Opening slate: The Eleventh Hour - #287 Ralph Nader. Rec: 12/18/89
A fast montage of var clips of life and events in the 80's - including the New York Stock Exchange trading floor, Toyota and Subaru in big letters on vehicles, an erupting volcano, protestors, Japan, Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker, Madonna performing, two large reels on a recording device, abortion rights protestors, spaceship, the Reagans, AIDS. SOME OF THIS IS STILLS, MOST IS NOT USABLE.
"Fast Forward The Next Decade" overlay large tape recording machine
Funding for the program by announcer and overlay the Eleventh Hour graphic
"Fast Foward The Next Generation" overlay in the right corner of The Eleventh Hour graphic.
Guest Robert Nader close up looking into camera as unseen Host Robert Lipsyte talks about his background
Host Robert Lipsyte in the studio welcomes viewers to the program and introduces himself. He announces tonight's and the whole week's subject - A Week Long Look Ahead, Fast Foward to the Next Decade.
Nader and Lipsyte in split screen boxes - Nader zoomed in by satellite from Washington, D.C.
INSERT INTERVIEW WITH RALPH NADER
which you seem to be enlisting the white middle class rich people who may have caused some of the problems that you're trying to solve. What does this mean for the 90s that these are the people that you're going to now?
Ralph Nader 4:24
Well, I think it reflects a generational stirring of people in their 50s, who grew up in the 1950s when America was number one, the Eisenhower years. The years one cars had tail fins and long hood ornaments. And the principal concern then was the sino Soviet bloc. The importance of what's going on now is that many of these people who have achieved success in their professions and businesses, raise their children have financial security are looking at the country and seeing the bottom fallout from it. seeing so many deteriorating trends and saying, what have we done about this? What should we do about this? And our 1955 class at Princeton is sort of representative of that growing firm it, Are you, are you, my generation,
Robert Lipsyte 5:15
are you pressing the buttons of their guilt or their self interest?
Ralph Nader 5:18
Well, whatever it is, it's going to lead to a resurgence of civic concern. Project. 55 is going to establish civic leadership training activities around the country, they're going to network with students to try to get students more interested and committed in civic careers not just going for leveraged buyout careers, they're going to tackle some major problems. And when I say they were talking about the power structure, these are the people who get their calls returned. These are the people in law and medicine, Corporation, government, Foreign Service careers, who know how to get things done, and now are beginning to move into the Civic arena was really, it's really a joy to sort of cycle back to our classmates. And when we knew each other, we were 17 and 18. And see the attitude of these classmates, they're not interested in charity, we've lost the charity race, they keep using words like we want results, we want systemic change, we want to get this country off the downward slide,
Robert Lipsyte 6:26
I hear you saying that you and your classmates are very concerned about the 90s, what are the specific issues that there are going to have to deal with that they're going to have to make this this next generation deal with?
Ralph Nader 6:39
Well notice, there are three links here. One is the intergenerational people in our age group, networking students at Princeton, and we hope to spread this alumni class model to other colleges and universities. Secondly, notice that it's civic leadership, training and communities around the country, you can have people who want to improve their community. But if they don't know how, if they don't have the skills of coalition building, of dealing with the press of getting information from City Hall, they're not going to be able to get very far. And then third is the substantive issues. We have a recurrent energy problem on the verge of another crisis, the greenhouse effect, the price of energy, the pollution around the country, we have a lot of good studies about what can be done and what indeed, in certain areas has been done energy efficiency, renewable energy, a solar power. But there's no engine, you see, there's no engine to take the solutions on the shelf and put him to work on the problems in the field. And that's what Princeton class 55 is going to focus on, for example, at Princeton, some great work being done by the Center for Energy and Environmental Systems. But there's no link into practice. under Reagan, solar energy, energy efficiency, were removed to one side and nuclear power, got the subsidies, we've got to restore the incoming power of citizens to get the knowledge applied to deal with the problems,
Host Lipsyte talking with Nader from studio, looking at him on one of the four small TV's
INTERVIEW INSERT WITH NADER CONTINUED
Ralph Nader: stereotype the class, there are members of class, who are working on the frontiers of medical clinics in poor areas here and around the world, the frontiers of energy, the frontiers of education, as Professor Win Atkins at the Columbia University, for example. They have always been in the Civic arena. Now, the rest of the class, as you indicated, have gone to the peaks of corporate professions. Government, and they certainly have been involved in in these problems and not doing enough about it. And they're the first to say that it's time for a turnaround that they they have got the word is they've got to give back to the society that they've taken so much from,
Robert Lipsyte 9:22
there's an implication in what you say that there's been an enormous government failure, that if we have to turn to, we have to beg the power structure, the private power structure to bail us out. Now, the people who were supposed to keep us on the straight course have betrayed us.
Ralph Nader 9:39
Well, I you can use that word. But I think the general observation is a failure of political and business leadership. And I might add trade union leadership in a lot of areas. It's a failure of leadership for the designated leaders. Now, when that happens in a vibrant democracy, people say okay, we're going to take back more of our responsibility, we're going to organize at the community level, at the regional level at the National international level, in terms of a civic resurgence to build a civic culture, to bring new leaders into the forefront, for the next generation of leadership. Because when you look at savings and loan debacle, when you look at the mess that the government send the Pentagon procurement scandals, the corruption, the waste, when you look at the self serving pay increases, while these leaders in Washington, expect everyone else to sacrifice. When you look at the neglected problems in the infrastructure, the terrible situation in many of our schools, the institutional cruelty directed to our children, you've got to say, look, this isn't because we don't have a good constitution isn't because we don't have adequate wealth. It's because too much concentration of power in the hands of leaders who are not leading who are doing everything, but
Robert Lipsyte 10:55
somehow there's also seems to have been a generational gap between the people of the 60s and 70s, whom you inspired, and and the so called yuppies, who seem to have gone off in another direction and seem in a sense to parallel what seemed to have been something of a personal eclipse of yours during the 80s. What happened to that generation?
Ralph Nader 11:19
Well, I think several things. First of all, we lost our idealistic leadership in Washington. I mean, Ronald Reagan, basically had one message for the young people in this country, go for it. In other words, go for the gold, I can't recall one idealistic call to commitment speech that he made in eight years in office, apropos, say john F. Kennedy speech on the Peace Corps, which enlisted so many creative and idealistic energies of young and not so young Americans around the world. Secondly, the debt burden that began to inflict itself on college graduates, they lost their risk taking ability, because they had to get a good paying job, they couldn't go into citizen groups, which didn't pay that much, because they had to pay their monthly debt, on their scholarship or their excuse me on their loans. And I think the third reason is that there wasn't anything vibrant out there that really stroked the conscience of the public, you didn't have the civil rights struggles, which enlisted so many young people, there was no Vietnam with its compulsory draft, they're provoked so many members of the younger generation. So I think in the 90s, what we're going to see is more of an intergenerational link between young and people in the middle age, and in the night in the 50s age category. And I think for the first time, we're going to see a good deal of metabolism for change, coming not just out of the younger generation, with their protests and demonstrations that are sure to come. But from the establishment, from forces within the establishment who basically say, problems are getting totally out of hand. We're dealing with an incredible inversion of our potential. The country is got a weak currency, massive debt and deficit, neglecting major areas, we can't rely on the regular leadership anymore. We got to take up the cudgels
Robert Lipsyte 13:15
Well, I personally love the idea of grizzled old veterans coming to the fore again, but the idea of of some vibrant piece of of action mean so much of what we've talked about, it seems to be abstract. We're not talking about a specific rights violations. I mean, we in other programs, we've talked, for example, about reproductive freedom, which seems to be a rallying cry, what would you talk about really, in a way seems more abstract, almost more intellectual?
Ralph Nader 13:46
Well, let me make it very specific. I think john Gardner's new book on leadership makes the important point. We look around the country and you and I can make a list of 20 major problems. We can talk about inadequate housing and inadequate mass transit, soil erosion, drinking water contamination, air pollution, we can talk about a crisis in government services, inequitable taxation, we can talk about the plight of small business up against multinational corporations, we can talk about the assault on civil liberties and civil rights, the decline of respect for the rights of injured people to have their day in court, then we can talk about what we've done in the past that was good that we ought to extend into the future. We can talk about all the new ways that technologists have developed to help conserve water and conserve energy and the flowering of solar technology and how much safer cars can be all right, then, where are we? Are we just going to sit there and say, we protest we demand or are we going to focus on what may be unglamorous mechanisms of accountability and organization let me give you an illustration people over the years have been concerned about electric telephone gas rates have been concerned about nuclear power. Concerned about incinerators. They've been concerned about interest rates and auto insurance rates. So what do we do about this concern? We have to mobilize and organize how here is empowerment agenda. Number one, we develop a checkoff and effect in the utility bills in the bank statement in the insurance policies to have in their motor vehicle registration envelope, which invites people to join nonprofit consumer advocacy groups with their own full time staff in order to champion their immediate complaints and shape economic policy on an equal level with business and governmental players in the scene, for instance, I don't think that the savings and loan scandal would have exploded to such a massive level where it's now going to cost every family in the next 30 years, about 10,000 or more dollars a year to bail out the wreckage caused by these crooks and the speculators. Now, if there was a depositors organization, with offices around the country, with economists, with lawyers, with organizers and writers, this would never have happened. Congress would never have been allowed to defer postponed looked the other way. While political action committees from the financial industry were stuffing their campaign coffers.
Robert Lipsyte 16:22
Yeah, Mr. Nadir, it seems if this crusade catches fire intergenerationally we'll have tremendous impact on shaping the 90s. But But part of it is going to have to be of course, the response to the media, which is an area of consumerism, which of course has resonance for us. What is your feeling about about information as a as an aspect of consumerism of something that we are getting or not getting properly?
Ralph Nader 16:52
Well, our saying has always been information is the currency of democracy. We've worked hard to strengthen the free information act was the amendments in 1974, we have the best free information act in the world. And there are now state Freedom of Information acts in all the states. But what's happened is that huge amounts of information are either inaccessible, or too expensive for the average citizen to obtain or the average citizen group. So you have information halves, government agencies, corporations, by and large, on the one hand, information have nots on the other. And what's happened is that increasingly, those who don't have information cannot deal with their own personal complaints such as information about which pharmaceuticals have a bad side effects. In one of our books, worse pills best pills were brought together in one volume information that was accessible, but it was too expensive for the average person to obtain. At the local level. You have many people who say we've got to do something about zoning Got do something about the Public Health Department about pollution, drinking water, where do we get the information? How do we get it in ways that we can use it? We're now establishing models. Starting in my hometown, Winston, Connecticut, of community lawyer advocates, these are community advocates, who take cases of public significance. And they don't have to just be court cases free. They can shape City Hall, they can put out information on how to get information for city halls and get city hall to put out the information in a usable fashion.
Robert Lipsyte 18:30
You're obviously not relying on on the media, even public television to get the message across.
Ralph Nader 18:35
Oh, yes, we are because one of the things that community advocate, Ellen Thomas did in that small town in Connecticut was Council, the local public access channel where volunteers were there. They didn't know what the cable system had obligated to provide by way of, of facilities and equipment. And she got them underway. And now they are showing the city council meetings of selectmen meeting as they're called other board meetings, and they are covering the town. So this is an example Mr. Lipsyte of what I am talking about. We had our 20th anniversary of Nader's Raiders a few weeks ago. And instead of having a whole day agenda, on the same kind of problems we read about in the media, air pollution, pesticides hunger, we developed what we called an empowerment agenda. And these are the issues that for example, the establishment of group buying by consumers so they increase their bargaining power visa Vee insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, utility companies fuel buying consumer groups, and also develop an expertise through their full time staff to redress the imbalance of power between corporations and consumers on momentous economic issues.
Robert Lipsyte 19:57
Now, I noticed that in in all your list you haven't thrown up against the wall, those issues, crack, AIDS homeless, which generally come up with people say what's going to happen in the 90s.
Ralph Nader 20:11
Let me give you an indication of how they're related. One of the things we want to do is start a youth citizen court. Older kids teaching younger kids a proven success in areas where it's been tried around the country. Why isn't it tried more often, we want to try to implement Professor Edgar Kahn's idea which he calls service credit. So the time dollar, where he gets communities establishing a computer bank, and all these millions of Americans who have no money, but they do have time. And if they spend that time, servicing others, they can bank that time in a computer, run by a community group. And then they can get people servicing them. When they need it. For example, older people tutoring younger people, younger people cutting older people's grass, or shoveling your sidewalk, or younger people helping middle class middle aged people, and they transport older people. This is called the service credit time dollar. It's now operating in 10. States programs in 10 states led by Miami, which is generating 8000 hours a month, and people who were for alone in their community because they didn't have money, they had plenty of time, I know actually encouraging others to generate service credit, bank him in the computer, and then get help where they need it. And in return, it's an alternative form of currency. That's why he calls it the time dollar. Now you see how that binds the community and the neighborhood together, no bureaucracy, no tax money needed. But that's the kind of empowerment agenda that we need, including political action committee or campaign finance reform,
Robert Lipsyte 21:53
and you think things like that will have impact on age and crack and homelessness.
Ralph Nader 21:59
Of course, one of the reasons why there's such desolation at the local level in poor areas is because the government programs haven't worked. There was a study out in Northwestern University recently, which said that 780,000 people receiving government services and welfare in Cook County, Illinois $4.8 billion is going to those people every year. If they all got it in cash, each family would have $18,000 a year which is above the poverty level. Instead 80% of that money never reaches those people. It is absorbed by the welfare bureaucracy and all the other ways to drain off the taxpayers dollar miss you know,
Robert Lipsyte 22:40
Mr. Nayar, let me let me ask you this, what so much of what you're saying is, is really personal empowerment, but there's always will be larger forces. And and the things that we've seen recently is the continuing power of the multinational corporation, the increased power of Japan, glass, nose, I mean, these are things that will have impact on the 90s.
Wide shot from behind Lipsyte in the studio listening as Nader speaking from satellite projected on TV screen.
Nader and Lipsyte on split screens overlay The Eleventh Hour show graphic
CONTINUED INTERVIEW INSERT
We have a magazine called the multinational monitor, which monitors multinational corporations. And what's happening is that these giant worldwide companies, many of them based in the US are saying to the US, lower your standard of living lower your rights. That's the only way you're going to be globally competitive. For example, they're saying, reduce your wages, industrial workers, you got to keep up with the Korean imports. They're saying to our legislators take away many of the rights to injured people have to sue manufacturers of hazardous products and toxic chemicals, because we have to keep up with the lower rights to prevail in other countries. They're saying to us, nevermind your anti trust laws. They're impeding the joint ventures and the conglomerates to keep up with the global competitors. All this is nonsense, because, first of all, it's cruel. When in the history of our country, have we ever had a situation until recently, where we are told depress our rights and standard of living to keep up with with other countries. Our approach has always been, we're gonna raise our standard locally, and try to lead movements around the world, for example, higher worker labor standards and safety standards to bring them up closer to our level. Instead, these multinationals are pressing us down to the lowest Korean denominator. Now what we need first of all, is a government, not a government of the Exxon's by the General Motors for the DuPont, we need a government that is not indentured to corporate campaign finance and political action committees, a government that will enforce the antitrust laws, a government that will empower consumers, Visa v corporations with consumer class actions and other points that I pointed out earlier like this, and a government that will empower taxpayers so that taxpayers don't become huge sources of bailout money for corporations, which are mismanaged, corrupt, and instead of going bankrupt, expect to accepting the verdict of the marketplace. Go to Washington instead,
Robert Lipsyte 25:13
do you have a scenario for the 90s? Do you have a mental picture?
Ralph Nader 25:18
Yes, I think first of all, the cycle that Schlessinger pointed out is going to come about, we had an active decade in the 30s, an active decade in the 60s, we're going to have not just a more active decade in the 90s. Because of the crisis, I mean, look at the effect on establishment people in the States, just from the greenhouse effect, the ozone hole and acid rain, just in those areas, not to mention tropical forests, devastation, and the effect of climate all on the climate all over the world. But I think it's going to be more than an active decade. It's going to be a decade, where the Civic culture gets real smart, where it gets organized. It puts down deep institutional roots from community advocates in the local area, to international consumer and environmental groups linked with similar groups all over the world. telecommunication links, check offs to facilitate people banding together, we are going to see the flowering of civic organization, our country, the likes of which we have never seen in our country's history, and it will be a beacon to the rest of the world. We're going to be exporting civic skills to Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, to South America, Africa, because they're asking for it. They're asking for it. No more arms exports. We're going to export what we're best at.
Robert Lipsyte 26:38
Mr. Nadir, I hear you're saying that we're going to do the 60s again, but in the 90s we're going to do it right. Thank you so very much for being with us.
Host Lipsyte thanks Ralph Nader for being on the show,
Lipsyte announces tomorrow's program about the next decade, with Faye Wattleton, Reproductive Rights Activist and President of Planned Parenthood Federation.
Lipsyte announces the show and introduces himself. Show ends.
Funding for The Eleventh Hour overlay show graphics
Description: The Eleventh Hour Show #287 Title: Ralph Nader Guests: Ralph Nader (off site by satellite from D.C.) Description: Host Robert Lipsyte explores what the next decade holds for consumers as told by Consumer Advocate, Ralph Nader. Rec: 12/18/89 Original Broadcast Date: 12-27-89
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