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. David Cameron’s tax credo is
incoherent, immoral and
Shakespeare taught me about Marxism
3. How Stewart, Colbert and
Oliver Could Make a Surprising
Difference This Election
4. Chomsky: A World in
Crisis, from Isil to Ukraine
5. An Election Day Carol
6. Abby Martin Uncovers 9/11 |
Jesse Ventura Off The Grid -
This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 3. It is a crisis log.
It has 6 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about
Cameron's tax credo, which
I agree is totally false and illiterate; item 2 is
about Shakespeare and Marx: I mostly disagree, but it is not very
serious; item 3 seems to me mostly wishful
thinking, but I'd like it if it were correct, though I don't think it
is; item 4 is a recent bit on Chomsky, who is right
about the world; item 5 is a fantasy piece
by Robert Reich, that seems to me a bit too kind to Supreme Court judge
Anthony Kennedy and others; and item 6 is a
friendly conversation between Jesse Ventura
and Abby Martin of some months ago, that I put up because I think both
sensible persons, and because I did not see it earlier.
There also are two
mostly Dutch autobiography
files added today, but these were first published in Nederlog.
Also, this Nederlog got uploaded considerably earlier than is normal
David Cameron’s tax credo is incoherent, immoral and economically
item is an article by Will Hutton on The Guardian:
Let me start this - once
more - with quoting the Supreme Court judge Oliver
Wendell Holmes Jr. (<- Wikipedia):
"Taxes are what we
pay for civilized society"
The reason to start with
this is that it seems the fundamental difference between David Cameron
and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: Everyone has to pay some to be able to
share in social cooperation in a complicated society, and the rich have
to pay a higher percentage.
Here is the start of Will Hutton's article:
Precisely. And what
Cameron calls "morality" is in fact Tory ideology, which is deeply
immoral. Here is Cameron's "argument", which is a howler:
Believe the prime
minister and it is morality, rather than economics, which requires him
to cut taxes. In an important article in the Times last week
that was factually incorrect, philosophically incoherent and
economically bonkers, David Cameron set out the Tory credo. He was
wrong on all counts. Trying to argue why every reader should vote
Conservative, he instead revealed the darkness of the blind alley into
which modern Conservatism has stumbled.
All Britain’s ills – a “
bloated, high-taxing, welfare heavy nation” – were rooted in a state
that had grown too large because of an indiscriminate willingness to
spend money that was not its own. This undermined incentives and,
worse, it undermined morality. Only one sentence genuflected towards
the moral good of the rich and able paying a “fair” share towards our
“public services and safety nets”: the real enemy of morality was the
principle of taxation itself.
pound of public money started as private earning,” he intoned. Building
on what seems an uncontestable and homespun truth, he made the moral
claim that because “every single pound of public money is private
earning… what is morally wrong is [a] government spending money like it
grows on trees”.
The reason this is a
howler is that even if the premiss is admitted (and I don't, because
"private earning" is undefined) nothing like the conclusion
follows: It is a gross rhetorical statement that has no
relation to the facts, or the ideas what government is for, or the
rights of the English citizens.
As Hutton explains:
And here is some more:
Even in Tory land no man
or woman is an island. Human beings associate in societies because of a
primeval need and fundamental instincts. As evolving primates, we first
learned to speak because it was more effective to hunt in groups that
In 2014, we are similarly
social, acting together to get the best results. The physical
expression of this social necessity is our public institutions and the
resources they deploy are properly created by a fee everyone pays:
taxes. Those who earn more contribute more because proportionality of
contribution represents another fundamental human appetite: fairness.
societies grow out of an interdependence between public and private:
they need each other and taxation is the financial connecting rod. To
echo the IFS, there is no sense in which “every pound of public money
is private earning”: private earning becomes as high as it is only
because of public investment. Taxes are the means by which we furnish
public agencies the wherewithal to provide us with the universities,
research, roads, railways, networks and all the rest that allow private
companies to flourish.
This is a good article
that you should read all of.
Shakespeare taught me about Marxism
item is an article by Paul Mason (economics editor at the British
to admit this is mostly here because my parents were - real, honest,
intelligent - Marxists, and I was too, until I was 20, when I gave it
of Marx's labor theory of value, his dialectics and the totalitarianism
erized so much of the "really existing socialism", which indeed I had never
accepted as socialism, since I had spent five weeks in the German
Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1964.
again, Marx seems to be somewhat fashionable again, indeed because the
capitalist economy has failed and is failing, and I really like
Shakespeare, so here goes. It starts as follows:
Really? I do not think so, and
I have read considerable parts of Marx and all Shakespeare's plays at
least thrice. More precisely, I think one can read Marx into
Shakespeare (and Marx also was a great lover of Shakespeare), but this
really is interpreting Shakespeare rather than reading
him, it seems to me.
If you could watch
Shakespeare’s history plays back-to-back, starting with King John and
ending with Henry VIII, it would, at first sight, be like an HBO drama
series without a central plot: murders, wars and mayhem, all set within
an apparently meaningless squabble between kings and dukes.
But once you understand
what a “mode of production” is the meaning becomes clear. What you are
watching is the collapse of feudalism and the emergence of early
But OK - there is considerably more, and Paul Mason wrote a book, "Postcapitalism:
A guide to our future", and the following seems a bit more sensible
Another 150 years
would pass until merchant capitalism, based on trade, conquest and
slavery, would give birth to industrial capitalism.
As I said, there is more
under the last dotted link. (But if you want to know about Marx's
economy, you should read Steedman's "Marx after Sraffa".)
For this reason, whenever I
want to stop myself being too Marxist, I think about Shakespeare. Armed
with a few history books and a profound humanism, he described the
society around him with peerless insight, and tried to explain to his
audience how they’d got there.
3. How Stewart, Colbert and Oliver Could
Make a Surprising Difference This Election
item is an article by Sophia A. McClennen and Remy M. Maisel that I
found on AlterNet but appeared originally on Salon:
Let me start this
with saying that I do not believe the title - or rather, since
"could make" is so vague as to amount to almost nothing: I think it
comedians or satirists will make a difference in tomorrow's elections,
though indeed I would be pleased if they do.
But they do tell me
some things I didn't know such as this:
Americans under 40 get
more of their news from satire than any one other
source. Further research by the Pew Research Center
from 2012 showed that among younger millennial-aged voters satire news
was not only more common than traditional news, but also more
trusted. Also this generation is decidedly liberal with half leaning towards
the Democrats and only 34% identifying as Republicans. Of those
that lean towards the GOP, most are significantly less conservative than the rest
of the party.
I say - and in fact
this is mostly a comment on the rottenness of the news as covered by
the main media, which I agree is propaganda
rather than news.
A World in Crisis, from Isil to Ukraine
There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but as I said: I
do not believe it, not because I would not want it to be true, but
because I do not like
item is an article by Noam Chomsky on AlterNet:
Actually, this is an
interview with Chomsky conducted by the Plymouth Institute for Peace
research. I think the title is correct, and I will quote only one bit:
A second no less
chilling observation is the alacrity of the rush to war on all sides,
in particular the instant dedication of intellectuals to the cause of
their own states, with a small fringe of notable exceptions, almost all
of whom were punished for their sanity and integrity -- a microcosm of
the history of the cultivated and educated sectors of society, and the
mass hysteria that they often articulate.
Chomsky seems right to me about "the instant dedication of intellectuals to the cause of
their own states, with a small fringe of notable exceptions, almost all
of whom were punished for their sanity and integrity"
- and see item 6 for two such exceptions.
5. An Election Day
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
Actuallty, this is a carol: It
is a fantasy piece, that makes Supreme Court judge Anthony Kennedy have
a dream. Here is a small part of it:
“You decided that
corporations are people under the First Amendment, and that independent
campaign expenditures, even when made by giant corporations, don’t give
rise to corruption or even the appearance of corruption,” the ghost
says. “How could you have been so naïve?”
And a bit further on there is
But as I said: This is a
fantasy piece, and in fact I do not believe it: I believe Judge Kennedy
knew quite well what he did, and he wanted to do it as well.
“What … happened?” the
Justice asks meekly.
allowed a few giant corporations, Wall Street banks, and very wealthy
people to buy American democracy. And once they bought it, there was no
longer any need for Election Day. That’s why they party every year on
In the end, my reason is that the decisions to make corporations people
(in fact with more rights than people have, and without any
personal responsibility) and to make money free speech are so insane
that I cannot believe that the justices of the Supreme Court did not
want to make these decisions, in majority.
Final question: Do the Supreme Court judges who made the decision think
it is insane? Of course not: once you are a supreme court judge
you are at least as sane as anybody else. But they took a political
and ideological decision, as did the Supreme Court that stopped
the recounting of the Florida votes, which gave the presidency to Bush
Jr., who in fact had narrowly lost, and neither decision was
sane or legal, and all three were political and ideological decisions
rather than legal ones.
6. Abby Martin Uncovers 9/11 | Jesse
Ventura Off The Grid -
and final item for today is not an article but a video:
This is 17 minutes of
video with Abby Martin being interviewed by Jesse Ventura on the
latter's  show. It is from September, but I did
not see it earlier.
the two widely agree, which means the interview is a conversation
I put it up here because I like both, without agreeing with either one
also, but they are sincere, intelligent and courageous, which itself is
a pleasure in these
days of propaganda
"news", and also I tend to agree with them on 9/11:
to me considerably more probable it was a false flag operation than
But I have no proof, and indeed such a proof will be hard to give with
 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 like the "'s"
to indicate a genitive.
(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: