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The Need for Progressive Voices


The Need for Progressive Voices

Ralph Nader

In 1961, President Kennedy’s Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Newton Minow described television as “a vast wasteland.” Perhaps nothing demonstrates that better these days than the rise of Donald J. Trump as a presidential candidate; now the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump’s boisterous carnival barker persona has dominated the airwaves for the entirety of the 2016 election cycle, eclipsing what precious little time remained for the serious issues that affect millions of Americans.


"Changing the corporate media for the better is easier than you think. "

Much as I agree with great majority of what you write, Ralph, critical analysis of National "Public" Radio disputes this premise in my humble opinion.


It is past time for a Jubilee. In the Jubilee year, the 49th year of the cycle (some say 50th year) all property goes back to the original owners, actually mostly to the descendents of the original owners. With regard to the airwaves the original owners are now us.

The airwaves were part of the Commons but were given to private interests to use as they pleased with very few conditions attached. Ralph Nader points out some of the results.

Under the Jubilee Principal the airways must be returned to us in the Jubilee year. We can debate as to which year it is, and then if we are foolish we can give the airwaves right back to the corporations with exactly the same conditions as our grandparents applied. That is our right and choice. But what we cannot give away is the right of our grandchildren to the return of the airwaves and their right to decide how the airways are to be used in their years. They will have their choices, but now is the time for us to make our choices about how the airwaves are used. Under the Jubilee Principal nothing, not even trade agreements like the TPP can supersede the rights of our descendants to decide how they will use the airwaves.

More generally, the Jubilee Principal recognizes the rights of future generations to what is the Commons. None of the Commons can be given away forever, permanently stolen, or permanently sold. It requires that the Commons reach future generations in in the condition that we received it, and preferably in better condition. Under the Jubilee Principal we have the responsibilities of stewardship. We can be swindled out of the Commons. We can allow ourselves to be constrained by agreements such as the TPP, but under the Jubilee Principal we cannot bind our grandchildren to our agreements concerning the Commons and it will still have to be returned. The Commons must be given back to them undamaged and agreements such as the TPP cannot over-ride that responsibility.


If anyone wants to put an end to the commercialization of the public airways, the first thing you can do is cancel your cable TV. I did it a year ago, and I only wish I'd done it sooner.

An antenna on the roof is giving me most of the local broadcast stations for free, and I get the rest of my news, information, and entertainment via the Internet. Instead of paying Cox Cable $140/mo, I'm paying Netflix $10/mo, and I'm much happier with the offerings. I can watch what I want, when I want, with NO commercials! I'd pay for the Internet service, anyway, so I don't consider that part of the entertainment cost.

And as an unexpected consequence, I find I'm reading more. Now there's the best benefit.

If you want to stick it to the telecoms, cut the cord!


I would focus more on social media which is far more dangerous and where younger people spend most of their time. Mark Zuckerberg has the largest news outlet on the Internet and has the power to control what stories you see and what stories you don't. Google can tweak its algorithm to change what articles arrive at the top of searches. If people want to really hear different views on TV that can watch C-SPAN, C-SPAN1, and C-CSPAN2. Certainly there are interesting people on Book TV during weekends on C-SPAN2. There are also documentaries on people in developing countries much of the time on one the public broadcasting channels. With all the hundreds of channels now available there really is a lot out there.


Even liberal media maintain that our deregulated capitalism is so successful that everyone is able to work, there are jobs for all, therefore no need for poverty relief. This is, by definition, regressive, not progressive.

Today's liberal media markets to middle class consumers and campaign donors, with content determined by the interests and concerns of the middle class (under 50% of the population). Political progressives would have been shining a spotlight on our poverty crisis as proof of the failures of the corporate state.


What works best for one doesn't necessarily work best for another. The elderly and disabled often rely on cable TV and Internet services for a full range of things that might not interest you, but that add quality to their lives. This is especially true of shut-ins.


Interesting premise... however, it should read Jubilee Principle.


Bingo! The first (effective) step in dissent is non-cooperation. We, as dissenters, must stop doing what is expected or demanded of us by the ruling class when they are in the wrong by being controlling or exploitative.

Yes, sometimes it's as easy as saying ... "No, I am not going to do that!"


Looks wonderful, but would it not serve the purposes of the event to arrange simulcast or at least podcast online following it?


If you do not , it will not be long before Child labor back , or wait it already there...


You have to love that "free market"!!


It is a rather old premise. In the form that was written in the Old Testament it applied to an agricultural nation. We are no longer in that type of an agricultural nation and it can be useful to adapt the premise to fit more modern circumstances. Ideas and concepts are quite useful in organizing ourselves.


Yes and yes!


I happen to be 73 years old and retired, which means I stay home a lot. There was nothing on Cox Cable TV that was of any particular use to me as a senior citizen. I did not say I was cutting off Internet service. I use the Internet instead of cable TV. The quality of my life has improved since I cut off cable because I have more options via the Internet, and the money I'm saving is being put to better use (e.g., a $15/mo security system).

If you can't live without cable, that's your choice, of course. I'm just saying, don't be afraid to disconnect it. There are better options for less money.


The "Internet" isn't just "social media." In fact, I don't like social media, so while I have accounts at Twitter and Facebook, I don't use them, nor do I have a smart phone. Abuse of social media on smart phones by youngsters is an entirely different issue from the reasons to cancel cable TV.

The C-SPAN channels are available via live feed on their web site; you don't have to have cable TV to view them. In addition, its past programming is available via video archve, something you can't access, at all, on cable. I do watch PBS and WorldChannel because I get them free via OTA, along with several other broadcast stations. That leaves literally millions of sources of information available on the Internet, which you can find despite any alleged tweeking by Google. Cable TV may give you hundreds of channels, but it's just more of the same crap, loaded with advertising and at a high monthly cost. For the price of high-speed Internet service, I have the world at my fingertips.

Most of what I find on the Internet is not through Google, it's through linking — from one web site to another — something Google has zero control over. Cable TV companies have total control over what they feed you; and, in terms of news, it's pure corporate propaganda.

It's network TV that's the danger, not the Internet.


What a load of Horse-Hockey!


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Liberal media? Are you kidding?

The entertainment media are socially liberal, in that they deal sensibly about matters of race, marriage, and sex, but the news is right off the neocon playbook.

Consider yourself to have drunk the Kool-Aid, you have swallowed the corporate propaganda hook line and sinker (to mix my metaphors).