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by Denny Burbeck
Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2004 at 1:37 PM
The speech Ralph Nader gave at Creighton Univ. on 8/25/04 and a portion of the Q and A afterward. Please remember that in "safe states" you can vote your heart rather than your fears.
(recommended: paste to wordpad)
Transcribed from tape by Denny Burbeck, spell-checking and formatting by James Moore
In our country, unlike any other country in western Europe and Canada, we have the most onerous obstacles against a third party candidate, just getting on the ballot. For example, it's over 100,000 signatures in a short period of time in North Carolina.
Some day they'll be declared unconstitutional.
Some day there will be one federal standard for federal elections instead of 51, counting the District of Columbia.
Why the US is obstructing people from getting on the ballot in federal elections is an interesting inquiry in American political history that doesn't make sense. I'd like to start with, 'cause I saw a lot of students out here, this is the first day at the university here; what is at stake in this election?
First thing is learning how to show up. Half of Democracy is showing up.
That means you show up at rallies, at marches, you show up as informed voters, in both the state and national elections. You do your duty, your civic duty.
You look at the description of courses here, in this and almost any other University, and you'll see almost nothing on courses training people on civic skills, how to practice Democracy.
How do you use the freedom of information act?
How do you get people out for a press conference, how do you build coalitions?
How do you steel yourself against discouragement and demoralization, how do you become resilient?
How do you connect with City Hall and Congress?
How do you influence people by showing what the records, instead of the rhetoric, of elected officials are?
It's an endless amount.
Instead, how many courses do you think there are in computer skills?
Why are there so many courses on computer skills and virtually zero courses on civic engagement and civic skills?
One obvious answer is "That's where the jobs are". I want to go to work for Microsoft. The second is that Universities are not true enough to their non-profit purposes; they are being converted to trade schools. Which is OK , but not so exclusively, because the students have to learn that their main orientation in life, their public philosophy, their understanding of what is happening to them and to other people around the world comes from engaging the social sciences and the humanities while they're in college, and then engaging the community as part of the courses. Otherwise you're just mechanics. Nothing wrong with mechanics. You know mechanics, when they fix the wheel? They're not putting that wheel in direction, someone else is putting that wheel in direction. They're just making it revolve. And that someone else are the 1500 corporations that control 535 members of congress, or a majority of them, on their issues. That someone else is the concentration of power involved in such few hands in this country - big corporations and the super wealthy people - that other people don't have a chance.
47 Million workers get up in the morning, go to work - they do not make a living wage for themselves much less for their families.
They're making Wal-mart wages.
They're making 6, 7, 9 bucks an hour before payroll deductions.Who can live on that? That doesn't even include the cost of going to work, second-hand car, insurance policy, repair expenses...
How can we see this economy of ours as growing, and growing, and growing - it's doubled since 1970 in production per capita, and we have one out of every three full time workers that barely pay their rent with what they earn, in some cities?
The Federal Minimum wage has been frozen.
The only wage that Congress indexes is it's own salary - which it does very, very regularly- automatic index every year..... it goes up. Along with their nice health insurance, life insurance, rent subsidies, and of course their INCREDIBLY generous pensions. Double standard - they do for themselves what they don't make sure is done for the people who pay their salaries, back home..
It's a point for students to start taking seriously - about what's going to happen to them when they graduate. Here's one of the first things that's going to happen. They come out of their family's health insurance plan, and they're on their own. Do you know how many millions of young people in their twenties there are that have no health insurance? No health insurance....or savings. If they happen to have an illness when they were 8 or 9, and they reveal it, then they are really socked with a really hard premium. And there's no one they can appeal to - no one is listening to you.
People now getting out of schools are going to face, perhaps, a draft into the military.
Forty percent of the US Army is bogged down in the Sunni triangle in Iraq, both up front and back. The military now, is stretched so thin with presence in over a hundred countries and bases in about 50 of them, huge troop presence in western Europe and East Asia, sixty years after WWII.... STILL there, STILL defending prosperous nations that are very able to defend themselves against non-existent enemies, and we're paying eight billion dollars a year for that.
Now, do you know what eight billion dollars will do?
It will pay the tuition of every student in every public university in the country for two years and three months.
The students are going to be facing a draft and this time women will not be exempted. Do you want to go fight for George W. Bush?
