Novel approach: Ralph Nader turns to fiction
By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
Ralph Nader, the consumer activist and corporate scourge, is saying nice things about the kind of folks you'd expect him to despise.
"Never in America have there been more super-rich people with relatively enlightened views," says Nader, lean and hopeful at age 75, dark eyes aglow as he speaks at the offices of Public Citizen, the progressive research and advocacy group he founded nearly 40 years ago.
"Not all the super-rich are craven greedhounds, dominators and bullies. Some of them take on their counterpart greedhounds, dominators and bullies."
It's as if Glenn Beck had found the bright side of socialism.
Nader hasn't turned conservative and he isn't making this stuff up, although he is, in a way. After decades of speeches, articles, policy papers and policy books attacking corporations and politicians, Nader has turned to fiction.
"Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!" is more than 700 pages, worthy of a billionaire's portfolio, and its heroes are a gang of 70-something plutocrats, from Warren Buffett and Ted Turner to Bill Cosby and Yoko Ono, who conspire to set off a progressive revolution.
The story begins in 2005, not long after Hurricane Katrina. A secret gathering is convened by Buffett at a Maui mountain retreat, where 17 very wealthy people agree to take back the country they think has been betrayed.
They give speeches, write books, organize community action groups. They infiltrate corporate boards of directors, stage demonstrations for the environment and better wages. They start a People's Chamber of Commerce, advocate changing the national anthem to "America the Beautiful" and dream up a politicized parrot, "Patriotic Polly," that becomes a media folk hero.
"Fiction is a way to liberate the imagination," Nader says, "to see what could happen if 17 billionaires and super-rich people really put their minds to it, along with a parrot, and took on the existing business power bloc and the politicians in Washington who serve (it)."
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