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. Is the left in Britain still alive and
2. Secrecy Shrouds Unknown Role
Of Top UK Government
Schneier on the Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data
and Control Your World
Defining Moment, and Hillary Rodham Clinton
5. Report Reveals How
Corporate Tax Dodgers Avoid Paying
Their Fair Share—or Any Share At All
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, April 11,
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is a - to me gravely disappointing
- article on "the left" in The Guardian; item 2 is
about the total secrecy the British government these days tries to
envelope their key players in; item 3 is a good
article on security and surveillance; item 4 is
about Robert Reich about Hillary Clinton (whom he likes a lot more than
I do, but then he knows her since she was 19); and item
5 is about the enormous tax-dodging American companies are doing
(and will be doing, for at least two more years).
the left in Britain still alive and well?
item today is an article by Zoe Williams on The Guardian:
This is a long and in
my eyes pretty vague article, that is also fronted by a
horribly vague picture (one of many: I think Wolfgang
Blau loves vague
picture: The Renewed Blauified Guardian
is full of them, and also has only vague videos, that don't even tell
you how long they last).
Here is the - quite
condescending - start:
Rosie Rogers, 28, and I
are sitting in a tipi outside her office in Highbury, London. (She
works for Greenpeace as a political adviser – of course
they have a tipi.) I’m on a quest to find the British left, because
it’s become apparent no one quite knows where it has gone, or what it
looks like. Far from a beating heart, these days it is made up of many
small organisations. “You know the Brownies,” Rogers asks. “You have
all those patches? We have so many patches. You have your Reclaim the Power badge, your Focus E15 badge,
your UK Feminista
badge, your UK Uncut badge. It feels like ‘the left’ isn’t
how people identify any more. We don’t say, ‘I’m a lefty, I’m a
socialist, I’m a Marxist.’ Sometimes I’m a bit Women’s Institute,
sometimes I’ll sign a 38 Degrees
petition, sometimes I’ll go on a climate march.”
Here are my reasons
why I consider this condescending: Not only the tipi, but also the "quest to find the British left, because it’s
become apparent no one quite knows where it has gone, or what it looks
like" - and this from
who gets described on Wikipedia as follows:
Williams describes her
political views as left-wing and feminist.
In 2014 she defended the social policy legacy of former Labour prime
minister Tony Blair.
I say. Here is some
more on Rosie Rogers (according to Zoe Williams, to be sure):
I know she would
hate to be portrayed as a poster-girl of the new left: she doesn’t
identify as left and she rejects the idea of anybody being more
important than anybody else.
And I know the last
opinion: She - Rosie Rogers - is as important as Putin, as
Cameron, as Obama, as
Bertrand Russell, as Marie Curie, and as anybody else - which
opinion I first heard in the early 80ies, and was one of the first
signs of postmodernism,
that also insisted there is no truth, and
everything is relative.
O yes - and everybody
is as intelligent as everybody else, and all those who
were not Newtons
the last 250 years merely had other preferences - I have been seriously
told by Dutch students whose IQs were about 115 - and certainly
not less talents than Isaac Newton. No, no, no! We are all
Isaac Newtons, in
abilities, which anyway are relative...
In case you doubt it
(I thought postmodernism
was mainly over by now): They really thought so
(and not a single one had as much as 5% of Isaac Newton's talents),
even though it clearly was an utterly false, totally childish
make everyone equal by lies
(which also do not exist if
there is no truth,
as the postmodernists all insisted: "Everybody knows
that there is no truth", as I was first told by a university professor
in 1978, who lied and deceived.)
It is true Zoe
Williams also says this:
Every day, something
happens in British politics that pushes at the very boundaries of
humane behaviour. A London borough has a “crackdown” against
homelessness, which involves confiscating the sleeping bags from people
who have nothing but a sleeping bag. A peer announces that we can no
longer afford to chip in for the coastguard services that save the
lives of refugees who would otherwise perish in the Mediterranean. An unemployed man has his benefits withdrawn
because he missed his appointment at a jobcentre, being in hospital
with his wife while she had a stillborn child. A government
minister, presented with some self-evident fact – benefit sanctions
cause people to go hungry – blithely rejects it. A mentally ill
teenager ends up in a prison cell, for want of a hospital bed. Some
kids in Stoke are found rooting for food in a bin. The leader of a
political party suggests re-legalising racial discrimination.