Then you better show up. And those of you who show up had better talk to your friends, and show them how they better show up.
Instead of segregating yourselves around the cafeteria table, all the active students eat together, talk together, oh take a look at all the apathy around, engage them. That's what the students did in the sixties. That's how they got the rumble against the war, the rumble against civil rights violations, that's how they got people to go down south and fight for the rights of African Americans. They talked to them, they had sit-ins, they had talk fests.
Now, in order to do that you better them what's at stake.
Tuitions are going up, the draft is coming, they won't have health insurance coverage, and their jobs are being outsourced to India, China and other places at one tenth the price.
And it's not just blue collar jobs.
Any job whose intellectual output can be conveyed through software is vulnerable for export. That means right now, as we speak, reading x-rays is being outsourced, accounting work is being outsourced, engineering work is being outsourced, architectural work is being outsourced, and of course all the telemarketing work is starting to be outsourced.
Financial advice work, the big firms of New York are basically saying that we are gonna outsource hundreds of thousands of jobs because you've got people in India, China that speak English, they work hard, and they only charge ten percent.
You know what I'm going to do in a few days? I'm going to start a movement entitled "Outsource CEOs". If these CEOs are making millions of dollars a year sitting in their nice offices in LA, Chicago and New York and they want to outsource the jobs of their employees to keep up with the global competition, well guess what? I'm going to find some very smart CEOs - experienced and double language speaking Chinese, Indians and Indonesians who could run these companies at one tenth of the cost.
We've lost our light.
That's the first reality of American Politics. We no longer are carrying the torch of our forbears.
The people who stood tall to abolish slavery, to fight for a woman's right to vote, to fight for millions of workers in dungeon factories and mines to have the right to form trade unions, to increase their standard of living and their safety, the farmers who came out of east Texas in 1887 and started the populist progressive revolt - the greatest reform movement in American history, that we are still benefiting from although at a depreciating level. Consider what they gave up. What did they risk?
They risked their livelihoods.
There was no welfare pay, there was no unemployment compensation, no social security, no disability payments - NOTHING. They put their families lives on the line for dignity, safety, for a decent wage in the coal mines, and in the auto plants and the steel mills.
We should be ashamed of ourselves. All we have to do is turn off the television and start focusing on some serious pursuits of justice, so we can pursue happiness.
You cannot pursue happiness without pursuing justice. That's what the Declaration of Independence was all about. The pursuit of happiness was preceded by the inalienable rights of human beings.
You know what's interesting. What's interesting is what television has done to all of us. We can't begin to exaggerate the numbing, mind closing trivialization of the human mind that occurs when starting at age two the television becomes our electronic baby sitter. Through ages 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 - 30, 40 hours a week we are sitting on couches when we should be exercising our young bodies. Being persuaded to buy junk food, to nag the parents to buy junk food, being persuaded that violence is the solution to life's problems, being persuaded that just sitting there, watching, frying our little brains, reducing our attention span, shrinking our vocabulary, de-socializing our interactions with other human beings including our own family.... is a good thing.
We are prisoners of a two hundred year old electoral college system. It has a winner take all.....chose between Pepsi and Coke. And the more corporations grip both parties, fund both parties, wine and dine both parties and politicians, the more they finance our elections.
The more they put their executives in high positions of every government departmental agency including the department of labor.
The more the similarities between the two parties tower over the dwindling real differences that they're willing to struggle over, the more you'll see parties become puppets of giant corporations that have no more allegiance to our country or to our workers other than to control them or abandon them to China or elsewhere as they see fit.
Look at Wal-mart.
Wal-mart is using the communist dictatorship of China as their enforcement arm. They're telling American suppliers who supply products that fill the shelves of Wal-mart, that if they don't beat the China price by cutting wages and benefits in this country, then you better shut down, unemploy the workers and go to China for 35 cents an hour, and then the price should drop. Already Wal-mart - a cancer in our economy - is importing 15 billion dollars from sweat shop labor, and China.
You say "Well, Wal-mart sells cheap". Cheap?
What's the price of hollowing out main street and finishing off small businesses which are the core of communities around the country? What's the price when you hollow out main street and then close the Wal-mart because your computer says it should be shifted elsewhere. It could go like you closing your suitcase and moving it from one car to another.
