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. Sen. Bernie Sanders: The
United States is on the Verge of
Becoming an Oligarchy
tax files: how tiny state rubber-stamped tax
avoidance on an industrial
3. How Ronald Reagan and the
Supreme Court Turned
American Politics Into a
4. 'We Will Only Get Louder':
Dozens of Communities Vote to
Boot Big Money from Politics
5. The Corporate Coup
d’Etat is Nearly Complete
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, November 6. It is a crisis log.
This has 5 items with 5 dotted links. Most are analyses of the midterm
Item 1 is a good analysis by Senator
Sanders; item 2 is a long file on the corrupt-
though-nominally legal Luxembourg's operations; item 3
is about a good analysis
of the midterm elections; item 4 is about
resistance against big money in politics;
and item 5 is about the corporate coup that has
been mostly effected in the U.S.
Also, this has been uploaded a bit earlier than is normal.
1. Sen. Bernie Sanders: The United States is on
the Verge of Becoming an Oligarchy
item is an article by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now:
This starts as
We get reaction to the
Republicans’ big midterm victory from Sen.
Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont. "What frightens me is what
Citizens United has done to the politics of this country and the
ability of billionaires like the Koch brothers and others to put
unprecedented sums of money into elections," Sanders says. "I fear that
we may be on the verge of becoming an oligarchic form of society where
a handful of billionaires control not just the economy, but the
political life of this country. And that’s just something we’re going
to have wrestle with."
Yes, indeed: That is
about the same basic analysis as I (and quite a few others) made of the
outcome of the midterm elections, although it seems at least one item
is missing. And that is the silence of Obama, who indeed could not do
much because he is quite impopular.
And here is Sanders
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:
I think it’s quite far-fetched to believe that [president Obama] can
move forward a
progressive agenda. I think the immediate effort will be to stop to
have more tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations, which the
Republicans will certainly bring forward. I think under the guise of,
quote-unquote, "entitlement reform," they will be making efforts to cut
Social Security and Medicare. They’ll go after Medicaid. They’ll go
after education. They’ll go after nutrition. They’ll probably want to
increase funding for the military. And my guess is, with all of the
money from the Koch brothers coming in and the other fossil fuel
industries, they’ll continue to ignore scientific evidence about
climate change. So, I think we’re going to be more of a defensive mode
trying to prevent bad things than having illusions at this point about
doing good things.
Yes. Also, the new
leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who clearly has studied Obama a
bit, has said that he wants to "compromise" with Obama, which very
probably means that Obama mostly has to give in to McConnell's desires.
Yes, indeed. And this is
a good interview that deserves full reading.
(...) it’s not just the minimum wage. On economic issues, whether it’s
raising the minimum wage, whether it’s pay equity for women workers,
whether it’s investing in rebuilding our infrastructure and creating
millions of decent-paying jobs, whether it is making college education
affordable and ending this burden of student indebtedness that so many
young people have, guess what. The vast majority of the people want
Last point I will make before I have to get off is, what frightens me
very much is what Citizens United
has done to the politics of this country and the ability of
billionaires like the Koch brothers and others to put unprecedented
sums of money into elections. And it frightens me very much, because I
fear that we may be on the verge of becoming an oligarchic form of
society where a handful of billionaires control not just the economy,
but the political life of this country. And that’s just something we’re
going to have to wrestle with.
tax files: how tiny state rubber-stamped taxA
avoidance on an industrial
item is a long article - 325 Kb - by Simon Bowers on The Guardian:
starts as follows:
I say, though I am not
at all amazed. And I should state the reason for my lack of
international investigation into tax deals struck with Luxembourg has uncovered the multi-billion
dollar tax secrets of some of the world’s largest multinational
A cache of almost 28,000
pages of leaked tax agreements, returns and other sensitive papers
relating to over 1,000 businesses paints a damning picture of an EU
state which is quietly rubber-stamping tax avoidance on an industrial
The documents show that
major companies — including drugs group Shire, City trading firm Icap and vacuum
cleaner firm Dyson, who are headquartered in the UK or Ireland — have
used complex webs of internal loans and interest payments which have
slashed the companies’ tax bills. These arrangements, signed off by the
Grand Duchy, are perfectly legal.
The documents also show
how some 340 companies from around the world arranged
specially-designed corporate structures with the Luxembourg
authorities. The businesses include corporations such as Pepsi, Ikea,
Accenture, Burberry, Procter & Gamble, Heinz, JP Morgan and FedEx.
Leaked papers relating to the Coach handbag firm, drugs group Abbott
Laboratories, Amazon, Deutsche Bank and Australian financial group
Macquarie are also included.
The first job I had, age 17, was as a documentalist at the Dutch bank
NMB (that since then disappeared), whose job it was to read the yearly
reports that banks and other big companies have to make, and it was
precisely this kind of thing that I found in 1967-8. More
specifically, I found that the real powers behind many banks
and other big companies were the owners, and the owners were
nearly all firms in Luxemburg, who controlled 51% or more, and
sometimes less, of the shares of the companies.
At the time, this was quite new for me (though not for others), and indeed, as the article
says, it was also both quite legal and rarely talked about,
was quite important to find out for whoever considered the possibility
of investing in one of these companies (that tended to draw another
picture than emerged from careful reading of their balances and owners).
So my guess is that in the intervening years very little
changed, that is:
Luxembourg went on to make a whole lot of money by being the
the owners of big companies, that thereby avoided a lot of taxes they
would have had
to pay if they were owned by firms in the countries they operated in.
What is new now is that there have been found quite a lot of papers
that clarify the situation (that was always quite complicated, because
the real owners do not
do much or anything in public and are quite secretive):
There is a whole lot
more under the last dotted link.
More than 80 journalists
in 26 countries, working in collaboration through the International
Consortium of Investigative Journalists, have spent six months
scrutinising the leaked papers - after a small number of the documents
were first revealed by French TV journalist Edouard Perrin. The papers
largely relate to clients of PricewaterhouseCoopers Luxembourg. PwC is
one of the largest tax advisory groups in the world.
The leaked papers show
Luxembourg acting as a go-between, both enabling and masking tax
avoidance, which always takes place beyond its borders. The documents
are mainly Advance Tax Agreements - known as comfort letters. The
leaked papers include 548 of these private tax rulings. These ATAs are
typically schemes put to the Luxembourg tax authorities which, if
implemented, reduce tax bills substantially. If the Luxembourg
authorities approve the scheme they provide a comfort letter which is a
3. How Ronald Reagan and the Supreme
Court Turned American Politics Into a Cesspool
item is an article by William Pfaff on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
significance of the mid-term American legislative elections just
finished has been the occasion’s dramatic confirmation of the
corruption of the American electoral system. This has two elements, the
first being its money corruption, unprecedented in American history,
and without parallel in the history of major modern western
democracies. How can Americans get out of this terrible situation,
which threatens to become the permanent condition of American electoral
The second significance
of this election has been the debasement of debate to a level of
vulgarity, misinformation and ignorance that, while not unprecedented
in American political history, certainly attained new depths and extent.
This disastrous state of
affairs is the product of two Supreme Court decisions and before that,
of the repeal under the Reagan Administration, of the provision in the
Federal Communications Act of 1934, stipulating the public service
obligations of radio (and subsequently, of television) broadcasters in
exchange for the government’s concession to them of free use in their
businesses of the public airways.
These rules required
broadcasters to provide “public interest” programming, including the
coverage of electoral campaigns for public office and the independent
examination of public issues. The termination of these requirements
made possible the wave of demagogic and partisan right-wing “talk
radio” that since has plagued American broadcasting and muddied
American electoral politics.
I say - and this is
quite interesting, as this was not known by me: I did not know
about the public interests that broadcasters had to respect, nor about
the effective termination of these rules, that indeed is quite
Here is some more:
The two Supreme
Court decisions were “Buckley v. Valeo” in 1976 and “Citizens United v.
the Federal Election Commission” in 2010. Jointly, they have
transformed the nature of the American political campaign, and indeed
the nature of American national politics. This resulted from the nature
and characteristics of mass communications in the United States and the
fact that broadcasting has from the beginning been all but totally a
commercial undertaking (unlike the state broadcasters in Canada and
Britain, and nearly all of Europe).
There is this on the
Citizen United decision of the Supreme Court:
The Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission verdict is well known and remains highly
controversial since it rendered impossible the imposition of legal
limits on political campaign spending, ruling that electoral spending
is an exercise in constitutionally-protected free speech. Moreover, it
adjudged commercial corporations as legal citizens, in electoral
matters the equivalent of persons.
The Court’s prohibition of
legislation imposing such spending limits is responsible for the
enormous tides of money that has swept over recent America national
Quite so. Here is the
ending of the article:
The result of these
developments during the past 40 years has been the transformation of
the United States into a plutocracy, which is to say a state governed
by its wealthiest class. No one in America today doubts it.
It is the Supreme Court that has placed the United States in this
position, and while the Court can and has implicitly reversed
decisions, and can be overruled by legislation in certain cases or by
Constitutional Amendment, it is difficult to see either course as
relevant or feasible in this situation, whose gravity is very widely
accepted, but whose solution seems remote, given the society which the
United States has become.
Yes, indeed. And
William Pfaff also seems quite right in not seeing any obvious
solution, given the outcomes of the midterm elections and the effective
of national politics by the corporations and the government: Big money
the U.S., all thanks to a majority in the Supreme Court.
article deserves full reading.
4. 'We Will Only Get Louder': Dozens of
Communities Vote to Boot Big Money from Politics
item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
These are some of the
rules that were agreed to by quite a few communities in Wisconsin -
which in my opinion are quite right, and indeed totally disagree with
Citizens in dozens of
overwhelmingly on Tuesday for their legislators to pass a
constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens
United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which opened the
door for the super-rich and corporations to trample democracy.
As they headed to the
polls to vote in what turned out to be the most
expensive midterm election in history—one in which outside money
from undisclosed sources played an outsized role and the number of
small individual donors shrank—voters across the country made clear
their desire to end corporate personhood and get big money out of
the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions:
1. Only human
beings—not corporations, limited liability companies, unions, nonprofit
organizations, or similar associations—are endowed with Constitutional
2. Money is not
speech and, therefore, regulating political contributions and spending
is not equivalent to limited political speech.
And this is the ending
of the article, that quotes Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, who heads the Move
to Amend campaign against money in politics:
Americans share the sentiment that corporations should not have the
same rights as people, and big money in politics should be removed,"
she said. "It is time for Congress to pass the We
the People Amendment and send it to the states for ratification.
The leadership of both parties need to realize that their voters are
clamoring for this amendment, and we are only going to get louder."
I agree, but the
movement needs to become a lot larger in order to succeed.
5. The Corporate
Coup d’Etat is Nearly Complete
item is an article by Harvey Wasserman on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Wasserman is angry, but rightly so, in my opinion. And I agree with
Harvey Wasserman (and Gore Vidal: see here
and here) that a corporate coup has
taken place in the United States, even though the coup was in fact made
by the majority of the Supreme Court.
The GOP/corporate coup
d’etat is nearly complete.
The Republicans now
control the major media, the Supreme Court, the Congress and soon the
Think Jeb Bush in 2016.
All throughout America,
right down to the local level, buried in a tsunami of cash and
corruption, our public servants are being morphed into corporate
Our electoral apparatus
is thoroughly compromised by oceans of dirty money, Jim Crow
registration traps, rigged electronic voting machines, gerrymandering,
corrupt secretaries of state.
The internet may be
next. Above all, if there is one thing that could save us a shred
of democracy, it’s preserving net neutrality. This fight could in
fact outweigh all the others, and may be decided soon. Whatever
depression you may now feel, shake it off to wage this battle. If
we now lose the ability to freely communicate, we are in the deepest
hole of all.
In the rest, Wasserman
analyzes the situation the U.S. finds itself now in as starting under
president Johnson. I do not know, and certainly the analysis is too
brief, but you can read it under the last dotted link. (I tend to see
it start with the Reagan
presidency, but I agree history is quite difficult to do well, and that
there are many factors.)
Here is the ending of the article:
Well...yes and no. I
think the situation is quite depressive for progressives,
Thus the GOP has been
enthroned by a half-century of Democrats who’ve helped drag us into
endless war, ignored our electoral rights and sold their souls—and the
nation’s—to a zombie army of corporate operatives.
The money power has ruled
this nation before. This time it means a whole new level of
all-out war against social justice, our basic rights, our ability to
live in harmony with our Mother Earth.
Beset by a whole new
level of global disaster, we have no choice but to find some completely
new answers. Our survival depends on it.
It will take all our
creative and activist juices. Nothing is clear except that it
won’t be easy.
And that no matter which
corporate party tries to lead us there, the path to the promised land
does not go through the deadly quicksand of imperial war, empty
rhetoric or corrupted elections.
If we're to get there at
all, a whole new way must be found.
but I do not think "a
whole new way must be found",
were it only because,
at least as things are, "a whole
new way" is extremely difficult to explain
to the majority of the American voters.
Also, I think one way for progressives these days is a kind of
Money needs to be ousted from politics; corporations
have to be stopped
from being persons (with more rights than real persons have);
and the media
must be returned to the public interest (see item 3),
and given these returns
one may have something like fair elections again, and although I do not
much from the wisdom of the average American voter, at least the
that are then made - whatever they are - may again be called
"democratic", as they are not now, for now the plutocrats may
buy most elections by advertising.
And this has the advantages that most voters will agree and that the
quite easy to explain.
 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: