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Strength Through Peace/Surveillance Scoring

Ralph welcomes mental health experts Judith Eve Lipton and David Barash to talk about what we can learn from Costa Rica, a country that has survived and thrived after giving up its military. And consumer advocates Harvey Rosenfield and Laura Antonini tell us how they are exposing how companies like Walmart, Home Depot and Airbnb are using your personal data against you.

Dr. Judith Eve Lipton is a psychiatrist and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Her husband is Dr. David P. Barash an evolutionary biologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. Together, they have authored numerous books, on sex, war, and human nature.  Their latest collaboration is entitled “Strength Through Peace: How Demilitarization Led To Peace and Happiness in Costa Rica, And What the Rest of The World Can Learn From A Tiny, Tropical Nation.” 

 

“Right now, there’s all this hassle about immigrants from Central America flooding into the United States – and according to Mr. Trump causing some national security emergency, which I think we can all agree is absolute nonsense – but it’s fascinating to note that among those immigrants who are trying to escape horrible situations in Central America, there appear to be virtually no Costa Ricans. The Costa Ricans really are happy and satisfied with the country that they’ve established. I think it cannot be emphasized too strongly that this is almost certainly not a simple correlation with the fact that Costa Rica has abolished its military… I think there’s an enormous lesson to be learned there.” David P. Barash, co-author of “Strength Through Peace: How Demilitarization Led To Peace and Happiness in Costa Rica, And What the Rest of The World Can Learn From A Tiny, Tropical Nation.”

Laura Antonini is an attorney and the Consumer Education Foundation’s Policy Director . She focuses on reforming deceptive practices law and class action litigation procedures. Previously, she was a staff attorney at Consumer Watchdog, where she worked on complex litigation in federal and state court, as well as California insurance regulatory issues.

 

 

 

Harvey Rosenfield is one of the nation’s foremost consumer advocates and founder of the advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog based in Santa Monica California. Among many other accomplishments, Mr. Rosenfield authored Proposition 103 that has saved consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in auto insurance premiums. He has also co-authored groundbreaking initiatives on HMO reform and utility rate deregulation and is the author of the book, Silent Violence, Silent Death: the Hidden Epidemic of Medical Malpractice.”

“A shadowy group of companies are a making a multibillion dollar business out of taking information about Americans – as much 50,000 separate pieces of information about each American that they’ve gleaned from our personal lives – and they are running that information through an algorithm, a software program that spits out a score. And the score encourages retail companies – people we are doing business with as Americans in the U.S. marketplace – to treat us differently… You may pay less for the same product I want to buy. Or (someone else) may get worse customer service. She may be stuck on hold for fifty minutes, while I get my call covered right away.” Harvey Rosenfield of Representconsumers.org

“My phone knows that I get frozen yogurt every night at 9:30pm. My phone knows my menstrual cycle. My phone knows my medical conditions. It knows what I search for on the internet, knows I like cats, knows when I’m dating. That stuff doesn’t necessarily bother me. And even a targeted ad for let’s say a cat bed – that doesn’t bother me either, because I can ignore that. But now, the fact that it’s being weaponized against me to maybe deny my right to return a product, to charge me more, to potentially deny me a job… or deny me housing, or maybe charge me more for insurance or medication. I think that’s when the people of my generation will become outraged: when we know how it’s being used against us.” Laura Antonini of Representconsumers.org

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 278 TRANSCRIPT (Right click to download)

15 Comments

  1. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Protecting people from mass surveillance is one thing, but I sure as hell am not going to petition my Congressman to make corporations put a vice on online discussion. The world doesn’t need that kind of “protection” and there is no question it would be abused. SHAME ON YOU RALPH for letting yet another guest come on your show and peddle the the IRRESPONSIBLE and DANGEROUS “Russiagate” conspiracy theory without a single bit of pushback. If you’re so suspicious of corporations, then you should damn well know they won’t have the interests of truth and journalism at heart when they clamp down on the free exchange of ideas and information (as they already have been for the past two years using the Russiagate conspiracy theory as justification–but I bet you had no idea that was occurring if the only places you get your news are state rags like WashPo and NYT). Journalist Aaron Mate just won an Izzy award for his fearless commitment to evidence and facts as he knocked down this conspiracy theory one evidence-free claim after another during this disgrace to the journalism profession. Maybe you should have him on the show so he can educate your listeners and put this to rest. Jimmy Dore, who just had you as a guest on his own show recently, has also been a stalwart to the truth during this debacle.

