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Cutting Corporate Welfare Paperback – October 3, 2000
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About the Author
Born in Connecticut in 1934, RALPH NADER has spent his lifetime challenging corporations and government agencies to be more accountable to the public. His 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed permanently altered the course of a reckless U.S. automobile industry and made Nader a household name. His lobbying and writing on the food industry helped to ensure that the food we buy is required to pass strict guidelines before reaching the consumer. One of Nader’s greatest achievements was his successful lobbying for a 1974 amendment to the Freedom of Information Act, which gave increased public access to government documents. Over the years he has co-founded the public interest groups Public Citizen, Critical Mass, Commercial Alert, and the Center for the Study of Responsive Law. His 2000 presidential campaign on the Green Party ticket served to broaden the scope of debate on the nation’s priorities. Named by the Atlantic as one of the hundred most influential figures in American history, Nader continues to be a relentless advocate for grassroots activism and democratic change. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Actually, this book may have been the creation of the concept of "Corporate Welfare", a notion we now see appropriately used to analyze events.
An interesting read for those who believe in the American way but want to get a glimpse into some of the negatives that Nader and his guys feel need some improvement. Books like this need to be written because it forces people to take a closer look at some of the government waste and the sometimes shady corporate/government partnerships. But I don't think that Nader's solutions are very practical politically nor will they be easily implemented.
He wrote in the Introduction to this 2000 book, "Corporate welfare---the enormous and myriad subsidies, bailouts, giveaways, tax loopholes, debt revocations, loan guarantees, discounted insurance and other benfits conferred by government on business---is a function of political corruption. Corporate welfare programs siphon funds from appropriate public investments, subsidize companies ripping minerals from federal lands, enable pharmaceutical companies to gouge consumers, perpetuate anti-competitive oligopolistic markets, injure our national security, and weaken our democracy... Patching the corporate drain on public resources will require an informed and mobilized citizenry that both forces changes in our systems... and demands careful and critical scrutiny by ... the citizens who lose out from government transfers of resources, privileges, and immunities to corporations. This pamphlet is part of such an effort to inform, arouse, and mobilize to change the corporate welfare state."
He observes that "No government agency is cozier with industry than the Department of Defense, and corporate welfare is pervasive at the agency famous for cost-overruns, waste, fraud, and abuse." (Pg. 21) He charges that while Clinton and Congress "gutted the welfare system for poor people... no such top-down agenda has emerged for corporate welfare recipients." (Pg. 23)
He is particularly incensed with professional sports teams owned by "megamillionaires" who threaten to move "unless the city bestows a glamorous, and extraordinarily expensive, publicly financed new stadium"; ironically, these new stadiums inevitably contain so many luxury boxes and high-priced seats that they "put watching the local team out of reach for significant portions of the town's population." He notes sadly, that most cities "choose subsidize the team, even in the many cases where scholastic athletics, not to mention the schools themselves, are massively underfunded." (Pg. 40)
He is critical of government bailouts (remember that this book was written well before the massive bailouts of 2008-2009!), observing, "These bailouts... are generally doled out to large corporations and industries. When a family-owned restaurant fails, no government intervenes to stop it from going belly up. If a small factory can't pay its bills, it goes out of business." (Pg. 69)
Nader's book, as with all of his writings, is very thought-provoking, and heartfelt; and is well worth reading, for any progressive thinkers out there.