Ralph Nader: "I'm proud to be called a populist" (1985 interview)

Ralph Nader people are looking at the current state of consumer issues the observation can be made all the big battles have been fought someone some lost but they're all behind us now nothing but the small fights lie ahead how would you respond that's not true they're great many problems asbestos in the schools for example a lot of unfinished business and making cars more crashworthy safer pharmaceutical products drinking water that's relatively pure know that there has been a lot of progress but there's a lot left to be done good evening from Washington thank you for joining us here on c-span 20 years ago the book unsafe at any speed came into the American marketplace and started a revolution and many say that Ralph Nader has been responsible for organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration the Environmental Protection Agency and also helped to write the Freedom of Information Act into law this evening we thought we'd give you an opportunity to meet Ralph Nader with your questions and comments throughout this hour on his projects past and some of the things he has in store for the years ahead first a bit of personal everybody wonders what makes Ralph Nader tick how'd you get started in this business well most immediately I did a long paper on unsafe automobiles of legal liability at law school and had some recommendations when I got out of law school nobody was listening to them surprise so I decided to try to put them into effect myself the organization that's kind of your umbrella group Public Citizen how's it funded by mass mail solicitations to citizens all over the country and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them you know we often talk about what we do but what makes it possible are thousands of Americans who contribute to Public Citizen I consumer advocacy sort of hit its peak in the 70s as your organization still doing well are people still signing on yes as a matter of fact other than the consumer program is being put on hold by the Reagan administration which isn't really enforcing many of these people laws there's never been a better time for consumer activity all over the country more groups they're becoming more proficient they're entering the computer age they're putting on programs they're going into new ways of organizing the student public leanest research groups or the little envelopes that now is put into electric telephone gas bills in Wisconsin Illinois asking people to band together in our own full-time consumer group it's a good time and also a it's going international because they're in a lot of third world countries that consumer issues which are very very serious issues like mass pesticide contamination or hunger they're beginning a network one another into a world consumer movement how about your own personal involvement these days with all these issues available what sparks your own interest well always the opportunity to contribute a little more justice to the world I mean that really is is quite an attraction there's got to be a topic or two that still is a favorite for you well automobiles of course I mean always the first one this is the most interesting and we're right near a breakthrough finally after 15 years of giving people the opportunity to buy airbags and maybe someday airbags as standard equipment like brakes stop the car the airbags just stop people from going through the car in a frontal collision Ford Motor Company's now broken ranks and the other auto companies like GM they're gonna offer driver's side airbags and temples and topaz's next March as options which is the first step Mercedes gonna make some standard equipment this fall just for the driver's seat and I think after a lot of stops and goes over the last 15 years and after some thirty thousand cars on the highway with airbags showing how good they are in a collision to protect people we may finally take an american-made invention and get it to protect hundreds of thousands of men women and children who would otherwise be going through windshields or into hard steel and plastic so that's an exciting horizon no matter how long it takes always perhaps going too broadly with that often and when you're fighting causes the thing that you run into is cost we are in a cost conscious mode of society right now especially when you look at the issue of airbags frequently cited as the reason that we can't have them in cars it'll take cars beyond the realm of affordability for some people is there ever a compromised ground for you in terms of cost and safety certainly but there's never a better investment than safety because it doesn't cost all that much just for example a standard equipment airbag in the whole front seat in cars according to the manufacturers of the airbags would cost just about what a vinyl roof would cost which is an option now the air conditioning system would cost almost three times what an airbag system would cost Erin is relatively easy as simple technology it costs a lot at for people to be quadriplegics or it costs a lot for loved ones to be lost on the highway and all the health costs and all the wage loss and the productivity loss so it's a very good idea to put a few hundreds of millions of dollars of airbags in our cars and save billions of dollars of economic cost not to mention the terrible human anguish and tragedy – something else that's going on people will be able to save about $50 ER and their insurance premiums New York has a law that says airbag equipped cars they've got to get a discount under insurance premiums so let's say it costs 250 or 280 dollars and they get $50 back every year where can you do that in the bank so I'm glad you raised the issue because it's very easy to rebut some of those people who say we can't afford it in the United States of America we can't afford a technology that will save hundreds of thousands of casualties a year how do you mention international how do we stack up in terms of a safety or consumer oriented society versus other Western countries I think we're ahead we're always ahead in the auto safety standards they sort of copy ours except for a seatbelt so ever Sweden was first and foods and drugs I think we're heading in drug regulation safety food additives it's mixed some European countries are ahead of us on some additives some are drinking water they're ahead in terms of activated carbon filtration technology in the major Western European cities we still don't