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In a live Zoom recording of the Radio Hour, Jesse Singer, author of “There Are No Accidents:  The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price” joins us to discuss why the record breaking “accidental” death toll in the United States is not really an accident but predictable and preventable. Plus, Ralph and Jesse answer live listener questions.

Jessie Singer is a journalist and author whose writing appears in The Washington PostThe Atlantic, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed, The Village Voice, The Awl, New York MagazineThe Guardian, and elsewhere. Her new book is entitled There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price.


We often think of accidents as a matter of personal responsibility– “I screwed up” or “They screwed up” or “I would have done it differently.” But it’s actually a matter of risk exposure. And these class and racialized differences in accidental death demonstrate that we’re not all exposed to the same risk.

Jessie Singer, author of There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price

I think there are a wealth of solutions here, if we keep in mind this idea that people are going to make mistakes. And focusing on those mistakes is always a distraction. But we can protect people from the worst consequences of their mistakes.

Jessie Singer, author of There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price


We know what a Molotov cocktail is. And we have to start thinking about the phrase “corporate cocktail”–  which is one part greed, one part power, and one part technology. Because so many of these deaths and injuries and illnesses come from corporate power run amok.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 421 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. BP says:

    I worked in the corporate world for a long time, and I consider myself a Progressive Liberal, FDR Democrat if you will, and see that one of the biggest problems with the Left is the lack of science, economic and rational understanding. In the corporate world everything is compartmentalized … not in a bad way, but in a way to uniquely identify what a problem is, and where it falls, who is responsible for it, and how to measure the problem … i.e. defect … and what the solution is that is necessary, not necessary the best of all worlds and adding in every bell and whistle, but what will solve this particular problem in a reasonable economically way.

    It used to be called Six Sigma, and subsections were “product improvement” and “process improvement”. If we looked at our government as a service provider or a corporation in which we all have a stake, we all hold stock and pay for, and put in place specific ways to calling out failures or defects, and making people aware of them, and able to suggest or vote for alternatives I think we would get a lot more done than that constant arguing and bickering and running up against ideological boundaries … which are kind of like how accidents are being talked about here. That is, nothing gets done – everyone just sighs, shakes their head and knows nothing will be done, while the problems are never clearly and mathematically defined, or analyzed. No one is responsible if everyone is responsible.

    One thing that has never been tried, except in a very small piecemeal approach is education. There podcasts are great, but there are thousands of them, and they don’t fit together or work together in any way, in fact they are so emotionally attached that one podcast that says the same thing as another will have the two audiences as odds even though bottom line, they might agree. It’s the same with books where many of them say the same thing, in fact have almost the same title, but none of them reach a large enough audience to bring about any change. The people who need universal health care the most don’t have the money, time or in some cases the understanding to go and buy a book – even if it is a great book – about their many problems and read it – because no one else they know has read it, or buys into it. So universal health care is discussed by people who don’t really need it, and generally don’t want to take the chance that they might end up paying more for less health care than they have now.

    That’s certainly what happens when the result is some people saying they hate government programs, but don’t touch their social security or Medicare. With 100 years of this our population has grown mentally dysfunctional, so please stop yourselves from patting yourself on the back for the good work in podcasts you do when a stand alone podcast actually accomplishes very little … and you can see that by going back and looking at the comments of all these podcasts, or others – because you all have maybe unconsciously taken on the format of do-nothing to continue to exist but not really challenge or change anything.

    Time was when Ralph Nader was the primary get-things-done guy in America. Now he is trotted out to remind people of his celebrity and provide content for these two guys to have a podcast.

    • Skro35 says:

      So why do you listen, my verbose pontificating friend? What have you accomplished?

      • BP says:

        More later, but just so we’re on the same page …

        Verbose – using or expressed in more words that are needed.
        Pontificate – to express one’s opinion in a way that is annoyingly pompous or dogmatic.
        Pompous – affectedly and irritatingly grand, solemn or self-important.
        Dogmatic – Inclined to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true.
        Friend – a person whom one knows and has a bond of mutual affection.

        Instead of not-publishing, or ignoring, or engaging, you sarcastically insult and tell me to get lost.

        • Skro35 says:

          I didn’t tell you to get lost. I asked you what you have ever done to be so snarky. Surprise me.

          • BP says:

            > I asked you what you have ever done to be so snarky.

            snarky – Sharply critical, cutting, snide
            cutting – hurtful, wounding
            snide – derogatory or mocking

            I’ll cop to being critical only and a smidge mocking. A little mocking is OK when punching up; isn’t that what comedians say? The rest may be just defensiveness on your part, and on the part of your loyal defender below who thinks that “falute” is a word and there is a “g” on the end of “high-falutin”. He did spell “nadir” right, though it was a peculiar choice of word.

