Entries

West's Encyclopedia of American Law UXL Encyclopedia of World BiographyEncyclopedia of World BiographyInternational Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences Further reading

NON JS

Nader, Ralph

NADER, RALPH

Considered the father of the consumer protection movement, Ralph Nader has had a great effect on U.S. law and public policy of the late twentieth century. Nader's advocacy on behalf of consumers and workers hastened into reality many features of the contemporary political landscape. The work of this lawyer and irrepressible gadfly of the powers that be, which began in the mid-1960s, has led to the passage of numerous consumer-protection laws in such areas as automobiles, mining, insurance, gas pipelines, and meatpacking, as well as the creation of government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the environmental protection agency, and the consumer product safety commission. Nader himself has founded many well-known consumer advocacy groups, including the Public Interest Research Group, the Clean Water Action Project, the Center for Auto Safety, and the Project on Corporate Responsibility. His goal in these efforts, he has said, is "nothing less than the qualitative reform of the industrial revolution."

Nader was born February 27, 1934, in Winsted, Connecticut, to Nadra Nader and Rose Bouziane Nader, Lebanese immigrants who owned and operated a restaurant and bakery. He is the youngest of five children. He attended the Gilbert School and Princeton University on scholarships. At Princeton, he entered the woodrow wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1955. During an era of conformity, his challenges to school authorities and procedures at Princeton made him stand out. At one point, he protested the use of the poisonous insecticide dichlorodipehnyl-trichloroethane (DDT) on campus trees.

"The most important office in America for anyone to achieve is full-time citizen."
—Ralph Nader

After Princeton, Nader attended Harvard Law School, where he edited the Harvard Law Record, and graduated with distinction in 1958.

It was at Harvard that he first became interested in auto safety. After studying auto-injury cases, in 1958 he published his first article on the subject, "American Cars: Designed for Death," in the Harvard Law Record. It contained a thesis that he would bring to national attention in the mid-1960s: Auto fatalities result not just from driver error, as the auto industry had maintained, but also from poor vehicle design. Nader followed his law degree with six months of service in the Army and then a period of personal travel through Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Upon his return, he established a private law practice in Hartford, Connecticut created an informal legal aid society, and lectured from 1961 to 1963 at the University of Hartford.

Having worked at the local level for auto-safety regulations in the years subsequent to his graduation from Harvard, Nader decided to go to Washington, D.C., in 1964, where he hoped to have more influence. Through his friendship with Daniel P. Moynihan, who then was serving as assistant secretary of labor, Nader worked as a consultant at the department of labor and wrote a study that called for federal responsibility over auto safety.

Nader left the Department of Labor in May 1965 and devoted himself to completing what would become his most celebrated book, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile. The book was published later that year and quickly became a best-seller. In it, Nader painted a grim picture of motor vehicle injuries and fatalities, noting that 47,700 people were killed in auto accidents in 1964. He made an eloquent appeal for federal car-safety standards that would both prevent accidents from occurring and better protect passengers in the event of an accident. The book also communicated a philosophy regarding public regulation of technology that would cause him to do battle on many other issues. "A great problem of contemporary life," he wrote, "is how to control the power of economic interests which ignore the harmful effects of their applied science and technology." Nader has devoted his life to solving this problem.

Taking some of his inspiration from the civil rights movement, Nader stood up to the

most powerful companies in the world. His book targeted the safety problems of the Chevrolet Corvair, a product of the world's largest company, General Motors (GM). He convincingly marshaled evidence that the driver could lose control of the Corvair even when it was moving slowly, thus making it "unsafe at any speed." The Goliath GM did not take kindly to the stones thrown by this David, and the company began a campaign of harassment and intimidation that was intended to abort Nader's efforts. Subsequent congressional committee hearings in 1966 revealed that GM's campaign against Nader had involved harassing phone calls and attempts to lure Nader into compromising situations with women. The company formally apologized before Congress for these tactics.

Many politicians in Washington, D.C., and many Americans were receptive to Nader's ideas. In 1966, in his State of the Union address, President lyndon b. johnson called for a national highway safety act. Later that year, Congress passed the Highway Safety Act (80 Stat. 731 [23 U.S.C.A. § 401 note]) and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (80 Stat. 718 [15 U.S.C.A. § 1381 note]). The latter created a new government body, later named the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, that oversaw the creation of federal safety standards for automobiles and was also empowered to authorize recalls of unsafe vehicles. In subsequent years, these laws and others for which Nader had advocated helped to bring about a marked decrease in traffic fatalities per vehicle mile. As the Washington Post exclaimed, on August 30, 1966, "[A] one-man lobby for the public prevailed over the nation's most powerful industry."

Nader's first work in the area of auto safety remains his most famous consumer advocacy. However, he has remained a tireless proponent of consumers' and workers' rights on many different fronts. Shortly after his triumph with auto regulation, Nader initiated a publicity campaign that helped to pass the Wholesome Meat Act, 81 Stat. 584, 19 U.S.C.A. 1306 (1967), which established stricter federal guidelines for meatpacking plants. By the late 1960s, he began to mobilize college students who joined him in his investigations of public policy and the effectiveness of government regulations. These young forces came to be called "Nader's Raiders," and many of them eventually rose to positions of influence in the government and in public policy organizations. By the mid-1970s, the various groups that Nader had created, including Public Interest Research Groups in many states, were doing research and financing legal action in relation to myriad public policy issues, including tax reform, consumer-product safety, and corporate responsibility.

During Ronald Reagan's presidency in the 1980s, Nader's influence in Washington, D.C., declined, particularly as the Reagan administration dismantled much of the government regulation that Nader had helped to establish. He did not give up his cause, however. In the late 1980s, he was again in the media spotlight, this time through his attempts to lower car-insurance rates in California and to block a proposed congressional pay increase. During the 1980s and 1990s, he also addressed the savings-and-loan bailout problem, well before it became high on the nation's agenda; opposed the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which damage the ozone layer; and worked to prevent limitations on damages that consumers may receive from corporations through civil lawsuits.

Nader has run for president three times, including the 1992, 1996, and 2000 elections. In 1992, he entered the race as a write-in candidate. Four years later, he was nominated as a candidate by the green party, which has its strongest support in California. With political activist Winona LaDuke as his running mate, he ran a no-frills campaign, accepting no taxpayer money, eschewing advertising, and often traveling alone. He earned 684,902 votes that year, including two percent of the votes in California.

Nader ran again in the 2000 election. He raised more than $8 million for the campaign, some $30 million less than reform party candidate pat buchanan. Running again with LaDuke, Nader finished third in the election, with 2,882,955 votes, while Buchanan finished with 448,895. Several supporters have urged Nader to run again in the 2004 election.

Nader has written and edited dozens of books during his career, including Crashing the Party, which details his run during the 2000 presidential election. Other books include The Consumer and Corporate Accountability (1973), Corporate Power in America (1973), Working on the System: A Comprehensive Manual for Citizen Access to Federal Agencies (1974), Government Regulation: What Kind of Reform? (1976), The Big Boys: Power and Position in American Business (1986), and Collision Course: The Truthabout Airline Safety (1994). He also has founded or helped to found a number of consumer and other advocacy organizations.

further readings

Herrnson, Paul S., and John C. Green, eds. 1998. Multiparty Politics in America. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Little-field.

Martin, Justin. 2002. Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus.

Nader, Ralph. 2002. Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press.

——. 2000. The Ralph Nader Reader. New York: Seven Stories Press.

——. 1972. Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile. Rev. ed. New York: Grossman.

Nader, Ralph, and Wesley J. Smith. 1996. No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America. New York: Random House.

cross-references

Green Party.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nader, Ralph." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Nader, Ralph." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3437703021.html

"Nader, Ralph." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3437703021.html

Nader, Ralph

Ralph Nader

Born: February 27, 1934
Winsted, Connecticut

American activist, social crusader, and lawyer

American social crusader and lawyer Ralph Nader became a symbol of the public's concern over the business practices of large corporations. He inspired investigations that were meant to improve the operations of industries and government bureaus. He also ran for president and tried to bring about changes in the elective process to provide voters with more choices.

Dinner table discussions

Ralph Nader was born on February 27, 1934, in Winsted, Connecticut, the youngest of four children of Nadra and Rose (Bouziane) Nader, Lebanese immigrants who operated a local restaurant and bakery. His parents led the family in political discussions every night around the dinner table. His father was against any kind of injustice and insisted that every person had an obligation to try to make the world a better place.

Nader was interested in the law at an early age; he loved reading copies of the Congressional Record (printed speeches of members of Congress) that his high-school principal gave him. He graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1955 and then went to Harvard Law School, receiving his degree in 1958. His role as an activist began developing during college. While at Princeton he attempted, but failed, to stop the spraying of campus trees with a pesticide (spray to kill insects) called DDT. He considered pesticides to be dangerous and harmful to the environment. Nader served briefly in the U.S. Army, traveled, then opened a law office in Hartford, Connecticut. He also lectured in history and government at the University of Hartford.

Auto safety watchdog

Nader was one among many concerned about safety in auto design. While still at Harvard, he had studied auto injury cases and came to believe that design flaws, rather than driver mistakes, were responsible for the large numbers of car accidents. He testified on the subject before state legislative committees and wrote articles for magazines. In 1964 Nader was appointed a consultant (a person who provides professional advice or services) to the Department of Labor and began to study auto safety in depth. He also worked with the Government Operations Subcommittee headed by Senator Abraham A. Ribicoff (19101998), providing it with data on auto accidents. In 1965 he left the department to prepare a book on the subject.

Nader's book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile (1965) appeared while Ribicoff's committee was holding hearings on the subject of auto safety. Nader, after testifying before the committee, became a target of auto manufacturers then dealing with lawsuits by victims of auto accidents who blamed it on bad car designs. Although new safety laws would have eventually been established, the issue attracted public interest after Nader revealed that he had been personally harassed and his private life investigated by detectives working for General Motors. The admission in March 1966 by General Motors president James M. Roche that his firm had indeed had Nader investigated received national television coverage and made Nader a public figure. These events helped speed up the process of establishing new auto safety laws. In 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed. Nader's book became a best-seller and a factor in the new safety legislation becoming law in September. He broadened his investigations of the auto industry and the National Traffic Safety Agency, which was responsible for enforcing the new law. In November he sued General Motors for $26 million for invasion of privacy.

Birth of "Nader's Raiders"

Nader then began a series of studies in various fields aimed at improving responsible industrial production. These included safety in mines and control of oil and gas pipes that were dangerous to people and the environment. Nader also worked on behalf of what became the 1967 Wholesome Meat Act. By being careful with his money, working efficiently, and using his income from book sales, article writing, and lectures, Nader attracted over a hundred young peoplesoon known as "Nader's Raiders"from law schools and elsewhere. They helped him gather data about industries and government bureaus. In 1969 he founded his Center for the Study of Responsive Law (an organization that conducts research and publishes reports about consumer issues). In August 1970 Nader was awarded $425,000 from his lawsuit against General Motors, funds he promptly put into his crusade.

From the late 1970s through the early 1990s, Nader's public image faded from his Unsafe at Any Speed days. By 1988, however, he campaigned successfully to reduce California car-insurance rates and used public opinion to help block a proposed 50-percent pay hike for members of Congress. He gained notoriety in 1990 when a Forbes magazine story accused him of working together with trial lawyers for supporting Americans' right to sue. The criticism failed to stop him from looking into other issues; he soon turned his attention to investigating safety flaws in the airline industry. But his book on the subject, Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety, with Wesley J. Smith (1949), was criticized by some for its questionable use of data.

Presidential campaigns

After failing to stop the North American Free Trade Agreement (1993; an agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States to reduce tariffs and eliminate other barriers to trade), Nader was nominated as the 1996 Green Party (a political party that focuses mainly on ecological and environmental issues) candidate for president, winning some support in popular polls. Nader himself summed up his philosophy this way: "You've got to keep the pressure on, even if you lose." In 1997 Nader again teamed with Wesley J. Smith to write No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America. The book explored the business of law in which, the authors suggested, profit is more important than justice. In 1988 Nader launched Commercial Alert, an organization that fights against harmful and excessive advertising and marketing.

In June 2000 Nader again accepted the presidential nomination of the Green Party. He promised to run a campaign that focused on policies to address the gap between the rich and the poor, improve health insurance for all Americans, and challenge corporations to end practices that waste the country's resources and harm the environment. He argued that since he could see no real difference between George W. Bush (1946) and Al Gore (1948), the Republican and Democratic candidates, the two-party system did not give voters enough choice. Nader wound up with only 3 percent of the vote, but in one of the closest elections ever, Democrats criticized him for taking votes away from Gore and causing Bush to win key states and, therefore, the election. Nader shrugged off the criticism and went back to work to strengthen the Green Party and prepare for the next round of elections.

For More Information

Bowen, Nancy. Ralph Nader: Man with a Mission. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books, 2002.

Graham, Kevin. Ralph Nader: Battling for Democracy. Denver: Windom, 2000.

Nader, Ralph. Crashing the Party. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2002.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nader, Ralph." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Nader, Ralph." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3437500569.html

"Nader, Ralph." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3437500569.html

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader

The American social crusader and lawyer Ralph Nader (born 1934) became a symbol of the public's concern over corporate ethics and consumer interests. He inspired investigations that were intended to improve the operations of industries and government bureaus.

Ralph Nader was born on February 27, 1934, in Winsted, Connecticut, to Lebanese immigrants. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1955 and then went to Harvard Law School, receiving his degree in 1958. Nader served briefly in the U.S. Army, traveled, then opened a law office in Hartford, Connecticut. He also lectured in history and government at the University of Hartford.

Nader was one among many concerned for safety in auto design, but most writers and members of safety and auto associations saw the problem as one in engineering and individual preference in a consumers' market. Nader, while still at Harvard, had studied auto injury cases and was persuaded that faulty design, rather than driver incompetence, was responsible for the staggering accident statistics. He testified before state legislative committees on the subject and wrote articles for magazines.

In 1964 Nader was appointed a consultant to the Department of Labor and undertook to study auto safety in depth. He also worked with Senator Abraham A. Ribicoff's Government Operations Subcommittee, providing it with data on auto accidents. In 1965 he left the department to prepare a book on the subject.

Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile (1965) appeared while Ribicoff's committee was holding hearings on the subject. Nader, a tall, attractive figure, testifying before the committee, became a target of auto manufacturers then coping with lawsuits by victims of auto accidents who were charging faulty car design. Although new safety laws were inevitable, their character was given new facets by Nader's revelations that he had been personally harassed and his private life investigated by detectives. The admission in March 1966 by General Motors president James M. Roche that his firm had indeed had Nader under surveillance received national television coverage and made Nader a public figure. Unsafe at Any Speed became a best seller and a factor in the legislation which in September became law.

Nader enlarged his investigations of the auto industry and the National Traffic Safety Agency, which was responsible for administering the new law. In November he sued General Motors for $26 million, alleging invasion of privacy. He also began a series of studies in various fields intended to upgrade responsible industrial production and human relations. These included safety in mines, control of oil and gas pipes dangerous to people and the environment, and justice for Native Americans. One cause which harked back to Upton Sinclair's 1905-1906 crusade was Nader's activity in behalf of what became the 1967 Wholesome Meat Act.

Living austerely, working with swiftness and economy, and supplementing with foundation grants his income from royalties, article writing, and lectures, Nader attracted over a hundred young people—soon known as "Nader's Raiders"—from law schools and elsewhere. They helped him gather data about industries and government bureaus. In 1969 he organized his Center for the Study of Responsive Law. Its work resulted in such publications as "The Nader Report" on the Federal Trade Commission (1969) and The Interstate Commerce Commission [sic]: The Public Interest and the ICC (1970), with more publications promised in all social fields. In August 1970 Nader was once more in the headlines, having been awarded $425,000 from General Motors, funds promptly put into his expanded crusade.

From the late 1970s through the early 1990s, Nader's public image faded from his Unsafe at Any Speed heyday. But by 1988, he successfully campaigned to roll back California car insurance rates, then ignited public opinion to block a proposed 50 percent pay hike for members of Congress.

He gained notoriety in 1990 when a Forbes magazine story accused him of working together with trial lawyers for supporting Americans' right to sue. The criticism didn't deter him from other investigations, including safety flaws in the airline industry because of financial instability following deregulation. But his book, Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety, with Wesley J. Smith, was panned by some for questionable use of statistics.

After failing to stop the North American Free Trade Agreement (1993), he was nominated as 1996 Green Party candidate for President, winning some support in popular polls. Nader himself had summed up his philosophy: "You've got to keep the pressure on, even if you lose. The essence of the citizens' movement is persistence."

Nader and his coworkers were patently in the Progressive tradition. However, their precise relation to public wants and preferences remained controversial. His critics held that he sought to impose his own standards of production rather than to help determine public interest. Nevertheless, he appeared to the public as a dedicated and valuable citizen whose full achievement was yet to be determined.

Further Reading

Nader and his crusades are treated in G.S. McClellan, ed., The Consuming Public (1968); G. De Bell, ed., The Voter's Guide to Environmental Politics (1970); J.G. Mitchell and C.L. Stallings, ed., Ecotactics (1970), with an introduction by Nader; J. Ridgeway, The Politics of Ecology (1970); A. A. Aaker and G. S. Day, eds., Consumerism (1971); and L. J. White, The Automobile Industry since 1945 (1971). Articles on Nader have appeared in the Ann Arbor News (March 31, 1996); the Nation (January 8, 1996); Business Week (March 6, 1989); and Fortune (May 22, 1989). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ralph Nader." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ralph Nader." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404704680.html

"Ralph Nader." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404704680.html

Nader, Ralph

Nader, Ralph 1934

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ralph Nader has been one of the most important and enduring figures of the American Left since his emergence on the national stage in 1965 with the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed. In this work, Nader argued that the American automobile industry paid insufficient attention to safety. The book sparked public outrage and congressional action, including the creation in 1966 of the National Highway Safety Bureau (now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and passage of many car safety regulations. Perhaps more enduringly, Nader persuaded the public to give more weight to safety concerns when purchasing cars. With his far-reaching advocacy work over the decades, Nader has firmly established his place in the radical American tradition as a critic of the concentration of corporate power. Nader views corporate power as a threat to consumer rights and health, the environment, government integrity, and, most importantly, a well-functioning democracy.

The son of immigrant parents from Lebanon who owned a modest restaurant in a small Connecticut town, Nader earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and a law degree at Harvard. His years after law school were spent traveling, dabbling in journalism, and practicing law in Connecticut. He relocated to Washington, D.C., when his work on auto safety caught the attention of policymakers, and he quickly established himself as the most effective policy entrepreneur of his generation.

The 1966 to 1976 period marks the height of Naders influence in American politics. With an innate talent for conducting exhaustive policy research, generating public attention, and manipulating the press, Naders advocacy pushed such legislation as the Wholesale Meat Act, the Wholesale Poultry Products Act, the National Gas Pipeline Safety Act, and the Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act through to passage in the late 1960s. His stature in Washington grew to such proportions that Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern invited Nader to consider joining his ticket in the 1972 election.

Building on his successes and public acclaim, Nader established a consumer advocacy group in Washington, the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, in 1968. Staff lawyers, publicists, and grassroots activists, dubbed Naders Raiders for their proclivity to challenge the Washington and corporate establishment, investigated patronage practices at the Federal Trade Commission, special interest pressure in Congress, and the safety of the nuclear power industry, among other issues. Over the years, Nader would create a long list of not-for-profit advocacy groups, including the Public Interest Research Group, Public Citizen, and Democracy Rising.

Naders career, however, has been marred by his inability to accept compromise as the price of democratic politics. His intransigence derailed the effort to create a federal department of consumer affairs. He also turned against many of his protégés who served in the Jimmy Carter administration (1977-1981) because, in Naders view, they were too quick to compromise on matters of corporate regulation. Nader lost battles, allies, and influence as a consequence of his ideological purity.

By 1980 a concerted effort by American business to counter Naders consumer rights movement by increasing corporate lobbying paid off. Conservative Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) won election as president, and Congress and the country moved in a more conservative direction. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Nader and his allies fought to hold the advances in regulatory policy that they had made in the 1960s and 1970s.

Locked out of the newly conservative Washington establishment, Nader traveled and lectured throughout the country, seeding small citizen projects at the state and local level. Unhappy with the centrism of the Bill Clinton Democrats in the 1990s, Nader ran for U.S. president four times: in 1992 as a write-in candidate for the Democratic nomination in the early primary states; in 1996 as the Green Party nominee; in 2000 as the candidate of the Association of State Green Parties; and in 2004 as an independent candidate. Nader argued that both major parties were beholden to corporations, and he promised to enact campaign finance reform, limit free trade agreements, and extend government regulation of the environment and the economy. In all of his runs, Nader would win no more than 3 percent of the popular vote (in 2000).

The move into electoral politics embittered many former Naders Raiders, who thought that Naders run for the presidency jeopardized the Democratic Partys chances. In 2000 these critics were proved right when Nader siphoned likely voters for the Democratic nominee, giving Republican candidate George W. Bush a narrow margin of victory in the state of Florida, a victory that provided Bush with enough electoral votes to win the presidency.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Martin, Justin. 2002. Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon. Cambridge, MA: Perseus.

Nader, Ralph. 1965. Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile. New York: Grossman. Expanded ed., 1972.

Nader, Ralph. 2002. Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender. New York: St. Martins.

Richard M. Flanagan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nader, Ralph." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Nader, Ralph." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045301671.html

"Nader, Ralph." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045301671.html

Nader, Ralph

Ralph Nader (nā´dər), 1934–, U.S. consumer advocate and political reformer, b. Winsted, Conn. Admitted to the bar in 1958, he practiced law in Connecticut and was a lecturer (1961–63) in history and government at the Univ. of Hartford. In 1965, Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed, a best-selling indictment of the auto industry and its poor safety standards. Largely through his influence, the U.S. Congress passed (1966) a stringent auto safety act. Nader founded (1969) the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, which exposed both corporate irresponsibility and the federal government's failure to enforce regulation of business. He later founded the Center for Auto Safety (with Consumers' Union), Public Citizen, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an umbrella for many other such groups. Briefly a presidential candidate in 1992, Nader since has run as the Green party's candidate in 1996 and 2000 and as an independent in 2004 (endorsed by the Reform party but not the Green party) and 2008. In recent years he has been a severe critic of the power of multinational corporations, as in his books The Good Fight (2004) and In Pursuit of Justice (2004), and also has focused on shareholder rights and corporate management.

See speeches and writings collected in The Ralph Nader Reader (2000); biographies by R. F. Buckhorn (1972), C. McCarry (1972), and P. C. Marcello (2004).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nader, Ralph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Nader, Ralph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Nader-Ra.html

"Nader, Ralph." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Nader-Ra.html

Nader, Ralph

NADER, RALPH


By the 1960s Ralph Nader (1934), a lawyer and social crusader, had become a symbol of the public's concern about corporate honesty and consumer safety. Largely beginning with the publication of his first book in 1965, Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed In Dangers of the American Automobile, Nader started to aggressively attack the design problems of consumer products. His documentation linked faulty car designs to a staggering number of automobile accidents and legislation was enacted to protect consumers. This inspired Nader to continue his investigations and efforts at legislation, which eventually led to increased safety standards in mines, federal regulations to control environmentally hazardous oil and gas pipes, and a more intense regulation of meat quality.

