Nader in the News

Former Green Party presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney are in the news today. At Truth Dig, Chris Hedges has a column entitled "Nader was Right: Liberals are Going Nowhere with Obama." Excerpt:
The sad reality is that all the well-meaning groups and individuals who challenge our permanent war economy and the doctrine of pre-emptive war, who care about sustainable energy, fight for civil liberties and want corporate malfeasance to end, were once again suckered by the Democratic Party. They were had. It is not a new story. The Democrats have been doing this to us since Bill Clinton. It is the same old merry-go-round, only with Obama branding. And if we have not learned by now that the system is broken, that as citizens we do not matter to our political elite, that we live in a corporate state where our welfare and our interests are irrelevant, we are in serious trouble. Our last hope is to step outside of the two-party system and build movements that defy the Democrats and the Republicans. If we fail to do this, we will continue to undergo a corporate coup d’etat in slow motion that will end in feudalism.

We owe Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and the Green Party an apology. They were right. If a few million of us had had the temerity to stand behind our ideals rather than our illusions and the empty slogans peddled by the Obama campaign, we would have a platform. We forgot that social reform never comes from accommodating the power structure but from frightening it. The Liberty Party, which fought slavery, the suffragists who battled for women’s rights, the labor movement, and the civil rights movement knew that the question was not how do we get good people to rule—those attracted to power tend to be venal mediocrities—but how do we limit the damage the powerful do to us. These mass movements were the engines for social reform, the correctives to our democracy and the true protectors of the rights of citizens. We have surrendered this power. It is vital to reclaim it.
At Common Dreams, Nader has his own commentary on "Faulty Forecasting." It reads in part:
I was rummaging recently through some old publications and randomly came across the March 24, 2008 issue of Barron’s, a leading financial weekly. Its contributors and interviewees are supposed to be among the savviest around. Here are some samples of their perspicacity.

The cover story asserts that “the financial sector’s strongest players probably don’t have further to sink, even with the ongoing pressure of negative news. Stocks of the industry’s strongest players could climb by 10% to 20% over the next year as panic recedes, earnings improve and price-to-earnings multiples expand.”

The author, Jacqueline Doherty, got specific. She cited Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Bank of America, Washington Mutual, among others, for the predicted upswing. At the time (March 24, 2008), Merrill stock was selling for $46.85. Before the year’s end, the stock was worthless and Merrill was swallowed by Bank of America. Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest savings bank, saw its stock, selling at $11.70, go to zero as it was absorbed by JPMorgan Chase in September 2008. Citigroup was selling at $22.50 per share. Now, it has climbed just above $3 per share, and Citigroup narrowly avoided bankruptcy due to a huge federal bailout.

Leafing through Barron’s pages of that week of March 24, 2008, I read a prediction by James Finucane—who is described as a “talented strategist—that the Dow would reach 20,000 within a year. A year later in late March 2009, the Dow was below 8000. Even James Glassman, who loudly predicted in 1999 that the Dow would go to 36,000 by 2005, has been mercifully quiet.

Unlike sloppy plumbers and carpenters who pay a price for their mistakes, Wall Street forecasters seem to be paid very well despite being chronically wrong . . . .

And so it goes week after week in the financial world of pundits. Do you know of any other profession that can be so wrong so often and be rewarded so well again and again?
Though this latter question is clearly rhetorical, one affirmative answer springs quickly to mind: yes, careerist politicians in the Republican and Democratic Parties, the enablers and representatives of the corporate oligarchy, who are voted into office again and again, despite their reliably shoddy work.


Samuel Wilson said...

American politics is a schoolyard with two bullies in it who hate each other most of the time. For some reason everyone else chooses one bully to be most terrified of and the other to protect them. The kids fear alienating one bully because that might leave them helpless against the other. Because the kids themselves aren't bullies by temperament, the idea of ganging together to rout both bullies or put an end to bullying once and for all never seems to occur to them. The rare voices who suggest such things are mocked, as if their failure to rally people behind them was their fault rather than the result of the majority's cowardice. So when are we going to grow up?

d.eris said...

That reminds me of an apt Vonnegut quote: "True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country."