Aug 26 • 1HR 24M

Join or Die

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Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.
Episode details

Ralph welcomes civic activist, writer and filmmaker, Pete Davis, to discuss “Join or Die,” a film about why you should join a club—and why the fate of America depends on it. Then Professor Scott Sklar, an expert on sustainable infrastructure joins us to talk about one of the easiest ways we can reduce our energy consumption and slow down the pace of our overheating planet: white roofs. Plus, Ralph has some choice words about the media’s coverage of the Republican presidential campaign and also how we don't truly celebrate Labor Day. And speaking of labor, Steve gives us an update on the Writers’ and Actors’ strike.

Pete Davis is a writer and civic advocate. He is the author of Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in An Age of Infinite Browsing, co-founder of the Democracy Policy Network— a policy organization focused on raising up ideas that deepen democracy— and co-director—with Rebecca Davis— of the film Join or Die.

43% of Americans are part of zero organizations, and another 20% are only part of one organization. So we’re talking about two-thirds of the country that are not part of anything. So they don’t know how to run a meeting. They don’t know how to do an invitation. They don’t know how to deal with tension between neighbors. They don’t know how to plan something together in public.

Pete Davis

The real basic, atomic-level skills that eventually flourish into hardcore political action often start with softer civic organizing.

Pete Davis

Scott Sklar, The Stella Group, Ltd. - President - The Water Network ...

Scott Sklar is Energy Director of George Washington University’s Environment & Energy Management Institute and Director of GW’s Solar Institute. Mr. Sklar is an expert on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructure, and runs The Stella Group, Ltd., a clean energy technology optimization and strategic policy firm.

White [roofing] is preferable, but even the lightest gray or lightest brown reflects out. We need building codes to do this, we need community activists to do this, we need to train roofers and builders to do this, and we need to create a sort of social compact that [recognizes] this is very easy to do. And so with this and things like tree canopy we can reduce the heat on the ground, which will save lives, make people healthier, and use less energy.

Scott Sklar

The obvious 800-lb gorilla in the room is the contradiction, where corporations in energy arenas make more money selling waste (by the overuse of energy) and consumers save money by the efficient use of energy. So there’s a dead-on conflict between the two interests, and guess who has the most power in the country over government and media. So what Scott is saying is, the more you realize what you personally can save—quite apart from what your community and world can save— the more powerful you have to become.

Ralph Nader

In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis

1. Capping off a campaign defined by underhanded tricks and legal brute force by the corrupt right-wing establishment, Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arevalo triumphed on Sunday – winning the presidential election in a landslide, with nearly 60% of the vote. However, even with this victory in hand, the road ahead remains perilous. As renowned investigative journalist Allan Nairn noted just before the election, “Arévalo…won't be due to be sworn in until January 14, 2024, and…members [of the corrupt ruling clique known as El Pacto] have made it clear that they will do what's needed to prevent that.”

2. Ecuador also held elections on Sunday, including the first round of their presidential contest. Moving to the runoff are Luisa Gonzalez, a left-wing leader backed by Ecuador's former president Rafael Correa and Daniel Noboa, a businessman and scion of a powerful family of banana tycoons, per AP. Yet, looming larger than either candidate is the specter of political violence directed at the left. Presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated earlier this month, as was a local leftist politician, and a third survived an attempt on his life. One can only hope for a runoff free of bloodshed.

3. In that same election, the Guardian reports Ecuadorans passed a referendum to “halt the development of all new oilwells in the Yasuní national park in the Amazon, one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet.” The article goes on to state “In a second referendum, citizens in Quito also voted to block gold mining in the Chocó Andino, a sensitive highland biosphere near the capital city.”

4. The Hollywood Reporter has a new story out concerning a federal court ruling that art created by AI is not eligible for copyright protection. This tremendous victory for creative workers puts up a major roadblock for Hollywood studios who have been unsubtly hinting that they will use AI-generated work to bypass writers, actors, and more. Hopefully, this ruling will convince the studios to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a fair deal to end the entertainment industry strikes.

5. A report in The Intercept traces how Norfolk Southern successfully lobbied to weaken a rail regulation bill following the East Palestine disaster. As the author put it in a tweet: “April: Norfolk Southern sends lobbyists to Congress. May: A committee that lobbyists met with weakens the bipartisan rail safety bill. June + July: Norfolk Southern gives thousands to Republican members on that exact committee. Welcome to Washington!”

6. From Truthout: In 2021, activists in New Jersey spearheaded a push to ban ICE contracts with private prisons – and got a bill signed into law. Yet, now the Biden administration is backing a challenge to this law led by private prison megacorporation CoreCivic. Back in 2021, Biden stated unequivocally “There should be no private prisons, period, none, period…They should not exist. And we are working to close all of them.” Another promise broken.

7. Elon Musk has 153 million followers on Twitter – or as he has redubbed it, X – yet, how many of those are real? Mashable’s Matt Binder examined the data and found some startling results. “[over] 42% of Musk's followers have 0 followers on their own account, [more than] 72% have less than 10 followers, [and over] 40 percent of Musk's followers have 0 posts.” While some of these accounts could simply be inactive, this data suggests many of these accounts are bots being used to artificially inflate Musk’s follower count.

8. The Daily Beast reports that Van Jones, the former activist and CNN commentator, has been forced out of his leadership role at the nonprofit, two years after the group received a $100 million donation from Jeff Bezos. A subsidiary of, Green For All, also received a three year, $10 million grant in 2020. The article quotes “several ex-employees” who allege “The group tore through that money with little to show for it.” This story shines a light on corruption in activist spaces and gives a window into the non-profit industrial complex run amok.

9. Last year, San Francisco voters ousted progressive, reform prosecutor Chesa Boudin, in a recall brought after sustained attacks by conservatives and establishment liberals. Boudin was replaced by more traditional, ‘tough on crime’ prosecutor Brooke Jenkins. Yet, a year on and MSNBC reports that violent crime has actually increased in the Golden City compared to Boudin’s tenure. While this will come as a surprise to some, it is arguably more shocking that anyone could think going back to the old, failed model of law enforcement would yield new results. That is after all the very definition of insanity.

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 494 Transcript
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