIV/AIDS now ranks as perhaps the worst pandemic in the history of the world. More than forty million people worldwide are HIV-positive. For all but a few, an HIV diagnosis is a preventable death sentence.

Existing treatments, which enable many people with HIV/AIDS in the United States and Other industrialized countries to live relatively healthy lives, are unavailable to 98 percent to 99 percent of the people in developing countries.

Life-saving HIV/AIDS drug cocktails cost more than $10,000 a year in the United States and other rich countries. Until recently, that was the price throughout the developing world and even in Africa -- where the epidemic has hit worst and where per capita income is typically little more than a dollar a day. The drugs cost so much not because they are expensive to manufacture, but because the brand-name companies have patent monopolies that prevent price-lowering competition.

Manufacturers in India, where drug patents will not come into force until 2005, are able to make AIDS drug cocktails for as little as $140 per person per year -- less than 2 percent of the price companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Boehringer Ingelheim were charging just a few years ago. Once the Indian companies entered the market and offered dramatic discounts, the brand-name companies started lowering their prices -- but they still typically charge four or more times the generic price.

Under the terms of the WTO's intellectual property agreement, all developing countries must provide patents on pharmaceuticals. However, there are safeguards that permit any country to authorize generic competition for pharmaceuticals or other products while they stay on patent. For years, the Clinton administration told countries it was unacceptable to use these safeguards, but that policy changed after protest by citizen groups like the Consumer Project on Technology and AIDS activist organizations Health GAP and ACT UP.

Still, the U.S. Trade Representative, who effectively works as an arm of the drug companies, is coercing developing countries into entering new trade agreements, Such agreements protect the monopolies of brand-name drug companies. Countries in the WTO will not be allowed to exercise their own safety standards. In addition, drug companies themselves lobby and threaten governments in developing countries. Often such countries suppress the generic cheaper competition that could save millions of dollars and help control HIV/AIDS. This ghastly economic imperialism epitomizes the immorality of monopoly power.

Smoking -- Merchants of Death

With sales declining in, increasingly health-conscious richer countries, the Big Tobacco companies have pinned their future on expanding into the developing world and the former Eastern bloc. Some companies feature marketing and advertising campaigns that deceptively tie smoking with youthful rebellion, Western notions of freedom and sophistication, and hipness -- and thereby work to addict children to a lifetime of smoking. Shamefully, many of their ads feature pop music or sports stars. The tobacco merchants of disease increasingly target women and girls, who often have far lower smoking rates than males.

After the U.S. government forced open markets in Asia-to-U.S. cigarette imports in the 1980s and 1990s, overall smoking rates increased by 10 percent, according to the World Bank. In the year after the South Korean market opened, smoking rates among teenaged girls quintupled. The tobacco industry is a grim reaper in waiting. Globally, the World Health Organization predicts that tobacco use will kill ten million people a year by 2025, with 70 percent of these deaths in developing countries. The numbers are unfathomable.

When countries try to enact appropriate health regulations, they may find themselves facing threats under trade agreements. For example, tobacco companies have argued that having to put large warnings on cigarette packs violates their guaranteed trademark rights. They have even suggested that such requirements in Canada are tantamount to an expropriation under NAFTA's Chapter 11.

Structural Adjustments

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, two institutions that have little if any direct affect on the U.S. economy, exercise decisive and destructive influence over the economies of much of the developing world.

Based in Washington, D.C., the IMF provides loans to developing countries with balance of payment difficulties, helping them pay debts to foreign creditors. Private lenders and other public lenders generally will not lend to troubled economies unless they have a loan agreement with the IMF The IMF, whose decision making is controlled by the rich countries, in particular the United States, makes its loans on the condition that borrowing countries agree to a set of maniacal edicts known as "structural adjustment." Imagine all the other ways that taxpayer dollars, given to the IMF, could be used to truly help people in less developed countries. Over the past two decades, the World Bank, which also makes loans for infrastructure and other projects in developing Countries," has joined the IMF in making loans for structural adjustment. The results have been devastating.

In the two regions with the most structural adjustment experience, per capita income has stagnated (Latin America) or plummeted (Africa). Structural adjustment policies call for the sell-off of government-owned enterprises and services -- including functions such as tax collection that are fundamentally government responsibilities -- to private owners, often foreign investors. Privatization is typically associated with layoffs and pay cuts for workers in the privatized enterprises, and often the giveaway of valuable assets to privileged insiders. That's how Russia and Mexico corruptly became home to such a high number of the world's billionaires.

Many IMF and World Bank loans call for the imposition of "user fees" -- charges for the use of government-provided services like schools, health clinics, and clean drinking water. For impoverished people, even modest charges may effectively deny access to services. When the World Bank mandated that Kenya impose charges of $2.15 for sexually transmitted disease clinic services, attendance fell 35 percent for men and 60 percent for women. Similar results have been seen throughout the developing world.

Under structural adjustment programs, countries open up their economy to unregulated imports, and undertake a variety of measures to promote exports. Removing protections for local industry and agriculture has an even harsher impact than in rich countries. In Mozambique, for example, the IMF and World Bank ordered the removal of an export tax on cashew nuts. The result: 10,000 adults, mostly women, lost their jobs in cashew nut- processing factories. Most of the processing work shifted to India, where child laborers shell the nuts at home. In Mexico, since adoption of NAFTA, more than a million corn farmers have been driven off the land, unable to compete with cheap U.S. imports produced on highly mechanized farms.

The relentless focus by structural adjustment orders on exports comes at the expense of production for domestic needs. In the rural sector, the export orientation is often associated with the displacement of poor people who grow food for their own consumption as their land is taken over by large plantation owners (who benefit from government assistance) growing crops for foreign markets.

Oil Equates to Destruction

For years, Nigeria was ruled by one of the world's most brutal and corrupt dictatorships. Oil revenue kept the dictatorship afloat. Multinational oil companies like Shell and Chevron pumped the black gold from the oil-rich Nigeria Delta. When the Ogoni people, who live in the Delta, protested the dictatorship and the oil-drilling operations despoiling their land, the military responded with a crackdown. It executed the Ogonis eloquent leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and other Ogoni leaders.

No thanks to the oil companies, a fed-up populace managed to usher in a transition from Nigeria's dictatorship to a struggling democratic regime. But oil drilling remains destructive in Nigeria. The Ogoni and other ethnic groups have suffered as their land, air, and water have been despoiled by the oil companies, through flaring of gas, repeated spills, poor pipeline placement, and unlined toxic waste pits.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian case is typical of oil company operations in developing countries. The oil giants have a record of coddling dictators, trashing the environment, and wrecking local communities dependent on now-polluted streams and no-longer fertile lands.

In Burma, for example, Unocal and other companies are building a gas pipeline to Thailand. Funds from that project -- which activists claim benefited from slave labor employed by the government -- are propping up Burma's military junta. In Ecuador, tens of thousands of indigenous people charge that Texaco's operations destroyed the streams and natural environment they depend on for survival. In Chad, Exxon-Mobil is leading a consortium developing an oil project that threatens ecologically vulnerable areas and is projected to lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS (via new roads, migration, and increased prostitution). The Chad government spent $4.5 million of its first oil-related revenues on weapons; the government had promised to spend the money on poverty alleviation. In Indonesia, people living in Aceh Province, in North Sumatra, charge that Mobil Oil contracted with the Indonesian military to provide security for a natural gas project, and that the military units committed widespread human rights violations.

Plundering Our Neighbors

Corporate globalization has ushered in an era of unprecedented wealth and income inequality. Corporate and financial plunder of developing countries-and the transfer of money from the masses to a narrow elite in almost all countries, rich and poor -- has led to a shameful concentration of wealth and privilege.

Global inequalities now reach staggering levels. The four hundred highest income earners in the United States make as much money in a year as the entire population of twenty African nations -- more than 300 million people. The richest three hundred and fifty people in the world hold more wealth than the bottom three billion.

Again these income and wealth inequalities translate into far-reaching social inequalities. For example, a person born in a high-income country can expect to live half as long again as someone born in a less-developed country. A person in a less-developed country is twenty-five times more likely to die from tuberculosis than someone in a high-income country.

Confronting Corporate Globalization

As overwhelming as the odds seem of curbing corporate globalization and directing the global economy in a more humane and ecologically sustainable direction, citizens across the planet have achieved major victories against entrenched corporate power. That's one reason corporate globalizers prefer to negotiate trade and investment agreements in secret, behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny, preferably with no public awareness whatsoever.

Just a few years ago, the World Trade Organization was a little known global agency, and most people wouldn't know it from the World Tourism Organization (a small U.N. agency). That changed in Seattle in 1999. There, following on years of organizing from groups like Public Citizen and dozens of church groups and worker organizations, tens of thousands of people went to the streets to protest the WTO's corporate orientation. The inspiring street protests, combined with an empowered grouping of African governments, undermined the efforts of rich countries to expand WTO powers to further benefit multinationals. Such efforts have mostly stalled ever since.

A year earlier, an international network of civic organizations thwarted a U.S.-European attempt to craft an international investment agreement, known as the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). The MAI would have taken NAFTA's Chapter 11 to a global scale. But activists obtained a copy of the draft agreement, which was being negotiated in secret, posted it on the Internet, and developed careful and detailed analyses that showed how far-reaching the agreement would be. The deal couldn't survive public scrutiny, and it soon crumbled.

Civic groups have become especially adept at campaigning against particular corporate abuses, achieving numerous victories. The anti-sweatshop campaigns on campuses have forced universities to take responsibility for how apparel displaying their logos is made. Campaigns targeting shoe and apparel makers such as Nike and the Gap have highlighted working conditions in places where the subcontractors produce for these firms. The firms have been forced to accept at least some responsibility for improving conditions. The Burma solidarity campaign has pressured almost every major company except the oil corporations to end their investments in Burma and cut off trade with the country.

Other victories abound. The campaign for access to essential medicines has completely changed the framework for global patent issues. It has helped drop the price of AIDS drugs by more than 98 percent. It has shaped international opinion that public health needs must not be subordinated to commercial interests.

A small Colombian indigenous group, the U'wa, networked with supporters worldwide to defeat plans by Occidental Petroleum to drill for oil in their historic lands. Among other tactics, the U'wa threatened to commit collective suicide if Occidental carried out its drilling plans. Citizen campaigns all over the world have dashed the dreams of the nuclear power industry to spread its dangerous technology. No new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States in decades and Germany is now undertaking a long-term phase-out of nuclear power.

Thanks to the work of Results, Essential Action, and other groups, the U.S. Congress passed legislation requiring the U.S. representatives to the IMF and World Bank to oppose loans from those institutions that included user fees for basic health care and education. The institutions haven't come fully around, but the World Bank has backed off from supporting school fees. As a result, 1.5 million additional children -- mostly girls -- are now enrolled in school in Tanzania.

Citizen campaigns have also succeeded in crafting a people-centered globalization, which is starting to lift health, safety, and environmental standards rather than dragging them down WTO-style. For example, driven by tobacco-control citizen groups, countries adopted the world's first public health treaty in 2003. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control calls for a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (with an exception for countries, such as the United States, which deem such a ban unconstitutional), large health warnings, and measures to confront widespread smuggling of tobacco products.

Environmental groups have successfully lobbied and campaigned for a range of important environmental agreements, among them a ban on the export of hazardous waste. Before the treaty was adopted, waste brokers simply dumped rich countries' wastes in poor nations.

Meanwhile, in every country, citizens are banding together to create people-controlled institutions, outside of the control of the multinational corporate predators, that meet human needs.

The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh specializes in micro-credit -- small loans at reasonable interest rates to enable people to become entrepreneurs and escape the grip of local loan sharks. The success of the Grameen Bank has sparked global interest in micro-credit, which is helping develop local economies throughout the developing world.

As Michael Barratt Brown documents in Africa's Choices, successful cooperative and other small-scale economic development projects -- frequently led by women -- are proliferating throughout Africa. He points to everything from goat and sheep projects in Niger to soap-making cooperatives in Tanzania.

In Brazil, the rural association of landless workers known as the MST has specialized in self-help land redistribution. In a country with one of the most unequal income and wealth distributions in the world, large landowners leave fertile land untilled while thousands and thousand of poor rural workers have no land whatsoever. The MST organizes peaceful takeovers of the unused land, parceling it out to the poor who will use it.

These civic efforts to counter corporate globalization are united by the vision of a political economy oriented to satisfying people's needs rather than corporate imperatives. It emphasizes the importance of orienting local economies first to meet local needs, especially in the area of food production. For reasons of environmental sustainability and corporate accountability, it favors, in the phrase of economist Herman Daly, "balanced trade" and short supply lines -- meaning purchases and sales should be made locally before regionally, regionally before nationally, nationally before globally.

No one denies the importance of trade, but societies need to focus their attention on fostering community-oriented production. Such smaller scale operations are more flexible and adaptable to local demands and environmentally sustainable production methods. They are also more susceptible to democratic control and foster businesses less likely to migrate and more likely to coincide with community interests.

The citizen movements argue that basic services like health and education should be provided as a matter of right, not based on the ability to pay. They want to protect the global commons -- the seas, the atmosphere, shared knowledge -- away from corporate privatization. But there remains a huge role for the marketplace, especially as it involves locally controlled, more democratic, and smaller scale enterprises, as opposed to oligopolistic corporations. The citizen campaigns want to decentralize economic power, which is why land reform is so essential in developing countries; and they want to facilitate citizens joining together into organizations -- like labor unions -- that can offset concentrated corporate power. They want to contain unlimited capital mobility, so that absentee corporations and financial institutions do not maintain the veto power over economic policies exacted by threats from business to leave the jurisdiction unless government capitulates to their demands.

Their emphasis on local economies notwithstanding, the civic movements embrace globalization -- just not the corporate-dominated variety. They seek pull-up agreements, such as human rights treaties that set a fundamental standard for civilized behavior; the tobacco control agreement that requires members to meet minimum requirements to protect health; and the treaties that establish thresholds of environ mental protection -- as opposed to the pull-down model of the WTO and NAFTA.

At stake is the very basis of democracy and accountable decision-making that is the necessary undergirding of any citizen struggle for just distribution of wealth and adequate health, safety, and environmental protections. The corporate alternative is an economic model of supranational limitations on any nation's legal ability to put human well being before commercial activity. Corporate globalization seeks to eliminate democratic accountability over matters as intimate as the safety of our food or the conservation of our land, water, and other resources. This fetishization of profit creates grotesque inequalities and has terrible consequences for planetary ecology.

As economist Herman Daly warned in his January 1994 "Farewell to the World Bank," the push to eliminate the nation-state's capacity to regulate commerce "is to wound fatally the major unit of community capable of carrying out any policies for the common good.... Cosmopolitan globalism weakens national boundaries and the power of national and subnational communities, while strengthening the relative power of transnationa1 corporations."

More and more people are coming to see the triumph of such a perverse corporatist mentality as intolerable. By banding together in existing and new organizations; by forming networks, enterprises, and cooperative ventures; We build momentum for a just world.
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:33 pm

STAND FOR JUSTICE

Half of democracy is about just showing up -- informed people showing up to vote, to rallies, marches, demonstrations, to give testimony, attend action meetings for schools, to partake in community protection, advance civil rights, improve health care, and work for peace. But most people don't show up, even though it doesn't take all that much time or money and there is no one to stop them. Politicians pander to us with slogans, flatter us for doing nothing about their behavior. Do we need to lull ourselves with shrugging cynicism or other rationalizations for apathy? Too much can go wrong for our country if we don't apply some "tough love" and get our friends and neighbors going. So much goodness, well- being, fulfillment, and foresight are ours for the asking if we dedicate our values in those directions.

Democracy does take some work. Democracy does take a no-excuses attitude, a positive refusal to become discouraged. The reverse option is to continue losing more and more control over most everything that matters to us outside or inside the home. Don't you want to have a voice in the matters that affect the living conditions of you and your family? Injustice hurts and shuts you out. Justice helps and lets you in.

The first step is to decide how much time we're going to devote to what irks us. Here again is a loss of control -- "I just don't know where the time has gone," or "I just don't have the time." We're pulled in all directions by the time-takers -- waiting on the phone for a simple answer; stuck in bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic; taking things to be repaired; negotiating suburban sprawl; ferrying kids and going to appointments; trying to figure out our bills, which seem to be in code; and above all, having to work longer and longer on the job or jobs to pay those bills. Americans work on average longer than French workers who have a shorter work week, longer paid vacations, childcare, paid sick leave, and health insurance.

The good news is that time can be managed and liberated for what we decide is important. You have probably formed some distinct impressions about Congress, enough perhaps to turn you off in dismay or disgust, though you may like your own Representative. You've heard story after story of how many of these politicians -- not all -- grovel to raise campaign cash, called "legalized bribery" by David Brinkley. How many elected officials wallow in cowardliness when they should be standing tall, how many are always alert to raising their pay and expanding their benefits, and perfecting their charming ways of sweet-talking the public? How many push for one-party redistricts? There are 535 members of Congress (435 Representatives and 100 Senators). Only ten or so put their voting record on the web in a clear retrievable fashion. The rest have declined all such requests by voters and citizen groups.

Now suppose one early summer evening, a person knocked on your door and introduced himself this way: "Hi, I'm your new neighbor. Just wanted you to know that I spend over 20 percent of your income, can raise your taxes while lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy, can send your children off to war, and can let special commercial interests gouge and harm you and your family. See you later."

What would you do? Express umbrage at his interruption that is preventing you from watching a rerun of Cheers? Or would you say, "Hey, come back here, you mean something to me, so I better mean something to you!" That person is your member of Congress.

Presently, about 1,500 large corporations control or block most of the votes of most members of Congress on very important matters. It is not beyond the realm of realization to look forward to a time when a few million modestly organized Americans, representing the values of much greater numbers of their fellow Americans, turn the national legislature into a Congress of the people, by the people, and for the people.

The most effective way to begin this process is to cut the reins of commercial campaign contributions that presently restrain members of Congress and direct them toward further concentration of greed and power in ever fewer hands. "Campaign finance reform" has to be one of the most dull and yet most important phrases in our language. It was Thomas Jefferson who said that "of all the mischiefs, none is so afflicting and fatal to every honest hope as the corruption of the legislature." Two hundred years later, Senator Robert C. Byrd (Dem-WV) said, "It is Money! Money! Money! Not ideas, not principles, but money that reigns supreme in American politics!" All along, a hefty majority of the people have wanted some kind of campaign finance reform and many nonvoters cite the corruption of dirty money in elections as a reason why they do not vote.

Still, the dull phrase is utterly too vague to bring home the intimate and cruel effects on people's lives. As Will Rogers quipped, "Congress is the best money can buy." For years, I've seen the way cash register politics works against you. Hundreds of drug industry lobbyists prowl the halls of Congress. Their industry PACS contribute tens of millions of dollars to key legislators, and you pay higher prices for medicines and medical devices. Your tax dollars fund new drug development that the National Institutes of Health gives away to drug companies, which charge you staggering prices for new medicines they received free. You pay.

HMOs and large hospital chains send checks to Congress and our country continues to be the only western democracy without universal health insurance. Nothing is done by our government about tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of serious injuries from medical malpractice in hospitals. Little effort is devoted to law enforcement against the looting of Medicare and Medicaid using unscrupulous over-billings and phantom services that total tens of billions of dollars yearly. You pay.

Auto manufacturers and their dealers have locked up with lucre. those members of the House and Senate who block improved auto safety, fuel efficiency and pollution standards. You pay. The oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries spread their dollars around Congress and between the political parties. In return, they deny you solar energy and an energy efficient economy, make you subsidize them with your taxes, get us embroiled in overseas turmoil, and expose you to their continued toxic pollutants. You pay.

The giant military weapons companies work Capitol Hill with a commercial intensity second to none. The result is redundant and immensely wasteful munitions, planes, ships, and missiles, most of which come in way above budget. Your tax dollars subsidize sales of many such weapons to repressive regimes abroad. You can't get community programs -- such as education, clinics, public transit, drinking water upgrades, public libraries -- funded because military budgets are rapacious. You pay. Uncle Sam is turned into one giant corporate welfare paymaster for the Molochs of Big Business. And we pay because we are not organized to have a say for our country's future and a say for our own or our children's well-being.

So the few decide for the many and, not surprisingly, the few put themselves first. Nothing new here. When the people are not organized to transmit and reflect their demands on a regular basis, the organized few prevail. Mass media exposes of the nexus between money, lobbyists, and members of Congress engaged in wrongdoing may produce temporary squirming, but then it is back to normal. For the very people charged with maintaining political law and order are indebted to this dirty money system, and they're not likely to self-prosecute or change the system.

The book End Legalized Bribery by retired member of Congress from Hawaii, Cecil Heftel, has on its cover a picture of Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich shaking hands at a "town hall" meeting in New Hampshire on June 11, 1995. At the event, a citizen, Frank MacConnell, asked them if they would form a blue-ribbon panel to produce a plan to reform the nation's campaign finance system. With the national broadcast media looking on, both men quickly agreed. Heftel burnishes the words THEY LIED under the picture, because nothing came of that handclasp. Heftel then devotes a hundred and thirty-five readable pages to laying the basis for his Clean Money Campaign Reform with free access to television and radio time for those ballot qualified candidates who agree to receive public monies, and avoid all private money except small contributions to demonstrate some popular support and serious intent.

This little book offers a galvanizing narration of the outrages corporate lobbyists inflict on regular Americans, conducting what reporters Jeffery Birnbaum and Alan Murray, writing for the Wall Street Journal; called a nightly sale with the members of Congress as the merchandise. As I read it, I recalled previous sterling denunciations of the dirty money system corroding our democratic processes written in the 1980s and 1990s by Elizabeth Drew, Philip Stem, Brooks Jackson, Donald L. Barlett, and James B. Steele. Nonetheless, the money race continued to worsen, with more politicians dialing for the same business dollars with frenzied diligence. When you ask the members of Congress about the monetized life they lead, most express disgust with the "whole rotten system," as one put it. Yet, they are the legislators who can do something major to stop what a congressional staffer called "the rat race of rot and roll."

When corruption is so institutionalized that it becomes a way of life, though sometimes distasteful to its predators (some of whom feel they are being shaken down) and to its practitioners, many voters just shrug their shoulders in resignation and conclude that "the system is rigged." Well, not quite. Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisc.) was elected again and again without asking for any campaign contributions. He would spend a few hundred dollars just for postage to mail back unsolicited donations that dribbled into his campaign office. Of course, it helped that he would literally walk all over the state of Wisconsin, hold more hearings than almost anyone, listen to the people, watchdog government waste, and vote in a progressive manner.

Proxmire is long retired and his example is not around to set the standard of proper behavior that is possible when you represent the people first. Heftel quotes Thomas Paine who wrote, "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of right." Certainly, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) thinks that money is free speech and that not nearly enough is spent on campaigns. According to McConnell, campaigns should go unregulated except for the stipulation that donations be disclosed. He neglects the fact that money can suppress the speech of those who don't have enough of it even to compete on a level playing field, or to attract more media and respectable poll numbers. These gravitate to those with the most money so that small starts based on character, integrity, and honesty, as Heftel points out, do not have a chance to have a chance. He points out that public financing costing "$6.50 per citizen per year is all it would take to own our democracy." He also notes that "two or three dollars would do the trick for state elections." The present seaminess costs citizens hundreds of billions of dollars a year -- the cost of neglected health, injuries, fraud, crime, and aggravation.

I have always been fascinated by the intense interest and time that people invest in their hobbies. As a youngster, I poured hours into collecting stamps and playing chess. Years later, I wondered why the joys of civic activity are not seen by more people as a kind of hobby. One day I opened the New York Times to read that a bird with a Western European habitat had been sighted in a New Jersey marsh. The exciting news spread to birdwatchers allover the mid-Atlantic region and they responded by getting in their cars, boarding trains, buses, and planes to the Garden State for the rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of their intrepid' feathered friend. What if, I mused in a moment of fantasy, the bird took off, flew south and alighted on the Capital dome of the Congress, pursued by legions of birdwatchers? They might take time to enjoy a brief stint at "Congress watching." Certainly, we need that.

Several hundred Congress Watchers in each congressional district -- well- linked, marshalling the votes, statements, financing, and other activities of their senators and representatives for astute diffusion among the 500,000 or so residents of each congressional district -- would do wonders for responsive politics. Holding vibrant accountability sessions between citizens and their members of Congress, attended by the media, would keep legislators' feet on the ground and their pockets clean. Easy slogans would go out the windows before the probes and proposals of their informed constituents. Participants in this watchdog club could inform their neighbors what a little public investment of their time can produce, how it can replace the private investment of the corporate lobbyists that have turned Congress into a bustling bazaar of giveaways to those who are paying the pipers. Ending what Heftel called a system of campaign finance laws that promotes "begging, bribery, and extortion" will attract much better and more honest candidates for public office who want to get things done and do not want to get their hands dirty by demanding money that carries a quid pro quo. As the grassroots strength of the Congress Watchers increases, you'd see changes in the legislators' record and attentiveness to subjects and directions that the big boys of business do not welcome. Watching the' muscle of the people turn the Congress in their direction would be a lot of fun, an exercise in the politics of joy and justice.

All the above may still not arouse you because it doesn't connect with your temperament. Let me try another approach. Once upon a time there were mothers who lost their children in car crashes due to drunk drivers. One day in 1980, Candace Lightner lost her teenage daughter to a drunk driver. She got mad, real mad. Mad enough, she says, to seek justice and revenge. So she Started MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which took off like a rocket. Nationwide, thousands of other mothers joined her to pass or toughen laws against drunk driving and get them enforced. Mothers who lost their beloved children did not have to be tutored in motivation. They had their unrelenting grief to propel them to action. All over America, relatives of victims swing into action after tragedies stemming from defective products, dozing truck drivers, street crime, contaminated blood, taxies around homes, E-coli contaminated meat.

If you are not driven to action by tragedy, yet another approach is available. Ask yourself what really sparks your indignation among the assortment of injustices you view on television, hear on radio, or read in newspapers and magazines? Let one example make this point. Whether you stood for or against the invasion and occupation of Iraq, compare the way the Bush government treats the men and women on active duty with the way it treats Halliburton and other corporate profiteers from this war. Reservists and National Guard members find that their incomes are lower, some far lower. Lower-rank enlistees need food stamps. Their self-employed businesses are shaky or crumbling in their absence. The National Consumer Law Center reports in its study "In Harm's Way -- at Horne" that "scores of consumer-abusing businesses directly target this country's active-duty military men and women daily." Some in the National Guard are so hard-pressed that they have lost their homes or had their furniture repossessed. Barbara Ehrenreich writes that charities have started to "help families on U.S. military bases, like the church-based Feed the Children, which delivers free food and personal items to families at twelve bases."

Many of the troops in a volunteer army come from the ranks of the working poor. The poor have always fought the wars, starting with George Washington's army. While George W. Bush is busy transferring more wealth to the super rich using tax cuts and corporate welfare, the children of military personnel receive less funding for their base schools. Veterans' disability benefits are subtracted from the military retirement pay of soldiers.

Enraging veterans further, Bush's 2005 budget asks Congress to increase veterans' drug co- payments and institute an "enrollment fee" that veterans' groups believe will drive about 200,000 veterans out of the VA system and discourage many more from enrolling. This is the same shameless chicken hawk, George W. Bush, who frequently takes Air Force One to military bases in the United States to pose with soldiers for one photo opportunity after another to feed to' a compliant media. However, the "pause and run" photo opportunist has refused to go to Dover, Delaware to pay his respects to the returning dead, those who gave their young lives to his illegal, fabricated war in the quicksands and alleys of Iraq. No news photographers or camera teams are allowed at the Dover base by this administration. Old and new veterans are beginning to filter out Bush flattery and flag-waving to cut to the core of what Bush is doing to them in the hard reality of programs and budget cuts while far greater government deficits are registered to reduce taxes for big companies and the rich. How's your dander when you learn about what Bush does in contrast to what he says? Ready to show up?

If you're poor, you may feel too busy dealing every day with your travails to think about showing up. Well, prepare to be poorer every day. Earlier, I mentioned that your minimum wage buys three dollars less (adjusted for inflation) then the minimum wage did in 1968. Sounds like too many poor Americans are falling behind ... every day. Have you heard of ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, www.acorn.org ) It is a citizen action group composed of low- and moderate-income people. In November 2000, they issued a report called "Separate and Unequal" on predatory lending in America -- something that was criminal through the 1960s before most of the state usury laws were repealed in the 1970s under pressure from the financial industries.

The world of predatory lending among lower income minorities and poor Whites is little known to the rest of America. Signing on the dotted line of such a fine-print contract is routine for the down and out so that the law itself becomes an instrument of oppression used by the loan sharks. Although the variety of gouging and deception takes different forms depending on the type of case and place involved. ACORN reports about the (often Wall Street-financed) predatory lenders going to work on Mason and Josie, "an elderly African American couple who have excellent credit and whose primary source of income is Mason's veteran's benefits. Their mortgage was at a 7 percent interest rate when a broker convinced them to consolidate some credit cards into the mortgage." The new mortgage for $99,000 carried an interest rate of 8.4 percent and the broker added a second mortgage for $17,000 at an interest rate of 13 percent. The first mortgage built in nearly $6,000 in broker and third-party fees. Both loans included prepayment penalties. Then the broker applied a series of confusing payment schedules so that his customers were not aware that both loans required balloon payments after 15 years. ACORN concludes that "after making monthly payments of nearly $950 over the next fifteen years, Mason and Josie will face a balloon payment for $93,000."

ACORN and other neighborhood groups become more effective when more of the residents in the areas they are defending become active participants. This leads to a central point in civic action. A large percentage of the causes you may decide to advance are already the mission of existing local, state, national, or international nonprofit advocacy organizations that will welcome you with open arms. Their web sites are easy to locate. There are manuals and books on organizing, advocating, and strategies that work. Why reinvent the wheel when your engagement can make existing ones move faster and better?

Sometimes, there are no precursors. The massacre of September 11, 2001, was without precedent and the grief-stricken families of the fallen had to start from scratch to secure an independent investigation. While President Bush focused on the television airwaves toward Afghanistan, the families began organizing to discover what went on in our government that failed to prevent the attacks on that fateful day. Washington officialdom was initially not interested. The White House was, cool to a proposed independent investigative commission. A small number of families, led by four widows, became increasingly persistent and the mass media conveyed their determination. The politicians always have trouble saying NO to the bereaved, which is one reason they do not like to have them testify in Congress. The bereaved speak from their hearts and minds; their only proxies are their conscience and their quest for truth.

For months they knocked on congressional doors, took their case to officials in the executive branch, located outside allies and refused to take NO for an answer. They cited commissions created to investigate previous calamities in American history. Finally, President Bush relented and appointed five Republican and five Democratic members to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. The Commission will make its final report at the end of July 2004, after a series of highly publicized public hearings and private sessions in search of the facts and the most effective recommendations. In the audience, carefully monitoring the proceedings, were the families of 9/11, secure in their belief that had they not stood for justice, there would have been no such commission. Our country owes them an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

Now, it is time to hear from the families of other lost sons and daughters, the families of the maimed -- those without legs or arms, the blind and seriously ill, who fill the wards of Walter Reed Army Hospital and other military hospitals. Some of these bereaved Americans hold George W. Bush responsible for an illegal, unnecessary war in Iraq based on fabrications and deceptions. Who can forget seeing the weeping father from Baltimore wailing, "President Bush, you took my only son." A war unlike other wars, launched against the public opposition of retired generals and admirals, former intelligence and diplomatic officials, now free to speak out. A war against the private advice of many inside the CIA, the U.S. Army and the State Department, below the level of Bush's compliant political appointees.

The "glory" of war always precedes its reality. And a war intended to be a political distraction from problems at home, a political chilling of the president's opposition, and a source for oil and gas resources, given to the president's corporate contributors, is particularly rancid and reckless. Such actions are impeachable. Howard Zinn, who was an honorably discharged bombardier in World War II, began thinking about how little is devoted to preventing war and how much blood and treasure are devoted to fighting it on the backs of the GIs who are only ordered but never asked.

Zinn, a historian who taught for many years at Boston University, has chronicled "the betrayal of the very ones sent to kill and die in wars." This year he tells the story of twenty-four-year-old Jeremy Feldbusch, a sergeant in the Army Rangers, who was blinded when a shell exploded 100 feet away near a dam along the Euphrates River in Iraq. His hometown of Blairsville, Pennsylvania, an old coal mining town of3, 600, gave him a parade. His father, sitting by his bed, said: "Maybe God thought you had seen enough killing." Ruth Aitken lost her son, an Army captain in Iraq a few days after the invasion. Before he disembarked, she called it a war for oil. "He was doing his job," his mother said, "but it makes me mad that this whole war was sold to the American public and to the soldiers as something it wasn't." Cowboy Bush's "Bring 'em on" bravado in July 2003, from the comforts of the Oval Office, infuriated many of these families. One mother of a soldier in Iraq told a television reporter "Bring 'em on? Expose more of our soldiers? My son may be next."

With one of the largest rotations of troops to and from Iraq underway, there will be many eyewitness accounts conveyed to millions of Americans in millions of conversations. Many of them will no longer be dazzled by the political abuse of patriotic symbols, nor will they respect exhortations about fighting for freedom, democracy, and security in a faraway tortured land that we now know possessed no imminent threat to the United States or its allies. What they may not appreciate at first is that they possess the most powerful assets to end a quagmire that breeds more terrorists and hatred throughout the impoverished Islamic world. Those assets are their sacrifice and their credibility, having been in the sands and streets and alleys of Iraq. The chicken hawks in and around the White House, who have been proven wrong by their own weapons inspectors, emissaries, and "embedded" reporters, may have the formal power. The soldiers and their families have the moral power. Once aroused, this moral power can overwhelm the political manufacturers of this war and the exploitative corporations that feed avariciously on lucrative wartime contracts.

The soldiers and their families can rescue our nation, its young men and women, and its resources that could be applied here at home. They need only to heed the call of their own authentic patriotism and organize, organize, organize. It could come quickly because they will have no problem securing the media's rapt attention. It cannot come quickly enough, however, for the rounds of casualties, horror, pain, irreversible anguish for both the American and Iraqi peoples are mounting. It cannot come quickly enough to stop the policy boomerangs or, in the CIA word used by Chalmers Johnson, "blowbacks" against the security and other best interests of Our country. Already, in spite of contrary pressures, there are solidarities forming among the parents who lost their children. They are thinking about ways to exercise their freedom to speak their minds and to stand for their country, so grievously betrayed by the arrogance of political rulers in the White House whom a majority of American voters rejected at the polls.

These families, once they take the lead, will be supported by tens of millions of Americans from all backgrounds and counseled by many retired military and diplomatic officials whose dire predictions and warnings before the invasion of Iraq are coming true with appalling consequences. They feared a trap was facing our government in Iraq and a multiple trap of fearsome proportions it has become. Chicken hawks Bush and Cheney sent American soldiers to Iraq, often without key protective equipment and adequate supplies of drinking water. All the while the two bosses were going from one fat-cat multimillion dollar fund raiser to another, selling out our country's political institutions. In the meantime, our soldiers are stuck in a whirlwind of violence, disease, and deprivation in Iraq, with low morale and no exit strategy. A reporter said to a soldier, "What would you ask of your president?" The soldier replied, "I would ask for his resignation."

It takes some doing to turn a world that was demonstrating support for America after 9/11 into a world that is aghast and hostile to the messianic unilateral militarism of George W. Bush and his chronically prevaricating vice president, Dick Cheney -- a man who repeatedly expounds on television what is not the case. He does this so often that he is becoming an object of ridicule inside the Beltway. As one civil servant said, "He makes even Republican eyes roll."

The present Bush regime refuses to listen to knowledgeable and experienced people who fought in wars and' who believe its current policies are endangering the United States and undermining the struggle against stateless terrorism everywhere. We must ask Mr. Bush, "isn't it time for you to learn what these patriotic Americans and the families of the fallen think by meeting with them? You've dodged them long enough, and since you have been wrong and they have been right, you should adopt some of that humility you promised voters in the campaign of 2000."

George W. Bush ran during the 2000 campaign as the "responsibility" candidate. He said again and again before large audiences that individuals should be held responsible for their public policy actions. His counterterrorism advisor in the White House, Richard Clarke, resigned and later appeared on 60 Minutes in March 2004, stating that the Bush administration repeatedly gave the impression that Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks of September 11. Clarke, a highly regarded long-time civil servant under four presidents, uttered these words: "The White House carefully manipulated public opinion, never quite lied, but gave the very strong impression that Iraq did it. They know better. We told them: The CIA told them. The FBI told them. They did know better. And the tragedy here is that Americans went to their death in Iraq thinking they were avenging September 11, when Iraq had nothing to do with September 11. I think for a commander-in-chief and a vice president to allow that to happen is unconscionable." Clarke was speaking for thousands of knowledgeable civil servants and military personnel in the Bush administration who can not speak out.

In his book Against All Enemies, Clarke wrote: "Far from addressing the popular appeal of the enemy that attacked us, Bush handed that enemy precisely what it wanted and needed, proof that America was at war with Islam, that we were the new crusaders come to occupy Muslim land."

"Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country. Nothing else could have so well negated all our other positive acts and so closed Muslim eyes and ears to our subsequent calls for reform in their region. It was as if Osama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting, 'Invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.''' So wrote Richard Clarke.

Before the National Commission on the September 11 attack, Clarke testified that "By invading Iraq, the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism." Corning from an acknowledged hawk, his words elicited a moment of silence from the panel.

Perhaps it is time for candidate John Kerry to repeat the question that Naval Captain John Kerry put to the Senate Committee in April 1971 when he returned from combat duty in Vietnam: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

The horrors of wars have prompted some of our most celebrated generals to construct broader frames of reference after retirement. Consider the newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous "cross of iron" address in April 1953 to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The context for his remarks was the eight years of tension with the nuclear-armed Soviet Union and its policy of dominating its neighbors. Eisenhower was searching for a peaceful world beyond what he called "the worst to be feared and the best to be expected." He portrayed the confines of the present world situation this way: "The worst is atomic war. The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth." Then, he provided a contrast which is rarely drawn by our political leaders today, much less the voracious military weapons corporations for which no military budget is ever large enough. Eisenhower's understanding of consequences invites careful attention to his prescient statement a half century ago:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. Is there no other way the world may live?


It behooves us to listen more to the post-World War II assessments of some of our leading generals, such as George C. Marshall who advanced the uplifting of living standards in Europe to forestall another monstrous dictatorship. Or Douglas MacArthur, who in 1957 warned Americans about the exaggerations of threats by the U.S. government and its defense industries in order to increase military budgets.

Generals, after they have engaged in bloody battles, sometimes acquire a wisdom not within the reach of chicken hawks who let others fight the wars they supported. Remember Vietnam. What would Eisenhower say today about the massive number of world-destroying weapons in our government stockpile, enough to blow up the planet three hundred times and make the rubble bounce? What would he say about the world's $3 billion a day on military budgets, nearly half by the United States alone, while 50,000 infants and small children die each day in the world from entirely preventable or easily curable diseases?

Unlike revolution, the relentless erosion of peoples' standards of living and of fairness does not proceed with sirens or clarion calls. The very nature of an eroding democratic culture is its insidiousness, its exclusion from the visible indicators of the governing and oligarchic rulers. It comes like Carl Sandburg's fog "on little cat feet":

I'd like to remind George W. Bush about Gandhi's "seven deadly social sins:"

• Politics without principle
• Wealth without work
• Commerce without morality
• Pleasure without conscience
• Education without character
• Science without humanity
• Worship without sacrifice

I would add two more:

• Belief without thought
• Respect without self-respect

"We are ready," Eisenhower concluded, "to dedicate our strength to serving the needs, rather than the fears, of the world."

It is time to define patriotism as a stand for justice, recalling the ringing final words of the pledge of allegiance: "with liberty and justice for all."
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:34 pm

Appendix

THE CONSCIOUS VOTER


Most politicians use the mass media to obfuscate. Let's face it. Voters who don't do their homework, who don't study records of the politicians, and who can't separate the words from the deeds will easily fall into traps laid by wily politicians.

In the year 2002, Connecticut Governor John Rowland was running for re-election against his Democratic opponent, William Curry. Again and again, the outspent Curry informed the media and the voters about the corruption inside and around the governor's office. At the time, the governor's close associates and ex-associates were under investigation by the U.S. attorney. But to the public, Rowland was all smiles, flooding the television stations with self-serving, manipulative images and slogans. He won handily in November. Within weeks, the U.S. attorney's investigation intensified as they probed the charges Curry had raised. Rowland's approval rating dropped to record lows, and impeachment initiatives are now underway with many demands for his resignation. Curry has gained favor in the public eye, but the election is long past. Enough voters had been flattered, fooled, and flummoxed to cost him the race.

Tom Frank, a Kansas author, recently wrote: "The poorest county in America isn't in Appalachia or the Deep South. It is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns, and in the election of 2000, George W. Bush carried it by a majority of greater than 75 percent." Inattentive voters are vulnerable to voting against their own interests. They are vulnerable to voting for politicians who support big business and ignore their interests as farmers, workers, consumers, patients, and small taxpayers.

Big Business will not spur change in a political system that gives them every advantage. Change must come from the voters, and here's how friends can avoid the three Fs:

• A liberation ritual. Rid yourself of all preconceived, hereditary, ideological, and political straitjackets. Replace with two general yardsticks for candidates for elective office: Are they playing fair and are they doing right?
• Stay open-minded. Avoid jumping to conclusions about a candidate based solely on their stance on your one or two primary issues. Don't disregard where they fall on twenty-five other realities that affect you and your family very deeply and seriously. If you judge them broadly rather than narrowly, you increase your influence by increasing your demands and expectation levels for their performance. There are numerous evaluations of their votes (see Citizen.org or Commoncause.org for progressive perspectives) and positions to get you behind sly slogans like "Clear Skies Initiative" or "Leave No Child Behind."
• Know where you stand. A handy way to contrast your views with those of the incumbents and challengers is to make your own checklist of twenty issues, explain where you stand and then send your list to the candidates. See how their list -- or their actual record -- matches up to your own.
• Ask the tough questions. These are the questions that politicians like to avoid. They include whether they are willing to debate their opponents and how often, why they avoid talking about and doing something about corporate power and its expanding controls over people's lives, or how they plan to shift power from these global corporate supremacists to the people. Ask them to speak of solutions to the major problems confronting our country. Politicians often avoid defining solutions that upset their commercial financiers (this includes a range of issues, such as energy efficiency, lower drug prices, reducing sprawl, safer food, and clean elections). Ask members of Congress to explain why they keep giving themselves annual salary increases and generous benefits, and yet turn cold at doing the same for the minimum wage, health insurance, or pension protections.

All in all, it takes a little work and some time to become a super-voter, impervious to manipulation by politicians who intend to flatter, fool, and flummox. But I dare suggest that this education can also be fun, that the pursuit of justice can offer great benefits to the pursuit of happiness, and that such civic engagement will help Americans today become better ancestors for tomorrow's descendants.
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:38 pm

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Stauber, John and Sheldon Rampton. Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995.

Stiglitz, Joseph. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002.

Teitel, Martin. Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2001.

Terkel, Studs. Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression. New York: Pantheon, 1970.

Thornton, Joe. Pandora's Poison: Chlorine, Health and a New Environmental Strategy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

Wachsman, Harvey F. and Steven Alschuler. Lethal Medicine: The Epidemic of Medical Malpractice in America. New York: Henry Holt, 1993.

Wallach, Lori. Whose Trade Organization?: Corporate Globalization and the Erosion of Democracy. New York: Public Citizen, 1999.

Wasserman, Harvey. The Last Energy War: The Battle over Utility Deregulation. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1999.

West, Cornel. Race Matters. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.

Whittelsey, Frances Cerra and Marcia Carroll. Women Pay More: And How to Stop It. New York: The New Press, 1993.

Wolfe, Sidney M. Worst Pills, Best Pills: A Consumer's Guide to Avoiding Drug-Induced Death or Illness. New York: Pocket Books, 1999.

Wolff, Edward and Richard C. Leone. Top Heavy: The Increasing Inequality of Wealth in America and What Can Be Done About It. New York: New Press,•1996.

Woodward, Bob. Bush at War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.

Woolhandler, Steffie, Ida Hellander, and David Himmelstein, M.D. Bleeding the Patient: The Consequences of Corporate Healthcare. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2001.

Wylie, Jeanie. Poletown: Community Betrayed. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

A variety of worthwhile information can be found on the following web site:

http://www.citizen.org
http://www.citizenworks.org
http://www.csrl.org
http://www.cptech.org
http://www.commercialalert.org
http://www.essential.org
http://www.opendebates.org
http://www.nader.org
http://www.multinationalmonitor.org

Recommended magazines and other publications:

The Amicus Journal
Boston Review
Consumer Reports
Harper's Magazine
In These Times
Mother Jones
Multinational Monitor
The Nation
The Progressive
Rachel's Environmental & Health News
The Washington Monthly
The Workbook

The following two publications regularly have numerous feature articles on corporate abuses:

Business Week
Wall Street Journal
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Re: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:41 pm

INDEX

ABC Nightly News, 83
ABM Treaty, 229
Adelphia Communications Corp., 165
Advancing Justice Through DNA
Technology Act. 51
Advanta.66
Advertising to Children Accountability
Act, 113
African Growth and Opportunity Act
(AGOA), 10
Africa's Choices (Brown), 251
Against All Enemies (Clarke), 269
Aitken, Chad, 207
Aitken, Ruth, 266
Alcohol industry and children, 104
Alinsky, Saul, 21
Allegheny Airlines, 59
Allison, Bill, 89, 94, 217
Allstate Insurance, 64
American Airlines, 63
American Farm Bureau Federation. 88
American Income Life Insurance
Company, 216
American Prospect, 49-50
America Online, 109
AMTRAK, 215
Andersen, • Warren, 170
Anderson, Ray, 129
Annie E. Casey Foundation, 48
Arafat, Yasir, 229
Archer Daniels Midland (ADM),
159-160
Arthur Andersen. 161, 165, 183-184
Ashcroft, John, 56, 168, 220
Association of Community Organizations
for Reform Now (ACORN), 264
Athletic programs for women, 54
AT&T, 72
Aubrey G. Lanston & Co., 164-165

Baggett, Billy, 175
Balance, democracy vs. plutocracy, 3-4
Balanced trade, 252
Bank of America Securities, 167
Bank Holding Company Act, 163
Barbour, Haley, 165
Barbour, William H., Jr., 165
Barlett, Donald L., 259
Bass, Kenneth C., III, 178
Baucus, Max, 242
Bear Stearns, 167
Belnick, Mark, 166
Bennett, Bob, 179
Berry, Father Thomas, 112
Bethlehem Steel, 143
Biirnbaum, Jeffery, 259
Bil Mar Foods, 181
Bingham, Eula, 152
bin Laden, Osama, 226-227, 270
Bittner, Ronald L., 150
Bleeding the Patient- The Consequences
of Corporate Health Care
(Himmelstein, Woolhandler, and
Hellander), 209
Block, Jerry, 178
Blowback, 114, 267
defined, 232
Blowback (Johnson), 232
Blumenthal, Richard, 72, 82
Boehringer Ingelheim, 243
Bonds, Judy, 122
Brady, M. Jane, 171
Braithwaite, John, 177, 186
Breuer, Lanny, 181
Brinkley, David, 256
Bristol-Meyers-Squibb, 73, 243
British American Tobacco (BAT), 1~5
Bronfenbrenner, Kate, 144-145
Brown, Franklin, 166
Brown, Hank, 203
Brown, Michael, 126
Brown, Michael Barratt, 251
Buffett, Warren, 89, 163, 198, 216
Buffkin, Sherri, 146
Bush, George H. W., 202
Bush, George W., 15, 16, 25, 37, 56, 57,
139, 220, 222, 269, 272, 273
and tax cuts, 72, 215-217
Bush's Brain (Slater and Moore), 41
Business lobby and power, 60
Butler, Smedley, 224-225
Byrd, Robert, 121, 257

Cade, Mike, 153
Cade, Ted, 153
California Nurses Association (CNA),
151
Campaign finance reform, 257
Capital/credit, 12-14
Capital gains tax, 92
Capitalistic system, assumptions of,
192-193
Cargill, 12
Carpenter, Dr. David, 127
Carr, Donald, 178
Carter, Jimmy, 7, 29, 87
Cato Institute, 177
Channel One, 107
Chapela, Ignacio, 135
Cheating of America, The (Lewis and
Allison), 89, 217
Cheney, Richard, 30, 99, 268
Chevron, 160, 247
Child Harm Disclosure Act, 113
Childhood, commercializing, 108
Child Privacy Act, 113
Children:
commercializing, 105-107
drug companies, 103
exploitation of, 100-102
obesity, 103-104
over medicating, 103-104
soft drink companies, 104
television, 102-103, 104-105
tobacco and alcohol industries, 104
video games, 104
Children's Advertising Subsidy
Revocation Act, 114
Children's Food Labeling Act, 113
CIBC World Markets, 167
Citigroup, 12
Citizens Coal Council, 122
Civic motivation:
building, 6
lack of, 1
Civiletti, Benjamin, 178
Civil justice system, 37
Civil liberties, attacks on, 56-58
Clark, Wesley, 15, 219, 221
Clarke, Richard, 269-270
Clean Air Act, The, 117, 236
Clean Money Campaign Reform, 259
Clean Water Act, 119, 121-122, 125
Clinton, Bill, 25, 30, 91, 202, 259
Codex Alimentarius, 237-238
Coehlo, Tony, 27
Coke, 12
Cole, David, 224
Coleman Company, 44
Collins, Chuck, 216
Commercial Alert, 112-113
Commercial-Free Schools Act, 113
Commercialism, 73
and children, 105-107
and dreams of profits, 115
Computerized billing fraud, 67
Congress Watchers, 261
Consequences of HMOs. suffering the,
208-210
Consumer control, loss of, 74
Consumers:
skilled, 76
smart, 76
smarter, better markets, 60-67
Contributions, cutting the reins of,
257
Cooper Industries, 44
Corning, 43
Corporate:
barrage, 100-105
capitalism, controlling, 9-10
crime, 159-185
cost of, 168-171
crack down of, 185-189
globalization, 13
homicide, 171-175
socialism; 193
Corporate Crime Reporter, 159
Cost, corporate crime, 168-171
Court, Jamie, 207. 208
Covington & Burling, 181, 183
Criminals, corporate, 159
Curnutt, Jerry, 94
Curry, William, 273

