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."
Trade My Facebook Profile in Exchange for Job
2. Piketty Envy
3. Cracking Down on
4. 'This is the Story of Power
in this Country': Ferguson,
Institutionalized Racism and
the Militarization of Police
Police and the Threat to Democracy
6. The Best Reporting on
Federal Push to Militarize Local
Goldsmith, An Unlikely Defender of the
This is a Nederlog of
August 20. It is a crisis log.
There are three articles on the events in Ferguson, Missouri, in this
Nederlog, but they are all quite well done and from slightly different
perspectives. One reason they are here is because I strongly dislike a
militarized police (though I do not think it can be outlawed or
terminated at this stage, unfortunately, though I'd love to be
The most important piece in this Nederlog is the last,
which I strongly recommend you to open, and watch the contained videos,
although that will take you an hour:
It is an interview of 20 years ago of Sir James Goldsmith by
Charlie Rose, that shows that Goldsmith saw, 20 years ago, very
clearly what was happening with the economy, and why this would lead to
enormous problems if it wasn't stopped - as it hasn't, not till this
Trade My Facebook Profile in Exchange for Job Security
item is a brief article by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
predicting that increasing numbers of people will be willing to give
their employers access to their social media profiles in order to keep
their jobs, according to a study reported in The Guardian. The rise is occurring
especially among younger workers, a survey of 10,500 people by
consulting firm PwC found. Similar to the way advertisers use such
personal data, employers hope the information will allow them to better
understand their workers’ likes and what motivates them.
Actually, the last line
seems pure propaganda to me: Employers do not "hope the information will allow them to
better understand their workers’ likes and what motivates them"; they hope to be able to better
control them, in order to increase their own profits (and indeed
knowing likes and motivations helps them, but it is propaganda
in a context like this).
Besides, as the article also makes clear, there is hardly a serious
chance that delivering parts of their privacy to their employers will
help them "to keep their
But the article ends on the right note:
student debt and a generation of workers for the first time in years
expecting to earn less than their parents, privacy is clearly less of a
Yes, though in fact it
is the first time in generations that the young are expecting
to earn less than their parents, and they owe that to their own rich,
who rather pay workers in third-world countries a lot less for the same
work as they would have to pay them, and who got the chance to do so
because of deregulation. See item 7.
item is an article by Michael W.Klune:
This is from the
beginning (not quoting the very start):
There are more with
similar complaints, and some of these are quoted as well.
spectacular success has also been an unwelcome surprise for some of his
Piketty purports to show that capitalism produces inexorably widening
inequality. This, complains the well-known Marxist geographer David
Harvey, "is, for many of us, hardly news."
There also is a lot more that you can check out yourself, but it leads
to a conclusion I support:
Marxists can learn
from both Piketty’s commitment to historical research and his use of
literary knowledge. In claiming that Piketty simply repeats Marx, or
castigating him for his divergence from Marx, radicals cling to their
faults. In so doing, they blind themselves to the root of Piketty’s
difference from Marx.
Piketty dislikes inequality
because he believes in equality. Inequality is "potentially threatening
to democratic societies and to the values of social justice on which
they are based." He finds the prospect of widening inequity
Marx, on the other hand, has no interest in equality.
Yes, but I do not
except perhaps for a small part, will agree:
They are too proud of having what they think is a formally valid
for everything, which again is due to their faith rather than real
Marxism is faith based rather than science based, though indeed I agree
same is true of most economists with different convictions.
3. Cracking Down on Truth-telling
item is an article by Marcy Wheeler on Consortium News:
This starts with the
following introduction and summary:
President Obama entered
office vowing to run a transparent government. But instead he has
clamped down on leaks, prosecuted whistleblowers and threatened
truth-telling journalists with jail if they don’t reveal sources, as
Marcy Wheeler recounts.
Quite so - and since
he surely knows a free press is necessary for a democratic or a free
and open society, he must be doing it on purpose, just as he also has
classified millions of documents.
There is rather a lot
in the article that clarifies Obama's behavior, including his different
treatment of his favorite general, who also got accused of leaking, but
against whom there is, so far at least, no case.
I will be leaving
this to your interests.
4. 'This is the Story of Power in this
Country': Ferguson, Institutionalized Racism and the Militarization of
item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as
Last week, after days of
violent police rampages in Ferguson, Missouri, Senate Armed Services
Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) said the Senate will
"review" the Defense Department program that gives military weapons and
equipment to civilian police departments for free.