  2. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Apologies for the double comment, I should have tuned in all the way to the end before commenting today. I really appreciate that people on the show actually pay attention to the comments here, but I’m afraid Ralph is quite wrong when he claims that “when the government own the means of production” is somehow the original definition of socialism. Socialism comes out of a criticism of the economic system that displaced feudalism and the word itself is practically as old as our current system. It has meant many different things to different people since the word’s inception, but it wasn’t until Marx came around that the focus of socialism actually turned toward who controls the means of production. If there’s an “original definition” that Ralph is channeling, it’s probably the term’s usage around Marx’s time. And unfortunately, although Marx thought capturing the state was an important strategy in abolishing capitalism in certain countries, the definition that arose after his influential publications was emphatically not making the state do everything. Within Marx’s critique’s of capitalism is the idea that hierarchical work arrangements are fundamentally what empower those in control to exploit work and from that exploitation produce all the other maladies of capitalism. The idea that socialism is simply when the government controls things is a perversion of the term that arose in the Soviet Union when Lenin died and Stalin proclaimed that the state capitalism they had spent a couple decades building (and which Lenin had admitted was so in one of his last speeches) was in fact “socialism”. That is the historical background.

    But there’s something more important and fundamental in pushing for an accurate and meaningful use of the term. Behind every socialist/communist/anarchist/anti-capitalist’s political platform is an understanding that hierarchical work relationships are the fundamental crux of the problem in our system, and that the solution is to expand democracy to work. When we allow people to co-opt the use of the word socialism and effectively rob it of any meaning, it makes it harder to plant the idea in people’s heads that perhaps there is an alternative to economic dictatorships. We’re tired of our language being mutilated into Newspeak and it’s time to take back the meaning of words. The topic of social engineering on today’s show was very relevant. That is precisely what you’re engaging in every time you misuse the word “socialism”. You’re engineering a discourse of false dichotomies where the only sides of the debate are whether private individuals do stuff and or the state does stuff. That’s not actually what socialists are interested in.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      The problem as I see it, when it comes to labels, is that socialism has historically been conflated with liberalism, government tyranny, anarchism, Marxism, etc. Prof. Richard Wolff has long stated that socialism is very multifaceted to the point that even socialists disagree on what it means. So that term can be considered vague. Over to Marxism, which is a more precise definition: workers owning the means of production. Not the government, not some capitalist tycoon or even a family (I consider family-owned businesses highly capitalist, I prefer calling them nepocapitalist), but the workers. Pretty specific. Worker cooperatives, which Marx touches on throughout the 3 Capital volumes (he touches on Rochdale a time or two as an example of a cooperative).

      That said, today what is largely considered socialist is unfortunately government-owned this or state-run that. In Volume 2 Marx refers to this specifically as State Capital. Because whether it is a manager of a private, profit-seeking company or a regulator or agent of a government-run organization, the worker is still powerless, still alienated from his work. In both cases they don’t have any ownership of the means of production. But in worker cooperatives, at least a proper one and not one in name only, they do.

      (FYI my personal view on ‘liberalism’ is that, very generally speaking, it’s socialism divorced from economics. Which gives rise to identity politics and multiculturalism that end up missing the point more often than not IMO, so it therefore normally ends up ameliorating capitalism. But that’s another discussion altogether.)

