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. Germany Plans To Ban Computer
Companies That Work
With NSA From Sensitive Public
2. The Practical Choice
3. The Price of Whistleblowing:
Assange, Kiriakou and Snowden
4. Hillary Clinton's Speaking
Circuit Payday: $5 Million (And
6. Bill Maher : most
Americans are Dumb and Uneducated
This is the Nederlog of May
21. It is an ordinary crisis issue.
Again, I will not
summarize what follows, but I will say today's Nederlog is quite a bit
shorter than yesterday's (and I keep up the old English grammatical
habit of indicating a genitive by "'s").
1. Germany Plans To Ban Computer Companies That
Work With NSA From Sensitive Public Contracts
The first item is
article by Glyn Moody on Techdirt:
This starts as follows:
This is something, but it is
as yet a plan, and it is also uncertain how it will be worked
in practice. Even so, this may soon cost US companies a lot of money.
As early as June last
year, Techdirt noted that beyond the political fallout of NSA spying,
there is a considerable risk that there will be serious economic
consequences too. That's because other countries are now aware that
one way the NSA has been obtaining sensitive information is through US
computer products that have secret backdoors added in some way. In that
post, we mentioned that Sweden
had banned the country's public bodies from using Google Apps; it
looks like Germany is going even further, as reported here in the
international edition of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung:
black-red "grand coalition" government has now tightened the rules for
awarding sensitive public IT contracts. In cases of doubt, suspicious
companies will now be excluded from such contracts. And companies now
have to sign documents to the effect that no contracts or laws oblige
them -- nor can they be coerced -- to pass on confidential data to
foreign secret services or security authorities.
Also, being a Linux
user: It certainly is better than MS Windows and one can
see all the code and it is free. It certainly will not
solve all problems, but it will lessen them, besides costing a lot less
money. If I were German, I would be quite in favor of the state's
mostly switching to Linux. (You can keep MS Windows on a few machines
for compatability, but that is really all that is needed: I did not run
Windows for over 2 years now, and I am using the computer a lot and for
a lot of things.)
next item is an article by Robert Reich on his blog (which really has a
far too long and unclear title, which I shortened):
This starts as
For years Americans have
assumed that our hard-charging capitalism is better than the
soft-hearted version found in Canada and Europe. American capitalism
might be a bit crueler but it generates faster growth and higher living
standards overall. Canada’s and Europe’s “welfare-state socialism” is
It was a questionable
assumption to begin with, relying to some extent on our collective
amnesia about the first three decades after World War II, when tax
rates on top incomes in the U.S. never fell below 70 percent, a larger
portion of our economy was invested in education than before or since,
over a third of our private-sector workers were unionized, we came up
with Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor, and built the
biggest infrastructure project in history, known as the interstate
But then came America’s
big U-turn, when we deregulated, de-unionized, lowered taxes on the
top, ended welfare, and stopped investing as much of the economy in
education and infrastructure.
Being a European, I
do like to point out that the phrase "“welfare-state socialism”" is bullshit. I
know it is between quotes, but it is simply false:
Yes, there was a
welfare-state in Europe; yes, compared with the US there still may be a
welfare-state in Europe; but no: socialism has very
little to do with it, and it would be much better to style the
system, at least from 1965-1995, as "capitalism-with-a-human-face".
Also, the human face
was mainly due to taxing the rich and the corporations, and
redistributing the taxes, and it seems to have worked fairly well also,
for some thirty years at least, and indeed it also was capitalism:
although the rich were more taxed than in the US, they still remained
rich, and everything else also was and is capitalistic.
Next, Reich explains:
The fact is, we’re
falling behind. While median per capita income in the United States has
stagnated since 2000, it’s up significantly in Canada and Northern
Europe. Their typical worker’s income is now higher than ours, and
their disposable income – after taxes – higher still.
Yes. Indeed Reich
gives quite a lot of data that suggests the US is considerably
worse of - that is: its many workers are, not its few rich, of course -
than are the Europeans and Canadians, and you should read the article
if you do not know these quite large differences, that include more
holidays, better education, and far shorter hours: the Germans work 28%
less than the US workers, and still have a lot more.
Here is the end of
So let’s put ideology
aside. The practical choice isn’t between capitalism and “welfare-state
socialism.” It’s between a system that’s working for a few at the top,
or one that’s working for just about everyone. Which would you prefer?
OK - though I would
say that the practical choice is between capitalism-
without-a-human-face and capitalism-with-a-human-face.
Also, the reason that this is a practical choice is
that it can - as yet - be made without either a revolution or a
3. The Price of Whistleblowing: Manning,
Greenwald, Assange, Kiriakou and Snowden
next item is an article by Jane Hamsher on Common Dreams, but it
originated on FireDogLake:
This starts as
follows, with something I did not know:
eating dinner last night around my kitchen table when the news of
the dustup between Wikileaks and the Intercept came through the
tubes. As I read the details to the people who came here to share food
and conversation, everyone’s eyebrows raised.
The eyebrows at a lot of
tables probably raised as Wikileaks took the Intercept to task for its latest
story, and failing to release the name of one of the countries in
which the United States is spying on its citizens. The Intercept
maintained they had been shown compelling evidence that led them to
redact the name; Wikileaks maintained the citizens of the country have
a right to know.
The last statement is
not a contradiction: Wikileaks probably has not seen the
evidence. In any case: this story is mostly a personal one, by
someone who is close to whistleblowers and their helpers, and her
theme is, in her words:
I’ve heard the same
concerns in the stories of whistleblowers over and over again — how do
you balance the interests of the public’s right to know with the price
that individuals could potentially pay for the releasing that
information? The answers are neither obvious nor easy.
Yes, indeed - though
the story is mostly personal.
Clinton's Speaking Circuit Payday: $5 Million (And Counting)
This starts as follows:
next item is an article by Andy Kroll on Mother Jones:
Bill and Hillary
Clinton spent the final years of the Clinton presidency cash-strapped and buried in legal debts. But they weren't hurting
for long: In her final days as first lady, Hillary landed
a near-record $8 million advance for her memoir Living
History, and by the time her 2008 presidential campaign was in
full swing, the Clintons were flush, together having
earned $109 million in the previous seven years.
This means that they
made over 15 million dollars a year, which shows that the lives of a
former US president and his wife are very well paid.
There is a lot more evidence about being paid very well for speeches by
former US presidents, and then Kroll rises a question:
for-profit speaking gigs raise a serious question for a possible
presidential candidate: Is she being courted by and/or providing access
to the well-heeled companies and industry groups—including Goldman
Sachs, the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the National
Association of Realtors, and the US Green Building Council, among many
others—that have paid her to speak?
To me, the answer
appears to be quite simple: Yes, of course she is, but no, no
one who may be president can escape "being courted"
by the rich and the powerful. So I don't see any special problem,
though I am not a fan of the Clintons.
next item is an article by Dr. David Healy on his site:
Let me first say that
although bad health care (which is the norm in the US) is part of the
crisis (as I analyzed it: See Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis and Crisis + DSM-5: It's the
deregulation, stupid!) Dr. Healy is regularly checked by me because he is
one of the few opponents of the medical system as it exists, which I
agree with him is thoroughly corrupt, in many ways also.
However, one of the most important ways in which the existing medical
system is thorougly corrupt is its handling of the outcomes of trials,
especially adverse trials, that is, trials which do not
support the efficacy of a drug: The pharmaceutical corporations have
made it virtually impossible for honest (!) doctors to find out
objectively how good drugs are, by making it virtually impossible for
them to get a good view of any adverse trials.
This means also - together with other events, such as that the
pharmaceutical corporations write much of the stuff that is signed
by Key Opinion Leaders in medicine, of course for a nice price - that
medicine ceased being a real science:
If the doctors, who are the only one to prescribe most drugs
that are being produced, cannot see how efficaceous these drugs
are, or what went wrong in adverse trials, they don't really know
what they prescribe. And I do think that is the case.
Next, to explain the next quotation, here are some terminological
GSK = Glaxo Smith Kline, one of the large pharmaceutical corporations;
BMJ = The British Medical Journal; and Ben Goldacre = a colleague and
pupil of (sir professor) Simon Wessely, whom I do not trust, while EMA
= the European Medicines Agency:
I suppose this is
right. Here is one more bit of Dr. Healy (and as to the "99%": Dr.
Healy is one of the very few medical doctors who has spoken up against
the corrupt practices of the pharmaceurical corporations, and who has
done so for a long time now):
When GSK signed up to
AllTrials Ben Goldacre rolled over and purred. The BMJ featured
Andrew Witty on their front cover as the candidate of hope.
In contrast, on this
blog, 1boringoldman and on RxISK a small group have warned consistently
that this was not good news. That what would be put in place was
a mechanism that gave the appearances of transparency but in fact would
lock academics into agreeing with GSK and other companies as to what
the outcomes of their trials have been.
Not content with a few academic ghost authors, GSK’s maneuver has put
industry well on the way to making Academia a ghost, a glove puppet
manipulated by company marketing departments.
But this week EMA has come out and said it is going to put in place the
GSK model of data access.
As someone who has been working the GSK system, I can say with
confidence that this is a disaster.
Yes, indeed. Besides,
the pharmaceutical corporations pay corrupt doctors, and corrupt
organizations of doctors, quite well. And doctors tend to be doctors because it pays
very well, and not because they put patients first, indeed with
a few exceptions.
If I made claims about a
drug to my colleagues but refused to show them the data, they’d have no
problem telling me to get lost. I’d be boycotted from here to kingdom
come. But when it comes to industry, 99% of doctors lack balls.
Doctors have been given a
license to degrade us by treating us like addicts – the origins of
prescription-only status. They have been given a license to print
money – we can only get our drugs through them. The very least
they could do in return is show some backbone.
But this is a decadent
situation and decadence rarely breeds courage.
But OK: medicine is corrupt, and got corrupted by the combination of
the pharmaceutical corporations with mostly money-oriented
medical doctors, who did not have the spine to protest as their science
was made into pseudo-science, where it is impossible to objectively
test the drugs they prescribe, because the
data are mostly secret, and are thoroughly guarded by the
Maher : most Americans are Dumb and Uneducated
next item is not an article but is a video with Bill Maher:
It is four years old,
and I've listed it four years ago, but I do it again, especially
because Bill Maher is one of the very, very few who has the courage to
say that dumbness and lack of education exist and are important, and I
think (since a very long time, also) that he is right:
Most of the policies that have been accepted in the democratic West
have been accepted by many, who did not really have both the
brains and the knowledge to judge them rationally, and who also got
propagandized and deceived a lot.
You may be
in favor of this, e.g. "because it is democratic", but I think you
should admit that giving the vote to all adults made it very
much easier for the politicians to deceive
the many: half of their electorate has an IQ lower than 100, and can
and will be deceived in almost any way - and that is all the
politicians need to get "a democratic majority".
 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: