Politics Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: The Power Structure for Deadly Lag

The climate crisis is the result of just one of many "deadly lags" that are evidence of the brutish power of the corporations over the innocents.
[Austin Catlin, BLM / Flickr]

By Ralph Nader

Kicking life-saving solutions endlessly down the road is the mark of the brutish power of the corporations over the innocents.

Fifty years ago, medical research warned about the overuse of antibiotics creating mutations of resistant bacterium, making these drugs less effective. Dr. Sidney Wolfe warned about this criminal negligence again and again, along with other colleagues. But the drug companies kept over-promoting to get physicians to over-prescribe. Today, antibiotic resistance takes over 100,000 lives a year just in the U.S. Some bacterium are mutating beyond the ability of medical science to catch up with new more powerful antibiotics to curb new antibiotic resistance bacterium.

Deadly Lag Time.

For decades, starting in the 1970s, at the very least, both the big oil companies and knowledgeable government officials warned about global warming. Exxon’s own scientists sounded the alarm internally as well. Now with little preparedness to move fast from fossil fuels to renewables and conserve energy, the climate crisis is upon the world. Mega storms, floods, wildfires, and rising sea levels threaten everything and everybody. As James Gustave Speth’s forthcoming book, They Knew: The U.S. Federal Government’s Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis, people knew, including the graphic, forecast report in 1993, now forgotten, authored by Bill Clinton and Al Gore who promptly gave the auto industry an eight-year holiday from the regulatory push on fuel efficiency.

Deadly Lag Time.

Great physicians such as Quentin Young, Arnold Relman, Steffie Woolhandler, and David Himmelstein warned of the avoidable casualties and price gouging if we did not enact single-payer universal health insurance. They were ignored. The delay is costing trillions of dollars and about 100,000 lives a year with many more injuries and illnesses for those unable to afford health insurance to get a timely diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Philip Lee supported a study by Harvard Medical School physicians back in the early 1990s, estimating the huge fatality toll annually from medical malpractice just in hospitals. In 2015, Johns Hopkins medical researchers reported a minimum of 250,000 deaths a year from preventable problems in hospitals excluding clinics and doctors’ offices. The prophets warned, but the power structure, including the media, turned a largely deaf ear.

Deadly Lag Time.

Walter Hang, an environmental scientist, has warned for years about the toxic nature of fluids used in fracking of gas and oil. He and others mobilized people in New York state to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban the practice, unlike the increasingly poisoned fracking sites in Pennsylvania and other fracking states. Now we have been told by scientists that a chemical used in the mining breaks down into a toxic giant called PFAS, which they call a “forever” pollutant endangering underground drinking water sources.

Deadly Lag Time.

Over twenty-five years ago, scientists spoke out against the rising epidemic now known as the opioid disaster, promoted by drug companies and their owners like the Sackler family. The government and medical professions dillydallied. Last year, a record 90,000 people died in America from drug overdoses, mostly from opioids.

Deadly Lag Time.

In the 1950s, government scientists reported the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer. In 1964, the annual report by the Surgeon General (launched by Dr. Luther Terry) kept adding to the evidence of diseases from this highly promoted tobacco industry killer. Philip Morris Co., R.J. Reynolds and others kept promoting, denying, deceiving and regularly luring youngsters with free samples near schools. Over 400,000 annual deaths in the U.S. are attributed to smoking-related diseases.

When Congress, the media, and the public health groups started banging the drums in the 1980s, Big Tobacco was put on the defensive year after year. The number of daily smokers declined to under 15% from a high of 42% in 1964. Non-smokers more aggressively demanded smoke-free places and helped mightily to turn the tide. Who remembers the handful of tobacco-use fighters for their courageous and prescient advocacy?

Deadly Lag Time.

Lag time is another phrase for the “democracy gap.” It is the space between what most of the people want and need, and what those same passive people suffer and tolerate.

The same “lag time” bleeds people economically. The federal minimum wage is still frozen by Congress at $7.25 per hour. Many millions of workers are between that number and $15 per hour.

Prof. Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard has led the way in highlighting the many billing frauds in the health care industry that totals $350 billion or more this year alone. His detailed warnings and his classic book, License to Steal: Why Fraud Plagues America’s Health Care System, came out years ago in 1996. Still, a corporate Congress does nothing. The Biden Administration does not ask for necessary money for this area of enforcement, even though $1billion would save over $15 billion from fraudulent billing.