It took five apocalyptic
nights in Ferguson for Levin to make that statement, but the national
dialogue on the militarization of police has begun.
Only it didn’t just take
Ferguson. It took years of violent arrests. Exposés that revealed small
towns being patrolled by tanks and big cities controlled by force.
Rampant and institutionalized violations of citizens’ human and
constitutional rights. Protests and demonstrations around the country
suffocated by intimidation, brutality, and weapons only ever seen in
Yes, but this is also
the main reason it will not stop: The U.S. government expects
warfare, or so it seems to me, for the only reason to widely distribute
military weapons of all kinds to the police is that
you expect the police to use it and need it.
Here is some support
for what I just said:
On June 19th, almost two
months before the death of Michael Brown, Rep. Alan Grayson
(D-Florida), introduced an amendment to the defense appropriations bill
that would have prohibited federal funds from being used to "transfer
aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles,
grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents (including chemical
agents, biological agents, and associated equipment), launch vehicles,
guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines,
or nuclear weapons (as identified for demilitarization purposes
outlined in Department of Defense Manual 4160.28) through the
Department of Defense Excess Personal Property Program."
The amendment failed in a
House vote 355-62.
This is a long and
good piece, but I am going to quote only one more piece of it:
Note that by 2008 "there were more black men in jail that year
than there were enslaved in 1850". Yes, the population is much larger, but even so: If
the U.S.A. is "exceptional", it is exceptional especially in warfare
and racism (and not in: science, education, welfare, incomes of
everyone who isn't rich, rights, and health care, to mention a few).
published in December 2013 found that, from 1997 to 2008, 49 percent of
black men in the U.S. were arrested by age 23. That was the same year
that the U.S. Bureau of Justice published the shocking estimate that
40.2 percent of all inmates in the corrections system were black — at
846,000 inmates, that statistic meant that there were more black men in
jail that year than there were enslaved in 1850, before the start of
the Civil War.
As Deadspin writer Greg
for The Concourse, "If officers are soldiers, it follows that
the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they’re working
battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because
of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and
income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely
of people of color, and especially of black men."
As I said, this is a long but good piece. For more, click the last
Militarized Police and the
Threat to Democracy
item is an article by Denis Kucinich
(<- Wikipedia) on Huffington Post:
This is from the
We are at a moment of
national crisis in the way our domestic law enforcement is being
conducted. The killing of an unarmed civilian by a law enforcement
officer is, sadly, not unique. But the police response to the protests
has provided a powerful cautionary moment for America. The
militarization of local police has led to the arrival today in Ferguson
of the actual military, the National Guard.
This crisis comes from:
1) The erosion of a
principle in federal law, Posse Comitatus, meant to restrict the use of
the military in civilian law enforcement;
2) The Pentagon's dispersal of military equipment to domestic police
units, which has increased since 9/11;
3) Military-style police training reliant upon weaponry, as opposed to
peace keeping, including skills development for de-escalation of
Yes indeed, though it
might be added that many - not: all - white cops seem to be racists:
see item 4.
The above gets
followed by a history, that I leave to your interests, after which
Kucinich gives six "suggestions" (his term), all of which seem quite
sensible to me, of which I will quote the first three:
1. Congress must firmly
re-establish the firewall between civilian law enforcement and the
military by reinstating the intent of the Posse Comitatus law. As
member of Congress I warned in 2007 the dangers of a bill which
permitted the government to put troops on the ground in the US.
2. The Department of
Defense must stop providing war-fighting equipment to local law
3. All equipment provided
to local law enforcement by the Department of Defense, must be
inventoried and stored, not used except under an executive order from
the top civilian authority in a state, the Governor, or under orders of
the President of the United States.
Finally, the article
ends as follows:
Those who serve in local
law enforcement are given special trust, special dispensation to serve
and protect. Their work is essential. Local police would like to be
supported. But we must demand strict adherence to the Constitution and
protection of the freedoms given to us by the Bill of Rights.
Let's insist on the
- Well trained,
culturally diverse, de-militarized local police forces to protect our
- The military to defend
- And a rule of law
which applies to a man with a badge and a gun, just as it applies to an
The requirements of
freedom demand no less.
I agree, but I have
to repeat that I do not expect that the above will be practised, if
only because the militarization of the American police has been
steadily going on since 1990.
6. The Best Reporting on Federal Push to
item is a fine article by Hanqing Chen on ProPublica:
This is a fine and
brief article. It has this as a second paragraph:
of St. Louis and other local police departments can be traced to two
major sources – the federal
1033 Program, a section of the National Defense Authorization Act
passed in the 1990s, as well as federal homeland security grants to
states. Here are a few facts that you might have missed about the
Pentagon pipeline and the rise of military equipment and tactics in
local police departments.
It then proceeds to
give those facts, of which I will quote the bold starts, but will leave
out the texts that are under them, that you can find yourself if
Defense Department has provided tens of thousands of pieces of military
equipment to local police departments for free.
The DOD program,
known as 1033, has provided $4.3 billion in free military equipment to
Department, working with the Pentagon, began to pay for military
technology in police departments during the Clinton years.
at least $34 billion in federal grants to purchase military grade
supplies in the decade after 9/11.
Homeland Security spending on domestic security hit $75 billion a year
St. Louis County
has received at least 50 pieces of free tactical gear from the Defense
Department in the last four years.
Police conduct up
to 80,000 SWAT raids a year in the U.S., up from 3,000 a year in
the early ‘80s.
launchers used by Ferguson police can cause serious injury.
isn’t just changing the tools police officers use, but how they relate
to communities they serve
I really like this
article (and really dislike what it is about): It is good, it is clear,
and it is brief. You can check it out yourself by clicking on the last
Goldsmith, An Unlikely Defender of the Common Man
item today is an article by Don Quijones on Raging Bull Shit:
This starts as follows:
Incidentally, here is a Wikipedia
James Goldsmith who
died in 1997, slightly younger
than I am now (but looking much older than I look, also in 1994).
Here’s an oldie
but a goodie:
“The economy is there
to serve the fundamental needs of society, which are prosperity,
stability and contentment… If you have a situation whereby the economy
grows but you create poverty and unemployment and you destabilise
society, you’re in trouble.”
The above quote comes
from the least likely of sources: the late Sir James Goldsmith,
one of the wealthiest and most influential business magnates of the
late 20th century. The year was 1994, the occasion an
interview with Charlie Rose on the potential impact of the
soon-to-be-signed General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT).
The main part of this article is in fact a link to an interview Sir
James Goldsmith had twenty years with Charlie Rose, in 1994. I do
strongly recommend you to watch it, although it covers nearly an hour,
split in six parts of video, simply because Sir James's warnings
- from 1994 - are, as Don Quijones put it "eerily prescient".
Indeed, here are some of his quotes from the interview that were
gathered by Don Quijones:
If you can see those
things, in 1994, you indeed are rather special. Also, there are more
good points in the interview.
Tackling issues as broad
and diverse as unemployment, agribusiness, and financial innovation,
Goldsmith’s warnings are eerily prescient:
On the impact of
GATT: “What will happen is that more American products will be
sold abroad which have been manufactured in low-cost areas. Therefore
they will carry a U.S. name, they will have a U.S. manufacturing
company, the corporations that make them will make tremendous profits
but workforces will be eliminated.”
On the jobless
recovery: “In France the economy has grown by 80
percent. The number of unemployed has gone from 420,000 to 5.1 million…
What is the good of having an economy that grows by 80 percent if your
unemployed – the people excluded from active economic life – goes from
420,000 to 5.1 million.”
liberalization of agriculture: “If GATT succeeds
and were able to impose modern methods of agriculture worldwide so as
to bring them to the levels, say, of Canada and Australia, 2 billion
people out of 3.1 billion people would be uprooted from the land and
chased into the towns… It would be a far greater disaster than any war.”
financial industry and derivatives: “I think
our financial system is extremely fragile. You can see it in the
volatility of currencies, you can see all sorts of weaknesses. There’s
an incredible amount of danger in things like derivatives. I think we
are moving towards the outer limits of acceptable risk taking… I think
the world GNP is somewhere in the figure of 30 trillion dollars and I
believe the derivates outstanding are at 90, which to a large degree
are purely speculative.” (The derivatives market is now estimated to be
worth anywhere in the region of 600 trillion to 1 quadrillion dollars).
So, this is something you really shouldn't miss, if only because he has
been amply shown to have been quite right in the intervening 20 years.
 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.)
For those who have the mathematics, and as to the formal validity:
Check out Steedman's
Sraffa" (and no: Steedman understood Marx quite well).
(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: