Reviewed by Laura Isaacman
Who is Ralph Nader? For many of us, he seemed to come out of nowhere in the 2000 election, causing him to be unjustly criticized for taking away votes from the Democratic party, thereby allowing George W. Bush to win the election. But anyone who’s seen An Unreasonable Man knows that Nader has been heavily involved in politics since the 1960s. Nader is responsible for forcing car companies to install seat belts, airbags, and other safety measures. We also have him to thank for the existence of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Consumer Product Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and many other safety measures that we take for granted today. He has been fighting for the American public for over five decades, and if anyone is qualified to be President of the United States, it’s him.
Nader’s newest book, The Seventeen Solutions, is brilliantly researched, accessible, and should be read by every American who wants to be educated about the current issues of the 2012 election. It highlights the nation’s endless maladies and provides very sensible solutions—none of which are being discussed by the Presidential Candidates nor covered by the negligent mainstream media. Third party candidates, of course, debate these topics, but most of us don’t hear these debates unless we seek them from independent news sources. The Presidential Debates are run by a private firm, supported by large corporations, and therefore contractually exclude third party candidates, leaving many Americans to believe that they can choose from one of two candidates. But, as Nader has said, by choosing the lesser of two evils, you still end up with evil.
In The Seventeen Solutions Nader points out that in America we are facing some of the most devastating realities: high unemployment, a gargantuan deficit, steadily rising poverty, a deteriorating educational system, a crumbling infrastructure, and two wars that have bled our treasury dry. These problems, Nader says, stem from “the twin forces of militarism and commercialism,” which have “distracted money and effort away from civic and community values.” The Seventeen Solutions details how the American government is mismanaged to the point of wasting—literally— hundreds of billions of dollars each year. From our un-auditable and mismanaged Department of Defense (“such as the air force buying billions of dollars’ worth of spare parts when it has identical parts sitting in its own warehouses.”) to the manipulation of tax codes (“Twelve major corporations—including GE, Verizon, Honeywell, and Boeing—made a total is $171 billion in U.S. profits from 2008-2010—and paid zero federal income tax, even while receiving a total of $2.5 billion in benefits from Uncle Sam), America is wasting billions. Fifty five percent of our federal operational budget is devoted to military spending. Considering these facts, it seems logical when Nader says, “ending the Afghan and Iraq wars, putting a stop to corporate welfare, and closing corporate tax loopholes will provide more than enough public savings to rebuild our country’s crumbling public works,” which would, in turn, create the thousands of jobs across the board.
Nader believes that reform requires involvement at the grassroots level. Congress “allows such violations of the Constitution, of statues of international treaties, and of procedural due process,” it is “betraying the republic it purports to serve.” Therefore, since we can’t rely on the political system, it is up to the people to tackle the obstacles before us. Nader urges us to speak out within our communities, to join the hundreds of activist groups that already exist, and to wisely use our “one remaining direct voice in our government—our vote.”
As political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell says, “If you want to pull the major party that is closest to what you’re thinking, to what you’re thinking, you must show them that you’re capable of not voting for them.” But with the failed traction of the Occupy movement and the narrow-minded thinking that sees only two candidates running for the 2012 Presidential election, Americans are going to need a lot more than Hope to solve our current crisis; they’re going to need to educate themselves, and they should start by reading The Seventeen Solutions.
Post review fun facts from The Seventeen Solutions:
“From 2008 to 2010, GE made $7.722 billion in profit in the United States, paid no federal income tax, and got $4.737 billion back from the U.S. Treasury—while paying its CEO, Jeff Immelt, a total of nearly $25.58 million in executive pay.”
“In August 2011, for example, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported that the U.S. government has wasted or misspent $34 billion contracting for services in those two countries.”
“the EPA found that $52 billion would be needed immediately to meet existing Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.”
In the United States, “between 2000 and 2009, the number of children living in poverty increased by 33 percent.”
“Military spending in the United States now exceeds the combined military expenditures of the next twenty countries: China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, India, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Israel, the Netherlands, Greece, and Columbia.”
“Google receives six thousand requests monthly from government to turn over records of individual electronic footprints.”
“The World Heath Organization has named antibiotic resistance as one of the three major health problems of the new century.”
“Obama authorized the assassination of three American citizens in Yemen, who were never charged with crimes, based on secret evidence and secret law and with no postmortem proof that any had engaged in hostilities against the United States. Several major news outlets reported that the Yemeni imam Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, the editor for al-Qaeda’s online magazine, were killed in a drone strike in late September 2011. Soon after, the Obama administration vaporized al-Awlaki’s innocent sixteen-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also a U.S. citizen, and his younger Yemeni cousin using a Predator drone.”
Harper Collins, October 2012