Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nader highlights corporate greed in America

The Daily Beacon
Zac Ellis, Editor in Chief

Ralph Nader had one message on Wednesday night: Corporations are running America, and young generations are letting it happen.

Nader, a four-time presidential candidate and noted consumer advocate, lectured to a semi-crowded Cox Auditorium on Wednesday night, focusing largely on the apparent dominant hold corporations have on American society.

"The Constitution starts with the Preamble, 'We the People,'" said Nader, who was brought to UT by the Central Program Council and the Issues Committee. "It does not start with the Preamble, 'We the Corporation.'"

Nader's discussion, entitled, "Democracy and its Erosion: Big Business and the American Duopoly," aimed to shed light on the damaging effects of corporate society, fueled by a college-aged generation of American youth, whom Nader claimed have "grown up corporate."

"What do I mean by growing up corporate?" Nader said. "We know that corporations run this country. It's not secret. The secret is, how do they run it?"

Known for a career in public service highlighted by bouts of consumer activism, Nader has impacted a variety of aspects of the American corporate sphere with his work. Since 1965, when Nader released a book entitled, "Unsafe at Any Speed," in which the young Nader successfully exposed the auto industry's ignorance of safety standards in its vehicles, the Harvard Law School graduate has fought for the rights of American citizens, rights that Nader claims are being stripped away by the power of corporations.

As the figurehead for the nation's Green Party, America's premiere third party, Nader said the nation's two-party system is stalling.

"Eighty percent of people think America is going in the wrong direction," Nader said. "Sixty-three percent in a major Gallup poll think the two major parties are failing."

Nader cited the strategic planning of American corporations as the key point in the power held by such companies.

"Corporations make no bones about strategic planning," Nader said. "They like strategic planning. Here's what they're strategically planning: They're planning our government, our education ... they're strategically planning our genetic inheritance."

The top-heavy structure of the country's corporations, Nader said, directly contrasts with the foundation of democracy.

"There's not much free speech inside corporations," Nader said. "How compatible is this for our alleged democracy?"

Claiming to have never visited a McDonald's or a Wal-Mart because of the control such companies hold on society, Nader spent the majority of his one-and-a-half hour lecture taking corporations to task, as well as the American government for allowing power into the hands of industry giants.

Nader gauged the audience's experience in filing lawsuits, claiming that laws are making it more difficult to gather claims from filing suits as individuals.

"The main litigation in this country is corporation suing corporation," Nader said. "The fact is it's becoming more and more difficult to file suits.

"To be able to go to court and get adequate damages, all that's being squeezed by state law after state law after state law with some help from Washington."

Nader stressed that the financial means for America to solve its own problems does exist, but necessary means are not being used. As an example, Nader said the U.S. spends more money guarding the nation's embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, than on specific domestic government organizations, like those meant to prevent American workers from suffering work-related injuries. He said more than 50,000 Americans die each year from work-related injuries.

The money, however, remains in the hands of the corporations on the home front, Nader said. He expressed displeasure in the constitutional rights given to corporations, saying that companies are given the same privileges as American citizens but aren't always subject to the same rules.

"Sixty percent of corporations in this country who are operating paid no income taxes last year," Nader said.

The key for change lies in the hands of the college-aged generations, Nader said, though he admitted he sees little initiative in that specific generation.

"Expectation levels are the most powerful way of controlling people," Nader said. "I dare to say you have among the lowest expectation levels of any generation of students I've ever exchanged ideas with, and I've been working with students for 50 years."

But Nader focused on the positive aspect of college for students, saying that higher education represents the best time to make a difference for young people.

"This is where you come in," Nader said. "You've got about 15,000 days until you reach 65, a little over 2,000 weeks. Arguably the most creative decade of your life, not necessarily the wisest ... is your 20s.

"This is where you're going to break through, in terms of where you're going to have an impact in this world and on this country and on this community. This is where you're going to decide how you're going to pioneer new civic institutions."

Kelsey Scott, freshman in marketing, thought Nader's lecture opened the minds of the audience.

"It was definitely thought provoking about his thoughts towards how we're ruled by large companies," Scott said.

Others saw sides of Nader they otherwise weren't aware of.

"I knew that Ralph Nader was a consumer protectionist and that he's worked out a lot of provisions with the EPA, and of course the seat-belt law that he produced," Hunter Threet, freshman in political science, said. "But I didn't know his thoughts on corporate crime. That was pretty enlightening."

1 comment:

  1. "Sixty percent of corporations in this country who are operating paid no income taxes last year," Nader says. That is because 60% of these "greedy corporations" made no profit last year. A large number of American citizens paid no taxes last year either: unemployed, disabled, sick, children, housewives, seniors, illegal immigrants - probably more than 60% of the population - is Nader going to demonise these people too?


I want to hear from you but any comment that advocates violence, illegal activity or that contains advertisements that do not promote activism or awareness, will be deleted.