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Nederlog

May 18, 2015
Crisis: Rich Whites, Scheer, Student Debts, Too-Big-Too-Fail, Global Debts
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

Sections
Introduction

1.
The Pathology of the Rich White Family
2. Robert Scheer: On Civil Liberties, the NSA Is a Latter-Day
     King George

3.
Citing Soaring Student Debt, Sanders to Pitch
     Tuition-Free Higher Education

4.
If 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Means 'Too-Big-To-Jail,' It Should 
     Mean 'Too-Big-to-Be'

5.
The Debt To GDP Ratio For The Entire World: 286 Percent


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, May 18, 2015.

This is a
crisis log. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: item 1 is about an article by Chris Hedges that I found quite good, and have a rather big number
of remarks about; item 2 is about an interesting interview with Robert Scheer;
item 3 is about student debts in the U.S. with some remarks by me about the Dutch system I studied with (now slaughtered); item 4 is about the - correct - idea that banks that are too big to fail are too big to exist; and item 5 explains that the global debt doubled since 2007 and "austerity" (but I have troubles with
the site: too many blinking ads).


1. The Pathology of the Rich White Family

The first item today is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The pathology of the rich white family is the most dangerous pathology in America. The rich white family is cursed with too much money and privilege. It is devoid of empathy, the result of lifetimes of entitlement. It has little sense of loyalty and lacks the capacity for self-sacrifice. Its definition of friendship is reduced to “What can you do for me?” It is possessed by an insatiable lust to increase its fortunes and power. It believes that wealth and privilege confer to it a superior intelligence and virtue. It is infused with an unchecked hedonism and narcissism. And because of all this, it interprets reality through a lens of self-adulation and greed that renders it delusional. The rich white family is a menace. The pathologies of the poor, when set against the pathologies of rich white people, are like a candle set beside the sun.
I think this is mostly correct. I also have (at least) three qualifications, but one is about my own lack of American experience and lack of racism; the second is about a suspected biological foundation; and the third is about my own background, which is quite different from Chris Hedges (and makes me considerably less optimistic about the poor than he is).

Here they are, written out a little bit.

First, I am not American but Dutch; I have never been to the U.S.A. (though I lived with an American woman in Amsterdam) and expect I will never go there since I am ill and poor since 37 years; and I have also not grown up in a racist culture, and in fact grew up in a remarkably anti-fascist and anti-racist family.

I do believe these make a difference, especially the last ones.


Second, this is not to say the Dutch are anti-racist. But they have less reason for it (there are fewer blacks and other races), and besides there also seems to be behind racism and discrimination a biological foundation, that makes us like people the more they are like us. This makes us most sympathetic (in principle: there may be many reasons why this doesn't work in many cases) to our own family; then to the groups we grew up between; then to their backgrounds and social status; then to loyalties to the town and the nation we live in, etc. [1]

This makes quite a few Dutch "racist" in some sense, but (i) this is mostly done by the more stupid (although these are the majority everywhere, also in Holland) and (ii) is less racist - in the literal sense: much of it the last 15 years is directed against white Muslims, because they differ too much from the real Dutch - and is mostly concerned with insisting Our Kind Is Best. [2]

There is a lot of this feeling - "
Our Kind Is Best", which in Holland tend to be white Dutchmen of low income and low intelligence, all with Dutch family names, and with parents and grandparents with Dutch family names - but as I've indicated: This kind of feeling seems mostly biological, and tends to find its widest and crudest expression by folks with little intelligence and/or education. (Of which there are very many.) [3]

Third, my own background is quite different from that of Chris Hedges, and also from that of nearly all Dutchmen:

My parents and grandparents were political radicals, in part radicalized by the crisis of the Thirties, and then by the second World War, and my father's father was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp because he was in the resistance, my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days of concentration camp as a communist "political terrorist", whereas my mothers parents were anarchists since the very early 1900s or before. My parents also were quite poor, especially during the time I was growing up (till I was 17).

I note this because this background is also quite abnormal in Holland: In fact, there were few communists, few anarchists, and few who went into the resistance in WW II in Holland, and my family was one of the very few who were involved in all of these movements. In fact, I do not know anyone who lives in Holland with this background. [4]

Then there is this (skipping to page 2 of the article):

The rich white family has an unrivaled aptitude for crime. Members of rich white families run corporations into the ground (think Lehman Brothers), defraud stockholders and investors, sell toxic mortgages as gold-plated investments to pension funds, communities and schools, and then loot the U.S. Treasury when the whole thing implodes. They steal hundreds of millions of dollars on Wall Street through fraud and theft, pay little or no taxes, almost never go to jail, write laws and regulations that legalize their crimes and then are asked to become trustees at elite universities and sit on corporate boards. They set up foundations and are admired as philanthropists. And if they get into legal trouble, they have high-priced lawyers and connections among the political elites to get them out.

You have to hand it to rich white families.
Yes, indeed. Incidentally, everything that I quoted is valid according to the vast majority of whites if only a few moral terms are substituted for: "crime" -> "acquiring riches"; "defraud" -> "acquiring riches"; "toxic" -> "complicated";
"loot" -> "acquire riches from"; "steal" -> "acquire"; "fraud and theft" -> "legal smartness"; "crimes" -> "acquisitions".


There is also this:

Rich white families are also the most efficient killers on the planet. This has been true for five centuries, starting with the conquest of the Americas and the genocide against Native Americans, and continuing through today’s wars in the Middle East. Rich white families themselves don’t actually kill. They are not about to risk their necks on city streets or in Iraq. They hire people, often poor, to kill for them. Rich white families wanted the petroleum of Iraq and, by waving the flag and spewing patriotic slogans, got a lot of poor kids to join the military and take the oil fields for them. Rich white people wanted endless war for the benefit of their arms industry and got it by calling for a war on terror. Rich white people wanted police to use lethal force against the poor with impunity and to arrest them, swelling U.S. prisons with 25 percent of the world’s prison population, so they set up a system of drug laws and militarized police departments to make it happen.

The beauty of making others kill on your behalf is you get to appear “reasonable” and “nice.”
Again I have some qualifications - there are quite a few other social mechanisms and traditions at work, and also Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were black - but mostly this again seems correct, although I am quite willing to agree that
the rich white profiteers see it in quite other terms.

As to these
rich white profiteers, there is this:
“Material success,” as C. Wright Mills wrote, “is their sole basis of authority.” They meld into the world of celebrity. And the organs of mass media, which they control, turn them into idols to be worshiped solely because they are rich. Public-relations specialists manufacture their public personas. Teams of lawyers harass and silence their critics. Acolytes affirm their sagacity. They soon believe their own fiction.
Yes, indeed - and no: the rich are only very rarely gifted, and indeed the most common gift they seem to have is a lack of morals rather than a surfeit of intelligence or knowledge.

But then again, the rich are not the only ones responsible for their elevation
to semi-divine status and privileges merely because they are very rich: "
the world of celebrity" and the "mass media" (which I agree the rich control) exist mostly because there is a large and quite stupid demand for them. [5]

And there is this on page 3 of Hedges' article:

The pathologies of the rich will soon drive us over an economic and ecological cliff. And as we go down, the rich, lacking empathy and understanding, determined to maintain their privilege and their wealth, will use their Praetorian Guard, their mass media, their corporate power, their political puppets and their security and surveillance apparatus to keep us submissive.
I think this is also true. You may disagree, but see - for one example - item 5.
And finally there is this, from the last paragraph of the article:

The rich executed a coup d’état that transformed the three branches of the U.S. government and nearly all institutions, including the mass media, into wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state. This coup gives the rich the license and the power to amass unimaginable wealth at our expense. It permits the rich to inflict grinding poverty on growing circles of the population. Poverty is the worst of crimes—as George Bernard Shaw wrote, “all the other crimes are virtues beside it.”
Yes - and it was a coup d'état that took over 40 years, and that passed through the following stages:
The memorandum of Lewis Powell Jr.
The elections of Thatcher and Reagan.
The elections of Clinton and Blair.
The destruction of the real left, and its replacement by "Third
      Way" complete bullshit.

The coup d'état of Bush Jr. in 2000. (He wasn't properly elected.)
The war on Iran and the war on terrorism after 9/11.
The gigantic Wall Street fraud of 2008.

The election of the fraudulent (half black) Obama as president.
I am merely listing some important moments and junctures here without any pretension this is complete.

And incidentally, here is a link to another radical, the late George Carlin:
The title is a bit misleading, for Carlin criticized and exposed much more than the American government, but this is a good collection that I strongly recommend you to see.

2. Robert Scheer: On Civil Liberties, the NSA Is a Latter-Day King George

The next item today is an article
by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

In an appearance on “The Campaign With Ernie Powell,” a radio show that deals with the question of how progressives can win political campaigns, Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer says the NSA is engaged in the same invasive behavior “that sparked the American Revolution.”

Scheer was on Powell’s show to discuss the themes at the center of his new book, “They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy.”

There is also this:

“I know there are a lot of folks who don’t like to celebrate the framers,” Scheer tells Powell early in the interview. “They were a bunch of white guys, they had limitations and we had slavery. There’s a lot of Howard Zinn wisdom in critiquing them. But there were two big ideas they had that actually go to the heart of what my book is all about and what our current crisis is all about. One is, you can’t be a representative republic and an empire in the same moment. If you’re gonna be meddling all over the world, if you’re gonna be going after the resources of the whole world, if you’re gonna be exploiting people all around the world in the name of saving them—if you’re gonna go the route of Rome—you’re gonna crush the republic, which is what Rome was at its finest moment. And this was true of every society that they had seen. …

“The other big idea they had was that government had to be viewed with suspicion, no matter the claim of government, whether it was to divine right to rule or the great French civilization or the great Roman values, and the Constitution that they gave us contained a really subversive notion. It said, ‘Beware of power—not as an abstraction—beware of the power that us folks—Jefferson, Madison, Washington—are about to assume.’ This was the whole idea of the separation of powers, of limited government, of checks and balances. And the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.”

Powell interjects: “And the Fourth Amendment.”
Yes, quite so. There is more there, and also a link to an audio of the interview.

3. Citing Soaring Student Debt, Sanders to Pitch Tuition-Free Higher Education The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

With student debt figures continuing to climb, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to unveil legislation this week to provide tuition-free higher education for students at 4-year colleges and universities in the United States. 

The proposal, which Sanders plans to introduce on Tuesday, would eliminate undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities and expand work-study programs. 

"Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people," Sanders, who is running for president as a Democrat, said in a news release. "They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth.  We should be doing the same."

Earlier this year, in a speech at Johnson State College in Vermont, Sanders called for a "revolution" in the way higher education is funded in the U.S.

There is also this:

The average class of 2015 borrower will graduate college with just over $35,000 in debt, according to an analysis by Edvisors, a publisher of free websites about planning and paying for college. What's more, a full 71 percent of this year’s college graduates borrowed money to pay for their undergraduate education. As the Boston Globe put it, the class of 2015 is "the most indebted class in history, graduating with a whopping $56 billion in student loan debt."

An important part of the reason these debts are pressing is that they are abused.

Here is the difference with Holland, that had a better system, that is now totally
destroyed
, probably because it allowed far too many of a poor background - like myself - to study at a university:

Because I fell ill three months after starting my studying I got something like 7 years of study loans, amounting to Euros 42,000. I very probably could have studied most of that time in the dole as well (which paid better), which would have made the amount of money I owed a lot less, but I did not make the necessary arrangements (and lacked the health to do so, and also I was living
nearly all of the time with a Dutch woman who also studied on study loans, that
were kept separate, unlike the dole, so we probably had more money from the
two study loans than we would have had, living together, from the dole).

Next, in 1984 I got dole, and the first 14 years I did not have to pay back anything, because I was ill and had a minimal income, and these were the
rules (quite unlike in the U.S.A.)

Around 1998, when I was paying back a lot of money from the dole I had, and was quite ill, I forgot to fill in an application and was then prosecuted for repayment of all the money I owed, in spite of being ill and in minimal dole, but because the assholes who did so also asked this back in four tranches of three months (which would have totally ruined me, and would have turned me into the streets), the judge opposed this (quite correctly) and in the end I did not have to pay back a cent, and was freed from paying back anything, under the rules of the system, by 2004.

Indeed, this was a humane form of study loans, that since has been completely
slaughtered
in Holland.

As to Sanders' proposal: I quite agree, but I do not see it accepted. (But this is no reason not to propose it.)

4. If 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Means 'Too-Big-To-Jail,' It Should Mean 'Too-Big-to-Be'

The next item is an article by Dave Lindorff on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

In a couple of days, the so-called US Justice Department will be announcing an “agreement” reached with five large banks, including two of the largest in the US—JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup, the holding companies for Chase and Citibank—under which these banks or bank holding companies will plead guilty to felonies involving the manipulation of international currency markets.

This is not really a plea deal, or what in the lingo of criminals is called “copping a plea.” It’s a negotiation in which the nation’s top law-enforcement organization—the one that just sentenced a teenager to death in Boston in the Marathon bombing case, and that routinely sends ordinary people “up the river” for minor drug offenses or even tax fraud—is taking seriously these banks’ concerns that if they plead guilty to felonies they might be barred by SEC rules from engaging in many profitable practices. So—get this—the Justice Department is seeking assurances from the commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission that they will not enforce those rules against these particular felonious banks.

