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."
Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire
Rates Families at Risk for
2. The great internet swindle:
ever get the feeling you've
to the Nineteenth Century
Core of Banking' Exposed: Global Outrage Follows
Sanders: Keeping US From Becoming Oligarchy 'A
Struggle We Must Win'
6. On David Hume
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday,
February 10, 2015.
This is a crisis log. There are 6 items with 8 dotted links: Item 1 is about a rightist totalitarian plan of the
American, British and French governments (and more); item
2 is a quite interesting article on the internet; item
3 is about Robert Reich on the fact that the U.S. seems to be
heading back to the 19th Century; item 4 is another
interesting article on the incredible illegal corruptions of the big
banks; item 5 is on Bernie Sanders (whose ideas are
quite good, but who has far less money than the billionaires he
opposes); and item 6 is not a crisis item, for it
is about my plan to comment Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature.
Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families
at Risk for Extremism
The first item
article by Murtaza Hussain, Cora Currier and Jana Winter on The
This starts as follows:
In fact, I do not think that a
question can be a "premise", but I agree there is a premise or several
premises behind the question, and they may be articulated as follows:
(1) the government has the right, the duty and the ability to surveil
any and all citizens, because (2) the government is morally and
intellectually far superior to those it surveils, and (3) the
government also has the right, the duty and the ability to interfere
("intervene") in the lives of any of its citizens it disagrees with.
Are you, your family or
your community at risk of turning to violent
extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by
the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked
For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.
document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy
for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local
community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement
and other government agencies. The White House has made this
approach a centerpiece of its response to
terrorist attacks around the world and in the
wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an
international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on
That is, the present U.S. government indulges in rightist
It pretends to have these rights, duties and abilities, but
these are not based on any democratic legal right, and
are in fact only based on the fact that the government is much
than any of its citizens. Besides, whether or not they succeed in
assigning themselves these "rights" and "duties" through a corrupt
Congress of millionaires: They certainly lack the abilities.
Here is one who sees it (more or less) like I do:
“The idea that the
federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical and
social service employees to rate the communities, individuals and
families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is
abhorrent on its face,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now
with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School
of Law. German called the criteria used for the ratings “subjective and
Precisely. Besides, it
is not only the U.S. government that tries to impose a rightist totalitarianism that also has
no basis in real fact: The governments
of Great Britain and France (and some others) are doing the same.
internet swindle: ever get the
feeling you've been cheated?
item is an article by John Henley on The (Mostly Destroyed) Guardian:
This starts as
During every minute of
every day of 2014, according to Andrew Keen’s new book, the world’s
internet users – all three billion of them – sent 204m emails, uploaded
72 hours of YouTube video, undertook 4m Google searches, shared 2.46m
pieces of Facebook content, published 277,000 tweets, posted 216,000
new photos on Instagram and spent $83,000 on Amazon.
By any measure, for a
network that has existed recognisably for barely 20 years (the first
graphical web browser, Mosaic, was released in 1993), those are
astonishing numbers: the internet, plainly, has transformed all our
lives, making so much of what we do every day – communicating,
shopping, finding, watching, booking – unimaginably easier than it was.
A Pew survey in the United States found last
year that 90% of Americans believed the internet had been good for them.
The question is of
course: Are these 90% who believe the internet "had been good for them" right?
Andrew Keen thinks not
(and used to think differently) and wrote a book about it, called "The
Internet Is Not The Answer":
The net, he argues, was
meant to be “power to the people, a platform for equality”: an open,
decentralised, democratising technology that liberates as it empowers
as it informs.
Instead, it has handed
extraordinary power and wealth to a tiny handful of people, while
simultaneously, for the rest of us, compounding and often aggravating
existing inequalities – cultural, social and economic – whenever and
wherever it has found them. Individually, it may work wonders for us.
Collectively, it’s doing us no good at all.
I tend to agree with
Keen's criticisms: The internet furthered mob rule by anonymous sadists
rather than "democracy", and it makes incredible amounts of
money for a very few very big monopolists while destroying
- literally - tenthousands of firms and jobs, in particular.
But I don't much believe his criticism will have much of a consequence:
The vast majority is
too stupid - I am very sorry to say, but that seems to me to be
the fact underneath mob "democracy" for the most anonymous most
sadistic, and billions of income for the very few who
own some monopoly.
