American Fascism: Ralph Nader Decries How Big Business Has Taken Control of the U.S. Government
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader came to prominence in the early '60s, when he began to take on powerful corporations and work with local activists on their campaigns, putting himself on the map in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile. In this interview from that same year, Nader pointed out the safety flaws of General Motors' Chevrolet Corvair.
RALPH NADER: What aggravates the problem is that the rear wheels of the Corvair begin to tuck under. And as they tuck under—the angle of tuck under is called "camber." And as they tuck under, it can go from three or four degrees camber to 11 degrees camber almost in an instant. And when that happens, nobody can control the Corvair. Interestingly—
CBC INTERVIEWER: Well, then, surely they did the right thing. They found out there was something was wrong with the car, and they fixed it.
RALPH NADER: Yes. The question is: Why did it take them four years to find out? This is my point. Either it’s sheer callousness or indifference, or they don’t bother to find out how their cars behave.AARON MATÉ: Ralph Nader’s exposé led to the first of a number of federal laws bearing his imprint: the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. As he moved on to public and environmental health, Nader would help spur landmark bills, including the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, and the creation of federal regulatory agencies, such as the Environment Protection Agency. Meanwhile, Nader also helped found a number of nonprofit organizations dedicated to the common good, including the Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, and Public Citizen.
JENNIFER EPPS-ADDISON: Fast food, in retail, it’s one of the fastest-growing industries. It’s one of the most profitable, with $200 billion in profits. And yet, these are the lowest-paid workers in our economy. They’re standing up and saying, "Our families can’t survive on $7.25 an hour."