Unsafe at Any Speed

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pages: 376 words: 118,542

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedman

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, bank run, banking crisis, Corn Laws, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, invisible hand, labour mobility, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, price stability, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rent control, road to serfdom, school vouchers, Simon Kuznets, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Ralph Nader's attack on the Corvair, the most dramatic single episode in the campaign to discredit the products of private industry, exemplifies not only the effectiveness of that campaign but also how misleading it has been. Some ten years after Nader castigated the Corvair as unsafe at any speed, one of the agencies that was set up in response to the subsequent public outcry finally got around to testing the Corvair that started the whole thing. They spent a year and a half comparing the performance of the Corvair with the performance of other comparable vehicles, and they concluded, "The 1960–63 Corvair compared favorably with the other contemporary vehicles used in the tests." 2 Nowadays Corvair fan clubs exist throughout the country. Corvairs have become collectors' items. But to most people, even the well informed, the Corvair is still "unsafe at any speed." The railroad industry and the automobile industry offer an excellent illustration of the difference between a governmentally regulated industry protected from competition and a private industry subjected to the full rigors of competition.

The question is whether the arrangements that have been recommended or adopted to meet them, to supplement the market, are well devised for that purpose, or whether, as so often happens, the cure may not be worse than the disease. This question is particularly relevant today. A movement launched less than two decades ago by a series of events—the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Senator Estes Kefauver's investigation of the drug industry, and Ralph Nader's attack on the General Motors Corvair as "unsafe at any speed"—has led to a major change in both the extent and the character of government involvement in the marketplace—in the name of protecting the consumer. From the Army Corps of Engineers in 1824 to the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 to the Federal Railroad Administration in 1966, the agencies established by the federal government to regulate or supervise economic activity varied in scope, importance, and purpose, but almost all dealt with a single industry and had well-defined powers with respect to that industry.

No new drug may now be marketed unless and until the F.D.A. determines that there is substantial evidence not only that the drug is safe, as required under the 1938 law, but that it is effective in its intended use." 10 The 1962 amendments coincided with the series of events that produced an explosion in government intervention and a change in its direction: the thalidomide tragedy, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which launched the environmental movement, and the controversy about Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed. The FDA participated in the changed role of government and became far more activist than it had ever been before. The banning of cyclamates and the threat to ban saccharin have received most public attention, but they are by no means the most important actions of the FDA. No one can disagree with the objectives of the legislation that culminated in the 1962 amendments. Of course it is desirable that the public be protected from unsafe and useless drugs.


pages: 274 words: 93,758

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B Resor Professor Of Economics Robert J Shiller

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equity premium, financial intermediation, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, loss aversion, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, wage slave

It is not the unadulterated actions of markets that bring us the cornucopia we enjoy, for that same free-market system brings ever more sophisticated manipulations and deceptions. Relative to all previous history, people in developed countries are doing remarkably well. Women in more than fifty countries, and men in eleven, have life expectancies of eighty years or more.1 Modern cars may have their problems and their recalls, but they now always have seatbelts; with rare exception cars are no longer—as Ralph Nader opined 50 years ago—“unsafe at any speed.”2 Remarkably, in February 2013 there had not been a single commercial airline fatality in the United States for four years.3 Not only did the planes themselves have a perfect record; so too did the pilots and the mechanics who keep them in the air. With such records for safety and product quality, the questions arise: Is it purely the market system that brought us this success? What is the role of our heroes?

query=TOC#t=articleTop. Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011. Mulligan, Thomas S. “Spiegel Found Not Guilty of Looting S & L.” Los Ange­ les Times, December 13, 1994. Accessed May 1, 2015. http://articles.latimes .com/1994-12-13/news/mn-8437_1_thomas-spiegel. BIBLIOGR APHY Akerlof.indb 195 195 6/19/15 10:24 AM Nader, Ralph. Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile. New York: Grossman, 1965. Nash, Nathaniel C. “Savings Institution Milked by Its Chief, Regulators Say.” New York Times, November 1, 1989. National Association of Realtors. “Code of Ethics.” Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.realtor.org/governance/governing. National Bureau of Economic Research. “U.S. Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions.”

