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Empowering People with Information

— July 3, 2017

What you don’t know can hurt you. It’s “an old saying,” but it’s also a modern truth. An informed public is better prepared to face the challenges of today’s world, which is why empowering people with information is so important.

What you don’t know can hurt you. It’s “an old saying,” but it’s also a modern truth. An informed public is better prepared to face the challenges of today’s world, which is why empowering people with information is so important.

USA Today Poll on GOP Health Care Plan

On June 29, 2017’s front page of USA Today is the headline, Poll: Only 12% Support GOP Health Care Plan. The accompanying editorial reads:

“Scrambling for votes on their wildly unpopular health care bill, Senate Republicans find themselves with an unappealing choice. They can anger their base by ditching seven years of promises to repeal Obamacare. Or they can strip 22 million people — more than the population of Florida — of their health coverage.

On a moral basis, this is not a close call. And even as a political calculation, ramming through a plan supported by just 12% of the public doesn’t look like a brilliant move.”1

The proposed GOP Health Care Plan will result in many more needless deaths of Americans.2

Looks like more Americans are recognizing that Republican policies favor money rather than people’s health, safety, happiness, and justice.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – A Tool for the People

Michael R. Lemov has written an Op-Ed on the FOIA published in the Baltimore Sun. He notes:

“The Freedom of Information Act will be 51 years old. July 4th marks the birthday of the law that, for the first time in U.S. history, gave all persons a sweeping right to obtain government records. FOIA may be middle aged, but it is still very relevant. In fact, the advent of the Trump administration gives the law new immediacy. It can be used to open government records (potentially even memoranda to and from the White House) thus assisting citizens in understanding and acting on their lawfulness and policy implications.

This is important because President Donald Trump has, in the first five months of his administration, pushed the limits of executive power. He has used unilateral actions or executive orders to override national laws and policy in areas including immigration limitations, environmental protection and the enactment of updated consumer and worker safety rules.”

A FOIA to Keep NHTSA Honest and People Safe

Quality Control Systems Corp., a company with a record of auto safety research, has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation. They note:

“The data we are seeking involve crashes with airbag deployments and Tesla Incorporated’s Autopilot driver assistance program. The data were analyzed by NHTSA as part of the Agency’s investigation (PE16-007) into the Automatic Emergency Braking or Autopilot systems of Model Year 2014-2016 Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles.

Independent, scientific researchers need the data to assess the validity of the remarkable claim made by NHTSA that airbag deployments in Tesla vehicles dropped by almost 40 percent after the installation of a component of the Tesla’s Autopilot system, Autosteer.”4

Protecting People’s Health, Safety, and Happiness with Information

Some lawyers help people get the information from an increasingly secretive Federal Government. Thanks to Legal Reader for publishing information to protect people in the courts of public opinion and the law.5 [Editor’s note: Thank you, Lou, for your advocacy and being one of our regular guest bloggers.]

Ralph Nader, consumer activist and founder of the American Museum of Tort Law, said,“Corporate lawyers represent corporate power and defend corporate crime for high hourly fees while plaintiff lawyers represent wrongfully injured human beings and communities and only get paid if they prevail — because they work on a contingent fee.”6

Globally accessible information;
Globally accessible information;

It’s in the best interests of corporate America to limit the public’s access to information that would help people make better decisions. The only way to counteract this campaign of ignorance is by sharing the information we have, using tools like FOIA to gain access to information we don’t have (and then sharing that), and continuing to have conversations about the challenges we face today.

Since I arrived in Washington in 1965 to work on air pollution control, I have never seen greater need for getting information out to the public.


  1. Senate health care bill: An exit strategy
  2. Our Health, Safety and Happiness – Under Attack
  3. At 51, FOIA is still relevant, maybe more than ever
  4. Replicating NHTSA’s Extraordinary Safety Claims about Tesla’s Autopilot/Autosteer System
  5. Great Resource For Protecting We the People
  6. Ralph Nader Calls on Trial Lawyers to Open Up Annual Meeting

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