- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2000

Well, well, so Ralph Nader, the scourge of corporate greed and the liberal nemesis of Wall Street, is heavily invested in the stock market and has built up a small fortune to the tune of nearly $4 million.

His biggest investment is in Cisco Systems, one of the hot, fast-buck, high-tech companies doing business here and throughout the global economy that Nader has sworn to stop dead in its tracks. He owns $1.2 million in Cisco stock alone, plus a number of other stocks with names like ComCorp, FiberCore, Ziff-Davis and Iomega.

Ralph Nader, who does not own a car, flies coach, and lives a Spartan bachelor life on $25,000 a year in a small apartment in D.C., has made some smart investments in big, bad corporate America that have turned him into a very rich capitalist.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld might say. Except he has been bashing boardrooms for the past 35 years, blaming corporate capitalism and businesses for every ill under the sun from pollution to urban sprawl, not to mention Gameboys and Big Macs.

There is, apparently, in Mr. Nader's mind, nothing good that businesses do. They have poisoned our atmosphere, laid waste to our forests and farmlands, taken over our kids' minds with ads and corporate logos, poisoned our bodies with unhealthy fast food, corrupted our political process and exported our jobs.

Even pure bottled water is bad, he said recently, because it has driven the "contented classes" the people who need to be aroused to action over issues like clean water into apathy.

But as Mr. Nader's stock portfolio (on file at the Federal Election Commission) suggests, a lifelong career of fighting greedy corporate interests and free enterprise has paid him handsome dividends, not to mention fat speaking fees.

And Mr. Nader has plumbed the depths of this lucrative business, charging universities and other organizations anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 a speech. In the last 16 months, for example, he has given 59 paid speeches, making him and his causes a lot of money.

All told, he estimates that he has made about $14 million in honorariums, royalties and writing fees since 1967, when he burst on the scene as the consumer crusader who took on General Motors and the Chevrolet Corvair which he said was a menace, and which has since become a collector's dream.

His paid speeches alone bring him between $200,000 to $300,000 a year, which puts him in the rarefied company of the top 5 percent of income earners in the country.

Yes, he has given away a lot of his money to support his various causes, but he has also invested a significant chunk of it to make himself a multimillionaire.

He sees no contradiction between bashing Wall Street and corporate culture and investing his money with the titans of corporate America. Nor does he suffer any pangs of guilt about attacking the system that has made Americans the most prosperous people on the planet, while taking fat speaking fees that in many cases ultimately come from corporate donors whose activities he, apparently, detests.

Mr. Nader has lots of company in practicing this dubious double standard. Pat Buchanan, a Nader soulmate in their tariff-taxing, regulatory crusade against the global economy, has made a good living excoriating Wall Street, corporate interests and free traders, while at the same time building a big stock portfolio stuffed with the stocks of the same multinational corporations that he condemns.

I remember Mr. Buchanan delivering a fiery presidential campaign speech in which he attacked Walmart one of the great companies "Where America shops." But when he released his financial statement, Walmart was one of the holdings in his portfolio.

Gary Bauer, who ran for president earlier this year as a Reagan Republican, but then ran a very un-Reaganlike campaign that attacked big business and "greedy corporate interests" because they wanted to sell made-in-America products such as Boeing planes to China. But Mr. Bauer, too, has a very substantial stock portfolio.

Ralph Nader is running for president on the Green Party ticket, and once again he is condemning corporate interests that he says are destroying our communities, our land and our culture. Companies such as Boeing, Archer Daniels Midland, McDonald's, General Motors, Weyerhauser and Cisco Systems.

Millions of ordinary, hard-working Americans, with families to feed and support, work for great American companies like these. Many of these same Americans invest in them because they believe they make great products that have made the world a better place. And they believe their investments will give them a comfortable retirement income in the years to come.

Unlike Ralph Nader, most American workers will never make $15,000 a speech, rake in $300,000 a year, or have a net worth of $4 million.

But like him, many of them are invested in the stock market, which has made the U.S. economy the envy of the world and the key to achieving the American dream. The only difference is that, unlike Mr. Nader, they wouldn't think of investing in Wall Street with one hand while bashing it with the other solely for political and monetary gain.

Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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