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. Choosing Life
2. 442 Mental Health
Experts Call for an End to Austerity
a Disaster in the Making
4. Grayson on Money and
Politics: "If We Do Nothing, We
This Country Goodbye"
Warren (and David Hume)
This is a Nederlog of Monday, April 20,
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about Chris Hedges on veganism
and farming; item 2 is about over 400 British
who demand an end to austerity in England; item 3
is an item about Hillary Clinton (mainly here because it is critical); item 4 is about Alan Grayson; and item
5 is about Elizabeth Warren plus a small update about my progress
annotating Hume's "Treatise of Human Nature".
1. Choosing Life
item today is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as
soft-spoken dairy farmer stood outside his 70-stall milking barn on his
230-acre family farm. When his father started farming there in 1950
were about 800 dairy farms in New York state’s Orange County. Only 39
survive. Small, traditional farms have been driven out of business by
rising real estate prices, genetic manipulation of cows,
industrial-scale hormone use that greatly increases milk production,
wildly fluctuating milk prices and competition from huge operations
that have herds numbering in the thousands.
In fact, this article is
about the horrors of industrial farming and the merits of being a
vegan, where we will arrive later.
But first, I like to say that in fact I am (in a way) "a real
farmer", namely in the double sense that I have worked as a
farmer (and liked the work, unlike all other work I did, in
spite of its being quite heavy) and also have a diploma as a
cattle farmer, from a Norwegian agrarian school, that says I could take
over farms and run them, as a farmer's replacement. 
In the event, I did not work more than 4 to 5 months in all, and it is
long ago (forty years now), but even so: I was a farmer with a farmer's
diploma, and was
educated and capable of running Norwegian cattle farms (in the 1970ies).
And I almost entirely agree with Chris Hedges:
I have a deep
respect for the hard life of small dairy farmers. They are up at 5 or 6
in the morning for the first milking, work all day and milk the cows
again in the late afternoon. This goes on seven days a week. They
rarely take vacations. And their finances are precarious.
Precisely - except that
in Norway I had to sit under the cow for first milking around 04.00
o'clock (which was one of the hardest things, for I am and was
a real evening person). And the job I was educated for precisely
order to give vacations, rest or help to small farmers, who indeed
very hard for a small income. Also, I liked them: The Norwegian
met were not learned, but they were far from stupid, and also were
of many useful things few men learn as well or at all unless they own
Here is how Chris Hedges introduces his vegan theme:
When I was in
Minisink recently it was the first time I had been on a dairy farm as
a vegan. I do not eat meat. I do not eat eggs. I do not consume
dairy products. I no longer accept that cows must be repeatedly
impregnated to give us milk, must be separated immediately from their
newborns and ultimately must be slaughtered long before the end of
their natural lives to produce low-grade hamburger, leather, glue,
gelatin and pet food. I can no longer accept calves being raised
in horrific conditions before they are killed for the veal
industry, developed to profit from the many “useless” males born
because dairy farms regularly impregnate cows to ensure continuous milk
This is a quite
respectable choice, especially if one knows something about present day
factory farming, which I agree is quite horrible. But I am also ill and
quite poor (I have to live on $10 a day, which severely
limits my choices and
possibilities), and it very probably would be impossible or - for me -
to try to live as a vegan. So I do consume some meat and some eggs. I
dairy products mostly, but this is because they do not agree with me,
which is the same reason why I avoid wheat.
There is considerably more in the article, including a long quotation
from one of the German murderers who worked in the concentration camp
Treblinka during WW II. I do not think myself - whose father survived more than 3 years
and 9 months as a political prisoner in German concentration camps,
and whose grandfather was murdered there, also as a political prisoner
- that is quite fair, because human animals are different from non-human
animals, though I agree that factory farming of animals is
quite cruel and should be forbidden.
But I leave this to your interests, and merely note some statistics
that I did not know, and learned from the article:
There are 9 billion land animals (that is: fish are not
counted) killed for food each year in the United States alone,
and 70 billion land animals are killed for food each year
across the world (which comes to: 10 land animals per human person get
killed each year for food). And in the U.S. alone 4.5 million
male calves get slaughtered, each year.
2. 442 Mental Health Experts Call for an
End to Austerity
item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as
Austerity cuts and
“neoliberal thinking” among policymakers are having a “profoundly
disturbing” effect on Britons’ psychological and emotional well-being,
say hundreds of counselors, psychotherapists and academics in a letter to The Guardian.
The letter begins, “The
profoundly disturbing psychological and quality-of-life implications of
the coalition government’s cuts and policies have yet to be mentioned
in the ... campaign [for the May 7 general elections in the U.K.].”
I start with noting
this is British (rather than American), and should also note (this
appears to be a day for personal things) that I am a
psychologist, who also
has lived in England with an English woman (in the early 1970ies, but I
Here is part of the
psychotherapists in the public and private sectors find themselves at
the coalface in responding to the effects of austerity politics on the
emotional state of the nation. The past five years have seen a radical
shift in the kinds of issues generating distress in our clients:
increasing inequality and outright poverty, families forced to move
against their wishes, and, perhaps most important, benefits claimants
(including disabled and ill people) and those seeking work being
subjected to a quite new, intimidatory kind of disciplinary regime.
Where this includes the
linkage of social security benefits to the receipt of “state therapy”,
as announced in the chancellor’s latest budget, this is totally
unacceptable. “Get to work therapy” is manifestly not therapy at all.
It is very similar in
Holland, where I have been over 30 years in the dole, all the
time ill, with an illness that is still not recognized, and
meeting "people" in bureaucratic positions that I can only fairly and
honestly describe as frightful sadists of extremely low intellect. 
Here is some more:
More generally, the wider
reality of a society thrown completely off balance by the emotional
toxicity of neoliberal thinking is affecting Britain in profound ways,
the distressing effects of which are often most visible in the
therapist’s consulting room. This letter sounds the starting-bell for a
broadly based campaign of organisations and professionals against the
damage that neoliberalism is doing to the nation’s mental health.
I agree (and I am a -
n ill - psychologist), but I also should say I do not expect much from
this initiative if the Conservatives win the elections.
a Disaster in the Making
item is an article by Robert Fantina on Counterpunch:
This starts as follows:
for a candidate for president of the United States possessing those
rare traits of statesmanship, honesty and integrity. One looks back in
vain to see such an example, and the near and far horizons offer no
such hope, either.
Well... the Roosevelts,
Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington may not have been perfect,
but no man is perfect, and they were decent presidents, I'd say, judged
upon the whole.
Then again, this is a critical piece (which is the only reason it is
here, namely to balance the paeans of - faint - praise that are thrown
out over Hillary Clinton, whom I indeed do not like) and it is
But on the
Democratic side, no less a worthy than Hillary Rodham Clinton, lawyer,
former First Lady, former senator, former Secretary of State, has
slow-balled her tattered hat into an otherwise empty ring. Her handlers
claim, disingenuously, that she expects competition, and a hard-fought
primary campaign. Who, one wants to know, is going to take her on? She
has a war chest rumored to hold $2.5 billion, more than twice what
Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama each spent on their
campaigns in 2012; the total is more than their campaign expenditures
There is considerably more
there, all of it critical (and I do not agree with all). Here is the
last paragraph of the article:
generally rely on the Republicans to nominate a worse candidate than
the Democrats; one hesitates to say the Democrat is usually better,
since we are not operating in a ‘good, better, best’ zone here; far
beneath it, unfortunately. But this time around, there may simply be no
‘lesser of two evils’ choice to make. And the U.S. will provide yet
another tragedy for the country, and the world.
I also don't quite agree
with this. That is, I agree Hillary is not a candidate who fits inside
some "‘good, better,
best’ zone", and she
also is not at all admired by me, but I do believe that - so
far, and with her being, as yet, the only Democratic candidate - she is
less bad than the awful candidates proposed by
But you got a criticism of Hillary Clinton "from the left side".
on Money and Politics: "If We Do Nothing, We Can Kiss This Country
item is an article by Amy Goodman that I found on Truth-out (and which
appeared originally on Democracy Now!):
I will quote two bits, one about candidates
for Congress in general, and one about Alan Grayson
(<- Wikipedia). Here is the first bit (and Alan Grayson is speaking):
I'm the only
member of the House of Representatives who raised most of his campaign
funds in the last election from small contributions of less than $200.
(...) I am one - one - out of 435. On the other side of the building,
over at the US Senate, there's only one member of the US Senate who
raised most of his campaign from some small contributions. That's
Bernie Sanders, who you heard earlier in this broadcast. That tells you
something. In fact, to a large degree, in both parties, because of the
absence of campaign finance reform, the place is bought and paid for.
Yes, indeed. Which also means that the United States is not a
democracy anymore. In fact, it is very far from a real democracy, when
precisely 2 out of 535 persons got paid for by ordinary people, and the
rest is paid by the rich, and works for the rich, since that is what it
comes down to, in the end.
And here is Alan Grayson:
(...) if we do
nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye. Well, pucker up, because
right now the millionaires and the billionaires and the multinational
corporations are calling the shots with whatever they want in TPP, whatever they want in fast track - more
generally, whatever they want. They get the bailouts. They get the tax
breaks. They get the so-called deregulation. They get what they want
here because they get what they pay for.
Precisely - and
it is both a great shame and a sign of tremendous corruption that
I do not hear anything like this from anyone else in Congress, except
from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
5. Elizabeth Warren (and David Hume)
item today is the text of Elizabeth's Warren recent speech, that I
first mentioned on April 18. Here it is,
in pdf (that is read without difficulty by my recent Firefox 36.01, on
I have seen the
speech again yesterday, and it is indeed a very good, a very
important and also - properly considered - a very clear speech.
I realize that it may seem a bit "technical" or "economical", which it
both indeed is, but then again this is handled and presented very well,
and cannot be handled without mentioning some economical and
Why is it very important? Because Elizabeth Warren
(<- Wikipedia) is both quite competent and almost the only one in
the whole Congress of the United States who has clear and practical
ideas how and why the enormous economical and
financial mess that exists since 2008 is to be cleaned up.
Here is her five point program as presented in the last paragraph of
We know what changes we need to make
financial markets work better. Strengthen the rules to prevent
cheating. Make the cops do their jobs. Cut the banks down to size.
Change the tax code to promote more long-term investment. Tackle
shadow-banking. The key steps aren’t hard. It just takes political
courage and a strong demand from the public to complete the unfinished
business of financial reform.
It really was well
done, and therefore the text is in the last link, regardless of how few
people will read it. And it may be it doesn't make any difference, but
if so, this is not because she did not try, but because most
Senators and House members have been bought by the big corporations -
for which see item 4.
Finally, I mentioned David Hume, between
brackets, and this is a very brief progress report on my writing a long
criticism of his "Treatise of Human Nature":
I am now busy with Part
IV of Book I, which means that I have annotated the major
parts of the first of the three books that together form the Treatise.
I will probably finish Part IV within two weeks or so - when I
still (also: probably) will not upload it, because I have decided to
restate my notes in the form of a book that will be made up from
restated summaries of my notes at the end of each Part. These I still
have to do. But all in all I made decent progress, so far.
 This even had a special title (in Norwegian): Jordbruksavloysar,
which means something like "farmer's replacement", and this also was a
profession then: I was supposed to take over farms for a brief time, in
order to allow the
farmer to take a holiday, go to the hospital etc. Then again, this all
the middle 1970ies, when I lived in Norway, since when things no doubt
have changed a lot - but I do have both the experience and the diploma,
two things I would not have expected before doing and getting them, and
are also quite rare for most people who were born and grew up in a city
(Amsterdam, in my case).
 I will write about the concentration canmp guards
who sadistically and intentionally ruined my life and my
chances, but probably not before August,
when I will be pensioned and when - if I get sufficient money to
survive (!) -
I will at long last be free to say what I think about
the very many bureaucratic fascists, terrorists, and scarcely human
sadists I met as "a client of the Amsterdam dole" over the course of
more than 30 ill years.