20, 2014
Crisis: Facebook users, Piketty, Obama, Ferguson*3, Sir James Goldsmith
  "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

I’ll Trade My Facebook Profile in Exchange for Job

2. Piketty Envy
3. Cracking Down on Truth-telling
4. 'This is the Story of Power in this Country': Ferguson,
     Institutionalized Racism and the Militarization of Police

5. Militarized Police and the Threat to Democracy
. The Best Reporting on Federal Push to Militarize Local

7. Sir James Goldsmith, An Unlikely Defender of the
     Common Man

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, 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 mistaken).

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 day.
1. I’ll Trade My Facebook Profile in Exchange for Job Security 

The first item is a brief article by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
Researchers are 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 jobs".

But the article ends on the right note:
With mounting 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 priority.
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.

2. Piketty Envy

The next item is an article by Michael W.Klune:

This is from the beginning (not quoting the very start):

(...) Piketty’s spectacular success has also been an unwelcome surprise for some of his fellow leftists. 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 are more with similar complaints, and some of these are quoted as well.
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 "terrifying." Marx, on the other hand, has no interest in equality.

Yes, but I do not think Marxists, except perhaps for a small part, will agree:
They are too proud of having what they think is a formally valid explanation
for everything, which again is due to their faith rather than real evidence. [2]

Marxism is faith based rather than science based, though indeed I agree the
same is true of most economists with different convictions.

3. Cracking Down on Truth-telling

The next 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 Police

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

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 warfare.

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:

A study 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 Howard wrote 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."

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).

As I said, this is a long but good piece. For more, click the last dotted link.

5. Militarized Police and the Threat to Democracy

The next item is an article by Denis Kucinich (<- Wikipedia) on Huffington Post:

This is from the beginning:

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 violent tensions.

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 enforcement.

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 following principles:

  • Well trained, culturally diverse, de-militarized local police forces to protect our neighborhoods.
  • The military to defend our nation.
  • And a rule of law which applies to a man with a badge and a gun, just as it applies to an unarmed teenager.

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 Militarize Local Police

The next item is a fine article by Hanqing Chen on ProPublica:

This is a fine and brief article. It has this as a second paragraph:

The militarization 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 interested:

The 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 local police.

The Justice Department, working with the Pentagon, began to pay for military technology in police departments during the Clinton years.

States received at least $34 billion in federal grants to purchase military grade supplies in the decade after 9/11.

Department of Homeland Security spending on domestic security hit $75 billion a year in 2011.

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.

The grenade launchers used by Ferguson police can cause serious injury.

Militarization 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 dotted link.

7. Sir James Goldsmith, An Unlikely Defender of the Common Man

The final item today is an article by Don Quijones on Raging Bull Shit:
This starts as follows:

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).

Incidentally, here is a Wikipedia reference: Sir James Goldsmith who died in 1997, slightly younger than I am now (but looking much older than I look, also in 1994).

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:

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.”

On the 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.”

On the 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).

If you can see those things, in 1994, you indeed are rather special. Also, there are more good points in the interview.

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.

[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.)

[2] For those who have the mathematics, and as to the formal validity: Check out Steedman's "Marx after Sraffa" (and no: Steedman understood Marx quite well).

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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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