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Nederlog


  November
27, 2014
Crisis: Juncker, Cash-bomb people, Stupidity, Bombs, Net Neutrality, Assange, Keynes
  "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.
€300bn Jean-Claude Juncker eurozone kickstarter
     sounds too good to be true

2.
We should cash-bomb the people - not the banks
3. It’s a fantasy to see the working class as an intolerant
     blob

4. Firms invested £17bn in companies making cluster
     bombs, report says

5.
Coalition Launches to Lead Global Fight For Open Internet
     and Digital Democracy

6. Assange and Chomsky Appear Arm-In-Arm at Ecuadorian
     Embassy

7.
Keynes Is Slowly Winning

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, November 27. It is a
crisis log.

There are 7 items with 13 dotted links: Item 1 is about a plan of Juncker's that is very unlikely to succeed or help; item 2 is about who should get the money that
the very rich are receiving now: everybody who is not very rich; item 3 is about the working class and stupidity; item 4 is about banks investing in (mostly quite
illegal) cluster bombs; item 5 is about a new coalition for net neutrality (and is Good News, which is rare in this crisis series); item 6 is about Assange and Chomsky; and item 7 is about Keynes.

And here goes:

1. €300bn Jean-Claude Juncker eurozone kickstarter sounds too good to be true

The first item today is an article by Larry Elliott on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (with a minor correction - an inserted space - by me):

A €300bn (£240bn) plan to revive the eurozone economy. A blueprint that will use investment in infrastructure projects to kickstart growth. A Brussels fightback against the austerity obsession that has left Europe in the slow lane of the global economy. It all sounds too good to be true. And it is.

That’s not to decry the efforts of Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, who deserves credit for trying. But his plan is more likely to prove a damp squib than a magic bullet.

The first drawback with the Juncker plan is that there is only €20bn of new money, with the rest coming from the private sector. Brussels will provide guarantees should any of the investments in roads, railways, energy projects or a speedier internet go pear-shaped. Some critics have already dubbed this highly leveraged scheme as Juncker’s version of subprime mortgage debt.

I think I agree with the critics, especially in view of the facts that (1) only
€20bn is new money, and the rest is supposed to come from "the private sector", while (2) as the article also says:
Given that the eurozone is a €13tn economy, what’s on offer is pretty small beer.
Yes, indeed: A little over a promille (a thousandth part).

2. We should cash-bomb the people - not the banks  

The next item is an article by Simon Jenkins on The Guardian:

This starts as follows, and takes a rather different view of Juncker than the previous article did. I think this one is more justified:

Abandon helicopters. Use bombers. Bomb Germany, France, Italy, Greece, the entire eurozone. Bomb them with banknotes, cash, anything to boost demand. The money must go straight to households, not to banks. Banks have had their day and miserably failed to spend. From now on they get nothing.

Five years after the financial crash it is nearly unbelievable that the eurozone’s lords and masters now confront renewed recession. They seem inert before deflation, subflation, lowflation or whatever lets them avoid the word “scandal”. An ever more dominant Germany is unmoved. Its finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, is set on “black zero” or a balanced German budget.

The European Central Bank (ECB) murmurs about “quantitative easing” but is up against Germany’s furious protests. Ten per cent of the eurozone’s workforce is unemployed and one in five of its young. Greece has lost a quarter of its national product. The waste of resources is staggering.

At the heart of this tragedy stands the absurd figure of the new EU president, Jean-Claude Juncker, impresario of Luxembourg’s outrageous tax-evasion oasis. Yesterday he proposed a €21bn European fund which, he claimed implausibly, would entice private backers to invest “up to” 15 times the sum. Who will invest when there is no demand? The pope rightly called the EU “elderly and haggard”, mistrusted, insensitive and bureaucratic.
Quite so, at least in my view.

Also, although the first paragraph may seem over the top, the rest of the article gives rather a lot of evidence that it is not, and indeed has been practised in quite a few countries (Japan, China, Vietnam, Taiwan); that it is currently supported by quite a few academics;
that it was supported by both Keynes and Friedman; and indeed also differs from handing over billions to the very rich, as happens now, in one detail only: the receivers are supposed to be many poor or middle class people rather than the few rich.

And then there is this "little detail" on the (possible) effects:
The commentator Anatole Kaletsky points out that if the £375bn of QE had gone to private bank accounts rather than to buying bonds from banks, it would have meant £24,000 per British family. This would have transformed the demand economy.
Yes indeed. I do not know how much difference it would have made - except that this would have been much fairer than the actual schema that was adopted by "the democratically elected politicians", who chose for the banks, the very rich bankmanagers, and the grossly obscene bonuses for the few - and who lied a lot.

And after over 5 years of not working, it is quite fair to say it was a
grossly obscene schema to benefit the few rich at the cost of the many poor (but yes: That part worked - what did not work was an improvement of the economy).

Will this change? I think not, at least not until the crisis bites harder, and destroys the banks - as may very well happen, though I do not know when.

3. It’s a fantasy to see the working class as an intolerant blob

The next item is an article by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:

This is not quite what I want to write about (some, not much - and I will take up the theme later), but it does contain the following piece, which also was written, it is said quite explicitly, by someone who does come from the working class:
Some working-class people are horrible. Vile, racist, proud of their ignorance. They live perpetually trapped in their own stupidity. There, I said it. I can say it because I am not in the Labour party and I come from the working class, and therefore simply cannot regard it as a homogenous group. Yes some working-class folk are salt-of-the-earth, decent and have even read a book.
First about Suzanne Moore's article, that also is definitely British and about Great Britain: I agree with the title (although: who looks upon "the working class" as "an intolerant blob" - isn't that just too stupid to treat seriously?) and I also agree with the quotation. The rest is too British for me, but I do not want to talk about that, for I want to talk - briefly - about human stupidity.

To start with, here is a recent video of Bill Maher:
I agree with Maher. He says, in the video, about an MIT professor called Jonathan Gruber of whom there is a tape on which he calls Americans stupid (and I quote Bill Maher):
I agree. And I have heard nobody else in America say that. Everybody on the left and the right "Oh how could he call Americans stupid?!". Show the clip of the one man in America who agrees with him.
After which Bill Maher is shown, saying and affirming in various ways that most Americans are stupid, not bright, etc.

I quite agree - and I am from a very poor working class background, not with a Tory mother and an American father as Suzanne Moore, but with parents who both were revolutionary and sincere communists [2] for more than 40 years; with working class grandparents who were communists or anarchists; while I have an IQ well over 150 and two excellent degrees, with only As, all made while I and my ex were ill (and I was much opposed by students and staff because I did not have "the normal ideas" - while the students had, on average, in 1984, an IQ of 115, which 30 years later is probably 105 now, given that everything educational was made a lot simpler in Holland since then).

But no: I am not allowed to say most people are stupid, while that - the degree of stupidity that marks most men and women - is clearly (as I put it in 2010) the tragi-comical fundamental human problem: See here, with many links:
And there is also this from June 10, 2010:
Most links still work, though especially in the second quite a few don't. In any case, from my own - no doubt: "fascist, terrorist, elitarian, sick, degenerate", according to the stupid (and I have been called all that, in the University of Amsterdam: thank you very much, idiots!) - point of view it really is the most important problem humans have, and if you doubt this, you should look at some of the videos in the above links.

But OK... I will return to this, if only because it is both very unfair and very stupid (though I agree it will not help much: people just are too stupid and/or ignorant, on average, alas - and that is the main problem).

4. Firms invested £17bn in companies making cluster bombs, report says 

The next item is an article by Ewan MacAskill on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

More than 150 financial institutions worldwide invested £17bn in companies producing cluster munitions in spite of an international ban, according to a report.

The report from the Netherlands-based peace organisation PAX lists in its “hall of shame” banks, pension funds and other financial institutions that have contributed to production of the munitions between June 2011 and September 2014.

Most of the investors are from the US (76), South Korea (22) and China (21), but there are also three from Germany and seven from the UK. One of the biggest investors is a Singapore-based company.

Cluster munitions were banned in a 2008 Oslo convention that came into force in 2010 and has been signed by 115 countries. The convention followed years of campaigning against the weapon, which kills a disproportionate number of civilians, particularly children.

Among countries still to sign the convention are the US, China and Russia. The US insists that the weapon is legal.

I say. There is considerably more in the article, and I should add that (1) it doesn't amaze me that "financial institutions" go for profit, while (2) the Dutch in this case don't, because the Dutch government has forbidden it (as is indeed quite justified).

5. Coalition Launches to Lead Global Fight For Open Internet and Digital Democracy

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As a movement crystallizes around the future of the Internet, more than 35 human rights and technology organizations from 19 countries have come together as a new coalition to define and protect the idea of 'net neutrality' as they lead what they say is a global battle to protect the Open Internet and online freedom.

The numerous and diverse groups—coming together as the 'This Is Net Neutrality' coalition—released a joint statement (made available in eleven languages) expressing their shared purpose:

The open Internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation and access to knowledge and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe.

Today, this open Internet is endangered by powerful service providers seeking to become gatekeepers who decide how users can access parts of the Internet. We don't want to prevent these companies from using reasonable and necessary methods to manage their networks, but these acts cannot be a pretext to eliminate openness nor to police content.

The fundamental openness of this crucial technology must be preserved, and to this end we offer the resources on this site for activists, academics, policy makers and technologists who share our vision.

I say - but this is quite good news. Also, they use a sensible definition:

The coalition, as their name suggests, also released a shared defintion of the term 'net neutrality' that all members would use moving forward. It reads:

Net neutrality requires that the Internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination.

Very good: I am for it. (And there is more under the last dotted link.)

6. Assange and Chomsky Appear Arm-In-Arm at Ecuadorian Embassy

The next item is an article by Common Dreams Staff on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, under a photograph of Assange and Chomsky on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy (see the dotted link):

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London arm-in-arm with American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky on Tuesday.

Assange has remained at the Embassy since 2012, when he was granted asylum by the Ecuadorian government. UK authorities have denied Assange passage to Ecuador and the embassy building has been guarded 24 hours a day by London police.

There is some more in the article, but this is a nice gesture from Chomsky, who is nearly 86, that indeed also is deserved by Assange.

7.
Keynes Is Slowly Winning

The next item is an article by Paul Krugman on The New York Times:

Basically, this is Paul Krugman insisting he and Keynes were right all the time. It contains this passage:
Three and a half years ago Businessweek was declaring that expansionary austerian Alberto Alesina was the new Keynes; now it tells us that Keynes is the new Keynes. And we have people like Paul Singer complaining about the “Krugmanization” of the debate.

Why does the tide finally seem to be turning? Partly, I think, it’s just a matter of time; after six years it’s becoming hard not to notice that the anti-Keynesians have been wrong about everything. Europe’s slide toward deflation makes it even harder to deny the realities of liquidity-trap economics. And the refusal of almost everyone on the anti-Keynesian side to admit any kind of error has gradually made them look ridiculous.

In fact, I wrote several articles about Keynes [3] in 2008, in Dutch (here they are, though they are in Dutch:
but then I gave up when I saw it wasn't Keynes who was winning then, but those policies and politicians and bank managers who helped the banks and the bank managers, and that transported billions of dollars to the very rich, while making the middle class and the poor pay for the banks' completely ridiculous mistakes or intentional frauds (as I predicted on September 8, 2008).

As to Krugman: I hope he is right, but I doubt it. At least so far, few ordinary people protest that their money is taken from them to pay the debts of the banks
and the many millions of the banks' managers, and indeed one also does not read, hear or see much about this in the main media.
---------------------------------
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.)

[2] I insist on their sincerity and intelligence, though they were not well educated. My father's IQ was above 135, and my mother's also, and the point about their sincerity is quite relevant in Holland because I attended the University of Amsterdam where, in the late 1970ies and early 1980ies, nearly everyone, students and staff alike, pretended to be "marxists", insisted I was "a fascist" and "a terrorist" (o yes!) because I was not a marxist, and indeed also was removed, quite ill also, from the faculty of philosophy because of my opinions: I was denied the right to take an M.A. there, by all the quasi-marxistic stupid, degenerate, conformist careerists who were at least 95% of the students and the staff of the UvA, in the late 1970ies and early 1980ies, and I was the only student since WW II who was treated that way in Holland.

Incidentally, the reason for all that quasi-marxism (nearly all completely false, also) was that the Dutch universities had been handed over to the students in 1971, who were-or-pretended-to-be mostly "marxists" till 1985, when they grew into "postmodernists", since when nearly all of them have changed to "neo-
conservatives" around 2002. As my quote-marks indicated, I think nearly all of them lied, if only because these were all majority-positions. O, and the universities were taken from the students in 1995, by another act of parliament.

Anyway: I may not say people are more stupid than I am, usually, and certainly
not that this constitutes an enormous problem. No, what we need is billions and billions more of typical dishonest Dutchmen with IQs close to 100 and a great knowledge of soccer plus a taste for racism...

[3] I have read, already in the 1970ies, more by Keynes than most economists seem to have, for I did read "The economic consequences of the peace", "The general theory of interest and money" and "A Treatise on Probability" quite closely. (And yes, I know he wrote considerably more, but these were his main works.)


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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