Vishny, “The Takeover Wave of the 1980s,” Science 249, no. 4970 (1990): 745–49. Chapter Eleven: The Resistance and Its Heroes 1. For 2013. World Bank, “Life Expectancy at Birth, Male (Years)” and “Life Expectancy at Birth, Female (Years),” accessed March 29, 2015, http://data .worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.MA.IN/countries and http://data .worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.FE.IN/countries. 2. Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the Amer­ ican Automobile (New York: Grossman, 1965). 3. Jad Mouawad and Christopher Drew, “Airline Industry at Its Safest since the Dawn of the Jet Age,” New York Times, February 11, 2013, http://www .nytimes.com/2013/02/12/business/2012-was-the-safest-year-for-airlines -globally-since-1945.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. 4. US Food and Drug Administration, “About FDA: Commissioner’s Page.


pages: 249 words: 73,731

Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business by Bob Lutz

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corporate governance, currency manipulation / currency intervention, flex fuel, medical malpractice, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, shareholder value, Steve Jobs, Toyota Production System, transfer pricing, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile

Sure, some voiced concern and resentment, and best-selling books, like Vance Packard’s The Waste Makers and John Keats’s The Insolent Chariots, reflected a small but growing nucleus of concern over whether all this arrogant opulence and the ever-shorter fashion cycle were really of benefit to society. But these books were written by intellectual elitists . . . so who cared what they said? One incident that caused GM lasting harm was a 1965 book by a young lawyer and consumer advocate by the name of Ralph Nader. Unsafe at Any Speed accused the Corvair, different from other American cars with its rear-engine design, of being inherently unstable and accident-prone. Nader’s work gained huge notoriety and effectively shut down Corvair sales in the mid-1960s. Unaccustomed to being dented by a lone ideologue, GM hired investigators to delve into Nader’s personal life, seeking any salacious information that would silence him.

socialism Spielman, Joe Stempel, Bob Sticht, Paul Stronach, Franz Subaru subprime mortgages Summers, Larry Sun Yat-sen suppliers SUVs Hummer used Suzuki Tesla Motors “Total Quality Excellence,” Toyota Camry Corolla environmentally responsible reputation of Matrix Prius RAV4 recalls by Sequoia Tundra trucks full-size pickup “turn-on” products UAW (United Automobile Workers) unions Unsafe at Any Speed (Nader) value Vauxhall Insignia selling of VLEs (vehicle line executives) VMA-133 Volkswagen Phaeton Von Holzhausen, Franz Wagoner, G. Richard “Rick,” at congressional hearings electric and hybrid vehicles and GM’s bankruptcy and Lutz’s note to media and resignation of Walkuski, Mark Wallace,Tom Washington Times Waste Makers, The (Packard) Weber, Frank Welburn, Ed Whitacre, Ed Who Killed the Electric Car?

The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life by Steven E. Landsburg

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, diversified portfolio, first-price auction, German hyperinflation, Golden Gate Park, invisible hand, means of production, price discrimination, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Coase, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, statistical model, the scientific method, Unsafe at Any Speed

I remember the late 1970s and waiting half an hour to buy a tank of gasoline at a federally controlled price. Virtually all economists agreed that if the price were allowed to rise freely, people would buy less gasoline. Many noneconomists believed otherwise. The economists were right: When price controls were lifted, the lines disappeared. The economist's faith in the power of incentives serves him well, and he trusts it as a guide in unfamiliar territory. In 1965, Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed, a book calling attention to various design elements that made cars more dangerous than necessary. The federal government soon responded with a wide range of automobile safety legislation, mandating the use of seat belts, padded dashboards, collapsible steering columns, dual braking systems, and penetration-resistant windshields. Even before the regulations went into effect, any economist could have predicted one of their consequences: The number of auto accidents increased.

Bridgman, 83-85 Styrofoam, 144-145 Supermarkets, discount coupons, 161-162,165 Surrogate motherhood, 125 Swift, Jonathan, 153 T-shirts, 13, 17 Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, 166 Tariffs, 62 Taxes, 60-62 and cost-benefit analysis, 95-96 ex post facto, 151-152 who should pay, 142-143 Taxi prices, 166 Theft, cost-benefit analysis of, 97-98 Thomson, William, 58 Tipping, in restaurants, 19 Tipping busboys, 32-33 Tivoli Coffee Shop, ix Trash disposal, 144-145 Truman, Harry, 187 Unemployment statistics, 129-131 Unsafe at Any Speed, 3 Veil of ignorance, 57-58 Volunteer army, 65-66 Voting as a riddle, 11, 18 Voting procedures, 52-54 Weil, Andre', 18 Wheat prices, 164 Whiteman, Charles, 235 Will, George F., 126, 141 Winner's curse, 175, 179-180 Wonks, 44 Yakoboski, Paul, 233 Yeats, William Butler, 11


pages: 273 words: 93,419

Let them eat junk: how capitalism creates hunger and obesity by Robert Albritton

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Bretton Woods, California gold rush, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate personhood, deindustrialization, Food sovereignty, Haber-Bosch Process, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, land reform, late capitalism, means of production, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, South Sea Bubble, the built environment, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile

See Albritton (2007a) for a much fuller discussion of the importance of “commodification” to economic theory. Marx (1976: chapters 26–33). Marx (1976: 254). At the time of writing this is all too real. For example, until they faced strong international competition that forced them to change, the American auto industry was criticized for “planned obsolescence”. The poor quality of some American cars was finally exposed by books like Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed (1965). Marx (1976: 358). Read any good history of trade union organizing for many examples. Many of the welfare state gains and gains of trade unions in the 1950s and 1960s were later rolled back. For an interesting discussion of temporality and capitalism see Postone (1996). Marx (1976: Part V). The average sleep time in the United States went down 20 percent in the twentieth century, while work time is increasing, with Americans now working on average 350 hours more per year than Europeans (Worldwatch 2004: 168).

Monfort, J. (2008) “Despite obstacles, biofuels continue surge”, Worldwatch [online] <www.worldwatch.org/node/5450>. Mull, D. and Kirkhorn, S. (2005) “Child Labor in Ghana Cocoa Production”, Public Health Report Vol. 120, No. 6 [online] <www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/ anticlererder.fcgi?artid=1497785>. Murray, B. (2001) “Fast-food culture serves up super-size Americans” Monitor On Psychology, Vol. 32, No. 11, December [online] <www.apa.org/monitor/ dec01/fastfood.html>. Nader, R. (1965) Unsafe at Any Speed, New York: Grossman. Nature (2006) “Climate change reducing the productivity of phytoplankton”, November 7. Ndiaye, P. A. (2007) Nylon and Bombs: Dupont and the March of Modern America, Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins Press. Nestle, M. (2002) Food Politics, Berkeley: University of California Press. Nestle, M. (2003) Safe Food, Berkeley: University of California Press. Nestle, M. (2006) What to Eat, New York: North Point Press.


pages: 422 words: 89,770

Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges

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1960s counterculture, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, call centre, clean water, collective bargaining, Columbine, corporate governance, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, hive mind, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Lao Tzu, post scarcity, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, strikebreaker, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration

Oftentimes, I would be the lead witness. What was interesting was the novelty. The press gravitates to novelty. They achieved great things. There was collaboration. We provided the newsworthy material. They covered it. The legislation passed. Regulations were issued. Lives were saved. Other civic movements began to flower. “Ralph Nader came along and did serious journalism. That is what his early stuff was, such as Unsafe at Any Speed,” the investigative journalist David Cay Johnston told me:The big books they put out were serious, first-rate journalism. Corporate America was terrified by this. They went to school on Nader. They said, “We see how you do this. You gather material, you get people who are articulate, you hone how you present this.” And the corporations copycatted him with one big difference: they had no regard for the truth.

The hollowing out of communities and the movement of jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas that know how to put the workers in their place? There is no breaking point. And when there is no breaking point, you do not have a moral compass. The system is broken. And the consumer advocate who represented the best of our democracy, and the best of the liberal class, was broken with it. As Nader pointed out after he published Unsafe at Any Speed in 1965, it took only nine months for the Federal Government to regulate the auto industry for safety and fuel efficiency. Three years after the collapse of Bear Sterns, however, there is still no adequate financial reform. The large hedge funds and banks, from Citibank to Goldman Sachs, are using billions in taxpayer subsidies to engage once again in the speculative games that triggered the first financial crisis and will almost certainly trigger a second.


pages: 309 words: 95,495

Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe by Greg Ip

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Air France Flight 447, air freight, airport security, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, central bank independence, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, double helix, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, global supply chain, hindsight bias, Hyman Minsky, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, technology bubble, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transaction costs, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, value at risk