  3. neuroscientist says:

    Based on the figures quoted by Dr. Lipton, the per capita femicide rates in Costa Rica are lower in Costa Rica (15 per year/ 5million population = 3 per million per year) compared to the US (in the US this number is about 4/day, which equals 1,460 per year/327million population = 4.46 per million per year). Moreover, I find Dr. Lipton’s suggestion that abuse against women is anything but a cultural problem deeply problematic. She did suggest that the machismo of a deeply patriarchal society in Costa Rica is a contributing factor, but it is hardly the case that humans have been patriarchal for over 100,000 years. I recommend “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice for All Creation” as an antidote to this kind of antiquated view of the evolution of social behavior in humans.

  4. Potterzebra says:

    Nicaragua, a remarkably stable and egalitarian country, repelled a violent US-sponsored coup in 2018 that has been covered in detail by Max Blumenthal of The Grayzone. With all due respect, Mr. Nader is mis-informed about the Sandinista government and its response to the events of 2018.

  5. Dale West says:

    I would recommend listeners to view the “worldwide slay” section of Representconsumers.org webpage. Ms. Antonini’s articles on how the US Chamber of Commerce (Institute for Legal Reform) is aggressively lobbying the EU Commission & Parliament to weaken European consumer’s access to the EU legal system & justice illustrates how menacing global corporate fascism is.

    The fact that Volkswagen dieselgate affected consumers in the EU (8.5 million) have not been paid any compensation & the American consumers (0.5 million) have shows how important class action lawsuits and contingency basis attorney’s are in having access to justice.

    How would EU citizens ever be able to go after Boeing or the EU airlines for producing/flying a known lethal defective product?

  6. Don Harris says:

    I agree Ralph should provide a broader spectrum of opinions on many issues. There are several issues that Ralph seems to be supporting that in my opinion Ralph should be opposing.

    For example, Rob Ritchie of Fairvote was recently on Washington Journal and said that Rank Choice Voting would lead to “meaningful two-party competition”. Not something that Ralph should be in favor of.

    Ralph should have someone on to explain how most RCV is actually Instant Run-off Voting which is actually Mandatory Lesser Evil Voting because if a voter does not choose one of the final two choices because they do not want to validate a candidate they consider unfit to hold the office with a vote for that candidate their vote is not counted in the total to achieve a majority in the final round. The “majority” is achieved by not counting the votes of the citizens that do not approve of either candidate.It is not a majority of all voters- it’s only a majority of those that approve of the final two candidates.

    Another is the National Popular Vote Compact. The problem isn’t that the Electoral Vote did not match the national popular vote on a few occasions. That is how it is designed to work.

    The problem is the winner take all awarding of electoral votes by the states. This results in many voters in many states not achieving any electoral votes if their candidate does not win the state. All the national Popular Vote Compact does is transfer the injustice from the state level to the federal level.

    For example, a state could vote 70% for candidate A, 20 % for candidate B and 10% for candidate C. If candidate C wins the national popular vote then that state would award it’s electoral votes to the candidate that only got 10% of the votes in that state.

    There must be some organizations out there promoting proportional distribution of electoral votes. How about someone from one of those organizations to discuss that approach?

    And of course, the biggest quandery of all- the amendments to overturn Citizens United. Every one of these proposed amendments either had nothing in it at all or contained dangerous provisions that take away important protections for citizens (money as speech is an important protection for small donors) and gives Congress the authorization to control the contributions and spending of artificial entities.

    The one by Move To Amend contains a provision that says that artificial entities have no rights under the Constitution. Why would Move To Amend (an artificial entity) want to have no rights under the Constitution?

    If this amendment became part of the Constitution and Move To Amend figured out the mistake they had made and wanted to overturn it, then Congress could pass contribution and spending laws benefiting artificial entities that want to keep the amendment and restricting organizations that want it removed.

    This would not violate the rights of organizations working to eliminate the amendment because they would have no rights under the Constitution to be violated. And citizens that contribute to those organizations could not say their right to contribute was violated because money would no longer be considered an act of free speech.

