Prophet Ralph

On the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, 2004, the eve of voting for president that year, Ralph Nader held a Wall Street rally, at the corner of Wall and Nassau streets.

In light of his notorious role in the 2000 general election, Nader’s 2004 run was controversial among Democrats and his audience on Wall Street that day contained a sizable number of people opposed to him.

I searched for a copy of the speech and, failing that, news coverage of the speech. I was unable to find the speech and the scant news coverage of the rally focused more on protests against Nader.

Nader is, of course, running again this time around.

I should say that I was against Nader in 2000, 2004, and I am, again, not supporting his run for the presidency this time around.

But that does not mean that I do not think he has anything to contribute to the national discourse. His words on corporate governance and corporate involvement in our politics, especially, should be heeded.

A friend recently gave me a Nader campaign DVD that contained his 2004 Election Eve speech at his Cooper Union Rally in New York City and about a five-minute excerpt of his Wall Street speech. I am sharing those snippets because of the seismic events going on in our financial markets.

On corporate power and their involvement in politics. . .

For a society dedicated to equal justice under the law, you cannot have equal justice between human beings and corporations who can aggregate capital, technology, power, privileges and immunities unreachable by even the richest individual.

You’ll remember the famous BusinessWeek cover in September 2000 which declared “Too much corporate power?” and in seven pages of detail, the answer to the question “too much corporate power?” by BusinessWeek was yes, yes, yes. BusinessWeek declared “corporations should get out of politics.”

And, indeed, they should. They are not human beings. They do not vote. The do not have children. they are artificial entitites. They must be our servants, not our masters.

On the unbalanced distribution of wealth in corporate America . . .

There are large corporations in this country whose chief executives are making $7,000 an hour on the average while their workers are making $7 an hour in their company.

That means that in one day, that executive makes $56,000, more than that worker would make in three and quarter years of toil five days a week.

The system helps the top 10% and the top 5% and helps hysterically the top 1%, whose financial wealth is equivalent to the combined financial wealth of the bottom 95% of all Americans.

On tort reform . . .

Tort reform is another word that says that the powers of corporatism will move through legislatures to restrict the authority of people to sue corporations but not corporations to sue people.

This is another advance in the privileges and immunities of corporations, a relentless strategy year after year to immunize them from corporate accountability and responsibility, to allow them to privatize their profits while they socialize more and more of their risks on the back of the taxpayers.

On strategic corporate planning . . .

The collision between commercial value and civic value has been a longstanding struggle throughout the history of mankind. We should ask ourselves why is it that corporations spend so much time planning our future? It’s called strategic planning.

Corporations are planning and have been planning our political future, our job future, our economic future.

Isn’t it time for the people of this country to plan their own future in all these areas?