The complicated consequences of helmets that so vex professional sports is part of a much larger debate that has long preoccupied and divided engineers and ecologists. The federal government had begun to assert its oversight over the economy and the environment during the Progressive Era, and in the 1960s, that oversight expanded significantly, most noticeably onto the highways. The catalyst was the publication in 1965 of Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile by Ralph Nader. Nader had worked for Daniel Patrick Moynihan at the Department of Labor, and his book exposed how the auto manufacturing industry had knowingly built dangerous features into their cars, such as chrome on the dashboard that reflected sun into drivers’ eyes and hood ornaments that were unnecessarily dangerous to pedestrians.

Nader’s critique zeroed in on the Chevrolet Corvair, whose design, he said, was intrinsically unsafe and prone to oversteering. Nader might have remained an obscure activist and author of an unread book had General Motors not embarked on a campaign to challenge his credibility, hiring a private investigator to dig into his background. The result was a lot of publicity for Nader and his book. GM’s president later apologized to Nader. Unsafe at Any Speed triggered several congressional hearings and was instrumental in the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1966, which for the first time gave the federal government authority to set standards for automobile and highway safety. Among the first standards passed were rules requiring seat belts for all occupants, energy-absorbing steering columns, a padded instrument panel, and dual braking systems.


pages: 409 words: 145,128

Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City by Peter D. Norton

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clean water, Frederick Winslow Taylor, garden city movement, invisible hand, jitney, new economy, New Urbanism, Ralph Nader, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, Thorstein Veblen, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, urban renewal

Carruthers, “Automobile Accidents to Children,” Safety Engineering 49 (May 1925), 189–193 (189); “The Murderous Motor,” New Republic 47 (July 7, 1926), 189–190 (189); “The War after the War” (editorial), Detroit Free Press, August 23, 1927, 6; “The Motor More Deadly Than War,” Literary Digest 94 (August 27, 1927), 12. Notes to Chapter 1 269 14. For a brief review of the historical scholarship on auto safety in America, see introduction. Ralph Nader and Joel W. Eastman have concentrated attention on vehicle design, extending a critique of safety in the 1960s back to the 1920s; see Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile (Grossman, 1965); Eastman, Styling vs. Safety: The American Automobile Industry and the Development of Automotive Safety, 1900–1966 (University Press of America, 1984). Finding little concern for safe vehicle design in the the 1920s, they concluded that safety was not an important issue. James J. Flink is probably the leading historian of the automobile in America; he has deferred to Eastman on matters of safety.

Clark), “The White Line Isn’t Enough,” Saturday Evening Post 210 (March 26, 1938), 12–13, 32, 37, 39, 41 (12). 42. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Government Printing Office, 1975), part 2, 719. 43. In this development, Ralph Nader played the role of a latter-day J. C. Furnas, with greater long-term success. See Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile (Grossman, 1965). 44. For a study of MADD, including a brief history of its origins, see Craig Reinarman, “The Social Construction of an Alcohol Problem: The Case of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and Social Control in the 1980s,” Theory and Society 17 (Jan. 1988), 91–120. MADD was influential in the revival of roadside memorials to accident victims; see Holly Everett, “Roadside Crosses and Memorial Complexes in Texas,” Folklore 111 (April 2000), 91–103, esp. 92–93.


pages: 252 words: 72,473

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, carried interest, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Emanuel Derman, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, medical bankruptcy, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Sharpe ratio, statistical model, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor

It’s a vital crash course in why we must interrogate the systems around us and demand better.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and co-editor of Boing Boing “Many algorithms are slaves to the inequalities of power and prejudice. If you don’t want these algorithms to become your masters, read Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil to deconstruct the latest growing tyranny of an arrogant establishment.” —Ralph Nader, author of Unsafe at Any Speed “Next time you hear someone gushing uncritically about the wonders of Big Data, show them Weapons of Math Destruction. It’ll be salutary.” —Felix Salmon, Fusion “From getting a job to finding a spouse, predictive algorithms are silently shaping and controlling our destinies. Cathy O’Neil takes us on a journey of outrage and wonder, with prose that makes you feel like it’s just a conversation.


pages: 598 words: 172,137

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, anti-communist, asset allocation, banking crisis, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, business process, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, family office, full employment, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, mortgage debt, new economy, Occupy movement, Own Your Own Home, Peter Thiel, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Vanguard fund, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

With slogans calling for “Truth in Lending” and “Truth in Packaging,” consumer advocates demanded more aggressive action by federal watchdog agencies to protect the public from being unfairly exploited by unsafe products and unscrupulous lenders. Quality of life was key. People took U.S. economic growth for granted, and they wanted higher standards, better quality, and greater transparency from industry. More than any other single person, Ralph Nader put middle-class consumer activism on the political map. A public figure of no small ego, Nader knew how to work the press, the public, and politicians. His 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed, captured public attention with the charge that America’s Big Three carmakers were responsible for many automobile accidents because they were marketing cars that were mechanically and technically unsafe. Nader’s network ranged widely. His Center for the Study of Responsive Law, whose staff proudly called themselves “Nader’s Raiders,” grew from just five people in 1967 to two hundred in 1971.

JULY 1965—Congress enacts Medicare with strong bipartisan support: 65 House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans join majorities of Democrats in both chambers to pass President Johnson’s historic legislation. AUGUST 1965—Voting Rights Act is pushed through Congress by President Johnson, on the momentum of massive grassroots civil rights demonstrations. The act removes legal obstacles to the right to vote for African Americans, especially in southern states. 1965—Consumer advocate Ralph Nader publishes his searing attack on U.S. auto industry, Unsafe at Any Speed, charging automakers with marketing defective cars, and giving consumer activism new political leverage. The burgeoning consumer movement presses Congress and the White House to create new watchdog agencies and standards for truth in packaging and truth in lending. NOVEMBER 1967—Pat O’Neill, at nineteen, starts a thirty-five-year career with United Airlines as a jet airline mechanic, working the overnight “graveyard shift” at Chicago’s O’Hare field.


pages: 268 words: 112,708

Culture works: the political economy of culture by Richard Maxwell

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1960s counterculture, AltaVista, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, business process, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global village, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, intermodal, late capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, Network effects, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, structural adjustment programs, talking drums, telemarketer, the built environment, Thorstein Veblen, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban renewal, Victor Gruen, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce

See, for example, Susan Faludi, Backlash: The Undeclared War against American 105 Inger 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 106 L. Sto l e Women (New York: Doubleday, 1994), first published by Crown Publishers in 1991; Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women (New York: Doubleday, 1994), first published by William Morrow in 1991. See, for example, Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1965); Ralph Nader, ed., The Consumer and Corporate Accountability (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973). For an excellent discussion of the rise of commercial mass media, see Gerald J. Baldasty, The Commercialization of News in the Nineteenth Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992). Alex Kuczynski and Stuart Elliot, “Falloff in Ads Is Taking Toll on Magazines,” New York Times, January 8, 2001, C1.


pages: 269 words: 104,430

Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives by Catherine Lutz, Anne Lutz Fernandez

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barriers to entry, car-free, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, failed state, feminist movement, fudge factor, Gordon Gekko, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, inventory management, market design, market fundamentalism, mortgage tax deduction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, New Urbanism, oil shock, peak oil, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ride hailing / ride sharing, Thorstein Veblen, traffic fines, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, white flight, women in the workforce, working poor, Zipcar

Cars were originally introduced without seat belts, and even when they became available as options in the 1950s, they were widely suspect: back then, one older woman told us, her mother became very wary of a young man she was dating because he had seat belts installed in his coupe: “‘Why,’ she asked, ‘does he need them? Is he a crazy driver?’” Influential research done in the 1960s by Detroit doctor Clair Straith and engineer Hugh DeHaven shifted the focus by pointing out that vehicle reengineering—softening rigid dashboards, eliminating sharp buttons, and adding restraining belts—would save lives. Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed (1965), the consumer rights movement more generally, and what one historian calls “the smoldering dissatisfaction with Detroit’s marketing and design policies,” including rampant dealer fraud, “banded into a ‘perfect storm’ of regulatory reform in the early 1960s.”22 Americans thereafter would come to rely on car engineers to keep them safe; they expected scientists to make it, as crazy as it sounds, “safe to crash.”


