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Stossel on Nuclear Corporate Welfare

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Channeling his inner Ralph Nader, John Stossel calls shenanigans on the GOP talking points touting the viability of nuclear power.

As I noted in the context of a recent commentary on Obama’s promise of a new generation of nuclear reactors, Ralph Nader has asked a prescient question: “If these nuclear power plants are so efficient, so safe, why can’t they be built with unguaranteed private risk capital?”

Stossel similarly says, “I like the idea of nuclear energy too, but if ‘America is on the cusp’ of a revival, then taxpayers shouldn’t have to offer billions in guarantees! In a free country, when something is a good idea, it happens. Private capital makes it happen, without government force.”

Stossel raises and dismisses the disposal issue, which I examine at some length here.

In the end, I agree with Nader and Stossel on this point. But as I’ve said I’m a bit more sanguine about the chances of nuclear to compete on a level playing field. The problem is determining how well it can do without guarantees or subsidies when so many other forms of energy are on the receiving end of government largesse. It’s not right to ask nuclear power to go unsubsidized when its competitors don’t have such limitations.

For a look at the playing field from 1999-2007, see this summary paper, “Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007” (PDF). Historically nuclear power has been handicapped relative to the incentives given to other forms, including fossil fuels. Add to that the extra regulatory burden, and you can see why there’s been so little movement in building new power plants in the last thirty years.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • If wind and solar and geothermal and tidal receive all those govt subsidies, then why not nuclear?

    BTW, for all the money Obamolech is sinking into health care, we could have 500 new nukes and we could the Arabs to go drown in their oil.

  • In nuclear energy, the overwhelming majority of capitol costs are up front because nuclear doesn’t dump its waste to the environment as coal, oil and gas do. So up front nuclear does cost more. But as you noted Jordan, in a truly level playing field, nuclear is mor ethan cost competitive. In fact, if it weren’t for renewable subsidies, wind and solar would die. Now let’s ask ourselves this: why do Ralph Nader and John Stossel mention NOTHING about subsidies for wind and solar. BTW, loan guarrantees are NOT a subsidy.

    Please read The Cost of New Generating Capacity in Perspective at:

    And read “The Clean Energy Loan Guarantee Program’s Credit Subsidy Fee: A review of a recent paper by the Center for American Progress”

    All one can get from Nader and Stossel is disinformation.

  • Here is some more info from NEI Nuclear Notes:

    Center for American Progress Distorts the Loan Guarantee Program

  • Because of government regulations the nuclear utilities have had to pay 34 billion dollars for a geological repository that will never open. So the government has defaulted on 34 billion in payments from your utility bill, and in the meantime because of Jimmy Carter the other solution – reprocessing – was forbidden on the false fears of Pu-239 proliferation (which can’t happen with light water reactor technology because there’s too much Pu-240 mixed in and that makes bombs fissile out). In the meantime, the utilities still have to pay out of pocket for storing that spent fuel that they’ve paid the govt to store! Talk about double indemnity. But here we call it “nuclear corporate welfare”. Horse manure. Heck – govt should return the 34 billion it took from us and let us reprocess our own fuel!

    “Nuclear Corporate Welfare” – let’s have the truth – taxation without representation! It never ceases to amaze me how duped the American public is by the likes of Nader and Stossel.

    From the NEI web site:

    Congress passed legislation in 1982 directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build and operate a deep geologic repository for used nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste. Under this legislation—the Nuclear Waste Policy Act—Congress set a deadline of 1998 for DOE to begin moving used nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants. DOE also must complete construction of fuel acceptance facilities at the site and prepare for transportation of used fuel to the site. Because of delays, however, the 1998 deadline is long past due.

    To fund the federal program, the 1982 legislation established the Nuclear Waste Fund. Beginning in 1983, consumers of electricity produced at nuclear power plants have paid a fee into the fund of one-tenth of a cent for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. Commitments to the Nuclear Waste Fund, including interest, now total over $34 billion.

  • nader supporter

    y’all must be joking… there is NO safe way to store nuclear waste… what, barrels that last for 50 years when the stuff stays dangerous for how many thousands of years? and those dang things leak all the time… up near Indian Point in NY, the cancer rate is much higher the nearer to the reactor you go…

    come on folks, be careful with the planet!

  • nader supporter

    and really, you’re gonna doubt the word of the person who is responsible for the following things[see below]?!?!? Nader has done nothing but fight for the people for almost half a century… but the human race is famous for not knowing who their friends are…

    and, while we’re talking about the horrors of nukes, google “birth defects in fallujah” and see the Nuclear War we are fighting…

    don’t depend on U.S. media that is run by corporations that make bombs … check out

    ok, here’s that nader list:


    Let’s give credit where credit is due:
    Thank you for so many things, Ralph
    Ralph Nader’s Record of Accomplishments
    Instrumental in the passing of the following legislation:
    National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act (1965)
    Clean Water Act (1968)
    Clean Air Act (1970)
    Co-Op Bank Bill (1978)
    Law establishing Environmental Protection Agency (1970)
    Consumer Product Safety Act
    Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
    Mine Health and Safety Act
    Whistleblower Protection Act
    Medical Devices safety
    Nuclear power safety
    Mobile home safety
    Consumer credit disclosure law
    Pension protection law
    Funeral home cost disclosure law
    Tire safety & grading disclosure law
    Wholesome Meat Act
    Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act
    Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act
    Wholesome Poultry Product Act
    Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1970
    Safe Water Drinking Act
    Freedom of Information Act
    National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act
    Founded or sponsored the following organizations:
    American Antitrust Institute
    Appleseed Foundation
    Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
    Aviation Consumer Action Project
    Buyers Up
    Capitol Hill News Service Center for Concerned Engineering
    Center for Auto Safety
    Center for Insurance Research
    Center for Justice and Democracy
    Center for Science in the Public Interest
    Center for the study of Responsive Law – 1969
    Center for Women Policy Studies
    Citizen Action Group
    Citizen Advocacy Center
    Citizen Utility Boards
    Citizen Works
    Clean Water Action Project
    Clearinghouse for Professional Responsibility
    Congress Project
    Congress Watch
    Congressional Accountability Project
    Connecticut Citizen Action Group
    Consumer Project on Technology
    Corporate Accountability Research Group
    Critical Mass Energy Project
    Democracy Rising
    Disability Rights Center
    Equal Justice Foundation
    Essential Information
    FANS (Fight to Advance the Nation’s Sports)
    Fisherman’s Clear Water Action Group
    Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights
    Freedom of Information Clearinghouse
    Global Trade Watch
    Government Purchasing Project
    Health Research Group
    Litigation Group
    Multinational Monitor
    National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
    National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest
    National Insurance Consumer Organization
    Ohio Public Interest Action Group
    Organization for Competitive Markets
    Professional Drivers (PROD)
    Professionals for Auto Safety
    Public Citizen
    Pension Rights Center
    Princeton Project 55
    PROD – truck safety
    Public Citizen’s Visitor’s Center
    Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS)
    Resource Consumption Alliance (conserve trees) 1004
    Retired Professionals Action Group
    Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest
    Tax Reform Research Group
    Telecommunications Research and Action Center

  • Renewables will only receive $3-$5 billion in subsidies in Obama’s 2011 budget, whereas nukes will receive over $54 billion. Where’s the equity in the energy budget?

  • NaderSupporter: The way you (and most “environmentalists”) talk, you’d think toxic and radioactive materials didn’t exist before mankind. The simple truth is these elements are naturally occurring, and we’d have to be careful in handling, disposing of, and encountering them anyway.

    For heaven’s sake, radon gas that can be found NATURALLY in your basement runs a greater risk of killing you than “manmade” sources.

    What do we lose from working with technology to more safely and easily harness these sources of energy? Nothing, we gain. Burying our heads in the sand and living like Luddites won’t protect us from nuclear perils (especially if we ever travel in space or attempt to colonize other planets). Doing that will only impede progress.

    Most of you have missed the primary factor keeping private investment from developing new nuclear facilities–fear of losing billions when an environmental group gets your newly built plant banned from operation. Read your history.

  • nader supporter

    there’s a big difference between what occurs naturally and digging up tons of it and setting it loose thru big power plants all over the place

    and building them on earthquake fault lines

    there was a movie about how they were digging up the stuff around a Native American reservation and the government [including Barry Goldwater] ‘forgot’ to warn the natives who made houses out of the radioactive tailings and died horrible deaths. Wish i could remember the name of it; saw it in the early 1980’s

    also, i was in PA out jogging one morning; as i approached a hill i TASTED something metallic in the air; as i got to the top of the hill i saw 3 Mile Island… man, did i get in my car and leave fast!

    there isn’t enough money in the world to make up for the tragic reality of the human race digging up and using that radioactive crap for power plants.

    be careful with the planet and gentle with all living things

    we’ll all live longer and better that way

  • All Nader and his allies accomplished was forcing the world to burn more coal, with devastating effects. In the last 30 years, neglect of nuclear energy has caused millions of deaths from air pollution, poisoning of the soil and the oceans with heavy metals, and even climate change.

    There is more than one way to solve the climate-change threat; we don’t have to subsidize our way out of it. The simplest solution, and this is my first choice, is to make coal companies and coal-burning utilities pay for the damage they cause. If we had that rule twenty years ago no one would be burning coal.

    Then clean energy sources would be cheaper than fossil fuels. If anti-nukes are right that wind and solar can provide electricity as it is needed, then renewables can compete with nuclear on cost. I’m putting my money on nuclear.

  • Neal Lang

    “Ralph Nader’s Record of Accomplishments Instrumental in the passing of the following legislation:
    National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act (1965)”

    Based on his book “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which was based phony tests on the Chevy Corvair rolling over tendencies that didn’t exist, while ignoring the Ford Pintos explosive gas tank. Face it, Nader is, was, and always will a demagogue!

  • Neal Lang

    “y’all must be joking… there is NO safe way to store nuclear waste… what, barrels that last for 50 years when the stuff stays dangerous for how many thousands of years? and those dang things leak all the time… up near Indian Point in NY, the cancer rate is much higher the nearer to the reactor you go…

    “come on folks, be careful with the planet!”

    Yes there is, in New Mexico, and we have already sunk billions into it – but the Democrats and NIMBY of New Mexico took the Federal money for it and then craw-fished on the deal.

  • Neal Lang

    In 1965, as a brash and energetic young lawyer, Ralph Nader famously charged that American automakers, in the blind pursuit of corporate profits, were knowingly manufacturing cars that endangered public safety. According to the canonical version of the story, Nader exposed this alleged corporate infamy in his book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile. His “poster child” for hazardous vehicles was GM’s sporty Corvair. Breaking with long standing American tradition, GM engineers had emulated European competitors, Porsche and Volkswagen, by putting the Corvair’s engine in the rear. The car was a big hit with the public. Nader, however, saw perfidy and claimed that the design was flawed, causing the Corvair to fishtail easily and to roll over when cornering sharply.

    Nader’s wild charges might have been lost to history except that half-witted GM executives hired private detectives to pry into Nader’s personal and financial life. The GM executives even schemed to compromise Nader by trying to tempt him with hookers. Of course, these underhanded activities, when they were revealed in The New Republic, lent immediate credence to Nader’s claims. An outraged Senator Abraham Ribicoff held hearings on auto safety that eventually resulted in legislation creating the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the U.S. Department of Transportation. Nader has been a leftist icon ever since. The New Republic later went so far as to dub him “Saint Ralph.”

    There’s one problem with this little morality tale of the activist David vs. the corporate Goliath: David’s data were false.

    Seven years after the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed, a definitive study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — the very agency Nader’s book conjured into existence — concluded, in July 1972, that contrary to Nader’s charges, the ’60-’63 Chevrolet Corvair models were at least as safe as comparable models of other cars sold in the same period. The study also found, after extensive tests of the ’63 Corvair and five other compact cars of various makes, that Corvair’s handling in sharp turns was no more dangerous that that of other cars and did not result in abnormal potential loss of control. NHTSA concluded that the available accident data indicated that the rollover rate of the ’60-63 Corvair was comparable to those of other light domestic cars.

    Never mind: Being wrong on the Corvair hasn’t hurt Nader’s career one bit. Since the Corvair fiasco, Nader has created a vast empire of interlocking special-interest groups that terrorize the business community almost as effectively as the trial lawyers do. Nader, like so many other movement leaders on the Left, got his start by scaremongering the public with bogus facts. He should feel right at home in the Green Party.

    Hat tip to Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason

  • Neal Lang

    “there isn’t enough money in the world to make up for the tragic reality of the human race digging up and using that radioactive crap for power plants.”

    So support the alternative – digging up PA mountains for coal and burning that for power. Wait, isn’t that what we already are doing? Both France and Japan have operated nuclear power reactors safely for over 50 years. Except for Three Mile Island, which, following procedure, was shutdown without any loss of life, the US has been safely using nuclear power since the 1950s.

    “be careful with the planet and gentle with all living things we’ll all live longer and better that way”

    Until we are hit with an asteroid and go the way of the dinosaurs. Do actually the mammals who nuclear weapons to kill off the dinosaurs?

    Let see: Wind Mills harm bird life; Hydro-power harms fish life; and Solar power doesn’t work on raining days. Besides “fossil fuels” how else do you propose we might generate power?

  • nader supporter

    The fact is that many people were dying and being needlessly hurt and maimed, the great Ernie Kovacs among them, in accidents that were caused by the Corvair’s design faults! This does not indicate small ‘problems’. And detroit didn’t try to fix things; they didn’t thank Nader… they sent detectives after him to try to discredit him! They weren’t interested in innovation; they were building junk and they knew it. See and read “Unsafe At Any Speed.”
    You should be thanking this great American; your anger is misplaced.

    …if you look at the dvd of “An Unreasonable Man,” it quite clearly states that Mr. Nader became interested in auto safety when a law school friend of his, who had a wife and 4 kids at the age of 28, was in an accident that caused him to become a paraplegic. He was a trailblazer with his 1959 article for the Nation magazine about the designed-in dangers of automobiles. This was a totally novel topic at the time since these machines were basically being sold as part of the American Dream. At that time, he did not single out any particular vehicle, but instead wrote: “…Almost no feature of the interior design of our current cars provides safeguards against injury in the event of collision.” He gave specifics about “…doors that fly open on impact, inadequately secured seats, the sharp-edged rear-view mirror, pointed knobs on instrument panels and doors, flying glass, the overhead structure–all illustrate the lethal potential of poor design.”

    He went on to write about a safer alternative that had been tested:
    “… the car body was strengthened… doors were secured…occupants were secured… interior knobs, projections, sharp edges and hard surfaces have been removed and the ceiling shaped to produce only glancing blows to the head…the driver’s environment was improved to reduce accident risk by increasing visibility, simplifying controls and instruments, and lowering the carbon monoxide of his breathing atmosphere…”

    He also wrote about changes that increased pedestrian safety as well. This was a totally novel topic at the time. In fact, Henry Ford II put a safety package option in their cars in 1955-56. It had seat belts and a padded dash, etc and was extremely popular with the public. But then, General Motors called up Mr. Ford and said that if they didn’t stop it they would undercut Ford and put them out of business; Ford decided to drop the safety package! The reason for this was that car companies did not want the Federal Government to tell them how to build cars because, they feared, then they would tell them about mileage and pollution control… that was an easy sell in Detroit! That meant more to the executives than the lives and safety of the public. This is all documented in An Unreasonable Man.

    the car manufacturers could not keep up with the demand for the safety features; they made the decision not to continue due to pressure from General Motors and fear of further government control, rather than caring about the consumer and the environment. Furthermore, the car makers tried to blame the accident’s on the “nut behind the wheel,” and tried to abdicate any responsibility in the midst of all this! The engineers, who Nader used to interview in secret, admitted that they knew all along that they were building junk!

    … Nader originally gave the story about the problems of U.S. cars to James Ridgeway at the New Republic who wrote an article on car design and public safety which, among other things, stated that this car that was being marketed to the general public was “…inherently dangerous…” When publisher Richard Grossman called him up and wanted a book, it was Ridgeway who said that Nader was the man to write it as he knew more “… than any other 10 people in the world on the subject of auto safety…”

    This was not a popular subject at the time. He took the idea of the “nut behind the wheel” and revealed the truth that cars that were being built were unsafe.

    …if you read “Unsafe at any Speed,” one of the things that stands out is, on page 7, the testimony that dealers of the Corvair were *never* instructed to tell the public that tire pressures were crucial to safety. He goes on to write on page 33, “…The car was built and sold as ‘easy handling’, as a family sedan, ‘as a car that ‘purrs for the girls,…”. Although other cars were unsafe, it is the marketing of the Corvair that seems to make it’s safety issues that much more deadly!

    Nader cannot be called a politician in the sense that we typically use the word. When the book first came out, GM sent detectives to try to discredit him and actually sent hookers after him to try to get him in a compromising position that would discredit him. How many “politicians” could stand up to that? This was proven in a lawsuit that Nader won and what did he do with his money? He did not “… go to Disneyland…”… he used it to start his campaign “…for the people…”.

