Ralph Nader

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is the author of Crashing the Party: Taking on
the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender.
For more on the Enron reform
movement, see www.citizenworks.org.

Recent Articles

Organizing People

The Enron supermarket of corporate crime, fraud, and abuse has engendered its own media frenzy and congressional investigative momentum to document the wrongdoing and the harm to innocents; it will likely also stimulate civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions. The question that remains is whether federal and state governments will enact anything beyond Band-Aid reforms--whether they have the willpower to go after what George Will called "a systemic crisis of capitalism in this country." We know that existing laws at the Securities and Exchange Commission and state boards of accountancy were not enforced. We know that under the Clinton administration, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress sought to weaken the laws governing these corporate and accounting-firm violations and to weaken the SEC. We also know that corporatists, led by President George W. Bush and Representative W.J. "Billy" Tauzin of Louisiana, are now pressing "reforms" that won't impede the nearly unbridled power...

Shopping for Innovation: Government as Smart Consumer

The way the government buys can push industry ahead.

A ccording to corporate boosters, private business is the only real source of technological innovation. Just get government out of the way, and business will unleash its creative zeal. The reality is that government outlay also promotes innovation in a variety of ways. Since World War II, the government has financed roughly half the nation's research and development budget, stimulating advances in aviation, electronics, computers, medical devices, and countless other applications. A less appreciated and potentially more significant force for innovation is the government's own immense market power as a purchaser. Federal, state, and local government purchases amount to no less than 18 percent of GNP-everything from office equipment, cars drugs, food, energy, paper building materials, and road pavement-totaling nearly a trillion dollars a year. Yet government seldom uses this immense market leverage to stimulate technical change. For example, it is entirely feasible, both...