October 05, 2016

Ralph Nader, myths and realities

First, I'm not talking about the myth that Ralph Nader caused Al Gore to lose in 2000. If you really believe that, you need to see friend Brains. Or Jim Hightower.

And, if you still believe that, then you need to stop visiting this blog.

What I am talking about is other things, though, people.

Two Green-leaners on Twitter, seeing my Trump parody profile, and either too stupid to recognize parody or too lazy to investigate possible parody, claimed I was a Trumpist agent provacateur when I said Nader wasn't all he was cracked up to be.

Fact is that, in 2000, Nader, via his Fidelity Magellan mutual fund holdings, owned Big Oil and other objectionable stocks, including Halliburton. Here's the skinny:
“The Occidental projects are so beyond the pale about what’s reasonable and moral in this modern era,” says Patrick Reinsborough, grass-roots coordinator for the Rainforest Action Network. Reinsborough says that his group has been primarily targeting Gore and Fidelity Investments in general, Fidelity Magellan being part of the Fidelity Investments mutual funds network, as well as the one with the largest quantity of Occidental stock.
“We have called upon Ralph Nader — as we would call upon any citizen — to either divest from Fidelity or to participate in shareholder activism,” Reinsborough says. “Gore has much more long-standing links to Occidental Petroleum.”
But even if Fidelity were to divest its holdings in Occidental, it holds shares in so many companies Nader has crusaded against, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Nader’s participation in the fund is supremely hypocritical. The fund, for example, owns stock in the Halliburton Company, where George W. Bush’s running mate, Dick Cheney, recently worked as president and COO. The fund has investments in supremely un-p.c. clothiers the Gap and the Limited, both of which have been the target of rocks by World Trade Organization protesters, as well as Wal-Mart, the slayer of mom-and-pop stores from coast to coast.
Nader spokeswoman Laura Jones says that only the candidate himself can answer questions about his personal investments. Nader could not be reached for comment.
In a June interview with the Washington Post about his millionaire earnings — much of which he has donated to his public interest groups — Nader said the stocks he chose were “the most neutral-type companies … No. 1, they’re not monopolists and No. 2, they don’t produce land mines, napalm, weapons.”
But this is not true. The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 777,080 shares of Raytheon, a major missile manufacturer. And this isn’t the only example of his rhetoric not matching up with his financial investments.
“I’m quite aware of how the arms race is driven by corporate demands for contracts, whether it’s General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin,” Nader told the Progressive in April. “They drive it through Congress. They drive it by hiring Pentagon officials in the Washington military industrial complex, as Eisenhower phrased it.” The Fidelity Magellan fund owns 2,041,800 shares of General Dynamics. 
Yes, that's pretty damning. 

And, Nader's fiscal holdings have surely only grown since then.

A year ago, playing faux populist, he complained about Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen keeping interest rates low. Her response is here.

The reality? Nader is a millionaire several times over, certainly richer than Bernie Sanders. He was worth several million way back in 2000.

There's nothing wrong with being a millionaire.

There is something wrong with being a faux populist one.

For the record, he was worth more than $3 million in 2000, and more than $4 million today. (In other words, including adjusting for eight years of inflation, he had almost 4x the net worth of Bill Clinton when he ran in 2000 vs. Bill's initial run in 1992.) Sure, he donates much of his investment income to charity. Per Wiki, he spends $25K a year on bills, which means he's taking in more than that in NET income.

And, he gets tax writeoffs, to the point that he probably pays close to zero income tax. Plus, he has the financial security of all that investment income. Also, most of that charitable contribution is to nonprofits he founded.

And, I don't know if he still, directly or indirectly, owns oil and defense stocks today. I do know that 2000 was some 35 years after he burst on scene, and that "ethical investments" already existed in 2000.

Nader has, overall, been a net force for good, especially when he focuses, and we focus on this focus, on consumer safety.

He's not a real environmentalist, though, and he's not a real economic left-liberal.

And, I didn't vote for him in 2000, due to the above, and due to the perception that his ego was (and still is) bigger than that of Al Gore or George W. Bush.

There. There's the real Ralph Nader.

And, you thought this was going to be about refuting the myth that Nader cost Gore the election in 2000!

But, but ...

That does lead to another Nader issue — trust.

He ran in 2000, officially pledging to various state Green parties and the fledging national party, that he would run a "safe states" strategy — and then broke his word.

Frankly, I oppose the strategy, and have ever since my first Green vote in 2004.

However, Nader pledged his word, and then broke it.

And, that then tied in with a national Green Party coalescing more, and, going to a national convention based on state caucuses. Jeff St. Clair tries to spin this as some type of anti-Nader conspiracy. Nope. It was just a party taking a stance and expecting it to be backed. (Like Jeremy Corbyn with British Labour, which is why I oppose him being re-elected as party head — nothing to do with his politics, everything to do with his word.)

Anyway, Nader ISN'T all that many crack him up to be. And, I've just showed again that I take voting far more seriously than duopoly lever pullers.

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