By: Paul Sperry
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, June 07, 2004
John Forbes Kerry has harsh words for CEOs who ship jobs overseas. He calls them "Benedict Arnolds."
It's hard to take such corporate-bashing seriously from a presidential candidate whose financial disclosure statement runs more than 460 pages long, and includes investments in several multinationals, such as GE, which have exported jobs overseas.
But it's even harder to take seriously Ralph Nader, the presidential foe on Kerry's left (good thing Nader's reed thin, because there's not much room left over there) and the anti-corporate gadfly from whom Kerry coopted the idea. Nader questioned the patriotism of companies that send jobs offshore long before Kerry did.
But Nader is an even bigger hypocrite. It turns out he and his nonprofit groups take stock in the very corporations he bashes for shipping jobs overseas.
"American workers who made possible these corporate profits ... are falling behind, both excluded and expendable," Nader said at a Feb. 23 press conference here to kick off his 2004 campaign. "Their labors have gone unrequited as these unpatriotic corporations abandon our country and shift industries abroad -- along with what is left of their allegiance to our country and our community."
Nader's latest financial disclosure report reveals the consumer advocate owns at least $2.1 million in corporate stock, which accounts for more than half his total net worth of $3.8 million. You'd think that someone who attacks corporate brass as "criminals" and "crooks" would never trust them with so much of his own money.
But that's just the obvious part of the hypocrisy.
Turn to page 10 of the 14-page public financial disclosure report he filed May 17 with the Federal Election Commission. There, Nader lists common shares of high-tech manufacturer Cisco Systems valued at between $250,001 and $500,000, a holding he also reported in his 2000 disclosure.
That's no small investment in a company that's a leader in offshore outsourcing. That's right. To cut costs in the high-tech slump, Silicon Valley-based Cisco has shipped hundreds of its high-paying American manufacturing jobs overseas to cheaper job markets in Ireland, Scotland and India.
In fact, Cisco is so good at outsourcing, it's teaching other companies how to do it.
For example, officials from the computer networking giant in January 2003 shared their insights about offshore outsourcing at a San Francisco conference hosted by the Strategic Research Institute. It was called, "Risks, Rewards and Tradeoffs of Offshore Outsourcing to India, China and Eastern Europe."
And just this January, Cisco officials attended another outsourcing conference in New York. Titled "Offshore Outsourcing: Making the Journey Work for Your Corporation," the confab brought the corporate fat cats Nader likes to bash up to speed on the hot new rage of replacing high-paying American jobs with lower-paying foreign jobs. Workers protested the conference outside the Westin New York Hotel in Times Square, waving placards that said "Put America Back to Work" and "Stop Sending Jobs Overseas."
So let's get this straight: While the workers Nader claims to fight for were braving the New York cold to shame Cisco and other jobs-shipping multinationals, Nader was by the fire polishing up a speech calling such firms "unpatriotic" -- all the while holding up to half a million dollars in Cisco stock.
But wait, the hypocrisy of this tweedy do-gooder only gets worse.
Nader lists himself as president of the Public Safety Research Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit. So I looked up the group's recent tax filings to see what kinds of investments it has made.
Listed in its 2002 corporate stock portfolio -- valued at more than $753,000 -- is $12,419 worth of GE stock. The jobs-shipping multinational also shows up in the institute's 2001 IRS statement.
This is the same GE that Nader has been at war with since the early 1980s for "not paying their fair share" of corporate taxes.
"General Electric for three years, in 1981 to '83, made $6.2 billion in profit [but] didn't pay a penny in federal income tax," the self-proclaimed populist grumbled in a speech on corporate corruption at the NAACP's 2000 Convention in Baltimore. "That means one worker in General Electric, one worker, paid more to Uncle Sam in sheer dollars than the giant General Electric company -- which, by the way, finagled the tax laws where it got [a] $120 million refund on top of paying no taxes."
The next year, Nader's non-profit helped GE make more money by buying 510 of its shares. Talk about not putting your money where your mouth is.
Tax records show his Public Safety Research Institute also bought 873 shares of AT&T and 564 shares of Verizon, who like Cisco rank among the outsourcing leaders.
Interestingly, the institute bought many of the same companies Nader bought for his personal stock portfolio since 2000 -- including ACTV Inc., Cadence Design Systems, Fibrecore and CNET Networks. And in 2002, it bought a whopping 22,000 shares of NASDAQ 100 Trust SRI valued at $536,140. Nader's presidential disclosure shows he owns $1,746,500 worth of NASDAQ 100 Trust SRI.
In an addendum to his disclosure, Nader maintains he tries to donate half his "adjusted gross income to charitable institutions." It's not clear how much money, if any, he gave to his nonprofit institute, or if any of it wound up in the nonprofit's stock portfolio. If the stock money came from other donors, it certainly didn't hurt the performance of Nader's personal stock portfolio, since it shares many of the same holdings.
The mystery could easily be solved by looking at Nader's personal tax returns, which would detail his charitable donations.
But as in the 2000 campaign, the millionaire refuses to release them.
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