What's the price when you know those workers at Wal-mart are often single moms who are making seven bucks an hour gross and can't begin to pay for their child and themselves, starting with day care.
What's the price when you know that Wal-Mart comes in and says "Were not paying our fair share of taxes for the schools, police and fire depts. Small businesses may, but not us. We're too big. We can strike our own demand with city hall." Which means you are subsidizing Wal-mart with your taxes. Not just the consumer dollars you spend. That's even before we start analyzing what Wal-mart sells and the sweat shops where they get it overseas, and their anti union busting juggernaut, and how they're driving down the wages of other supermarkets who have to compete with Wal-mart's low wage policy like in California.
Before Wal-mart even opened up, the major So. California supermarkets were telling their workers "you gotta take cuts...Wal-mart is coming."
This is just the opposite of the way our country developed.
Just before WWI, Henry Ford woke up one morning and he decided to double his workers wages. He took them from .50/day to .00/day.
The other auto companies said to Henry "What are you doing, you're wrecking our wage scale. Why are you doing this...five dollars a day...that's a lot of money" in 1913, or so.
You know what his answer was? He said "I doubled my workers wages because I wanted some one to buy my cars." See, that's the way it goes.
Not Wal-mart....this way, this way is penury , serfdom. This way is anxiety, distress...I can't pay the bills, going into greater debt, I'm trying to get something to relatives, trying to rush around make ends meet, spend less time with the children, longer commutes.
Why do we allow this......in the richest country in the world, where the top one percent of the richest people have financial wealth equal to the combined wealth of the bottom 58 percent. The top 1% have financial wealth equal to what percent of the bottom scale........95%. Quibble! Say 90%.
This is the land of the free?
Home of the brave?
We have surrendered to these giant marauding corporations!
We have surrendered the birthright of our forbears!
We have turned our back on the Declaration of Independence!
It's now time to declare our independence from corporate power and domination.....that's the agenda of the 21st century, before they completely take over and run our democracy into the ground, and turn us into serfs. It's a sobering note that the majority of workers today, in spite of economic growth, are making less in inflation adjusted dollars than workers made in 1973 - the highest real wage year in American History, for the majority of workers. We're going backwards into the future, while the corporations are laughing all the way to the bank.
What's amazing is the lack of response.
I can show you, right now, seven devastating frauds that affect millions of people, and you'll walk out of here not changing a single minute of your routine.
You see, this candidacy is not gonna flatter voters.
When voters are flattered, they are weakened, and they're very vulnerable to being fooled, and then they're very susceptible to being flummoxed. Flattered....fooled....and flummoxed. This has been the first presidential campaign in history that gets tough love with the voters. Show me a politician that does not flatter voters and I'll show you a visiting Martian.
Half of the voters don't even bother to vote, some for a pretty rational reason. They say "What does it mean to me? What have these politicians ever done for us?"
So suppose John Kerry gets elected, then what?
Is he going to oppose the war?
Is he gonna shrink the bloated corrupt military budget?
Is he going to repeal the corrosive civil liberties violations snooping patriot act?
Is he gonna really change the tax system that favors the rich and the corporate at the expense of the working American?
Is he gonna really crack down on the consumer fraud that's eating the lives of consumers?
Is he gonna do something about the corporate crime wave in this country?
Well, he's had 18 years to show what he's made of. He's done a few things that are good, but he's gotten WORSE in the last five months because the corporate interests are pulling on him in this direction and the Democrat groups that support him are making no demands on him. They're letting him go without a mandate.
And I said that to him. And he said, "Don't worry. I won't need a mandate."
Yeah John, say it again with sincerity.
You need a mandate. Because unless you have demanding citizens, either individually or organized as environmental groups, and consumer, and labor, and minority, and anti-poverty, and reform the criminal injustice system, and wage peace instead of spread war unconstitutionally, you're gonna be pulled into the grip of those big businesses and you'll be a prisoner in the White House.
You ask your groups that you belong to that ask you for twenty five or thirty bucks...Sierra club, political action committee, labor unions....they've got their political action committees, the 527s like MoveOn, ASK them to send you by email the demands they're making of their favorite candidate John Kerry...and you'll get zeros.
They'll say "oh we like his stand on arctic refuge." That's not what we're talking about, I'm talking about the issues I just mentioned. You'll get zeros. You know, when you expect the least of a politician....you know what you get....the least. When you let your vote be taken for granted....you know what happens...you get taken. That's what happens.
The problem in this country is that the poor are not bing heard from. They're fractured, they're segregated out of sight....they're just photo opportunities ...little kids in poor schools for George W Bush...as he leaves them behind.
Some day the poor inherit the earth huh? Do you know who the poor are?
They're 42% of American families...because the labor department's definition of poor is ridiculous.
If you have mom, dad and two kids and your family is making 19 thousand dollars gross a year, you're not considered poor. Well the Economic Policy Institute did a study a couple years ago, it's in Washington....probably on it's website, it said that the barest necessities for a family of four comes in around 40 thousand dollars a year. That includes health care, housing, food, transportation, clothing and so on. The richest country in the world leaves forty percent of it's families in poverty.
It gets worse. The leading analyst of child welfare in California, Prof. Robert Feldman, the University of San Diego puts out a huge children's state budget...analyzes the state of California's budget every year, told me in 2000, and he said it's true today, that in the golden booming state of California, if you take the category of poverty and near poverty 46% of children in California are in those categories.
Do you know that 80 years ago if your predecessors were in this auditorium, I would see agitated people. But we're all sons and daughters of the television age.
And a lot of people in this country still think they can win the lottery so they want to reduce taxes on the wealthy. A lot of people think they're gonna become multi-millionaires....hit the jackpot in some business...some stock transaction. We're gambling on the future and the stability of the future.
The spread of gambling in this country is a sure sign of cultural decay.
Have you ever heard that evangelical Christian George W Bush speak out against corporate pornography?
Speak out against corporate gambling...speak out against the corporate contamination of our culture?
The violence at a very young age that these children are exposed to. Have you ever looked at the latest video games...they're now interactive. The most brutal moves, electronically, can be made by a CHILD. They can rip out a heart, tear out brains.
This is the only culture in the history of the world...corporate culture...where the parents have to work overtime to protect their children from it. You usually do not have to protect your children from the dominant culture of your society, but we have a commercial culture that does it. Then we wonder why they go off and shoot up people and get involved in all kinds of violent activities.
And of course if they become hyper-active, "They're hyper-active huh? Well, corporate America has got the drugs for them."
They've got the drugs.
What's the main drug? (audience - Ritalin) Right. Pass the
Children go to school and they pass the assistant nurse in this little place in the school and they pick up their drugs. These corporations have pediatric drug divisions, they're drugging our children. Talk about drugs in the street? When was the last time you heard Kerry of Bush talk about the failed war on drugs? That drug addicts should not be incarcerated any more than nicotine or alcoholics should be incarcerated.
Is it too much to expect John Kerry and GW Bush to stand up for the American people instead of kneel down before giant business?
Is that too high an expectation for us?
Don't you believe in government of, by and for the people? Or are we going to be satisfied with the two parties who are erecting a government of the Exxon's, by the General Motors for the Dupont's? Or variations on that theme. Giant companies...they really don't have any allegiance to our country. They'd just as soon hollow out our communities, shut down our auto parts plant or textile mill, ship it abroad.
Oh by the way, there's no such thing as "Free Trade" with dictatorships...because dictatorships determine costs, not marketplace.
In China, 35 cents an hour is not a living wage...but if the workers try to do something about it to form a union, they'll arrest them and they'll be put in jail.
There is no free judiciary in China that can internalize the external costs of pollution and fraud. This idea that we're doing it in the name of free trade is nonsense. First of all, in free trade, it's practiced on comparative advantage. You know, we ship certain things to Russia, they ship us manganese which we don't have. And in our economics course in college, the classic example was...it was what?...British textiles sold to Portugal, and Portugal selling Portuguese wine to Britain. Comparative advantage. Both countries won out.
We now have "absolute" advantage.
These corporations are taking the capital, the equipment, the intellectual know-how and all the marketing know-how, and shipping it to China. Not to develop domestic markets, but to produce the exact same product with a nice package and promotional materials, at 35 cents an hour.
How can you compete with that?
You can't because these are hard working Chinese workers...and they're opressed, opressed and exploited, and their safety is at risk in terms of their work place. And yet, they've got the latest equipment that American companies ship over there, and all the intellectual software property.
