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. The new Washington
consensus - time to fight rising
2. Police secretly obtained
reporter’s phone records in
3. Nick Clegg tells Lib Dems to brutalise Tories over tax
4. Carmen Segarra, the
whistleblower of Wall Street
5. The Ordeal of Stanley L.
Cohen: Justice as Farce
6. Failure to pass US
surveillance reform bill could still
curtail NSA powers
7. Why We Allow Big Pharma
to Rip Us Off
8. The Incarceration of the
This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 6. It is a crisis log.
There are 8 items
and 9 links. I think the items on inequality, Segarra, Cohen, the NSA
and Big Pharma are all quite
1. The new Washington consensus - time to
item is an article by Larry Elliott on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Well... the first
paragraph may be credible (though I doubt that as well), but the other
ones are not. Here is my explanation:
The theme of this week’s
annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank
is shared prosperity. In years gone by, the Washington consensus was
all about opening up markets and cutting public spending. The new
Washington consensus is the need to tackle inequality.
Everybody is getting in
on the act. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, will share a
platform with Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, and Mark Carney,
the governor of the Bank of England, next weekend to discuss how to
make global capitalism more inclusive.
The World Economic Forum
– the body that organises the Davos shindig – thinks it can go one
better. It is angling to get the pope along for its annual meeting in
The theme of rising inequality is now nearly 35 years old,
starting in 1980, during all
of which years it has become worse and worse (supposing you are an
opponent of inequality, that is; if not, make it better and better); I
have almost never heard or
read any one who was in the first or second rank of any
government or any influential
quango about it; while now I am asked to believe that the likes
of Lagarde and
Carney care about inequality.
Let me put it thus: I do not believe they are serious, but I do believe
they care - and so what they did was orchestrate a public
campaign that will try to flimflam most into believing that those who acted
for the Wall Street bankers now suddenly care
for the enormous
messes and the great inequalities they have wrought over the last
Indeed Larry Elliott has similar thoughts, it seems:
But talk is one
thing, action another. How does Lagarde’s pledge to fight inequality
square with the wage cuts and austerity the IMF has imposed on Greece
and Portugal as part of its bailout packages? Is there not a disparity
between the commitment of the World Bank president, Jim Kim, to raise
the incomes of the bottom 40% of the world’s population with his
organisation’s Doing Business report, an annual study that ranks
countries by the progress they are making in cutting corporate taxes,
keeping minimum wages at low levels and ensuring that paid holidays and
sick pay are not excessive?
The reply to this
question is Mencken's:
"It is hard to
believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would
lie if you were in his place."
And indeed Larry Elliott
proceeds with examples that show why the words of Lagarde and Kim
cannot be trusted - although his theme is mostly Ebola and not
income inequality (which is a bit odd).
Then again, here are his last two paragraphs:
Precisely - with the
addition that even the "base camp" seems to be made from propaganda and
The test is not what
policy makers say about inequality, both at home and abroad; it is what
they do. It is about being prepared to redistribute resources from rich
to poor. It is about creating an international tax system that prevents
revenues being salted away in tax havens. It is about ensuring that
trade agreements are not written by multinational corporations. It is
about strengthening welfare safety nets and the rights of workers. And
it is about recognising that both the private and the public sector
have a role.
Bear all this is mind
when Washington resounds this week to calls for inequality to be
tackled. There is a mountain to climb. Policy makers are still at base
Then again, there is one thing about this that may be good:
At least it may put the topic of inequality on the list of
main media may treat.
2. Police secretly obtained reporter’s phone
records in Huhne investigation
item is an article by Lisa O'Carroll on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I say - although I am
not amazed at all:
Police investigating the
former MP Chris Huhne’s speeding fraud secretly obtained a Mail on
Sunday reporter’s phone records without his consent, despite laws
protecting journalistic confidential sources, it has emerged.
The newspaper revealed it
had learned officers from Kent police used laws designed for
anti-terrorism to identify a source they had failed to secure through a
In a strong leader
article, the Mail on Sunday said the revelation demonstrated the law
was giving “officials frightening and near-totalitarian powers”.
It said police were using
these secret powers to “wrongfully” seize the phone records of
thousands of innocent people.
Clearly, once you admit the GCHQ and protect its actions and its
secrecy, then the enormous amounts of data they have stolen
 from the public will be used,
in secret of course, wherever
possible, for all purposes they may serve,
and especially police
The same things happen in the USA. There is a lot more in the
article, but the above are the main points, and I will quote only one
It is the second
time in a month that revelations have emerged of the police secretly
ordering phone companies to hand over journalists’ phone bills,
fuelling fears that media organisations will not be able to protect
sources, particularly police whistleblowers.
My guess is that there
will be a lot more of this kind of material, for this is indeed part of
the reasons why the GCHQ (or indeed some other secret organization)
assembled it, which is in this case: To stop the press from being
3. Nick Clegg tells Lib Dems to brutalise
Tories over tax
item is an article by Nicholas Watt and Rowena Mason on The Guardian:
This starts as follows,
under a horrible photograph of Clegg making an angry face while clawing
Again there is a lot
more in the article, but I have to say - again, as well - that I do not
Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.
Nick Clegg has instructed
his leading ministers to “brutalise” the Tories after George Osborne
created an “open goal” for the Liberal Democrats by exempting the rich
from further tax increases and using a freeze in benefits for the
working poor to help eliminate the budget deficit.
In a sign of how
coalition relations have descended into trench warfare in the runup to
the election, the deputy prime minister has told senior Liberal
Democrats to reach out to “soft Tories” by saying that the chancellor
is taking Conservatives back a decade to the era of the nasty party.
The instructions from
Clegg, who accused the Tories of “beating up on the poor”, came as the
opening of the Liberal Democrat conference was dominated by speculation
about future coalition partners if voters elect another hung parliament
in May’s general election.
Or more precisely, I believe they will do a lot to get votes - but the
will certainly not be enough to allow them to play any other
role but a
one, and I believe that as soon as the new government will be
formed, all the old promises that got some Liberal Democrats elected
will be almost completely forgotten.
This is how it went the last time, and also how it went with other
political parties in a similar position as the Liberal Democrats.
4. Carmen Segarra, the whistleblower of Wall Street
item is an article by Gary Younge on The Guardian:
This starts as follows,
with two paragraphs inspired by Vaclav Havel:
Yes indeed - but to
believe that the inhabitants of "free, democratic, rich, Western
states" are much different from the inhabitants (in 1978) of "unfree,
undemoratic, poor, socialist states" seems quite mistaken, and amounts
to a denial
of their common humanity.
In a 1978 political
essay, Power of the Powerless, the Czech dissident (and later
president) Vaclav Havel paints a scenario of a greengrocer who has been
sent a poster announcing “Workers of the World Unite” by the
authorities along with his vegetables. Explaining why the grocer would
put the poster up in his shop window, Havel writes: “He does it because
these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of
the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life
‘in harmony with society’.”
In this context, argues
Havel, the poster’s message has become devoid of meaning. Nobody
believes in it. They just have to behave as though they do. “They must
live within a lie. They need not accept the lie. It is enough for them
to have accepted their life with it and in it. For by this very fact,
individuals confirm the system, fulfil the system, make the system, are
In fact, most people do conform (once
they are 25 or older); they do it for egoistic reasons
(it pays better, which is true); and
they also do it if their mouths tell tales of revolt (see
Clegg, in the previous article): nearly all the
leftist political Dutch
I have known, and especially the more intelligent, have turned out to
that moved from being quasi-communists to being
quasi-(neo-)conservatives in a remarkably short time, after the
the Soviet Union. 
Then again, there always is a - quite small - minority of people who
can think and dare to act, and Carmen Segarra is one of them:
Gary Younge tells the
story of Carmen Segarra, which I leave to your interests. But here is
one more quotation that relates to the previous point I made: That in
any society - as long as it is more or less working - the great
somehow, to a major extent, and for egoistic
reasons, and this also applies to most of those who tell the world
Carmen Segarra, in the
spirit of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden before her, is like the greengrocer who
said no. Segarra, a former employee of the New York Federal Reserve,
was fired after she refused to tone down a scathing report on conflicts
of interest within Goldman Sachs. She sued the Fed over her sacking but the case was dismissed by a judge without ruling on the merits
because, he said, the facts didn’t comply with the statute under which
she had filed. Segarra is now appealing.
