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. We Kill Our
2. Greece deal is first
step on the road back to austerity
Ideas Give an Energy Boost to Wave Power
4. Why We’re All Becoming
Joins Civil Liberties Groups To Oppose Expansion
of FBI Spy Powers
This is a Nederlog of Monday,
February 23, 2015.
It also is a crisis log. There are 5 items: Item 1
is on revolutionaries, and since I come from a really revolutionary
background, this time I disagree with Chris Hedges; item
2 is about the Greek problems, and is not optimistic, though
realistic; item 3 is about energy, and in
particular water power (I like the idea,
but found the article not very clear); item 4 is
about being "independent contractors" (which means in effect: working
for pay without any of the protections or rights laborers have); and item 5 is about Google joining with civil liberties
groups to fight yet another attempt by the FBI, the CIA and the NSA's
desire to know everything about anyone who lives anywhere
(which is sick, morally degenerate and dictatorial, but may happen).
1. We Kill Our Revolutionaries
The first item
article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
I usually like the articles
Chris Hedges writes, also when not
agreeing with considerable parts, but I didn't much like the present
article, and that starts
with the title:
First, I never killed anyone (and I don't like this abuse of
"we"). Second, my father, mother and grandfather were real -
communist, marxist - revolutionaries, and the first two were so
for at least 40 years of their lives,
while, thirdly, I do not think the man Chris Hedges portrays in
this piece is a revolutionary like my parents or grandparents
Here is my reason. Hedges draws the portrait of Siddique Hasan, who
presently is a Mohammedan aged 52, and is on death row since 1993,
probably for a crime he did not commit, and who was born as
Hasan, born Carlos
Sanders, has been in juvenile detention facilities or prison since he
was an adolescent. His early life was difficult, unstable and marked by
extreme poverty. His mother had her first child at 12 and her fourth
and final child at 19. His father, who was physically abusive to
Hasan’s mother, abandoned the family when Hasan was 5. The children and
their mother survived on her meager pay from cooking and cleaning jobs.
Hasan, the third of the four children, lived briefly in foster homes
and never went beyond fifth grade. He ran the streets with his older
brother and engaged in petty crime. Since his first incarceration, in
his early teens in Georgia—where he was nicknamed Savannah Slim or
Savannah Red, and where he worked with other convicts on Georgia prison
highway details—until today, he has spent only 17 months outside prison
I am willing to believe that
Hasan is a good man who was much abused, and
who did admirable work as a leader in prison. I also note he gets
quoted to this effect:
“I did what I did
with the choices that were available,” Hasan said. “I had to do
something. I am a revolutionary."
But I am sorry: He may
be a revolutionary by his own lights, and in some
sense, but he is not a revolutionary like my parents and
grandparents were, who
were only imprisoned by the Nazis for
resisting Nazism, and who worked most
of their lives as poor laborers under Western capitalism, which they
to change by a socialist revolution, in part because they were
more intelligent than most.
(For more see note )
2. Greece deal is first step on the road
back to austerity
item is an article by Philip Inman on The Guardian:
This starts as
The rightwing orthodoxy
that dominates thinking in Brussels has asserted itself over the
hapless Greeks. A deal that allows the eurozone policymakers, the
International Monetary Fund and the government of Athens to keep
talking next week is the first stage in a clampdown on anti-austerity
That much was clear from
the statements coming out of Brussels, not least those from Wolfgang
Schäuble, Germany’s veteran finance minister, who indulged himself with
some patronising comments to show where the power lies. “Being in
government is a date with reality, and reality is often not as nice as
a dream,” was the quip he delivered with a smile, one that is usually
omitted from diplomacy school.
I cannot say I am
much amazed, for I have said from the beginning that the Greek
government's attempt to get some Keynesianism instead of austerity
was very difficult to realize.
Also, this is not
only due to the European Union but also, at least in part, due to the
positions of various national governments. The Greeks have to seriously
count with the fact that if the present left-wing government gets
ousted, the neo-fascists may win the next Greek election, whereas
Portugal, Ireland and Spain all have rightwing governments that love
power (being politicians) and also love austerity (for that is a way of
enriching their rich backers further, and which politician
ever disappointed a rich backer?).
There is also this:
For the right-of-centre
parties that control Portugal, Ireland and probably more importantly
Spain, which is also under serious threat from an anti-austerity party,
the need to keep Greece in check is driven by domestic politics. Any
sense that austerity was ever wrong or that it delayed the recovery, as
Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis argues, would undermine their
authority and hand the intellectual higher ground to rival parties.
So Varoufakis’s first demand for a debt writedown was
dismissed. Then his attempt to win a bridging loan, separate from the
existing bailout deal, was trashed. Decisions to suspend privatisations
were frowned on. Now he must use what money is available to shore up
"So it goes",
when the few politicians
who rule Europe rather protect the few rich (who pay them) than the
many poor (who have no money) - and no: I do not know this, but
it does stand to reason.
3. New Ideas Give an Energy Boost to Wave
item is an article by Paul Brown on Truthdig, but originally on Climate
This starts as follows:
All along the
coasts of Europe where the Atlantic waves crash onto the shore there
are experimental wave power stations producing electricity.
I selected this mostly
because the only decent solution I can see for the
Now engineers in Norway
and Sweden—two of the countries trying hardest to develop this
technology—have announced “breakthroughs” in their methods, which the
inventors believe will make wave power competitive.
population problem, the energy problem and the climate problem (which
three enornous problems) is to find a source of cheap and
renewable energy that also is not dangerous (as atomic energy currently
There are several approaches: fusion instead of fission (which would
create a lot less problems with atomic energy, but which has not
succeeded the last 50+ years); enormous solar panels in the Sahara
(which would be extremely costly,
at least now); and the wave energy in the seas.
