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Interview: Ralph Nader Talks His Booming Winsted Book Festival

Jessica Hill
Ralph Nader stands in front of a Chevrolet Corvair in The American Museum of Tort Law in 2015 in Winsted, Conn. The museum was developed by the consumer advocate and two-time presidential candidate as a kind of ode to the jury system.

Ralph Nader has a list of books that he wants you to read. The longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate is hosting the 2nd Annual Booming Winsted Book Festival this weekend in his hometown of Winsted, CT. 

He's also the author of Breaking Through Power: It's Easier Than We Think, and Animal Envy: A Fable.

Nader recently sat down with News Director Dan Katz to talk about the festival.

Below is a transcript of their conversation.

How did you get the idea to set up a book festival locally?

Well, as you know, bookstores have been closing down, and Amazon has eaten into a lot of book sales. So, northern Litchfield County, from Torrington on up, Winsted, Colebrook, Norfolk, Salisbury, Riverton, they have no bookstore whatsoever. So we're starting a community non-profit bookstore, not just for books and children's books and biographies and books on things that need to be improved in the country and so on, but actual events by authors. Authors that are fascinating to me, and they autograph their books, they talk about the kind of topics they've chosen.

So, we have a great selection this weekend, and we have the expert on gerrymandering, which I know public radio has reported on. David Daley, he was a former editor of the CT Mirror, and he's been all over the country dealing with gerrymandering abuses and he's gonna tell us what optimism there is, the courts are beginning to take notice and we may be turning it around as they already have in California with fairer electoral districts.

And we have also Chuck Collins, how about this one? He inherited part of the Hormel meat packing fortune and at age 25, gave it away. And for the next 30 years or so, he has been challenging inequality in terms of wage rates and wealth rates and income rates, and he mobilized wealthy people to preserve the estate tax when George W. Bush and Republicans wanted to get rid of it for the top one-tenth of one percent that's exposed to it.

And as far as labor's concerned, a labor activist of many years, Steve Early, he moved to California to see what's going on in Richmond, California. Hundred thousand people with many minorities, and how they're turning that city around against big odds.

And I've gotta ask you, you know, you're a champion of consumer protection. What is your take right now with what is happening with consumer protection in the Trump administration?

It's very bad, you know, he is appointing people who hate consumer protection. They come from the worst elements of industry and commerce, not the more enlightened ones. He's already appointed to the Food and Drug Administration a very wealthy lawyer who was counsel to drug companies and was very anti-regulation, anti-law and order.

You know, drug prices are going through the roof. Almost every few weeks we hear about a serious adverse effect from widespread pharmaceutical that has to be recalled. There are multi-million dollar or sometimes billion dollar settlements with the Justice Department by companies like Pfizer and others. So, that's an example.

We've got time for just about one more question, and I wanted to ask you if there was anything else you wanted to add about the festival itself and that our listeners should now, and anything else I haven't asked you about the political climate today that you might want to weigh in on.

Yes, the interesting thing is that people come to the Booming Winsted Book Festival which starts on Friday, July 21 and goes to 22 and 23 with authors of great books who can sign and personalize books for you and gifts for libraries, is embedded in a motto we have. And the motto is "Readers think, and thinkers read." And when that happens, you're gonna get more civic engagement, a better democracy, and in the words of our founder, better pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness in people.

Mr. Nader, thanks so much for being on the program.

We hope to see you there. I'll be there, I'll be introducing the authors and they'd love to meet with you.

Thanks again for taking the time.

Thank you.

Dan is a former News Director at WSHU
Anthony Moaton is a former fellow at WSHU.