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Nederlog


  October
14, 2014
Crisis: The Rich, Ordained, Morales, NHS, World Economy, Universities
  "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.
Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth,
     says report

2.
Ordained to Write
3. Bolivia's Morales claims re-election victory
4. NHS staff are there for us in times of need. Today we
     must be there for them

5. Paul Krugman on What's Really Killing the World Economy
6. Why Government Spends More Per Pupil at Elite Private
     Universities than at Public Universities


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 14. It is a
crisis log.

There are six items today, with six dotted links. Here is a brief survey:

Item 1 is Good News for everybody who is rich or expects money from the rich, and Bad News for everybody else: The richest 1% owe nearly half of all wealth there is; item 2 is about Chris Hedges' recent ordainment in the church; item 3 is about Morales' re-election in Bolivia, which I think is good, in spite of my being no socialist; item 4 is about the crisis in the English NHS; item 5 about Krugman's diagnosis of what is killing the world economy (and I disagree); and item 6 is about the rich subsidies for the few American private universities as contrasted to the very poor subsidies for the many American public universities.

Also, this file got uploaded a bit earlier than is usual for me.

1. Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says report

The first item is an article by Jill Treanor on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The richest 1% of the world’s population are getting wealthier, owning more than 48% of global wealth, according to a report published on Tuesday which warned growing inequality could be a trigger for recession.

According to the Credit Suisse global wealth report (pdf), a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, more than $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders, and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%.

“Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets,” said the annual report, now in its fifth year.

Note first that Credit Suisse is not precisely a revolutionary organization. And personally I see these figures as obscene, and as showing that none of the Western governments have done their democratic job properly, which is not to amass wealth for the few, which they did, but to spread wealth over all, which also is quite possible under capitalism (-with-a-human-face).

As I said, Credit Suisse is not at all a revolutionary organization. But they also say:

“These figures give more evidence that inequality is extreme and growing, and that economic recovery following the financial crisis has been skewed in favour of the wealthiest. In poor countries, rising inequality means the difference between children getting the chance to go to school and sick people getting life saving medicines,” said Oxfam’s head of inequality Emma Seery.

“In the UK, successive governments have failed to get to grips with rising inequality. This report shows that those least able to afford it have paid the price of the financial crisis whilst more wealth has flooded into the coffers of the very richest.”

Yes, quite so - and this is a very dangerous development. Why? Credit Suisse explains:
“For more than a century, the wealth income ratio has typically fallen in a narrow interval between 4 and 5. However, the ratio briefly rose above 6 in 1999 during the dotcom bubble and broke that barrier again during 2005–2007. It dropped sharply into the “normal band” following the financial crisis, but the decline has since been reversed, and the ratio is now at a recent record high level of 6.5, matched previously only during the great Depression. This is a worrying signal given that abnormally high wealth income ratios have always signaled recession in the past,” the report said.
There is more under the last dotted link, and you are recommended to read all of this piece: it does show quite well, from a strongly pro-capitalist point of view, what is wrong with both present-day wealth distribution and with the present-day politicians (who in majority either are careerists bought by the rich or else behave as if they are).

2. Ordained to Write 

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig!:

This starts as follows:

Thirty years ago I stood in a church in Albany, N.Y., with my father, a Presbyterian minister. I had graduated from Harvard Divinity School and had purchased a one-way ticket to El Salvador, where the military government, backed by the United States, was slaughtering between 700 and 1,000 people a month.

I had decided, as George Orwell and James Baldwin did earlier, to use my writing as a weapon. I would stand with the oppressed. I would give them a voice. I would describe their suffering and their hopes. And I would name the injustices being done to them. It was a decision that would send me to war for two decades, to experience the worst of human evil, to taste too much of my own fear and to confront the reality of violence and random death.

But going to El Salvador as a reporter was not something the Presbyterian Church at the time recognized as a valid ministry, and a committee rejected my “call.”

This continues by quoting Baldwin and Orwell, the last to this effect, which I think is Orwell's fundamental reason to write:

“My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice,” Orwell wrote. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

But now Chris Hedges was ordained:

On Sunday, Oct. 5, after several years of volunteering as a teacher in the New Jersey prison system, I entered into the formal embrace of the church to continue my work with the incarcerated. But in my own mind, and in the mind of my father, I was ordained long ago. I was possessed by a vision, a call, to tell the truth, which is different from reporting the news, and to stand with those who suffered, from Central America to Gaza to Iraq to Sarajevo to the United States’ vast archipelago of prisons. “You are not really a journalist,” my friend and fellow reporter Stephen Kinzer once told me, “you are a minister pretending to be a journalist.”

Well... certainly Chris Hedges is not an ordinary journalist, and I quite believe him when he says "I was possessed by a vision, a call, to tell the truth, which is different from reporting the news".

Then again, this really holds for a few only, and those few are not circumscribed by some faith, and indeed may not have any religious faith at all. But yes, Chris Hedges has a Christian faith, and if you want to know more about it, you can use the last dotted link.

3.  Bolivia's Morales claims re-election victory

The next item is an article by Enrique Andres Pretel on Reuters:
This starts as follows:

Bolivian President Evo Morales declared a landslide re-election victory on Sunday, hailing it as a triumph for socialist reforms that have cut poverty and vastly expanded the state's role in the booming economy.

Official results were slow coming in but an exit poll and a quick count showed Morales, a former coca grower, trouncing his opponents with about 60 percent of the vote and easily winning a third term in power.

Morales, who became Bolivia's first indigenous leader in 2006, will now be able to extend his "indigenous socialism", under which he has nationalized key industries such as oil and gas to finance welfare programs and build new roads and schools.

"This was a debate on two models: nationalisation or privatisation. Nationalisation won with more than 60 percent (support)," Morales told thousands of cheering supporters from the balcony of the presidential palace.

A prominent member of the bloc of socialist and anti-U.S. leaders in Latin America, Morales dedicated his victory to Cuba's former communist leader Fidel Castro.

I say - and for me, while I am neither a socialist nor an admirer of Castro, this is progress, indeed because of this:

He has delivered economic growth averaging above 5 percent a year, also winning plaudits from Wall Street for running fiscal surpluses.

Under Morales, the number of Bolivians living in extreme poverty has fallen to one in five from more than a third of the population of 10 million in 2006.

Bolivia is a small country, at least in terms of his population of 10 million, but to go from extreme poverty for 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 in 8 years is quite good. So it is good, I think, that Morales will be in power till 2020.

4. NHS staff are there for us in times of need. Today we must be there for them

The next item is an article by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:
This starts as follows (and is here mainly because it highlights one of the very many failings of the English Labour Party):

It is well known that midwives are hardline militants who are only in it for the money. Apart from delivering the occasional baby, looking after mothers, fathers and entire families, working antisocial hours and doing lots of unpaid overtime, running clinics for ante and postnatal care, surviving on chocolate left by the thankful, what do they really do all day and night? Why should their wages be kept in line with inflation?

This is the point, isn’t it? We do know what midwives, ambulance staff, paramedics and hospital porters do. Without getting misty-eyed or pretending everyone is an angel, many of us will have experienced their grace under pressure. This is why there is much sympathy for today’s strike. If that sympathy cannot be expressed as solidarity by the Labour leadership, one wonders, yet again, what Labour is for. If Labour cannot stand by these workers who are not all being offered even a 1% pay rise – yet another Jeremy Hunt fallacy – then where does it stand?

There is considerably more in the article that I will leave to your interests, but I will give my answer to the last question:

Labour - its politicians, at least - are nearly exchangeable with the Tories these days, and indeed have been so ever since Tony Blair sold out socialism, to change it to Tory-lite, and as an instrument for his own career (he currently owns a mere 60 million pounds) and those of other careerists.

And while I am not a socialist (mostly because I am anti-totalitarian and because I have seen socialist countries at work: it didn't work, for most, and indeed it  didn't work at all), I am also not pro rich, and indeed I see this as a calculated intentional betrayal of the many poor, by the few rich or by their willing political servants, which these days also include most - not: all - Labour politicians.

5. Paul Krugman on What's Really Killing the World Economy 

The next item is an article by Janet Allon on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Turns out forgiveness can be a virtue when it comes to easing hard economic times, as well as other areas of life.

The world economy is still stumbling, Paul Krugman writes in his column today. Recovery is stalling. "If this story sounds familiar, it should; it has played out repeatedly since 2008," Krugman writes, somewhat depressingly. "As in previous episodes, the worst news is coming from Europe, but this time there is also a clear slowdown in emerging markets — and there are even warning signs in the United States, despite pretty good job growth at the moment."

Then he sets out to answer this question of why things are so bad. After all, we are many years past the housing bust and banking crisis, i.e., the causes of the Great Recession.

Actually, I think we are not - or more precisely: while it is true the housing bust and the banking crisis are past, the crisis these started still endures, and it still endures because of the policies that were chosen to save the banks, which again were those that saved the rich and increased their incomes, and namely because they succeeded in switching off their responsibility for the crisis to the ordinary people, who had to pay the many billions that were necessary to save the corrupt banks.

This is also mostly Krugman's answer, but his answer to the question why governments are still implementing the austerity policies is different from mine.

For to the question "why do governments keep making these mistakes?" Krugman answers this:

The answer, Krugman posits, is misplaced righteousness, overzealous moralizers intent on continuing to punish debtors even if doing so drags everyone down.

No - not anymore after six years: in my opinion it is simply greed.

For austerity worked out to save the few rich, both as regards their taxes and their incomes; it worked out to take from the many poor, and that especially in incomes, that were taken from them and given to the rich, for well over thirty years now, also; and to posit this fundamentally ideological story while it is clear that what covers these facts - that the rich gained enormously over the last 35 years, and that they did so largely by stealing from the poor, indeed in the name of ideology and a totally false "freedom" and "free markets" - is a bit  disingenuous, in my eyes.

So rather than the ending Allon provides, which is this:

Cutbacks and austerity have kept the economy weak. Policy makers have embraced the equivalent of, "the beatings will continue until morale improves."

I would rather say:

Cutbacks and austerity have kept the rich strong and made them even richer, all because policy makers have embraced the equivalent of "the beatings will continue until the rich have virtually all".

It is calculated greed that is killing the world economy, much more than ideological dreams.

6. Why Government Spends More Per Pupil at Elite Private Universities than at Public Universities

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Imagine a system of college education supported by high and growing government spending on elite private universities that mainly educate children of the wealthy and upper-middle class, and low and declining government spending on public universities that educate large numbers of children from the working class and the poor.

You can stop imagining. That’s the American system right now.

Government subsidies to elite private universities take the form of tax deductions for people who make charitable contributions to them. In economic terms a tax deduction is the same as government spending. It has to be made up by other taxpayers.

The rich can spend a lot because they have an enormous amount of money, and indeed they do spend it in part on subsidizing education:

Private university endowments are now around $550 billion, centered in a handful of prestigious institutions. Harvard’s endowment is over $32 billion, followed by Yale at $20.8 billion, Stanford at $18.6 billion, and Princeton at $18.2 billion.

In contrast:

Public universities, by contrast, have little or no endowment income. They get almost all their funding from state governments. But these subsidies have been shrinking.

State and local financing for public higher education came to about $76 billion last year, nearly 10 percent less than a decade before.

First note this is less - for all universities except for a few private ones - than the endowments Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Princeton received from billionaires. And next, this means public university students are subsidized by less than a tenth of the money that subsidize students in the rich universities.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link, that includes an explanation of how per every three dollars given (in large gifts) one dollar is returned in tax breaks to the rich givers, from the tax money gathered from all.

As Reich says "There is no justification", but it continues and continues.

---------------------------------
P.S. 15 Oct 2014: I put in the link for item 6 the third time (by which I mean that I did not disappear it or not link it before).
Notes
[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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