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Summary Article: Nader, Ralph
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US lawyer and consumer advocate. Called the ‘scourge of corporate morality’, he led many major consumer campaigns. His book Unsafe at Any Speed (1965) led to US car-safety legislation. In 1996 and 2000 he ran for the US presidency as a candidate of the Green Party.

Unsafe at Any Speed brought him to national prominence with an attack on the questionable safety standards of the car manufacturing industry. It was the primary impetus for the introduction of the National Traffic and Vehicle Safety Act (1966). Nader then became a leader in the consumer protection movement, organizing investigative teams of young lawyers and college students (popularly called ‘Nader's Raiders’) to conduct surveys of corporations and federal regulatory agencies. In 1971 he founded the Public Citizen Foundation, which has been responsible for several federal consumer protection laws. In 1980 he resigned as its director and founded The Multinational Monitor magazine to track what he called the imperialism of multinational corporations.

Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut, into a family of Lebanese immigrants. He graduated from Princeton in 1955 and Harvard Law School in 1958 before being admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1959. Leaving a conventional law practice in Hartford, he took a job as a consultant to the US Department of Labor in Washington; he also worked as a freelance writer, and as an unpaid adviser to a Senate subcommittee, which was exploring the role the government might play in the car industry.

His organization was responsible for the Wholesale Meat Act (1967) and the launch of federal regulatory agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (enacted in 1970). In 1969 his investigative teams were organized as part of Nader's Centre for the Study of Responsive Law. Nader also established the Public Interest Research Group and the Tax Reform Group, which worked for consumer justice and government and corporate accountability, and lobbied for the setting up of a government office to represent consumers' interests. He writes a weekly column, In the Public Interest, carried in many US newspapers.

His other books include The Menace of Atomic Energy (1977), prompted by the accident at the Three-Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania; Who's Poisoning America (1981); The Big Boys: Power and Position in American Business (1986); and Winning the Insurance Game (1990).

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Ralph Nader Profile

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