J Cullen reporter at
Wed Jun 10 09:44:02 PDT 1998

In serial response,

>I'm listening to a speech by Ralph Nader. My god. He's going on about
>utility bills, utility bill stuffers from consumer groups, bounce check
>fees, $200 million in drinking water technology cut from some budget or
>other. Awful stuff. Does anyone get inspired by this? No wonder the tort
>lawyers love him.

I think the reason Nader is talking about utility bills, bounced check fees, budget cuts that threaten clean drinking water and the like is because those are everyday illustrations of the arrogance of corporations and their surrogates in government in dealing with the public -- things people can relate to. It may not inspire you, but it is an effective organizing tool.

I have heard him speak to a bunch of college kids and I would say he was inspirational in trying to get them involved in fighting corporate crime and government malfeasance.

-- Jim Cullen


>Justin Schwartz wrote:
>>We had hims peak at OSU law last year. He was here testifying against the
>>awful tort reform bill the legislature passed. I thought he was
>>mesmerizing, just wonderful. And yes, he talkeda bout some of those things.
>>I am sorry to see you joining in the pack baying against tort lawyers,
>>which means plaintiff's laywers. Of course the defense tort bar and the
>>unsurance lawyers do not love Ralph. Sure, a lot of plaintiffs' tort lawyers
>>are sleazy. But what they do is help injured people recover from harm done
>>to them, often by large corporations. Yeah, if we had national health we
>>wouldn't have this problem. But tort reform anad damages caops are no
>>substitute for national health. Ralph is is on the side of the angels, a
>>real American hero. He has probably done as much for as many Americans as
>>any living human being.

Doug Henwood responded:
> ... Litigation is a classically American approach to politics - individual
>adversaries duking out a private solution to what should be done publicly
>and collectively. He seems to have no systematic analysis of anything -
>just one little detail after another in an endless and tedious catalogue.
>One of his rants before I heard before hitting the off button was about how
>utility companies overcharge their customers. Yes, no doubt they do, but is
>the most urgent problem facing the U.S. right now overly expensive energy?

There is no doubt in my mind that Ralph Nader is at heart a tort lawyer. He sued GM because the courts were his only recourse. I think he correctly sees the attempts to rein in the plaintiff's bar with "tort reforms" as a threat to eliminate that vestigate of corporate accountability. However, he also founded Public Citizen and the Public Interest Research Groups, which attempt more systematic analysis and collective action.

Overly expensive energy is a pretty important issue in the summertime as the temperature edges up into the 90s. With all due respect, high energy bills are more likely to get people into the streets than the 150th anniversary edition of "Capital."

-- Jim Cullen

---------------------------------------- THE PROGRESSIVE POPULIST James M. Cullen, Editor P.O. Box 150517, Austin, Texas 78715-0517 Phone: 512-447-0455 Internet: populist at Home page: ----------------------------------------

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