    The point is that there are many people with the same goals in mind with many different approaches and Ralph should offer a broader spectrum of opinions on ideas he does offer as well as other options- including the One Demand approach to campaign financing that can be implemented and effective right now because it does not require waiting years for legislation (including amendments). It only requires citizen participation.

    Ralph said on Washington Journal in the fall of 2018 this was an idea that deserved to be heard and that he would have me on the radio hour to discuss it. Citizens can’t participate if they don’t know about this opportunity and it’s time for Ralph to make good on his statement on Washington Journal.

    With the July 4th holiday in mind, it’s time for Ralph to inform citizens how they can declare independence from the big money interests and candidates/legislators that control our political process.

    • Afdal Shahanshah says:

      Don Harris gets it, there are scores of different types of ranked-choice voting methods, and the one FairVote keeps pushing, Instant Runoff Voting, is one of the worst of them all! Ralph should bring on or at least talk to someone from the Center for Election Science sometime about voting methods that can actually empower third parties. People on the progressive left have got to dump this awful IRV garbage and push for an actually good voting method alternative like Approval or Score Voting already.

  7. Steve Goldfield says:

    I went to the https://www.representconsumers.org/ site given on the show. I see the petition, but I don’t see any place to sign it there.

    • Skro35 says:

      I have sent your observation to Harvey and Laura for clarification.

    • Skro35 says:

      From Harvey Rosenfield: There was a misunderstanding – we filed a 28 page formal petition with the FTC to request an investigation … not the kind of petition designed to allow lots of people to sign. But people can definitely urge the FTC to take action on the petition.

      Laura Antonini: FTC.gov.

      Ralph Nader: Okay, it’s FTC, standing for Federal Trade commission dot gov.

      Laura Antonini: And then on the homepage, there’s like at the very top a link to file a consumer complaint.

      Ralph Nader: And they can actually get your full complaint and download it, right.

      Laura Antonini: Yeah. If you just go to our website, it’s on our homepage Representconsumers.org.

  8. Barbara Haynes says:

    Is there a transcript for this show somewhere?

  9. Val Escher says:

    Ralph is very naive if he thinks he can avoid being subject to the kinds of Big Data abuses that Harvey Rosenfield and Laura Antonini are souding the alarm about, by paying with cash and not making purchases via the internet.

    My auto insurer provides a “discount” if you purchase or renew an insurance policy online rather than by phone or in person with an agent. The airlines offer “discounts,” and other perks, if you book online. Even McDonald’s* offers special prices to customers that can only be obtained by downloading the company’s app to a smartphone. So you end up paying more when you pay the list price offline rather than use the internet, where discounted prices are available. It sounds less discriminatory if you describe it as offering a discount off the standard price rather than if you say you are charging one person more than another for the same product or service.

    Moreover, if Ralph carries a smartphone on his person when he is out and about, it’s possible that his movements are being tracked and those data are being added to his profile, whether he goes online or not.
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/14/opinion/bluetooth-wireless-tracking-privacy.html
    That’s before we even get into all the cameras that are able to track his license plate as he drives around, and his face (with computers using facial recognition artificial intelligence) as he walks about. Or the AI algorithms that can search all of his Twitter posts, blog posts, and radio show transcripts, and add info gleaned from those to his profile.

    *Incidentally, I think I heard Ralph mention on a past show that he has never eaten fast food from McDonald’s. (a) How is that even possible? lol & (b) Can we really trust anything that a person who has never eaten McDonald’s has to say? ;- )

  10. JMMorgan says:

    Good segment onCosta Rica, but I agree with Potterzebra, Ralph’s disparaging comment about the government of Nicaragua is sadly misinformed. By now Ralph should know the mainstream media is not trustworthy on countries the U.S. empire has on its target list.
    See:
    https://thegrayzone.com/category/nicaragua/

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