They have no patriotism.
We have now got to take standards of patriotism that we apply to ourselves and apply it to these American Corporations - who were born in the USA, chartered by state governments, who are given all kinds of privileges and immunities because they are artificial entities in perpetuity - that we cannot achieve.
Like being in a thousand places at once, try that one as a human being...creating your own parent - called a holding company - for evasive purposes...you try that one? All kinds of privileges and immunities against us..."Oh, we injured you? Uh, we got tort reform.
We're going make sure you can't sue us, or if you sue us, you can't get a decent award to support your brain damaged infant for a life expectancy of 70 years....during and after you're gone.
Oh, you mean you're gonna require us to pay taxes?" Oh no.
A corporation can shut down and open up one office in Bermuda....escape a lot of federal income taxes....but still operate all over the US selling you products and making money off of you. And these corporations are born in the USA, they rise to prosperity on the backs of American voters, when they get into trouble - unlike small business which is free to go bankrupt - these big guys go to Washington for bailouts, handouts, give-aways, subsidies, tax breaks, loan forgiveness.
They're too big to be allowed to fail....'cause they have too much power. And when they get in trouble overseas I haven't heard any of these corporations - Weyerhauser, or Merck, or Exxon - dialing for the German, British and Japanese Marines to bail them out.
They dial for our Marines to bail them out.
And yet they have no patriotism for our country. Given all of these, they don't have a lick of the patriotism that small business does.
And their sons and daughters are not in Iraq, those big corporate executives, any more than members of Congress.
Only one member of Congress has an officer in Iraq - Senator Johnson from So. Dakota.
None of them have anybody anywhere near as they lunge to support Bush and plunge our unconstitutional war over there....slaughtering innocents....bringing back US casualties....
What are we doing now in Najaf? What in the world are we doing in that sacred cemetery at the greatest shrine for millions and millions of Shiites from Indonesia to Iraq?
What are we doing there when we see our soldiers blowing this up and killing that...and helicopter gun ships and tanks...your tax dollars at work - when your Congress did not constitutionally authorize that under article 1, section 8? Is that a technicality...the Declaration of War Authority? I doubt it.
It wasn't a technicality to our founding fathers who deliberated hours on that. They said they did not want the war declaration authority in the White House. They wanted it in a deliberative body. It's too serious.
And if there was ever a war that was foreshadowed to provide for deliberation....it was this one.
You know what we've gotten into?
We are now in the position where a brutal dictator in Iraq....who was OUR brutal dictator until 1990....fighting and slaughtering suspected communists that we gave him names of...and buffering the country against the Ayatollah's regime...when we encouraged him and gave him arms and money and surveillance and photographs to invade Iran....for which he was later condemned, by the way, by Bush and Cheney. He's been very tolerant to these fun and games.
They know that Reagan and Bush's father through the Dept. of Commerce licensed US corporations when Saddam was our ally and they shipped him the raw materials for anthrax, poison gas and chemical warfare! It's all a matter of record.
So here's the situation we're in. Saddam Hussein said that he had no ties to Al Qaida, he said that he was not a threat to his neighbors, and he said he had no weapons of mass destruction. George W Bush said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that he had ties with Al Qaida, and that he was a threat to his neighbors.
This was a tiring brutal dictator presiding over a dilapidated army that didn't want to fight for him, surrounded by hostile Kurds in the north, hostile Shiites in the south and three powerful neighbors that would wipe him off the earth if he made one aggressive move toward them...Israel, Turkey and Iran. Now, as thoroughly documented in the mass media month after month, thoroughly documented by official records, thoroughly documented by George W Bush's favorite weapons inspector...who went over there with 1,500 inspectors and spent a half a billion dollars of our money and came back and said "Mr. President...we are wrong. There are no weapons of mass destruction." David Kaye in March.
Here's what we're left with - a brutal dictator was telling the truth...and our president ...our selected president of the United States... was not.
That's what we're left with.
And the democrats are having a tough time landsliding this giant corporation disguised as a human being in the White House ...who is anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-elderly, anti-child, anti-environment, anti-peace....and they're having trouble landsliding him?
Doesn't that give you some idea how decadent, decayed and incompetent the Democratic Party is?
Doesn't that demonstrate that the democratic party needs a jolt from the outside, that millions of voters have got to go to the polls, even if they like Kerry, in the safe states where either Kerry's a slam dunk, like in Mass. or Bush is a slam dunk, like in Texas, and vote their conscience - and vote for the Nader/Camejo ticket, the ticket that will demonstrate that forty years of fighting for the health, safety and economic well-being of the American people gets some recognition and some extension in the minds and acts of millions of voters.
The website is votenader.org http://www.votenader.org>.
Let's test ourselves.
How many of you have been defrauded to your knowledge and you feel that you can do so little about it that you don't give it a moments thought?
Let me give you an example. How many of you have been surcharged and over charged in your credit card transactions? Huh? They charge you late charges...which amount to like 5,000% in interest, ya know, if you're late by a day there's charges. Right?
They charge you outrageous interest rates...they charge you for doing everything but breathing. They are like banks. Banks charge you for..they have like 400 different charges now.
If you bounce a check on your bank, it costs them .50. That's the cost. That includes covering fraud for all your checks. They charge you . Now, you don't even have to write a check, do you, because they control your money. More and more electronic transactions means that you don't even have a say. They just control your money and they debit you..and they debit you. If you have to write a check, there might be a little static there. But they just deduct it from your bank account.
Now they have banks, where, if I write a check to you and it bounces, your bank charges YOU ten bucks, because you should have KNOWN that this check was going to bounce.
And you know what that amounts to? Last year...these fees...by the banks... billion. You know... billion here...0 billion there...0 billion here... billion there...auto repair frauds...insurance over-charges...bank over-charges...credit card over-charges...pretty soon it adds up to real money [jokingly].
Have you ever thought that you can do anything about it?
Listen, we dial into the same companies don't we? Except for Southwest Airlines, you dial for an airline...what do you get? Press one... press two...press three...you press three, they give you a second tier...press one...press two...press four and finally some recorded voice comes on and says "Our representatives are dealing with customers, and your business is important to us, please stay on the line and a representative will be contacting you."
So then you get your choice of music or ads.
I'd be working late at night; if I wanted to hear classical music, I'd call United Airlines. They're not respecting our time.
Why is it that Southwest Airlines answers within 2 or 3 rings...with a human being...who has answers to your questions? And ya know, if ya hit the wrong thing then you gotta start all over again, with these other Airlines.
Can't get through to your bank...can't get through to your utilities, can't get through to City Hall. Everything's automated now.
I used to try to call the Philadelphia Inquirer, a couple years ago I hit four layers of press one, press two. Reporters now can put voice mail on, they don't want to be bothered. I'm telling you, the callees are tyrannizing the callers. We oughta organize [jokingly].
But the fraud is pervasive, and you often don't feel it. Like 0 billion this year of health care expenditures will be spent due to computerized billing fraud and abuse, that's a General Accounting Office study, and it's considered an understatement by the leading expert on health care billing fraud, Malcolm Sparrow at Harvard University. He thinks it's up to 0 billion, could be up to 0 billion.
Now, can you imagine, that's more than enough to cover everybody who's not covered by the way. 45 million people are not covered, up from 31 million when Clinton took office. It went to 42 million when he left office, it's now 45 million. It's non-partisan. Now, you don't actually pay, directly, for that 0 billion....but you know who pays for it.
These bills are inscrutable. Have you ever wondered, you can't even understand the bills your supposed to pay? Therefore you just pay it, right? Huh.....in fact you let them debit your account....less a little stress, right? And the young people are even more susceptible to that. Everything's electronic pretty soon, for young people...and if they start complaining, you know what the auto dealer says, you know they're trained to say, "You know, you've been complaining a lot. Do you know you could damage your credit rating? You could lower your credit score, and you know what that means, don't you?"
You surrender. Eaten alive by the money you earn by bleeding it in the marketplace is reducing your pay at the office or the factory.
Now to show that our campaign (I'll end with this) represents majoritatian values, but because the system is rigged and the networks only allow transmission of presidential debates to the two major candidates, and the debate commission is created and controlled in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic Parties. They have sole control and they decide who gets on and who doesn't, and what's on.
The issues that I've discussed with you are majoratarian issues, the majority of you want a living family wage, they want people that work full time to be able to support their families...they want health insurance for all, eighteen thousand Americans die every year because they can't pay for health care.
That's six 9/11s.
Has George W wept over that?
And that doesn't count the injured and the sick. These are majoritarian issues.
A majority now wants to get out of Iraq and it's growing....55% in the last poll.
A majority of you sure want a fair tax system, shifting tax more from work earnings to wealth, capital gains and dividends and the things that we like the least....like why do we tax food and furniture and books before we tax the addictive industries more....gambling, stock speculation, and the things we like the least...polluters...why don't we tax pollution?
These are majoritarian values, but the system is rigged so that those candidates who reflect corporate values ...that are not majoritarian values...that are not civic values...that are not human rights values...that are not consumer or environmental or worker values...they win, because they have the system rigged.
And we're trying to demonstrate how to un-rig it, which is one of the purposes of our campaign. If you want to summarize what our campaign is all about, here's Business Week Magazine [holding up a copy] the mainstream magazine of American business, it says "Too much corporate power?" and then in seven detailed pages answers Yes, Yes, Yes.
Polls of the American people before the major corporate crime wave that's drained and looted trillions - this is 2000 - 72% of the American people BEFORE the latest corporate crime wave that looted their pensions and investments, said corporations have too much control over their lives.
That's what we're representing....that's who we're representing, and Bush and Kerry are not representing them.
The most amazing thing about this magazine is in the editorial - by the way, ironically it's dated Sept. 11, 2000 - the editorial has a sentence in here that says "Corporations should get out of politics".
We cannot allow corporations to have more power than you do as a human being and still have equal justice under the law. It cannot be done. These are artificial entities...we're not talking about the people in the corporations.
Corporations should not be allowed to lobby as corporations, they should not be allowed to contribute money as corporations, they should not be allowed to have political action committees which they have ten thousand of, pouring money into the Democratic and Republican coffers.
Here in Nebraska and other farming states, you have a major strategic move on the rural family farm and ranch economy.
This is the last stand of rural America.
This is not droughts...or locusts...this is trying to stop agri-business from vertically integrating and converting farmers into industrial chemical agriculture or turning them into contract agriculture....peons, like the poultry farmers with Tyson Foods, where farmers are turned into serfs.
They are under contract.
The poultry farmers are given a quarter of a million, let's say chicks by Tyson, and under contract they grow the chicks, and they get reimbursed for their costs and then when the chickens are sold back to Tyson, these are 2000 figures, they get a nickel a chick profit.
You know what that is for a year's back breaking dirty work? Twelve and a half thousand bucks.
That's contract farming... that's what's coming.
If they don't take over the farms and turn farms into gigantic corporate plantations, genetically engineered, they'll turn farmers into serfs.
The last stand of rural America., it's populist values of yesteryear, transformed into corporate subservience. The greatest political reforms have come from rural America. You should never forget that.
I want to end with the best soundbiter of the twentieth century - Mahatma Gandhi. He would have been a television station's dream.
I have just come out with this book which is the rationale for our campaign...once you open it you cannot close it unless you want to hurt your thumb. It's called "The Good Fight ...declare your independence, close the democracy gap."
The New York Times will not review it, the Washington Post will not review it...it works.
Here's the last page. Harper Collins put it out. There's an appendage in there "How to become a super voter" and I left out the best analogy which was "if voters were as diligent in becoming informed, active voters as they are as sports fans, our country would be in much better shape.
The sports fan studies the record, dismisses the rhetoric of the players.
They know the strategies, the tactics, the history, the statistics, they know who to hold responsible for failure, and they stay current.
How many voters do that? Very few.
Anyway, here's what Mahatma Gandhi said in the nineteen-thirties..he called them seven deadly social sins. Every one is three words, how's that for sounbiting?
Seven deadly social sins. Here we go:
politics without principle
wealth without work
commerce without morality
pleasure without conscience
education without character
science without humanity
worship without sacrifice.
And I would add two more...belief without thought...and .respect without self-respect.
Here are three questions and answers from
after the speech:
Q How do we go back to spreading out the media into more hands than just Murdock and is it too far gone?
