Ralph Nader A Catalyst for Change

Nathra & Rose Nader

Ralph Nader was born on February 27, 1934 in Winsted, Connecticut. Naders' parents, Nathra and Rose were Lebanese immigrant who migrated to the United States to live the America Dream. Nader attended Princeton University in 1955, receiving an AB magna cum laude, then later on graduating from Harvard law school. When Ralph turned eight, Nathra (father) would take Ralph to the county courthouse to watch lawyers ague cases. This influenced his desire to become an attorney, but not just any attorney: he would represent underdogs, in keeping with the most scared principle of democracy. Nader came to prominence in 1965 with the publication of his book "Unsafe at Any Speed, a critique of the safety record of American Automobile. In Nader's career as consumer advocate he founded many organization including the Center for Study of Responsive law, Public Interest Research Group, Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Clean Water Action Project, ect. Nader and his organizations have been responsible for major federal consumer protection laws including the National Auto and Highway Traffic Safety Act, and Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. Nader's documented criticism of government and industry has been a catalyst for change, creating public awareness and challenging bureaucratic power.

The Auto Industry

In the 1960s, the auto industry focused on making safer vehicles that could meet the needs of the modern consumer according to Bryant University. In 1964, Studebaker-Packard was the first company to introduce seat belts as standard equipment on all of its vehicles. In addition to safety, car buyers of this era expected vehicles to be powerful and spacious, and fuel economy was not a major concern.

This graph shows the number of accidents, injuries, and fatality in the United States from 1948 through 2012. From the years 1964 through 1974 the rates increased dramatically. During this time, the auto industry was emphasizing safe- style over safety for the sake of profit.

Watch 7:41 through 9:41 of video

Nader in Action

In his book Unsafe at Any speed, Nader convincingly marshaled evidence that the driver can lose control of the Corvair (Chevrolet) even when it was moving slow, thus making it "unsafe at any speed." Nader painted a grim picture of motor vehicle injuries and fatalities, nothing that 47,700 people were killed in auto accidents in 1964. He made an eloquent appeal for federal car- safety standards that would precent accidents from occurring and better protect passengers in an event of an accident. The book also communicated a philosophy regarding public regulations of technology that would cause him to battle on many other issues. Nader stated " A great problem of contemporary life, is how to control the power of economic interests which ignore the harmful effects of their science and technology." Nader devoted his life to solving this problem.

The Advocate

Nader testify before the senate which set motion in Congressional action on auto safety, and in September 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety ACt. This law created the National Highway Traffic for automobiles and is authorized to impose recalls for unsafe vehicles. In 1967, in a throwback to Upton Sinclair, Nader also initiated a campaign that led to the passage of 1967 Wholesome Meat Act, which imposed standard on slaughterhouses. However, in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan disclaimed many of the government regulations that Nader helped establish. Even though this set Nader back, he continued his crusades to lower car- insurance rates in California, expose the dangers of chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer and prevent limitations on consumer lawsuit rewards.

Nader's Raiders

In the late 1960s and mid-1970s, Ralph Nader mobilized college students to form Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), which aided his investigations in public policy and effective government regulation. His professional associates, sometimes referred to derisively as "Nader's Raiders," published reports on a wide range of subjects, including baby food, insecticides, mercury poisoning and coal-mine safety. Nader also founded the Center for Responsive Law in 1968 and Public Citizen Inc. in 1971. Idealistic and modest, he became known among his associates for his Spartan personal habits and long working hours.

Nader's Work Ethic

Ralph Nader's notion of "ideas of emotion" both reflected and reinforces personal tendencies, making him a " self- styled ascetic workaholic." Nader has created many organizations that have shaped our economy and society.

Overall, Ralph Nader has played many leadership roles in making our world better. Not only has Ralph Nader saved countless lives, he has helped drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water, and work in safer environments for more than four decades.

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