I thought some of you might like to read this, whether or not you are
advocates of what Sid Lens used to call "lesser weevilism." paul
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000 14:44:29 -0400
From: John Krumm <email@example.com>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] Ralph Nader's Speech to the NAACP
The Washington Post
Tuesday, July 11, 2000
Text: Ralph Nader's Speech to the NAACP
Following is the transcript of Ralph Nader's speech
delivered at the NAACP's 91st Annual Convention in
NADER: Thank you very much, Chairman Bond, President Mfume
and distinguished and honored guests on the dais.
Yesterday, I read Chairman Bond's address. And I found that
I had to adjust my remarks quite a bit, otherwise I'd be
accused of plagarism.
President Mfume brings back memories of what he did in 1991
when almost single-handedly he saved the Community
Reinvestment Act which opened up for lending...
We appreciate it very much, because we've been working on
bank and insurance redlining for years. We have maps of
cities all over the country showing the discrimination in
terms of where mortgage funds are available and lenders are
operating. And we are amazed at the consistent attack on the
Community Reinvestment Act led by Senator Phil Gramm from
Texas and how close it almost came to oblivion in last
year's Bank Concentration bill which unfortunately made it
through and into law.
You know, there are so many people here who are veterans of
past civil rights, and civil liberties and economic justice
struggles and I can see also there are people who are young
of age who intend to take the achievements of the previous
generation to new heights and to new levels of thoroughness,
but I can't go into my remarks right now without
illustrating what those new heights can be like by
mentioning my friend, Randall Robinson...
... because he is really a frontiersman for justice in the
sense that he's willing to take risks and break through
paradigms, as he did on the anti-apartheid struggle in South
Africa. And what he has done since then, in breaking through
again and again, illustrates that we cannot be satisfied
with the least of the worst options, whether they are
policies, whether they are politicians, or whether they are
We cannot continue to wait decade after decade for
injustices to be prevented and problems to be solved while
our economy goes to new levels of growth, while corporate
profits are at record levels, while budget surpluses are at
the federal and state levels getting larger.
We have fewer and fewer excuses for ignoring or being
indifferent or sloganizing the very serious and in many ways
growing injustices in our society. We have no excuse anymore
in terms of saying that we don't have the funds, that we
don't have the capabilities, that we don't have the
technology, that we don't have the know-how.
I just bring to you a little fact from California. For those
of you who are skeptical of people who tell you that things
are getting better but we got to make them even better, try
child poverty in California. In 1980, it was 15.2 percent;
today it is 25.1 percent. And if you take near poverty --
the children who are near poverty, who I would consider in
poverty because I think the official levels of poverty are
absurd, how can anyone support a four-member family on
$17,200 a year -- before deductions, before the cost of
getting to work, et cetera?
If you add the near poverty, 46 percent of all the children
in California are in the category. This is not just a badge
of shame for our country, the richest country in the world,
it's a reflection of our inability to focus on the signal
phenomena that is blocking justice, and that is the
concentration of power and wealth in too few hands. That's
A few lessons from the past illustrate that.
What do all these movements have in common? The anti-slavery
movement, the women's right to vote movement, the worker
trade union movement, the farmer, populist, progressive
movement, the civil rights, environmental, women rights
movements of recent decades, other civil rights movements,
disability rights -- they had one common theme: They took
power away from people and institutions who had too much
power and made that power be shared by the many.
That is what made it possible. It wasn't just the
documentation of injustice. It wasn't just the feeling by
people that they had to have a better life. It was the
strategy of power. It was the strategy of deconcentrating
power. It was the strategy that confronted the dominant
business powers of our history which uniquely were always in
the forefront of saying no to social justice movements.
Who opposed the anti-slavery movement? Who opposed the
women's right to vote movement? It wasn't just some men. It
was the railroads, it was the liquor industry, it was
industrial interests that didn't want women to speak out
with voting power against child labor and the injustices of
the Industrial Revolution.
And who opposed the workers in the steel, coal, textile and
other areas trying to unionize? It was the corporations. And
who opposed the farmers, dirt-poor farmers coming out of
Texas? It was the big banks and the insurance companies.
And I might say it's much the same today. Who opposed Social
Security? The corporate lobbies and their allies in
Congress. Who opposed one advance after another in terms of
equal opportunity of employment, in terms of
anti-discrimination efforts in housing? Who opposed the
consumer movement to try to reduce death and injury on the
part of innocent consumers because of hazardous products and
toxic chemicals and other sources of trauma? The
Who opposed the drive for environmental health in our
country? Who opposed the effort to end this silent
cumulative violence that we too charitably call pollution,
air, water pollution, pesticides?
Who opposed those? The corporations did.
Who opposed the effort which is now 60 years in failure to
take lead-based paint off crumbling tenement walls in the
cities, the kind of deadly lead-based paint that to this day
is poisoning 200,000 minority children a year, damaging
their brain and other organs? It was the interests, the
prosperity holders, the landlords, the big apartment owners,
the slum lords.
And I think all of these social justice movements finally
prevailed, with few exceptions, and America was better as a
result, and still we must ask ourselves, what are the
sources of power that are keeping us from progressing and
We live now in an apartheid economy. It is an economy of
such staggering inequities that mere words and statistics
hardly can do it justice. It is an economy where one man,
Bill Gates, has as much wealth as the combined wealth of the
bottom 120 million Americans.
That means -- apart from what that says about the great
software imitator from Redmond, Washington, that means that
there are millions of Americans who are working, year after
year, decade after decade, and are just plain broke. They
have no capital share, they're moving, if they're lucky,
from paycheck to paycheck; if they're less lucky, from
payday loan to payday loan, paying outrageous levels of
interest to the loan sharks and going deeper and deeper into
debt, which now totals, for all consumers in this country,
$6.2 trillion -- $6.2 trillion.
The inequities are even more staggering worldwide. I just
received information, the latest data: The 250 richest
people in the world have the combined income of the bottom
three billion people in the world.
And to give you a further illustration, the top 1 percent of
the richest people in our country have wealth -- financial
wealth equal to the bottom 95 percent.
Now let's look at ordinary working folk. We have 130 million
paying jobs in this country; 40 million are part-time. And
according to the Department of Labor, if you work 21 hours a
week, even if you want a full-time job and can't get it,
you're considered employed.
So let's not pay much attention to the 4 percent
unemployment rate. It's more like 13 percent generally, and
more like 25 percent for minorities.
But 47 million workers in this country who get up every
morning and go to work are making less than $10 an hour.
Many of them, 10 million of them, minimum wage -- federal
minimum wage, $5.15, others $6, 7, 8 an hour. You can't make
a livable wage at the level that Wal-Mart or Kmart or
McDonald's pays, much less afford a family on that. The
The minimum wage, I might add, today, is far less than it
was in 1960, 1970, in terms of purchasing power. Imagine,
we're sliding backwards at a time when our economy overall
is booming and corporate profits are booming and we have
Now there's a lesson in that. The lesson is why is that
happening? There are a few principles that I have operated
by in my 40 years of work in trying to advance justice in
our country. One of them is the definition of freedom that
goes back to ancient Rome. I think you'll like it. Freedom
is participation in power. Freedom is participation in
The second is a description of justice as the great work of
human beings on Earth, justice. You notice a lot of
politicians give speeches -- like I've read almost all of
Ronald Reagan's speeches and it's full -- their speeches are
full of liberty and freedom, but they never use the word
justice. I wonder why. Because justice means redistribution
of power and opportunity and income and livelihood, that's
what justice means.
And, third, a society that has more justice is a society
that needs less charity -- more justice, needs less charity.
And, fourthly, the only place where democracy comes before
work is in the dictionary.
And, fifthly, and this is out of ancient China. An ancient
Chinese philosopher once said, quote, ``To know and not to
act is not to know.'' To know is not to act, not to know.
You can put that one on your friendly politician's back once
in a while. They know, but they are not acting. And we know
that they know and they are not acting.
And let me tell you, in this country of ours, when it comes
to indifference to injustice, I would almost prefer a
provocateur than an anesthesizer.
And let me just run through -- and I'd like to start with
the global description first, because this is where we
really see the deficiencies of a system that needs major,
All over the world, we have millions of people, many of them
children, dying from global infectious diseases. Malaria is
killing over one million people in Africa, most of them
little children. Tuberculosis, which is a curable disease
starting in the 1950s, is taking about two million lives.
And I needn't describe the horrible scourge of AIDS.
Now, what are we doing about this as a nation? What are we
doing in terms of training people to deal with these
infectious diseases that are coming our way in
drug-resistant form? What are we doing in terms of the
Well, let me tell you what we're doing: We're almost doing
nothing. We are willing to spend $60 billion on a missile
defense system that doesn't even work, according to the
leading physicists of our country.
And you know what we spent last year on global malaria? $47
million. We spent about $50 million on tuberculosis. A B-2
bomber, which the Pentagon doesn't want any more of but
which the PAC-greased Congress majority seems to want to
demand more to be constructed on behalf of their corporate
sponsors, costs $2 billion.
A few months ago I was meeting with the scientists at the
Walter Reed Institute of Health at the Department of Army.
These are the Ph.D.s and the M.D.s who almost alone in our
country, on a tiny budget, are working to find vaccines and
drugs against malaria, hepatitis and other deadly diseases.
And their entire budget for research and development was $25
million a year. And for the laboratories around the world
that spot epidemics it totaled about another $70 million.
And I asked them, How much do you spend to produce a new
drug? They discovered three out of the four anti-malarial
drugs, for example. And they said between $5 million and $10
Do you know what the drug companies tell us as justification
for their high drug prices, how much they have to spend for
a new drug? $300 million to $500 million. That's so-called
private enterprise, and right in our own government we have
scientists who are showing the way, but they don't have
enough support. It's the best keep secret in Washington. I
had to open up appointments with members of Congress for
these brigadier generals and captains, all of them Ph.D.s
and doctors, to go up on Capitol Hill a few months ago for
the first time.
Now, that is such a distortion in the expenditure of tax
money as to boggle the mind.
And let me give you an illustration of how easy it is to go
after some of the worst problems of poverty in our country.
It comes from the UN Development Program. The UN Development
Program, which is an extraordinary research and development
effort, is part of the United Nations, and I just want to
give you an illustration of what it is.
They say for $40 billion a year -- that's $40 billion --
applied to the needy of the world, they can provide basic
sanitation and drinking water safety, basic nutritional
needs, basic health care and significant education for these
children. That's $40 billion a year in the same world that
spends $850 billion a year on military equipment.
Now, this is, in a sense, a message of hope, is it not? It's
a message that if we can get enough civic power to redirect
some of the enormous tax dollars that go to corporate
subsidies, giveaways, handouts, bailouts, and that go for
the military machine driven by corporate profits of Lockheed
Martin and General Dynamics and others, we could redirect
some of these monies to accelerate at unheard of levels the
well-being of the oppressed and the impoverished and the
desperate people and children in this world.
That is the national purpose that's connected with a new
definition of national security, is it not? Isn't that
national security well written? The security of reducing
poverty and infectious diseases and the destruction of
environments which are undermining the very ability of
people in the world to eke out a living -- massive soil
erosion, poisoned water, contaminated, choking air
pollution, just for starters; areas of forest cut down,
perhaps never to be revived again.
The concentration of power is an issue that must be high on
our agenda. Indeed, you talk to Maxine Waters, she knows
what the concentration of power is like. She tried to get
checking accounts for poor people -- lifeline checking
accounts in the bank bill last year, and the Republicans and
the White House turned a deaf ear.
Do you know there are over 25 million people in this country
who cannot afford checking accounts? That's raw power by the
John Conyers knows what raw power is. He's been trying to
raise the issue of commercial crimes, especially in the
inner city but generally all over, a corporate crime
epidemic that is eating the life out of family budgets. Just
look at the major newspapers and the TV, and see how they
are documenting these predations.
In just one area, health care, the General Accounting Office
estimates $1 out of every $10 is drained away from us by
billing fraud and abuse. You know these bills that are in
code, who can understand them, right? You know what that
amounts to this year? That's 10 percent of the health care
budget. That's over $110 billion -- billion. Now that could
cover a good many of the 46 million people who are not
covered by any health insurance policies.
The agenda that we are proposing here is an agenda that is
marked by three characteristics: one, it doesn't cost all
that much money. To shift power from the haves to the
have-nots and give people a chance to band together to
pursue justice, which is essential to the pursuit of
happiness, does not cost that much money.
And, secondly, this agenda deals with the essential premise
of democracy, that all people have to feel that they can
participate, they can deliberate, and they can have an
impact on their own grievances and the future of the
And the third is that we have to recognize that those who
are excessively greedy and excessively powerful must -- must
give up their privileges. They must give up some of their
power. I will read you...
I will read you a quote that many of you are familiar with.
Quote, ``We have not made a single gain in civil rights
without determined legal and non-violent pressure.
Lamentably, it is a historical fact that privileged groups
seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may
see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust
posture, but as Reinhold Neibuhr has reminded us, groups
tend to be more immoral than individuals,'' end quote. That
was the Reverend Martin Luther King in his Letter from a
Let me go through the agenda very quickly and you'll see
more of what I mean. This is in addition to the NAACP agenda
which all of you have, and it's in addition to many of the
advocacies that you've heard at this convention. Some of it
is redundant, but I want to elaborate it.
First and foremost, the biggest single obstacle to honest,
just and effective government action, a government of, by,
and for the people, is the corruption of special interest
money in our election campaigns.
As the NAACP has said, we must have full public financing
for public elections.
Where in the world did we ever get a system where public
schools are publicly financed, public parks are publicly
financed, but the essential phenomena of a democracy, public
elections, are up for bid to the highest bidder as if it's
an auction block?
And I commend the Fanny Lou Farmer's (ph) wonderful
initiative that is just under way to have full public
financing. And those of you who missed the handout here that
described it, just look at the second page and the comment
by civil rights veteran and history professor Roger Wilkens
when he said, quote, ``I believe deeply that the deprivation
of the poor and the excluded, by making our electoral
process a rich, white, male corporate game, is as brutal an
exclusion of the poor and the black and other minorities as
any form of discrimination that we have known and
categorized as civil rights all our lives. I think it is
undeniable that it is a basic civil rights issue,'' end
quote. Very, very well said.
Number two, we need to discuss the question of a non-livable
wage in our country. There are a number of ways where we can
lift the economic standards of living of people, in addition
to enforcing the civil rights laws. One of them is to repeal
the restrictive labor laws which obstruct tens of millions
of Americans from the same right that people have in other
Western countries to form trade unions, and that includes
the repeal of the notorious Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.
Less than 10 percent of workers in this country in the
private sector are unionized. This is the lowest level in 60
years in our country and by far lower than other Western
We need also to address the minimum wage and change its
name. A minimum wage that is not a livable wage can never be
a minimum wage in our country.
The livable wage should move to $10 an hour as soon as
possible -- as soon as possible.
NADER: Do the more affluent people understand how much it
costs just to get to work in America, how much it costs
waiting for the buses that almost never come on schedule, or
too few buses, or having to buy another car, or an insurance
policy, and repair, and day care, and wondering who's going
to take care of the sick parent, and being clogged in
traffic, and losing time, and not being able to spend time
with children or a family or community? That's the cost of
getting to work.
In Europe they have laws that they call a social wage law.
It doesn't matter whether you belong to a union or not,
you're a worker in many of these countries in West Europe,
you have certain rights. You have a month's paid vacation,
you know not just 12 days off for family leave unpaid, you
have paid family leave, you have longer maternity leave, you
have the kind of civilized rights that our country, the
richest country in the world, still hasn't gotten around to
provide. It is time for a change; the system is not working.
Another way to raise standards of living is to have
progressive taxation mean what it says, instead of these
rich corporations and rich people who have all these tax
lawyers showing them how they can become tax escapees.
They're not paying their fair share. There are corporations
in this country that get off paying virtually no tax.
General Electric for three years, in 1981 to '83, made $6.2
billion in profit, didn't pay a penny in federal income tax.
That means one worker in General Electric, one worker, paid
more to Uncle Sam in sheer dollars than the giant General
Electric company -- which, by the way, finagled the tax laws
where it got $120 million refund on top of paying no taxes.
And then there's the estate tax. Have you heard about that
I thought Charlie Rangel devastated the arguments of the
Republicans and some Democrats who want to get rid of the
estate tax, when it only applies to the top 2 percent of the
estates and in terms of the $27 billion it raises every year
it's only a few tens of thousands of super rich estates who
didn't happen to be counseled by clever estate lawyers.
And thirdly, we need a law and order campaign against
powerful lobbyists and institutions. That means we've got to
crack down on the consumer fraud that goes on in this
country. And as you know, the poor pay more, the poor are
sick more, the poor die more. These are some of the most
rapacious, predatory practices that the imagination of a
gouging corporation or merchant could possibly conceive.
We also need, of course, a way to effectively distinguish
the words ``welfare,'' ``violence,'' ``regulation'' and
``crime.'' When reporters ask me about these questions I
say, You better specify: Are you talking about corporate
welfare or poverty welfare?
Are you talking about street crime or corporate crime?
Which the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and others
have chronicled as being far more devastating in terms of
lives lost, injuries inflicted, disease perpetrated than
even street crime, horrible as street crime is. Far more die
from preventable criminal negligence in the workplace, in
the factory, in the mine. They die from toxics that they're
exposed to -- asbestos, lead. They die from reckless
hospital practices. They die from the kinds of addictions
that are coming from some of Fortune 500 corporations,
beamed to the very young to hook them into a lifetime of
smoking and other addictions.
Fourth, universal health insurance -- not much needs to be
said about this except two things: It's got to be accessible
-- it's got to be accessible, it's got to focus on
preventive health, and it's got to be monitored by
organizations of health care consumers so they can monitor
the HMOs and monitor the hospital chains and in many ways be
the majordomo to make sure that the vigilance is there and
that these systems, once put in place, work.
Five, we need to end corporate welfare as we know it.
And I'm not even -- I'm not even willing to say five years
and out. This is aid to dependent corporations.
And it's time that their bleeding of tax dollars by
hardworking Americans be ended so that these tax dollars be
used for serious purposes, not for stadiums and arenas while
schools and clinics crumble from lack of repair.
Not corporate subsidies to big drug companies who don't want
to do any research for drugs or vaccines on AIDS or TB or
malaria or other diseases in this country because they can't
make big money off of it. We have to stop that.
Six, we have to look at our criminal justice system and ask
why it's so criminal.
Why is it that it breeds exactly the opposite of what it's
supposed to deter and prevent? Why is it -- and anybody who
says that this criminal justice system with its corporate
prison industry, its notoriously discriminatory death
penalty -- you know, there was a -- there was a executive in
California the other day, you may have read it.
He ran a sausage plant and he got really upset with two
federal meat inspectors and a state inspector and he shot
and killed them. And people saw it. Do you really think he's
ever going to get the death penalty if he's convicted? No
This is an extremely discriminatory penalty that is a scar,
it does not deter. Defendants who are poor are not given
competent counsel who even stay awake during the trial...
... much less the kind of defense that our Constitution
warrants all accused defendants.
And we need also to recognize that legal service for the
poor is underfunded. I just realized the other day, its
budget is under $300 million a year. And did you know that
the Pentagon now has a policy of using your tax dollars to
subsidize mergers between two big defense companies? And
they spend $1.5 billion just for the marriage of Martin
Marietta and Lockheed. That's five years budget of legal
services for the poor.
It really is time to ask ourselves how can we allow the rich
and powerful not only to rip off people as consumers, but to
continue to rip them off as taxpayers?
Institutional building is another part of the agenda. In
1908 and 1909, the same people who were fighting for civil
rights in those days could have said to themselves, We're
too busy fighting the specific struggles right now in
Philadelphia or New York to start a new institution.
Instead, they didn't do that. They started the NAACP. And
that is what institution building is all about. Think...
Think of the leverage -- think of the leverage throughout
the decades from the NAACP's championing of civil rights;
it's winning one Supreme Court case after another.
I was a law student when I first heard Thurgood Marshall
come and speak. And he was -- this is before he was all that
well known. And he inspired us, all of us -- 550 members of
the class of 1958, with two African- Americans in the
I remember also other institutions which were built -- the
ACLU and others. We now have to build more institutions.
We've got to build institutions to deal with the horrific
risks of biotechnology -- you want to talk about genetic
discrimination, just think what's coming -- to deal with the
artificial intelligence of computers, and the replacement of
interpersonal education, with our children looking at
screens, day after day, at age 6, or 8, or 9, as if they
don't look at screens enough when they go home and watch
We need institutions that allow us to band together
vis-a-vis banks, insurance companies, HMOs, cable companies,
landlords. All of these can be done. We know how to do it.
We've just got to focus on it.
We started in our class at Harvard -- the 1958 law school
class. Let me tell you, there were a lot of corporate
lawyers in that class. Yet we are now starting centers for
law and justice all over the United States. We've got them
in 12 states, and we're going for almost all the states.
That's just one law school class shoehorning and mobilizing
people of good will to start systemic centers for law and
justice -- systemic, not remedial, not charity, systemic.
Environment -- environmental racism especially is a disgrace
of neglect. How long, oh how long must we wait before we
remove this constant intimacy between deadly toxic materials
and our children? Asthma levels in Hartford 41 percent among
minority children -- 41 percent. And around the country,
they're reaching record levels.
Aren't we a country that can at least give our little ones a
chance to breathe, literally? To breathe?
We also need to pay attention to controlling what we already
own. That may seem abstract, but we own, as a people, the
public airways; we don't control them. We own the public
lands, one-third of America, rich resources; we don't
control them. We have $5 trillion to $6 trillion in pension,
worker funds; we don't control their investment.
Now, imagine, what can happen if political campaigns began
paying attention to controlling what we own. Here's what
could happen. We'd have our own radio station, our own
television station, our own cable channel. People who are
trying to improve their local cities will become civic
Now, look at your late-evening news, if you can bear it.
Look at it. It's 30 minutes. Nine minutes of ads; three
minutes of street crime right at the beginning, never
corporate crime, very superficially covered; one minute of
impromptu chit-chat between the anchors; four minutes of
weather; four minutes of sports and that's what happens in
your town tonight. And we own the public airways. It's a
I remember -- many of us remember Julius Hobson here in
Washington, D.C., a government statistician who was a civic
leader trying to improve education in this district. And he
could command a press conference. When he spoke people
Today, you have similar people trying to improve the
District of Columbia and other jurisdictions, but they don't
get on the evening news. Nobody knows what they're doing.
Nobody can be motivated. Nobody can join what they're doing
because what we own, the public airways, has been
surrendered to the most myopic and avaricious corporations
running these TV and radio stations as if they can
trivialize our public trust, marginalize our public
commitment, and sensationalize our time.
I ask you, is there a word greater than grotesque for this
Consider all the news of the distressed and the
disadvantaged and the transgressed that should be on TV and
radio so that they can commit a process of resolution. And
then look at all the thousands of hours that covered Tonya
Harding and O.J. Simpson's trial and Elian. Think of the
thousands of hours crowding out the kind of real news that
... and I say -- and I say...
... and I say it's time to have our own television station,
radio stations and cable channels.
And I might add -- I might add, do you know what's going on
on Capitol Hill now? The community radio licenses that the
FCC wants to give to neighborhood groups. You know they they
have a three-mile radii so people can mobilize their
The broadcast industry, having gotten the public airways
free -- they don't pay any rent, by the way, to us the
landlord -- they got $70 billion of new spectrum free four
years ago. Now they're up on Capitol Hill to reverse the FCC
and prevent the neighborhood groups from having their tiny
little community radio stations.
Now is there anything -- is there a word beyond greed that
can describe that kind of over-reaching?
Education: You've heard about repairing schools? How long,
how long does it take to repair schools?
I'm so tired of these symbolic gestures, you know. How long
does it take? And you know, I know the Democrats like to
blame a lot of this on the Republican-controlled Congress.
But, you know, how bad a party do you have to be to let the
Congress of the United States be taken over by the likes of
Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott?
But in education, I have two points to make that aren't
The tyranny of standardized testing is becoming the be-all
and do-all for principals and teachers and school districts.
It is distorting the whole curriculum.
Now we first blew the top off standardized testing fraud in
1980 with a study on the Educational Testing Service. And
guess what? We found there was an invincible correlation
between test scores and family income. I wonder why. I
We also found that these tests are straitjackets. They don't
recognize multiple intelligences. They don't recognize the
assets that people have that spell success in life. Do they
measure determination? Do they measure stamina, creativity,
idealism, wisdom, judgment, experience? They don't.
And now -- and now they're becoming a yoke on our school
system where school districts, principals, teachers all
measured by test scores and guess who develops these tests?
Corporate consulting firms who have their eye on the public
school system of America in order to corporatize them.
Finally, we need a national Marshall Plan to abolish poverty
in the United States of America.
A hundred years ago -- 100 years ago reformers said that we
could abolish poverty in the next generation. And in the
next generation we have enormous poverty in the country in
the midst of enormous affluence by the few at the expense of
the many. There are corporations who must be scheduled for
reparations in our country, Aetna (ph) being one for
It's often said there is an intergenerational responsibility
for slavery, for brutality, and people in this generation
say, Well, I didn't have anything to do with that. And
what's that got to do with me?
Well, you know what? Corporations have been around for a
long time. They've got perpetual life. And they operated and
benefited from the repression of innocent people in this
country, and they should be required to pay.
And I might add, you can even talk about a Marshall Plan for
the poor in one life cycle. Our society takes away so much
from innocent, poor children that it's only fair to give
back some of that to them as young adults so they can have a
Let me tell you, when I'm asked about affirmative action, I
ask -- I answer with this question, What affirmative action?
Three hundred years of white male affirmative action that
... that have benefited us?
Talking with Justice Department lawyers -- let me tell you
how far symbolism has gotten. Justice Department lawyers
today in the Civil Rights Division have informed me that the
actual enforcement of those laws in terms of litigation is
less today in two out of three major areas than in the
previous administration. It's less in the area of
affirmative action and police brutality, and it's higher in
the area of housing discrimination.
And I think we've got to really get beyond the symbolism
here and ask ourselves whether only by building new
political power, new economic power, new media power, new
civic power for all Americans, only by doing that are we
going to turn around the headlong rush into systemic and
institutionalized injustice shortchanging the lives of
future generations and damaging the lives of present
And this is why I am running. This is why I am running for
the presidency of the United States.
My mother once told us as a child, Determination is what
puts your dreams on wheels. We have got to be determined
that we are not going to be flimflammed, we are not going to
be sweet-talked, we are not going to be regaled with
rhetoric, that we are only interested in justice as a
result, not justice as a broken promise.
It is important...
It is important, in conclusion, to look forward to this
November as a way for people who have been told too long by
both parties that they have nowhere to go other than to stay
home and not vote or to vote for one of the two parties.
If you ever wondered why the right wing and the corporate
wing of the Democratic Party has so much more power over
that party than the progressive wing, it's because the right
wing and the corporate wing have somewhere to go: It's
called the Republican Party. And so they're catered to and
they're regaled -- like the Democratic Leadership Council,
they're catered to and they're regaled.
But if you look at the progressive wing, if you look at
working families, if you look at trade unions, look at
groups trying to advance civil rights and consumer rights
and environmental rights, they have nowhere to go.
And you know when you're told that you have nowhere to go,
you get taken for granted. And when you get taken for
granted, you get taken.
So I hope that you will connect with us. Our web site is
either VoteNader.org or VoteNader.com.
The Green Party platform hands down is the most thorough,
justice-saturated platform of any political party platform
of the day. Reminds me of some of the great platforms of
many decades ago when parties -- at least one stood tall for
the working people of this country.
And I hope that in many ways you will eschew the counsel of
those who say that things are getting better, that just keep
on with us, that just stick with us, and every four years
both get worse -- both parties get worse. And we've waited
1980 and '84 and '88 and '92 and '96, and as Martin Luther
King said in his famous Letter from the Birmingham jail,
``How long can we wait?'' We cannot wait any longer. Too
much is at stake.
And I thank you very much for your patience and listening to
Copyright (c) 2000 The Washington Post Company.
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