Ralph Nader Y2K: Unsafe
to the establishment
at any speed


From the 3-19-00 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

     UPDATE (2-22-2004) — Along with Damon Runyon, Harry Truman and Orland Outland, The Barbwire respond's to Mr. Nader's request for advice.

NADER SPEAKS (3-13-Y2K) — Consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader speaks to an audience of about 125 at the Jot Travis Student Union at the University of Nevada-Reno. [FOLLOWUP]

When I went to hear consumer advocate and Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader speak at the University of Nevada last Monday, I didn't know I'd get to meet a second genuine American icon.

Western Shoshone leader Carrie Dann traveled all the way from Crescent Valley in central Nevada to hear Mr. Nader. Last year, I named Mary and Carrie Dann as charter members of the Barbwire Great Dissidents Hall of Fame.

The tribe has told the federal government to keep tens of millions in settlement money. The Shoshone want enforcement of the broken 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty which gave large parts of Nevada and several other states to the tribe.

LINEUP OF LEGENDS -- Western Shoshone leader Carrie Dann, foreground, passes materials on the Ruby Valley Treaty to Ralph Nader. She and several other Native Americans traveled over 300 miles from various parts of Nevada. After his speech, Nader asked Ms. Dann and her associates about their preservation of tribal history and language. From left are retired UNR Prof. of History Grant Leneaux, Carrie Dann, Raymond Yowell, Chief of the Western Shoshone National Council, longtime UNR Prof. of Journalism and Sparks Tribune columnist Jake Highton, Nader, Lois Whitney of the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Mary McCloud, who traveled from Shurz, Nev., in Mineral County.

The moral authority of Carrie Dann turned Mr. Nader's campaign speech into a historic event.

Ralph Nader is a true populist reformer with the potential to shake up the system this election year.

"When a society allows excessive concentration of economic and political power in a few hands, a lot of people are shortchanged. There is a deep sense of powerlessness. People feel they have lost control over the workplace, the government, the media, the future - things they thought they had influence over.

"The young say 'I'm not turned on to politics.' If not, politics will certainly turn on them," he added, decrying how we make it much more difficult to attend college than other major countries.

Nader blasted corporate abuse of government and corporate welfare programs such as using eminent domain to acquire property for private interests. He lamented the federal government giveaway of the cancer cure Taxol, developed and tested with our tax money, to Bristol Myers-Squibb which sells it for $2,000 per treatment. Nader thinks casino gambling and lotteries cause societal decay.

In response to a question, he castigated the corporate-funded National Judicial College, located across the street from where he spoke.

"That's where judges are educated in how to render decisions in favor of corporations; very ethically questionable." He promised a local critic assistance in obtaining the college's tax returns.

Nader said that he and likely Reform Party nominee Patrick Buchanan will make the presidential campaign a four-way race. Nader's immediate goal is to qualify his candidacy in all 50 states. He hopes to raise $5 million in small, individual contributions and has established a campaign website toward that purpose.

If he can win five percent of the vote nationally, the Green Party, which has elected officeholders in the U.S. and more than 50 other countries, will qualify for federal funding in 2004.

I see great benefit to strong candidacies by Nader and Buchanan. While the latter is a right-wing moonhowler on many issues, he's totally correct and in agreement with Nader on issues like the World Trade Organization, the erosion of the U.S. standard of living and the export of American jobs.

The two candidates from the major parties are absolutely in the corporate world trade camp on those critical issues. If Nader and Buchanan can make Bush the Minor and Gore the Younger respond to the little guy's issues, I applaud their efforts.

"Fifty million of 132 million U.S. workers are laboring for less than $20,000 a year," Nader said.

Lightning might even strike. If the public sees Nader gaining momentum, they might elect him. The country is so starved for leadership, I am convinced that the voters would have elected the madcap Ross Perot in 1992 had not his own paranoia caused him to self-destruct.

The hunger remains and Nader is Y2K's fresh face in the race.

Nader touched another issue dear to my heart. He said if the Green Party of Nevada is successful with a proposed initiative petition to make Nevada's "None of the Above" ballot law binding, he will take it nationwide and ask other states to pass it. Their proposal may have a few constitutional problems, such as ordering presidential electors to abstain if "None" wins, and barring parties losing a primary to "None" from having a general election candidate. Nonetheless, I love the revolutionary spirit.

In 1982, I appointed myself lifetime chair of NAGPAC, the None of the Above for Governor Political Action Committee. Had not Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, run for governor in 1998, I would have brought NAGPAC back. (See the Barbwires of November 9, and November 16, 1997.)

Perhaps Mr. Nader's most impressive comment was this: "Our optimism is typified by all the unapplied solutions which are waiting," but which entrenched interests will not allow, such as solar and other energy alternatives.

The Greens propose some good things for Nevada and the nation. I signed their petition to allow Mr. Nader on the Nevada ballot and urge everyone to do so. Locally, you may contact Sandi Rizzo, (775) 853-2935.

CORPORATE WELFARE IN SPARKS. Last Thursday, John Ascuaga told the Reno Gazette-Journal that Nevada casinos deserve a tax cut. But Ascuaga already gets huge ones.

He started the trend for casinos winning big property tax reductions at local boards of equalization. The majority of the remaining property tax he does pay goes not to schools or roads, but to pretty up his doorstep downtown.

Like other casinos, Mr. Ascuaga's club pays the lowest gaming taxes in the world, fully a third of which is returned to him through corporate welfare programs such as downtown redevelopment agencies, convention and visitors authorities and state tax deductions for lucky buck casino chips. Conservatively figured, his operation nets almost $40 million per year.

Be well. Raise hell.

Read More About It — An Ascuagite responds:

Subject: Get it straight
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 02:20:09 -0800

Mr. Barbano:

It is time to put to rest your specious "corporate welfare" in Sparks comments. The Nugget PAYS taxes including property, income, SSI, Medicare, Workers Comp. etc. Any legal tax deduction is NOT welfare. Why don't you move to California where you can pay a nice state income tax.


Dear Mr. Vincent:

All you submit in the industry's defense is that it pays anything it is forced to pay in order to do business and make huge profits. My heart

Gaming lobbyists admitted in 1997 that the "Lucky Bucks" tax break was a giveaway to the casinos, pure and simple. It acts as a true license to print money, allowing them to deduct funny money coupons at face value from their state tax payments. The weak rationale for the tax break was that subsidizing casino coupons would allow the clubs to promote more and generate more revenue and thus more gaming taxes.

In reality, the casinos simply had enough lawmaker votes and decided to cash in a few campaign contributions. Please read the news stories about it posted at

A bill by Sens. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, and Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, to close the loophole never got a hearing in 1999.

Steve Wynn's art tax break has bled tens of millions from Nevada school children. Justify that -- I dare you.

Those are the actions of megabucks welfare queens, sir, any way you slice it.

Thanks for writing.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
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copyright 2000 © Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News, where the past four years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988 where an earlier version of this column appeared on 3/19/00.

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