A Well, the FCC in a 3 to 2 vote, voted to further allow the concentration of TV, radio and newspaper ownership in few conglomerate hands and there was a huge rebellion by conservatives and liberals on to Congress. They wrote and telephoned and so on. And the House (unprecedented) overwhelmingly repealed the rules....and the Senate repealed one of them. This is the first defeat of big media. And they finally dragged it on and blocked it in Congress and it never got through because the rush of the public didn't have stamina to it. You know, they objected and they objected and in two months they went on to other things. But it did teach us an important lesson. It said that even corporate Republicans voted to overturn the FCC rule because they heard the rumble of the people. One of the reasons why Nixon signed into law EPA, OSHA, all those bills that we got through Congress was because he was coming out of the sixties and he heard the rumble of the people. He remembered the marches and the rallies and the demonstrations. And if we don't make them hear the rumble of the people, you know what the outcome is? More of Washington will become corporate occupied territory. We'll lose our government. It's turned against us like the FCC 3 to 2 rule. The two parties do not own the American people. They do not own the voters.
Q (unintelligable - something about why is he running again)
A Well, we're trying to get as many votes as possible but more important, we're trying to enlist the younger generation in assuming the mantles of leadership and engaging them in politics and young people are dangerously turned off politics which is why politics is going to turn on them. Second, we want to push the agenda. We want to show whether John Kerry and George W Bush will be willing to stand up for the American people instead of kneeling down before giant multinational businesses. And third, we want to establish a model presidential campaign. The editorials and newspapers are always complaining about commercial corruption and dirty money in politics and insipid thirty second ads and mud slinging. Well, we're trying to do it the right way, and we hope those editorials will recognize that for future elections. And finally, we're laying the groundwork for future political movements. Rome was not built in a day, and although we have an uphill fight, although we're the underdog candidate in this campaign, there are tens of millions of American underdogs who are being pushed around that need a voice. We have all these other purposes, this is a no-lose campaign because we have all these other purposes. We've found leaders for the future, we've pushed the agenda, we've set a model campaign, in terms of clean politics we've laid the groundwork for future reform movements in America. We've done our bit, we've done our responsibility. We can put all this before the American people, but we can't make them vote. It's up to them to decide whether their going to go for the least worst every four years and result in both parties getting worse every four years, or whether they're going to break ranks, stand tall and vote for candidates who fought for them and who they can believe in.
If Kerry doesn't want to stand up for the American people in all the ways that I've described and get more votes, what do you do? Do you say "OK John Kerry, if you're in the hands of the corporations we're still going to vote for you." He could landslide the election. All our proposals on the web are sent to Kerry every week, 25 of them, and you look at them and you ask yourself, how many of those proposals would lose votes? People of this country are hungry for authenticity of the two major parties that they stand up for the people. 67% of the people polled in this country thinks that George W Bush favors interests of the corporations over the interests of the people. Why isn't Kerry tapping into it? Why doesn't he draw that line - he's the corporate president. I'm going to stand for you on things that affect your daily lives. I'm not going to give you popular generalities. The important thing here is this. Fredrick Douglas - remember Fredrick Douglas in history? The great abolitionist, former slave, very, very eloquent orator? In the 1850s he said something that we should never forget. This is what he said. Power concedes nothing without a demand. And if you stop demanding, if you put the struggle on vacation, every four years the same argument will come - the Republicans are worse, vote for the least worse. Every four years both of them get worse. If you put the struggle for justice, the progressive agenda on hold, put it on the shelf during presidential elections, pretty soon people like you in your generation are going to forget what the progressive agenda ever was, and could be. That's why there are so many people like you who can't give a rationale for the estate tax. They can't give a rationale for the graduated income tax. They can't, some of them, even give a rationale for social security. Because they've been hearing this raving Bush Nixon propaganda and the corporate re-affirmation of it through Rush Limbaugh and all the others over the mass media. So, if for nothing else, other than all the reasons I gave for this campaign, you have to keep the progressive torch alive, so a new generation can carry it forward and implement it in terms of victory.
Q Are you worried about costing John Kerry the election?
A I'm worried about George Bush costing John Kerry the election, and if the Democrats would get off our backs we would take apart the Bush Admin. in ways they are too cowardly, too indentured and too unimaginative to do so. And in that sense it would reduce his vote. But the Democrats were never known for their strategic smarts. They've been loosing to the worst of the Republicans for the last ten years at the local, state and national level, and even lost an election in 2000 that they won, including Florida.
- Ralph Nader
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