There will be fines, of course, though nothing that will even dent the profits of these megabanks, which also include two British-based institutions, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as the Swiss-based bank UBS. But under these deals, not one bank executive will even be forced to quit his post, much less face jail time or even a fine. As the New York Times put it in an article last Thursday, “In reality, those accommodations render the plea deals, at least in part, an exercise in stagecraft.”

Yes, indeed. This is a good article, of which the main point is the following:
Here’s the thing. If the government really believes that banks like JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and Wells Fargo are “too big to fail” because prosecuting their chief executives—or even forcing their chief executives to quit their posts!—could lead to a new financial crisis (a claim that seems totally absurd), then those institutions are simply too big to allow to exist.
I agree, and indeed banking needs massive changes in the United States (and elsewhere), though I do not see these happening without another big crisis.

5. The Debt To GDP Ratio For The Entire World: 286 Percent

The final item today is an article by Michael Snyder on The Economic Collapse site:
This starts as follows:
Did you know that there is more than $28,000 of debt for every man, woman and child on the entire planet?  And since close to 3 billion of those people survive on less than 2 dollars a day, your share of that debt is going to be much larger than that.  If we took everything that the global economy produced this year and everything that the global economy produced next year and used it to pay all of this debt, it still would not be enough.  According to a recent report put out by the McKinsey Global Institute entitled “Debt and (not much) deleveraging“, the total amount of debt on our planet has grown from 142 trillion dollars at the end of 2007 to 199 trillion dollars today.  This is the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and those numbers mean that we are in substantially worse condition than we were just prior to the last financial crisis.

When it comes to debt, a lot of fingers get pointed at the United States, and rightly so.  Just prior to the last recession, the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 9 trillion dollars.  Today, it has crossed the 18 trillion dollar mark.  But of course the U.S. is not the only one that is guilty.  In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute says that debt levels have grown in all major economies since 2007.
Note that the debt doubled since 2007, even though all Western governments insisted everyone who was not rich already had to live lives of austerity, to pay of the debts... which, after 8 years and a doubling of the debts can be classified
as gross lies: it wasn't to pay off the debts, but to make the rich even richer.

And this ends as follows:

What we are experiencing right now is the greatest financial bubble of all time.

What comes after that is going to be the greatest financial crash of all time.

199,000,000,000,000 dollars of debt is about to come crashing down, and the pain of this disaster will be felt by every man, woman and child on the entire planet.

Quite possibly so, though I should also say that the website this comes from is difficult to read for me because row upon row upon row of ads, that also blink at me (so this will probably be the last time I refer anything from this site: I'm sorry but my eyes are not good enough to be pestered by blinking ads for nonsensical ideas).

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Notes

[1] I am quite convinced this is mostly biological, in the end because everyone has these attitudes, that are also largely inescapable. Also, as such, they are not bad: they get bad only if the sympathy we naturally have for the families in which we are born and the people we grew up with are combined with antipathies or hatred for those who differ from us.

[2] Again, "Our Kind Is Best" probably is natural and biological, although at this level, especially if the sentiment is articulated by large groups of the most stupid and the least educated, it starts to be or is openly discriminatory as well.

[3] I believe the discrimination of those who do not belong to "Our Kind" by those who do belong to "Our Kind" (whatever "Our Kind" is) is in part biological,
and in part mediated by stupidity and ignorance. (And see Note 5.)

[4] There may be more, but it seems quite unlikely to me, for at 65 I do not know and have not heard of anyone who lives in Holland who has my background - and here is how they need to qualify: They must have communist parents; communist or anarchist grandparents; a grandfather who was murdered in a German concentration camp for being in the communist resistance, and a father who survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days of German concentration camp for being in the communist resistance.

I really do not know of any other Dutchman with this background (and only my brother qualifies, but he lives now since 30 years outside Holland, which indeed is a lot healthier for intelligent men).

[5] Having myself an IQ high above 130, I say again that all of world history
would have been considerably different if the average IQ had been 130 instead of 100. (If only because far fewer would have been deceived as easily as they were and are.)

I know you probably need a very high IQ to believe this, though indeed most persons whose texts I have read who did have a very high IQs - Russell, Keynes and others - agreed, if they were honest. I also know this is a mere false hypothetical, but it is a hypothetical that might have been true, though alas it isn't.


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