Taking on the Corporate Government
in an Age of Surrender
by Ralph Nader
April 18, 2002
At civic rallies we are holding around the country, the talk
is of the need for change, for the pursuit of greater justice
as a precondition for the pursuit of greater happiness. Filling
large arenas such as the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon or the
Sundome in Tampa, Florida, these gatherings, together with tables
by hundreds of local and state social justice groups, are conveying
that more citizen time is needed, that if millions of Americans
could devote a small amount of time, major changes long overdue
would occur to add fairness, productivity, respect for the environment,
community cultural revival for more sustainable self-reliance,
as in energy, food and shelter.
There is nothing out of reach or utopian about these objectives.
They are well within the resources, intelligence and values of
our society. I summarized them in my new book, Crashing the Party:
Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender, on
page 319 of the book where these first stage goals for a better
America and stronger democratic tools, are listed, to wit:
1. Enact legislation that mandates publicly financed public
elections and broad reforms of the electoral process. By facilitating
the ease of banding together as consumers, workers and taxpayers.
Strengthen citizen participation in our political economy.
2. Enact living-wage laws, strengthen worker health and safety
laws, and repeal Taft-Hartley and other obstructions to collective
bargaining and worker rights.
3. Issue environmental protection standards to systematically
reduce damaging environmental toxins and to promote sustainable
technologies likesolar energy and organic farming.
4. Provide full Medicare coverage for everyone and revamp
our national programs for prevention of disease and trauma.
5. Launch a national mission to abolish poverty, as some other
Western democracies have done, based on proposals made long ago
by conservatives, liberals, and progressives.
6. Design and implement a national security policy to counter
violence and the silent mass violence of global diseases, environmental
devastation, and extreme poverty. Reduce waste and corporate domination
of defense budgets - a wasteful defense is a weak defense. Vigorously
wage peace and advance nonviolence by education and by foreseeing
and forestalling global perils.
7. Renegotiate NAFTA and GATT to be democratic and to be "pull-up,"
not "pull-down," trade agreements that subordinate labor,
consumer, and environmental standards to commercial trade matters.
8. End criminal justice system discrimination, reject the
failed war on drugs, in favor of rehabilitation and community
development and replace for-profit corporate prisons with superior
9. Defend and strengthen the civil justice system, apply criminal
laws against corporate crime, and fully prosecute consumer fraud
and abuses. Expand consumer, worker and children's health, safety
and economic rights.
10. Strengthen investor-shareholder rights, remedies, and
authority over managers and officers and boards of directors so
that those who own the companies also control them. End the massive
corporate welfare schemes that distort and mis-allocate public
budgets. Reintroduce the historic function of corporate chartering
as an instrument of ensuring corporate accountability and the
sovereignty of the people.
The sorry political record of the last several years, marked
by one capitulation to corporate demands after another, reminds
us of how pressing is the work to strengthen our American democracy.
For more information on how you can become involved in this
civic effervescence visit our web pages: www.democracyrising.org
Ralph Nader is the author of: Crashing the Party: Taking on
the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender (A Thomas Dunne
Book for St. Martin's Press).
Corporate Control of American