Ralph Nader was born in 1934 in Winsted, Connecticut, the son of immigrant Lebanese parents. He graduated with highest honors from Princeton University in 1955, and then went to Harvard Law School, where he received his degree in 1958. After briefly serving in the U.S. Army, and following a period of personal travel, Nader opened a law office in Hartford, Connecticut. There he also joined the University of Hartford faculty, teaching history and government while pursuing his law practice.


Nader became intensely interested in defective auto design largely through his law practice, where he dealt with auto injury cases. He became convinced that it was generally faulty design of automobiles, rather than driver incompetence, that led to the majority of automobile accidents. Certain that he had convincing statistics on his side, Nader began testifying before state legislative committees, and he frequently wrote magazine articles on the subject.

In 1964, when Nader was appointed as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Labor, he undertook a major study of automobile safety. Having all the data he needed, he left the Department of Labor in 1965 to write his first book, Unsafe At Any Speed. In March 1966, General Motors president James Roche admitted that his firm had Nader under surveillance in an effort to smear Nader with possible scandal. The admission received national television coverage and Nader became a public figure. Nader's book went on to become a national bestseller and prompted legislation proposals to regulate car safety, which ultimately became federal law in September 1965.

The mood of the country during the mid-1960s was dominated by progressive ideas and politics, and it was not long after the publication of his first book that Ralph Nader came to be known as the country's leading consumer advocate. Nader had made it his life's work to defend the public's well being. His relationship to business was often adversarial and critical. He often condemned businesses as overly profit-motivated and lacking in real concern for the safety of the consumer.

Nader's industry studies, including the coal mining, meat, poultry, and natural gas industries, all resulted in stricter health and safety laws. Nader also investigated hazards in the pesticide industry and alerted the public to the dangers of food additives, radiation from color television sets, and the excessive use of x-rays.

In 1996 Nader ran for the U.S. presidency as the Green Party candidate, winning support in popular polls. While running for president, Nader often summarized his philosophy, insisting: "You've got to keep the pressure on, even if you lose. The essence of the citizen's movement is persistence!" Nader was not elected president, and he continued to work for the consumer in the Progressive tradition. Though he remained a controversial figure, generally disliked by business, he was trusted by many consumers, and he persisted in his work for consumer advocacy and corporate accountability.


FURTHER READING

Buckhorn, Robert F. Nader: The People's Lawyer. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972.

Burt, Dan M. Abuse of Treat: A Report on Ralph Nader's Network. Chicago: Regency Gateway, 1982.

Griffin, Kelley. Ralph Nader Presents More Action for a Change. New York: Dembner Books, 1987.

McCarey, Charles. Citizen Nader. New York: Saturday Review Press, 1972.

Turner, James S. The Chemical Feast: The Ralph Nader Study Group Report on Food Protection and the Food and Drug Administration. New York: Grossman Publishing, 1970.

you've got to keep the pressure on, even if you lose. the essence of the citizen's movement is persistence!

ralph nader

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nader, Ralph." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. 2000. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Nader, Ralph." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. 2000. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3406400614.html

"Nader, Ralph." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. 2000. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3406400614.html

Nader, Ralph

Nader, Ralph (1934– ) US consumer affairs activist and lobbyist. His book Unsafe at any Speed (1965) revealed blatant compromise of passenger safety for the sake of costs in the US automobile industry. He subsequently examined issues concerned with mining, nuclear power, meat processing, and airlines. As the Green Party candidate in the 2000 US presidential elections, Nader gained 4% of the vote.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Nader, Ralph." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Nader, Ralph." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-NaderRalph.html

"Nader, Ralph." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved June 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-NaderRalph.html

Facts and information from other sites