This is an example of the last approach and there are some
breakthroughs, though I should also say that I did not find this
article very clear.
We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
That is an
interesting question, though it may not look like one. Here is part of
GM is worth around
$60 billion, and has over 200,000
employees. Its front-line workers earn from $19
to $28.50 an hour, with benefits.
Uber is estimated to be
worth some $40
billion, and has 850 employees. Uber also has over 163,000
drivers (as of December – the number is expected to double by June),
who average $17
an hour in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and $23
an hour in San Francisco and New York.
But Uber doesn’t count
these drivers as employees. Uber says they’re “independent
What difference does it
And that last point is
crucial - and again this is sold as "freedom", while in fact this is
mostly the freedom of the corporations to screw those who work for them. This happens as follows:
For one thing, GM workers
don’t have to pay for the machines they use. But Uber drivers pay for
their cars – not just buying them but also their maintenance,
insurance, gas, oil changes, tires, and cleaning. Subtract these costs
and Uber drivers’ hourly pay drops considerably.
For another, GM’s
employees get all the nation’s labor protections.
These include Social
Security, a 40-hour workweek with time-and-a-half for overtime, worker
health and safety, worker’s compensation if injured on the job, family
and medical leave, minimum wage, pension protection, unemployment
insurance, protection against racial or gender discrimination, and the
right to bargain collectively.
Not to forget Obamacare’s
mandate of employer-provided healthcare.
Uber workers don’t get
any of these things. They’re outside the labor laws.
Robert Reich has an
interesting proposal to deal with this:
The rise of “independent
contractors” Is the most significant legal trend in the American
workforce – contributing directly to low pay, irregular hours, and job
What makes them
“independent contractors” is the mainly that the companies they work
for say they are. So those companies don’t have to pick up the costs of
having full-time employees.
We need a simpler
test for determining who’s an employer and employee.
This seems fair to me
and can - as Reich explains - be adopted fairly unproblematically. It
certainly wouldn't solve all problems, but it would
I suggest this one: Any
corporation that accounts for at least 80 percent or more of the pay
someone gets, or receives from that worker at least 20 percent of his
or her earnings, should be presumed to be that person’s “employer.”
give back to those who are currently working "outside the labor laws" with
hardly any choice and hardly any rights some of the rights
and should have.
Joins Civil Liberties Groups To Oppose Expansion of FBI Spy Powers
item for today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as
I say. Note that the FBI
and the DOJ claim the "right" not only to access any computer in
the U.S. but any computer anywhere, and steal
all the information these computers carry.
Internet giant Google and
the American Civil Liberties Union are among the various groups who
have objected to a rule change by the U.S. Department of Justice that
would give the FBI and other agencies sweeping new powers to perform
search and seize private data from online users across the nation and
According to a brief
submitted by Richard Salgado, Google's director for law enforcement,
against a pending DOJ proposal, the changes to law enforcement's
ability to search remote servers could lead to "government hacking of
any facility" in the world and raises "monumental and highly complex
constitutional, legal and geopolitical concerns that should be left to
Congress to decide."
Here is an explanation from The Guardian:
As I have said before
(again and again): None of this has anything to do with "terrorism",
although that is the pretext; all of this has a lot to do with the
The search giant warns
that under updated proposals, FBI agents would be
able to carry out covert raids on servers no matter where they were
situated, giving the US government unfettered global access to vast
amounts of private information.
In particular, Google
sounds the alarm over the FBI’s desire to “remotely” search computers
that have concealed their location – either through encryption or by
obscuring their IP addresses using anonymity services such as Tor.
Those government searches, Google says, “may take place anywhere in the
world. This concern is not theoretical. ... [T]he nature of today’s
technology is such that warrants issued under the proposed amendment
will in many cases end up authorizing the government to conduct
searches outside the United States.”
attempt to secure world dominance to the FBI and the NSA, that they
would get it if they do get access to every computer (including
all trade secrets, all passwords, all financial information, and all
There is also this, from the incredible liar Eric Holder:
But Congress consists
mostly of millionaires and is mostly Republican...
to the National Journal, the DOJ has characterized the rule
change over digital searches as amounting to only "a small-scale tweak
of protocol, one that is necessary to align search-warrant procedures
with the realities of modern technology."
Civil liberties groups
Stating the ACLU's
opposition to the DOJ's plan, the group's principal technologist
Christopher Soghoian, said: "The government is seeking a troubling
expansion of its power to surreptitiously hack into computers,
including using malware. Although this proposal is cloaked in the garb
of a minor procedural update, in reality it would be a major and
substantive change that would be better addressed by Congress."
P.S. Feb 24, 2015:
I made some small corrections.
 Both of my parents were communists for
more than 40 years; my father's father was a communist (after the firm
he owned had gone broke five
times in a row in the early 1930ies), and my mother's parents were both
So yes, I do think I can judge revolutionaries, and indeed I
also think that few of the self-acclaimed "revolutionaries" I
have seen were real revolutionaries like my parents and
grandparents were (for in fact most were students from well-to-do
families who flirted for a few years with Marxism in their
early twenties, and who gave up on all that as soon as it became less
and they started to make good money for themselves).
And in case you are interested: As for myself, I would not
claim I am a revolutionary since 1970, and this is mostly because I
could not believe the
"revolutionaries" of my age (of whom I have known quite a
few - and no, nearly all of them gave up in the late seventies or early
eighties); because I never discovered a credible
revolutionary theory; because most revolutionary theories I have read
were thus or so totalitarian;
and also because I do not have much faith or trust in the
intelligence, the knowledge, the morality or the honesty of the vast
But I am a child and a grandchild of genuine revolutionaries,
and very few have my background.