    Also, if you see “An Unreasonable Man,” you will see, among other things, some of the laws Mr. Nader is responsible for e.g. The Freedom of Information Act, OSHA, The EPA, the clean air act, the clean water act… he is estimated to have saved over 500,000 lives just from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Act that LBJ signed and that Nader was responsible for. In short, this is one of the greatest friends the American people have had for the last half century… but the human race is famous for not knowing who their friends are.

    I feel no sympathy for the car companies and the argument that Nader’s work inhibited innovation or safety is simply not borne out by the facts; it was, in fact, the greed and short-sightedness of the auto executives!

    In regards to the 2000 election, the short answer is this:
    the reality [and you can know this for yourself if you see is that
    gore threw the race in ‘00 at least 3 times:
    1.] when, at the beginning of his campaign, he and lieberman stopped trying to say things that the people wanted to hear because their corporate paymasters yanked their leash [see “crashing the party” by ralph nader]
    2.] gore now ADMITS that he didn’t try hard enough to contest the voting irregularities
    3.] if you see michael moore’s FAHRENHEIT 9/11, you can see with your own eyes Al Gore shouting down the congressional black caucus’ attempt to question the voting irregularities on a ‘point of order’ which is like saying that, if i mug you, you can’t yell for help if we are in a ‘quiet hospital zone’.
    Besides, there were a total of six third party candidates, all of whom got more than the # of votes that gore ‘lost’ by, so why blame nader?
    the dems [or the car companies for that matter] blaming nader for their losses is like a hooker blaming their v.d. on mother theresa…!

    I mean, the democrats wanted the biggest job in the world and blamed their mistakes and losses on the man who gave us the EPA, OSHA, the freedom of information act, and so much more? it’s just baloney…
    and, as far as someone saying :
    “Easy to drive, easy to fix. That was the Corvair. Take that, Ralph Nader!”
    …sad to say, it was also easy to die in…

    your post sounds very much like the testimony before congress of J.F Gordon, the head of GM in 1961, who said:
    “The traffic safety field has in recent years been particularly beset by self-styled experts with radical and ill-conceived proposals…The general thesis of these amateur engineers is that cars could be made virtually foolproof and crashproof, that this is the only practical route to greater safety and that federal regulation of vehicle safety is needed. This thesis, of course, is wholly unrealistic. It also is a serious threat to a balanced approach to traffic safety. To begin with, it is completely unrealistic even to talk about a foolproof and crashproof car…” [unsafe at any speedk, pps 3-4]

    “Mrs. Rose Pierini did not read about Mr. Gordon’s complaints. She was learning to adjust to the loss of her left arm which was severed two months earlier when the 1961 Chevrolet Corvair she was driving turned over on its top…GM decided to pay Mrs. Pierini $70,000 rather than continue a trial which for three days threatened to expose on the public record one of the greatest acts of industrial irresponsibility in the present century.” [pp4-5]

    As decribed by a CA Highway Patrol officer, John Bortolozzo, who witnessed the flip-over… the … vehicle was travelling about 35 mph in a 35 mph zone in the right lane…He saw the car move towards the right side of the raod near the shoulder and then ‘all of a sudden the vehicle made a sharp cut to the left and swerved over’…[he] testified at the trial that he rushed over to the wreck and saw an arm with a wedding band and wristwatch lying on the ground…two other men came over and tried to stop the torrent of blood…she was very calm…only saying that ‘something went wrong with my steering.’”

    “After helping Mrs Pierini to the ambulance, the officer made a check of the vehicle wihile it was on its top. He noticed that the left rear tire was deflated because of an air-out. Looking at the road, he noticed some gouge marks made by the metal rim of the left rear tire. he gave his opinion at the trial that the distinctive design features of the Corvair caused it to go out of control and flip over as had other Corvairs in accidents he had investigated. It was during cross-examination of Officer Bortolozzo by defense lawyers that Gm decided to settle the case.” [pp 5-6]

    Mr. Nader goes on to cite how the dealers and service managers were never instructed to tell the public that tire pressures were critical.