have a major city in this country Cincinnati will be the first to install activated carbon to deal with heavy metals and organic chemical contamination of drinking water so unbalanced so you you can't make a generalization that easily on healthcare Western Europe you don't lose your life savings for an operation they have universal health insurance so it is mixed but in advanced technology such as motor vehicles and drugs we have tougher regulation for the most part we'd like to open up the conversation to you at this point if you live in the eastern and central time zones so number that you dial to reach mr. nadir area code 202 six to eight to five to five our viewers in the Pacific or mountain time zones should use this number two oh two seven eight three two seven two seven have one policy here if you have phoned any c-span program within the past month asking not to phone in this evening so we can get as many different opinions as possible during the course of this hour you mentioned earlier I have a lot of regulars that will try not to you mentioned early on criticism of the Reagan administration could you go a little more detail on that question yes what Reagan came in saying he's going to deregulate get government off people's backs but what he really did was he dropped law & order against corporate crime abuse fraud negligence pollution to very low levels and got government off big businesses back allowing them to get more in our pocket and that's the tragedy of it all a man who says he loves American he loves Americans and he goes out of his way to revoke a great life-saving standard I was just about to go into effect for new cars he goes out of his way to totally ignore and not enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act he goes out of his way to send bills up to Congress to weaken the clean water and clean air act even though 85 percent of American people polled say they wanted tougher health laws tougher cancer prevention laws and they any the worst little example little by comparison is that he wouldn't even appropriate less than 10 million dollars to notify a quarter of a million workers that government surveys of their plants their factories showed that they were being continuously exposed to lung cancer and heart disease and and and lung ailments and to this day even though people have asked them physicians in the government have asked he will not approve through his office of management budget he knows about this personally notifying these innocent workers so they can go to doctors for screening so I think you know he's got a nice smile and he has great rhetoric but when it comes to the performance I think he's sadly lacking even by comparison with Richard Nixon let's take our first call from you a local call in the Washington area Arlington Virginia good evening yes good evening and I'd like to thank c-span for simply being there I think that it's about the only alternative that there is on the two I'd like to say that I agree with what mr. Nader just said about President Reagan and in contrast with President Nixon and literally any other president that I know about but I have a specific question for mr. Nader it has to do with the breakup of AT&T and the fact that what seems to be happening now is that the small of the local telephone companies that have been separated from AT&T are now in the process of radically escalating access charges and other fees and they're claiming the reason is because the corporations are dealing directly with the large telecommunications giants and that with the running away of the corporate consumer that the burden of the cost is going to smile upon the small person and I guess my question would be what kind of a strategy can small people a adapt each to challenge this threat and what kind of a threat does it pose to Universal telephone access to the American people that's a good point the rates are going to go up more and more no I we predict they're going to triple residential telephone rates between 1983 and 1987 and what do people do first they've got to choose wisely the best long-distance company for their own needs depending on how many long-distance calls they make etc and there's a telecommunications research group in Washington has a chart which gives all the different offerings of 18 T MCI sprint etc so people can wisely choose it and we tell people how to get it later on in the program secondly this is the answer right here Illinois and Wisconsin this is a little envelope which was required to be put in the telephone bill in Wisconsin by state law which says warning this utility bill may be hazardous to your budget and it opens up and invites telephone consumers or in other cases electric gas consumers to join the statewide consumer group with their own accountants lawyers engineers a economists to deal with the utilities and rate increased proposals before the Utility Commission or the legislature at the courts voluntary to the consumer doesn't cost the taxpayer a cent over a hundred and ten thousand people have already joined in a year in Illinois it's called the citizen Utility Board it has been proposed in our in Virginia the legislature hasn't accepted it it has been proposed in a district cambia hasn't accepted it yet in Oregon they just passed it by referendum about a year ago so this is what to look for the citizen Utility Board if you want to get more information it's P o box 1 104 1 104 Glenview Illinois 600 2 5 let's go next to Downey California you're on the air for Ralph Nader yes I would like to say that I support this donated position for air bags and automobiles but I don't see why some states like California have to pass laws it says you have the air base and the seat belt if I get in my car and I Drive across the street and I forget to pass on my seat belt in California after I think it's January 1st then I'm subject to a fine put the air bags in but find me if I don't thin I have the air bag in my car if I don't buckle up my seat belt thank you that's a good point if there are ever airbags in cars you should not be held in violation if you don't use your shoulder harness because the air bag is designed to replace your shoulder harness the lap belt is a different story its principal purpose keep you from being ejected in a crash through an open door the air bag will keep you from being plummeting yourself through the front of the car so that's true there shouldn't there should be a provision in the law that says if you got a bear bag in the car you don't have to use your shoulder harness Hopkinsville Kentucky good evening hello you're on the air sir open college Kentucky your question the ability to be a consumer what but are your background to the represent the consumer in this world I seem to know about everything I don't know everything about consumerism nor does anyone else but I do specialize in certain areas because my background is one of law and consumer protection has a lot to do with law and a lot to do with marshaling evidence about what technologies are available to improve the safety of consumers or whether consumers are being ripped off by banks or insurance companies we do specialize in certain areas and we do a very very good job we have scientists we have physician we have people who have various skills to weave together and I think the record is shown that we've been a lot more correct in our appraisals as on General Motors was its recall of over thirty five million cars in the last ten years Tucson good evening go ahead please well dr. Sidney Wolfe put this book together a few years ago because volume was being prescribed far beyond its proper range people were becoming addicted to it if you take it in that amount of dose and frequency it can also have bad side effects for your health and it could gouge your pocketbook when you take something that you're addicted to and you don't need to take it in frequency he believes that the peak consumption of volume has been reached it's now declining and the book helped it decline and help to educate people not to automatically expect their doctor to give them valium or give them some prescription for a tranquilizer on the just because the doctor was there people shouldn't shouldn't think that the doctors not paying attention to them unless he or she prescribes a drug and so that was the purpose of Cherry Hill New Jersey go ahead people in China and it takes only three cigarettes by smoke by three to four people within an hour to raise the carbon monoxide level above the legal limits of osha but yet i've never heard one single word from you about this menace in the workplace correct me if i'm wrong i've called the leader in new jersey gas and she says she is also puzzled by your mean about smoking in the workplace oh well first of all we were the first advocates to try to abolish smoking on airlines and inner city buses and trains we succeeded partially as you know on airlines and partially on buses and now many trains are separating to smoking non-smoking compartments so you won't get any argument from me on the proposition that when there's a mix of workers in a room the non-smokers should have the right not to have to inhale other people's smoke and smoking should be prohibited in those come in those centers now people are addicted to smokes they should have a place where they can go and take a smoke break if they have to but not certainly to impose on non-smokers who are now a clear majority and I think have a lot of truth on their side to in terms of the right to breathe cleaner air although you personally agree or any of your organization's working on the issue no we're not working on it first of all OSHA will never do it you know that we try to get ocean to do certain things with benzene or with this enosis disease this one they would just not do it all under the Reagan administration but certainly all our premises are smoke-free nobody smokes even if somebody coming in from Federal Express in a hurry to get a packager or US parcel they don't smoke Richland Washington good evening wondering coming from Hanford what's your thoughts on BOE here locally anyway and maybe nationwide opened up a lot of the plan itself to like Greenpeace to make check open up a lot of documentation documents made public and also if I understand about a week ago the Manhattan Project a lot of that material will be Declassified you think that the step forward or what do you think of that I think so I mean free of Information Act goes back into history trying to declassify these files so we know more what's going on that's how we found out as a people in this country about the exposure of Army personnel in the 50s to atomic bomb blasts where they were exposed to radiation out in Nevada and that's how we found out many things about radioactive risks dealing with nuclear power as well as the waste from the military program Hanford Washington as some people may not know is a nuclear hotbed it's where a lot of research is going on a lot of radioactive waste is stored on that reservation and there's a lot of serious question about contamination of the environment and leaking of radioactive wastes into the groundwater heading toward the Columbia River when I was up there on PBS program debating some pro-nuclear people it was quite an exciting evening and one thing I urged them to do is to engage in long-range planning so they can convert their nuclear based economy into a solar economy Westchester New York go ahead yes my question for mr. nadir and first let me say that it is an honor to speak to you I read about you all my life it seems it's regarding s 412 which is a law which would preclude release the beer manufacturers and franchise distributors from acting responsibly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and would make it so that a consumer would buy from a local retailer who would be forced to buy only for a franchise distributor in a very limited area thereby the franchise distributor could charge whatever the traffic would bear I know we've opposed that legislation as you know that kind of legislation has been bobbing around in the Congress for some time as basically restriction on entry economic entry and competition but the special interest behind that legislation are very strong and the beer drinkers are not organized Vancouver Washington you're on the air carrying out asbestos insulation from the schools that seems like it went amuck damage they weren't just left laid we dig it out stirs that in with the atmosphere seems like a the greatest source of asbestos in the atmosphere is automobile brakes and I hear a little about that yes that's because it's considered a necessity you see although new braking systems can can do without that you're right if fastbest does not remove carefully it's torn out in one case for example the work just flushed it down the toilet it can throw out trillions and trillions of specks of asbestos into the air there 15 thousand schools was asbestos in the schools some of these have very high asbestos ambient air contamination the Congress saw this as a serious problem the local school boards couldn't afford to deal with that adequately these are in skill earn money so the Congress told mr. Reagan that it was willing to appropriate to 250 million dollars for this substance for this removal there are millions of students and teachers and workers exposed in these schools mr. Reagan and the Environmental Protection administration refused to apply one cent in fact they took a long time just to give the criteria for the local governments to use in terms of deciding when the place was cleaned up or when it was too contaminated this is a problem we've got to work on as far as I'm concerned it's a problem of national defense it should be given at least the priority that one see five air air cargo plane is given if you've just joined us we're talking with Ralph Nader this evening earlier this week in Washington there was a celebration for the 20th anniversary of the publication of the book unsafe at any speed our next call for him is from Walled Lake Michigan mr. Nader yes I wanted to first applaud all your efforts over the years I think that it's through the crusade led mainly by yourself that we are a little better off however I'd like to make a couple of comments first you indicated that the seatbelt laws etc would in fact be imposed and save money in the long run on insurance but here in Michigan we have been mandated by a seatbelt law and I have not noticed or have heard any comments of our insurance not being decreased good point first of all I favor airbags as standard equipment general motors favors mandatory seat belt use they'd rather regulate 105 two million people then regulate 15 motor car manufacturers they're the ones who in the last year launched this massive drive behind these laws in order to get 2/3 of the population in the United States under the state mandatory use belt laws so they can revoke the federal standard which had that loophole to begin with the federal standards that would bring the would have brought in airbags or other automatic restraint systems now if in Michigan you pick up the paper and you see a report in a few months that casualties are down because of the mandatory seatbelt use law you write to the insurance commissioner in Lansing and say casualties are down therefore you should take another look at insurance premiums and drive them down otherwise the insurance companies will gain a substantial windfall and auto insurance premiums the United States are climbing at double the rate of last year alone they can't have it both ways they can't support something that increases safety on the highway and still keep charging you as much for auto insurance so please remember write a formal letter to the insurance commissioner in fact as soon as you can and say if you have data is that these injuries and dusts are now because of seatbelt use what are you gonna do about reducing auto insurance premiums you have a second question yes I happen to work for General Motors but one thing that I've definitely noticed from mr. Nader and others like ham consumer advocates is they frequently paint the companies such as General Motors Dow Chemical etc whoever they are fighting against as kind of entity not a group of individual people like myself making the decisions and making it sound as if we have total disregard for the consumer and others that we interact with which is not the case at all and it's just unfortunate that it's painted that way because there are very very many good people devoted people who are out to make us period product and it's painted like we don't care about the consumer at all that's a fair point I suppose I should always refer to Roger Smith chairman of the board of General Motors because in terms of the general direction of the company as to whether they're going to install airbags which workers are very happy to in which are GM engineers helped for develop and want that man makes the decision and so certainly we get whistleblowers from GM we get some more information from very conscientious assembly line workers so I make a good point I mean I I try to do that more often basically just say Roger Smith's of General Motors he's the boss and he's the one who steers that ship one way or the other on these safety fuel efficiency and Pollution Control issues as well as not paying their fair share of property taxes in eighteen Michigan communities where Roger Smith wants to cut the revenues that they have to pay by anywhere from 30 80 percent places like Saginaw and flint and Genesee so you make a good point I you should never be tired it was the behavior of Roger Smith let's go way out west for our next call Seal Beach California you're on the air caller okay do you believe that capitalism as a system is the main root cause of resistance so well certain kind I mean there is good capitalism which is competitive and innovative can be very good for consumers the kind of capitalism that developed the airbag but didn't quite get it into into cars and so we can't generalize there's monopoly capitalism there's multinational capitalism that tends to have more power and they can exercise responsibly they refuse to be toilet trained they contaminate your air water and soil on the other hand there are many small companies who have given us the detectors to detect pollution more precisely or to spot contaminated meat or the companies that manufactured the airbags what I'm concerned about is that a lot of these big companies are sort of blocking the Khyber Pass of progress through which many small entrepreneurs and some of the larger companies want to pass through I'm convinced for years for example Ford Motor Company has been eyeing the airbag as a possibility but it has been hesitant for years to do something that General Motors didn't want done and finally the Donald Peterson the chairman of the board a Ford Warnock company a few days ago decided we're gonna go for it and I think they ought to be commended for offering airbags as options in their tempos and topaz starting next March Burbank Illinois go ahead your programs and most important things ever happen in this country mr. nadir you're right up there but you don't have as much money as an all gasohol the catalytic converter are you doing any work in either area regarding health relative cost aspire mental impact our dependency on foreign oil considering Brazil is converting to ethanol Ford Volvo VW make cars that run on wholly ethanol we're doing that here because the pressure of shortages is not right up on the front burner seems like we only change when we're under pressure Brazil is under tremendous pressure doesn't have as much oil as we do you have a big oil import bill so what does they do they've producing huge amounts of ethanol and gasoline their cars are converted to use use the fuel in our country you know the kind of the pressures off gasoline prices have receded somewhat crude oil prices by the barrel are dropping and so we have a tends to go back to normal GM and Ford petitioned the department transportation successfully to reduce the level of fuel efficiency in their 86 87 88 cars and is you know here we go again waiting for the next crisis however next time the crisis comes I think you'll agree the country would be a little bit better positioned for by excuse me for biomass conversion or ethanol than it was 10 years ago I'm gonna take a second not to do a little commercial for c-span because we've been getting a lot of kind words this evening just in response to that last caller I might tell them in case you are unfamiliar with c-span we are a nonprofit organization ourselves here we are funded by the cable television industry as public service for viewers around the country so if you have just started watching us recently but I'd like to know a little bit about us take our next call for Ralph Nader from Sacramento you're on the air yes mr. Nader you kept here in California many of the large California banks have been closing down their brick and mortar facilities and replacing those with automatic teller machines and certain urban areas where there are many low-income elderly it presents certain problems there are many people who are concerned about their physical safety and there are some certain persons who are uncomfortable with the technology and would much prefer to have the convenience of a human Tower I'd like you to comment I think that's increasingly the case that in many neighborhoods now the number of branch banks storefront banks are beginning to decline they're gonna decline faster we've proposed requiring banks in terms of the license to operate to service the neighborhoods in a more decentralized way or at least give consumer type banks with just cash checks and very modest type consumer banking services give them the right to operate in these neighborhoods you make a very good point and I think four or five years from now the point you make is going to be more headline quality because the situation is going to deteriorate in terms of the number of storefront banks around the country let's go next to Gibson City Illinois you're on the air sir thank you I'd be interested in your philosophy imaginator on as a consumer advocate the mandatory seatbelt law as it conflicts with with individual rights it seems that you protect consumers and you know in ways that I agree with almost down the line except in this one category that well you can make this argument that if you want to travel anyway you want on your own Road or up Pikes Peak you know you're climbing up climbing a peak then you can do whatever you want when you're on the highway your safety is interdependent with other people's safety and if you're in a crash and you've got seatbelts on your knuckle likely hit your head or be knocked unconscious you can get that car out of the way of another series of cars coming down the highway or you can get out in time and and of course everybody's insurance rates depend on everybody else's crash experience and injury experience and so I think you can justify on the principle of interdependence the crashworthy standards including the seatbelt laws but you see I think there's something better than mandatory seatbelt laws I think the airbag is better because it's more protective of higher speed collisions than the seatbelt it's more protective for large or small people including say a nine-year-old child can't use the three-point belt because the body size and compatibility it's more protective against head injuries and flying glass and above all the airbag works almost all the time and even under mandatory seatbelt laws you're only going to get about a fifty or sixty percent obedience rate and the people who don't many of them young are the ones who get most more of the crashes and injuries and need to seep those so that's why I'm pushing for a greater leap forward in terms of automatic inflatable airbags Riverside California good evening good evening I'd like to thank mr. Nader for being such a great consumer advocate for such a long period of time and sticking with it it is a real pleasure to talk to you I have followed consumer advocate advocate ism with you for many many years and I have also followed along the public interest law that has been sprouting about and in doing so life cause the populous caucus that was recently formed last year or so in Washington in Congress yes yes and I'm wondering if you politically aligned your I know you don't like to make political favor but you feel that you yourself are a popular yes so why it's not who do you think is the best I hate the term the best but who do you think is the populist core they're wholly foreign that you would probably follow well I'm proud to be called the populist although conservatives use the term to describe what they're doing and progressives use the term to describe what they're doing populism my definition of basically giving rights and remedies and power to people to defend our interests and pursue a better society that means cleaning up the campaign finance corruption that means access to the media just think of it this is about the only show left in America except for late night America on PBS where you can call in on TV a national show and discuss intelligently your concerns with whoever sits in this chair and yet we have three large networks who spend most of their hours 90% entertainment and so we need of access to media that's a populist thing we need the right to organize easily like this that's a populist move farmers and need more more more support for what they're doing if only to keep the day of skyrocketing food prices down these are just some populist issues the populist caucus in Congress led by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa is I think a good development we have plenty of special interest caucuses the maritime caucus and this kind of caucus in Congress and now we have one that appeals more to the broad values of the people I might also add that Senator Metzenbaum has to come very close to having the title is the most progressive senator on a consistent basis in the United States Senate Wichita Kansas go ahead I'll tell you every time I hear the word airbag I just explode inside you know I wore a seatbelt and they work and every time you turn around in the coma these gadgets I sold cars at 74 I remember we came out with the seatbelt gadget that told everyone to buckle up and they disconnected that that was GM's idea go ahead well yeah but you get what I'm saying yeah now we've got airbags do you don't have to an airbag if you're smoking a cigarette a lot of people are you would admit people do smoke when they drive what do you think happens yeah first of all you see you got a cigarette dangling from your mouth while you're driving the car or truck you're heading for trouble no no here's what happened I'm talking about a cigarette that a pastor can be spoken yeah well if I figure cigarette is in your hand right you know no it's not a bomb at all yeah airbag no let me clarify your intelligence for a moment would you the azide is encapsulate in a metallic container when the airbag goes off it transforms it to simple nitrogen gas which is no toxicity whatsoever simple nitrogen guys and let me tell you if it's a choice between going into hard steel or through the windshield perhaps getting killed or getting singed a little bit by a burning cigarette I think most people even those the smoke would choose the latter instead of the former so I think see I want it I want a clean safety protection system where you don't have to always rely on all kinds of people who put these on and sometimes they don't fit right to the seatbelts although it's all we have now for protection I want a very effective I mean when Mercedes puts it in a standard equipment they're the finest engineers among the finest auto NGOs in the world well General Motors has it in their cars to ten thousand cars they're ten years old and they've worked beautifully even his recent as a few weeks ago in a 20 yo men riding on a rural road at 2:00 a.m. in the morning in Georgia missed the corner and went into a dirt embankment the airbag saved his life he didn't even know he had an airbag car cuz he brought a used automobile which happened to have an airbag what about the small table that was crushed by one you don't remember that case there yet no there was no small child denied by an airbag no magazine yes June 1978 was the issue I can just about give you the page but it wasn't the airbag you see sometimes no the choppers right off the seat the bag exploded and killed the child that's a fact sir that's pretty quick oh I see check the department transportation for that car take the department transportation investigation of that case ok thank you very much for the call let's go on to another one now from Phoenix Arizona you're on the air caller pleasure to be able to ask a question or sort of make a comment I'm involved with the state clean air coalition in Arizona and there's been a process it's been researched and online at an Arizona public service plant at the four corners plant this process has been shown to be able to control both particulates and so2 up in the 90 degrees 90 percent range and coal-burning plants well the point is that I need to find out if this process has been patented and I need to try and find out how I can somehow get this information out it's because my concern is the best available control technology issue and EPA or Valerie's evaluate this process and I have their evaluation and it says it's better than what was available at that time and as far as I can tell it's better than than what's available now for low so for calls they haven't tested for high sulphur calls but it may work would you comment on high place get that information now more widely publicize more widely publicize or you want more detailed information except for button he is off the line oh well let's take both of them one is right to the Department of Energy the air pollution section they cover new developments in technology as well as energy and they should know about it the second is in terms of your question on publicizing it right to the Environmental Defense Fund here in Washington I don't have the street address you can find it and ask them about it and see what they know about publicizing it I don't know whether you're referring to fluidized bed combustion systems which are now workable but if you try those two lines and if all else fails write to your senator they're very good at getting the information you want no matter where it is in the federal government Ocean City New Jersey good evening hi how are you mr. Nader it's a pleasure to be speaking with you thank you in the last year I guess we've seen the worst case of air safety among the commercial airlines that we've had quite a while what's your sense of how much of that can be credited to the lack of experience among the current air traffic controllers and secondly what can we do as the public to try to get the government to make a change in that area certainly the sharp increase in near mid-air collisions which the FAA has admitted in the last year to indicates that some of it is due to not only a shortage of experienced air-traffic controllers but in some areas like the New York City air traffic control district there they're down to 50 percent of the fully radar qualified air traffic controllers that they had in 1981 even though the air traffic is higher now than 1981 solution what I've been asking mr. Reagan all along he fired 11,000 air traffic controllers they struck illegally they probably deserved some penalty they didn't deserve however to have Zachary R is totally wiped out and they didn't deserve to have their careers illuminated at the expense of the safety of the air traffic public up there in the skies and of course there been crashes recently some of which have been attributed to inadequate air traffic control capability so I would urge mr. Reagan to drop a portion of his vindictiveness and hire back 3,000 fully to qualified air traffic controllers at least to bring the system up to snuff there were say there were some very bad near misses one two jumbo pan-american Jets that almost collided over Florida that would have been six hundred deaths right there so just because the system has been treated with a little luck you shouldn't stretch the luck and I hope mr. Reagan will recognize that Rapid City South Dakota good evening yes I was kind of wondering back in the early 70s when they initiated the 55 mile an hour see them and I think you were a big part of that it was just mainly at that time set aside to save fuel we're still living with this 55 mile an hour speed limit and what are your views on that and in view of the fact that it from what I read and can see it doesn't really look like it's saved that many lives now I guess there's a lot of different point of views on that and then the other question I have is what was the recent outcome of your court case or trial with with oh it's a car enthusiast magazine [Applause] okay well according to best department transportations estimates 5,000 people here are living with that speed limit because their lives were saved by a lower level of speed and various traffic situations of course a lot of people violate it but the average speed levels lower say 60 miles an hour instead of 70 or 75 which would be a case that was a 65 mile an hour limit about 50,000 serious injuries prevented every year as well I think we save energy we save those lives and I don't think there's anything that can compensate on the other side for a higher speed limit I think secondly we settled a case was kind driver kind rival driver forged a letter to the editor of my name dealing with Kmart products and I thought that wasn't proper journalistic procedures so we settled the case for $20,000 and after expenses of the lawyer of some twenty three hundred dollars were deducted I donated that sum to the Center for auto safety which is a non-profit group advocating successfully auto safety Livonia Michigan good evening go ahead please yes I was wondering how mr. Nader felt about the local communities that were bidding for the Saturn project and other such large plants and if he felt that they were doing a service to the taxpayers of the community I do I don't think any community should give away the small taxpayers resources to finance the second-richest corporation in the world in building a plant I don't think it really makes the difference either I think it's just gravy to General Motors because they're going to decide on factors like proximity to markets labor availability accessibility to parts manufacturers and raw materials and so forth then comes these all these communities and say we'll give you free land and we'll give you a 50% tax abatements or free no tax at all and it's gravy so right so really it's it doesn't do anything for the community or the state which tries this as a matter of fact Tennessee which got the saturn plant was one of the least ambitious bidders and yet it got it because of these factors I just mentioned now I was just up in Columbia Tennessee and Spring Hill and I noticed that the local government officials were shall we say induced to sign an agreement with the General Motors in lieu of property taxes whereby the General Motors Saturn plant which is to be built a three and a half billion dollar plant was only going to pay three and a half million dollars a year in property taxes to that community 1/10 of 1% of its value so that's only the beginning of the small taxpayer subsidy in that area of Tennessee for the second biggest richest corporation in the world Portland Oregon go ahead hello Ralph uh this is Brian dawn actually outside of Portland in West Linn a couple years ago we heard a report of yours and it's more than a couple on monosodium glutamate and the effects on children do you have any further information and why did we hear no additional information after that I think because the hazard dealt with monosodium glutamate and infant formula infants are uniquely susceptible to MSG in an adverse way compared to adults or larger children and MSU is taken out of infant formula so sort of the steam came out of it MSG is is not particularly good for you it's just a flavor enhancer and if you can do without it you should if you go into a Chinese restaurant many of them will say you know we'll give you we can provide you the menu without msg if you ask Hollywood Florida good evening good evening I'd like to speak with mr. Nader about gasoline credit cards and the extra money that some of us have to pay to use them by the way is it all right if I mention a brand name on the air well everyone else has so go ahead thank you very much usually we pay for five cents extra per gallon now correct me if I'm wrong but supposedly the credit card price of gasoline is the actual selling price and that when you pay cash you get a discount is that's the way it legally works well only if they're willing to give you a cash discount right yes so the credit card price is the actual selling price oh yes okay but as you know they have charges credit card charges and swords they're not supposed to charge more than the posted price at the pump right and unfortunately at least here in Florida you always see the cash price listed on the sign never the actual price which a credit card customer pays well anyway the chevron oil company has since I can mention a brand name I've noticed that several of their dealers charge seven eight even ten cents a gallon more for using your credit card well I got tired of this and I called the regional office in Fort Lauderdale and what I was told like this is the truth the following these are independent dealers all we do is sell them gasoline they could charge you whatever they want for the credit card sir charge or whatever it is we have no control over that uh-huh so it seems to me maybe I don't know maybe my thinking is off not being a big executive seems to me a lot of people are making money off of this deal instead of just you know covering the paperwork cause thanks for the call you're quite right and I'm glad you raised it we've just started a project we call the bills project because so many people are sending us copies of bills that are uh nighta Mize that have phony charges for things that people haven't received they even charge you now for charging you you know have a bill charging processing fee hospital bills repair bills bills from utilities some of them are in code there so inscrutable you can't figure them out so can I ask you to copy that bill or that credit card situation make a copy and send it to our West Coast office the bills project is called the bills project peel box one seven three six one seven three six Santa Monica California I think you're onto something and we'd like to look at it carefully to see what can be done about it so secondly I would urge all consumers who can avoid it not to use credit cards it just inflates prices in the economy that builds up private dough Ciara's on people which can invade their privacy it makes people more likely to engage in impulse buying it's just you know try to pay cash if you can you run any credit cards no I've never used a credit card I don't advise it you know my my slogan is leave home without it Hermiston Oregon good evening all right this is Casey Hill and I have a real concern for the cosmetologist Barbara's hair service out there consumer products our label and the products in our shops are I've been a stylist for 21 years and we have a high rate of cancer and female stylist more miscarriages is there any possibility to get our products labels that we use in the shop yes in fact there there are workers right to know laws you're talking about factories she's a beauty stylist in a salon Oh more to the point the the union that represents most of the people who work in beauty salons has just put out a report indicating that workers in these areas are often exposed to a wide variety of gases and chemicals some of which are cancer-causing and they really should be labeled do you know they come in wholesale packages for the beauty salon and are not labeled but if you buy them in the store at retail there is a requirement that there has to be some labeling so I do hope you get in touch with that unions headquarters in Washington get the report and demand from your senator you're from Florida was she from Florida Oh when we demand of your senator or representative to take this up as a cause I got a feeling that they would like to take this up with a cause it's kind of an easy one for them and a lot of justice behind it actually from Oregon the caller was from Bucks County Pennsylvania good evening I'd like to say that it's nice to talk to Ralph Nader in person you know from you know in live TV and we support everything that he does and I'm a school bus driver and I'd like to know if he ever investigated or looked into school bus safety as far as you know I know he does a lot with the cars and everything and and you know I just wondered if he ever did anything with school buses and looked into their safety factor can I ask you a question yeah some states are requiring children and school buses to our seatbelts is that the case in Pennsylvania okay thanks but more parents are pushing for that and unfortunately haven't had much success with improving the design of school buses here they are carrying the country's most precious treasures and and for years children have sat sitting right in front of an iron bar so if the cutter bus stops suddenly that's what they have to look forward to and a forward thrust we we believe that the seat structure needs to redesigned in the new seat in the new school buses so that seatbelts can be built in a very retractable way to be used if children start learning how to use seat belts in school buses they're going to be much more likely to get to have it and use them in their cars as they grow older less call for Ralph Nader's from San Diego good evening hi mr. Nader a question on computers and telephone lines my one of my hobbies is using computers and through the modem and I just got a bulletin on one of the local bulletin boards whereby the phone company is now installing on certain prefixes they're installing a computer whereby those prefixes don't have a data line going to them and therefore if you had that prefix on your phone number you could not use your modem out of your phone and the phone company if you want to use it they want to charge you one hundred and eighty three dollars to install a data line in twenty nine dollars a month to keep it up so that you can use your computer this seems to be something brand new and it's like a new way for the phone company to stick it to you because if you don't have that data line you can't use your computer do you know anything about this you're way ahead of me on this but you're reminded means I want to give people the address on how to get the the chart which would give them information on how to make the best choice when they select their long distance telephone company which many millions of people are having to do now in this country just send a dollar to track tra C TR AC appeal box one nine three six seven Washington DC 200 three six and they'll send you this chart to make the best and wisest consumer judgement by your own telephone use experience the point you asked for you might want to write it and down in a little letter and send it to that same address and we'll try and see the best way to get an answer to you just a couple of minutes left one issue that you alluded to early on in the program offshore oil-drilling next Tuesday night secretary Hotel will be on the program to present the Reagan administration's position on that your own thoughts on that was first of all you have to make sure we need it that is there's now a lot of energy surplus in the world and in the country and this is our last source of energy I'd rather hold it in reserve for a longer period of time a second what about the fisheries and how this might affect especially around New England and third aren't releasing too much offshore to oil companies who aren't drilling and producing why lease more at bargain-basement prices when the offshore and onshore federal lands belong to all the people we just came out with a book called public domain private Dominion on the need for people to become much more concerned about the vast mineral resources that belong to them on the federal lands out west offshore and in Alaska and I certainly hope that more people will desire to control what they already own and not give away America's mineral treasures to multinational corporations 20 years from now when you're celebrating your 40th anniversary you think it'll still be a need for organizations such as yours I think there always will be I think that's the essence of democracy the politicians may be the top of the trees but the citizens of the root and the trunk I want to say thanks to Ralph Nader for joining us as he does celebrate his 20th anniversary of unsafe at any speed and the consumer consumer movement in America mr. Nader thanks for being with us a pleasure thank you thank you for joining us have a good weekend for more information about this program please feel free to write us at c-span 400 North Capitol Street Northwest suite one five five Washington DC – zero zero zero one

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