Ralph Nader's Holiday Reading Recommendations

Published on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
by Ralph Nader

‘Tis the Holiday Season and a time congenial for reading books. Here are my
recommendations of recent books that relate to the quest for understanding
today’s events:

1. Jeno: The Power of the Peddler , (Paulucci International) is the
biography of 89-year-old multiple entrepreneur, Jeno Paulucci, of Duluth, Minnesota
and Sanford, Florida. One of a kind, this human dynamo, starting from the raw
poverty of the Iron Range, built company after company and sold them when they
became successful. Along the way, he championed labor unions for his large
companies, workers rights, sued even bigger companies, heralded the need to use
the courts, defended prisoners unlawfully imprisoned and launched many other
counter-intuitive initiatives. He just started another company before his 90th
birthday. If you want to absorb human energy, read this book!

2. The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony
Mazzocchi by Les Leopold, (Chelsea Green) is the story of whom I consider to be the
greatest labor leader of our generation. It was Mazzocchi who connected the
labor movement with environmental group and scientists specializing in
occupational diseases, with a broad humane agenda for working people so that they had a decent living standard and plenty of time for other pursuits. This World War
II combat veteran probably traveled more miles, spoke with more blue collar
workers and championed “just health care” more than any other American before
his passing from cancer in 2002.

3. Corpocracy by Robert A.G. Monks (Wiley Publishers) summarizes its main
theme on the book’s cover-”How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the
World’s Greatest Wealth Machine-and How to Get it Back.” Corporate lawyer,
venture capitalist and bold shareholder activist, Monks gives us his inside
knowledge about how corporations seized control from any adequate government
regulations and especially from their owners, their shareholders, and institutional
shareholders like mutual funds and pension trusts. This is a very readable
journey through the pits and peaks of corporate greed and power that shows the
light at the end of the tunnel.

4. Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots , by
Kevin Danaher, Shannon Biggs and Jason Mark (PoliPoint Press.) This is a
practical book about on-the-ground, successful green businesses and neighborhood
initiatives that live sustainability, not just talk it. There are also pages of
crisp interviews with practitioners and thinkers including Rocky Anderson, Mayor
of Salt Lake City and Lois Gibbs, the extraordinary organizer against toxics
regarding this emerging sub-economy that challenges greed, concentrated power
and destruction.

5. You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression
(paperback, The New Press) by Matthew Rothschild. This book by the editor of The
Progressive magazine aggregates accurate stories of the post-9/11 violations of the
civil liberties and and civil right of the American people, including veterans,
by the dictacrats in Washington, DC. Ordinary people exercising their rights
of free speech and assembly found harassment, arrest, expulsion from public
meetings, surveillance and malicious prosecution to be their rewards. Rothschild
end on a hopeful note, describing the resistance by freedom advocates and the
various individual and community ways that people are fighting back to defend
their Bill of Rights.

6. The Bank Teller and Other Essays on the Politics of Meaning , by Peter
Gabel (Acada Books.) Law Professor, Law Dean and college President, Peter Gabel
gets down to fundamentals about the “politics of meaning.” This is not a
muckraking expose but rather a relentless push on readers to examine their
isolation and alienation from one another, their neighborhood, workplace, and
community without which a functioning democracy cannot evolve.

7. The Four Freedoms Under Siege , by Marcus Raskin and Robert Spero
(Praeger/Publishers.) Raskin and Spero take off from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s
proclamation of the Four Freedoms in his annual message to Congress, January 6,
1941 and apply them to present day America. These four freedoms are the freedom
of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. It is
not a pretty picture. It can be changed, and this book contains wise words
for such liberations.

8. Medicare; Facts, Myths, Problems & Promise (in Canada!), edited by Bruce
Campbell and Greg Marchildon (James Lorimer &Company Ltd.) At last an
authoritative answer by authorities on health care in Canada and the U.S. to the
distortions, prevarications, smears and putdowns of the Canadian health care system
by the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh and other servers of their
corporate paymasters. In 39 concise chapters, 39 specialists cover the achievements of Canada’s way of guaranteeing everyone health care, how it happened, the
pressure by the corporatist lobbies and their thoughtless think tanks to undermine
Medicare piece by piece, and the future development of Medicare toward
prevention and sustainability. A tour de force for anybody fed up with the “pay or
die,” wasteful, profiteering corporate morass that blocks comparable progress in
the United States.

9. Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of The New Global Economy by John Bowe (Random House.) This book is an eye witness gripper of the conditions of the workers who harvest our fruits and vegetables and make
our garments from Florida to Oklahoma to Saipan. Laws are weak, unenforced, and
raw power takes over these defenseless workers’ lives. You’ll soon ask: where
are the police, the prosecutors, the politicians? The real question is: “Where are the people to make the required changes on behalf of humanity?”

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book
is The Seventeen Traditions.