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Ralph Nader to Open 61st Season
Of The Forum at UW-Eau Claire
MAILED: Sept. 11, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — Ralph Nader will open the 61st season of The Forum at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Tuesday, Sept. 24, with a lecture titled “World Trade, Globalization and You: Bigger is Not Better.”
Beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena, Nader’s formal presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception.
Ralph Nader has devoted his life to giving people the tools they need to defend themselves against corporate negligence and government indifference, saving great numbers of lives in the process. His tireless commitment to the public interest has made him a mainstay on the lists of the most admired and influential Americans. Nader first spoke on The Forum in 1970 and is one of very few national figures who have been invited to speak on the university’s lecture series three times.
At his last Forum presentation, in May 1991, a member of the audience asked Nader why he has chosen to live his life as he has. He spoke of the example set by his Lebanese immigrant parents, who ran a small Connecticut restaurant where public affairs were always the subject of spirited debate, and of the special meaning that civic responsibility had held for him since childhood.
“There is no greater pleasure than to tackle a community or national problem with others — to apply intelligence to it, and to get it remedied. No greater joy,” Nader said.
“The standard press description gets it right about Nader’s frugal habits and bookish manner,” wrote Harper’s Magazine editor Lewis Lapham, “but it misses his candor, his modesty, and his wit.... He draws the strength of his convictions from his knowledge of the facts, often staying up until 5 a.m. in the company of the Congressional Record or court transcripts that would intimidate anybody less relentless about the study of public policy.”
Born in Winsted, Conn., in 1934, Nader graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1955 and from Harvard Law School in 1958. He came to the public’s attention in 1965 when his best-selling book, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” exposed unsafe cars such as General Motors’ dangerously defective Corvair. When GM went to exceptional lengths to discredit him — including hiring private detectives to tail him — Nader sued for invasion of privacy. Forced to admit its wrongdoing and apologize when its president was called before a U.S. Senate committee, GM settled the case. Nader used the funds from the settlement to launch the modern consumer movement.
Activists from around the country began pouring into Washington, D.C., to work with Nader. His professional associates, known as Nader’s Raiders, presented scores of studies and successfully lobbied for legislation to protect consumers, workers, taxpayers and the environment, combating corporate abuse and increasing citizen access to government.
Nader spurred the passage of such landmark laws as the Clean Air Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Working with lawmakers, he was instrumental in creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
He has founded dozens of public interest organizations — including Public Citizen, the Center for Auto Safety, the Center for the Study of Responsive Law, and Citizen Works — to expose and remedy the dangers that threaten a free and safe society. Establishing a model for citizen action around the country — showing that citizen action is not only important, but fun — is probably his most enduring legacy, Nader has said.
He has written, co-authored and sponsored dozens of books, and many of his writings are collected in “The Ralph Nader Reader” (2000).
Nader first ran for the U.S. presidency on the Green Party ticket in 1996, capturing fewer than 700,000 votes (.71 percent) nationwide. His more aggressive second campaign — detailed in his 2002 book, “Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President” — brought Nader 2.8 million votes, or 2.74 percent of the national total. His campaign focused on public financing of public elections, consumer-powered universal health care, establishment of a living wage, and renegotiation of international trade agreements to protect labor rights, environmental standards and American jobs.
In Wisconsin, Nader received 1.31 percent of the presidential vote in 1996, and 3.62 percent in 2000.
Nader’s appearance on The Forum is cosponsored by the University Activities Commission of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.
Admission is $7 for the public, $5 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $3 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center and will be sold at the door.
Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.
Season subscription information is also available at the Service Center. A range of subscription packages is available, offering discounts of 10 to 20 percent.
The Forum is funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and administered by the Activities and Programs office of University Centers and Programs.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: February 4, 2003