The World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle generated an enormous amount of media attention, controversy and some of the biggest protests in decades. WTO supporters say that free trade, the unimpeded flow of goods, services and capital, results in broad economic and social benefits. The elimination of trade barriers lifts poor people out of poverty. Opponents say that the WTO undermines democracy, threatens food safety, weakens workers’ rights and degrades the environment. An historic debate took place in Seattle’s Town Hall.
Ralph Nader has spent a lifetime fighting on behalf of ordinary people. He has run for president four times. Life magazine ranks him as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century. Founder of Public Citizen, he is a long-time advocate for consumer safety and workers’ rights. He rose to fame in the 1960s when he took on General Motors and its unsafe Corvair car. His book Unsafe at Any Speed not only created a sensation but was instrumental in the enactment of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. His efforts helped create the Environmental Protection Agency. He has exposed the misdeeds of the corporate sector as well as of the political system. In recent years he has been in the forefront of the struggles around NAFTA, the WTO, corporate welfare and single payer health care.