who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. NASA-Funded Study Sounds
Alarm for Civilization
2. Britain's five richest families worth more
3. The Untaxed Americans: The Speculators, Hustlers, and
Freeloaders of Wall Street
Bill Black: The Most Dishonest Number in the World:
5. Think You Understand Obama?
You Don't, But You Will
After Watching This
This is the Nederlog of March
17. It is again a crisis
issue and it has five items with seven dotted links.
Study Sounds Alarm for Civilization
The first article is by Alexander
Reed Kelly on Truth Dig:
This article starts as follows:
Actually, I don't think
previous collapses of civilization are very relevant, apart from the
fact that they show a collapse is possible. What is relevant is the
evidence one has, and there I am in the side of dr. Nafeez Ahmed: I
think there is good evidence that a collapse is nigh or indeed has
A new study sponsored by
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center confirmed the prospect that
worldwide industrial civilization could collapse in the coming decades
under “unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal
wealth distribution,” Dr. Nafeez Ahmed reports at The Guardian.
The study dismissed the
notion that warnings of “collapse” should remain fringe or
controversial, citing the history of the fall of previous civilizations
to show that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent
cycle found throughout history.”
In fact, Alexander Reed Kelly's source is this article by dr. Nafeez
Ahmed in The Guardian:
Ahmed explains that there is a
HANDY model, that is, a Human And Nature DYnamical model that has been
put together by a team
led by applied
mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science
Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of
natural and social scientists.
They found that Population,
Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy are the most salient
interrelated factors that explain the collapse of civilizations, after
which dr. Ahmed says
These factors can
lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social
features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the
ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of
society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These
social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the
process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five
I say - and now we have
most Western governments insisting on a much greater difference
between the elites and the commoners than there has been since the
previous crisis, which is that of the nineteenthirties, and we have
an extremely rapidly increasing temperature, for one factor of many
that could be mentioned, and both started circa 2000.
Then dr. Ahmed says:
There is another scenario with
the same outcome (collapse), after which dr. Ahmed says about the
Modelling a range of
different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under
conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we
find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these
".... appears to be on
a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal
depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the
Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among
Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is
important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an
inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a
collapse of Nature."
In both scenarios,
Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most
"detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later
than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual'
despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue,
could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites
who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly
apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."
Finally, dr. Ahmed - after
considerably more that I leave to your perusal - concludes as follows:
Although the study
is largely theoretical, a number of other more empirically-focused
studies - by KPMG
and the UK
Government Office of Science for instance - have warned that the
convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a 'perfect
storm' within about fifteen years. But these 'business as usual'
forecasts could be very
What should one make of this?
I note three points.
First, I have seen quite a few doom scenarios since the late
nineteensixties. One important one was the Limits to
Growth report of 1972, and another, not long before that The Population
Bomb, from 1968, by Paul R. Ehrlich.
I have read both books when they came out and was not convinced, and
indeed many of the prophecies of the latter book have turned out false.
However, empirical science is always uncertain ("If it is
certain, then it is not empirical" - Einstein), and books also may be
wrong in many predictions, yet may turn out to be right overall (which
is what Ehrlich claims about his book).
Second, one of the things I did conclude in the early
nineteenseventies, that has remained the same since, is that if
there occurs a great natural crisis, e.g. through temperature rise, then
the present societies are not capable of stopping it, for lack
of money, lack of understanding, lack of man power, and lack of any
Note that politicians will rarely conclude this is so, and still mostly
don't, but I think that stance of mine has been validated by all that
happened since the early nineteenseventies - for that is mostly nothing
(other than enriching makers of windmills and solar panels, that
certainly are not enough), indeed except enormous masses of political
talk that led to very little.
Third, another thing I did
conclude in the early nineteenseventies also still holds: it seems that
the only realistic hope there is, is of a very rapidly
developing real science, in all fields, but especially as regards
to fusion power,
that may resolve at least the energy crisis.
Note that the research into the possibility of fusion power
started in the nineteentwenties, which means that it is nearly a
hundred years old. There have been some breakthroughs, but so far there
is nothing like a working, safe and stable system that produces a lot
more energy as output than is required as input.
2. Britain's five richest families worth
more than poorest 20%
The next article is by
Larry Elliott on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I agree with Oxfam, but
do not see it happening with the present British government, that works
for the rich, at the cost of the poor.
The scale of Britain's
growing inequality is revealed today by a report from a leading charity
showing that the country's five richest families now own more wealth
than the poorest 20% of the population.
Oxfam urged the chancellor
George Osborne to
use Wednesday's budget to make a fresh
assault on tax avoidance and introduce
a living wage in a report highlighting how a handful of the super-rich,
headed by the Duke of Westminster, have more money and financial assets
than 12.6 million Britons put together.
The development charity,
which has opened UK programmes to tackle poverty, said the government
should explore the possibility of a wealth tax after revealing how
income gains and the benefits of rising asset prices had
disproportionately helped those at the top.
Here, by the way, are some figures:
There is a lot more in
In a report, a Tale of
Two Britains, Oxfam said the poorest 20% in the UK had wealth totalling
£28.1bn – an average of £2,230 each. The latest rich list from Forbes
magazine showed that the five top UK entries – the family of the Duke
of Westminster, David and Simon Reuben, the Hinduja brothers, the
Cadogan family, and Sports Direct retail boss Mike Ashley – between
them had property, savings and other assets worth £28.2bn.
Untaxed Americans: The Speculators, Hustlers, and Freeloaders of Wall
The next article is
by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
American products generally come with a sales tax, and often an excise
tax, and possibly state and local add-on taxes. A consumer can avoid
all this by limiting purchases to food
and prescription drugs, or by shopping online. There's one more way—by visiting a nearby
financial exchange and buying a million dollars worth of derivatives.
There is currently no U.S.
tax on the purchase of stocks, derivatives, and other financial
instruments. The rest of us pay up to a 10 percent sales tax on the
necessities of daily life. A tiny financial transaction tax of
perhaps a tenth of a percent on the trading of financial securities
would begin to correct this inequity, while generating billions of
dollars of revenue.
There are at least five
good reasons why our country is ready for such a financial transaction tax (FTT).
He also lists five
reasons that follow, but without the text in which he defends
them, which you can check out yourself, if interested:
1. The Top Four
"Freest Economies" All Have FTTs
2. The Top "Sin
Tax" Candidate is Not Taxed At All
Quadrillion-Dollar Trader CME Has the Highest Profit
Margin in the Corporate World
4. The Wall Street
'Liquidity' Argument is Bull Roar
5. Stocks Gained
$4.7 Trillion in 2013 while Schools and
Food and Libraries Were Cut
There also is sixth
one, although that seems covered by several of the foregoing five: The
more you earn, the more you should be taxed (simply because you
made the most from the rest of society, or at least more than most). As
it was said: "If I pay taxes, I buy civilization" (Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Sr - I think).
This is simple
fairness, at least in an open and free society. I know this does not
hold anymore, but that is mostly because the very rich have taken over
both politics and the press (not completely, yet, but for a
considerable part, and not personally, but by employing well paid eager
servants), and have increased their own riches enormously by propaganda
4. Bill Black: The Most Dishonest Number in the World: LIBOR
Next, an article
by Bill Black
that I found on nakedcapitalism, but that originates at New Economic
This starts as follows
(with links by me, to Wikipedia, that are probably necessary):
The FDIC has sued 16 of the
largest banks in the world plus the British Bankers Association (BBA)
alleging that they engaged in fraud and collusion to manipulate the
London Inter-bank Offered Rate (LIBOR). BBA called
LIBOR “The most important number in the world.”
LIBOR is actually many
numbers that depend on the currency and term (maturity) of the
loan. The collusion involved manipulating most of these
rates. A vast number of loans and derivatives are priced off of
these “numbers.” Estimates of the notional dollar amount of deals
affected by the collusion range from $300-550 trillion in deals
manipulated at any given time. The LIBOR frauds began no later
than 2005 and continued through 2011.
The BBA and the banks
claimed to the world that LIBOR was simply the prices (interest rates)
set by the market for what it cost the world’s largest banks to borrow
from each other. The banks would report to the BBA those interest
rates and, after excluding outliers, the average reported cost to
borrow for X days in Y currency would be reported as the LIBOR “number.”
The system was not
regulated. The theory was that the banks self-regulated.
LIBOR was the City of London’s “crown jewel” and theoclassical
economics predicted that the elite banks’ self-interest in their
reputation and the value they gained from having LIBOR as the global
standard would ensure that the banks would report honestly. As my
readers know, any discussion of the “banks’” interests is dangerously
misleading. The key question is the interests of the banks’
officers, particularly those that control the banks. The
“unfaithful agent” (bank officer) is the leading threat to the
banks. Theoclassical economists assumed away the “agency” problem.
seems to be a term of Black's (who is right that most economics I know
is thinly veiled ideology).
And this continues:
The fact that the FDIC
“only” sued 16 of the largest banks in the world does not indicate that
the other elite banks were run honestly. The other elite banks
were not part of the group that set LIBOR so they could not join in the
cartel. The LIBOR conspiracy could only succeed and persist if
none of 16 elite banks was controlled by honest officers and no
regulator acted to end the collusion once they became aware of the
collusion (which happened no later than April 16, 2008). We ran a
real world test of the ethics of the leaders of 16 of the world’s most
elite banks. The scorecard according to the U.S. government
agency that investigated the matter (the FDIC) reports that each of the
leaders failed. Our twin emergencies are financial and ethical.
And that is the
problem: the rich are fraudulent - and not just a few or some of the
rich: ALL of the heads of the largest banks are fraudulent.
There is a lot more
under the last dotted link. Here is part of the ending of the article:
This should have led the
criminal justice authorities to prosecute large numbers of senior
officers of these banks – but none of them have been prosecuted.
It obviously poses a grave threat to the “safety and soundness” of the
entire financial system. The endemic frauds led by elite CEOs
demonstrate such a pervasive failure of integrity and ethics by the
leaders of the finance industry that there is a moral crisis of tragic
Yes, indeed. And next,
a video plus an article on the man who was supposed to stop this (also
according to himself, before he was elected):
5. Think You Understand Obama? You Don't, But
You Will After
a video by The Young Turks that aims at explaining US president Obama:
It takes 11 minutes and 15
seconds, and its main problem is to explain why president Obama says
many progressive things and then succeeds in doing those things that
led John Boehner to say he gives the Republicans 98% of what they like
(which Obama then calls "compromises").
In fact, the source of the video is this article by David Bromwhich,
who teaches literature at Yale, in the Huffington Post:
Here is part of Bromwhich's
sum-up on Obama:
The law journal
editor without a published article, the lawyer without a well-known
case to his credit, the law professor whose learning was agreeably
presented without a distinctive sense of his position on the large
issues, the state senator with a minimal record of yes or no votes, and
the U.S. senator who between 2005 and 2008 refrained from committing
himself as the author of a single piece of significant legislation:
this was the candidate who became president in January 2009.
There is a lot more in
the article, most in line with the above: the president hardly did
anything definite or characteristic, but he did all he did very
handily, and I can sum it up by my own points, all of which can be
Which is to say, in a word,
that he is spineless, although he is so in a - seemingly - very
sympathetic way to everyone, and he also is a good, though not a great,
speaker, who very much likes his own words.
- Obama always is very
much middle of the road, everywhere.
- Obama has no political characteristics or
principles, except for being a vague democrat.
- Obama is always willing "to compromise",
especially on the side of the strong.
- Obama has no principles, he only has "preferences".
I think that may very well be true, and I do not myself expect anything
good from his government, and mostly because of the type of leader he
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
from is quite pertinent.)
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: