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Appears in this episode

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.
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Ralph speaks to two authors who have written books about how disease has shaped history, first journalist Vidya Krishnan, author of “Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History,” which features Dracula and Bill Gates, and then John Nichols, author of “Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis?” including Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump and Pfizer.


Vidya Krishnan is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting on medical science for the last twenty years. She has written for the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and the Caravan. Her new book is Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History.

One of the champions of the knowledge monopoly is Mr. Gates. Bill Gates, not coincidentally, made a lot of money after 1995, when the TRIPS agreement went into force. Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation bring a very technocratic approach to healthcare, as against an approach that has human rights in it. Especially when dealing with infectious diseases. Big Philanthropy in particular has– in some twisted way– raised “charity” to some high principle of justice. And we now see, with COVID technologies, they are locked in patent.

Vidya Krishnan, author of Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History

I live between the US and India and… this architecture of unfairness is so exacting. It falls very precisely on exactly the same minority communities in an extremely predictable way.

Vidya Krishnan, author of Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History

This idea of our founding fathers– or the framers of the Constitution– to entice innovation by giving the lone inventors at that time a monopoly for a few years, so they could market it and get a reward, has turned into a global monster. That is really hard to exaggerate.

Ralph Nader

This is a grotesque circle that’s going on, where you have: the government uses tax dollars to do the risky research and development for these pharmaceuticals (because the drug companies don’t want to risk their own money); and when the discoveries are made, the government gives it away to selected drug companies…; and then the drug companies use the monopoly patent cover to secure total monopoly prices, which have devastating effects killing millions of people all around the world. Literally pay or die.

Ralph Nader


John Nichols is an author, the national affairs correspondent for the Nation, a contributing writer for the Progressive and In These Times, and the associate editor of the Capital Times, a daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His latest book is entitled Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis.

The bottom line is: during the pandemic, we asked people to engage in shared sacrifice. Nurses sacrificed. Doctors sacrificed. Bus drivers sacrificed. Grocery store workers sacrificed. We had a tremendous amount of sacrifice in this country. Many people got sick and died. And yet our billionaire class in this country? They retired to their country homes or their waterfront villas; they turned on their computers; they started moving money around; and they ended up richer than they had ever been before.

John Nichols, author of Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis

I found again and again in researching the book frontline workers who recognized the danger. They recognized the threat. And yet, when they complained– either to their employers, or to government officials– they got a very limited, and sometimes neglectful response. And there’s simply no question, those limited and neglectful responses led to hundreds of thousands of deaths that were unnecessary.

John Nichols, author of Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis

[A Lancet report concluded that] 40% of the [COVID] deaths in the United States would not have occurred if the Trump administration and others in positions of power had simply followed the basic protocols that other countries followed.

John Nichols, author of Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis

The pandemic was very very good for Jeff Bezos. It was a boom time for him. But during that same time, he and his company fired whistleblowers who tried to reveal that the warehouses for Amazon were not safe. They spent millions undermining union organizing drives that were based on making those warehouses safer. And again and again and again, Jeff Bezos and Amazon put profiteering ahead of the safety of their workers.

John Nichols, author of Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers: Accountability for Those Who Caused the Crisis


Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 422 Transcript
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