    Again, this does not indicate that there were ‘no problems…”Sure, the Corvair was popular due to its being a “…waterless wonder…”; the first modern American auto to offer a swing-axle independent rear suspension with an aluminum, air-cooled rear mounted engine; however, by 1963, only 4 years after its introduction to the unsuspecting public, sports car racer and writer Denise mcCluggage could begin an article on Corvair handling idiosyncrasies with woulds that assumed a knowing familiarity by her auto buff readers: “Seen any Corvairs lately with the back end smashed in? Chances are they weren’t run into, but rather ran into something while going backwards. And not in reverse gear either.” [p. 10]

    “Hardly had the first Corvair hith the highway…before a … company in Riverside, CA, EMPI, …developed, tested and began to sell an accessory rear stabilizer…that was specially designed… to help keep the wheels in … contact with the road…” [p11]

    Sports Car Illustrated…in 1961… took note of the “irrefutable evidence that the EMPI [device] does indeed do much to reduce oversteer and smooth out the unstable rear-end breakaway.” [p 11]

    Ocee Ritch, a well-known CA auto specialist who had tested and treated almost every Corvair line [36 through 1963] states that the camber compensator ‘limits positive camber [tuck under of the rear wheels] to a great extent and changes weight transfer characteristics of the car. [p 12]

    The veteran ‘car doctor’, Bill Corey, working out of his shop in Pasedena, CA, has diagnosed the Corvair’s ills and puts the ‘raw’ vehicle through an improvement course; then he sells it as the ‘corey corvair’. In addition to the …’Corvairs unconventional handling to say the least;, he recommends stronger shock absorbers and higher quality tires than those offered to the ordinary purchaser.” [p 13]

    John Fitch, formerly a highly successful racing driver and consultant to General Motors [!!!!]…made it clear…’i did want to feel more confident when behind the wheel that the car would go where i pointed it.’ [ p14]

    for the complete story, i suggest that people read “Unsafe at Any Speed” by Ralph Nader…

  • 50 years ago, none of the regular passenger cars handled worth a damn. People understood that if you weren’t driving a sports car you had to drive them as though they were ready to tip over. I think that’s why older drivers drive the way they do. People were supposed to know that the tires had to be inflated, just like they were supposed to test their brakes and have their wheels aligned. Blowouts were especially dangerous. Now, blowouts are rare and the cars all handle better. It’s because of better materials, more advanced computer-driven design technology, and better suspension hardware than was available before. In those days, they couldn’t even make satisfactory front-wheel drives.

    In his long rant, Nader’s fan only points to one accident and shows that it was due to a flat tire, which could have caused an accident with any small car. The rest of it is a rehash of Nader’s own self-promotion.

  • Harry Springer

    Mr. Nader is the duplicit Enviro-Baron who claims personal poverty, while sequestering his $2+ billion dollar fear empire IN HIS SISTER’s NAME !

    Research how he personally broke his own employees’ union in a devious night of the long knives.

    The man has discovered a repository for all the free floating secular guilt released by the death of western religions, and has monetized this discovery to the billion dollar level.

    No one is any the better for his personal mugging and prancing about on the “hate yourself” scene, (no one but Nader himself)., and the hobbling of the west which he and his ilk ennable will usher in a reactionary world age of Middle Eastern supremacy, medieval religious intolerance, and the enslavement of the western democracies. Good work Ralphie.

    The Asian nuke-powered states will own us all, given a decade or so for nature to take its course.

    In this “New Order”, dissent will NOT be tolerated.

    Luckily, the man is old, and will soon die.

  • Neal Lang

    “The fact is that many people were dying and being needlessly hurt and maimed, the great Ernie Kovacs among them, in accidents that were caused by the Corvair’s design faults! This does not indicate small ‘problems’. And detroit didn’t try to fix things; they didn’t thank Nader… they sent detectives after him to try to discredit him! They weren’t interested in innovation; they were building junk and they knew it. See and read “Unsafe At Any Speed.”
    You should be thanking this great American; your anger is misplaced.”

    Despite the fact that airbags caused mote injuries than the helped, it was demagogues like Nader that forced them into all vehicles, resulting in injuries to children. When used with lap/shoulder belts, air bags work very well to protect older children and adults. Air bags do not work with rear-facing child seats (those used with infants). Airbags could seriously injure or even kill an unbuckled child or adult who is sitting too close to the air bag or who is thrown toward the dash during emergency braking. In a crash, the air bag inflates very quickly. It could hit anything close to the dashboard with enough force to cause severe injuries or even death.

    Taking funds from the Ford Foundation, Nader completely ignored the the truly life threatening rear gas tank placement of the Ford Pinto.


    By Bob Helt

    Nader’s Charges

    In his 1965 book, Unsafe at any Speed, and several preliminary articles in the national magazine, The Nation, Ralph Nader charged that the 1960-63 Corvairs had a defective rear suspension that made them prone to roll-over and dangerous to drive. He claimed that they were prone to roll-over and loss of control. Although his facts were meager, his charges were hard-hitting and were picked up by all news covering organizations. Although only the first chapter of his book was devoted to the Corvair, that is the thing most remembered about his book, and most associated with Nader. As a result of his charges and subsequent U.S. Senate hearings there was a growing national concern about automobile safety, with the Corvair the center of attention.

    Thorough Testing

    Due to Nader’s wild charges about the Corvair and the national concerns for automobile safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was authorized to run a series of comparative tests during the Spring and Summer of 1971 to demonstrate the handling of the 1963 Corvair against four contemporary competitive automobiles. Involved in the tests were The Ford Falcon, Plymouth Valiant, Volkswagen Beetle, Renault Dauphine, the 1963 Corvair, and a 1967 Corvair for reference.

    The test program was quite comprehensive and detailed. It was divided into four parts:

    * a comprehensive search and review of all related General Motors/Chevrolet internal letters, memos, tests, reports, etc. regarding the Corvair’s handling
    * a similar search and review of all related public technical literature
    * a review of all national accident data compiled by insurance companies and traffic authorities for the six cars selected for these tests
    * a series of actual driving and handling tests designed to evaluate the handling and stability under extreme maneuvering conditions; and to push the test vehicles to their limits

    The Corvair Is Exonerated

    At the conclusion of these tests, the NHTSA released its 134 page report. It exonerated the Corvair from Nader’s charges, and said things such as: “The 1960-63 Corvair compares favorably with contemporary vehicles used in the tests,” and, “The handling and stability performance of the 1960-63 Corvair does not result in an abnormal potential for loss of control or rollover, and it is at least as good as the performance of some contemporary vehicles both foreign and domestic.” The complete report, PB 211-015, can be obtained from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS)*.

    An Independent Panel Agrees

    Because the NHTSA wanted to be as sure as possible of their approach, tests and conclusions, they then contracted with a three man advisory panel of independent professional engineers to review the scope and competency of the NHTSA tests. This review panel then issued their own 24 page report (PB 211-014, also available from the NTIS*).

    In their report, the Panel drew even stronger conclusions in support of the Corvair than the NHTSA. They said, “It is the opinion of the panel that the Corvair quantitatively meets or exceeds the standards set by contemporary cars in stability tests, cornering tests, and rollover tests,” and, “for this reason the panel concluded that the 1960-63 Corvair does not have a safety defect, and is not more unstable or more likely to roll over than contemporary cars.”

    Nader is Proven Wrong

    Wow, go back and read that again. No safety or handling defects in the Corvair! But does anybody know this? The news media all but ignored these conclusions. They apparently thought that Nader’s charges were of greater news value than the fact that his charges were all proven wrong. Even today, of those who know of Nader’s charges against the Corvair, few if any know that his charges were false and were proven wrong. No, the fact that the Corvair was exonerated of all of Nader’s charges was hardly publicized. It received little or no attention from the media.

    It is ironic that these false charges concerning the Corvair’s handling and stability are all anyone remembers, and are the only story ever told in the Press, even though they have been fully refuted by actual tests. Nader, of course, built his career on these false charges.

    *National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161

    By the time the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a press release dated August 12, 1972, setting out the findings of the NHTSA, the Corvair had been out of production for more than three years. While the press may have been reluctant to publicize the good news about the Corvair (“Good news doesn’t sell papers!”), it was fitting that the NHTSA accompanied its press release with a letter addressed to all Corvair owners, so they would hear of the good news and put to rest any insecurities about the safety of their cars. In its letter, the NHTSA indicated:

    “The Corvair handling and stability compared favorably with the other contemporary vehicles used in the NHTSA testing programs. Vehicle rollover did not occur in any of the comparative tests for the Corvair, Falcon or Valiant. The Volkswagen and the Renault did rollover in some of the comparative tests.”

    The fanatical Nader got what he wanted and a truly great American small, fuel efficient automobile never made it in the American Market, leaving this market to the poorly design German “Beetle” and the Japanese Auto Makers.