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April 08, 2004
Its All About Ralph

First, let me say I don't object if Ralph Nader wants to run for the presidency. Whether he winds up being a "spoiler" candidate or not is beside the point. You can't argue that people shouldn't run for the presidency because someone might vote for them.

I've got nothing against the man, but you really need more of a campaign platform than "two parties ain't enough!" if you're going to run for president and, "two parties ain't enough!" is about all I hear from him in the media. (Note: That means, that's all the media is choosing to show us, besides quotes of him defending his right to run.)

You need more than that. (Well, no, you don't need more than that to run, but you sure do if you want to win.) What precisely is the man's platform, anyhow? I know in 2002, it was, "Democrats are Blue Republicans" but what is it these days?

Checking out his campaign website, I find a list of "issues" to review.

Wants electoral reform that creates a vibrant, active, participatory Democracy.

He thinks we have to have more than two major parties. Just. Not. Enough. to run on, Ralph.

Wants to make health care universally available

Progressively popular.

Wants a crackdown on corporate crime and abuse

Don't we all.

Wants a fair tax where the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share, tax wealth more than work, and tax activities we dislike more than necessities

Well, that's wordy.

Basically Ralph supports sin taxes and closing tax loopholes. I'm okay with that except that, as always in these cases, I wonder just who gets to decide what a sin is?

Smoking? Drinking? Buying high-octane gasoline? Getting an abortion? Hmmm?

Opposes media bias and media concentration

Well, that's 50/50. Opposing media bias is a good thing, but you can't legislate opinion and wanting to doesn't strike me as very liberal, Ralph. And, as always, I'm wondering who gets to define bias? Opposing media concentration is a good thing but it really depends on what he means by "concentration" doesn't it?

A family farm-consumer agriculture policy

Well, on the face of it, that sounds very nice. Who could oppose family farms?

It's a pity it's not quite that simple.

I mean, I'm all over the warm, fuzzy feeling I get when I hear that someone is farming land that's been in their family for 150 years, and I'm well aware of the abuses that can result from 'corporate' farming but it's never that simple.

One thing to remember is that 'corporate' farms are efficient. Economies of scale isn't just a phrase they used to confuse you in college. It's a very real thing. The economies of scale in corporate farming help hold down the price of food. That means even poor people can afford to eat. At least some of the time.

Second, it's not a given that corporate farms can't be environmentally sustainable. Mostly they aren't these days, but the consumer pressure that Ralph mentions on his web page can be used to drive them to it.

Then there's something in there about "agribusiness, chemical, biotechnology and financial corporations" misallocating resources. It's a bit difficult to understand exactly what he's talking about but I suspect it has a lot to do with genetically manipulated seed, pesticides, and the evil banks that loan family farmers money and then have the nerve to expect it to be paid back.

Genetically manipulated seed sounds bad if you say if real fast, but if you check into the subject, you see that, like almost everything else in the world, it's all a matter of degree. Some tampering has improved crop health, yield, and resistance to disease. Keeping down the price of food. Some tampering is meant to create "new" hybrid foods or creates foods that are too dominant, pushing out every other plant they come in contact with. Neither of those is necessarily good for the environment, especially the second one.

They say eating broccoli is good for you. What if they genetically manipulate broccoli so that it actively fights disease in your body, 10,000 times more than it does in its "natural" state? What if that disease is cancer, or AIDS? Is that still evil?

Anyhow. Let's move on.

Wants to end poverty in the United States

Noble. Laudable. What's your plan?

Wants to create jobs by investing in America's future, invest in Americans

Shorter version: New Deal style works programs. The WPA for the 21st millennium, with health car benefits for everyone. There's a version of this plan I might support. It's something that's occurred to me over the last year or two.

Wants to expand worker's rights by developing an employee bill of rights

Legislation to do a number of things. Minimum wage increase. Ban temporary and contract workers. Expand the unions. Health care.

Not everything can be fixed by passing a law about it. Some things can be helped but passing a law is only the first step.

Not everyone wants a permanent, full-time job. Some people like working temp or on contract. Some companies wouldn't survive if they couldn't hire temps to cover for staff on vacation or out on medical leave.

It goes on, but I'm bored with this game.

Let me just say I saw a lot of utopian fantasizing but nothing to indicate that Nader has the first idea of how to build his ideal society and while I don't expect a fifteen-point plan on every issue a candidate supports, I saw a lack of detail on this site that said he doesn't have any workable solutions for the problems that annoy him. I agree, in very broad theory, with a number of the things he says he wants for this country. I just doubt he's the man to help us get them.

David offers a more intelligent analysis.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:14 AM