I call it: Evident
sadism perpetrated by power-crazed politicians. But I suppose I am far
too clear and not at all relativistic
No one I speak to likes
the word “activist”, as Maeve Cohen, from the Post-Crash Economics Society explains to me on
the phone: “If you have people who identify as ‘activists’, then
everybody else is a non-activist, who can leave the activities to the
activists. I think everybody should be active.”
Is Maeve Cohen mad? I
don't know (I have only Zoe Williams' rendering of her words), but her argument
In fact it starts
from the - totally false, quite egoistic - assumption that "everybody
should be active" (all 7 billion + persons - and in Maeve Cohen's
sense, clearly); then moves to the utterly
false conclusion that those who identify as 'activists' deny that "everybody else is a non-activist" (?!?! again all 7 billion + persons),
which leads to the pretty insane conclusion that you should not
say you are an activist.
Incidentally, on the same
reasoning you should not affirm to be anything that anyone
is or may not be (a man, a mathematician, a bricklayer, a
soccer player etc. etc.)
And this is the
average intellectual level of the whole article. Well... I leave that
to your interests and intellects. Here is Zoe Williams' conclusion:
To me it sounds
but yes: Ms Williams no doubt got her
education in the heydays of postmodernism.
That’s the left. It’s not
called the left. You can’t Google it. You can’t do it by mail order.
You can’t dip in every five years and go back to sleep. It starts with
a meeting, and you have to turn up. “The only thing that matters,” says
McAlpine, “is everything you do.”
2. Secrecy Shrouds Unknown Role Of Top UK
item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
government is refusing to disclose the job title and taxpayer-funded
salary of one of the most senior law enforcement officials in the
United Kingdom, claiming the details have to be kept a secret for
O Lord: "security reasons"! Here is some more:
(pictured above) was formerly one of the highest ranking officers at
London’s Metropolitan Police, the largest police force in the U.K.,
where she headed the Specialist Operations unit and oversaw a controversial
criminal investigation into journalists who reported on Edward
Snowden’s leaked documents.
As far as I am
concerned, this is an attempt of the government to try to find
Government officials handling the requests say that members
of the public are not entitled to know anything about Dick’s job title,
role and responsibilities, or the amount of money she is earning –
despite the fact that specific salaries earned by senior Foreign Office
officials, as well as their job titles, are usually routinely
made available online.
In two separate refusal
letters issued in February
the Foreign Office said that it would not hand over the information
because it relates to “bodies dealing with security matters,” and so
the government was “not obliged to consider the public interest in
out how much they can get away with, while appealing to
Whatever Ms. Dick does, the least they should cough up are her
and responsibilities, for without these she may just as well be a
the Mafia that got hired by the government to do its dirty work. (I
she is. I do think the English government is intentionally
trying to keep security
almost completely uncontrolled, which is incompatible with democracy.)
Schneier on the Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your
item is an article by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This is from a month old talk with
Bruce Scheier, who is a security expert and the
author of the
new New York Times best-seller, Data and Goliath: The
Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World.
It is an interesting article that deserves to be read completely. Here
are two bits of it. The first is on the kinds of laws that are -
urgently - needed to help restore some of the autonomy that everybody
has lost to being tracked, traced, surveilled and data
mined, generally in
Maybe I should repeat part of
GONZÁLEZ: Well, in our earlier segment,
you were talking about that it’s now more of a political and social
problem in terms of being able to protect privacy. What are the kinds
of—if you were to say the most important kind of law that would need to
be passed to be able to get back some of our individual autonomy, what
would that be?
Yeah, it’s never one thing. The problem with privacy in data is there’s
so many interconnected things. So we need protection for data
collection, data use, data storage, data transfer—you know, buying and
selling—and then data deletion. That’s the chain of our data, and we
need protections in every place. So it’s not a matter of saying, "We’ll
let them collect it, and we’ll regulate use," because now what happens,
you know, we saw, past year or so, all these great data breaches—Target
Corporation, Home Depot, Anthem Health. All right, this is our data
being stored by somebody else that’s stolen by criminals. So we need
protections against collection. We need protections against use. And we
need proof that we can look at our data, correct it if it’s wrong. It’s
a whole slew of things that have to work together—you know, and
technologies and laws. This is not a simple problem with a simple
solution. Unfortunately, it makes it harder.
So we need
protection for data
collection, data use, data storage, data transfer—you know, buying and
selling—and then data deletion. (...) And we
need proof that we can look at our data, correct it if it’s wrong.
And the billions with
computers and cell phones now have no protection whatsoever,
the few things they can do themselves, such as encryption.
As to having no protection whatsoever (which is in part maintained by
our governments, who
want to know what we think and do):
Well, in the United States, there’s not a lot of protection for our
data, that data generated by us, collected by third parties. So, your
cellphone company collects data of everybody you call, when you call.
Your credit card company knows when you make purchases, where and how
much. Google knows what you search on. All that data is collected by
third parties, and those parties basically own that data. They have the
right to buy it, to sell it, to use it however they like.
Precisely: There is no
protection, other than the few things you can do yourself.
4. The Defining Moment, and Hillary Rodham
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as
It’s a paradox.
all the economic gains are still going to the top, leaving
America’s vast middle class with stagnant
wages and little or no job security. Two-thirds
of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck.
money is taking over our democracy.
If there were ever a time
for a bold Democratic voice on behalf of hardworking Americans, it is
Yet I don’t recall a time
when the Democratic Party’s most prominent office holders sounded as
meek. With the exception of Elizabeth Warren, they’re pussycats.
Well... that means
that the "paradox" this article started with already dissolves: "Big
money is taking over our democracy" - and took care to (also)
buy most of the Democrats (who anyway tend to be millionaires
themselves, if elected to the Senate or the House).
At least, that its
how it seems to me (though there are a few more members of
that tend to speak sensibly, albeit in a small minority).
Here is a general
sum-up of Reich:
Not in ninety years has
America harbored a greater concentration of wealth at the very top. Not
since the Gilded Age of the 1890s has American politics been as
corrupted by big money as it is today.
If Hillary Clinton is to
get the mandate she needs for America to get back on track, she will
have to be clear with the American people about what is happening and
why – and what must be done.
For example: Wall Street is still running the economy, and still out of
So we must resurrect the Glass-Steagall
Act and bust up the biggest banks, so millions of
Americans don’t ever again lose their homes, jobs, and savings because
of Wall Street’s excesses.
Yes - but do you really
expect Hillary Clinton to do that? "Resurrect the Glass-Steagall
Act and bust up the biggest banks"? I do not, for the simple
reason that I have seen no evidence whatsoever (and a
lot of evidence to
(or at least: seems to), in part because he has known her since she was
19 (nearly 50 years), as he tells us in the article, although without
specifying the extent of his personal knowledge.
Anyway - here is some more on the main things Reich wants done (and I
agree with all of these):
That is OK, though the
corporations also should be taxed more. Here is Reich's sketch of his
Also: Increase taxes on
the rich in order to finance the investments in schools and
infrastructure the nation desperately needs.
Strengthen unions so
working Americans have the bargaining power to get a fair share of the
gains from economic growth.
Limit the deductibility
of executive pay, and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Oppose trade agreements
like the Trans Pacific Partnership designed to protect corporate
property but not American jobs.
And nominate Supreme
Court justices who will reverse “Citizens United.”
I’m not suggesting a long
In recent decades
Republicans have made a moral case for less government and lower taxes
on the rich, based on their idea of “freedom.”
They talk endlessly about
freedom but they never talk about power. But it’s power that’s askew in
America – concentrated power that’s constraining the freedom of the
should make the moral case
taking it out of the hands of those with great wealth and putting it
back into the hands of average working people.
I'm sorry, but the
last part is nonsense, even though the first part is correct:
Yes, the Republicans
are trying to take everybody in with bullshit about "freedom" without
ever clarifying that what they really mean is the freedom of
rich to exploit the many poor, also without restraint and with as
little legal protection of the poor as possible.
And yes, "Hillary Clinton
should make the moral case about power" - but no: "average working people" never had "power". At the very best,
and indeed perhaps for a mere 15 years or so (from 1965-1980), quite a
were working for them because they helped elect them, but then indeed
were the politicians who wielded some power, and not "average working
people": That is merely
quite false propaganda. 
Reich concludes his article
I don't think so. Her "values and ideals" will not differ much from those of her husband, who
is not a genuine progressive, leftist or liberal at all, but redefined
"the left" - see: "The
Third Way", which was and is an utter fraud - to further his own
personal career. I am willing to believe she will be "bold", but it is
The question is not her
values and ideals. It’s her willingness to be bold and to fight, at a
time when average working people need a president who will fight for
them more than they’ve needed such a president in living memory.
This is a defining moment
Democrats, and for America. It is also a defining moment for Hillary
be for the bank managers. And "a defining moment" for someone
who will get 69 in 2016 is rather a bit too late: she has shown
who she is and what she will stand for.
But yes, I never met Hillary Clinton.
5. Report Reveals How Corporate Tax
Dodgers Avoid Paying Their Fair Share—or Any Share At All
item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Pointing to egregious
examples of Fortune 500 corporations
"manipulating the tax system to avoid paying even a dime in tax on
billions of dollars in U.S. profits," a new
report from Citizens for Tax Justice makes a sharp case for
corporate tax reform.
The 15 companies cited in
the CTJ analysis represent a
range of sectors within the U.S. economy, from toy maker Mattel to
financial services corporation Prudential to broadcaster CBS to media
giant Time Warner.
All told, the report
reveals that the 15 companies paid no
federal income tax on $23 billion in profits in 2014, and they paid
almost no federal income tax on $107 billion in profits over the past
five years. All but two received federal tax rebates in 2014, and
almost all paid "exceedingly low" rates over five years.
"These 15 corporations'
tax situations shed light on the widespread nature of corporate tax
avoidance," Citizens for Tax Justice declared.
They do so, the article
explains, at least in part by exploiting existing tax loop holes that
have been on the books for decades. In case you might think
these must be relatively small amounts:
Integrity, a financial watchdog agency, estimates that global
corporations and wealthy individuals are hiding a total of over $21
(I think that is
worldwide, but then the US companies are a good part of it.)
Then there is this:
And on Thursday, Sen.
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasted the tax dodgers in a press release.
"At a time when we have
massive wealth and income inequality, and when corporate profits are
soaring, it is an outrage that many large, profitable corporations
not only paid nothing in federal income taxes last year, but actually
received a rebate from the IRS last year," Sanders said.
Echoing CTJ's call to
overhaul the corporate tax code, the senator continued: "Instead of
balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the
sick and the poor, as the Republicans in Congress have proposed, we
need a tax system that demands that large, profitable corporations
and the wealthy start paying their fair share in taxes."
It's unclear, however, when
that reform will happen
The reason for that last
fact is that "serious tax reforms" are being discussed for five years
now, and may well extend into the next presidency....
In brief: There will be a
great amount of more tax dodging in the U.S. and it is unlikely much
will be done about it until 2017 - and indeed then it again will be
quite uncertain whether much or anything will be done against it, and
especially not if a Republican gets elected as the next president.
 I could say a lot more, but here and now only say
"average working people" never had political power themselves.
Nowhere. Ever. (Outside an ongoing revolution, that tend to be
very brief times.)
The best they could ever do was congregating into several millions
of voters, who elected one politician "to represent" them.
And that one politician might have been "from the working
class", but in actual fact rarely was, and even if he (or she)
was, he had no time to hear more than an extremely small
number of the very many who elected him. (These are all plain facts,
and therefore I am rather disappointed to read that Reich seems to