pages: 375 words: 105,067

Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry by Helaine Olen

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asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, Cass Sunstein, Credit Default Swap, David Brooks, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, game design, greed is good, high net worth, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, London Whale, Mark Zuckerberg, mortgage debt, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vanguard fund, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, éminence grise

As for Porter’s written work, the once feisty and fearless creator of the personal finance genre was now putting her name on fuddy-duddy articles about budgeting secrets, and was more than once caught publishing corporate press releases under her own name. Her practical money management tips were no longer unique. Moreover, the nature of what we wanted from a public personal finance guru was changing, too. The consumer movement, which burst into prominence with Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, his 1965 exposé of the automobile industry, began to shove personal finance in a new direction, one that questioned the powers that be more than Porter had done in years. There was an irony here. Porter’s ever-increasing wealth and rapaciousness ultimately left her cut off, unable to connect with the concerns of all too many of us, a pattern we would see repeat with other personal finance gurus over the years.


pages: 340 words: 92,904

Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, car-free, City Beautiful movement, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, desegregation, Enrique Peñalosa, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, if you build it, they will come, intermodal, invention of the wheel, lake wobegon effect, Loma Prieta earthquake, Lyft, Masdar, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Nate Silver, oil shock, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, skinny streets, smart cities, smart grid, smart transportation, the built environment, the map is not the territory, transportation-network company, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, Wall-E, white flight, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Zipcar

It was a replay of the memorable scene in The Graduate, in which Dustin Hoffman’s character, Benjamin Braddock, receives sage advice about the future from his father’s friend in one word: “Plastics.” I was just as articulate as Benjamin. “Huh?” I replied. (I wasn’t a very smooth talker.) Was that even a field? Brian told me MIT had been studying traffic and maybe that’d suit me. I did have an interest in traffic safety after my friend’s brakes failed on his ’55 Chevy and we crashed into a tollbooth. I had read Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed. So I investigated graduate programs in the study of traffic and transportation and discovered them hidden away in the departments of civil engineering. I applied to a few schools and was accepted by MIT and the University of Pennsylvania. The choice wasn’t especially difficult: Penn offered me a full fellowship, plus a stipend of $75 a week. I promptly went out and bought a “new” 1970 Chevelle.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management

The cause was determined to be pilot error, as the pilot’s aggressive use of the rudder caused the tail of the plane to snap off, and before the aircraft hit the ground, both engines had fallen off the wing. These three incidents with their very different causes—inadequate air traffic control, faulty maintenance, and pilot error—appear to have taught airlines and aircraft manufacturers many lessons. To quote the title of Ralph Nader’s famous book, air travel was initially “unsafe at any speed” but now is safer than walking across the street. AIRLINE PRICES AND THE INITIAL PROMISE OF AIRLINE DEREGULATION In the history of the U.S. airline industry since World War II, one theme stands out. Air travel rapidly made the transition from a travel mode that was relatively dangerous and expensive to one that opened the world as an affordable destination for millions of Americans. In the words of the epigraph that opens this chapter, air travel “lifted from the human race the curse of distance.”

Regulating the Automobile. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. Cray Inc. webpage on “Company History.” www.cray.com/About/History.aspx. Cronon, William. (1991). Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York/London: W. W. Norton. Crossen, Cynthia. (2007). “Before WWI Began, Universal Health Care Seemed a Sure Thing,” Wall Street Journal, April 30, p. B1. Crossen, Cynthia. (2008). “Unsafe at Any Speed, with Any Driver, on Any Kind of Road,” Wall Street Journal, March 3, p. B1. Cutler, David M. (2006). “An International Look at the Medical Care Financing Problem,” in David Wise and Naohiro Yashiro, eds., Issues in Health Care in the U.S. and Japan. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 69–81. Cutler, David M., and McClellan, Mark. (2001). “Productivity Change in Health Care,” American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 91 (May): 281–86.


pages: 384 words: 122,874

Swindled: the dark history of food fraud, from poisoned candy to counterfeit coffee by Bee Wilson

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air freight, Corn Laws, food miles, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, new economy, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair

The symptoms of the illness were a heightened sensitivity and an abandonment of normal behaviour among otherwise happygo-lucky businesspeople; in other words, a terror in the face of the damage that consumer activists could do to the food industry.136 Plenty of manufacturers were suffering from this malaise. Ralph Nader’s main target, famously, was the automobile industry. From 1965 onwards, Nader had attacked General Motors for producing cars that were “unsafe at any speed.” Since then, his advocacy of consumer causes had widened out to include drug companies, air pollution, and foods that were unsafe in any amount. In 1970, Nader’s Study Group published The Chemical Feast, a blistering attack on the American food supply and the FDA’s failure to police it. Nader directly compared his work to that of Upton Sinclair. “We’re Still in the Jungle” was the title of an essay from 1967.


pages: 423 words: 129,831

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways by Earl Swift

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1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, big-box store, blue-collar work, Donner party, edge city, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, side project, smart transportation, traveling salesman, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, urban renewal, Victor Gruen

Many critics had judged it his finest work; the following year, it had won the National Book Award, and in 1964, Lyndon Johnson had awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. In "The American Way of Death," published in the New York Review of Books in April 1966, Mumford reprised his attack on "that religion for whose evidences of power and glory the American people, with eyes devoutly closed, are prepared to sacrifice some 59,000 lives every year, and to maim, often irreparably, some three million more." Most of the article, a review of Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed, was a diatribe against the automobile itself, which "could have made an invaluable contribution in creating a regional distribution of population" but instead accounted for some of the greatest crises facing city and countryside alike—"the nightmare of the air becoming toxic with poisonous exhausts, including the highly lethal carbon monoxide; of the water supply polluted with deadly lead from gasoline exhausts already half way to the danger point even in the Arctic wastes; the nightmare of diurnal mass commutation by car... ."


pages: 540 words: 168,921

The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby

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1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

Waiting in the wings were hundreds of experts who had been studying just how destructive the twentieth century had been to the planet that we inhabit. Environmentalists mounted one of the most successful political movements in history. In 1962 Michael Harrington in his The Other America: Poverty in the United States reminded the public that not everyone was prospering. Three years later Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed took on America’s automakers; its subtitle delivers the message: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile. Their words seemed even more prophetic with the multiple blows of an oil crisis, rising unemployment, and an inflation rate spiraling upward. A younger generation took up the causes of the degrading environment, product safety, and the persisting plight of the poor and made them their own.


pages: 639 words: 212,079

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman

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Ayatollah Khomeini, back-to-the-land, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Thomas L Friedman, Unsafe at Any Speed

You could literally hear a bulletin over Beirut radio saying: “The main crossing point between East and West Beirut was closed at 5:00 p.m. due to a gunfight between two taxi drivers. Drivers are urged to use alternative routes.” Every Beirut driver knows the radio lexicon: a road described as amina is totally secured by army or police; a road described as salika is free of snipers or kidnappers, but not policed; hatherah means the road is passable, but with a roughly 30 percent chance of kidnapping or sniping; and finally, ghair amina means the road is unsafe at any speed. Part of learning how to view one’s environment selectively is learning to make oneself numb to some of the more grotesque scenes that are part of the texture of life in Beirut. Terry Prothro, the American University psychologist, used to say that in Beirut, at least, the ability to repress things was not necessarily pathological. It could actually be quite healthy and useful for survival.


pages: 558 words: 168,179

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-communist, Bakken shale, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, centre right, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, crony capitalism, David Brooks, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, energy security, estate planning, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Gilder, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, Mont Pelerin Society, More Guns, Less Crime, Nate Silver, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school choice, school vouchers, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, the scientific method, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, War on Poverty, working poor

So in the spring of 1971, Powell, who was then sixty-three, had watched with growing agitation as student radicals, antiwar demonstrators, black power militants, and much of the liberal intellectual elite turned against what they saw as the depravity of corporate America. Powell believed American capitalism was facing a crisis. All summer long, he clipped magazine and newspaper articles documenting the political threat. He was particularly preoccupied with Ralph Nader, the young Harvard Law School graduate whom Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then assistant secretary of labor, had hired to investigate auto safety hazards. Nader’s 1965 exposé on General Motors, Unsafe at Any Speed, accused the auto industry of putting profits ahead of safety, triggering the American consumer movement and undermining Americans’ faith in business. Powell was a personal friend of General Motors’ corporate counsel and regarded this and other anticorporate developments with almost apocalyptic alarm. That summer, two months before Powell was nominated by Richard Nixon to the Supreme Court, his neighbor Eugene Sydnor Jr., a close friend and director of the U.S.