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Feeding Local Economies/Starving the IRS

Ralph welcomes Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance to talk about how enforcing anti-trust laws would lead to more decentralized and productive local economies. And Pro Publica’s Jesse Eisinger joins us to explain how Republican anti-tax groups have starved the IRS budget, which leads to billions of dollars of uncollected taxes from the wealthy. Plus, Ralph answers your questions.

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies. She has also testified before the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee in their recent hearings on anti-monopoly policy. Her testimony is entitled A Second Gilded Age: How Concentrated Corporate Power Undermines Shared Prosperity.

[In the 1970s and 1980s] politicians– our elected officials– started referring to us as consumers, instead of citizens. And it’s our citizen muscle that we have lost track of. Our citizen muscle has very much atrophied. But that’s a very powerful muscle, if we can find it again. That’s the muscle that can restructure the online market in such a way that Amazon has its extraordinary stranglehold and grip broken.

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

We often sort of mistakenly think of Amazon as a retailer. But really Amazon is an infrastructure company. Amazon has set out to be the infrastructure for the entire economy. To provide the rails, if you will, that other businesses have to ride in order to get to the market. They do that through their Cloud Services division, which has a huge number of companies and government agencies that now rely on that infrastructure to run their operations. And they do that through the ownership of their online marketplace. Two-thirds of Americans, when they want to buy something online, start at Amazon.

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance


We’ve been very much conditioned to think of ourselves as consumers… And as consumers we’re very weak. It’s very hard for us to collectively align enough of us in making those choices in order to shift anything.

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance


A lot of people don’t really know one very important power of Amazon. Because it reaches so many people, it’s invited a lot of small businesses to get on their platform and sell their products. Under which Amazon gets a huge commission, competes against them, and cuts them around with fine print contracts… It’s almost like an irresistible impulse to be imprisoned by hundreds of thousands of small businesses. Because they have no alternative way to expand their reach to potential customers.

Ralph Nader



Jesse Eisinger is an award-winning senior reporter and editor at ProPublica.  He and a colleague won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of stories on the questionable Wall Street practices that helped make the financial crisis the worst since the Great Depression. Most recently, he co-authored The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.

Your chances of being audited if you are a member of the working poor now is greater than if you make $500,000 a year. So, what the audits are now of, disproportionally, are of the working poor. 40% of what the IRS does to audit people is of the working poor. And so that’s the state of affairs. The wealthy are seeing fewer and fewer audits. They’re thinner. they’re less aggressive. And the really aggressive audits are of the working poor today.

Jesse Eisinger, reporter and editor at ProPublica

There is a successful “defund the police” and there’s a successful “prison abolition” movement in this country. It’s for the wealthy. And it’s for CEOs. It’s for tech moguls, and pharmaceutical executives, and opioid manufacturers, and the billionaire families that are behind that. And… they’ve won. They’ve gotten the cops off the beat, there’s no question.

Jesse Eisinger, reporter and editor at ProPublica

There’s a tax gap of money that is owed to the government that the government is not collecting, or unable to collect. And the latest estimate, which is years old, officially is $600 billion a year. But [IRS Commissioner Charles] Rettig has recently said that it’s probably about $1 trillion. And this is not taxes that we should raise if we raise the rates. This is stuff that’s owed today that we’re not collecting. Including from people who make over a million dollars a year and owe over a million over a million dollars in taxes, and don’t file their taxes and we’re still not collecting it.

Jesse Eisinger, reporter and editor at ProPublica

It is amazing that the Republicans right now in Congress are not paying a political price for aiding and abetting super rich tax evaders and global corporate tax evaders. You would think the Democrats would know how to pin them against the wall on that.

Ralph Nader


People who pay their taxes, the vast majority pay their full taxes… They don’t like the idea that these super billionaires are going into space and paying no taxes.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 389 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Nick Brana is a total narcissist whose “people’s party” project hasn’t made any attempt to do anything meaningfully different than past progressive parties over the last several decades, and in several ways in fact seems to be trying its hardest to repeat others’ mistakes. It is incredibly suspicious that he refused to work with Greens who reached out to him last year off the excuse of them being “too socialistic” while simultaneously professing to creating some sort of mass party of the left. I would much rather see Ralph get Howie Hawkins on his show, who has some incredible knowledge on the history of third parties and some real insights and potential solutions to organizational pitfalls.

    Oh heck, even better yet, one of these days I’d love a policy-oriented guy like Ralph Nader to get someone from the Center for Election Science like Jameson Quinn, Aaron Hamlin, or William Poundstone on his show sometime to talk about the systemic details of why third parties can’t seem to get elected and some concrete solutions to break down two-party domination and make our elections more competitive. People have been mislead for too long by the Trojan Horse of instant runoff voting and this would be a serious public service.

  2. Don Harris says:

    Very disappointed in your answer to having Nick Brana on the Radio Hour.

    More formally organized?

    As far as I know they have achieved formal party status in some states and are currently recruiting candidates for 2022.

    That should be enough to have Nick Brana on right now as it would help those efforts to proceed faster and be more effective in 2022 with an earlier start.

    I seem To remember that one reason you left the Green Party to run as an independent was to get an earlier start.

    When you do have Nick Brana on the Radio Hour please ask him if the People’s Party’s candidates will be running the average contribution scam that Bernie made popular or committing to run small donor only campaigns (no more than 200 dollars from any one donor per election).

    Not taking corporate PAC money and touting an average contribution is misleading as it still allows for big money donors.

    There is no difference if a candidate such as Bernie gets 2000 dollars in forty contributions averaging fifty dollars from one donor and Joe Biden gets 2000 dollars in one contribution from one donor. They are both big money donors and they are both big money candidates.

    A candidate that takes big money to run their campaign is telling voters before the election how they will represent the big money interests if elected.

    Please ask Nick Brana to prove the People’s Party is not just another Justice Democrats making promises about what they will do while taking big money to run their campaigns which history has shown to be just the opposite by committing to have the People”s Party candidates run small donor campaigns and earn our votes with action now instead of promises of future action.

    • Margaret Walsh says:

      Did MEADEA BENJAMIN coin the phrase ? MILITARY INDUSTRIAL CONGRESSIONAL COMPLEX .. that where i heard it first ..

      • Skro35 says:

        That was Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961. The original formulation was “military-industrial-congressional complex,” but he crossed out “congressional” as too inflammatory, so in the final speech he just said “military-industrial complex.”

        “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

  3. Margaret Walsh says:

    THE BIG PICTURE .. from where i sit in the Yakima River Canyon .. McConnell would not move on the infrastructure bill until Elaine Cho was given KROGERS .. my Fred Meyer .. when i go to my Fred Meyers ..i go under the yoke of Elaine Cho .. whispers of a boycott .. Buffet bought too? ..

    how about a local FRANCHISE TAX .. any company that takes it’s profits out of state must leave some petty cash .. dedicated to social and economic improvement of each location they employ ..


    i think i am on to something .. i have encouraged Cantwell, Murray and Schrier’s staff to LISTEN to the RNRH .. i have been provoked early on Monday morning (Sunday night voice mail message) to call their attention to this week’s show .. “bi-partisan legislation.. BIDEN and BOEHNER together tightened the screws on student bankruptcy law” .. how about the CONGRESS CLUB take a ROYAL MONIKER .. RALPH NADER’S CONGRESS CLUB .. we call, write, email comments .. every week .. give them our feedback on this weeks show ..every show highlights an angle the lawmakers might not have heard/seen .. educate them rapidly and properly as RN educates us .. NADER KNEW NADER KNOWS .. thank you for your consideration .. moonlit (my new moniker)

  4. Karen Bednarek says:

    I have tried several times to sign up for the Congress Club.; but have not received any emails or info from the club.
    I regularly write , email and call my legislators, commissioners, governor, president, etc. I want to join the club. Please sign me up.

    • Skro35 says:

      I will forward your email to the proper authorities. Look for an announcement on a general Zoom meeting of the Congress Club soon.