Anyway, here are two more quotes, to stimulate you to read all:
And note this is all
because Google has a monopoly, while the "right" (I don't think it is
one, and will never think so, regardless of any "law") "to open everyone’s letters" is due to lack of encryption.
Keen cites San
Francisco-based writer Rebecca Solnit’s incisive take on Google:
imagine it is 100 years ago, and the post office, the phone company,
the public libraries, the printing houses, Ordnance Survey maps and the
cinemas were all controlled by the same secretive and unaccountable
organisation. Plus, he adds, almost as an afterthought: “Google doesn’t
just own the post office – it has the right to open everyone’s letters.”
And here is one of Keen's conclusions:
“So I think when we look
back, we might see that what we have now is actually lot worse than
what we started with. Maybe, even, big media is not as evil as everyone
makes out. Publishing houses, record labels, the Guardian – how much
money have you guys lost over the past few years? – were and are made
up of people who care about quality content, and they’re being swept
away. We’re destroying the old, and what are we replacing it with?
Anonymous people on Reddit spreading rumours, angry people on Twitter, celebrities online with millions of
followers, selling their brand?”
And again my own diagnosis is that one important reason for this massive
stupification is that most people the internet "interconnects" are
not intelligent, not learned, and are completely anonymous for
anyone (except for the NSA, the GCHQ, Google and Facebook).
to the Nineteenth Century
The next item is an article by
Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
Yes. But that is
The Freedom offered by the quite stupid or sick and degenerate
proponents of "The Free Market": Nearly everybody will be free to work
at least 12 hours a day for hardly any money, while the very rich are
free to spend all the money they made (or stole from the taxes) for
their own benefits. For greed is good and egoism is healthy (said Ayn
Rand) - and that is that.
My recent column about
the growth of on-demand jobs like Uber making life less predictable and
secure for workers unleashed a small barrage of criticism from some who
contend that workers get what they’re worth in the market.
A Forbes Magazine
contributor, for example, writes
that jobs exist only “when both employer and employee are happy
with the deal being made.” So if the new jobs are low-paying and
irregular, too bad.
Much the same argument
was voiced in the late nineteenth century over alleged “freedom
of contract.” Any deal between employees and workers was assumed to
be fine if both sides voluntarily agreed to it.
It was an era when many
workers were “happy” to toil twelve-hour days in sweat shops for lack
of any better alternative.
Robert Reich does not agree (and neither do I):
Quite so - but who as
the ability to stop them? That is not only my question:
But as we should have
learned a century ago, markets don’t exist in nature. They’re created
by human beings. The real question is how they’re organized and for
In the late nineteenth
century they were organized for the benefit of a few at the top.
But by the middle of the
twentieth century they were organized for the vast majority.
During the thirty years
after the end of World War II, as the economy doubled in size, so did
the wages of most Americans — along with improved hours and working
Yet since around 1980,
even though the economy has doubled once again (the Great Recession
notwithstanding), the wages most Americans have stagnated. And their
benefits and working conditions have deteriorated.
This isn’t because most
Americans are worth less. In fact, worker productivity is higher than ever.
It’s because big
corporations, Wall Street, and some enormously rich individuals have
gained political power to organize the market in ways that have
enhanced their wealth while leaving most Americans behind.
It is Reich's final question as well:
My own guess is that we
need another major economical crisis, though I do not like that
at all, for it will create much havoc and much suffering, and that
mostly among those who are suffering already.
We seem to be heading
full speed back to the late nineteenth century.
So what will be the
galvanizing force for change this time?
And the reason for my pessimism is that it seems to me that by now most
politicians have been bought: they could have stopped it, in principle
and in fact, since 1980, but they have not, and they
have not mostly because they are already rich or have been bought (and
no, they will not tell the electorate that they have been bought, and
indeed may be bought by promises as well as money: "revolving doors").
Core of Banking' Exposed: Global
Outrage Follows HSBC Revelations
The next item is an article by Deirdre
Fulton on Common Dreams:
This has a subtitle
that is quite apt though not quite true:
'These bankers are too
big to fail and too big to jail, so they just keep engaging in illegal
Actually, they are
neither too big to fail nor too big to jail: They just have the corrupt
Holder as their defendant, but with that defendant they can
indeed do as they please, and engage in almost any illegal activity
that is profitable, without any fear of any real punishment.
The article itself
starts as follows:
about how HSBC bank helped tax evaders and money-launderers—from
political figures to celebrities to arms dealers—conceal billions of
dollars in assets have sparked international condemnation,
from elected officials as well as public interest groups around the
Documents leaked by
Falciani, who worked for HSBC, show how a Swiss division of the
U.K.-headquartered bank routinely allowed clients to withdraw bricks of
cash, often in foreign currencies of little use in Switzerland; aggressively marketed schemes
likely to enable wealthy clients to avoid European and U.S. taxes;
colluded with some clients to conceal undeclared "black" accounts from
their domestic tax authorities; and provided accounts to international
criminals, corrupt businessmen, and other high-risk individuals.
"This exposes once again
the rotten core of banking—it would be shocking if it weren't for the
frequency with which we hear of such scandals," said
David Hillman, spokesperson for the U.K.-based Robin Hood Tax campaign.
"It shows a sector not content with dodging its own obligations, but
also conniving to help the richest people shirk their responsibilities
to society as well."
There is considerably
more and it is a good article, but I do not see there is anyone who can
do much against it, since the legal authorities are corrupt to the very
Indeed, there is this
by "James Henry, former
chief economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey &
Co. and now senior adviser with the U.K.'s Tax Justice Network":
"These bankers are too
big to fail and too big to jail, so they just keep engaging in illegal
activity," Henry declared. "There’s a widespread pattern of using fines
to penalize the top 20 global big banks—$247 billion since 1998, for
655 separate major infractions of all kinds. But they just pass along
the costs and continue with business as usual, with client secrecy
preserved. It’s like a criminal syndicate."
They are a huge
criminal syndicate - but with Eric Holder in charge in the U.S., who
already in 1999 declared that big banks are "too big to fail" who will stop
these criminal syndicates that are international banks?
I really don't know: The law is clearly and evidently corrupt
(corporations = people; money=votes: SCOTUS said so) and so are the keepers
of the law.
5. Bernie Sanders: Keeping US From
Becoming Oligarchy 'A Struggle We Must Win'
The next and last item for
today is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as
U.S. Senator Bernie
Sanders (I-Vt.) gave a speech at the Brookings Institution in
Washington, D.C. on Monday to talk about his proposed
recovery program and to address the economic challenges facing the
U.S., both at present and in the future, particularly as the wealth gap
grows and financial institutions escape accountability.
"[W]e are moving rapidly
away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society,"
"Today, the most serious problem we face is the grotesque and growing
level of wealth and income inequality. This a profound moral issue,
this is an economic issue and this is a political issue."
"We need to take a hard
look at our trade policies which have resulted in the outsourcing of
millions of good paying jobs," he continued. "Since 2001 we have lost
more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million
decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade
policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate
America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other
His recovery program, An
Economic Agenda for America, would invest in infrastructure; turn
away from fossil fuels; raise the federal minimum wage; and close the
gender wage gap, among other tenets.
And here is the
"We must finally address
the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street... Their
speculation and illegal behavior plunged this country into the worst
financial crisis since the 1930s. In my view, Wall Street is too large
and powerful to be reformed. The huge financial institutions must
be broken up."
Finally, Sanders said,
the U.S. must "join the rest of the industrialized world and recognize
that health care is a right of all, and not a privilege."
"Despite the fact that
more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, we spend
almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation. We
need to establish a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system," Sanders
Yet those issues
highlight only some parts of the "unprecedented struggle that we're
engaged in now against the Billionaire Class."
"The real struggle is
whether we can prevent this country from moving to an oligarchic form
of society in which virtually all economic and political power rests
with a handful of billionaires," Sanders concluded. "And that’s a
struggle we must win."
I agree - but I must
admit that I do not see how this can be made into "a struggle we must win", at least not without another major economic collapse.
On David Hume
This merely to
announce that I will be putting an edition of Hume's "A
Treatise Of Human Nature" on my site, and will write extensive
comments to it.
In fact, I already
have editions of Hume's
site (and my notes - including quotations - are in each case about
as long as the works they annotate).
This will take considerable
work on my part, not so much for putting the Treatise on line
(I found a good edition, though this requires splitting up) but for
writing my notes.
I also do not expect
many readers, but I will do it anyway because I am a real
philosopher. And this also may limit my contributions to
Nederlog somewhat (I don't know), although this also will continue.
And I do not know how long this will take me, though I much hope I will
be finished this year.