Ignoring Prophetic Predictors by Ralph Nader

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Note: DS changed the title July 3, 2009

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
July 2, 2009

I’ve wondered often why people who go to “town meetings” held by campaigning politicians rarely ask fundamental questions.

Here is one that should have been asked of presidential candidate Barack Obama: “If you get to the White House, will you appoint to top positions Americans who have a track record of making the right decisions in their respective fields?”

“Of course, I will,” Obama would have undoubtedly replied.

Of course, he did not when it came to the collapse of the corrupt Wall Street casinos and the bailout of these gamblers by the American people. Obama chose the very Wall Streeters and Wall Street servants who were involved in, condoned, or profited from the speculative binges that led to the biggest government bailout scheme in world history. The President’s explanation is that he wants experienced people who know how Wall Street works. Yeah, right! In reality, he wanted political cover.

Something very important is missing when even people who are part of the ruling establishment are ignored, marginalized, or ridiculed even though their detailed, public warnings prove to be all too accurate.

Consider billionaire, Ross Perot. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Ross, as everyone calls him, was right on General Motors, right on NAFTA trade, and right on the federal deficits.

In 1984, he joined the Board of Directors of GM after selling his successful company, EDS, to the auto giant. He could scarcely believe how stodgy, bureaucratic, and insensitive GM executives were in running the company. He tried to shake up the boys at the top to meet the fast-growing competition from Asia and Europe.

The GM brass couldn’t stand Ross “at large” probing up and down the company, so in 1986 they bought out his shares in return for him leaving the Board.

Two years later, reflecting on his experience at GM with a reporter from Fortune, Perot called the “General Motors system a blanket of fog that keeps people from doing what they know needs to be done.”

Warming up, Perot continued: “One day I made a speech to some senior executives. I said, ‘Okay, guys, I’m going to give you the whole code on what’s wrong. You don’t like your customers. You don’t like your dealers. You don’t like the people who make your cars. You don’t like your stockholders. And, to a large extent, you don’t like one another. For this company to win, we’re going to have to love our customers. We’re going to have to stop fretting about dealers who make too much money and hope they make $1 billion a year though us. The guys on the factory floor are the salt of the earth—not mad-dog, rabid, burn-the-plant-down radicals. And all this sniping at one another—the financial guys vs. the cars guys—is terribly destructive.’”

GM didn’t listen to Ross. Now, after a long, relentless slide, GM is bankrupt, abandoning their workers, two thousand of their dealers, and their customers’ grievances. Moreover, GM is into the U.S. taxpayer for over $70 billion.

Perot devoted much of his 1993 published book Save Your Job, Save Our Country to NAFTA and trade. Looking back, he was right most of the time. NAFTA cost more U.S. jobs than it created, generated a huge U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, and mainly benefited the “36 businessmen who own Mexico’s 39 largest conglomerates or over half of Mexico’s Gross National Product.”

The border-located maquiladora factories have high worker turnover and squeeze the laborers in often unsafe conditions for little pay.

Here is how Perot described the scene behind the boasting of Washington, DC, and corporations about the large increase in trade after NAFTA:

“Most of the goods produced in the maquiladoras are shipped into the U.S. market. Consequently, most of the so-called trade between the U.S. and Mexico is not trade as trade is commonly understood. Rather, it is primarily U.S. companies shipping their own machinery, components, and raw materials across the border into their Mexican factories and then shipping their finished or semi-finished goods back over the border into the U.S.”

A good deal of the U.S. auto industry went south after NAFTA, leaving workers and communities stranded in Michigan and other states. Bankrupt Chrysler is planning to move a modern, award-winning engine plant in Wisconsin to Mexico after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.

On Perot’s nationally-televised deficit warnings (with charts), what more need be said? Even he did not envision what would pile up after his clarion calls. The burden on the next generation and the tax dollars diverted from our country’s needs to pay the interest on these trillions of dollars of debt were pointed out again and again nearly twenty years ago by the Texas entrepreneur. He even has a website (perotcharts.com) updating the red ink.

In Bush’s and Obama’s Washington, there is no room for Perot to gain visibility and recognition.

It is one thing for the Washington politicians to ignore prescient progressive commentators, like William Grieder, who have been prophetically right on. It is quite another escape from reality to turn their backs on leaders within the business establishment itself.

There are many like Perot who must be watching the day’s news and saying “we told you so, but you didn’t listen then and you are not listening now.”


The Economy Sucks and or Collapse 2

10 thoughts on “Ignoring Prophetic Predictors by Ralph Nader

  1. (Still have to search ‘propathetic’).

    Do you suppost he maybe was trying to say, “prophetic”?

    • Catseye, I think you may be right.

      I went and changed the title from “Propethic” to “Prophetic”. I’m guessing it was a typo.



      propathetic (adjective) : 1. Favorable feeling or natural liking 2. Synonym: sympathetic 3. Antonym: antipathetic 4. Related word: propathy
      Though antipathetic toward his homework, Brian was propathetic toward video games.
      Submitted by: Mike Anderson from Ohio on Oct. 17, 2005 14:26

        • What spell-checker has propathetic?

          Perhaps it was right the first way.
          Perot did enjoy his asset-chops, and certainly did his homework… He loved every minute of it! Tommy Tune o the corporate world (for a season er so).

          Steve martin and both simpsons are texans, how sad is that?

        • Natureboy, I went and changed the title from “Propethic” to “Prophetic”. I’m guessing it was a typo.

          You are the only one who used the word “propathetic” which is a word, whereas “propethic” is not.

  2. Indeed. But its enough with the Texan Billionaires already, and hearing this guy’s name again and from Ralph, no less, was bizarre.

    Perot is a pro-gun business cowboy who got filthy rich on insider government deals. He’s a pro-war-on-drugs, anti-social-security racialist typical of his Texan culture. His Veep choice was a career vietnam war-criminal. He’s as much of an abusive, big-business, board-room gangster as any of them, and probably employed Mexicans despite all his complaints.

    Indeed even Perot’s EDS/EDI system is built for government and big business, the latter now use the vast tedium of data interchange to inappropriately abuse small business.

    Apparently he was so ineffective at fighting free trade that after debating Gore, popular support for NAFTA doubled. He is bizarre, I don’t know why Ralph used his predictions, certainly there were others– perhaps because his ‘reform party’ collapsed, half went to Nader (while half went to Buchanan).

    The Texan megalomaniacal business-style is epitomized by Creepster Howard Houghs, T. Boone Pickens, R Allen Stanford, Charles Hurwitz/Maxxam (who with junk bonds, bought the largest lumber company in the California old growth, and proceeded to liquidate the ancient forest, every drop of it, Texan oilman-style). There is a reason for cooking up characters like Daniel Plainview in ‘there will be blood’– Texas is where white america coagulated its religious-based capitalism idea, greed, god & guns are equal and sacred (Bonnie & Clyde and Mark David Chapman and John Wesley Hardin are all graduates of the Texan cult of gun violence and murder, and the Torture and dismemberment of Richard Hernandez for being gay and that noose in the Paris Texas factory is proof the lynch-mob relentlessly lives on in the lone-star hate).

    What can you expect from a business culture based in confederate white supremacy that traded slaves illegally, and had to be mandated by the Feds to abide emancipation two years after it was proclaimed! The trickery and segregation which then ensued (by Texan Democrats, no less) requires special reparations apart from the other white-hooded hoodlums infesting the deep south to this day.

    My own extensive experience with white Texans, everyone from a genuine cult of jesus community not far from the Branch Davidians (christians gone off the deep end) in Waco (complete with 19th century garb and documented misogynistic child abuse), whose wholesome ‘craft community’ built Dubbya’s house, to some of the most vile and arrogant, back-stabbing, slow-talking/fast-thinking business-people I’ve met anywhere…

    This is all after dealing with NYC shysters galore, but unlike NY, there appears to be no progressive intelligence in the white side of Texan culture (and then there’s the fact that they landslid Dubbya in there over Ann Richards, starting one of the worst nightmare political fiascos in US or world history (and all because Texan cowboys thought he would be fun to chew the fat with…).

    And that’s not counting other scary politicians from Texas, Karl Rove, Phil Gramm, Kay Baily Hutchinson,

    Something is certainly rotten in the state of Texas.

    If Ralph believes bringing in corporate criminal Perot’s pie-charts into the immensely appropriate ‘I told you so’ debate, then so be it, I’ll believe Ralph, and trust his point, even if Perot embodies much of the wing-nut Texan cultural disease I’ve come to so detest.

    And of course there are exceptions, Molly Ivins, Janis Joplin & Carol Burnett all turned that tortuous Texan twang on its head brilliantly.

    In then end I don’t forgive Texas one wit for putting Dubbya and Rove on the political stage (and keeping them there with all those electors), and staying red-stated loyal to the end.

    But by all means delete this entire exchange! I’ve retired from politics.

  3. This is good piece (Still have to search ‘propathetic’).

    Almost had me voting for ross and his crazy admiral (if you believe in industrial capitalism, and free/AKA rip off workers for profit because it’s the best they can get in mexico, supporting our co-conspiratorial unsustainable greed-machine) ‘trade’.

    Ralph still preaches the people’s right, yet the people are wrong. People have only their selves to blame.

    Can we detest Texans yet? I say we not only let them seceed, we EXPELL them from the union as unfit for human consumption, and let the mexican drugsters shoot them all at high noon.

    No Texans, no Botch, No Waco, No NM, better world.

    Just let those oil-killer cowboys gather up their capitalist goon-guns and do battle with the Mexican druglords, film the whole thing and make a miserable reality show out of it, the implosion of two miserable gangs that need to be purged from society (sorry Koresh, and LBJ, but we ALL would have been better off had the entire unlivable, barren state of texas never been settled, bring back the Hopi, the Navajo, and burn at the stake the entire red state of Texan rethuglican cultist warmongering rednecks, not a single normal soul could choose to be a texan, Molly Ivins is gone, there is no redeeming value to the existence of this entire miserable patch of meat-eating gunmongers, make them all go away).

      • DS, that was my reaction, too. I happen to live in Texas (through a series of circumstances, not like I made a conscious beeline for Dipshit Mecca) and you’ll find a mix of urban progressives – including two of the largest gay populations in the US – and a mouth-breathing rural contingent of rednecks, cheezits freaks, bigots and the offspring of generations of family trees resembling telephone poles.

        So please don’t flush the baby when you drain the genetic swamplands. After all, without the progressive balance, the regressives would have long ago decided, in an idiocratic fashion, to pick up some blunt instruments and invade the rest of the US in order to purge the darkies, muslins, mexicants and other undesirables from the Land Of Cheezits, where men are men, women are cattle and everyone else is fertilizer. TI does build missile systems, so don’t kid yourself that they don’t have home-grown firepower here. (FYI, Texas missiles have a number “8” painted on the side, because Dale Sr. is seated at the right hand of the lord, forever and ever amen, y’all.)

        As for Ross, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the guy and while he initially comes across as a folksy bumpkin, he’s seriously smart and fundamentally understands trade, protection and the consequences of unfettered trade. “Giant sucking sound” indeed.

        And yeah, I miss Molly, too. She was the bomb.

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