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How To Save 4.2 Million Lives

On the 55th anniversary of the publication of Ralph’s landmark auto safety book, we welcome fellow traveler, Joan Claybrook, who has authored a report not only to celebrate the 4.2 million lives that have been saved in that time, but also on what more needs to be done. And Public Banking expert, Ellen Brown, joins us to talk about how public banks would be better than private banks at rescuing Main Street during this depression. Plus, Ralph answers listener questions!

Joan Claybrook is one of the public interest champions of the modern consumer movement. She is one of the co-founders and president emeritus of Public Citizen. During the Carter Administration, Ms. Claybrook headed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ms. Claybrook has testified frequently before congressional committees on many public interest issues, but with a particular focus on auto and highway safety.

“Military marching bands get twice the [federal budget] money that NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] does each year.”

Joan Claybrook, co-founder and president emeritus of Public Citizen


“For the original safety standards, we were looking at designing in crash protections so that the occupant inside, even though there was a crash, would not be harmed or killed. And now, the automotive supplier industry, with its ingenuity, has come up with things that we never really would have ever believed could happen… [These measures are] available and ready to go. They’re on some cars already, so the agency could just say ‘We don’t have to do any research, we don’t have to do any evaluation, these systems are in the rich people’s cars, the expensive cars. Let’s mandate them for all cars.’”

Joan Claybrook, co-founder and President-Emeritus of Public Citizen

“The death rate in 1965 was… almost 6 fatalities per hundred million vehicle miles traveled. And now it’s under 1.5 fatalities, just by one measure of progress, showing that regulation works.”

Ralph Nader

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more useful guide for consumers than The Car Book.”

 Ralph Nader

Ellen Brown is an attorney and the founder of the Public Banking Institute, whose vision is to establish a network of state and local publicly owned banks that create affordable credit, while providing a sustainable alternative to the current high-risk centralized private banking system. Ms. Brown is the author of thirteen books, including the bestselling Web of Debt and Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age. Her latest article is entitled Why the Fed Needs Public Banks.

“The whole idea of a public bank is that you don’t have investors that are sucking the profits out. You pump the profits either back into the bank or maybe back into the state or the city… So that’s why it’s such a good deal to be able to get free liquidity from the Fed itself.”

Ellen Brown, author of Why the Fed Needs Public Banks

“We could just be borrowing directly from the Federal Reserve, which is what JPMorgan Chase [Bank, N.A.] and the big banks are doing. They’re all using the Fed’s discount window, and obviously they need it the least, but they know a good deal when they see it. So we want that good deal as well.”

Ellen Brown, author of Why the Fed Needs Public Banks

“The Postal Banking System was our original public banking system that…was all across the country, you had postal banks everywhere. It was instituted a year before the Federal Reserve Act was passed. And it worked very well through the Great Depression; people were rushing to pull their money out of the banks, which were crumbling, and put it into the post office. But that was the threat to the big banks, they could see that this was going to be too popular.”

Ellen Brown, author of Why the Fed Needs Public Banks

Ralph Nader Radio hour Ep 354 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Disappointing dodge from Ralph on that listener question about a third party. I think Trump has made him a little too eager to paint the Democrats as some sort of opposition party the last four years. The “Progressive Caucus” is a total joke: only a handful of people in it can really even be considered progressive and they refuse to fight for the things they claim to believe in.

    If you really wanna understand how money, debt, and banking works–both 2000 years ago and today–you really ought to get Michael Hudson on the show sometime. He’s done arguably the most important research on the function of debt in the last century.

    • Bruce K. says:

      Any party that splits itself in two disadvantages both in any election until they get back together or one goes out of business.

      William K. Black understand banking fraud and can explain it best.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      I second the Michael Hudson nomination, I mentioned him in my other comment as well. Of course I think it would be difficult to do deep-dives into banking and even into debt without a fuller discussion of money itself. Hudson would be just the person for this talk as well considering Ralph himself mentioned Biblical times. Hudson is well versed in how money was used back then.

      I’ve lost what little faith I had in the Progressive Caucus a while back. Jimmy Dore has rightly outed just about all of them especially AOC and Mark Pocan. What I don’t like coming down the pike is Nina Turner running to take Marcia Fudge’s place, but doing so as a Democrat. Rising is high on her, says she’ll provide backbone to the Squad and so on, but again…she’s running as a Democrat. Not exactly encouraging. I would ask when are lefties going to learn that there’s no hope in the Democratic Party, but the deeper question is will they ever.

    • John Graves says:

      Black AND Hudson especially certainly would be excellent on Ralph’s show.

  2. Bruce K. says:

    Public banking, great idea, important and urgent idea, when do we get to vote on it?

  3. Donald Klepack says:

    I agree with Afdal Shahanshah that Progressive Wing of the Democratic refuse to fight for the things they claim to believe in. To me the Billionaire class of the Democratic Party chose Joe Biden and somehow forced all the Candidates to drop out at the Perfect time to help Joe Biden to win the nomination. This includes my favorite candidate Tulsi Gabbard. However I still believe that Tulsi aligns herself very well with the Green Party and has the skills to win the Democratic nomination in 2024. Ralph, I think she would be a great future guest to speak about the More Act and the Dakota Pipeline.

    • Jerry Simon says:

      Spineless Democrats still despise the man whose work has saved over 4 million lives.

  4. Mark Hughes says:

    I always enjoy listening to Ellen Brown. I’ve seen her as a guest of Robert Scheer, Max Keiser, and so on, and now of Ralph. Her voice and insights are necessary especially during this time. She’s exactly right about how banks operate. The Fed can’t just send out helicopter money; not only did Ben Bernanke say this years ago, but Jay Powell confirmed it in just he past few months (I think it was a 60 Minutes interview). He said that the American people need money and the Fed can get it to them essentially overnight; but unlike when it comes to Wall Street and corporate bailouts, “fiscal easing” if that’s such a term requires an actual Act of Congress. So once again, Congress is the obstacle; this is why banks get ‘free money’ and the people don’t. Congress.

    Brown is correct, there is no such thing as ‘fractional reserve’ anymore because the fraction is so infinitesimally small it not longer matters. She’s also right about how money is created (home & car loans, etc). The moment a loan is made, ‘money’ is created. This is a warped, deranged way to create money but that’s how it’s done. So the images of the Mint printing out press sheets of dollar bills, forget all that. That’s not how it’s done in bulk. Not really.

    I’m with Ralph when he said how difficult it is to communicate all this to the average person, he’s right. Nothing against Brown at all, but that’s part of the problem; Americans don’t understand how banking works because it’s always spoken in highfalutin, non-everyday language. This is an impasse that needs to be overcome. Look, I’m no expert like Brown, Michael Hudson, Richard Wolff, Mark Blyth, David Harvey, etc, but I was able to follow a good bit of it.

    Also interesting Ralph mentioned how things were in Biblical times. Back then, you had something called a debt jubilee in which on a regular basis, all social debts were forgiven. This happened most often when a new ruler ascended to the throne. My suspicion is this was to keep the ancient elites from threatening the ruler’s dominion. Michael Hudson has written a book on it, and has spoken of it at length.

    Regarding David’s idea that the Fed should set up for everyone a bank account using your social security number, there’s already a pre-existing mechanism to do just that. Economist Mark Blyth has spoken of, where people who want to buy government bonds, T-bills, or whatever can create an account for themselves and make their purchases there. Blyth says all that’s needed is to make this pipeline flow in the opposite direction, that if people can send money to the government, it’s also thoroughly possible to make it to where the government can send money to the people. And without an Act of Congress. So the infrastructure is there.

    Of course there was one much-deeper issue that was never discussed, and probably needs its own episode, and that’s money. Not banking per se, just money. The nature of it, its history, what was it like back then versus what it’s like now, debt and its causes, and its anathema (a jubilee), etc. I think Americans, including myself, need to be far better educated about the nature of not only currency but especially of money itself. Our currency is completely fiat, has been since 1971 when Nixon severed the tie to gold. And because our currency was (and still is) the world’s reserve currency, that means all money across the globe is fiat. Nixon’s severence, Bretton Woods, when FDR confiscated all the gold in the early 1930s, etc. However, now we’re seeing a revolt of sorts against fiat money. Due to the rise of cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, etc), coupled with the hoarding of gold by the BRICS nations, it’s clear America, as Max Keiser has often and correctly pointed out, is in a Thucydides Trap. Once the USD ceases to be the world’s reserve currency, it’s over for America at least its empire form.

    • Demetrio says:

      The minute the almighty dollar ceases to be the world’s reserve currency, all economies will collapse. What would take its place–the Chinese yuan? Bitcoin? The only reason the dollar is reserve currency is our political stability.

  5. Don Harris says:

    When do we get to vote on it?

    Right after we get together to demand, vote for and elect small donor candidates to office as those candidates will legislate to benefit ordinary citizens instead of legislating to benefit the big money interests as the current legislators do that depend on those that benefit from the current banking system to finance their campaigns.

    It is the same first step that needs to be taken on just about every issue including income inequality, the War on Habitat, health care, etc. as big money corrupting our political process is the major obstacle to taking available affordable action on all these issues.

    If you keep voting for big money candidates you will keep getting big money legislators and keep getting the same results.

    We need to demand small donor candidates and enforce that demand with our votes and demand that people like Ralph inform citizens how they can work together to make this demand by signing up to participate in One Demand ( for the 2022 elections and get it started now so that it can be effective in the 2022 primaries as the fundraising for 2022 has already begun.

    Basic democracy.

  6. Margaret Walsh says:

    good afternoon from SOLSTICE PREP ..

    The POST OFFICE should compete with PAYPAL for secure electronic money transfers ..

    Just like the mail in your mail box is protected from invasion ..

    without a Federal Warrant ..

    The privacy of our money transfers should be also protected ..

    Why should the bank know everything you do with your money?

  7. Demetrio says:

    As long as money is the exchange medium for buying/selling the necessities of life, some people will have a lot of it, other little or nothing. The socialism spouted by so-called progressives is doom to fail because of this–socialism and communism depend on the excess value that capitalism produces for their redistribution schemes. Even karlitos marx acknowledged this.

    • Bruce K. says:

      > socialism spouted by so-called progressives

      Spouted? So-called? Not hard to see where that is going. We have a socialist system now, and as it gets less socialist and more fascist by all measurements we are doing worse.

      Profit is a tax on the consumer and can either go to private opaque and selfish places where it can be used against the people or to take over the people’s government, or it can go to the government where there is a chance the people can see what it is being used for and have some input into that. Now that the government is mostly controlled by private industry we have left only small inputs to democracy. There is just no argument that a public tax voted on is superior and leads to superior results than a private tax where the value is leveraged against the people and their democratic government.

      Socialism is democracy, and looking at this last election, that explains why Republicans say they hate it so much.