Thomas Sowell

Years later, extensive government tests showed that the Corvair's safety was comparable to that of similar cars of its era. But, by then, the Corvair was extinct -- killed off by the crusade that earned Nader a place as a kind of secular saint in the media.

Even those who disagree with some of Nader's conclusions or methods often make obeisance to his "idealism" as a "consumer advocate" and credit his work with improving automobile safety. But again, evidence is seldom asked for or given.

For decades before Ralph Nader came on the scene, automobile fatality rates were declining, despite more cars on the streets and highways, traveling at faster speeds. The automobile fatality rate per miles driven was less than one-third as high when "Unsafe at Any Speed" was published as it was back in the 1920s.

But facts never carry as much weight as a dramatic vision of "corporate greed" sacrificing helpless consumers until they are rescued by "consumer advocates" and federal regulations. For the left, Nader was playing their song and they danced to it.

Although the term "consumer advocate" has acquired a certain halo in the media, there are no qualifications whatever required to be called a consumer advocate. Moreover, Nader was never a consumer advocate in any real sense. He was a Nader advocate then and he is a Nader advocate now, when he runs for office oblivious to his friends and supporters.

In one of his earliest writings, Nader said, "the consumer must be protected at times from his own indiscretion and vanity." In other words, he wanted the Ralph Naders of the world to be able to dictate to consumers and producers alike. It's all about him. So is running for president.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate