In his latest book The Seventeen Solutions, Ralph Nader offers what the subtitle calls: Bold Ideas for Our American Future.
"The whole theme of this book…is it's a lot easier than you think to turn our country around in many directions and make life better," Nader says.
In the accompanying video, I ask the famed consumer advocate and former Green Party presidential candidate about his more economic-centric ideas, including:
Fundamental Tax Reform: "What I favor is a simple principle," Nader says. "Let us first tax things we don't like before we tax labor."
Nader's 'bold idea' is to tax corporate crime, corporate pollution and what he calls "the big one", Wall Street speculation; specifically, "bets on bets," i.e. derivatives. "That would bring in hundreds of billions of dollars, and we could use that for public works repair and create good paying jobs and/or reducing taxes on individuals."
Getting Rid of Corporate Welfare: Citing an ideal originally proposed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Nader is proposing a national commission on corporate subsides and tax loopholes to determine "which ones are wasteful, inequitable, or boomerang in accordance to their own purpose."
Cracking Down on Corporate Crime: Ronald Reagan's Attorney General Edwin Meese sent more than 1000 banking executives to jail following the Savings & Loan crisis. Yet four-plus years after the bursting of the credit bubble, scant few Wall Street executives have gone to jail.
"One reason is political pressure. Another is enforcement budgets" have been slashed in the past 35 years," Nader says, calling on Congress to dramatically increase funding for white collar prosecutors.
"The American public wants law and order against corporate crooks," he says.
Make Communities More Self-Reliant: Nader's idea is to encourage Americans to spend their money at farmer's markets, credit unions or community banks, community health clinics that emphasize prevention and on renewable energy. "The more money you put there, the less money Citigroup and ExxonMobil and all these giant corporations will receive," he says.
While simultaneously reducing the influence of big banks, big agriculture and the "hydrocarbon empire," such actions will also "strengthen local community business, which is not about to shut down and go to China," Nader says. "And it's also a more stable business. They're not engaged in speculation so no financiers in London, New York or Tokyo is going to pull the plug on your community."
Finally, Nader also recommends creating community watchdogs for every single member of Congress. With more accountability and pressure from ordinary citizens, Americans can "turn Congress around, turn the government around," he says. "Pretty soon your tax dollars will go back to rebuilding your community and make your life better instead of being siphoned off to Wall Street or corporate welfare or looted and drained by corporate crime."
Sounds good to me.