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Ralph Nader on Labor & Farming


Focus on family farms instead of large agribusiness

The government maintains a variety of agricultural subsidies, ranging from irrigation subsidies to crop insurance and price supports for certain commodities. Many of these benefits accrue to corporate agribusiness, and often support environmentally harmful farm practices (such as overuse of water). The original purpose of farm supports was to support family farmers and enhance stability in agricultural markets, and it is doubtful whether the programs still fulfill this function. At the same time, many farm supports were eliminated by the 1996 Farm Bill, with the general effect of promoting agribusiness consolidation and increased power for grain traders. Food prices have not declined. All of this suggests the need for a serious and open-minded reassessment of farm programs, so that the public interest in protecting family farms and sustainable agriculture is advanced, while subsidies for large agribusiness are curtailed.
Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p.112-113 Oct 9, 2000

U.S. farm policy should focus on family farmers

Nader proposed shifting control of U.S. agriculture away from corporate conglomerates and back toward the family farmer. “By weakening the stranglehold agribusiness has on the food industry, we will be able to increase farm gate prices and competition, which will consequently reduce food costs for consumers.” His farm plan calls for stronger enforcement of antitrust laws, prohibition of meatpacker ownership of livestock production facilities and allowing American farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Source: AP Story, NY Times Sep 22, 2000


Ralph Nader on Labor

Living wage spreads economic expansion to reach all areas

Q. We have double-digit unemployment [here in Fresno CA]. How can we get an economic expansion that touches all areas?

A. There are a lot of answers to that. One is that California has one of the highest child poverty rates in the US. In 1980 it was 15% of the children growing up in deep poverty. It is now 25%. That is unconscionable. If you add a near-poverty category, it goes up to 46%. Why?

    The economy is booming in California, but the wealthy are taking most of the gains. So we have to ask ourselves, what do we do?
  1. A living wage. One-third of the nation’s work force does not work for a living wage.
  2. Universal health insurance.
  3. Deal with pesticides, herbicides, contaminated drinking water, hovels instead of affordable, decent housing.
  4. Where do we get the money for that? How about taking it from the corporate subsidies, giveaways, handouts, & bailouts and bringing it back into the neighborhoods and communities where that public investment is so important.
Source: John Ellis, The Fresno (CA) Bee Oct 22, 2000

Repeal Taft-Hartley; strengthen unions

As for the ideas that inform that rhetoric, Nader calls for full public financing of all elections and the repeal of Taft-Hartley, which limits labor’s tactics and power, to spread and strengthen unions. He would demand equal credit, equal insurance, and equal mortgage lending from banks and corporations. He favors a single-payer universal health care system like Canada’s.
Source: Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, page D1 Oct 8, 2000

Unions struggle even in heart of union country

If you can’t win a strike in Detroit, that shows you totally rigged the labor laws are in favor of big companies.
Source: Edwin Chen, LA Times Sep 5, 2000

Vote for a union supporter, not against Republicans

Appearing at a union annual convention, Nader offered himself as a strong alternative to Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. He promised to protect labor rights, fight for a higher minimum wage and push for universal health care. “Democrats have the support of most unions without getting anything back. All they get is the phrase, ‘You’d better support us because the Republicans are terrible.”’
Source: AP Story, NY Times Aug 29, 2000

Message to Democrats: Don’t take labor for granted

Ralph Nader was on a tear, railing against chief executives’ salaries, the corporate-dominated campaign finance system and cuts in factory inspections. Several of the steelworkers seated around him were nodding, and then nodding again, in silent approval. “You’re the guys who work hard. You’re the guys who pay the taxes. You’re the guys who fight the wars, and then they say, ‘Tough. We’re closing the Appearing at a union annual convention, Nader offered himself as a strong alternative to Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. He promised to protect labor rights, fight for a higher minimum wage and push for universal health care. “Democrats have the support of most unions without getting anything back. All they get is the phrase, ‘You’d better support us because the Republicans are terrible.”’
Source: AP Story, NY Times Jul 23, 2000

Raise the minimum wage immediately

There is an immediate need to raise the minimum wage. In March of 1998, California’s minimum wage was $5.75 per hour, yielding $11,960 in gross annual income. The California minimum wage, although higher than the national minimum, remains 26% less in spending power than the minimum wage in effect in 1968.
Source: Statement on Child Poverty Jun 26, 2000

Functional wages are falling despite economic boom

There are about 47 million workers, over one-third of the workforce, making less than $10 per hour, many at $5.25, $6.00, $7.00, with no or few benefits. The majority of workers still, after ten years of overall economic growth, make less today, in inflation adjusted dollars, and work 160 hours longer per year than workers did in 1973! Moreover, today’s workers have to spend more to get to work and commute longer distances. They pay more for what were family functions that were once free or inexpensive. A record number of people are without health insurance. $6.2 trillion in consumer indebtedness to supplement living wages, and inadequate crumbling public works that serve the mass populace, from schools, health clinics, mass transits, drinking water systems and other services. The lower unemployment rate is masked by low wages and millions of part-time laborers who are registered as employed if they work 21 hours a week and cannot get a full-time job.
Source: Nomination Acceptance Speech Jun 25, 2000

Top CEOs make 415 times entry wages

Give them [corporations] too much power and they’ll run roughshod over you. No shame, no sense of boundary. Everything’s for sale.. Giant corporations have hijacked our democracy, have no allegiance to our country or communities, and are increasingly controlling our government, media, childhood. These top CEOs are making 415 times the entry wage in their own company. You know what it was in 1940? 12. 1980? 40. Now, 415.
Source: George Skelton, LA Times Feb 23, 2000

Limit executive salaries & perks

Shareholders, who are the owners of companies, should not have their assets wasted or worker morale victimized by executives who give themselves huge salaries, bonuses, greenmail, and golden parachutes, self-perpetuating boards of directors, and a stifling of the proxy voting system to block shareholder voting reforms.
Source: The Concord Principles, An Agenda for a New Democracy, # 9 Feb 21, 2000

Student pressure can help oppressed textile workers abroad

Students [are starting to join] with labor and religious groups in the anti-sweatshop, anti-child-labor movement. Students will focus on large retailers, such as Wal-Mart, that buy merchandise from Third World nations that grind their workers to the ground. Students have pressured retailers on campus and off to publicly disclose the factory names and addresses. Consumer dollars can speak power and truth. The alternative is to keep allowing the abuses that lead to obscene profits for corporations.
Source: “In the Public Interest” newspaper column Aug 17, 1999

Other candidates on Labor & Farming: Ralph Nader on other issues:
Pat Buchanan
George W. Bush
Al Gore
Ralph Nader

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Hillary Clinton
Elizabeth Dole
John McCain
Robert Reich
Janet Reno
Jesse Ventura

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Bill Clinton
Jesse Jackson
Rush Limbaugh
Ross Perot
Ronald Reagan

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