Daly, Herman, 197, 252, 253
Davenport, Charles, 89
Davidson, James Dale, 91
Davis, Jeffrey, 171
Death tax, 92
Delta Airlines, 63
Democracy gap, 1-2
Deregulation, 161
Dillon, Warren, 143
Disclosure, 39
Discovery, 38
abuse of, 39, 40
Disease, 11-12
DNA testing, 51
Doe Run Company, 123-124
Dole, Elizabeth, 154
Dole, Robert, 30
Donahue, Phil, 62
firing by MSNBC, 223
Dorgan, Byron, 242
Dow Chemical, 43, 170, 175
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, 167
Drew, Elizabeth, 259
Drucker, Peter, 176-177
Drug companies and the medicalization
of children, 103-109
Duopoly, two-party, 24, 25

Easterbrook, Frank, 176
Ebber, Bernard, 166
Economics Policy Institute (EPI), 18,
147
E. F. Schumacher Society, 111-112
Ehrenreich, Barbara, 263
1872 Mining Act, 85
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 15
"cross of iron" address, 270, 272
Employment Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA), 55
Employment Retirement Income
Security Act (ERISA), 65
Empty-stomach feeling; 6
Endangered Species Act, The, 117
End Legalized Bribery (Heftel), 259
Enron Corp., 165, 149, 192
and the destruction of documents,
183-184
Environment, 10-11, 117-135
Equal Pay Act, 53
Equilon, 153
Ernst & Young, 44, 242
Estate tax, 88, 92
Estes, Ralph, 169
Ethyl Corp., 175, 239
Exploitation of children, 100-102
Export-Import Bank, 12
Exxon, 169-170, 197
Exxon-Mobil, 247
Exxon Valdez spill, 41, 169-170, 197

Fairness Doctrine for Parents Act, 113
False Claims Act, 179, 185
Fedders, John, 184-185
Federal discovery rule, 38
Feinstein, Diane, 208
Feldbusch, Jeremy, 266
Fellmeth, Robert C., 18, 110
Firestone, 170
Fischel, Daniel, 176
Ford Motor Company, 64, 90, 172
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, 180
Foreign policy, 219:-233
Fortress America (Grieder), 233
Foster, Andrew, 165
Fox, John O., 217
Framework Convention on Tobacco
Control, 250
Frank, Barney, 54
Frank, Tom, 273
Fraud:
control, under-investment of, 67-72
health care, 168
savings and loan, 169
Friedman, Milton, 176
Friedman; Thomas, 229
Fritts, Eddie, 31
Frontier, 150-151
Fuller, Buckminster, 230

Gandhi's seven deadly social sins, 272
Gap, The, 249
Garfield, Bob, 101
Gates, Bill, Jr., 19, 89
Gates, Bill, Sr., 89 216
General Electric, 241
General Electric (GE) Credit, 66, 84,
199
General Mining Act of 1872, 128
General Motors (GM), 7, 61, 64, 87, 90,
170, 207
Gerbner, George, 100
Gingrich, Newt, 259
Giuliani, Rudolph, 161
Glass-Steagall law, 162, 163
GlaxoSmithKline, 243
Glickman, Dan, 130
Global corporate model, 10
Global Crossing, 151
Globalization:
confronting, 248-253
corporate, 142, 235-253
and its effects, 199
ravages of, 240-248
Goldman Sachs, 167
Good Jobs First, 49-50
Goodrich, .David, 207-208
Goodrich, Teresa, 208
Goodwin, Richard N., 203
Gourley, Coulin, 46
Grameen Bank, 251
Grant, James, 230
Grass, Martin, 166
Grassley, Charles. 82
Great Food Gamble, The (Humphreys),
106
Greenspan, Alan, 3, 194, 190, 194, 197
Grieder, William, 233
Griles, Steven, 119
Grossman, Dave, 105
Grove, Andrew, 84

Halliburton, 242, 262
Harkin, Tom, 237
Hart, Philip, 74
Hawken, Paul, 120
Health care, 149
fraud, 67, 268
Health Maintenance Organizations
(HMOs), 205-209, 248
HealthSouth Corp., 166
Heftel, Cecil, 259-263
Hellander, Dr. Ida, 209
Helmsley, Leona, 81
Helvarg, David, 132
Heyman, Philip, 224
Himmelstein; Dr. David, 209
HIV/AIDS drug cocktails, 243
Honeywell Corporation, 126
Houghton, Amory, 95
Humanitarian yardsticks, 194-199
Humphreys, John, 106
Hunger, 12
Huron Consulting Group, 164
Hussein, Saddam, 269

Imbalances, growing, 199-204
Inequalities, persistent, 52-56
Inheritance tax, 92
Innocence Project, and DNA testing, 50
Insurance industry, and dishonesty
campaign, 44-46
Intel Corporation, 84, 86
Interface Corporation, 129
International Confederation of Free
Trade Unions, 146
International Monetary Fund (I MF), 10,
232-233, 245-246, 250
International trade agreements, 201
Investment, military vs. civilian,
213-215
IRS, mistreatment by, 81

Jackson, Brooks, 259
Jacobson, Michael F., 75, 109
Jeffress, Charles, 153
Jenner & Block, 181
Johnson, Chalmers, 232, 267
Johnson, Lyndon, 7
Johnston, David Cay, 92, 94, 150, 217
Judas Economy, The (Wolman), 95
Jurassic Park, 101

Kay, David, 212, 223
Keith, Damon, 231
Kelleher, Herbert, 63
Kerry, john, 270
Kids and Social Action (Lewis), 100
Kimbrell, Andrew, 111
King Coal, 121-122
Kinsley, Michael, 219
Kopper, Michael, 165
Kozlowski, L. Dennis, 166

Labor movement, 139-158
Landscape, razing the, 118-123
Law, corporate attack on, 160-162
Leave Children Alone Act, 113
Leave No Child Behind (LNCB), 114
Legalized bribery, 256
Lehman Brothers, 167
Leitzell, Terry, 178
Lerach, William, 161
Lerner, Michael, 228
Lethal arms trafficking, 11
Levitt, Arthur, 162
Lewis, Barbara A., 99
Lewis, Charles, 89, 94, 217
Lewis. Peter, 38
License to Steal: Why Fraud Plagues
America's Health Care System
(Sparrow), 67, 168
Liebeck, Stella, 42-43
Lieberman, Joseph, 30
Lightner, Candace, 262
Limbaugh, Rush, 17
Liquor industry, 71
L.L. Bean, 215
Lobby, corporate crime, 175-182
Lobbyists, 257
Loomis, Carol, 163-164
Lott, Trent, 31
Lovins, Amory and Hunter, 120
Luntz, Frank, 92
Lurie, Peter, 154

MacArthur, Douglas, 271
MacConnell, Frank, 259
Making a Killing: HMOs and the Threat
to Your Health (Court), 207
Malpractice awards, 45-46
Marketing madness, 75
Marketing Madness (Jacobson and
Mazur), 75, 109
Marriott, 86
Marshall, George C., 271
Martinez, Mel, 66
Massey Energy Company, 121
Mastercard, 64
Maytag, 241
Mazur, Laurie Ann, 75, 109
Mazzocchi, Tony, 8, 158
McArthur, Douglas, 15, 221
McCain, John, 30
McConnell, Mitch, 260
McDonald's, 86
coffee spill case, 42-43
McGovern, George, 93
MCI, 166
MCI WorldCom, 72
McWane, Inc., 172-173
Medical malpractice, 69
Meier, Deborah, 115
Melman, Seymour, 213-215
Merck, 243
Merrill Lynch, 167
Methauex, 238-239
Micro-credit, 251 ,
Microsoft, 87, 89, 199
Microsoft Windows, 64
Milken, Michael, 161
Miller & Chevalier, 180
Mobil Oil, 248
Monks, Robert, 3, 192, 194
Monsanto Corporation, 43, 127,
135-136
Moore, Jim, -41
Moore, John Norton, 178
Morris, Jim, 49; 175
Moscowitz, Norman, 178
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers
(MADD), 262
Motiva Enterprises, 171
Mountain-top removal, 121-123
Moyer, Homer, Jr., 180
Moyers, Bill, 174, 175
MSNBC, 199, 221
Multilateral Agreement on Investment
(MAI), 249
Multinational corporation, 191
Murray, Alan, 259

NAFTA, 235-238, 251
Chapter 11, 245, 248-250
Nairn, Allan, 115
National Environmental Policy Act, The,
117
National Forest Protection Alliance, 129
National Health Program (NHP), 209,
211
National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health, 151
Natural Capitalism (Hawken and
Lovins), 120
Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC), 125
NBC, 84
Needleman, Herbert, 108
Nightline, 227
Nike, 249
9/11 Commission, 231
Niskanen, William, 177
Nixon, Richard, 7, 26, 32
North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA), 10

Obesity and children, 103-104
Occidental Petroleum, 250
Occupational Safety and Health Act,
151-152
Occupational Safety and Health Agency
(OSHA), 151
penalties, 154
Office for Civil Rights (OCR), 54
Oil revenue, 247-248
Olsen, Kathy, 208
Olsen, Steven, 37, 208
O'Me1veny & Myers, 180
Owen, Dr. Penny, 115
Oxman, Bernard. 178

Parents' Bill of Rights, 112-114
Parker. Jeffrey, 176
Patriot Act, 56, 224
Penrose, Boies, 25, 29
Pensions, 149-151
People's Airlines, 62
Pepsi, 12
Perfectly Legal: The Covet Campaign to
Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the
Super Rich and Cheat Everybody
Else (Johnston), 92, 150, 217
Peterson, LaTasha, 146
Pew Oceans Commission, 131
Pfizer, 160
Philip Morris, 71, 244
Phillips, John T., 173-174
Pitt. Harvey, 162, 184
Pittson Coal, 121
Plunder, corporate and financial, 248
Plutocracy, 91-92
Political system, change, 274-275
Postel, Theodore, 215
Powder River Basin, example, 118-119
Powell, Lewis, 26
Power, shifts of, 27-29
Powerlessness:
feeling of, 4-5
and high drug costs, 73
Priorities and institutional insanity,
205-217
Prisons, privatization of, 50
"Prisons for profit, " 49
Prison system, 47-51
Private Securities Litigation Reform Act,
161
Product Placement Disclosure Act, 113
Progressive Insurance Company, 38
Prospectus for the Cultural Environment
Movement (Gerbner), 100
Providian Financial Corp., 182
Proxmire, William, 260
Prudential Securities, 167
Puloskie, John Patrick, Jr., 150-151

Quest, 72
Quist, David, 135

Rabin, Yitzhak, 228
Racial profiling, 47-48
Raphaelson, Ira, 180
Rapoport, Bernard, 216
RCA, 84
Reagan, Ronald, 27, 74, 92
Regulation, 72
Regulatory rollbacks, 125
Reign of ETS, The (Naim), 114-115
Renco Group, Inc., 124
Rennert, Ira, 124
Reno, Janet, 48
Responsible wealth, 216
Rey, Mark, 131
Richards, Ann, 41
Richardson, Eliot, 178
Rite Aid, 166
Robbins, Ira, 174
Robertson, Reuben, 59
Rochester Telephone Company, 150-151
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 4
Rosenfeld, Dr. Arthur, 120
Ross, Dan, 174-175
Ross, Elaine, 175
Rossotti, Charles O., 81, 95
Rove, Karl, 41
Rowland, John, 273
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, 178, 179
Royal Dutch Shell, 171
Rumsfeld, Donald, 15, 30
Ruskin, Gary, 114

Safe Drinking Water Act, 128
Safeway, 149
Sales, salvage timber, 130
Salomon Smith Barney, 167
Sara Lee Corporation, 181
Sarbanes Oxley law, 185
Sarid, Yossi, 228
Saro-Wiwa, Ken, 247
Saudi Aramco. 171
Saul, John Raulston, 110
Savings and investment tax, 92
Savings and loan fraud, 169-170
Schmeiser, Percy; 135-136
School, a new Byrd, 97-100
Schultz, Brian, 98-100
Schumacher, E. F., 12, 195
Schwarzer, William, 38
SCPIE Holdings Inc., 45
Scrushy, Richard, 166
Sears, 64
Security, national, 14-21
Shadid, Dr. Michael, 205
Sheck, Barry, 51
Shell, 247
60 Minutes, 70, 127, 269
Slater, Wayne, 41
Small Is Beautiful, 12
Smith, Sam, 35
Smith, Wesley J., 74
Smithfield Foods, 145-146
Soled, Jay, 89
Solitron Devices, Inc., 126
Soros, George, 89, 216
Southwest Airlines, 63
Sovereign Individual, The (Davidson), 91
Sparrow, Malcolm, 67-68, 268
Spielberg, Steven, 101
Spitzer, Eliot, 167
Sprint, 72
Standard Oil, 170
Stanley Works, 82
Starr, Judson, 178
State Farm Insurance, 64
Steele, James B., 259
Stern, Philip, 259
Stein, Gertrude, 33
Stephenson, Diana, 241
Stewart, Martha, 167
Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill
(Grossman), 105
Sullivan, Scott, 166
Surgeon General's report, 70
Swartz, Mark, 166

Tampa Electric, 125
Tax:
avoidance, 90-96
escapes, offshore, 82
evasion, 90-91
havens, 82-83
incentives, 86-87
obligations, acceptance of, 80
schemes, 82-83
Taxes, 79-80
Taxpayer Appreciation Day, 83-86
Television and children, 102-103,
104-105
10 Tax Questions the Candidates Don't
Want You to Ask (Fox), 217
Terry, Dr. Luther, 70
Texaco, 247
Textron, 43
Third World and corporate globalization,
242
HIV/AIDS, 243-244
oil revenue, 247-248
plunder, 248
smoking, 244-245
structural adjustments, 245-246
Third-party payment, 67
Thompson, Larry, 182-183, 186
Thornburgh, Dick, 169
Timber harvesting, 129-132
Title IX and women in athletics, 54
Tobacco industry, 11, 244-245
and children, 104
manipulation of public, 69-70
Tort reform, 20, 40, 43
Total Information Awareness Program
(TIPS), 57
Toyota, 64
Trade, importance of, 252
Trani, John M., 82
Trans Circuit, Inc., 126
Tribe, Lawrence, 202
Truth in advertising laws, 2
20120, 70
Tyco, 166
Tyranny, 11

Unconscious Civilization, The (Saul),
110
UNICEF, 12, 230
Union Carbide, 170, 175
Unions, 144-149
United Airlines, 63
United Electrical Workers, 157
United Food and Commercial Workers
(UFCW), 145-147
United Parcel Service (UPS), 239
Duocal, 247
Upjohn, 43
U.S. National Academy of Sciences
(NAS), 133

Vacco, Dennis C., 172
Values, civil vs. commercial, 3
Valukas, Anton, 181
Video games, violence and children, 104
Vinegrad, Alan, 183
Visa, 64
Volcker, Paul, 216
Voter, the conscious, 273-275

Wage inequality, 53-54
Wages, 140-144
reasons for stagnation, 142-144
Wagner, Frank, 172, 173
Wal-Mart, 18, 64, 74-75
and fight against unions, 146-147, 149
Wallach, Lori, 237
War Is a Racket (Butler), 225
War on terrorism, 56, 220-221
Warner-Lambert, 160
Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why
America Should Tax Accumulated
Fortunes (Collins), 216
Weekley, Jim, 122
Weinberg, Neil, 164
Weiss, Martin D., 167
Weissman, Robert, 13-14
Weiss Ratings, 167
Wellstone, Paul, 82
Whirlpool, 241
Whitman, Christie Todd, 199
Whose Trade Organization? (Wallach and
Woodall), 237
Winning the Insurance Game (Nader and
Smith), 74
Winthrop & Stimson, 178
Witte, Anne, 33
Wolfe, Sidney, 154
Wolff, Edward, 19
Wolman, William, 95
Women Activists: Challenging the Abuse
of Power (Witte), 33
Woodall, Patrick, 237
Woolhandler, Dr. Steffie, 209
Workplaces and safety, 151-155
progress in, 155-158
World Bank, 10, 244-246, 250
World Health Organization (WHO),
112, 231
World Tourism Organization, 249
World Trade Organization (WTO), 10,
235-238, 243, 249, 250
WorldCom, 164, 165, 166, 193
Worldwatch Institute, 134

Zinn, Howard, 266
Zuk, Donald J., 45
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