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Citizen Driven Foreign Policy/Zero Waste

Ralph welcomes Bill Crosier of the Foreign Policy Alliance to discuss how to turn US foreign policy away from intervention and toward diplomacy, law, and cooperation. Then chemist, Paul Palmer, joins us to explain that we need to replace the “corporate scam” of recycling with the concept of “zero waste.” Plus, Ralph answers an important listener question about Medicare for All.

Bill Crosier is co-founder, along with Barry Klein, of the Foreign Policy Alliance— a nonpartisan organization formed to educate and advocate for turning US foreign policy away from intervention and toward diplomacy, law, and cooperation.

We are part of the left- right [coalition]. I mean, that’s the amazing thing we need to emphasize– this is not a left versus right issue, or a Democrat versus Republican, or Libertarian, or Independent issue. People across a political spectrum agree on the major points that we have at on reducing nuclear weapons, reducing military spending, stop being the policeman of the world, those sorts of issues.
Bill Crosier, Foreign Policy Alliance

Especially with the pandemic, [we had] greatly increased our national debt and cities have been hurt, counties and states have been hurt. Because the money that could be going to them to help with really human needs is going to the military.
Bill Crosier, Foreign Policy Alliance

[The Nuclear Freeze movement] was quite a spectacular demonstration and civic action. And a lot of it took place under the Reagan administration. In fact, Reagan got the word when he looked over pictures of hundreds of thousands of people marching down streets in Manhattan and Washington, D.C.. And he said “Hey, there are a lot of well-dressed Republicans here that want [an] arms control treaty with the Soviet Union. And he became an advocate.
Ralph Nader

There is a kind of curled upper lip among circles in this country, when you use the word “diplomacy” like it’s weak. It doesn’t work. You have to have peace through strength. Yet the history of diplomacy has been far superior to the history of warmaking.
Ralph Nader

Paul Palmer is a chemist and the founder of the Zero Waste Institute— an organization that advocates for designing reuse into all products so they can be used perpetually. His book on the subject is Getting to Zero Waste.

Major environmental groups] have been totally hornswoggled by this recycling theory. Recycling is a corporate scam. It has never solved a single problem of waste… Recycling is just completely useless, but it serves a great purpose. It puts the public to sleep. It allows this ‘delusion of status’ as I call it, which I’m sure you’re quite familiar with. The delusion that we can just continue our normal wasteful consumption, we can take endless automotive trips, we can fly through the skies… and we can just waste everything. Because at the end of the story there’s going to be a magic solution– it’s called recycling. We just take whatever we produced and we just magically, somehow, destroy it.
Paul Palmer, Zero Waste Institute

Under today’s form of capitalism, manufacturing is a Wild West of decision-making. You can make anything you want for the best or most trivial of reasons, and release it for sale into the marketplace, and no one says “boo.” In the 60s Vance Packard gave us the concept of planned obsolescence and it’s gotten worse since then. Every product has a built-in early-failure defect built into it just so that it can be discarded early. But no one does anything about it. The socially necessary response is not hard to find– we need to change the design of all products.
Paul Palmer, Zero Waste Institute

You put your finger on the way to jumpstart this whole effort. Apple is an out of control company… So sometimes you know, like when I went after General Motors, people say “Why do you go after the biggest auto company?” Because if you could change them, you could change the whole industry.
Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 383 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Conrad Wilkinson says:


    Love to hear some advocacy for the Green new deal programs. I would like to join with you in sending letters to congress. I would like to use your recommended wording if you can provide me a link that I could access with my Iphone.

  2. NooN says:

    Making things possible to be REPAIRED;
    Teaching All Ages RepaiR SkillS ;
    Growing whatever U Want YoUR GardeN to Grow;
    Leaning Land, Air & Water
    Zero wage

    Senator to sign on as CoSigners
    Senator Sanders. 202 224.5151
    July 24: Health Care 4 ALL 🌎WALK
    👉🏿👉🏿👉🏿👁👉🏿 👈🏽👁👈🏽👈🏽

  3. Don Harris says:

    Planned obsolescence is not limited to products. It includes ordinary citizens as our political process becomes more un-repairable with every election due to the influence of big money.

    While working in local politics can be part of an overall strategy, we also need to go after the biggest big money politicians on a national level. If we can change them, we can change the whole system.

    This is why I have been trying to get you to inform citizens about One Demand, a” Congress Club” for citizens to work together across party lines to demand small donor candidates and enforce that demand with our votes.

    It would be nice if you would set up a forum with a dozen or so advocates/activists for getting big money out of our political process to discuss One Demand with me.

    But I will settle for a forum with the one advocate/activist that said on Washington Journal on 10-24-2018 about 13 minutes in that he would have me on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour to discuss One Demand.

    This advocate/activist has often said that politicians want our votes more than big money but for some unknown reason has not acted on an opportunity to use One Demand to put that theory to a test.

    It’s one thing to say it- it’s another thing to do it.

    So let’s do it or provide an explanation of why you do not believe that politicians want our votes more than big money or that citizens demanding small donor candidates and enforcing that demand with our votes will not work.

  4. stan moore says:

    Bill Crosier claims the post-WWII Marshall Plan as an example of US “diplomacy.” May i recommend to Crosier and anyone else who believes this to read William Blum’s article in Counterpunch Magazine (May 22, 2006) “But What About The Marshall Plan?” i think a more appropriate advocate of diplomacy during the post war era would be Henry A Wallace

  5. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Ralph and Paul seemed to be on to something when interrogating -why- megacorporations aren’t interested in zero waste, but sadly it seemed like their line of discussion didn’t follow through to a conclusion. Is it just a coincidence that some of the biggest corporations like Apple are also the biggest polluters and wasters? Of course not, the answer is that constant replacement of disposable items is simply more profitable than the alternative. Capitalists have understood this since long before the phrase “planned obsolescence” was coined in the ’60s and ’70s. You can go back to the commercialization of the lightbulb in the early 20th century and check out the Phoebus cartel for a classic example. It was an international conspiracy of lightbulb manufacturers to artificially limit the lifespan of incandescent lightbulbs to ensure they have a perpetual sales market.

    As long as we allow the wasteful “externalities” of market competition to dominate the production of all the things we consume, we will never reach the zero-waste civilization that Paul Palmer dreams of. The path to sustainability is nothing less than a rational system based on democratic planning.

    • Paul Palmer says:

      Afdal: Don’t be so quick to denote my plea “a dream”. That is not what I’m advocating i.e. that we all dream. I want to form a very down to earth Zero Waste Institute that can be tasked to do research and publish reports on the way that specific goods can be redesigned to enable them to be reused. This is real, industrial stuff. If you read my website, you will find many worked out examples of how to redesign goods. Once you set your mind to it, the ideas are not that difficult. Under Principles, I propose four basic principles of design that will show you the way to proceed. I am looking for fellow environmentalists, but a new breed who is not contaminated with recycling, to form a non-profit that will assemble this kind of work. I think you would find the work exciting, once you got into it.

  6. Gayle Jones says:

    Of course, this is a matter of agreement between the Left and the Right. We only have one earth, and we cannot survive a Nuclear Holocaust. To garner the support of the people, we need to focus their attention on what it is that has led us to this insane predicament.

    The book, “American Exceptionalism and American Innocence”. by Roberto Sirvent & Danny Haiphong, lauded by the late, great Glen Ford, Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, is a good start:

  7. Jacob Margulis-Kessel says:

    Bay Area residents:

    Let’s be done with single-use plastics! This store is awesome, recommended by the Ecology Center. I’m going to start shopping there. They also deliver.