Before she left she
secretly recorded her bosses and colleagues, exposing their “culture of
fear” and servility when dealing with the very banks they were supposed
to be regulating. The Fed is the government agency charged with overseeing
the financial sector – a task it singularly failed to achieve in
the run-up to the recent financial crisis. What emerges from Segarra’s tapes – released by the investigative website ProPublica – is a supine watchdog wilfully baring its gums before a known
burglar so that he may go about his business
“One common thread runs
through the many different stories of denial,” writes Stanley Cohen in States of Denial. “People,
organisations, governments or whole societies are presented with
information that is too disturbing, threatening or anomalous to be
fully absorbed or openly acknowledged. The information is therefore
somehow repressed, disavowed, pushed aside or reinterpreted. Or else
the information ‘registers’ well enough, but its implications –
cognitive, emotional or moral – are evaded, neutralised or rationalised
Yes indeed - and that state
of denial moves most people as soon as they are required to deal with
information that shows they must have been wrong about some important
point: they deny it, except in so far as they cannot plausibly refute
it and the matter has publicity. (Otherwise, they simpy deny it, and
may easily get angry that one doubts their integrity.)
5. The Ordeal of Stanley L. Cohen: Justice
item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig!:
This starts as
The use of the courts to
erode our civil liberties, as well as expand the ability of the state
and corporations to commit fraud and other crimes with impunity, has
been accompanied by a campaign to silence the handful of activist
attorneys who defend those demonized by the government. The state has
imprisoned the great civil rights attorneys J. Tony Serra, who
has served two terms behind bars, and Lynne Stewart. And it
looks as if Stanley
L. Cohen is now on the list. When lawyers who defend the unpopular
must suffer severe punishment at the hand of the government, the
judiciary is a farce.
Who is Stanley Cohen?
Hedges' next paragraph explains it: He clearly is a brave and rational
man, who dared to do, for nearly thirty years, what most lawyers
very probably do not dare to do and certainly do not do.
He has a website,
which is well worth seeing:
From this I quote a
part of his "April 13, 2014 Statement on Plea Deal" (which
describes his making a plea deal with the US government that will force
him to go to jail):
all know that there is a cost when you say no, when you refuse to go
silently into the night, when you reject he notion of complicity. But
the work must go on – there is no choice. Mourn not for me but for the
millions of people murdered worldwide because of their race, religion,
politics or activism. Mourn not for me but for the millions of
stateless people reduced to ‘life’ in refugee camps, or who live under
Apartheid and Occupation and who are subjected daily to ethnic
cleansing, collective punishment and indefinite detention. Mourn not
for me but for the whistle blowers, journalists and dissidents
murdered, jailed and exiled because of a belief, a simple vision, a
commitment to change.
These are brave
words, and I believe them, unlike Nick Clegg's baloney,
and indeed with far more reason.
Back to Hedges, who
starts his second page with this fine paragraph:
The courts, he said, have
become less and less hospitable
to contrarian defense attorneys. And a series of laws, many passed
since 9/11, has made it nearly impossible for those under terrorism
charges to mount adequate defenses. Special administrative measures,
known as SAMs, are used to prevent or severely restrict defendants from
communicating with other prisoners and attorneys, relatives, the media
and others outside jail. Defendants, even before trial, are often held
in solitary confinement in which they must endure around-the-clock
electronic monitoring and lockdowns lasting 23 hours a day. They shower
and go to the toilet in front of cameras. The extreme sensory
deprivation used to break defendants before they enter a courtroom is a
form of torture. Statements, beliefs and associations once protected
under the Constitution are now considered criminal. Those branded by
the state as dissidents, even those who break no laws, can be stripped
of their rights and imprisoned without due process. They can be
detained and prosecuted not for what they have done, or even for what
they might be planning to do, but for holding religious or political
beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first targeted have been
racial Muslims such as those Cohen has defended, but they will not be
the last. Now that the state has codified this judicial lynching, the
legal equivalent of pre-emptive war, it will be used on the rest of us,
as many activists in the environmental, anti-globalization,
anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements are
Yes, indeed - I
agree. And I am therefore not optimistic. But Stanley L. Cohen
indeed is a brave man.
6. Failure to pass US surveillance reform bill
could still curtail NSA powers
item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Two members of the
US House of Representatives are warning that a failure to pass landmark
surveillance reform will result in a far more drastic curtailment of US
surveillance powers – one that will occur simply by the House doing
nothing at all.
That is certainly
interesting, since I am against the NSA, and I have noticed that the one
thing the present Congress excels in is doing nothing.
Here is the background:
I say. That is good news
- for me and for anyone interested in keeping one's private data
private, rather than have them stolen by the NSA, the GCHQ or
On 1 June 2015, Section
215 of the Patriot Act will expire. The loss of Section 215 will
deprive the NSA of the legal pretext for its bulk domestic phone
records dragnet. But it will cut deeper than that: the Federal Bureau
of Investigation will lose its controversial post-9/11 powers to obtain
vast amounts of business records relevant to terrorism or espionage
Section 215’s expiration
will occur through simple legislative inertia, a characteristic of the
House of Representatives in recent years.
other secret services, that work largely without control.
There is rather a lot more in the article, that is not all clear to me,
but then the mattter also is complicated, especially since Congress
these days tends to avoid passing laws rather than passing
Here is the last paragraph, with which I agree:
“However, it’s a
good sign that lawmakers are preparing to leverage the Section 215
sunset in order to halt the unlawful, unaccountable, and
rights-infringing surveillance practices of the US government,” said
Amie Stepanovich of Access.
7. Why We Allow Big Pharma to Rip Us Off
next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows -
and mind this is about the United States (for things are - still - a
bit different in Europe), and I will quote rather a lot because I wrote a lot about Big Pharma,
psychiatry and medicine since 2010 (for which see the last link):
Again Mencken's quote is
helpful. These medical doctors are completely incredible to me
According to a new
federal database put online last week, pharmaceutical companies and
device makers paid doctors some $380 million in speaking and consulting
fees over a five-month period in 2013.
Some doctors received
over half a million dollars each, and others got millions of dollars in
royalties from products they helped develop.
Doctors claim these
payments have no effect on what they prescribe. But why would drug
companies shell out all this money if it didn’t provide them a healthy
return on their investment?
"It is hard to
believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would
lie if you were in his place."
For this is what they
would say, receiving half a million or a million dollars with one hand
(or less), while writing with the other hand that "these payments have no effect": Clearly, they have major
effects, for the patients do as the doctor tells them to do while the
doctor gets rich.
There is also this:
In fact, this has
happened for over thirty years now, notably in psychiatry, where there
are new drugs all the time - except that they are nearly all small
variants of Prozac, which get patented to keep them expensive. (In fact
fluoxetine, which is Prozac minus the name, is less expensive
than sleeping pills in Holland since the patent expired, some 12 years
Another technique is
called “product hopping” —making small and insignificant changes in a
drug whose patent is about to expire, so it’s technically new.
And there is this:
Yes, indeed. Again, there is
Another technique is for
drug companies to continue to aggressively advertise prescription
brands long after their twenty-year patents have expired, so patients
ask their doctors for them. Many doctors will comply.
America is one of few
advanced nations that allow direct advertising of prescription drugs.
A fourth tactic is
for drug companies to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay their
cheaper versions. These so-called “pay-for-delay” agreements generate
big profits for both the proprietary manufacturers and the generics.
But here again, you and I pay. The tactic costs us an estimated $3.5
billion a year.
As Robert Reich says,
this is one of the big medical differences between Europe and the
United States (where it also should be noted that in Europe the medical
charges are considerably less, while the health of the population is
considerably better than in the U.S.):
allow these sorts of payoffs, but they’re legal in the United States
because the major drug makers and generics have fought off any
legislative attempts to stop them.
Then there is this:
And Big Pharma also
spent $36 million on political campaigns. So Reich asks, quite
Meanwhile, Big Pharma is spending
more on advertising and marketing than on research and
development – often tens of millions to promote a single drug.
And it’s spending
hundreds of millions more every year lobbying. Last year alone, the
lobbying tab came to $225
million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
That’s more than the
formidable lobbying expenditures of America’s military contractors.
Yes, indeed: I know
that "much of this
strategy is hidden from public view" for I have found out most of the above since 2010,
and only through reading quite a lot of somewhat or fairly
technical stuff, that most other people do not have the time
for, even if they have the knowledge to read the technical stuff, which
again the majority does not have.
Why do we put up with
this? It’s too facile to say we have no choice given how much the
industry is spending on politics. If the public were sufficiently
outraged, politicians and regulatory agencies wouldn’t allow this giant
But the public isn’t
outraged. That’s partly because much of this strategy is hidden from
But I think it’s also
because we’ve bought the ideological claptrap of the “free market”
being separate from and superior to government.
And Reich is also right in blaming "the ideological claptrap of the “free market”" which he indeed explains quite well,
but I think he also misses a third component,
which is that the vast majority treats doctors as if they are a very
special class of persons, whom they must trust, can confide in, and
must believe: Doctors have, in Allen Frances' phrase, "pure hearts",
and would never stoop so low as to accept payments to move their
patients to get the latest patented medicine, or indeed do anything
Well, the truth is that medical people are people, and people are
easily corruptible by money, and the U.S. has some of the most corrupt
medical doctors, who make the highest medical incomes ever.
In brief, here are the five reasons that many American doctors make a
whole lot of money, as does Big Pharma with their help:
Incarceration of the American
- The suppliers of
drugs, Big Pharma, is almost totally corrupt (since decades
indeed: Check Dr Healy's site).
- Big Pharma has
appropriated most of the data of experiments, and does not
publish them if negative, and also writes - secretively - many
of the articles that are signed by medical KOLs (Key Opinion
- The public for the
most part does not know and mostly cannot know: The
corruption is kept secret, and few read medical publications, that
anyway are often not what they seem.
- The doctors are
mostly revered by their patients as being a special, honest, scientific
sort of person one can trust (which is often false: medical doctors
mostly are quite ordinary people, if perhaps a bit more clever than
most, and can be bought, and often are).
- And there is "the ideological claptrap of the “free
market”", which is claptrap because the government is the main force
and keeps the markets as they are (which is currently in medicine:
there are the false and dishonest suppliers of drugs, who buy the
services of their dealers, who are medical doctors, who standardly deny
that they are bought - "How dare you?!" - and whose leaders sing
publicly to affirm their “purity of heart").
next and final item today is an article by Ralph Nader on his site:
This starts as follows:
To answer the first
question: By reflecting on the profits they make, and by insisting that
the poor owe their poverty to themselves, and not to the system
How do corporate
attorneys sleep at night considering that with the power of their large
corporate clients, they often crush the freedoms of workers, consumers
and small communities who are trying to break out of a complex web of
These highly paid power
lawyers expertly weave an intricate system of controls into one-sided
contracts enforced by laws garnished with the muscle of big business to
wear down all but the most intrepid shoppers.
nor to its willing executers, such as corporate attorneys.
The rest of the article is a good exposition of the reasons the
American consumer is incarcerated. I leave it to your interests, and
only quote the ending:
It is only going
to get worse unless consumer groups rethink and regroup to move
systemic shifts of power from sellers to buyers through community-based
economies, group buying, cooperatives, and political power leading to
updated law and order. (See http://www.yesmagazine.org/
for more information.)
Encouraging schools to
adopt experiential instruction in detecting consumer fraud and using
small claims court to secure inexpensive justice is an easy first step
on the long march to consumer justice.
 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
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
from is quite pertinent.)
 I think they have stolen them and I will
say so, also if the laws are reformed.
 I am speaking here mostly about the Dutch
leftist - communists, pascifists, socialists - I have known, who mostly
studied in some university, and then made a nice well paying capitalist
career, mostly while pretending to be still leftists (and indeed being
it, verbally that is).
Also, I think I can really judge these people, because my parents and
grandparents were well-known communists and anarchists, who also went
into the resistance when that was really dangerous. In fact, I
think the choices most of them and I made were opposites: I chose against
communism at 20 but for the moral stances of my parents and
grandparents; most of the others chose for communism as long as
that was popular (until ca. 1985), and against the moral
stances of real leftists.
(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: