John Singleton, “Mr. Ralph Nader,”
Advertising News, August 20, 1971, p. 4.

It is reported that Ralph Nader, America’s consumer muckraker, crusader and zealot, is considering a trip to Australia.

The reason for the trip is unspecified and the trip itself is unconfirmed, but it is as well that we look at Nader and his purpose so that we better understand the energy, the genius and the effectiveness of the man.

First it should be pointed out that Nader has only rarely shown any signs of the dictatorial censor-everything attitudes that our own local consumer bigots are so keen to promulgate.

Rather he has taken the side of the consumer and taken the responsibility to inform the consumer of the other side of the story.

This responsibility should rightly be that of the government, but unfortunately, it is doubtful if such a besmirched and ridiculed body could gain credence for any findings, on any motive above self-grandiosement.

Smoking may give you balls. It may also give you cancer. You choose.

The car may look lovely. It may also kill you.

Ultimately the consumer will always judge the product and the company; and ultimately evil reaps its own lack of reward. But in the meantime, it is the Christianity of Ralph Nader that causes people to think about the promises so easily given and so easily broken by companies and products throughout the world.

It is Nader who makes us think about the pollution of the water and the skies by a few. When those same waterways and skies are owned by us all.

Again it falls into Nader’s lap because the governmental bodies have neither the concern nor the love, the intelligence, nor the respect to do this job which they in fact should be doing. But will never be able to do. So first let us not confuse Nader with the people who believe that not referring to brand X will save the world.

Let us not confuse Nader with the people who believe that advertising should be censored, even though at the same time censorship on all other matter should be unceremoniously dumped.

Certainly I believe that at times Nader has let his zeal influence his good sense and many of his campaigns have failed because of this.

But let us look at one important example where a Nader could have felt a moral responsibility to inform the consumer of the other side of the story. And let us see what the real result might have been. If any. The cause in point: mutual funds.

I believe that the other side of the story could well have been told in the midst of all the get-rich-quick claims, eg., you get nothing for nothing. And the bigger the rewards, the bigger the risk. Think about it. Then make up your own mind.

In New York there is an attorney who specialises in lawsuits on behalf of mutual fund shareholders. His name is Mordecai Rosenfield. One of his papers on the matter makes the dangers clear.

In 1965, for example, Americans spent more than $4.25 billion on mutual shares. And most investors haven’t got a clue what the thing is all about. Except when you get rich quick and do nothing getting there.

The mutual premise is simple. You invest your bread. It gets lumped in with a lot of other people’s bread, and get invested across the board in stocks of all sort of companies. Good, bad, and indifferent. The idea is full of merit, and it can work very well. It can also fail very badly.

Mutual funds grow in two ways. One way is if the stocks bought by the fund go up in price. The other way is if the fund attracts massive new sums of money from new investors. In such cases, the fund can grow even though the investment stock may itself be falling.

So how are great new sums attracted?

The funds are sold by salesman. Not unpredictably, they are paid a commission per sale.

Typically this commission is 8 per cent.

This means that the moment you invest your $100, it is immediately worth only $92.

To even-break even in the first year, the average stock must increase 8 per cent. This doesn’t often happen. And the position is even worse for the people who invest on terms. When you decide to invest $100 per year, the normal commission is $8 per year.

But people drop out, and so salesmen do not get so keen to flog this very lucrative market.

To overcome this, a thing called “front – end – load” is established. This means that in your agreement you “agree” to pay the first five years commission out of your first year’s investment. This means that out of your first $100, only $60 is left from the moment you sign. And that’s a lot of making up to do to even get square.

Now a lot of investment funds work with neither this heavy commission system, nor the “front – end – load”. They make their money from giving investment advice to the fund.

But in the most publicised cases, this form of remuneration is even more doubtful and expensive than the commission and the front-end-load combined.

Normally a fund “hires” an outside investment council and pays them one half of one per cent for advice.

So a fund of $400,000,000 a years pays $2,000,000 a year for advice. And it is not impossible for that outside council to have inside directors and participants in the fund itself. The one half of one per cent sounds insignificant. But it is not.

In fact, it mostly amounts to between 15 and 20 per cent of a fund’s total income. And most often this advice isn’t worth a cent. Averaging no better result than a pin in the paper technique, which anyone could have applied without the commissions, without the front-end-load, and certainly with a far greater sense of participation and enjoyment.

It is all a very bad scene isn’t it?

Someone like Nader, or the government, or someone should do something about it, shouldn’t they?

It is a wicked, wicked, evil, evil world.

But the fact remains, despite all the preceding facts, that most people who invested in mutual funds did in fact make money, despite everything. If it hadn’t been for the funds, they may have left their money in the very ethical, very uncriticised banks where governmental legislation pegs interest rates so that you can actually lose money every year with the full blessing of our elected representatives. Or you could do your dough on the horses, or on the poker machines. And that is O.K.

And that is the whole point. Ultimately the consumer judges in any case. In the meantime we need Ralph Nader and intelligent, trusted people like him to inform the consumer of the other side of the story.

But how far should restrictive legislation really go?

I hate to mention it again, but prohibition just doesn’t work.

You don’t need protection.

I don’t need protection.

All we really want is information.

It is all the other idiots out there who really need protection.

Except they think it is us who need it.

And that is why Ralph Nader sells so well.

John Singleton, “Mr. Ralph zzzzzz,”
Advertising News, July 7, 1972, p. 20.

I have just spent one of the most informative, dull, grey and boring evenings of my life.

I have just heard Ralph Nader speak at a $25 a plate dinner and even the food was lousy.

By now I suppose that everyone knows that this Nader person did a spectacular job in the late 1960’s with his book Unsafe at Any Speed. His book spelt the end of General Motors’ Corvair which was an excellent car in all but one respect: it killed people.

It is probably equally well know that General Motors set out to discredit Nader by seeking to prove that he was in the employ of Ford, a lecher, a drunk, a poofter, a leso or anything else really awful.

General Motors failed and General Nader won a great victory for us all.

A man could, after all, fight City Hall and win. And I think, and hope, that the job Nader did was applauded by every right thinking person in every democratic country in the world.

However, after Tuesday night, I believe I could be forgiven for believing that the people who most capitalised on Nader’s initial success were the socialist disruptives in our society, the theoreticians and academics who know nothing of the processes of the real world.

And after Tuesday night I now personally see Nader as nothing more than a populist of the less than popular causes of nationalisation and socialism.

It should be widely accepted that man, as represented on Tuesday night be Nader, tomorrow by the Government, and the day after by the consumerist group, has every right to protect himself from the selfish pollution and dangerous exploitation of giant, unthinking industry.

But no man or group of men has the right to protect man from his own self-pollution or self-destruction.

Ralph Nader either disagrees with this basic of democracy or sees himself far above mortal man and in a position of supreme judgement.

As three people on the official table appeared to doze off, and at least a quarter of the audience actually did start sawing logs in thought balloons, Nader sallied forth.

In shuffling, uncertain-sounding, note-reading monotone Nader launched poisoned mutterings against General Motors (many times), Ford (once), banks, analgesics, Firestone tyres, emotional advertising, the failure of advertising to fully inform, the number of people who are killed each week on TV, female cosmetics (a little), male cosmetics (a lot) … and spoke in favour only of socialism, nationalisation, the Democratic party (and by inference, the Labor party, who apparently organised the whole thing in the clever bearded disguise of Barry Jones), anti-cancer ads, corrective adveertising, the Federal Trade Commission, and nationalisation (again) and socialism (again).

It all reminded me of a rerun of a marketing seminar at any Australian university in the land.

It is a fact that in the marketing courses at Monash, university students for the past two years have had beliefs exactly parallel to Nader’s: before their course.

The facts are that 93 per cent of students initially define marketing as “screwing the consumer”. After they find out the facts of life about the subject, the definition changes in the same percentage to an understanding that marketing is nothing more than isolating a consumer need, satisfying it with a new product or service, and then communicating this satisfaction (advertising). At a profit.

It is a pity that Mr. Nader’s background includes no practical experience of marketing or he would seem less like a fresh university student and more aware of the responsibilities he is making so freely available for easy exploitation by those whose goals are unspecified but obvious.

For a start when Nader criticises the emergence of the male cosmetic, and the advertising of Coca-Cola, Mr. Nader does not realise that the psychogenic needs of people are at least as important to them as base physical needs.

Mr. Nader obviously has also missed the real world in places other than the marketing area if he doesn’t understand this himself: personally.

Nor does Mr. Nader realise that the consumer does not want to hear the bad things about a product. The consumer wants to hear the good things.

Otherwise, Mr. Nader would not want Wonder Bread to donate 25 per cent of their ad-time to disclaiming previous advertising themes and then wonder why Wonder sales go up, instead of down.

Nor would he want cigarette advertising banned and cautions printed on the packs, because he would realise that such steps do nothing but make smoking more evil and therefore even more appealing to the consumer.

Poor Mr. Nader seeks to protect a consumer that he hasn’t even started to understand. In fact, I left Mr. Nader’s dissertation on Tuesday night convinced that here was an opportunity for supreme good being used as nothing more than a populist tool for theoretical university campus baby talk.

Anyone who heard Nader must leave convinced that the man wants the world to see itself as it really is. And he believes the world should go along with what he wants: an ugly real world with hairy underarms, bad breath and dirty teeth, holed up in a cave and wrapped in a loin cloth.

Mr. Nader, I believe, wants us to believe that our psychogenic needs are unreal and are nothing other than the results of hidden persuasion from clever, evil minds from the Madison Avenues of the Western world.

Bachelor Nader wants us to believe that a screw is a screw and that love is something that we only read about in the ads.

And as I sat watching and trying so hard to listen to this obviously dedicated man saying all the things that he was expected to say, I wondered if he could still remember what he really set out to do in the first place.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Holed up, hold-up and holdout
  36. The libertarian alternative vs the socialist status quo
  37. Workers Party Platform
  38. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  39. Singo and Howard on Business
  40. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  41. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  42. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  43. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  44. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  45. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  46. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  47. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  48. The last words of Charles Russell
  49. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  50. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  51. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  52. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  53. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  54. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  55. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  56. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  57. Voices of frustration
  58. Policies of Workers Party
  59. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  60. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  61. Singo and Howard on Context
  62. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  63. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  64. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  65. Singo and Howard on Decency
  66. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  67. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  68. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  69. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  70. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  71. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  72. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  73. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  74. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  75. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  76. Bludgers need not apply
  77. New party formed "to slash controls"
  78. The Workers Party
  79. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  80. The great consumer protection trick
  81. The "Workers" speak out
  82. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  83. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  84. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  85. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  86. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  87. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  88. Singo and Howard on Young People
  89. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  90. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  91. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  92. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  93. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  94. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  95. Political branch formed
  96. Government seen by new party as evil
  97. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  98. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  99. Singo and Howard on Licences
  100. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  101. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  102. Singo and Howard on Voting
  103. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  104. Singo and Howard on Education
  105. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  106. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  107. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  108. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  109. A happy story about Aborigines
  110. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  111. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  112. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  113. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  114. The Discipline of Necessity
  115. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  116. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  117. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  118. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  119. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  120. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  121. The impossible dream
  122. Why can't I get away with it?
  123. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  124. Time for progress
  125. The loonie right implodes
  126. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  127. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  128. Censorship should be banned
  129. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  130. John Singleton on Advertising
  131. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  132. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  133. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  134. John Singleton defends ockerism
  135. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  136. The Census Con
  137. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  138. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  139. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  140. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  141. John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
  142. John Hyde's Progress Party praise
  143. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  144. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  145. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  146. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  147. Save Parramatta Road
  148. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  149. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  150. Singo and Howard on Unions
  151. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  152. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  153. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  154. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  155. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  156. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  157. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  158. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  159. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  160. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  161. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  162. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  163. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  164. The mouse will roar
  165. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  166. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  167. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  168. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  169. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  170. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  171. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  172. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  173. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  174. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  175. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  176. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  177. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  178. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  179. Product innovation comes first
  180. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  181. A party is born
  182. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  183. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  184. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  185. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  186. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  187. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  188. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  189. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  190. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  191. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  192. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  193. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  194. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  195. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  196. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  197. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  198. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  199. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  200. Return Australia Post to Sender
  201. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  202. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  203. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  204. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  205. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  206. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  207. Gortlam rides again
  208. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  209. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  210. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  211. Singo asks two prickly questions
  213. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  214. Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
  215. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  216. An Ode to Busybodies
  217. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  218. How many tits in a tangle?
  219. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  220. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  221. A speech from the Titanic
  222. A crime must have a victim
  223. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  224. Minimum wages the killer
  225. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  226. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  227. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  228. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  229. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  230. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  231. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  232. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  233. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  234. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  235. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  236. New improved moon
  237. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  238. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  239. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  240. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  241. John Singleton schools ad course
  242. John Singleton: advertising awards
  243. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  244. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
  245. John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare
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