Ralph Nader Q&A: How Progressives and Libertarians Are Taking on Crony Capitalism and Corrupt Dems and Reps


"The total support of the military-industrial complex and empire by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is staggering," Ralph Nader tells Reason TV. And don't get him started on the 2000 election.

"Everybody has an equal right to run for election. We're either all spoilers of one another, trying to get votes from one another or none of us are spoilers. We're not second-class citizens because we're a Green Party candidate or a Libertarian candidate….The brass of these two parties is they control the election machinery so they keep you off the ballot, harass you, file a lawsuit, delay you, exhaust you."

Nader's latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

The longtime consumer activist, recidivist presidential candidate, and several-time host of Saturday Night Live talks with Nick Gillespie about what he sees as a new libertarian-progressive attack on crony capitalism, whether GM cars were ever any damn good, and why the Democrats still wrongly insist that he cost Al Gore the 2000 presidential election. Oh yeah, and that article of his Reason published in the early 1970s.

It's a wide-ranging, spirited, fun, and at times contentious conversation.

About an hour long. Produced by Joshua Swain.

Transcript below.

This is a rush transcript.

GILLESPIE: Hi, I'm Nick Gillespie with Reason TV and today I'm happy to say we're talking with the one and only Ralph Nader about his latest book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Ralph, thanks for talking to Reason TV.

NADER: Thank you, Nick.

GILLESPIE: You were born in 1930.

NADER: 1934.

GILLESPIE: You are one of the most influential public policy advocates or social figures of the past 50 or 60 years, lets call it the post World War 2 era. You've been on Sesame Street, Saturday night live, the Ali g show, everything else. Your first big book was Unsafe at any Speed. In 1966, you followed that up with the NATO Report on the FTC, which might've been as influential in a lot of ways.  You've created organizations like Public Citizen as well as all the PIRGs that college students especially know about. In Unstoppable, you write about what you call the emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state. Talk about corporatism, how do you define it, and why do you see the left and right coming together to say enough already?

NADER: Corporatism is a world-view that large corporations should manage our political economy, and they should strategically plan it and things will come out okay. It's part of the overall globalization which undermines local, state and national sovereignty and which pulls down economies to their lowest levels in countries overseas.

GILLESPIE: What's the kind of growth curve of corporatism? Is this something that in a lot of ways starts with the new deal and then extends into the post war era of the government or the state and corporation saying were going to work together to stabilize everything.

NADER: Well that's one—sort of an emergency partnership, but I think the marker was around 1979, when congressman democrat from California, Tony Cuello, persuaded the democrats that they could raise a lot of money from corporate sources just like the republicans, From then on, you can see the decline in public hearings, the corporate malfeasance. You can see the decline in enforcement of health and safety standards, doctorants (2:18?) like deferred prosecution. They never had to plead guilty – the corporations – they cut deals. And you see the enormous increase in PACS, commercial PACS, and political action committees.

GILLESPIE: And that's to lobby the government, to rig markets…

NADER: Right, and they're given to most democrats and republicans.

GILLESPIE: Do you see a strong difference or a meaningful difference overall between the Obama administration's policies and George W. Bush's? And is it continuity or is it rupture?

NADER: It's very much continuity. Obviously on social services there are differences—Medicare for example, Medicaid, and social security. However, on the power areas, is there much of a difference on militarization of foreign policy between bush and Obama? Is there much of a difference between bailing out wall street and perpetuating the corporate welfare state, which libertarians call Crony Capitalism? No. Is there much of a difference in the money in politics? Well, maybe in the Supreme Court there is, but you go up to Capitol Hill and there both dialing for dollars like crazy.

GILLESPIE: What did you think in 2008, just a couple weeks before the election, it was amazing to me when John McCain, you know, because a lot of people on the left and a lot of people on the libertarian end of the right, will say there's really not much difference. It was amazing in 2008 when John McCain suspended his campaign to come back and vote for TARP, which Obama also voted for, and it kind of seemed like a signal moment, a flare almost, that these guys are effectively very much alike.

NADER: They're very much invested in the corporate state. That's what corporatism is. Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 sent a message to Congress to set up an Investigative Commission on concentrated corporate power – it's called the TNEC. In the message, he said whenever the government is controlled by private economic power, that's fascism. Those are his exact words. Obviously, World War 2 gave fascism another dimension. But the combination of corporate and government power, so that government becomes basically a service an arrangement for corporations is what we call a corporate government, a corporate state, and what you call crony capitalism. And that's where the convergence of the left and right should focus on.

GILLESPIE: Ok, so let's get to a couple cases of that. But here is a specific example. Would you grant though that in a true free economy, one that is predicated upon individual buyers and sellers, could a company legitimately without using the state grow to a massive size where it controls 60-70 or more percent of the market? Or do you think by definition, any company that controls a certain percentage of a market needs to be regulated or could have only gotten that way because of regulation?

NADER: Well I think if they have a monopoly patent for example on a drug, they're gonna have a 100% of the market for 20 years. The other theme is they grow because they get huge amounts of tax payer funded research and development. So if you look at the major emerging industries – the biotech industry, the computer semi conductor industry, a lot of the pharmaceutical industry, the containerization industry. These are industries that grew as a result of free transmission of government research and development.

GILLESPIE: What's the percentage of that though? Because pharmaceutical companies, for example there's definitely some research that gets done at state funded universities or through government grants. But it's costing pharmaceutical companies a billion dollars in ten years to bring a drug to market. They're putting up virtually all of that and there's risk involved.

NADER: First of all, most of the important drugs have NIH research sponsored input. In fact, three quarters of the anti cancer drugs, or drugs like taxol for example—they're given to them essentially free and no reasonable price restraints.

GILLESPIE: So are you saying then if there is a certain percentage of free money or government supported research going into something, the government has the right to regulate that or what?

NADER: There's a right to get some perceived return for the taxpayer and there is no return.

GILLESPIE: But living longer or anything like that?

NADER: That's a good benefit that's why they do it. But for example with taxol in 2000, a woman with ovarian cancer wrote me and showed that she would have to pay $14,000 for six treatments to Bristol Myers Squibb well Bristol Myers Squibb got that right through the clinical testing for free from the NIH.

GILLESPIE: So what should she have had to pay? Or should she have not had to pay anything.

NADER: Well I believe that if the taxpayer pays for the intellectual property, for the assets, there should be reasonable price provisions. Because by the definition, the government is giving a monopoly to Bristol Myers Squibb.

GILLESPIE: We'll move to a separate area, but does that mean actually why don't we get rid of patents then? Or are you saying no one should have to pay more than $5,000 a year for any drug. Because I think there's a general sense of fairness that everyone would agree with, that if the government funds something that leads to something – and that I think is a more difficult thing to determine – then there should be some return. But then the question is if Bristol Myers Squibb is only going to get $5,000 a year from patients then there not going to do it, because it isn't worth their time.

NADER: Well it is worth their time because they didn't spend any money creating the drug and testing the drug. I think the patent is antiquated for drugs. They should get a reward, a monetary reward for creating the drug. The patent is just it's a parady situation. There's this Gilead science, which you've read about—they're charging now $1,000 a pill for six weeks.

GILLESPIE: But think about it, some drugs are worth that—if they're the only thing that might save your life. I mean we could agree that some things are worth paying $1,000 a shot for.

NADER: But if you run that through the economy, it's worth a million dollars for an ambulance – especially since government research helped make that possible.

GILLESPIE: Well let's talk about a place of convergence. Because your book is actually a map saying people on the right and people on the left across the political spectrum agree that no one but the direct beneficiaries really like corporate welfare and crony capitalism. You tell an interesting story in the book about how you helped push airbags into being. It actually started not through a government mandate, but you went and talked to the guy who purchased vehicles for the federal government. Talk a little bit about that process.

NADER: The government is a big consumer. It buys almost everything we buy – food, energy, transportation, plus missiles, which we don't buy.

GILLESPIE: Let's be clear though – the government buys a lot more prostitutes than I think you or I do.

NADER: (laughing) That's another issue… The agency is called the General Service Administration, so I learned that the agency buys about 45,000 vehicles a year for government employees to do their business. I went down, and lo and behold, this man was a libertarian, right wing, supporter of Reagan, a former parts dealer in New Hampshire.

GILLESPIE: So he was saying the government really shouldn't be buying much of anything and it should get the best deal.

NADER: That's right – save the taxpayer, save the lives, and it worked. He put out a bid and GM knew it was coming, so they accosted him at a social meeting, a gathering, and said you shouldn't do this. And he said well the customers always right. So Ford bid on 5,000 Ford Tempos to put airbags in and the rest is history.

GILLESPIE: Here is a question because I find that story and a lot of stories in the book just fascinating because I know you've worked with people like Grover Nordquist from American's for Tax Reform. We see this all the time especially on things like military spending, national surveillance, and civil liberties – huge convergence between the right and the left in a way that's genuinely different than 25 years ago. But then at some point if airbags make sense, why should they be forced on the auto industry, as opposed to wouldn't consumers, say nobody had to make VCRs mandatory or remote controls for VCRs mandatory – the market drove that. Isn't it enough of a demonstration project to say hey, here's a way you can save federal employee's lives and overall money, and why wouldn't that have worked in the general population.

NADER: It ended up working – there was a mandatory standard for airbags.

GILLESPIE: But I'm saying why make the standards mandatory?

NADER: Oh, because you want to save lives – police power. I mean why have police in towns? To save lives.

GILLESPIE: By the same token, it was not a recall of all cars that didn't have airbags, so we recognize that this is going to be phased in. What's wrong with allowing more of a voluntary, opt-in rather than mandating a perceived "this is the best way let's mandate it for everyone."

NADER: Because it saves lives. I mean it's like fire prevention codes. It's like having bridge standards.

GILLESPIE: I get all of that but we understand there's not always going to be a phase in. Because we don't actually say ok, when we up fire standards we don't tear down all the old buildings.

NADER: We can rely on the auto companies to coerce a phase in – then they'd keep delaying and delaying.

GILLESPIE: We'll talk more about the auto companies that are near and dear to your heart. You do not own a car?


GILLESPIE: And is that because of the auto companies won't sell you one?

NADER: (Laughing) No actually if I bought a car they would advertise it.

GILLESPIE: That's true. So one of the things in the book, and to go back to this question f convergence which I think a lot of libertarians would be very interested in, and you've been working with various groups on things is that you revisit the agrarians of the 1920s and 30s – these are people on the old right, you have some kind words about Ludwig Von Mises in the book, saying that he is often misrepresented by what you would call corporate capitalists.

NADER: Yes and Frederick Hayek.

GILLESPIE: Even Marx, I mean it's clear that contemporary people who evoke them often distort them to their own purposes. Talk a little bit about what you find powerful about agrarians in particular because you spend a lot of time talking about people like Allen Tate, and a few others.

NADER: Well they were reporters, farmers, poets – people who would call themselves conservatives. They had a very sophisticated philosophy of power. First of all they believed in the first principle of capitalism, which is defied by Wall Street, which is if you own property, you should have some reasonable control. Whereas investors today own the corporations but they have very little control over the bosses and their pay. So what they argued was that the only way you could have a Democratic society is if you decentralize property ownership. In those days, they talked about land because small farmers were being overtaken by the large farms. But they also talked about shares, and they said look if we have shares in companies, we want to control it, and we should have decentralization of shares as well. The main thing about it is they defied the Marxists and the New Dealers. They felt that the New Dealers were ready to be taken over by the big corporations and the corporate state, which is what they feared.

GILLESPIE: You would agree that that effectively happened? I mean it's what's good for General Motors is good for the USA type of stuff.

NADER: And they are remarkably pressing. That's why it's such a fresh chapter in the book, because people say, "I had no idea that people actually did this."

GILLESPIE: Do you worry at all? Because I look back and there was a guy who was not an agrarian but talked in the 40s and 50s, Arthur Ekirch, a political scientist, who talked a lot about decentralizing power. That's the basic principle of classical liberalism, but the agrarians were very anti-capitalist, in the sense they tended to come from the South, most were overt racists, people like Allen Tate, a racial supremacist in a way that's not even conscionable today. But is there a problem in that they wanted to keep things decentralized in a way to preserve their status quo at the cost of our ancestors, people who were streaming over from the middle east, from southern Italy and southern Europe to cities, because cities and capitalism were the place where people had more opportunities. I mean do you worry about that?
NADER: They didn't mention African Americans except for sharecroppers who thought that it was an atrocity.

GILLESPIE: And they didn't want their sisters to marry one either.

NADER: Those were the times, right? And they didn't mention women, except in the book there is a woman who taught at Vassar (16:06?), who just ripped the hell out of the men, and went after the suffrage saying you freed us, and then you didn't follow up, and then the women didn't follow up – they were just like the men. They were breaking some of the boundaries of bigotry and prejudice.

GILLESPIE: Were you always into these guys and it's just you're talking about them more now or is it something that you discovered over the course of your career?

NADER: I discovered them in the course of this research for Unstoppable.

GILLESPIE: Before we move into other topics, let me you, and I'm thinking about this in terms of how can Ralph Nader make the best pitch to a libertarian audience. You talk in the book about workfare as Clinton era mischief. At a certain point, you attack people on the left as well as on the right for saying Clinton, because liberals did not look at the hard edges of social welfare programs and allowed them to get so bad that then they were going to be reformed but often times the reform was not particularly useful. You talk about workfare basically as a sop (17:18?) to corporate America. We can discuss that a little bit, and then you also say that about other types of things like people on the left didn't attack unions for being really repressive and suppressive of their own work. Talk a little bit about the idea that workfare was not a positive reform of the welfare system and what should have happened.

NADER: Basically, there weren't any jobs, and the idea of cutting a single mom off of $300 a month when there were really no jobs or she couldn't get transportation to go from the inner city to the suburbs.

GILLESPIE: So what do we do? Because one of the things that is interesting in the book is that you're not saying the status quo is preferable to what should be. It's clear that our social welfare spending, and I would include social security and Medicare in that, we have a system where if you're well connected politically and if you're wealthy, then you can get a lot of government money, and then it gets harder the less political power you have. What's a social welfare state that you would want to see implemented?
NADER: Look at this, Milton Friedman created the minimum income plan that Nixon adopted and proposed to Congress and Congress didn't pass it. That is a reflection of a long tradition of conservative philosophers, for example Frederick Hayek was opposed to Medicare and Medicaid because they weren't universal. He didn't like discriminatory service. He talked about social insurance, and these revered conservative philosophers, which are used by Congressman Paul Ryan and others, and misused – they actually believed in public works. They believed in social insurance. They believed basically in paying a decent wage. Adam Smith would say workers are the economy. How can you not pay them a decent wage?

GILLESPIE: Two things, and let's talk about the wages in a second because you're right about, you know, Friedman proposed a plan and it ended up in a very distorted way becoming the earned income tax credit, which does something different, you know – a guaranteed minimum income essentially or a negative income. Would Hayek say well Medicare is ok if everybody had it? Because it's already killing the country, it's already bankrupting the country. There's no way to control its costs, or is it that we need a true social safety net that would not be based on age, but based on need, and it would be universally available but it would be much smaller than it is now.

NADER: Well that's the principle of Medicaid, but we know how hard it is to even get on Medicaid if you're poor and you don't have children. Those are all administrative details that are very important but the overall principle is nobody should die because they can't pay.

GILLESPIE: What about the wages then? Because you attack Wal-Mart in the book. Wal-Mart, you say at one point, and I'm quoting, "Wal-Mart has been the leader with a low-wage policy it has mercilessly inflicted on its workers and its domestic producers." Talk about that and what are the effects of that?

NADER: There are about a million Wal-Mart workers who make less today than 1968, adjusted for inflation, because the minimum wage has been stagnant. It's now at seven and a quarter. If it were adjusted for inflation, they would be making about ten dollars and fifty cents. All right, we start with this – Costco starts at $11.50 an hour plus benefits.

GILLESPIE: How many people does it employ compared to Wal-Mart? You have to pay a membership fee just to get into Costco.

NADER: That's true.

GILLESPIE: So it's more expensive.

NADER: But there's a reason. It's not more expensive according to the CEO of Costco because they have far less employee turnover, they have more worker productivity, and he said it's the right thing to do. I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, it stimulates the economy." Consumer demand stimulates the economy.

GILLESPIE: I'm thinking from the consumer point of view there's no question Costco, I mean it has a different set of items for sell and it's more expensive than Wal-Mart. You can go into Wal-Mart and get a shirt and a meal for a couple bucks. You have to pay $50-60 just to walk in the door at Costco.

NADER: But you see there are other factors here. Wal-Mart has basically told its supplier in the US if you can't beat the China price, shut down and go to China, we'll buy your products and ship them back here. Wal-Mart CEO makes $11,000 an hour eight hours a day, and you know that's Crony Capitalism with the Board of Directors, you know the rubber stamp Board of Directors. That's not a market, but here's what's really important here – in the last six or seven years, Wal-Mart has spent 51 billion dollars buying back its stock. Which really helps the Walton family of course. If they had decided to pay their workers with that 51 billion, which is not a very productive way to use capital, they would give them a three dollars and 50 cents an hour raise for all their workers. This is where they'd prefer to put their money. Now, where are the investors at Wal-Mart? They don't have any role in deciding…

GILLESPIE: Well, it's a publicly traded company.

NADER: Yeah, but the investors are powerless.

GILLESPIE: I don't necessarily disagree with the idea that investors don't do what we would like them to do or that they are fully disempowered. There are real questions, one of the people that you quote in the book at several places is David Stockman, who is a friend of Reason's, a fascinating person who does not fit into a traditional left-right spectrum, and there's more of him speaking up now. But Wal-Mart according to a 2005 study by the Brennan Justice Center, which is not a right wing organization or a Walton foundation – they said that the average worker at Wal-Mart was making $19,000 a year, which at that time in 2005, was more than the average worker at other discount retailers like K-mart and target. It was a little bit less than at a UFCW supermarket if you were in the union, but overall supermarket workers it was the same. So are they actually paying their workers less than what the market bears or are you saying the market is so rigged that we're getting these people on the cheap.

NADER: Well the latter. I don't know where Brennan got the data because we can't get that data…

GILLESPIE: They got it from a leaked document from Wal-Mart.

NADER: You know the statistical shenanigans when you say average. You want to ask yourself how many people in Wal-Mart are making less than 1968, and it's almost a million workers.

GILLESPIE: Yes, but it's also are they working the same number of hours, are households the same size?

NADER: We're not talking about full pay. You're right they have a lot of part time.

GILLESPIE: This remains a point of contention between libertarians and your method of things, because Costco is a great company, it's a great business, it's a great business model, it's one of many. Wal-Mart also is a different business model that has helped keep prices down. It's one of the reasons inflation has slowed most economists would agree. But it's a different model, and if we want to decentralize power and a decentralized lifestyle, we don't want everybody…

NADER: But it's classic concentration of power – Wal-Mart. The strip their investors of any type of input on this, and they go around getting free land.

GILLESPIE: This is true.

NADER: Corporate welfare, driving out small business. This book is a lot about Main Street versus Wall Street. We have like 24 areas of left right convergence where if we set aside our disagreement we could finally get something done. It's not like we're each winning because corporatism is a divide and rule, very domineering power concentrating force.

GILLESPIE: One of the huge areas of convergence, I think among the Libertarian right, and a lot of older line Conservatives and many people on the left. Do you define yourself as a member of the left or the right?
NADER: I like to call myself a moral empiricist.

GILLESPIE: I'll take that as a yes. With defense spending and the military-industrial complex, talk a little bit about why that seems so popular, I mean it's a huge part of the book, and why did the military-industrial complex grow so well to a point where you have somebody like Barack Obama runs as the peace candidate and immediately triples troop strength in Afghanistan and has not taken a hatchet or even a fingernail clipper to the defense budget. How did the military-industrial complex rise to its supremacy?

NADER: Well first of all, it exaggerates foreign perils. Eisenhower pointed this out and so did MacArthur.

GILLESPIE: Who didn't agree necessarily on much more.

NADER: It's huge business. If you can see almost an unwillingness to resist in Congress, so you create these perils and you exaggerate them, and there's always some new enemy they're going to find – the latest is China. Iran doesn't quite fit the bill; it's not big enough after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then you wave the flag, and then you pour the campaign money into Congress and the white house candidates. Then you show them a map where this trident submarine has got sub-contracts in 300 Congressional districts. You don't want to do that and you don't want to close down your bases, right? Now who's going to challenge that? This is where there's the greatest convergence. You remember when Congressman Ron Paul teamed up with Congressman Barney Frank in 2010. That was actually a staffed Caucus to challenge the bloated military budget, but the industrial war machine has got their hooks into both Democrats and Republican parties.

GILLESPIE: So how do you fix that, because people are talking about this more than ever? Obama very loudly rattled the sabers to go into Syria, and he got pushed back on by Republicans.

NADER: There's an example. The emails were coming in like an avalanche and the members would say to the staff, "Are they coming in from the Republicans or the Democrats?" And the staff says, "Both." That terrifies them. Nothing terrifies corporate politicians and corporate bosses more than a left-right public opinion going operation on them. The key is becoming more visible, which is the purpose of this book – becoming more strategic, getting media, getting on the table of candidates and political agendas by incumbents.

GILLESPIE: Are there major party candidates that you find particularly appealing that are out there now? Can you name names?
NADER: Walter Jones – Republican from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

GILLESPIE: He had started out as a super war hawk. He's the guy who coined the term freedom fries, and now he's being primaried because he's anti-war now.

NADER: And he won the primary. Walter Jones believes in Constitutional procedures and as Ed Crane told me, "Ralph I oppose corporate subsidies, unconstitutional wars, the Patriot Act, and the Federal Reserve run amuck." And I said, "That's a pretty good start for convergence." So he's one. Senator Elizabeth Warren has kept quiet on militarism and foreign policy. She focuses on financial industry and Wall Street.

GILLESPIE: Where she is flat out terrible – we will disagree on that. Why do you believe she has any reason to be against military might though? If she's kept silent on it, why should we trust her?
NADER: Well that's an interesting question and she should be asked that. Basically, there's almost a loyalty oath amongst Senate and House Democrats via Obama. Just don't criticize Obama. Rose DeLauro has criticized him on a number of issues. There's not much independent thinking there.

GILLESPIE: We have Obama because we had Bush. There's a large argument out there that we had Bush because we had you. Going back to the 2000 election, the most tightly contested election of our lifetime, because it took forever to resolve. I didn't vote for either candidate, I didn't vote for you in 2000. It didn't turn out the way I wanted it to and I suspect it didn't for you either. In the 2000 election, do you think your presence – one of the arguments that third party candidates hear all the time is you cost me the election if I'm a Republican or a Democrat. Did you cost Al Gore the election?

NADER: No, and Al Gore agrees. He thinks he blew it in Tennessee, his home state. Everything else being equal he'd have been in the white house if he got Tennessee. And he thinks it was stolen in a number of ways in Florida. But here's where a Libertarian really supports – everybody has an equal right to run for election. If everybody has an equal right, then we're either all spoilers trying to get votes from one another or none of us are spoilers. We're not second-class citizens because we're a green party candidate or a Libertarian candidate. I have no trouble with Libertarians on that one, and the most interesting thing is – the brass of these two parties is they control the election machinery so they keep you off the ballot, harass you, file a lawsuit, delay you, exhaust you. You're lucky if you have an eight-week post Labor Day campaign to breathe in. And the other thing is—they created this corporation called the Commission on Presidential Debates—the two parties, and they decide who gets on and who doesn't. After Perot got on in 1992, no way was anyone else going to get on. That's why Jimmy Carter for a number of reasons, who has monitored a lot of elections, said last year the US is no longer a functioning democracy. Do you agree with that?
GILLESPIE: Oh, I do. I don't know if I would put it quite that way, but I agree completely that no third party candidate ever cost a major party candidate an election because it presumes all of our votes rightly belonged to the Democrats or Republicans.

NADER: Exactly, like they own the votes.

GILLESPIE: Yes, do you do not feel at all responsible nor should you. Let's talk about something that I think you would want to be partly responsible for, which is your role in airline deregulation, which now when airline deregulation gets held up, it's usually by liberal Democrats who say this is a terrible thing. Talk a little bit about why you and Ted Kennedy, as well as Alfred Kahn, an academic economist at Cornell, who is a Democrat politically, as well as people like Bob Poole of Reason Foundation were all pushing for deregulation of airline tickets prices and airports in the 70s.

NADER: Well, it was not just deregulation of airlines, it was railroads, and it was buses.

GILLESPIE: And in many ways trucking gets the least juice, but it was the most important to deregulate interstate trucking.

NADER: Yeah, and it was one of the most successful. It was what we call a cartel regulation. In other words, it regulated markets, it regulated entry of new challengers by blocking them, exactly what the airlines wanted. They created the Civil Aeronautics Board in 1937. In the late 70s, we started getting Congressional hearings – we said look, there's no competition under cartel regulation, the fares are too high, the service is lousy, roots aren't being opened up. So break it up. Get rid of the cartel regulation. Allow people's express to fly from New York to Buffalo for $35 or whatever, and for a while it worked. When I testified against cartel regulation, I had two reservations: 1) There had to be strong anti-trust enforcement and 2) There had to be safety standards. Well, there wasn't strong anti-trust enforcement. The Department of Transportation approved 32 of 32 mergers. So now you have fewer airlines dominating the entire market than you had in the cartel days.

GILLESPIE: But by the same token, airfares are cheaper and inflation adjusted the terms. Direct flights are not as frequent but that's also because people live in different areas.

NADER: Well it had a lot of benefits Nick for a lot of years.

GILLESPIE: What bothers you other than that there are few firms? Because this is what a basic kind of free market or libertarian approach would be—it doesn't matter how many firms are in a business as long as there is actual free entry, no barriers to entry, because even a monopolist has to act as if they are about to be taken on in a price war. If airfares are cheaper and if air service is as good or better than it was under the cartel, it's still a success even if there are fewer companies.

NADER: But less and less of a success and if it wasn't for Southwest Airlines, it would be…

GILLESPIE: But that's a big but, right?

NADER: But you see, here's where the barrier to entry is – it's [inaudible]

GILLESPIE: So this was part of the airline deregulation, but it was also to deregulate the airports as well, which are all basically local monopolies of government authorities. So you would be in for that?
NADER: I would be in for any pro-competition enforcement.

GILLESPIE: Here's an interesting question, because as we're talking about competition your report on the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, is fascinating reading because it reads simultaneously very much like work by the Socialist historian Gabriel Kolko, who from a progressive point of view said exactly what you said about the airlines, about the railroad barons, that progressives will say we created a regulatory body to regulate railroad rates and that's a big success, and he's like no the railroads created that to their advantage, and they froze the market when they were on top. This is also what James Buchanan and other public choice economists from a Libertarian angle say the same thing. The regulators get captured by the people they're regulating. That was the essence of your FTC Report.

NADER: And our ICC, Interstate Commerce Commission.

GILLESPIE: Talk a little bit about that, and where is the sticking point for you from a kind of full-throated embrace of a libertarian perspective on regulatory capture? How do you, unless you get rid of the regulators, once you always have regulatory capture?

NADER: You don't always have, because you win one here and one there, where you beat the automobile companies for example, now the railroads are under heat because they're carrying oil and the railroad technology's just not up to it and there's derailments. It's a matter of public health and safety; it's the most fundamental role of government – public health and safety. Instead, we spend hundreds of billions dollars abroad blowing up countries, creating more enemies and knocking our economy instead of focusing on the public health and safety.

GILLESPIE: I don't disagree with you and I know in the book you talk about a moment of convergence between people on the right and the left about war, not just on defense spending but oversea wars. One of the places that you guys started to argue was ok, if we're not spending 20 percent of the budget every year on defense. Some people wanted to say ok now we can spend that money on…
NADER: Public works.
GILLESPIE: Or no, we just give it back to people and that's a real sticking point between things.
NADER: Until they lose a tire in a pothole.
GILLESPIE: Ok here's a question, so the Corvair was a sporty car and it has its fans. That was the car that you made famous and that was really your entry into being a huge public figure that was able to change policy. You argued in Unsafe at Any Speed and there's no questions that cars back then were unbelievably unsafe compared to the crappiest car that's put out today, but do you still believe that the Corvair was less safe than other cars out there at the time?

NADER: Not less safe than the Volkswagen bug – they had the same handling problem, but certainly less safe than some of the four door sedans.

GILLESPIE: What about the Ford Falcon, the Plymouth Valiant, the Renault Dauphine? Because the NHTS in the early 70s released a study saying the handling and stability performance of the 1960-63 Corvair does not result in an abnormal potential for loss of control or rollover, and that's also been found by other people who looked at the data. Do you reject that, or do you say that cars have just improved much more because of mandated safety?

NADER: Well they took the worse comparisons like the Renault Dauphine and VW. No, it was bellows standards for even that time, and the evidence comes now heavily from inside General Motors. We rebutted that report that was by the way prepared in part by a former GM consultant. It was twenty pages in the Congressional record.

GILLESPIE: And it's true that John DeLorean who has a checkered history said that no, I was at GM and there's no question we knew all about this.

NADER: Also the leakage of carbon dioxide is indisputable. Actually, they recalled the cars because of that; you can't smell or taste it.

GILLESPIE: Here's a questions for you, without having kind of Draconian government regulation, do you think that cars would be as unsafe now as they were in 1963?

NADER: No, there's always an incremental advance. For example, Europe had radial tires and disc brakes when Unsafe at Any Speed came out. The US manufacturers didn't. If there were no auto-safety agency, probably because of the imports, they probably would have adopted radial tires and disc brakes. A lot of other things, people would have died in droves year by year. Because they knew about seatbelts in the 1910s, there were seatbelts in the World War I planes to keep the pilots from falling out. They resisted it until they were forced to do it in the 1960s.

GILLESPIE: Here's a question though and this is without ideological animus. It's a question that, you know, there's no question that seatbelts save lives, that airbags unbalanced save lives. There's always an adoption period where there're fluky results. Why isn't it better to inform people of potential risks and allow them choose, as opposed to saying at this point going forward everyone has to do this exact standard. How do you make a cost-benefit analysis of pricing somebody out of a market because of safety regulations or something?

NADER: There are obvious things, you know, obvious safety devices that don't cost much and reduce your auto-insurance premium, things you can't see like toxic chemical gases. You can't rely on people to be scientific detectors of what their children are exposed to. But you know, one thing about all these conservative philosophers, Nick, is they didn't like government coercion, but they didn't like corporate coercion, and corporate coercion is massive. We have destroyed our freedom of contract with these fine print contracts. They don't compete with American Express and Visa or Ford and General Motors. I have yet to see Libertarian material on the destruction of one of the pillars of freedom in our country, which is freedom of contract.
GILLESPIE: Well, I think, you know, how it happened is nobody reads contracts online, nobody reads terms of agreement, or terms of service.
NADER: And they make sure you don't read them.
GILLESPIE: But in the end it doesn't matter because I know I can go from American Express and if they start jerking me around I can go to Visa and if I don't like that one then I can go to another bank. So there is competition.
NADER: Same contract, same contract.
GILLESPIE: But it doesn't matter because the next person will take me and it's the same thing with phone contracts. Yeah, there's no question that these guys want to ding you, but they have less and less power to because there is more competition.
NADER: But they all have this arbitration clause which takes you off your constitutional right to go to court, which is a big libertarian right.
GILLESPIE: Well this is your biggest thing, right? You're against tort reform.
NADER: Day in court, trial by jury – concrete libertarian philosophy.
GILLESPIE: And one of the things that you did that is probably more influential than any of the actual policy studies you did. When it came out that GM had actually hired private investigators to follow you around, there were stories about trying to get you in honey pot situations, where you would be caught in a compromising situation. How did that make you feel and how do you think that changed attitudes towards corporations in America?

NADER: Well it was frightening at the time because I didn't know who was trailing me down Connecticut Avenue going into a savings and loan and saying that I changed a 50 dollar check with 10 fives. I mean that's pretty close right? That's in the detective report. Fortunately, the press was outraged. People were outraged, never mind their political backgrounds. I mean they were trying to discredit someone who was raising legitimate issues about public safety and unsafe cars. And it helped get the motor vehicle and highway safety laws through in 1966, which it saved a lot of lives.

GILLESPIE: DO you think the Federal government should have bailed out GM? First under Bush, and then under Obama? Should that have happened?

NADER: That was a tough one.

GILLESPIE: What was tough about it?

NADER: It was tough because if they didn't, it would have wrecked a lot of communities and a lot of worker's lives. So, the bailout to me was for the workers and the communities and the suppliers. This is a company that if it weren't saved by Uncle Sam, it would have closed down. I mean we're not talking about oh, we'll close a factory here…

GILLESPIE: But wouldn't it have been better off in the long run and it's one thing to say a lot of people in a once vibrant, now less vibrant industry lose their jobs and that's gone, and then we help them until they can get on their feet, as opposed to saving a company which we know is now back, I mean they managed to hire their first woman CEO just to have her testify about faulty ignition switches in front of Congress. I mean why are we propping up a company that has again and again earned the public ire.

NADER: I mean normally I couldn't agree more, but they had hundreds of thousands of workers by the throat.

GILLESPIE: But those workers would go elsewhere, I mean they would be picked up by other companies.

NADER: But when would they go elsewhere?
GILLESPIE: But then are we stuck where if we live to be another 100 years old we will still be talking about the next GM bailout because we can't allow…

NADER: No, because what brought down GM, especially, was their finance. They shouldn't have been in that business – they start playing around with derivatives. You see, back in the 60s, when GM had 65% of the market…

GILLESPIE: Because of the protection, because imports couldn't come in.

NADER: The anti-trust division actually had an indictment ready to break them up under the anti-trust law. Now had they broken them up into five different companies, you would not have had this problem with the GM bailout.

GILLESPIE: By the same token, the finance arm was the only arm that was making money for them.

NADER: Well that was part of GM's mismanagement. It's bad management about their cars as well.

GILLESPIE: Absolutely, but should it be the role of people that don't drive a GM car and don't own stock in GM, why should they be involved in their governance. Shouldn't that be up to their stockholders and the people who are foolish enough to drive a GM car?

NADER: Well obviously if they bailed out, then in return the US government owns 62% of GM, and what they should have done with that ownership is restructure the company so that it never happens again. That's the problem.

GILLESPIE: I think the only way it'll never happen again is let it die. Again, a point of disagreement, but there's a lot of convergence here. Now I want to talk about the most shameful, probably the most shameful episode in your career, which is in November 1971, Reason republished a story of yours called "You can Fight City Hall" which had originally been published in the Freeman, the oldest continuously published Libertarian magazine in the country. This was about a public housing project in your hometown of Winston, Connecticut that was going to be passed and then individuals in your community rose up to put it down. What was that story? Talk a little about that, and what is interesting here is you're in favor of mass movement, of mass mobilization, and against experts telling people how to live their lives.

NADER: Well, that's a long discussion. In this particular case, there were empty apartments reasonably priced owned by private real estate people.

GILLESPIE: And who were willing to rent? It's not like there was some reason they weren't renting.

NADER: No they were empty. The argument was why should local taxpayers who pay federal taxes set up public housing units when you have available housing in the area. I mean the whole principle of public housing, by the way Senator Robert Taft supported public housing in the 50s, Mr. Conservative, was when there was no housing, and that wasn't the case in this town, so I spoke out against it.
GILLESPIE: You bring up an interesting question, and it's a huge threat and it's unstoppable about how the model right winger is now very different from you know Robert Taft, if Robert Taft wouldn't have recognized Newt Gringich as a conservative, something has changed, or Paul Ryan as a conservative for example. Do you think there has been a similar shift on the left or in the Democratic Party? I don't know who would be an archetypal Democrat, say John F. Kennedy, would he have recognized Barack Obama as being in the same party? Or has the model Democrat moved as far out as you would argue a typical conservative has.

NADER: No, actually they've been very consistent and not bold enough. I mean, the total support of the military-industrial complex and empire and war by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton is staggering. It would stagger Eisenhower. It would even blush Nixon. You know Reagan, when he called the evil empire the Soviet Union.

GILLESPIE: Which you would agree with? You're a critic of the Soviet Union. You're not a commie.

NADER: When he saw 200,000 people marching for nuclear arms control, and when he saw well-dressed republicans among them, he turns around and breaks ground with Gorbachev. And it was Nixon who went to China with Kissinger.

GILLESPIE: Well some of us wish he had never come back.

NADER: And they don't get freaked out by challenges from the right like Buchanan. The Democrats go nuts from challenges form the left. I mean we were sued in 24 times in 12 weeks in the summer of 2004 to get us off one state ballot after another.

GILLESPIE: And it kind of worked? You had a much weaker showing in 2004.

NADER: It did work, it totally did work. It totally exhausted us. One time we got a notice to be in nine Pennsylvania state courts on Monday Morning

GILLESPIE: Here is a, speaking of criticism from the left, people on the left identify heavily with you, so they have the most criticisms, because we always hate our twin brother or sibling more than somebody on the other side. This quote of yours from the Washington Post in 1984 gets a lot of play on the left. "I don't think there is a role for unions in small non-profit cause organizations any more than in a monastery." Do you stand by that and what is your general attitude towards unions?

NADER: Unions are needed for large companies, who can basically abandon our country, close them down, and move to Fascist and Communist regimes where they put their workers for 80 cents and hour in their place. For non-profits, first of all, nobody is making money, you don't have a guy making $10,0000 an hour, and second, it's a completely different mission. It's a charitable mission, an educational mission, and it's overwhelmingly white collar, you don't have dungeon factories, you don't have asbestos, you don't have chemicals.

GILLESPIE: I'm glad we didn't show you the first floor of the Reason office where we're doing all of that.

NADER: (laughter)

GILLESPIE: What about in the public sector? Because Franklin Roosevelt was against public sector unions, a lot of people were. Should there be public sector unions.

NADER: I think so for things like social services. Even though there are unions in the Federal government, there's no maternity leave, no paid maternity leave. They give you three months – a mother delivers a child – three months unpaid maternity leave and then they have a daycare center at the Department of Education for $15,000 a year, probably contracted out. I agree with Hayek and these conservative philosophers. I really believe there should be a safety net and life is too short to spend every living minute trying to figure out how to make the basic necessities payable. Here's the difference, probably between Libertarians and me, I believe people should get a living wage, they should have the right to associate through collective bargaining because that's what investors do through corporations, and they should get a return on their taxes. The taxes should not go to football stadiums, they should not go to the 12th aircraft carrier that we don't need. It should go back to the common good that people cant do for themselves, like public transit, like a sewage and water systems. It's simple like that. It's amazing and why I put so much in this book on the conservative philosophers – they got that, they got that in the 18th century, the 19th century, and the 20th century. But you don't see that among the so-called conservative politicians in Congress, because they're not conservative, they're corporatists. I've never met a conservative who calls himself corporatist, but I've met a lot of corporatists on Capitol Hill who call themselves conservative.

GILLESPIE: As we wind up, here's another question that flitters around the edges of your biography: are you gay, and does that matter?

NADER: No, of course not.

GILLESPIE: What do you mean of course not?

NADER: I mean it's well established that I'm not gay.

GILLESPIE: People from the left say you dismiss what you call go-naddle politics, meaning issues about gay marriage and civil unions and things like that. Do you find those types of issues less important than other types of issues?

NADER: First of all, I don't dismiss go-naddle politics. I told Bill Sapphire of the New York Times I'm not into it. I'm into corporate coercion and corporate domination of our society. Second, I support it, I support civil unions and I support the civil rights of gay people.

GILLESPIE: What about in terms of the Left Business Observer run by Doug Henwood, he finds a lot to like in your life and your politics.

NADER: Except for when I'm running for president.

GILLESPIE: That's right. That's everybody on the left. They brush off that old letter every four years saying Ralph, we agree with you on everything which is why you shouldn't run for president. But he talked about your brand of humorless hair shirt politics, that there's a lot of pain but not a lot of laughter, or not a lot of humor in your politics. Is that a fair estimation of what you're about.

NADER: Of course not, five times on Saturday Night Live. I came in third to Grover Norquist in a humor contest a few months ago. In humor, there's truth. Humor really is a great lubricant in hard times. Some of the people who suffer the most in the world have the best humor.

GILLESPIE: And does that include being Lebanese in Connecticut? Talk a little bit about growing up in the 30s and 40s in old New England as a Lebanese

NADER: It's surprisingly placid. My parents never made a big deal out of ethnicity or ethnic politics.

GILLESPIE: Well they didn't have to, right? Because that's what mainstream society was doing.

NADER: It was a very mixed ethnic community. Obviously you hear a slur once in a while – camel driver or something like that.

GILLESPIE: How does that factor into your views on immigration? Do you think that we should have open borders? You don't believe in open borders for goods and services, do you believe in open borders for people?

NADER: No, I don't believe in corporate managed trade agreements. I don't particularly like barriers between countries. We have to control our borders because we oppress people in Central America. We side with the oligarchies and the statists in these areas and dictators. These people are so desperate to head north, why don't we have a more benign foreign policy where these countries can economically develop.

GILLESPIE: I don't disagree with that, but if we are siding with Oligarchs, isn't the least we can do is let them come here and have a better quality of life?

NADER: Yeah, but then you have to ask how it drives down wages in this country.

GILLESPIE: And you believe that immigration in general and illegal immigration, which tends to have a higher percentage of low-skilled people, drives down wages?

NADER: No, of course surplus labor it's called, rather cruelly in economics literature. The Wall Street Journal…

GILLESPIE: No, I mean if the Wall Street Journal does there are plenty of reasons to believe that's not the case and that illegal immigrants tend to compliment existing areas.

NADER: But my objection is the H1B Visa, where we import scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses when we can develop our own, and there's plenty of surplus technical people in this country. Silicon valley wants these people to come in from the third world because they're more pliable.

GILLESPIE: Do you think it's because they are more pliable and its not because they're desperate for as many people as they can get their hands on?

NADER: I think they're more pliable. It's a brain drain – we tell the third world use your human resources, develop your country, grow your markets, then we such out of them the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the civil engineers for our benefit. We're hogs in that way.

GILLESPIE: All four of my grandparents came over, and its like they wouldn't have been able to come over now. Ireland and Italy deserve the brain drain they had on them, I suspect Lebanon did too.

NADER: You don't have to have actual incentives. It doesn't mean you don't come in. But to have an affirmative magnet to depopulate these areas of their skilled workers, the people who are going to transform the political economy – it's short sighted.

GILLESPIE: Well I do agree that, or I like the fact that you're consistent because I think this is one of the things that drives a lot of libertarians nuts is conservatives say yes to goods and services coming across the border but not to people, and libertarians have a bug up their butts about consistency.

NADER: But it's interesting libertarians have criticized NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.

GILLESPIE: Certain people like Ron Paul does quite a bit as managed trade. The question is, is it better than what existed before? I would certainly argue that NAFTA is better than no NAFTA.

NADER: Well you need to do more research then.

GILLESPIE: Two final questions, one is Nader's Raiders. When you were younger, when you were starting out, you didn't just write books, you created a movement that is still felt, I mean the people in various think tanks, and government agencies, and journalistic outlets all have some root in an organization that you started or directly descended from you. What was it about the zeitgeist in the late 60s that allowed things to happen? And do you feel we're in that moment again, where anything is possible and radical change for the good can happen?
NADER: That's a really interesting question. First of all, I decided early in the 1960s when I became very well know, I wasn't going to be a lone ranger. I was going to build, I defined leadership as producing more leaders and not followers, and that's the way you produce a movement. The zeitgeist was really interesting. People's routines were disrupted by the civil right's struggle, the women's struggle, the Vietnam War, the environmental crisis. That produced a lot of young people who saw as their life's work trying to better society. You don't see that now because they're not part of any risk – they don't have to go to Iraq or Afghanistan from college campuses, they don't see their jobs going although their jobs are going because they're not blue collar workers, and you don't get that kind of committed leadership coming out of there.

GILLESPIE: You're saying that over the 20 years with the rise of networked computers and the rise of kind of instantaneous communication and radical shifts in the way people live their daily lives. Do you see that as disruptive in a positive way?
NADER: Well, it is in terms of invading people's privacy and generating huge outlets for gossip. I was just told there was a pew poll where the 13-16 year olds in this country average 11,500 test messages a year each. I think its shredding their brains. I think this massive dedication of time looking at screens, here in the hand, everywhere, TV, computers.

GILLESPIE: You don't have a cell phone?


GILLESPIE: Do you use a computer?

NADER: No, never touch it. I use an underwood typewriter, when the lightning strikes, I'm still working.

GILLESPIE: How are you in a position to know this stuff? I mean clearly the Internet helped your candidacy in 2000.

NADER: To raise money, not to get votes.

GILLESPIE: Aren't those two things connected?

NADER: Well its important.

GILLESPIE: So you're saying the shift in the zeitgeist in the 60s, it was because people's lives were being disrupted with the threat of violence, either being killed or if you were a woman, not having equal rights, or if you were a minority, and that the disruption now is not moving towards a positive social end.

NADER: No, basically its anesthesia, its addiction, its Internet addiction.

GILLESPIE: So this is like Brave New World, the Internet is soma, the drug that people drank in Brave New World.

NADER: We're beyond the Brave New World, except for Soma – that's the NSA. It's a very serious problem. We have to examine what this technology is doing to us, at all ages. It's not getting people to show up. Half the democracy is showing up – marches, demonstrations, city council meetings, going to vote. People are not doing that. They're watching screens.

GILLESPIE: I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about this. A couple years ago, you referred to games and gamers as electronic child molesters. Do you stand by that?
NADER: The companies are seducing the young. At their weakest point, where you have two or three million people of young age immediately playing a new video game.

GILLESPIE: Isn't that community? That's going around the campfire.

NADER: That's fine. But it's a proportion. Do you really want to be addicted to this? I mean some parents tell me these games take ten hours a day of some of these kids.

GILLESPIE: Well, if you let them, but it could be something else.

NADER: Virtual reality is ok, watching Internet, but where things really happen is reality. If the young generation is spending more and more time in virtual reality watching screens, and the quality of what they're watching, they're not going to inherit civic engagement and responsibilities of their elders.

GILLESPIE: As a final question, and I would disagree that those two things are in parallel. They intersect – virtual reality or online communication and the real world are intersecting.

NADER: Except in the allocation of time.

GILLESPIE: We've seen vast changes in the past 50 years in American society. You've been a huge part of that without exaggeration. Do you think the potential 50 years from now will have moved us as far forward as we did in the past 50 years? Or are we going into darkness.

NADER: Contrary to a lot of opinion, I think science and technology is being used by concentrated power to close out deliberative democracy, to close out thinking for oneself, to increase conformity under the guise of liberated text messaging. When you go into genetic engineering controlled by Monsanto, the seeds, the flora, the fauna, you go into nano technology – these are hugely transformative technologies that are not under a frame of democratic processes. I am always optimistic, as I like it as a strategy. When I was at Princeton, I studied the philosophers of pessimism like Schopenhauer. I was not convinced, and I see pessimism as a self-indulgence and a cop out.

GILLESPIE: Well we will leave it there with Ralph Nader who's latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Ralph I'll look forward to the next book and the next conversation.

NADER: Thanks Nick.

NEXT: Eric Cantor Loss: One Down, 200 More Small-Government Fakers to Go

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  1. Unsafe at any volume.

    1. *slow clap*, indeed.

      I’ll care about Nader’s thoughts when he stops being, well, Ralph Nader.

      I’m not sure the man’s ever seen a government intervention he didn’t like, or desired any limits to the State’s power.

      The PIRG system he founded is a constant enemy to liberty, if fortunately often an ineffective one.

      Zero respect.

    2. I made it about 10 minutes in when Nader said drug companies shouldn’t profit if any of their patents had NHA funded research. Nick struggled mightily to get him to admit the drug companies may have indeed invested billions, but, no.

      His anti-cronyism is predicated on pro-government regulation. It’s the same thing Ralph. The same fucking thing.

      1. You got that right, m’lady.

      2. Sorry you had to endure that torment so I don’t have to.

        The very descriptive and accurate comment for him is Communist. His idea to fit cronyism is to eliminate private enterprise and give it all to the state so his cronies can run, and profit, from everything.

      3. Nick struggled mightily to get him to admit the drug companies may have indeed invested billions, but, no.

        It’s better that no drugs be produced and people die than that a drug company make any profit.

        1. The Nader solution is that the government decide what drugs are the right drugs and produce them too. For the common good, of course.

          1. I stopped at approximately the same place. It was actually pretty interesting to see into Nader’s head like this. He seemed completely incapable of comprehending the discussion. He had his world-view and that was the end of it. It seemed like all he heard from Nick was gibberish.

            “Because it saves lives” was the only thought in his head. Any regulation, any intrusion into your life could be fully justified by “because it saves lives”. He couldn’t even understand that there might be another point of view on the “and then what do you do about it” side of the “it saves lives” equation.

            It explains the whole “they are evil” mentality progressives have toward their political opponents. The calculus is “this will save lives” therefore opposing it is evil. More welfare payments save lives! More medicare saves lives! Banning guns saves lives! Banning large sodas saves lives!

            Any disagreement is because you are evil and want people to die.

  2. Frederick Hayek was opposed to Medicare and Medicaid because they weren’t universal.

    I didn’t know that.

    1. You know nothing, PB.

      1. Well, Holy shit, you Tea Party bigshot. It is right there in the Road to Serfdom.

        Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supersede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom.

        1. Of course, contra Mr. Buttplug, that is not a requirement that they be “universal” on Mr. Hayek’s part.

          In fact, er, the latter part of that is pretty much an assertion that ‘universal’ welfare state systems are exactly what Mr. Hayek is opposing.

          (I read Road, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t repudiate support for a limited “safety net” welfare state in Constitution either.

          I am bemused by how many people assume that libertarian theory requires one be a Randroid caricature.)

          1. I am bemused by how many people assume that libertarian theory requires one be a Randroid caricature.

            That is the prevailing notion of the Peanut Gallery here.

            1. Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Burn the heretics! Burn them! Boil them in a Rearden metal cauldron full of oil, and cleanse them with fire at the top of the Wynand Building!

            2. When you are a progtard caricature like this dolt the unawareness of irony is pretty funny.

            3. All current libertarian/tea party rhetoric is Randian–they would reject all the real libertarian founders for stuff like the above. But few openly embrace Rand. In Paul Ryan’s case he went back in the closet because of the atheism thing, I guess.

              Social issues just don’t matter that much to libertarians–which is why they’re able to sacrifice them to the Christians if it means they get their tax cuts.

              1. Personally I have yet to read any Rand, my ideas were shaped because my brain is hardwired for logic, even in the face of the public education system I came to the conclusion that most adults were just as inept as children, that all people are highly failable, and it was better to assume responsibility for my actions and morality than to let others dictate it for me. Albert J Nock’s “memoirs of the superfluous man” and an Anarchist manifesto “days of war nights of love” shaped me more than an author whom i have heard much of but only recently purchased Atlas Shrugged and haven’t yet had time to read it.
                but its funny how the “progressive” thinks he knows us all because libertarians are so conforming to a single set of purity standards, you know because they arent individualistic as fuck or made up of all sorts of people who want to limit government all the way from Anarchists to Limited government federalists

                1. Limited government is a slogan, not a thing that can actually exist. It stands for low taxes for rich people and fewer services for poor people. It stands for a government that protects the luxuries of the rich while ignoring the basic needs of the poor. It has no moral underpinning–it’s just propaganda in support of plutocratic looting.

                  When I say you’re all Randian I mean none of you make provisions for a safety net, as many libertarian thinkers did. It’s all about parasitism vs. productivity–more euphemisms. But I do grant that many of you are willing to compromise–with theocrats.

                  1. You wouldn’t know what libertarian thought even if you were a real boy Pinochio.

                  2. That’s an absolutely incredible way of thinking, Tony.

                    I’m an anarchist at heart. In my mind, freedom isn’t real until there is absolutely no defining government of any kind.

                    Thing is, I’m also a rational and logical person. I understand that a certain amount of government is necessary for a society such as ours to function.

                    But that does not give the state the right to thieve from us. Nor does it make it right for the state to re-purpose that money to others against our will.

                    Charities such as community help organizations, soup kitchens, churches outreach programs, food pantries, and dozens of other types of charitable organizations exist, and have for a long time.

                    When the government ceases to steal from us, we in turn have more money for ourselves. Those of us (such as myself) with bleeding hearts will donate and/or volunteer to help those less fortunate. The key factor to giving is having something to give, and we tax the entire middle class close to poverty with our fuel taxes, sales taxes, vice taxes, corporate taxes, and state and federal income taxes.

                    All of those people can’t be the mindless, drooling libertarian beasts you think they are. If they had more, how many do you think would give more?

                    1. I myself tend to take in strays who are down on their luck. I also help my neighbors when they are having issues with their home or family. I have taken in, raised, and adopted out numerous kittens and cats as well. I even had someone dump to adorable baby kittens on my doorstep in the middle of winter, once.

                      Don’t tell me that libertarians are heartless. Don’t tell me that we don’t care, or that we don’t desire a safety net. I’m living proof that it isn’t true.

                      We just want the safety net to be individuals, not the government.

                    2. Want to talk about charitable? My current neighbor just moved into the apartment next to mine about three months ago.

                      When she had a fight (and was stabbed) by her cancer-riddled friend, he was hauled off to jail, bailed out, and came back and took practically everything from her place. She had a couch, a dresser, and a bed.

                      I gave her my $2500 flat screen television and a Sony wireless movie player with Netflix, so she would have something to entertain herself with while she worked on getting a new job and supporting herself. I’m also letting her piggyback off of my wifi.

                      I’ve also been passing her money when she needs it and helping her through a tough emotional time because her psycho ex-room mate keeps sending her threatening texts on her Obamaphone and the local copshop refuses to do anything about it.

                      This is all while helping my sister with a place to live since HER room mate and she had a nasty fight and she moved out without anywhere to go. I’ve spent the last several days carting her stuff back and forth to and fro as we found places to store it while she finds a new place to stay.

                      These are just current examples.

                      Charity comes from individuals. I am a charitable individual. I help people.

                      I am also a libertarian.

                      In conclusion, Tony, go fuck yourself.

                    3. I have no issue with your views. I support Ayn Rand.

                      Just don’t try to convince me Republicans give a fuck about liberty. I escaped the GOP plantation long ago.

                  3. Tony|6.13.14 @ 9:54AM|#
                    “Limited government is a slogan, not a thing that can actually exist.”

                    In which case you argue for the Nork example, right?

                  4. Limited government is a slogan, not a thing that can actually exist.

                    Tony finally admits his desire for totalitarianism.

              2. All current libertarian/tea party rhetoric is Randian–they would reject all the real libertarian founders for stuff like the above.

                Funny that you defend it when you think it supports your vacant destructive positions….away with you Fellatio Boy.

        2. Lol. Shriek is so unhinged. He doesn’t even know what he’s responding to anymore.

        3. Well, Holy shit, you Tea Party bigshot. It is right there in the Road to Serfdom.

          It’s a real shame what abusing crack can do to your brain.

          1. It’s not that….heavens no! Gotta be the bad air in his moms basement.

      2. Please don’t defile the memory of my dearest Ygritte by using her line on that fucking retard.

        I’m in mourning.

        1. Did that just finally happen? Fuck they are going slow.

        2. Also, no spoilers! If I cant discuss 15 year old books, you cant discuss tv shiws until after Ive had a chance to watch the dvds next spring.

  3. Fuck Nader.

    That is all.

    1. He played a huge part in getting trucking and airlines deregulated in the late 1970’s, so it’s not like he’s worthless. Also, this latest push against cronyism is correct, even if we’d disagree with him on its origins.

      1. A broken clock is right twice a day.

        1. I’ll break YOUR clock, if you get my drift.

          *wiggles eyebrows*

          . . . . .that was supposed to be sexy.

          1. In Soviet Russia, clock breaks you. Figured you would know that.

      2. Also, this latest push against cronyism is correct, even if we’d disagree with him on its origins.

        Except the policies he advocates would increase cronyism since a more powerful government will inevitably find a way to enrich the friends of those in power.

        He can ‘push’ against cronyism all he wants, but if he advocates policies that would increase the very problem he’s whining about, then he’s just an idiot rather than evil.

        Kind of damning with faint praise, isn’t it?

      3. If by “deregulated” you mean getting one tiny aspect of transportation industry regulation, the rate bureaus, removed then you might have something there.

        I am not familiar with Nader’s contribution to these efforts begun by Nixon, and following through the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations. Yes, I did Google for the information and somehow missed the Nader efforts in deregulating anything.

  4. NADER: The government is a big consumer. It buys almost everything we buy ? food, energy, transportation, plus missiles, which we don’t buy.

    GILLESPIE: Let’s be clear though ? the government buys a lot more prostitutes than I think you or I do.

    This is why I love Nick Gillespie.

    1. I thought GM (pre-Obama management) supplied Nader’s prostitutes?

  5. I wonder how many people agree with Nader and Obama until they find out the two don’t agree, and do their heads explode?

    1. Obama agrees with Nader, but is politically savvy and as such, knows that Nader’s vision isn’t possible. Obama sticks to the possible, but secretly nods when Nader speaks.

      It’s what I call the Kashama Sawant syndrome.

      An entire city council of socialists that are all too happy to have an avowed socialist on the council. Let them step out in front suggest something retarded, like a $15 minimum wage, then talk about rational compromise, and then unanimously vote for a $15 minimum wage.

      1. Obama would invoke Nader in the same manner as Boxer was invoked in Animal Farm, or the same way Kennedy was invoked by Johnson. Just a name to be used in a marketing campaign for any old thing, no matter that it has nothing to do with their advocacy.

  6. Nader is absolutely idiotic when it comes to nuclear power. He still believes wind and solar will someday provide the majority of our power.

    1. And only the government can lead us to our glorious future.

    2. Wind and solar WILL provide most of our power, when he finally has all of the other power plants shut down.

      It won’t be enough, of course, but that’s why the elite in DC will get their own coal fired or nuclear power plants.

      It’s the Plebs that have to live off of the dregs.

  7. Fuck Nader. He is one of the biggest contributors to the creation of the Prog hive mindset that currently exists in the Democratic party. Why are there no more reasonable Democrats left who would stand up to Obama over this shit? Well Ralph Nader is one of the biggest reasons why. And now he whines about how the situation he spent a large part of his adult life creating doesn’t suit him. Too fucking bad. If you don’t like Obama and the total and mindless dedication to him at the expense of all principles exhibited by Democrats, well Ralph you should have thought about that when you and your various ilk and minions were creating such a party.

    1. Without him you’d probably be mangled in a 20 MPH car crash.

      And now you use your gained health to attack him?


      He’s one of the real heroes of our time – and, yes, he’s left of center. He’s against the war machine and against corporate welfare and irresponsibility.

      Those two subjects alone would endear him to any true “revolutionary”.

      1. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the stupidest thoughts ever recorded on the Internet:

        Without him you’d probably be mangled in a 20 MPH car crash.

        And now you use your gained health to attack him?

        1. Damn, that is impressive.

        2. Every time I think Tony has reached peak derp, craig comes along and out does him.

        3. Has to be sarcasm.

      2. yes because my brain couldn’t have possibly figured out what that strap with the buckle on the end of it is for…
        true revolutionaries do not advocate the government to gain more power.

        plus hes a hardcore supporter of UN Agenda 21 the scary conspiratorial NWO totalitarianism crazy as shit plan to eradicate freedom and sovereignty in the world
        definitely not a friend to liberty
        absolutely not our ally

      3. Without him you’d probably be mangled in a 20 MPH car crash.

        And now you use your gained health to attack him?

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, no one had ever bought a car with a seatbelt before Nader. Thank Christ the God-King of the Green Party saved us from our own stupidity.

        He’s one of the real heroes of our time – and, yes, he’s left of center. He’s against the war machine and against corporate welfare and irresponsibility.

        Except he advocates an extension of government power that will inevitably lead to greater payouts to the allies of the powerful. If you’ve got a government with essentially no checks on its power, which is Nader’s dream, then how on Earth can anyone conceivably stop them from behaving like corrupt scum?

  8. How can progressives and libertarians take on crony capitalism without each side undoing the other’s efforts? Progressives’ solution is more laws and more levels of bureaucratic oversight. Libertarians’ solution is fewer laws and smaller government.

    1. “Progressives’ solution is more laws and more levels of bureaucratic oversight. Libertarians’ solution is fewer laws and smaller government.”


      It’s extremely annoying that the Libertarian talking heads think people are just “waking up” to the idea that Big Business too involved in the State, and therefore everyone will support rolling back the power of the government. Hello- this is what Marx was talking about. And does anyone remember all that claptrap about the Military-Industrial Complex post WWII?

      The left has always been apoplectic about the level of influence business has on our lives and their answer has ALWAYS been “NEEDZ MOAR LAWZ!!11ONE”.

      It is undoubtable that while the Democrats were preaching “REGULATE” and the GOP was preaching “Laissez Faire” they were both in fact implementing CORPORATISM. And it is absolutely true that both the left and right are increasingly aware of this problem. That doesn’t mean there is any alliance on the remedy for this problem.

      1. Or the Populists or the Progressives.

      2. I would argue that the military-industrial complex does actually exist. I mean can you say F-35?

        1. Lots of people around me (NJ) bought Yachts and new Luxury cars while that contract was being awarded.

          These people are not Democrats! In fact, Lockheed Martin run insidious programs whereby the pay people for not working if those people inject themselves into government – even on the relatively local level.

          At one time our town council was 80% made up of LM employees. What happens then if that the few who stick around and climb the ladder are beholden to LM and the War Machine.

          It’s big time stuff – right up there with Koch Industries, etc. in their attempts to control the dialog.

          It’s a great deal. They take taxpayer money and use it for fake hires who are really bought off because they have entered government.

      3. It’s extremely annoying that the Libertarian talking heads think people are just “waking up” to the idea that Big Business too involved in the State, and therefore everyone will support rolling back the power of the government.

        Hell, even the libertarian talking heads all too often direct most of the blame at the business side, not the government side, of crapitalism. Can’t recall the article here this week, but the way it was written, crapitalism was mostly the fault of Big Corp.

  9. I like how Nader just completely fails to understand Nick’s question about why you shouldn’t have to force airbags.

    1. We really should have had government regulate VHS out of existence. How could the mouth breathers know better?

    2. NADER: Oh, because you want to save lives ? police power. I mean why have police in towns? To save lives.

      GILLESPIE: By the same token, it was not a recall of all cars that didn’t have airbags, so we recognize that this is going to be phased in. What’s wrong with allowing more of a voluntary, opt-in rather than mandating a perceived “this is the best way let’s mandate it for everyone.”

      NADER: Because it saves lives. I mean it’s like fire prevention codes. It’s like having bridge standards.

      GILLESPIE: I get all of that but we understand there’s not always going to be a phase in. Because we don’t actually say ok, when we up fire standards we don’t tear down all the old buildings.

      NADER: We can rely on the auto companies to coerce a phase in ? then they’d keep delaying and delaying.

      Par for the course for someone who doesn’t understand that it isn’t state action that improves worker or consumer safety, but technological advances made possible by increased capital per worker.

      Nader seems to be the sort of person who thinks that all our children would be working 16-hour days in sweatshops if not for child labor laws.

      1. Of course! Didn’t you know that it was philosophers, sociologists, and progressive activists who are responsible for all human advances?

        1. Actually, the truth hurts since almost no scientists identify as Republican (right).

          So, yes, liberals ARE responsible for most human advances. You know – those horrible universities in CA, MA, etc. where they built the foundations of the modern world.

          1. You’re confusing Progressives with Jesuits.

          2. since almost no scientists identify as Republican

            citation needed.

          3. I’m pretty sure the foundations for the modern world were built everywhere, not just your hallowed CA and MA.

          4. Actually, the truth hurts since almost no scientists identify as Republican (right).

            Citation needed. I went to an engineering school. A large percent identified as gop. And that was in academia. Go to private research institutes and the number goes up.

            1. He is probably referring to those who are brave enough to announce to the media that they are “right.” Perhaps with billboards and print ads.

              1. He thinks Real Scientists? have degrees ending in ‘studies’ or ‘science’.

      2. Oh, if you are white your children probably wouldn’t be – but those brown and black people would. And, many other people around the world are….for your cheap clothes, etc.

        1. Yes, because all Brown and Black babies are automatically born into poor families.

          Nothing racist about that assumption, whatsoever.

          1. Especially given that most black and brown people who are born into poverty are born into poverty in non-white countries.

            And most of those countries, particularly in South America, are run by the very big governments that Craig and Nader advocate.

            Craig doesn’t realize his policies increase the poverty of poor people.

            1. Oh he does, but much like Tony or Warren or Obama he Just. Doesn’t. Care.

      3. Can’t believe I let this one slide:

        I mean why have police in towns? To save lives.

        Yes, Ralph, that’s why police exist: to save lives. That’s why they hand out speeding and seat belt tickets: to save lives. Not to pay their own salaries.

        An 80-year-old man who’s spent his life dealing with the public sector, and he doesn’t understand the first thing about how human beings respond to incentives. I can only imagine how cynical public choice must seem to that portion of the population that still believes in unicorns, rainbows, the brotherhood of man, and police & building codes whose primary function is to save lives.

        1. Of all the examples of police “saving lives”, I’d have gone with no-knock raids.

      4. Because it saves lives.

        The proper retort is “Where’s your proof of that assertion?”

      5. Nader seems to be the sort of person who thinks that all our children would be working 16-hour days in sweatshops if not for child labor laws.
        Thanks to child labor laws, I had to lie about my age to work 4 hours a day at a tire store in 1979. Perhaps Nader would call me a “survivor.”

      6. I mean why have police in towns? To save lives.

        I thought it was to raise revenue and enforce the dominance of the State.

    3. Not requiring airbags is perhaps the most idiotic example of Libertarian over-reach.

      This is also why, according to libertarians, you should not use “best available technology” to clean up the air, water and land so fewer people get sick.

      Taking it one step further, libertarians seem to believe if you can get away with things and make $$$ on them, the consequences don’t matter.

      Without airbags we’d have tens of thousands more people who we’d need to put in long term care facilities due to brain and other injuries. Of course, Libertarians would say to dump them at the side of the road.

      Really? Do you guys think things through past one move?

      Maybe we also should not have to use high-spec rivets on our airliners. Or, we shouldn’t have to test our foods for purity (yeah, I’ve heard the libertarian argument against that!).

      Some of you have really went off the deep end – as they say, you threw the baby (human happiness and welfare) out with the bath water. What you are left with is a pile of Gold and a kid who is brain dead due to a low speed car crash.

      You lose ALL cred. All of it.

      1. Yes, because that’s what businesses do; they seek to kill their customer base.

      2. That is a loooooot of straw men.

      3. because if you didn’t MANDATE roofing, no one would have a roof on their house!!

        Which is why we need to MANDATE airbags! NO ONE WOULD PAY MORE FOR A CAR FOR *SAFETY*?

        Because everyone knows, markets are the least efficient way to improve anything.

        1. As is proven by the GM fiasco and many more, people often have to buy an item just because of price. No, they can’t afford the luxury of buying the Mercedes or Volvo with the “extra” features.

          They simply can’t.

          Again, your point makes no sense. We aren’t questioning whether ANYONE would pay extra. What I am saying is that many more deaths and much more suffering would be the result if not for Nader.

          You guys are always for something – until you are against it! Libertarians argue that the Courts are the place to set many things straight – tort and all that. Then you critique Nader for doing just that.

          Which is it? Or are you just such authoritarians that you truly believe the Koch’s want the air and water to be as clean as possible. Remind me of what incentive the Koch’s have to clean up any more other than the lowest they can get away with.

          It’s all about money, right?

          1. Onstar must have been mandated, as it’s on every new car.

            Fucking retard.

            1. Not to mention air conditioning, power windows, stereo systems, intermittent wipers, and cup holders. Without the government people would spill hot coffee in their laps!

          2. people often have to buy an item just because of price.

            Because government-mandated features are free, they don’t increase the price? Is that the idea?

            Or perhaps they do, and people can’t afford new cars and thus driver older, less safe cars longer?

            I mean, if I can’t afford a car with the latest safety feature because it adds $500 to the cost of the car, does it matter if its mandated by government or a high-end option?

      4. Is this supposed to be Joe’s brother or something? I haven’t been following along lately.

        1. Some handle that’s been trolling for a few months and stirring the pot when ennui strikes.

      5. Your an idiot.

        People are now paying extra for collision avoidance systems on their cars, without government requirement, because they want them. They CAN make choices on their own. And only they know what is best.

        Your main problem is that you’re convinced that citizens would not make good choices unless you, Nader and Obama tell them what to choose.

        1. “Your an idiot.”

          You are an idiot
          You’re an idiot

          Just saying. It’s good to get command of the language before you attempt to debate a position.

      6. So who will break out the Bastiat quote?

        1. Please, the honors go to you.

      7. Not requiring airbags is perhaps the most idiotic example of Libertarian over-reach.

        As Thomas Sowell noted in 1996:

        Now that we know that 30 children have been killed by air bags, maybe there is some hope that we will stop and think about the trade-offs involved in “safety” campaigns by the government.

        The only idiotic over-reach is people like you who over simplify safety and their trade offs.

        Really? Do you guys think things through past one move?

        It is apparent that you don’t think past one move as you assume that safety improvement only happens due to government action. Dr. Sowell points out:

        For example, during the era of unbridled “corporate greed,” the fatality rate in automobiles declined far more than it has during the more recent era of noble saviors.

        Read the whole thing fool.

        1. I’ve walked away from a bad accident (glancing head-on collision at combined speed of probably 100 mph, axle ripped out of other car, my Civic hatchback totaled). No airbag.

          I’ve been injured in a routine fender-bender in a Chevy Silverado because the fucking airbag went off. Bonus: a truck that would be easily repairable was written off because the airbag going off is an automatic “totaled” from the insurance company.

          Wear your seatbelt, and I believe airbags are a net minus. I wouldn’t buy them if I had the choice.

          1. Don’t own any vehicle manufactured after 1974. All of the cool stuff from suspension to interior trinkets can be added and you don’t have to deal with catalytic converters, airbags, and all that other crap that is of limited value.

  10. Since when have progs ever been against Cronyism? They do not have a principle against it (or any principles, for that matter). They are very pro-cronyism, just for the “right” things.

    Fuck Nader. That is all.

    1. Uh, Teddy Roosevelt and the Trust Busters. FDR and his panels against war profiteering.

      It was your hero, Reagan, who did away with most anti-trust rules (very closely related to additional cronyism).

      1. Teddy Roosevelt on American Indians: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian. Turn three hundred low families of New York into New Jersey, support them for fifty years in vicious idleness, and you will have some idea of what the Indians are. Reckless, revengeful, fiendishly cruel, they rob and murder, not the cowboys, who can take care of themselves, but the defenseless, lone settlers on the plains. As for the soldiers, an Indian chief once asked Sheridan for a cannon. ‘What! Do you want to kill my soldiers with it?’ asked the general. ‘No,’ replied the chief, ‘want to kill the cowboy; kill soldier with a club.'” He later became much more favorable”

        1. Teddy Roosevelt on eugenics:”I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding; and when the evil nature of these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done. Criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them.”

          1. As you may know, Eugenics was all the rage for about a 40 years period from the late 1800’s into…well, until about 1945.

            There are, of course, some parts of it which make sense – which is why many tests are performed these days.

            These are all difficult issues.

            1. These are all difficult issues.

              No, it isn’t, you racist piece of shit. The genetic health of a child is no one’s concern except the parents’.

              1. Look, these are difficult issues, especially for a peace-loving liberal like craig. But some folks need to be forcibly sterilized, and other groups need to be eliminated entirely.

                But don’t you dare try to judge craig’s humanitarianism. The world is just complex, OK?

                1. The difficult part for racists like craig is implementing his policies without getting his hands dirty.

              2. Ah, so THEY can make that choice, but yet so many here say they can’t (no termination of preggies)….

                As a libertarian, wouldn’t you say that the parents of a child have to set aside a financial arrangement so that you don’t have to pay extra taxes for their decision?

                Or is it just that simple? They make the choice and you volunteer to pay?

                1. I love this logic. “Force people to pay taxes to support the unfortunate. Now the unfortunate are obligated to act in the way you choose or THEY are forcing tax payers to pay extra”.

                  It’s like when proggies forced all hospitals to give healthcare to anyone who came into a clinic, and then started complaining that it was the uninsured that was costing us all this money in Hospital Emergency rooms.

            2. craiginmass|6.12.14 @ 5:02PM|#
              “As you may know, Eugenics was all the rage for about a 40 years period from the late 1800’s into…well, until about 1945.”

              You ignorant piece of shit:
              “Nevertheless, in Sweden the eugenics program continued until 1975.”

            3. There are, of course, some parts of it which make sense –

              Yep, craig’s a fucking racist.

        2. Actually, General Sherman said in some of his notes that if we left a single southern secessionist alive, we would come to regret it.

          We did and we have. The General was right but civilization required that we couldn’t go that far.


          I sense the same about these current Islamists. Terrible to say for a peaceful dude like myself, but they have to go. They will never be reformed.

          1. Wow. You’re a scumbag.

            Tell me where in MA you live so I can drive down and punch you in the face.

            1. Are you from Maine?

          2. You seem to have a lot in common with Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

            If you FEELZ that we have to kill all the Islamists you are not a “peaceful dude”.

            You are just another delusional liberal with zero self awareness.

            1. You are just another delusional liberal with zero self awareness.


              Being principled means adhering to the things I agree with.


          3. Actually, General Sherman said in some of his notes that if we left a single southern secessionist alive, we would come to regret it.

            Yeah, it would have made the southern states vastly more peaceable if we massacred their sons, fathers, and brothers. It worked so well for the British in Ireland.

            I sense the same about these current Islamists. Terrible to say for a peaceful dude like myself, but they have to go. They will never be reformed.

            No one hates radical Islam more than me, but you’re talking about slaughtering tens of millions of people living in dozens of sovereign countries. This would probably end up including vast numbers of innocent civilians caught in the cross fire.

            Go fuck yourself, you murderous sociopath.

            1. It’s nice that he doesn’t just try to out derp Tony with shit like “you mean libertarians don’t want ANY airbags in cars” but also out sociopaths him too with shit like that.

      2. Teddy Roosevelt and the early progressives boosted cronyism to new heights. FDR’s thugs went after small businesses; after all, it was big businesses that were “collaborating” on the depressed economy.

        1. They really needed to stamp out those rogue pants pressers and their predatory pricing.

        2. Nothing says “I’m for the little guy” like telling a farmer he can’t grow extra wheat to use to feed his family.

          1. Wasn’t it for his chickens? Not that it makes any difference.

            1. Wickard. Wheat. When the history of the downfall of America is written, Wickard will be noted as the beginning of the end of the great experiment.

      3. The Trust Busters were not anti-crony, they WERE cronyists. So was FDR.

      4. The idea that anti-trust enforcement is another engine of cronyism escapes you, doesn’t it, craig.

      5. FDR’s first policy, the NRA was blatant corporatist fascism.

  11. I got to page 3 of the transcript where the super-annuated windbag basically says “government built that drug.”

  12. One problem with Nader, and the left generally, is they believe that as long as the proper people are elected to Washington, cronyism can be defeated. Of course the reality is that cronyism is a symptom of large, centralized government. The only way to truly reduce cronyism to a tolerable level is to short circuit the power source of big government.

  13. One cannot ally with progressives on a fight against crony capitalism because progressivism is one of the primary causes of crony capitalism.

    1. And you read that in Mein Kampf? Or the Bible?

      1. Theodore Roosevelt on imperialism: “”..it is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races.”

        The Winning of the West

        1. And…so it came to pass. Nothing he or anyone else could do about it. The White Folks had “the system” which beat all others (slavery, resource extraction, chain of command, corporations, etc.).

          That’s too big picture for me. I was born into the world as it is.

          1. Nothing he or anyone else could do about it.

            He didn’t shrug his shoulders and sigh; he actively pursued a foreign and domestic policy based on imperialism and imagined “Nordic” superiority.

            You raised your sword under his banner.

            Own up to it.

            1. I thought we were talking about whether he stopped some corporate cronyism?

              Can you enlighten us as to why he didn’t? If so, why did the pro-biz republicans dump him?

              Answer: Because then, as now, they wanted monopolies and cronyism.

              1. Can you enlighten us as to why he didn’t?

                Why do you think the most war-mongery-est President in history wouldn’t stop cronyism in the arms industry he depended on. Or the railroads who benefited from his extermination of Native Americans?

                You are one dumb motherfucker.

                1. I know, I know – Abe Lincoln was the worst President in History and FDR and Teddy and those others in the top Five are really at the bottom – and GW and Nixon and (who else?, Hoover?) are the top dogs, eh?

                  Backwards Bizzarro world. I don’t make history – just quoting it. If you really dislike America that much as to take issue with it’s entire existence, you should take that short drive up into the Queen’s domain.

                  My ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower – so we are glad to be here!

                  1. Abe Lincoln- started a civil war with an unconstitutionally procured army and started a war of aggression with the confederacy who peacefully seceded from the union due to not having adequate representation at the federal level.

                    FDR- took us off the gold standard and prosecuted those who kept gold, set our monetary system afloat and unleashed the worst monopoly in history which still screws us to this very day the private corporation The Federal Reserve

                    and dont tell me i must love slavery because i hate the civil war, slavery was going out of style because of the costs, it was deemed far more viable to give them pay then tax them to create a system of profitable slavery known as minimum wage.

                  2. You do know we’re not Republicans right?

                    I think it’s safe to say that most libertarians don’t like any of the presidents you mentioned.

            2. Actually, I was against the Spanish-American War back then!


              1. You are one of the most disingenuous cunts I have ever seen.

                Rot in hell. Seriously, like, right now.

                Go to hell. Then rot there.

                1. He won’t.
                  He’s a slimy lefty who will deny any fact to claim he’s on the side of angels.
                  Slimy only begins to define assholes like that, but it’s a good start.

  14. Cronyism is ok as long as it’s the right cronies.

  15. I knew all these comments sounded repetitive..

  16. “NADER: Corporatism is a world-view that large corporations should manage our political economy, and they should strategically plan it and things will come out okay.”

    This is ridiculous.

    ‘Corporatism’ is the fantasy world-view of a segment of the populace who are entirely ignorant of how the world works and fill in the giant blank-spaces in their Map of Reality with fictitious ‘corporate power’ as though world events are simply a combination of how McDonald’s sources their burgers, Colgate makes their toothpaste, and The Gap pays vietnamese/maylays to stitch up duds.

    Its a view which charlatan power-hungry Top Men-regulatory-state True Believers use to their advantage to desperately position themselves to be the ‘Alternative’ to this imagined Corporate Hegemony of all aspects of life – Instead, THEY will become the Real Leviathan to replace the invisible tentacles of Starbucks and DuPont. As with all things, Politicians need to invent invisible dragons to slay, and this is the current Boogeyman Du Jour. (and when it proves to be ‘not scary enough’, well, we always have Climate Change DOOM to fall back on)

    I don’t think that there is nothing to criticize about the structure of modern corporate economies; I think the manner in which idiots like nader popularize this view that CORPORASUNS!! is the root of all social malaise serves only to make this generation even more profoundly stupid than they already are.

    1. Of course Nader gets it exactly backwards, but one needs to be sensitive to the fact that government has largely invaded the corporate structure, weeded out many of the resistors, and we now have a largely merged entity between government bureaucrats and corporate executives who have risen within the merged structure. I would have little problem with a business growing to a vast size within a free market. But the corporate structures we have today are peopled by those who acquiesced long ago and are of a breed that thrives within the “Brazil”-ian insanity of Federal and State policy. Of course, Nader wants even MORE penetration of the bureaucracy while libertarians want considerably less. But there’s the problem – how do ramp down government interference in the market place when so many large corporations are manned by mealy mouthed quislings? It’s not universal, of course, evidenced by SOME financiers who wanted no part of the bail out and were told it wasn’t an option, but I believe the majority of large corporations are manned by a lowly breed – the John Galts having abandoned the whole process some time ago.

      1. we now have a largely merged entity between government bureaucrats and corporate executives who have risen within the merged structure.

        One of our aspiring wordsmiths should invent a term to describe such an arrangement.

        But there’s the problem – how do ramp down government interference in the market place when so many large corporations are manned by mealy mouthed quislings?

        Businesses are always going to pursue what’s in their best interests, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to invest in innovation rather than lobbying when it’s lobbying that turns the greater profit. Politicians and bureaucrats are also going to do what’s in their best interests, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to rein in state power.

        Which is another way of saying that corruption and abuse of power is the natural order of things, and that you can’t change anything until you change the incentives. Which can’t happen, as the lawmakers responsible for creating the system of incentives in the first place have every reason to sustain the system that exists today, and will until a free(r) market emerges and begins leeching away entrepreneurs who favor markets over modern mercantilism.

        1. Just as an odd-example…

          … if ‘corporations’ are so much the driving force and prime beneficiaries of legislation via their disproportionate influence on government…

          …how is it New York State has been repeatedly at the forefront of demonizing Carbonated Soft Drinks, attempting to impose taxes, bans, limiting access in schools, etc., yet still is the home of Pepsico? the #2, 100bn+ beverage giant?

          I’m just saying… it just seems to me that if PEP had any influence at all, it would be in their *home state*?

          1. ” 100bn+ beverage giant?”

            Most of which relies on greasy, shugary, salty snacks, not Pepsi.

            1. So what? Tropicana and Pepsi et al make up nearly half their business – is being a 50 billion beverage giant somehow in any way change my point?

              1. Think of it as merely a clarification for the uninitiated, albeit better left unsaid, you prickly fuck.

          2. And AMSTAR’s nearby.

            And how about Colt in Conn.?

        2. there is a word for it, it just looks a little different from this angle but it appears to be Fascism in another disguise
          with a bit less nationalism than its last incarnation.
          maybe we should call them the GSDAP
          Globalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei

          1. there is a word for it, it just looks a little different from this angle but it appears to be Fascism in another disguise

            That would be the one.

        3. Term limits. A single term. When politicians have no use for money, lobbyists will disappear.

      2. “”The corporate structures we have today are peopled by those who acquiesced long ago and are of a breed that thrives within the “Brazil”-ian insanity of Federal and State policy. “”

        What the fuck are you talking about? Be specific and give me an example.

        (sans gross, fantasy-generalizations – which is exactly the thing i complained about)

        Do you think “corporations *manage our political economy*”?

        (I don’t even know what *that* really means, other than maybe the suggestion that most legislation is tuned to the needs of various corporate interests)

        1. He’s complaining that corporate types are conditioned to navigate the regulatory waters without complaint, as though having Top Men tell you how to run your business is what all intelligent people understand to be for the greater good. And if they get to benefit from regulatory capture, well, that’s just the nature of business.

          Which is how brilliant investors and entrepreneurs like Bloomberg and Gates can be such massive statist windbags.

          1. That seems a fair point.

            Didn’t grab that from his comment.

            But – i still take issue with ‘corporate types’ being generalized about. I dont know what that means;

            I had some insight with Tobacco, alcohol, and soda companies. All had some degree (from extreme to nascent) of ‘regulatory capture’; all were completely different in their attitudes toward it and their adoption of its benefits/liabilities for their survival/flourishing.

            Meaning, even in this fairly narrow area of what i called The ‘Quick-E-Mart’-Supply Industry (*or, as I joked: “Big Evil”) there was no cultural uniformity about their relation to government regulators at all. (unless maybe you were in the Legal department)

            Generalizing even wider across industries seems completely ridiculous to me. I just find these sorts of complaints to be completely inconsistent with my own experience, and it suggests to me that the people making said complaints aren’t actually all that familiar with the structural/business-culture diversity in the ‘corporate universe’.

      3. how do ramp down government interference in the market place when so many large corporations are manned by mealy mouthed quislings?

        Put the whore Congressmen in jail?

    2. How could this whole discussion occur (to this point) with nobody invoking Il Duce? He was the godfather of Corporatist Fascist National Socialism. Corporations arranged into neat guild categories for the government to manage. Corporations exist at the pleasure of the state, and produce what the state says, for a price that the state sets.

      Mussolini’s second biggest fan, after FDR, even nationalized labor. Well, FDR did that too with his labor boards, but Hitler came up with the catchy name “German Worker’s League.”

      Of course, Teddy Roosevelt paved the way for them all.

  17. The government needs to stop sucking up to (and sucking off) these “small businesses”.

    As an angry man once said, Bring in the Chains!

    I trust Disney, Coke, and Electronic Arts more than I trust the shady liquor store across the street that won’t tell me they charge $0.50 for credit card transactions below $10.

    A 7-11 on every corner and two burgers in every stomach.

    Local government is getting in the way. What I fear about Libertarianism is that they’ll just reduce the power of the federal government to increase the local government power and there will be less personal freedom.

    Around here, in Aging Hippie Central, we get plastic bags banned and then everyone gets even more junk mail for the local supermarket.

    1. I trust … Electronic Arts more than I trust the shady liquor store

      The shady liquor store didn’t fuck me over with SimCity 5.

      And if you think government is a friend to, much less “sucking up” to small business, you’re a lunatic.

      1. Mulatto I’m kinda thinking that was supposed to be sarcasm.

        It just wasn’t very good nor labeled.

      2. the shady liquor store didnt ruin the end of Mass Effect 3 just to shove the unfinished product out the door than charge 20 bucks up front the next day for a code to unlock content that was already created for the game on the disc and was intended for the finished product.
        the only reason you fear local government is because your locality has elected fucking morons to run the show.
        who knows best how to use taxes rather than the people they are being collected from?

  18. Nader says a lot of true things and has gotten a couple things accomplished, but he apparently doesn’t understand how the American election system works. And running for president when you’re 100% sure to lose isn’t activism, it’s narcissism. There was a reason his election numbers from 2000 to 2004 plummeted to nothing. He caused liberals to wise up about the consequences of voting 3rd party. Which in a perverse way is another accomplishment. I just could have done without the 2 unnecessary wars and torture, personally.

    1. Correct. I voted for him but never again….

      We are going to pay the price for that Texas Conservative “Permanent Republican Majority ” for 50 years or perhaps more.

      The cost of the VA, for example, peaks 40 years after the wars in question. That means, in addition to the entire middle east falling apart now, that we will still be borrowing money to pay for those wars then!

      The Die is Cast.

      I guess I should blame the voters – not Nader. If I had lived in FL, I would not have voted for him…..

      1. Christ. Now Tony is replying to Tony.

        1. I think I get how this goes. Let me give it a try.


          1. Derp Derp?

            1. Derp Derp Shakka Derpitty Derp!

    2. right because compromising your values to support someone who simply isn’t the other color (red or blue) of the same totalitarian party is an accomplishment.
      good job selling out your ideals guys, be proud of your slavery!

      1. Hey, the Democrats are sure to respond to their concerns now! After they’ve sworn to never vote third party again.

  19. So it’s going to be BOOOSH’s fault for another 50 years?

    1. with the left its always Booshs fault
      except before boosh, that was Regans fault

      shit these are the same dolts that think the Americans were the terrorists during the revolution.

      1. Reagan was never a good boogie man for them because everything was looking up when he left office.

        The real analogy is Hoover, who they were still using to scare people in the 1970s.

    2. Well, yeah – why don’t you do a bit of study and give us your guess…..here are the topics…

      1. The VA costs peak 40 years after a war. That means costs will peak about 2060 or so.

      2. Many trillions were and will be borrowed for that war – when do you think it will all be paid off?

      3. The shit-storm Bush whipped up in the middle east will go on for a long time. When do you think the effect of his policies there will end?

      4. The Great Recession caused the largest drop in personal wealth in history. We just wrote off nearly 8 years – although the repercussions last much longer.

      What do you think is a fair time frame – when all the causations are kept in mind – to trace back to the Bush/Cheney/GOP Forever Majority they created (and many of you backed). ?

  20. So like Usual ralph says nice things but does not get it. I am not fond of Corporatism because it is a way of centralizing power. That is why the Democrats love it so much. Corporations have deep pockets and the they support things like O-bozo-care for one reason. It reduces competition and entry in to the marketplace. Corporations can be controlled by legislation much more than small business. So a concentration of power occurs that is not good for the country. Republicans on the other hand want a bit more freedom in the marketplace. A country like the US does not lend it self to being RULED by a Strong Central Government (it was the whole reason for States Rights). We ate to large a country with a to diverse of a population. I don’t care how the people in New York, California, and Illinois want to live it is their business, I just don’t want to live that way. Give the Democrats a bit more time and the whole country will have to take orders from “DC” and the elite. Y, that has worked so well other places…

    1. hey hey hey New York does not want to live this way, the godforsaken shithole of a city to the south that we all on the mainland pray falls into the atlantic and takes the progtard movement with does.
      the rest of NY meaning the whole state minus albany NYC and Buffalo, fucking hate the retards that vote for the fastest way to ruin our state further and do our best at local levels to head their backwards ideologies off by electing sheriffs that run on the platform of refusal to enforce the safe act and other things. its not perfect but its work for good

      1. And like with Chicago, the dominant city-dwellers sneer at the provincial;s who would deign to govern themselves without the patronage of the wise inhabitants of Chicago.

  21. I had to laugh at Nader’s hypocrisy. He tells Brian Lamb that he does not use email. Email is a waste of time. It’s one of the things making Americans dumb et cetera all the old fart arguments.
    Lamb then points out that Nader has an email address. Nader tells him that he has someone who checks all of his email.
    Well gosh Ralph. I sure wish I could afford to have somebody check my email for me. Sounds very elitist to me. So you do use email. But that’s not for us little people who get too distracted by email to pay attention to know-it-all Nader.
    What a jerk! Go away. And your weird eye creeps me out.

  22. Dunno if this is a the click-generator re-run they hoped for. There’s only so much anger you can work up for such a boring guy.
    And Ralph? Go pull a plastic bag over your head.

  23. A recycled, warmed-over article about a warmed over political figure.

    1. And like an idiot I’ve been responding to two day old comments.

      1. Me too. Just noticed.

        1. Hey, they’re new to me, too.

  24. There’s no such thing as “crony capitalism.” It’s an oxymoron, like “drunken sobriety” or “promiscuous virginity.” You can have cronyism OR you can have capitalism, but you can NEVER have both at the same time.

    It frustrates the hell out of me when conservatives and libertarians merrily join with liberals in slandering capitalism by implying that cronyism is part and parcel of it. Just STOP IT!!!

    1. “It frustrates the hell out of me when conservatives and libertarians merrily join with liberals in slandering capitalism by implying that cronyism is part and parcel of it”

      Uh, are you sure you know what libertarians promote?
      Doesn’t sound like it.

    2. In my opinion, it’s more accurately referred to as “crony socialism”.

      And Obama and his lickspittles running the Federal Reserve are the biggest crony socialists in American history.

  25. One of the things that keeps me wondering is why anyone believes there is any such thing a a monolithic leftwing or a monolithic rightwing in American politics.

    There are, in fact, a number of positions one can take.

    There are big governement rightwingers and there are left wingers who are collectivists and leftwingers who have some notion of individualism.

    Now, while I believe that leftwingers who have some notion of individualism are mistaken in there beliefs I am not prepared to dismiss them as my enemies.

    the fact of the matter is that if one wants to reduce the factions of American politics to two simple divisions of belief one is forced to recognize them as those who believe in “American Managerial Liberalism” and those who are in some sense “libertarians”.

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