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Nederlog


  July
13, 2014
Crisis: Corporatism, Merkel, Facebook, Torture, Dutch
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1.
The Myths of Big Corporate Capitalism
2. Merkel doubts whether US will stop spying on Germany
3. Facebook Is Studying Your Mom, Your Makeout Buddy,
     and Your 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

4.
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, A Nation of Cowards?
5. Dutch writings

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the second Nederlog of July 13. It is an ordinary crisis log. (The previous file of today is mostly in Dutch and is a part of my autobiography. It treats the year 1980, for my ex and myself.)

I found only four items today and also three of these are - let's say - more theoretical or more speculative than is the usual fare here. I do not mind, and do not suppose it was planned that way.

1.  The Myths of Big Corporate Capitalism

The first item is an article by
Ralph Nader (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows - and I inserted ", promote" because such a word seems intended and needed:
Large corporate capitalism is a breed apart from smaller scale capitalism. The former can often avoid marketplace verdicts through corporate welfare, strip owner-shareholders of power[, promote] over the top company bosses and offload the cost of their pollution, tax escapes and other “externalities” onto the backs of innocent people.
Yes indeed, and there are several reasons why this "is a breed apart":

Very often, the large corporations are monopolies or oligopolies, which means that they do not compete in anything like a free market, but can set their own prices; very often they have very great amounts of cash money, with which they can do as they please; very often they are not controlled by their nominal owners, the shareholders, but are controlled by their own top managers; and often these managers have the ears of leading politicians.

Indeed, one may ask whether "capitalism" is the right term for multi-national oligopolies controlled by an few top managers, who earn millions or tens of millions a year. Of course, they use capital, but Nader is quite correct they are quite different from ordinary capitalist firms, which have to compete, cannot set their own prices, do not have much free money, are not spread over several or many countries, while their leaders do not have easy access to leading politicians.

These are good questions, and my reply is that I prefer, when speaking about large multi-national oligopolies, to speak about "corporatism" rather than of  "capitalism", also because I agree with Nader they are really different from smaller capitalist firms.

And indeed Nader's next paragraph is:
Always evolving to evade the theoretically touted disciplines of market competition, efficiency and productivity, corporate capitalism has been an innovative machine for oppression.
Yes indeed - and note the differences: This is possible especially because of great power, lots of money, and multi-nationalism, which escapes much of the control by the state.

Here is how Apple does it:
Apple Inc. is spending $130 billion of its retained profits on a capital return program, $90 billion of which it will use to repurchase its own stock through 2015.
(...)
Apple’s recent iPhone is produced by 300,000 low-paid Chinese workers employed by the Foxconn Technology Group. They are lucky to be paid $2 per hour for their long work weeks. It would take $5.2 billion a year to pay these Chinese iPhone workers about $10 per hour. If the $130 billion from Apple’s capital return program was put into a foundation, it could pay out, at 4% interest, $5.2 billion year after year.
That is: Apple's managers own Apple, and employs Chinese at near minimum wage to produce its iPhones which it sells to Westerners.

There is rather a lot more, but the main lesson has been learned, which Ralph Nader summarizes at the end as follows:
Big corporations should not be allowed the myths of competitive, productive, efficient capitalism – unless they can prove it.
But they cannot, which is also why I proposed corporatism versus capitalism.

2.  Merkel doubts whether US will stop spying on Germany 

The next item is an article by Martin Pengelly on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (and I presume you know some about Merkel's phone being tapped for a long time by the Americans):

Amid a continuing scandal over the arrests of two German government workers for allegedly spying for the US, the country's chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Saturday she was doubtful the US would ever stop spying on Germany.

There is more there, but none of it is conclusive, not about the question whether Merkel is willing to admit that the Americans are spying on all Germans, and also not whether she thinks spying is OK or at least cannot be stopped, that is, as long as her own phone is not tapped.

So this is not much, but there probably will be more later.

3. Facebook Is Studying Your Mom, Your Makeout Buddy, and Your 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

The next item is an article by Dana Liebelson on The Guardian: 

This starts as follows:

Facebook users and privacy advocates erupted in anger recently after New Scientist drew attention to a 2012 study in which Facebook researchers had attempted to manipulate users' moods. "The company purposefully messed with people's minds," one privacy group complained to the Federal Trade Commission.

But the mood study is far from the only example of Facebook scrutinizing its users—the company has been doing that for years, examining users' ethnicities, political views, romantic partners, and even how they talk to their children. (Unlike the mood study, the Facebook studies listed below are observational; they don't attempt to change users' behavior.) Although it's unlikely Facebook users have heard about most of these studies, they've consented to them; the social network's Data Use Policy states: "We may use the information we receive about you…for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement."

Here are the five subjects Dana Liebelson reports - and I just give the subjects, not the texts that belong to each:

1. Your significant others (and whether the relationship will
     last)

2. How your mom talks to you
3. Your ethnicity
4. How you respond to conspiracy theories
5. If you're deleting posts before you publish them

You can check these out yourself, if you want to. Incidentally: I do know how to write html and run my own sites, and I much dislike Facebook. See my On the sham called "Facebook". (But there are many not too intelligent or lazy people, is also true: almost 3.5 billion people have an IQ of maximally 100. O, what a market!) 

4. Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, A Nation of Cowards?

The next item is an article by Rebecca Gordon on Tomdispatch:

This starts with a survey of the torture - sometimes called: "enhanced  interrogation" - that was started under George Bush after 9/11, that ends as follows:
As part of a new American creed, we learned that torture was the price of security.
That at least was the message of Bush Jr. who also offered a sort of rationale - in his exquisite English: “they hate our freedoms”.  Then Rebecca Gordon says:
But didn’t that sorry phase of our national life end when Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney departed? Wasn’t it over once Barack Obama entered the Oval Office and issued an executive order closing the CIA black sites that the Bush administration had set up across the planet, forbidding what had euphemistically come to be called “enhanced interrogation techniques?” As it happens, no. Though it’s seldom commented upon, the infrastructure for, the capacity for, and the personnel to staff a system of institutionalized state torture remain in place, ready to bloom like a desert plant in a rain shower the next time fear shakes the United States.

There are several important reasons why the resurgence of torture remains a possibility in post-Bush America:

* Torture did not necessarily end when Obama took office.

* We have never had a full accounting of all the torture programs in the “war on terror.”

* Not one of the senior government officials responsible for activities that amounted to war crimes has been held accountable, nor were any of the actual torturers ever brought to court.

These three reasons are then commented upon and explained in the rest of the text.

It ends as follows (and all of it is well worth reading, although it will not make you happier):

In these years, “safety” and “security” have become primary national concerns. It’s almost as if we believe that if enough data is collected, enough “really bad guys” are tortured into giving up “actionable intelligence,” we ourselves will never die. There is a word for people whose first concern is always for their own safety and who will therefore permit anything to be done in their name as long as it keeps them secure. Such people are sometimes called cowards.

If this terrified new worldview holds, and if the structure for a torture system remains in place and unpunished, the next time fear rises, the torture will begin anew.

Actually, I think the main problem of Americans is not that they are cowards:
I think the main problem is that many are stupid and ignorant, and can be convinced of almost anything.


5. Dutch writings 

Finally, a few words on the Dutch writings I was and am preparing.

You got one of these pieces earlier today, both in Nederlog and in my autobio-section. That last item probably will be changed a bit, but that is for later.

In the last autobiographical item I did quote rather a lot from a journal I kept in 1980, mostly because I could, although I probably will not do this for 1983-1985, for which I have extensive journals: Too long, and in part too personal. (And incidentally: I do not know whether the quoting I do works, for I am too close to the subject.)

As to 1981 and 1982, which are next in line to be written, I have the problems that I do not have much journal, and I also did not yet sufficiently sort out papers to have an adequate chronology. I probably will do this part from memory, which is still quite OK, but I may make mistakes in chronology.

The other thing I am preparing is "On mental health and disturbance" (in Dutch).
This mostly is a matter of typing (for the Canon flatbed copier I bought seems to have been a fraudulent buy: it doesn't work without payments to Adobe, which I think is plain theft, though I have no doubt this is "regulated" in the small print), which again is a matter of health.

As to further writings in Dutch: There is a possibility that I may extend ME in Amsterdam, which now ends in 2007, but that always was almost completely neglected by almost every Dutchman - who seem to love it that in their "state of law" the mayors can personally nominate illegal dealers of soft drugs, and help turn over 10 billion Euros of soft drugs a year, for 26 years now since I first protested, and indeed probably at least twice as much if all illegal drugs are considered - I may decide to write a possible update in English as well.

But this I don't know yet.
---------------------------------
P.S. July 14, 2014: I corrected some typos and added a link.

Note
[1] 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 government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
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 quote from is quite pertinent.)


About ME/CFS (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:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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