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. World leaders play war games
as the next financial crisis
2. How come we can’t fix child poverty but we can spend
billions replacing Trident?
3. Two rootless, soulless parties have cleared
the way for
4. Edward Snowden: state surveillance in
Britain has no
5. Justice for Stanley Cohen
6. How to Protect Public
Revenues From the Next Meltdown
7. The Kink in the Human Brain--
How Are Humans OK with
Destroying the Planet?
This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 13. It is a crisis log.
There are 7 crisis items today with 7 dotted links. As it happens, most
articles today - item 1, item 2,
item 3, item 6 and item 7 - are in fact mostly about our political
leaders, who through greed, stupidity, ignorance and/or wilful
blindness completely fail to solve the problems of the many, while also
making them worse and worse because they mostly work for the few and
So while this is not a happy crisis log, it also marks considerable
agreement on the causes of unhappiness.
1. World leaders play war
games as the next financial crisis looms
item is an article by Larry Elliott on The Guardian:
This is a rather
fundamental piece by the economics editor of The
Guardian, who seems - quite rightly, I think - rather depressed about
the economy. I think you should read all of it. Here is a bit on the
failings of the IMF:
There were four
things that ensured shared prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s: strong
trade unions; redistribution through the tax system; higher public
spending; and curbs on the financial system. Apart from suggesting that
some countries, such as Germany, might care to spend a bit more on
infrastructure, the Fund is not really in favour of any of them. The
message, therefore, is clear enough. Lagarde et al are worried about
inequality. But they are not yet worried enough to do much about it.
And this gets explained
by the article (mostly in the middle).
This is where the
comparison with the 1920s and 1930s gets scary. The problems created by
the first world war were never properly dealt with, and it was only
after the Great Depression and a second conflict that policies changed
and global institutions were made fit for purpose. There is a real
danger of history repeating itself.
come we can’t fix child poverty but we can spend billions replacing
item is an article by Lauren Laverne on The Guardian:
This starts as
The rest of the article
tries to answer that question, that is also posed by its title.
Life is hard for British
kids. According to some reports, by next year most of them will be growing up in poverty , waiting to inherit
a future of shrinking possibilities. Why is it, then, that the
youth of the 80s seem so determined to give them a kicking? A handful
of PPE graduates lucky enough to spring from the fertile soil of
well-to-do 80s Britain are currently vying with one another to run the
country, each promising different ways to tighten the screws on
Britain’s young people.
The Tories are slashing
£3,000 from the benefit cap and banning 18 to 21s who have been
unemployed for more than six months from claiming jobseeker’s allowance
or housing benefit. Labour will cut and means test out-of-work benefits
for 18- to-21-year-olds. That old chestnut about incentivising people –
as usual the old and rich get the carrot, the young and poor get the
Life is mostly stick for
British kids at the moment, and not the good end. Why are Britain’s
ruling elite so keen to allow, even exacerbate, this situation?
Here is an outline of my own answer:
Because the British government is in the hands of the young rich, as in
fact are the majorities of any of the political parties (also see the
next item); because they have won their positions mostly through their
riches or though working for the rich, and have been able to pay
and because they only work for the rich's interests, and not for those
of the poor.
There are more reasons, but that is a basic part of the story.
rootless, soulless parties have cleared the way for Ukip
item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Has there ever
been such a brazen set of political con artists, so sophisticated at
manipulating genuine grievances for their own ends?
And Owen Jones means
that most of the leading British politicians of any party now are
Well... using the definition given by the Wikipedia, which is this:
Ukip talks of breaking the
“political cartel” while peddling policies the entire political elite
agree on, quibbling only on scale and detail: tax cuts for the rich,
privatisation, slash-and-burn austerity, curtailing workers’ rights.
They are the lone critics of immigration – leaving aside, of course,
the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Times, the Tories and, oh,
the Labour leadership too. But fair play to Ukip. Britain’s political
elite has fuelled more than enough disillusionment for enterprising
charlatans to exploit. Yes, there are honourable exceptions, but it has
been abundantly clear what the political elite has been becoming for
quite some time.
(also called swindler or mountebank) is a person
practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain
money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.
I cannot disagree (and
see my articles on deception that start here). There is considerably more by
Owen Jones on this theme. I will leave that to your interests, but I
quote two general bits.
First, as to the reason for many more political charlatans in Great
There is no one
simple reason: a general fragmentation in society and the triumph of
individualism; the disappearance of industries that once sustained
cohesive communities; the smothering of local government and unions; a
political convergence that has left parties quibbling over nuances.
These are reasons, of course, not excuses. But they help explain how
parties have become the playthings of careerists inspired by their own
ambitions and little else.
Yes, I agree - but I
would add at least two more reasons or partial causes:
The lack of intelligence and knowledge in a large part of the
population, and the disappearance of a real independent free press
(outside The Guardian).
Second, as to the time scale and the importance:
But for a
generation, politicians have surrendered democratic power to the
market. In postwar Britain, the promise was that citizens would be
provided with a secure job, an affordable home and publicly owned
services and utilities to support them. What is left for politicians to
promise but the odd tinker here and there, as well as cuts and yet more
surrendering of power?
Yes, which also makes it
start with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, which also seems about right.
And Owen Jones is quite right about what is involved - and what has
"a secure job, an
affordable home and publicly owned services and utilities". Instead, modern politicians promise
"deliverance of terrorism", and similar bullshit.
Edward Snowden: state surveillance in Britain has no limits
item is an article by Carole Cadwalladr on The Guardian:
This starts as
The UK authorities are
operating a surveillance system where “anything goes” and their
interceptions are more intrusive to people’s privacy than has been seen
in the US, Edward Snowden said.T
Speaking via Skype at the
Observer Ideas festival, held in central London, the whistleblower and
former National Security Agency specialist, said there were “really no
limits” to the GCHQ’s surveillance capabilities.
He said: “In the UK … is
the system of regulation where anything goes. They collect everything
that might be interesting. It’s up to the government to justify why it
needs this. It’s not up to you to justify why it doesn’t … This is
where the danger is, when we think about … evidence being gathered
against us but we don’t have the opportunity to challenge that in
courts. It undermines the entire system of justice.”
He also said he thought
that the lack of coverage by the UK papers of the story, or the hostile
coverage of it, other than by the Guardian, “did a disservice to the
Quite so. The reasons
are in part a lack of good laws, and in part the utter secrecy the
British government maintains around the GCHQ, while these are
stealing anything that is private but happens
to be connected to the internet.
As to the documentary "Citizenfour", there is this:
Collectively, the events
revealed a more rounded, human, portrait of the former NSA analyst than
had been seen before, and offered a few telling glimpses of what his
life was now like in Moscow.
The coverage revealed
that Snowden does not drink alcohol, has never been drunk, and that he
misses his “old beat-up car”. He also revealed that he has got a job,
working on “a very significant grant for a foundation” on a project
“for the benefit of the press and journalists working in threatened
included the revelation that his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, had joined
him in Moscow
As it happens, I also
not drink alcohol and have never been drunk, which in my case is
caused by my not liking drunks and my not liking alcohol (and the last
fact made it
all very easy).
And here is Snowden's
general warning, that I agree with, followed by a warning against
Google and Facebook, that I also agree with:
But, he said: “What kind
of world do we want to live in? Do you want to live in a world in which
governments make decisions behind closed doors? And when you ask me, I
He also issued his
strongest warning yet about how Silicon Valley firms were compromising
the privacy of the public. Google and Facebook, he said, were
“dangerous services”. His strongest condemnation was against Dropbox
and urged erasure of it from computers. It encrypted your data, he told
the audience, but kept the key and would give that to any government
There is considerably
more in the article under the last dotted link.
5. Justice for Stanley Cohen
item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig!:
starts as follows, and is mostly here because I reviewed Hedges' article:
Truthdig columnist Chris
Hedges speaks out against the possible 18-month prison sentence on tax
charges of social justice attorney and activist Stanley Cohen in a
short video that features Cohen describing the purpose and meaning of
his work. (Read Hedges’ column on Cohen’s trouble here.)
I should also say
that the "short video" gets linked in the article, but that
I could not see it on my system. But this may be different for you.
6. How to Protect Public Revenues From the Next
item is an article by Ellen Brown (<-
Wikipedia), from the Web
of Debt, that I found on Truthdig!:
This starts as
growing that we are heading for another banking crisis, one that could
be far worse than in 2008. But this time, there will be no
government bailouts. Instead, per the Dodd-Frank Act, bankrupt banks
will be confiscating
(or “bailing in”) their customers’ deposits.
This means - I take it -
that you better do not have your money in a bank (which is not too
difficult since they do hardly pay any interest anyway). That is: if
these concerns, at least, and it so happens that I do.
Here is more on the general situation:
The too-big-to-fail banks
have collectively grown 37% larger since 2008. Five banks now account
for 42% of all US loans, and six banks control 67%
of all banking assets.
Besides their reckless
derivatives gambling, these monster-sized banks have earned our
distrust by being caught in a litany of frauds. In an article in Forbes
Banks and Derivatives: Why Another Financial Crisis Is Inevitable,”
Steve Denning lists rigging municipal bond interest rates, LIBOR
price-fixing, foreclosure abuses, money laundering, tax evasion, and
misleading clients with worthless securities.
Most of the rest of
the article expounds the idea of public banking, which I agree with,
but will leave to your interests.
in the Human Brain-- How Are Humans OK with Destroying the Planet?
and last item of today is an article by George Monbiot that I found on
AlterNet but that first appeared on The Guardian:
This starts as
This is a moment at which
anyone with the capacity for reflection should stop and wonder what we
If the news that in the
past 40 years the world has lost
over 50% its vertebrate wildlife (mammals, birds, reptiles,
amphibians and fish) fails to tell us that there is something wrong
with the way we live, it’s hard to imagine what could. Who believes
that a social and economic system which has this effect is a healthy
one? Who, contemplating this loss, could call it progress?
for indeed I agree with the questions, but I am also quite
aware that (1) the required "capacity for reflection" seems to be missing in many men and nearly all
leading politicians, and (2) this has been so for the last 40 years at
the very least, that is, when it happened (and many feasted on
David Attenborough's documentaries about nature).
And indeed that is
just the problem: even if many ordinary men and women can understand
that the world's wildlife is being destroyed, and therewith the world
as they know it, most of the leading politicians do not see it
thus, and don't care, and instead advertise growth and fracking and
profiting and "free markets".
As to the growth:
What and whom is this
It’s for the people who
run or own the banks, the hedge funds, the mining companies, the
advertising firms, the lobbying companies, the weapons manufacturers,
the buy-to-let portfolios, the office blocks, the country estates, the
offshore accounts. The rest of us are induced to regard it as necessary
and desirable through a system of marketing and framing so intensive
and all-pervasive that it amounts to brainwashing.
A system that makes us
less happy, less secure, that narrows and impoverishes our lives, is
presented as the only possible answer to our problems. There is no
alternative – we must keep marching over the cliff. Anyone who
challenges it is either ignored or excoriated.
Yes, indeed. And that
also is the fundamental problem: "the people who run or own the banks, the hedge funds, the
mining companies, the advertising firms, the lobbying companies, the
weapons manufacturers, the buy-to-let portfolios, the office blocks,
the country estates, the offshore accounts" are now in effect the - very few, very rich - people
who run the world, and they are mostly blinded by profit, profit,
profit, which also works, for them.
Anyway, there is a
considerable amount more under the last dotted link, and while it is
good it will not make you any happier.
 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.)
(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: