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. Half global wealth held
by the 1%
2. Just in Time For
GOP-Controlled Congress, Obama
Announces Tax on One-Percenters
Have a Mother’
of the Week: José Mujica
5. The New Compassionate
Conservatism and Trickle-Down
This is a Nederlog of Monday,
January 19, 2015.
This is a crisis log. It has 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about the fact that half the global wealth is owned by 1%; item 2 is about Obama's announcement he wants to tax
the one-percenters (more); item 3 is by Chris
Hedges, and is about the life of someone who survived Auschwitz, as a
child; item 4 is about the president of Uruguay
(one of the few politicians I can believe in); and item
5 is Robert Reich on "compassionate conservatism".
global wealth held by the 1%
The first item today is an
article by Larry Elliott and Ed Pilkington on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
These are - I would say,
and I do belong to the 99% of the poor - obscene numbers, that
show a very few greedy egoists (Ayn Rand agrees!) have captured nearly
all - "by next year, 1% of
the world’s population
will own more wealth than the other 99%" - and use if for their own benefit.
politicians gathering in Switzerland this week will come under pressure
to tackle rising inequality after a study found that – on current
trends – by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more
wealth than the other 99%.
Ahead of this week’s
annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the ski resort of Davos,
the anti-poverty charity Oxfam said it would use its high-profile role
at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich
The charity’s research,
published today, shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by
the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while
the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.
Oxfam added that on
current trends the richest 1% would own more than 50% of the world’s
wealth by 2016.
Here is some more - and Byanyima is the director of Oxfam:
As to: "Do we really want to
live in a world where the 1% own more than the rest of us combined?".
Oxfam made headlines at
Davos last year with a study showing that the 85
richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50% (3.5 billion people). The charity said this
year that the comparison was now even more stark, with just 80 people
owning the same amount of wealth as more than 3.5 billion people, down
from 388 in 2010.
Byanyima said: “Do we
really want to live in a world where the 1% own more than the rest of
us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering
and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between
the richest and the rest is widening fast.”
Well, to start with... who are "we"? Here my problem is less with the
question (I don't, is my answer, though like everyone I have no real
choice) but with
the facts that (1) this strong tendency to enrich the very few rich,
that also was a huge success, has been implemented in the U.S. since
1980, that is for 35 years
now, and (2) many of the poor ones - of the 90% or the 99%  - and
especially the great group of the less intelligent ones seem to still
believe the total crap that they will get rich, while (3) many
of them also seem to have lost virtually all feelings of moral decency,
solidarity and fairness (and hence all the scolding on the poor and the
ill, by people who are poor).
But OK - I don't disagree with Oxfam (disclosure: I am a monthly
supporter of them, even though I have little money), and in fact was
mostly outlining the enormous successes of propaganda, baloney and
bullshit (that almost everyone hears and reads more of than of any
science, for it is everywhere).
As to Oxfam's plans or proposals:
I agree, but with the
billionaires owning the major media this will be very
difficult, even though it is all eminently reasonable for
Oxfam said it was calling
to adopt a seven point plan:
• Clamp down on tax
corporations and rich individuals.
• Invest in universal,
services such as health and education.
• Share the tax burden
taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth.
• Introduce minimum wages
and move towards
a living wage for all workers.
• Introduce equal pay
promote economic policies to give women a fair deal.
• Ensure adequate
safety-nets for the
poorest, including a minimum-income guarantee.
• Agree a global goal to
in Time For GOP-Controlled Congress, Obama Announces Tax on
The next item is an article by
Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (and
perhaps I should say straight away what my first reaction was:
"Typically Obama! After furthering the enormous incomes of the
banks for 6 years, and with a Congress that will never pass
this, now he suddenly is for tax increases on the rich - he is lying
and posturing, as usual"):
As I said: This is mere
dream spinning, mere propaganda, mere bullshit - and also, it takes
away interest from what Obama really furthers, and may well
succeed in getting accepted: The incredibly horrible and for
that reason also secret TTP and TTIP.
Just days ahead of
President Obama's State of the Union on
Tuesday, the White House has announced plans for a major tax overhaul
which would raise rates on the nation's wealthiest individuals and
increase fees for financial firms while offering an assortment of tax
breaks designed to help the nation's struggling middle class.
In a media call with
reporters on Saturday, an
unidentified Obama administration official offered the broad strokes of
the proposal. According
Obama’s proposals call
for reforming tax rules on trust
funds, which the administration called “the single largest capital
gains tax loophole” because it allows assets to be passed down untaxed
to heirs of the richest Americans.
They also would raise the
capital gains and dividends
rates to 28%, the level during the 1980s Republican presidency of
Finally, here is the last paragraph from Jon Queally, who also sees
Taken in terms
more familiar to progressives, this argument speaks to
the reality that while the top 1 percent have been the main recipients
of prosperity and financial improvement for decades, it remains the
middle class, the working poor, and those left out of the economy
entirely who continue to be punished by rampant inequality and an
economic and political elite that has detached itself from the concerns
of the majority of people. And though there may be reason to celebrate
aspects of the new plan, it's clear that many will be unimpressed by
that fact that the proposal to more adequately tax the rich and help
the poor arrives at the very moment the president and his party are
least capable of making it a reality.
Yes. It is utter
baloney, that I think is meant to take the attention away from the TTP
and TTIP, by
propounding a nobly sounding but completely irrealistic "plan".
Have a Mother’
next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
childhood came to an end in the
fall of 1939 at a small bridge in Poland. She was 9—seated in a
horse-drawn wagon, her back propped against her family’s silver Sabbath
candelabra, which was wrapped in a blanket—when she saw the aftermath
of a German bomb attack. The sight of human bodies, along with
eviscerated horses gasping in pain and struggling to rise despite their
gaping wounds, reduced her to tears and panic. Her mother, Helena
Rewitz, born Schwimer, who would hover over her daughter like a
guardian angel later in a Jewish ghetto and the Auschwitz-Birkenau
death camp, took the terrified child into her arms.
Maybe I should tell my
readers that my father and his father were both arrested in July 1941,
as members of the communist resistance against the Nazis; that they
were both convicted, by collaborating Dutch judges, to concentration
I sat with Lola Mozes at
her dining room table in Brooklyn
on Friday. Short and petite, with curly black hair and white gold hoop
earrings, she had a soft, infectious laugh, an impish sense of humor
and fine facial lines that she inherited from her father and mother.
Her charm and warmth were girlish and slightly coquettish.
“I am the great
pretender,” she said, smiling. “It is
always there, what I went through. I am tormented by it. It keeps
repeating and repeating itself in my head.”
imprisonment, that my grandfather did not survive; that my father
survived more than 3 years, 9 months and 15 days as a political
prisoner in German concentration-camps; that he rarely talked about
but dreamt about being in the camps nearly every night; and that I have
been thrown out of the University of Amsterdam's faculty of philosophy
briefly before taking my M.A. there, while seriously ill also, and as
the only student to whom this ever happened since 1945, and I
specifically was thrown out, utterly falsely, as a "fascist terrorist "
according to at least 16
hysteric extremely well-paid totally incompetent quasi-marxist
leftist fascist liars, because I had publicly criticized them, namely
(Happily, my father was dead then.)
There are four pages to Chris Hedges' story, and this is from the last
I did not write
this story to say that Germans
are bad and Jews are good. The line between good and evil runs through
all hearts. It is, sadly, as easy to become an executioner as a victim.
This is the most sobering lesson of war. And it is something the
greatest writers on the Holocaust, such as Primo Levi, understood.
There were, after all, Jüdische Ghetto-Polizei, Jewish Kapos,
whose contributions to the organization of the ghettos and the death
camps kept the crematoriums functioning. The prisoners who lowered
themselves to the moral squalor of the SS were soon lost. I did not
write this piece to say that virtue or goodness triumphed after the
Holocaust. The Nazi extermination of 12 million people, including 6
million Jews, was a colossal, tragic and absurd waste of human life. I
wrote this piece to say that the fierce and protective love of a mother
and a father is stronger than hate.
Yes - and let me also
say something on the reasons that in Holland over 1% of the total
population was murdered for being "of the Jewish race", which is far
more than in almost any other country:
The main reason are that David Cohen and Abraham Asscher were two quite
rich Dutch Jews who decided to collaborate with the Nazis, and first
got most of the Jews to register as Jews, in 1940-41, and then
most of the poor Jews into the concentration camps, with the explicit
point and promise from the SS that the rich Jews then would be
As Karel van het Reve put it, in his foreword to David Koker's book:
(..) the Jewish
Council (an institution, as our teacher Jacques Presser wrote in an
unpublished book Homo
submersus (..) of Jews who earned above a certain income, with the
aim of sending the Jews who earned less to Poland)
Indeed Cohen and Asscher
were saved, at the price of over 100.000 poor Jews who were murdered.
Also, after the war neither of them even had to face a court: The Dutch
mostly pretended nothing had happened (and grew even more anti- semitic
after the war than before the war).
--Foreword in: David Koker, "Diary
written in Vught""
The Asschers and Cohens also had children, who had children, notably
Rob Oudkerk (grandson of David Cohen, dismissed as a sadistic
cocaine-using alderman of Amsterdam some years ago); Lodewijk Asscher
Abraham Asscher, presently vice-president of Holland, and very rich);
while I have asked many times of Job Cohen what is his relation to
David Cohen, but
Job Cohen - also very rich - has never answered anything I wrote,
thereby suggesting he has to hide a lot.
The same three heroes (all "social-democrats") together with mayor Ed
van Thijn (who also pretends he is Jewish without having the faith, if
he can profit by that) organized the typically Dutch "solution" to the
I do not know about the
last point and therefore have struck it out, but the rest is gospel
truth since the middle 1980ies, that is for 30 years
when also at least 300 billion (with a b) euros worth
marijuana and hashish have been sold in this manner in Holland - where no
one questions this, including all the judges and all
the policemen. (Incidentally: 5% of 300 billion = 300 000 000 000 : 100
= 15 000 000 000
euros = 15 billion euros in 30 years - and 5% is easily paid by
the clients of the drugsdealers).
- a mayor (like Van
Thijn or Cohen) or an alderman (like Oudkerk) would sign a "personal
permission" for a dealer of illegal drugs (marijuana and
deal their still illegal drugs from a coffeeshop (there are
just in Amsterdam)
- the amount of
drugs these coffeeshops sold would remain unknown (!!)
- the quality of
drugs would not be controlled;
or alderman would get 5% of the profits
of the Week: José Mujica
next item is an article by Natasha Hakimi on Truthdig:
In case you don't know
Mujica is: read the last link - and he is the president of Uruguay
presently, and one of the few politicians I really respect.
Here are some of my reasons why:
Under Mujica and his
predecessor, Tabaré Vásquez, who not
only also belongs to the Broad Front party but will replace Mujica when
he finishes his term March 1, the nation has witnessed an economic boom
fueled by the agricultural industry and a dramatic decrease in poverty
from 40 to 12 percent in the past 10 years. The minimum wage has
increased by 50 percent and the Uruguayan wealth gap has narrowed.
Moreover, the 75 percent increase in the economy has allowed for social
spending to expand, money that has gone in part toward funding
education and has, for example, allowed every schoolchild to have his
or her own laptop computer. Mujica has also focused on enacting
environmentally friendly policies and limiting consumption, an approach
consistent with the speech he gave at the 2012 Rio+20 Summit in which
he stated, “We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within
our means—by being prudent—the 7 billion people in the world could have
everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that
But not all of the Broad
Front leader’s policies have been as welcome
as free laptops. Mujica has also approved controversial legislation,
such as the legalization of gay marriage and of abortions during the
first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Perhaps most controversially, under his
rule Uruguay became the first country to legalize the production and
sale of marijuana. Mujica explains that in his view the true dangers of
drugs lie in trafficking, not consumption.
So there is something
a good politician can do, in a mere ten years, in a poor
country, and in Mujica's case (who also gives away 90% of his
presidential income) when one is between 70 and 80 years old.
Compassionate Conservatism and Trickle-Down Economics
The last item today is
article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as
I say. Well... I am not
amazed. And they even may win, now that the press works for them; the
Supreme Court works for them (in majority); the thousands of lobbyists
for them; and the major media mostly broadcast what has their approval.
Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney
are zeroing in on inequality as
America’s fundamental economic problem.
Bush’s new Political
Action Committee, called “The Right to Rise,”
declares “the income gap is real” but that “only conservative
principles can solve it.”
Mitt Romney likewise promised
last week that if he runs for president he’ll change the strategy
that led to his 2012 loss to President Obama (remember the “makers”
versus the “takers?”) and focus instead on income inequality, poverty,
and “opportunity for all people.”
establishment’s leading presidential
hopefuls know the current upbeat economy isn’t trickling down to most
Here is another bit, that compares Eisenhower and Reagan, who were both
conservatives and Republicans:
Republican policies have nudged it toward big gains at
the top and stagnation for everyone else.
But no present-day Republican
wants an Eisenhower - who also warned for the military-industrial
complex, that these days pays most Republicans, it seems.
The last Republican
president to deliver broad-based
prosperity was Dwight D. Eisenhower, in the 1950s.
Then, the gains from
growth were so widely shared that the
incomes of the poorest fifth actually grew faster than the incomes of
the top fifth. As a result, America became more equal than ever before
Under Ike, the marginal
tax rate on the richest Americans
reached 91 percent.
In any case, if you believe a modern Republican is a "compassionate
conservative" ... I pity your mind.
the terms "90%", "99%" and "1%" are justified, but I do not think
further refinements are very interesting. Also, I do think at least
10% is in favour of the 1%, simply because they work for them. So I
would say that in general the opposition of the 90% and the 10% is a
fair opposition, though it
is true the 10% can flummox many of the 90% by false promises, bullshit