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Big Tech, Bernie, and Benevolent Landlords

Scholar and Bernie Sanders surrogate, Ramesh Srinivasan, joins us to talk about the need to regulate big tech while also sharing his thoughts about the end of the Sanders campaign. Then prominent Bay Area attorney, Joe Cotchett, explains why during the coronavirus lockdown, he has stopped collecting rent from the tenants in the commercial properties he owns.

Ramesh Srinivasan is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles in the Department of Information Studies. He is the director of UC Digital Cultures Lab. His research investigates technology’s relationship to democracy, public health, social change and distance learning. Dr. Srinivasan is the author of “Beyond the Valley: How Innovators Around the World Are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow”.


“In Oaxaca, across dozens of indigenous Zapotec, Mixtec, and Mixe communities, we see communities collectively owning and building their own digital cell phone networks. Meaning that any value that’s provided out of the network is redistributed in the community. Employment is local. People together make decisions in very directly democratic ways… People are able to take power over technology truly in a community based way.”

Ramesh Srinivasan, author of “Beyond the Valley: How Innovators Around the World Are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow”

Joe Cotchett is a prominent lawyer who built his career by representing the underdog against powerful interests. Mr. Cotchett is a property owner in Half Moon Bay in the Bay Area. He is waiving two months’ rent for his 65 Half Moon Bay tenants to help keep these businesses afloat during the pandemic. Mr. Cotchett is the author of The People vs Greed: Stealing America: Main Street vs Wall Street: The Continued Erosion of Ethics in Our Professions Business and Government”.


“If you own a building with some small tenants in it and they go out, bankrupt, whatever it may be, they close. What do you think happens to the value of your building? It goes to nothing because a commercial building without tenants is worth nothing.”

Joe Cotchett, Bay Area attorney and commercial landlord on why he’s forgiving his tenants’ rent during the coronavirus lockdown

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 318 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Sonne says:

    Does Mr. Nader plan to arrange another big book on weekly columns?
    Would be neat to capture all the wealth of his educated opinion on different matters, almost like a civil diary, in one piece yet again!

  2. Mark Hughes says:

    Glad Srinivasan is talking about workers owning companies. This, not government-owned companies, is the aim of Marxism although Americans love to believe what they want about it. I’ve invoked Prof. Richard D. Wolff’s name here before, perhaps the foremost expert on worker cooperatives in America, and he strongly believes, as do I, that workers owning the means of production is the only way out of this swamp. Can’t rely on unions anymore, because 1) they’re too small (<7% private sector membership) and weak, and 2) their leaderships have long been corrupted by management, which goes to their weakness. I think it was the steelworkers' union in which one of its union heads was recently busted for having secret meetings with management and other corrupt activities. So unions can't be relied on anymore; we're now at the point of workers self-organizing, decentralizing its leadership yet coalescing to fight the system (teachers unions in WV, McDonalds and Amazon workers today, etc). So I'm with Srinivasan all the way, although I don't think he goes far enough because ESOPs (which he might really be alluding to) have existed for a long time now and they, like unions, have proven ineffective. Nevertheless, I'm rather surprised Srinivasan is speaking on worker-owned companies when Bernie himself has mostly ignored it.

    Kenya having to refurbish old devices and products then reselling them back into their markets is great but nothing terribly new. My understanding is Cuba has had to do this for decades. It's not like they have a shallow affinity for classic cars; due to the American embargo the Cuban people have had to resort to this to survive. That's true innovation, not what goes on at Palo Alto.

    During the wrap-up, Srinivasan asks, "What are the conditions that gave us Trump?"

    Looking back, I'd say there's just one condition: the Electoral College. Because once again, Hillary (as if she would be much better) won the popular vote by about 3 million. Nothing to sneeze at, unless you're an Elector. The People spoke, and our 'democratic' electoral system ignored it. At least David alluded to the election being 'stolen'. Indeed.

    I've no affinity for landlords, they're all rentiers by definition but I did enjoy listening to Cotchett. When he stated that defaults on rent lead to drops in property values, that makes sense. Then again, that's what bailouts are for. Just as bailouts prop up failing businesses, speculation, not rent payments, props up property values. Which brings me to Cotchett's point on foreclosure; it's based on who owns the property, and anyone who pays a mortgage does NOT own their house. The bank does, and the bank is bent on keeping real property. That's why banks don't want anyone paying off their home, they'd much prefer to foreclose. And they're not losing money on that either, because again, money-printing-based bailouts. So whether or not someone can pay makes no difference to them, they still own it (while homeowners still have to pay property taxes).

  3. NooN says:

    A real estate lady on Miami Beach told me how buildings were taken from owners in the Central Federal Reserve Financial Depression of 1920.+.2020.
    Rothschild bet on both sides, remember.?.Humanitarian Atty joe Cotchett shows The Who Deserves a FEMA 💶GRANT ⚖️vs ⚖️LOAN 💰

    Each state’s governor had to bid on Medical Supplies from (___________)
    The few items were distributed & THEN collected to sell~+~send elsewhere (perhaps to the state that we stole them from their freighter to Germany or Iran or France ☠️😷☠️

    Did anyone catch humor in 51 states will share 500,000,000,000 Billion ?.?
    & will the Trustee be Renting an 0ffice of 0versite in FBi, CIA or Trump HoteL ?

    Since the 51 governors were allowed to bid against each other (instead of pooling the money for best group price) they were made to bid ag each other. 😂 this wood be excellent time to cede from this corporate UnioN🤣
    adding 51 FRESH UNITED NATIONS REPRESENRATICES. I’ll give you one better: Let’s bring the LEAGUE of NATIONS back to Life and yoU, RALPH, are ouR ADMIRAL. It’s been 5 years since T Wise Professor Laura Nader was on this Radio Hour & it was a Great Program I listened to over & over.

  4. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Gotta agree with Mark on multiple points here. Ralph should pick up “Understanding Socialism” by Richard Wolff to get a solid crash course in what that word actually means, freeing your mind from decades of Red Scare doublespeak.

    And as Adam Smith was fond of pointing out, landlords are a parasitic remnant of feudalism. Hoping for them to open up their benevolent hearts in mass to save their tenants in a crisis is just silly. Many landlords are not in a financially stable position with steady work like Joe Cotchett that they can simply pass up on a few months rent, in fact many rely on the rents they suck out of tenants as their primary source of income. Tenants vs landlords has always been a class war, and the best way to end that class war is to eliminate the classes. We should either make all housing fully public or do like Henry George recommended in the late 19th century and tax the landlords’ power out of existence through a land value tax.

    Also I actually laughed out loud when the former Bernie Sanders supporter suggested that people vote for the right winger with dementia in November near the end of the show. Joe Biden is no friend to working people or home owners. With people like that in Bernie’s campaign, it’s no wonder he threw the election!

  5. What we need is good public policy that serves the people instead of financial corporations. 10 centuries before Christ the ancient Greeks recognized that the most vital prerogative of democratic self-governance was to issue the money based on the national equity… so why do we let a private banking system issue all our money as interest bearing debt? It concentrates wealth, drives irrational economic growth, causes predatory competition and allows the wealthy capital holders to dictate our public policy. You cannot have a democracy if your government does not control the creation and allocation of the nation’s money. A private money system is what plutocratic capitalism is built on. So why aren’t we talking about reclaiming the nation’s economic sovereignty?

  6. Don Harris says:

    Now that Bernie has dropped out and endorsed Biden a vote for Bernie in the remaining primaries is a vote for Biden. As I will not vote for Biden without a major concession, small concessions in party/convention procedures and empty promises of future action will not be enough to earn my vote. The major concession needs to be action now that will show Biden is trying to change and step up now to fight the cause of the current crisis- big money in our political process.

    Biden must commit to run a small donor only campaign in the 2020 general election to earn my vote. I suggest that any citizens that can still vote in the remaining primaries that want to send Biden (and Bernie) the message that we also blame the big money Democrats for our current situation and demand they purge the party of the influence of big money starting now to join me in writing in Ralph Nader in the Democratic presidential primary as a way to show we want Biden to commit to run a small donor only campaign in the 2020 general election.

    If citizens are not pissed off enough now to Just Say NO MORE to the big money politicians then they never will be and we should just forget the charade of elections.

    If this idea catches on and Biden does not respond correctly then Ralph can use those write in votes as ammunition to put more pressure on Biden by entering (or threatening to enter) the general election as an independent to give citizens another option to the big money candidates.

    All Biden would have to do to get Ralph and these citizens to support him in November would be to make the small donor only commitment (no more than 200 dollars in total contributions from any one donor).

    And when the nay-sayers say that citizens do not have the money right now to make these contributions we can counter that argument by saying that is the reason that Congress should pass emergency Political Contribution Vouchers for the 2020 elections.

    Every eligible voter gets 500 dollars in vouchers they can send to any candidate or candidates for federal offices (president, congress, senate). This would increase voter turnout as many non-voters that use the vouchers will feel invested in the election and will be more likely to vote in 2020. We could even possibly make it so anyone that uses the vouchers automatically becomes registered to vote for the federal offices.

    This would show that small donor only campaigns can work and could get many people to continue to contribute to small donor candidates with their own money in future elections.

  7. Barbara says:

    I love listening to this radio hour weekly. Ralph has always been my hero. I have held him and his work in high esteem for over 50 years. He’s one of the very few totally authentic advocates of my life time. He truly practices what he preaches.
    I recommend that Ralph interview Richard Wolff sometime in the near future.

    • John Alexander says:

      I concur. I’d love to see any of the following on Ralph’s program: Richard Wolff on worker cooperatives, Yanis Varoufakis on the Diem25 movement, Mark Blyth on Austerity and/or “global trumpism”, David Graeber on anarchism, Chris Hedges on American Empire, Shahid Buttar on his candidacy as a real progressive challenger to Nancy Pelosi.

  8. Ralph keep the relevant guests on the radio hour it gives us all hope . Thanks
    You will live on JtMcK