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. It Takes a Party
Predictable as 'Death and Taxes,' GOP Pushes
Billionaire Estate Tax Cut
3. A Nation's Shame: Trillions in New Wealth, Millions of
Children in Poverty
Money for Everyone! What’s the World Coming To?
5. Report Shows US Invasion,
Occupation of Iraq Left 1
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, April 14,
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about an article by Paul
Krugman, who - rightly - dreads the great amounts of non-news
about the American presidential elections the next 1 1/2 years; item 2 is about
a GOP proposal to cut the taxes of billionaires; item 3
is about extreme riches and extreme poverty, and uses an old term (that
I find quite appropriate); item 4 is about a long
article that explains and expounds Basic Income; and item
5 is about a new statistical estimate of the number of the dead
(who were killed) only in Iraq since 2001: 1 million.
Takes a Party
item today is an article by Paul Krugman on The New York Times:
This starts as follows:
Clinton is officially running, to nobody’s surprise. And you know
what’s coming: endless attempts to psychoanalyze the candidate, endless
attempts to read significance into what she says or doesn’t say about
President Obama, endless thumb-sucking about her “positioning” on this
or that issue.
Please pay no attention. Personality-based
political analysis is always a dubious venture — in my experience,
pundits are terrible judges of character.
picked this in part because of this beginning:
have - very briefly - seen at least 20 articles, since last
Sunday, that were trying "to psychoanalyze the candidate"; "to read significance into what she says or doesn’t say"; or that pretended to shed light on "her “positioning” on this or that issue".
of the journalists who wrote these articles know her; none has
a degree or any real relevant knowledge that I can take seriously;
while all seem to have been - I did not read any of these articles in
full: no time and no interest - engaging in the kind of mostly
meaningless smalltalk (meaningless because it really is not
based on any new evidence or information: it merely adds more
mostly non-fact-based bullshit) that
seems to be the favorite of many journalists, simply because it is so
very easy to write.
writing this in April 2015, one and a half year before the presidential
elections, which means that at a rate of 10 such articles a day I will
see around 5000 of these articles until the elections - and that is without
really trying, and without having any interest in this kind of
indeed I will avoid nearly all of this. This doesn't mean I will not
write about the upcoming presidential elections, but if I do,
it will be based on some new and relevant information, and otherwise I
will skip it.
Paul Krugman next explains that the choice in 2016 will
be much clearer than it used to be. I think he is right, but
you will have to check out his arguments, if you are interested, by
clicking the last dotted link.
He ends as follows:
As you can probably tell, I’m dreading the
next 18 months, which will be full of sound bites and fury, signifying
nothing. O.K., I guess we might learn a few things — Where will Ms.
Clinton come out on trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific
Partnership? How much influence will Republican Fed-bashers exert? —
but the differences between the parties are so clear and dramatic that
it’s hard to see how anyone who has been paying attention could be
undecided even now, or be induced to change his or her mind between now
and the election.
One thing is for sure:
American voters will be getting a real choice.
As you may have inferred, I too am not looking forward
with joy to the next 18 months filled with vast doses of
non-information about presidential candidates,
and indeed I plan to skip nearly all of it.
But there is one problem: If the Republicans will win -
as they very well may do - it will be because they got the hundreds of
millions or several billions in advertising money from their mega-rich
donors that will allow them to deceive
considerable parts of the American electorate. (For the vast majority
of the American voters belong to the 90% of the not rich, and have real
interests that should move them away from voting Republican -
as long as they are not deceived.)
2. As Predictable as 'Death and Taxes,' GOP
Pushes Billionaire Estate Tax Cut
And I may write some about these deceptions.
item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
There is also this, in
In another boon for U.S.
billionaires, Congressional Republicans are planning
to ring in this year's Tax Day with a vote to repeal the federal estate
Under the bill (H.R.
1105) offered by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), estates—no matter how
large—would not be taxed, whereas under current law, a deceased
person’s assets must be worth more than $5.43 million before they are
subject to the tax.
Further, the legislation
would also repeal a generation-skipping transfer tax and lower the top
marginal gift tax rate. In an email to Common Dreams, Scott
Klinger, director of Revenue and Spending Policies at the Center for
Effective Government, said the bill is really "repeal on steroids—it
would allow vast amounts of wealth to pass from one generation to the
The Congressional Budget
that the repeal would add nearly $270 billion to the deficit over the
next ten years.
Precisely. And that is
what the GOP presently is:
"The estate tax is an
essential tool for leveling the playing field and preventing the rise
of wealth dynasties," Josh Hoxie and Chuck Collins, both with the
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), wrote in a joint letter sent
Monday. "In our tax code since 1916, the federal estate tax was
designed to stem the rise of concentrated wealth and the economic as
well as political power that comes with it."
As Klinger further explains:
Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, whose company stock is valued for tax
purposes at pennies a share. None of Zuckerberg’s fabulous stock gains
have yet been taxed. [...]
If the estate tax were
eliminated and all accrued but unpaid capital gains taxes were
forgiven, $40 billion of untaxed stock-based wealth would be passed to
heirs tax-free. And if those heirs took their huge inheritances and
invested them in portfolios that they didn’t touch during their lives,
all of their capital gains taxes would be forgiven when they died, and
their heirs would inherit still larger fortunes.
Congress is on the path
to creating a permanent class of Americans who never have to work or
An assault on government, democacry, morality, decency, solidarity,
fairness and equality, financed by the mega-rich, for the interests of
Also, they may well win the next election because a considerable amount
of the American electorate may be deceived, by advertisements
to vote against their own economic, legal and moral interests.
Nation's Shame: Trillions in New Wealth, Millions of
Children in Poverty
item is an article by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams:
This starts as
grew by 60
percent in the past six years, by over $30 trillion. In
approximately the same time, the number of homeless children has also
grown by 60
Here are some examples of that
Financier and CEO Peter
"People don’t go hungry in a capitalist economy." The 16
million kids on food stamps know what it's like to go hungry.
Perhaps, some in Congress would say, those children should be working.
"There is no such thing as a free lunch," insisted Georgia
Representative Jack Kingston, even for schoolkids, who should be
required to "sweep the floor of the cafeteria" (as they actually
do at a charter
school in Texas).
The callousness of U.S.
political and business leaders is disturbing, shocking.
half of public school students are poor enough to qualify for
lunch subsidies, and almost
half of black children under the age of six are living in
In 2007 about 12
of every 100 kids were on food
stamps. Today it's 20 of every 100.
And here is a sum-up:
I like the article, but I am a
lot less uncertain about the reasons for evident inhumanity
than Paul Buchheit is (or seems to be) - and no: it is often not
"delusion", "indifference" or "resentment".
Rights? Not in the U.S.
It's hard to comprehend the thinking of people who cut funding for
homeless and hungry children. It may be delusion about trickle-down, it
may be indifference to poverty, it may be resentment toward people
unable to "make it on their own."
For it often comes to this (and I quote one of my favorite
writers, who also lived in a harder time than the present ):
The plea of
ignorance, of folly, of grossness, or selfishness makes nothing either
way: it is the downright love of pain and mischief for the interest it
excites, and the scope it gives to an abandoned will, that is the root
of all evil, and the original sin of human nature. There is a love of
power in the mind independent of the love of good, and this love of power, when it
comes to be opposed to the spirit of good, and is leagued with the
spirit of evil to commit it with greediness, is wickedness. I know of
no other definition of the term. A person who does not foresee
consequences is a fool; he who cheats others to serve himself is a
knave; he who is immersed in sensual pleasure is a brute; but he
alone, who has a pleasure in injuring another, or in debasing
himself, that is, who does a thing with a particular relish because he
ought not, is properly wicked.
Note he said "greediness"
(which these days counts - together with selfishness - as a virtue
in the GOP). Again:
Is it pride? Is it
Is it the force of contrast? Is it weakness or malice? But so it is,
that there is a secret affinity, a hankering after, evil in the human
mind, and that it takes a perverse, but a fortunate delight in
mischief, since it is a never-failing source of satisfaction. Pure good
soon grows insipid, wants variety and spirit. Pain is a bittersweet,
wants variety and spirit. Love turns, with a little indulgence, to
indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal. Do we not see this
principle at work everywhere? Animals torment and worry one another
without mercy: children kill flies for sport: every one reads the
accidents and offences in a newspaper as the cream of the jest: a whole
town runs to be present at a fire, and the spectator by no means exults
to see it extinguished. (...) Men assemble in crowds, with eager
to witness a tragedy: but if there were an execution going forward in
the next street, as Mr. Burke observes, the theater would be left
For me it is easy to explain "the thinking of people who cut funding for
homeless and hungry children" and
to explain how and why the few acquired trillions in wealth
while (and because) millions of children go hungry:
They are greedy, they are egoistic, they are rich, and they are bent on
doing all the evil
that is profitable to them, and do it also with lies and deceptions,
it pleases them and makes them even richer.
Also, I am saying this without attaching any
supra-natural or religious
sense to the term "evil":
it simply is the best term to describe the motives and the acts
of those who further hunger and poverty of the very many, in order to
grow even richer themselves.
4. Free Money for Everyone! What’s the World
item is an article by Daniel Raventós and Julie Wark:
This starts as follows
(and is here because I like the idea of a Basic Income):
Liberia, to Tokyo, to the Cherokee Nation and Old Europe, more and more
people are talking about Basic Income in all kinds of different forums.
If the global economic and environmental crises have had any positive
effect it would be that people are fighting back. As history has so
often shown, the neediest people are those who best understand human
rights (in their absence). For more than three millennia the three
basic principles of human rights, freedom, justice and human dignity,
have been inscribed on clay and stone tablets, parchment and paper,
usually after they have been shouted for and fought for, all around the
world, in streets, squares and a variety of battlefields, from Mount
Vesuvius (Spartacus) to slave ships. Nobody has to be taught these
principles because all humans understand them as their rights.
Yes and no: Yes, I am
sympathetic to the idea of a Basic Income
(<- Wikipedia) for everyone, and I also agree that "freedom, justice and human dignity" are ideas that can be understood by
all, but no: I do not agree that "all humans understand them as their
I also do not agree that merely knowing these terms is
sufficient for a good understanding of what a human right is or might
The above continues as follows:
concept of “universal human rights”, “universal” is redundant since the
qualifier “human” means all humans. In the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (1948), it qualifies “Declaration”, suggesting the
geographical scope of the proclamation rather than rights for all
humans. In any case, the “universal” rights it pledged were
swiftly rendered into separate “generations” of broken promises
floating above and outside social and juridical institutions, without
any mechanisms of guarantee and bestowed piecemeal by leaders or in the
warped forms of humanitarianism and charity, although it is obvious
that the generalised nature of a human right theoretically
distinguishes it from any privilege confined to a group, class or
caste. Now, with the obscenely growing gap between rich and poor, when it
is estimated that by 2016 the richest 1% will own more than the rest of
the world, the universal principle is more urgent than ever.
Again, yes and no.
First, the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights is on my site. I think this is a highly
respectable statement of human rights, that also are clearly
formulated, and that was accepted by the United Nations on the
wide scale it was only
the incredible horrors of World War II, that had ended 3 years before
the Universal Declaration was accepted.
Second, I do not know of any country in which all these
human rights were ever realized or maintained (and only
of a few countries that approximate the Universal Declaration).
Third, I agree - it seems - with the writers that later
versions of "Human Rights", that generally stole from the Universal
Declaration, and especially the "European Code of Human Rights" are
often fraudulent: Whereas the Universal Declaration declares
all its rights to hold for everyone, the "European Code of Human Rights"
basically is a list of exceptions to them: You are - they say -
guaranteed "human rights", except if this displeases the
state's security organs, sometimes even in 8 or 10 explicitly
listed ways.  These "human rights" serve the
- usually very secretive - security organizations of states much rather
than that they guarantee any real human rights, for these are
Here is the Basic Income as explained by the authors:
is one very practical example of a universal human right. It
is not just an economic measure to eradicate poverty but an income paid
by the State to each member or accredited resident of a society,
regardless of whether he or she wishes to engage in paid employment, or
is rich or poor, independently of any other sources of income and
irrespective of cohabitation arrangements in the domestic sphere. The
fact that everyone receives a Basic Income doesn’t mean that everyone
gains: the rich lose. How to finance it is as important as the quantity
involved and we favour progressive tax reform which redistributes
wealth from the rich to the rest of the population. Precisely the
opposite of recent trends.
Yes, indeed. The rest of
the article is a fairly good discussion of various uses and
difficulties of the Basic Income, and does make a reasonable case it
could be realized fairly easily (in some forms) - if there were
the political will for it, that
so far has been missing.
I don't think I agree with everything, but this is a decent article for
those who want to know more about Basic Income.
Shows US Invasion, Occupation of Iraq Left 1 Million Dead
item is an article by Dahr
This starts as follows:
I say. There is also
A recently published
report has revealed that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq was
responsible for the deaths of approximately 1 million Iraqis, which is
5 percent of the total population of the country. The report also
tallies hundreds of thousands of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Authors of the report,
titled "Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the
'War on Terror,'" have told Truthout that other casualty reports,
like the often-quoted Iraq Body Count (IBC), which has a high-end
estimate at the time of this writing of 154,563, are far too low in
their estimates, and that the real numbers reach "genocidal dimensions."
Joachim Guilliard, the
author of the Iraq portion of the study, told Truthout that the new
study relied heavily on extrapolations from a previous study published
in the prestigious Lancet
medical journal, which put Iraq's numbers at 655,000, but the study was
published in 2006 and is now dramatically out of date.
There is a lot more in
the article, including a defense of the methods followed.
The figure from the
recent "Body Count" report, stunningly high as it is, still only counts
deaths in Iraq up until the end of 2011. Some of the worst violence
that has engulfed the country has happened since that time.
The report also does not
account for deaths among the approximately 3 million Iraqi refugees who
have been subjected to conflict zones, disease and health problems.
 The quotes are from William Hazlitt
(<- Wikipedia), from "The Plain Speaker", p. 348 and p. 128 in my
Everyman edition (that was published in 1928).
This is also why the GCHQ is probably correct in its defense
that nothing they do "opposes human rights": Because the "human rights"
they mention are those in the European Code, that does not
codify human rights, but codifies all the many exceptions to
their maintenance that the secret services love so much. (And I will
write about this, but later.)