Jake Lewis and Jonathan Brown wrote and spoke about the damaging influence of the Federal Reserve and its Big Bank patrons back in the 60s and 70s. The lag time became worse, especially under Fed Chairman Jerome Powell who studies show has made the super-rich and corporate giants soaked in unearned wealth more rich while expanding the impact of gross inequality against the masses. (See the op-ed by Karen Petrou in the New York Times, July 12, 2021).

New Time Lags are underway. We have been forewarned about Medicare [Dis]Advantage, yet its corporate deceivers continue to devour traditional Medicare (controlling over 40% of Medicare beneficiaries).

Technology seers are warning against the terrible effects on younger people, including children, who will become addicted to Facebook’s rollout of the Oculus or augmented reality goggles. Avaricious Zuckerberg continues to expand his dangerous monopolistic empire.

All those who told us so are largely forgotten, uncelebrated and, if they are still active, hardly getting their calls returned. Is there a more abject sign of a decaying democracy?

Copyright © 2021 Nader.Org, All rights reserved.


  1. Those who rule….those sociopaths and morally bankrupt elite, because of their guilt or fear perceive any change from the existing status quo as a danger to themselves and their power. They will do anything to prevent any perceived challenge to their dominance. Worse, their lives of privilege and wealth have conditioned themselves to believe that none if, will ultimately effect them. They are above such things as nature, and the fate of the masses. They will simply throw their money at the problem and the problem will go away. It took generations for the hubris, arrogance, and mediocrity to reach the levels that our masters now inhabit….yet the power they wield is breathtaking to behold.

    There is a maxim in large group human behavior that goes “People will not act until the consequences of acting are less then the consequences (perceived) of not acting.” In layman terms that translates as The people won’t charge the guns until they are too hungry to care. The masses…the ignorant and programmed masses only will act until the IMMEDIATE consequence of not doing so is literally in their face.

    With climate change those two behavioral patterns equal eventual game over for our civilization. We shall see…..

    1. JustAMaverick:

      Just to expand on the points you raise:

      I agree with you in substance, but I also make generalizations, and a little hyperbole, at times. If you consider the “elites”, those of wealth and status that get involved in politics, there are factions, between nations and within them, and the elites are not one united group. There are parts of the elite and gov’t that actively work against the lower classes, but also much that simply tries to protect wealth (tax loopholes, lobbyists for corporate subsidies, etc), and the harm is often one of omission.

      The thing is, to really take on the influence of money and corruption you have to be extremely well organized and resilient, or as you mentioned, the consequences of not acting are worth charging the guns. I’ve read about the history of the labor movement and how early industrialists carried out union busting, using infiltrators, propaganda and even murder, to stop it: many of their tactics continue to this day in a wider social context.

      Part of my own take is that there is a lot coming down the pipe that will change current expectations for life: certainly climate change, but also robotics and automation which will help phase out a mass consumer culture, as a human workforce is less needed. AI and advanced genetics will eventually bring into question what it means to be human, whatever class you belong to.

  2. We have seen this for years and our government does nothing except go in the opposite direction. We are ruled by criminals. And we keep allowing them to screw us.

    1. And the masses are all frogs in the boiling toxic pot of water.
      Their ignorance does not allow them to feel the heat yet.

  3. But look. Without excusing the rapacious short-sighted short-term profiteering of these American (or Anglo-American) corporations, I’m curious why no other countries make much in the way of innovative or alternative contribution to the overall picture of global health, climate, antibiotics, agrifood, renewables, etc. It seems like everywhere else in the world is locked into the same self-destructive paradigm too. Why?

    1. Reese- you may call me a tin foil hat, but my book ANGRY LOUD AND CLEAR TRUTH shows that 13 families are exceedingly rich and hold the power- Rockefeller- owned Blackrock, worth 9 trillion dollars, owns a good portion of just about every corporation in America, and many abroad. Rothschild owns the federal bank of every nation and prints currencies at cost of paper and ink , and sells them at face value. Rockefeller founded and appointed all members of THE COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS, and 80% of every president’s administration has CFR membership. Also, one third of the 300 members of the CFR are media moguls, many are from Universities, also energy, military, you get the picture. The CFR creates legislation which the bought politicians rubber-stamp. Politics is the entertainmnet division of the govenrment. There is much more information in that book and in my others.

    2. Because it’s not a American thing, although we are at it’s core…..It is a Capitalist thing…..

      1. I’m afraid you are absolutely correct. Many of us always knew, and always feared, that the only way global warming will ever be addressed by the G20 nations and the oligarchs that control them, will be in the context of Capitalism.
        If saving the world one day becomes profitable, then it will saved, but not before.

    3. Capitalism, that’s why. The US is the world headquarters for Capitalism, and that is why here the rot is worst of all.

  4. Back in the 60s, we repeatedly insisted: Cannabis is far safer for overall health than alcohol or tobacco. Sixty years later, deaths from tobacco = millions; alcohol = hundreds of thousands; Cannabis = zero. Yet despite it’s widespread legal medicinal use, the Big Pharma–owned congress has yet to remove it from Schedule 1, dangerous drugs.

    Deadly and suffering lag time

    1. The war on drugs was put in place by Nixon as a means to criminalize his opponents- hippies (antiwar) and black panthers (civil rights)- he also imported drugs to the urban areas. The reason drugs were made illegal has nothing to do with health-it was political move. In addition, it helps the economy (I am being sarcastic)- there are states with privatized prisons- to make profit for corporations, and in those states are three-strike laws, which command life sentences for those with three convictions- and wonder of wonders..those states have forced labor.
      An approximate equal percentage of all races do drugs. But three times as many blacks are arrested for drugs as whites. Slavery is very profitable, and corporations pay good money to prison corporations (like GEO Group) to provide very cheap labor- 50 cents, a dollar an hour. And there is good money for phone service for prisoners, commisary, etc. charging exhorbitant rates. All good business

  5. I have been one of those prophets, but only for the past half dozen years. It was my suggestion several years ago to disconnect from the government and corporations, before the economic shut down and tranfer of wealth from the middle class to the elite. Now a revolutionary, and providing analytical conclusions to daily research, I am trying to save the planet. The goal of the elite=a world fascist police state of 500 million survivors by 2025. Deagel. com had a US population forecast of 99 million for 2025 on their website until two months ago, after I disseminated the information and the source, they rearranged their website. Biden has said he wants 70% of AMericans to take the vaccine. Deagel claims that there are currently 332 million people in the US. Do the math. the Vaers database reports that 50,000 have been reported dead from vaccines. Independent journalists claim that 145,000 were removed from the database covertly. De Tenpenny has said that all who take the vaccine will die within 3 years of being vaccinated. She says people will start to die six weeks after receiving it. Don’t worry, there are other ways to eliminate those who refuse the vaccines. But hey, I wear a tin foil hat just like all those who were before me.

    1. MIchael Lewis Kahn:

      A tin foil hat is a bit harsh, and probably only applies if a person is unwilling to keep an open mind, but adheres to their judgements, evidenced based or not, without being willing to tolerate differing opinions and change their own. You clearly care about the state of the world, but try not to carry so much on your shoulders. If you look at a movement like Extinction Rebellion, there are many leaders, and the movement values input from everyone in forming its mission and creating resistance.

      My understanding is that vaccines have historically been very effective (i.e. smallpox, polio). The main issue with Coronavirus is that the world population is the largest in history, so it puts enormous strain to have even a small percentage of people hospitalized for it. Also, with a larger human host population, the virus has much greater chance to mutate, and become resistant to older vaccines, especially in areas of the world where people are weakened due to hunger, civil war, etc.

  6. Hey Ralph,
    Great respect and admiration, but I didn’t hear any solutions. Thanks to you and your life long advocacy we know for certain that the answer is not obtainable through politics, even third party, or fourth. Revolution? Mass civil disobedience? Give up and passively await death while surrounded by pollution and squalor? What do you suggest Ralph?

    1. I gave solutions to global warming in EXPOSING THE MONEY MACHINE- basically planting fruit trees and vegetables in every open area- to restore the proper carbon and oxygen balance and to end hunger, we could feed ten times the world population. In ANGRY LOUD AND CLEAR TRUTH, I provide a blueprint for an ideal civilization that would end all world problems- ALL OF THEM, literally. It would even close the gates of hell = prevent insanity. Now revolution is the only solution. I have given methods of resistance on my emails, as a general would to his troops- as the military and police are heavily weaponized, and those who are fighting a battle against a more powerful adversary need to fight on their own terms, not on those of the powerful. I have methods and strategies for victory, survival, and freedom.
      To get the newsletter, sign up on my website

    2. He gives no answers because he has no answers. As much as I love Ralph and have tremendous respect for what he has achieved, it is increasingly clear that time and circumstances have passed him by. We no longer work within a system where protest and activism can achieve….anything. Those days are long behind us and what we have now and going forward is a Corporate Fascist Elite who only respect one thing, power. It is all they understand or desire to understand since it appears they are the ones that hold all of that power.

      It is quite clear that this is a stand up and fight on your feet or live and ultimately die on your knees kind of moment. That is of course, if we haven’t already passed that point in time already…..

      For our society and our country, I hold little hope. Get right with yourself and find the peace within is my advice, because in the days and weeks ahead, that may be all the peace your gonna get.

      1. JustAMaverick:

        I agree with many of your observations about human nature and the course we are on. There is a lot to be pessimistic about if you care about shaping a more wise and compassionate society. Many of the people I know and have talked to are willing to change when they see others making a sacrifice, or when the government mandates progressive change.

        My own sense of things is that many people believe “Money is the Answer to Everything ™”. In our financialized society, a multi-millionaire or beyond wants for nothing, and can access the best technology we can produce, so it makes some sense that wealth can act as a buffer against something like climate change, at least for awhile.


        I struggle with despair about these issues, but I don’t think it ultimately helps to resign oneself to it. Like Chris Hedges and others have talked about, it’s important to see the situation as clearly as you can, and then work at gaining an inner peace you spoke of, one that allows you to resist harm and participate in efforts to change society, or at least the way we ourselves live and engage the world.

  7. Authoritarianism. There was a day, not too long ago, when people thought it could be reigned in. Perhaps like it was reigned in by FDR’s New Deal. I don’t think there will be another New Deal. Instead, I visualize humanity pinning down the singular answer we all wanted all along: Total positivity. Humanity reaching its full potential. The end of competition, the beginning of cooperation. Universal respect for the intrinsic worth and free will of life. Anarchism. Nature’s order-building. It’s very simple. Total positivity means we’ve identified and removed all harm in our strategies to meet our needs. It’s very clear. But not easy. So this is where we are moving. Faster the better. Too much already wasted.

  8. The link between all these ‘time lags’ is a profit-based economy – profit for the rich and corporations, that is, not for the proletariat. The government is for the most part their creation as well. I know few want to think along these lines, but without a mass Populist Labor Party based on workers, transitional demands towards a goal – a workers government and eventually socialism – nothing will significantly change. Mr. Nader spoke at the Labor Party Convention in Pittsburgh in 1998. He might know this. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are also based on ‘free market’ ideology, but with a side of social work. They cannot deal with these terminal issues.

  9. I live near a CalFire Command Center (airport). It didn’t used to be a command center. Once upon a time, when the spotter planes and/or borat bombers started flying I would look for where? How close? How far? Get ready? Now, they fly… All. Day. Long. It’s like living in a climate change war zone. And the PG&E power shutoffs with subsequent helicopter passes for line checks haven’t even begun.

  10. I live in the Sierra Foothills of California, not far from Paradise as the crow (and fire) flies. I went kayaking with an old friend this summer in a nearby lake. We went in through a back entrance, which I had been looking for in mapping evacuation routes, but had forgotten/hadn’t found. I told him how glad I was to be reminded of it. It’s not that far from my house. He asked why? I said because if the highway (2 lane) gets clogged in a fire, I can head to the middle of the lake to (maybe) float it out. That’s how some people survived Paradise, I said. His response? After telling me I’m intense? He lives in town so he’s planning on standing in the middle of his townhouse complex parking lot. Lag time.

  11. All those bombs, bullets and missiles; Money is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Nader’s assessment, and have long considered him an American hero. I also am very impressed with most of the statements, especially those by Mr. Kahn. Unfortunately, like so many others, he seems have been taken in by some of the anti-vax conspiracy theories. I am a healthcare professional at a large, long-term care facility. Last year, we lost 5 staff and 3 residents to Covid-19 prior to the development of the vaccines. During January, most of our nearly 1,000 residents and staff were vaccinated. While we’ve lost a few of our older, sicker residents to various age-related health problems since that time, not a single one of our hundreds of vaccinated employees has died. Vaccines have been around for over 300 years, and have saved more lives than any other medical intervention, including antibiotics and surgery. Unlike most traditional vaccines that use attenuated (weakened) viruses, the MRNA vaccines contain instructions for making viral proteins, so there is no chance of infection by the virus. The Pfizer vaccine was tested on over 47,000 volunteers in three phases of trials prior to emergency use authorization. It is important to understand that it’s anti-vaccination conspiracy theories that are resulting in tens of thousands of deaths, not the vaccines themselves. New, more deadly variants (like the current Delta variant) will continue to appear until enough people are vaccinated for our population to achieve herd immunity.

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