            > I didn’t tell you to get lost.

            For someone in the communications industry who uses language to make a very lucrative living – to not understand how your comments are received, the connotation of them, is not credible.

            > I asked you what you have ever done to be so snarky.

            I already established, critical, not snarky!

            Do I need to have a resume to be “critical”? Maybe you should have a “means test” to comment here? Can’t reasonable critical comments just stand on their own? So, your retort might have been “I don’t think your comments are relevant or reasonable” … but you did not say that, or even address anything I said – you shut me down. To your credit you did publish my comment, but maybe only to put yours out. Did I not grovel enough or show enough deference … just wait!

            My point, again, is that ever since the “Age Of Podcasts” less and less gets done, they are of almost no practical use, they are divisive and they all work against each other and lead nowhere. I think a 20 years experiment already shows that result. A show to do might be … what is the point of all this noise? And I don’t mean that this podcast itself is noise, although it is sometimes, but that the whole system just makes it noise. In 20 years it has produced nothing but noise.

            I know Ralph Nader has a very practical, pragmatic, reasonable mind, so I thought what the hell, why not attempt to make this point?

            Ralph is, or was, great at seeing and analyzing trends, and his books on government and money and rats, etc, are dead on. So … why do they have no effect, and why does no one respond to Ralph’s emails/letters, at least when he talks about them?

            And now it is my turn to be offended and get angry. I actually resent the implication that unless I have done something as world shaking or famous as Ralph, or even yourself has done … or am a rich and famous celebrity enough to slap someone on global TV, that is it just fine to ignore me and throw shade at my comment when there were plenty of other options if you were actually serious about your political leanings and desire for some kind of change in line with what Ralph has been talking about.

            What is your bleeping comments section for?

            It sounds a bit to me like you’re using Ralph to add shine to your Hollywood image, because most of what I see there has nothing to do with politics. So, I see you and your replies as being ( at least a little bit ) part of the bounding function Hollywood serves, and not as a questioning or political activism.

            I would not expect you to agree, but I would expect that you could comprehend where I am coming from, instead of an off-hand smart-ass remark. That’s my job, my function, in this little rebellious thread of mine, because when you do it – it is punching down.

            I’ve seen your IMDB credits …. you are a super-rich big-shot … and how can you pretend to be part of the Left or any political solution or critic when you do not address that? How about a warning label?

            producer – A person that initiates, coordinates, supervises and manages the creation and production of movies, television shows, web series, and commercial videos, amongst other productions.

            Steve Skrovan –

            – Everybody Loves Raymond (executive producer – 86 episodes, 2001 – 2005) (producer – 26 episodes, 1998 – 1999) (co-executive producer – 25 episodes, 2000 – 2001) (supervising producer – 24 episodes, 1999 – 2000)

            – An Unreasonable Man (Documentary) (executive producer)

            – School of Rock (TV Series) (co-executive producer – 33 episodes)

            – ‘Til Death (TV Series) (executive producer – 37 episodes, 2007 – 2010) (co-executive producer – 14 episodes, 2006 – 2007)

            And that is just a few of your amazing credits. BTW, “Everybody Loves Raymond” was hilarious.

   says you are worth about $70 million. Wow.

            So, does that earn you the right to ignore my comment and be snarky to me, and there call me snarky, as if there is no meaning or point but animosity or jealousy in what I said? ( please point out any animosity in my original comment ) Does all that Hollywood juice make you a fledgling American media oligarch?

            One thing I notice about almost all podcasts on social media is they they put these comments/forum sections here, but if you actually say anything, anything other than fawning praise, you get censured, often banned, ignored, deleted or attacked. They do nothing, and how could they? So, I occasionally try to squeeze out of band information in these channels to say something to readers that might turn a light on, because I don’t have my own TV show, Steve.

            I don’t know if you listen to your co-host David Feldman’s unique podcast, but back during the Alec Baldwin shooting he had a lot to say about Hollywood Producers.

            OK, fingers tired … here goes …

        • David Faubion says:

          Yeah, I second Steve’s motion. Why don’t you, BP, take your high faluting troll machine elsewhere? FYI, Ralph rises to the apex of our moment of crucial history whilst you sink to the nadir of trolling baloney.

  2. Peter says:

    I learn a lot here, that i try to pass on to others So there is a multiplier effect, plus the cast will be here for a while for folks to check out pass on etc

  3. Don Harris says:

    You said unless it costs the corporations more to do something than the penalty for not doing it they will keep doing it.

    You have also said that politicians want our votes more than big money.

    Since 2015 I have been trying to get you to address combining those two principles and applying them to getting the big money out of politics.

    Unless it costs the politicians more to take big money than to not take big money they will continue to do so and the institutions that are supposed to protect will continue to be controlled by the corporations.

    While citizens can raise enough to money in small contributions to fund campaigns (6-7% of 2020 voters investing 100 dollars in 2022 would total 1 billion dollars) the currency that holds the real power is in our votes.

    The way to make it more costly for politicians to take big money is to make it cost them the votes they need to get elected. If they take big money they don’t get our votes.

    Citizens can form a consumer group as consumers of the choices we have in elections or a Union for Politics demanding small donor candidates and enforcing that demand with our votes.

    This is basic democracy and the logical approach based on your statements.

    For years I have wondered why you have never been able to make the connection between what you say and what I have been trying to get you to address.

    After listening your recent program it is clear that this is not by accident.

    So what is the reason that you still have not had me on the Radio Hour to discuss this as you said you would on Washington Journal 10-24-2018?

    I don’t have a book to promote, but isn’t an idea on how to implement the principles you espouse to organize citizens to work to together to solve a major problem such as big money corrupting our political process enough to get you to listen to yourself?

    • I, for one, would be very interested in hearing what you have to say on this topic. The fact that the size of an election campaign budget can neatly determine who gets elected should have us all very worried. When candidates get millions of dollars to campaign with (along with a hidden agenda of campaigning for the interests of those from whom those millions came), the voters end up getting battered with propaganda and destructive messaging that persuades constituents to vote for someone for the wrong reasons. With fire required to fight fire, too much campaign messaging ends down at that level. Another huge disadvantage of unlimited campaign spending is many incumbents have decided that it better serves their interests to engage in campaign fund-raising activities than to do their jobs, like taking appropriate time to confirm a supreme court justice nominee, instead of cramming questioning into 13-hour days. Give each candidate the same modest amount of publicly-funded campaign money and the same access to public channels to broadcast their message and they might start to use that money more judiciously, like focusing on issues that concern their voters rather abusing their rivals and promoting big-donor agendas.

  4. Don klepack says:

    I listened to every Ralph Nader Radio hour show from the very the 1st one and this is the best produced, informative of them all. I even liked the summary at the end of the wrap-up said by the funny man David (who normally makes me very upset) and Steve’s final words about this show thanking the studio audience and how good they were when he said “There are not accidents!

  5. David Faubion says:

    Jessie Singer truly sings the song of justice with the harmony of care and empathy, and with a clarion call to urgent action. Jessie springs from the eternal diva, the avatar for our safer present and future. And she sings it with a golden, silverish Joan Baez-like voice to accompany her bright erudition.
    Verily, engineers can and must organize themselves to lead us away from this endemic of so-called accidents. By doing so, the designers will have exonerated their profession from the centuries of their slapdash ‘leap before you look’ mentality of production. Current technology is based on yesterday’s science. Technology broadly needs to wait for a new generation of science to validate its safety, sustainability, and even its efficacy over our extant stuff. By doing so, engineers will give the public and the private more trust in what we make and consume. The barrier to the designers’ unscrupulous, thorough oversight is of course the machinery of production fueled by excessive capital, absurd profits, and far too much in retained earnings as revenue. The glut of cash that gives corporations impunity to harm is at the root of this evil. Tax the filthy rich, feed the poor, house the destitute, educate the masses, and repair the sick and injured.

  6. Burton Raabe says:

    I enjoyed listening to There Are No Accidents. I worked as a welder/machinist for 30 years in a job shop, meaning we took in all kinds of maintenance and repair work. Many times a job would come in that required to be worked on until it was done, meaning staying with it straight through. Sometimes we would work 16 to 20 hours. If there was going to be a SNAFU, it would happen near the end of one of these exhausting jobs. Whenever I would hear of some disastrous accident ( Bhopal, Three mile Island, Chernobyl), I would always look to see what time of day/night it occurred. It was usually some time like 3 in the morning when workers were exhausted.
    Originally, labor asked for 8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, and 8 hours for family, leisure. I always shudder when I hear someone brag “I pulled a double shift.” Especially health care.

  7. LAM says:

    I share the view (as posted above) that society needs an organized PLAN of action as a follow-up to education. Furthermore, society needs practical (hands-on, in-the-trenches) leaders of reform. Of course, Ralph Nader is famously such a powerful, goal driven leader. Still, Ralph Nader (and his RNNH podcast guests) often have important perspectives that beg for a far wider audience. I wish that Ralph Nader (and his esteemed cohorts) would contribute more often as guests on other streaming podcasts and alternative news programs that are gaining more attention as credible news sources, especially among young people. Cross fertilizing vital information and uniting forces is the work that eventually builds ground swell support for change.