July 16, 2010
On July 13, Ralph Nader and the Real News Network’s Paul Jay sat down in Washington to talk about “Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us!”: both the fiction and, potentially, the reality. Here’s a long (lightly edited) excerpt from the transcript:
JAY: But if we’re going to talk real world rather than the book, in the real world Soros has a foundation, he gives away a lot of money, but they pick projects that are within the realm of what they consider acceptable. Buffet does give away money. A lot of these guys have given away political money.
NADER: One reason I picked it: to move them into the justice area. Now, let’s take Soros. He started the Open Society Institute. It’s done a lot of good. It’s actually created new citizen organizations. Now, he was dead set against the invasion of Iraq. He went after Bush like no super-rich guy. He wrote, he spoke out, he gave interviews. He even put out a book. He said this is catastrophe, this is disastrous, there’s no reason to invade Iraq, it alienates so many people, and so many lives. And at the same time, Paul, at least 300 retired generals, admirals, former diplomats, former heads of security, you know, CIA and NSA—like Bill Odom, four-star general; Adm. Shanahan; Gen. Zinni; two guys close to Bush’s father, Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker—they wrote op eds, they spoke against the war, right? Here’s what was missing: if Soros connected with them and said, I’m going to make you nationally known, $150 million—.
JAY: But what stopped them?
NADER: Lack of imagination.
NADER: I swear, he—.
JAY: He had the imagination to buy some hundreds of thousands of shares of AOL Time Warner. He was actually—I don’t know if he got on the board, but he had clout at CNN.
NADER: That’s right.
JAY: And what good did any of that to do?
NADER: It’s that last link that wasn’t made. Had he put them on TV in the six months [inaudible] March 2003, put them on radio, got them up on Congress—’cause Congress reacts to that—it would have informed—already, half the people didn’t want it, even though all they heard from a compliant media and Bush and Cheney was the lies, you know, weapons of mass destruction, etc.
JAY: But where does their economic interests—there’s a line there where they’re not going to cross if it’s going to jeopardize their own position in the society. So where is that line? And I’m not saying all the billionaires are the same. There’s big divisions between them, and some of them are a heck of a lot more rational, and a lot of them are sociopaths. So there is a spectrum there.
NADER: That’s the point. All we need is 1 percent of them. The rest can be narcissistic—.
JAY: One percent of non-sociopaths.
NADER: No, 1 percent of the mega-billionaires in the country will do it. Fifteen billion dollars turned the country around in this book, and I defy anybody to show how this could not have been done… Now, super-rich people give a lot to charity. This isn’t charity. This is justice. This is shift the power. This is going after the causes of hunger, not soup kitchens. And that’s going to take a while, that kind of move, because, you know, years ago the rich just gave to their churches, and then they started giving to their own foundations—Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie. Now we have to move them into the justice arena.
JAY: But some people have suggested that this is a bit of you getting pessimistic or giving up on a people’s movement.
NADER: Well, partly it’s a recognition that justice needs money.
View the entire interview, with full transcript, here — and if all this makes you just a bit curious about the book, get your copy here.