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Nederlog

November 22, 2015
Crisis: Roosevelt's 2nd Bill of Rights, Cash, United Nations, Isis
 "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
















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Sections

Introduction

1. FDR Second Bill of Rights
2. Hang On to Your Wallet: Negative Interest, the War on Cash
and the $10 Trillion Bail-In

3. UN Council Approves French Resolution for 'All Necessary
Measures' Against ISIS

4. Rational Monster: How Terror Fits into Islamic State's Plan

Introduction

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 22, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is a video of Roosevelt making the speech of his Second Bill of Rights, now briefly over 70 years ago plus the text, with my comments; item 2 is about the threatening disappearance of cash, which will allow the bankers to make you pay for stalling your "money" with them; item 3 is about the usefulness of the UN: They supported Hollande, so I don't think (also for other reasons) they are much use; and item 4 is about Spiegel International on Isis.

1. FDR Second Bill of Rights

The first item today is by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (<-Wikipedia). It is a video of 1944:
In fact, I was out for the text, most of which follows below. But I found this recording, made on FDR's own request after January 11, 1944. (Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, aged 63.)

Accordingly, the film is slightly over 70 years old. It is not a very good film, but this is mostly because of the time. The sound is OK, though. And most of the ideas have not been realized these 70 years, though a few thing were done in the early Sixties.

This is most of the text, with 13 notes under it:

“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. [1] This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. [2] They were our rights to life and liberty. As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” [3] People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. [4] We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed. [5] Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation; [6]

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living; [7]

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; [8]

The right of every family to a decent home; [9]

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; [10]

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; [11]

The right to a good education. [12]

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. [13]

[1] Yes, precisely. That is also the major difference between Democrats like Roosevelt, and most Republicans, especially of the present day:

The Republicans just don't care for the poor, whether these are "
one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth" of the population, and indeed many of the Republicans  these days are proud that they are greedy, proud that they are egoistic and immoral, and pretend to believe that "everybody can be rich" (which is a plain lie: there only are rich people when there are non-rich people, just as there only are tall people when there are non-tall people).

This is also the main difference between capitalism-with-a-human-face, that Roosevelt favored, and capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face, that most of the rich favor, knowing full well that their gains are someone else's (usually very many) losses.

[2] Let's briefly consider these "inalienable political rights" "of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures":

Free speech mostly (and so far) persists in the United States; a free press formally still exists, but factually most of what once was a free press, here also including TV and cable, is currently owned by a few rightist billionairs who have replaced most journalists by "journalists" who are neither critical nor investigative anymore; free worship still exists for Christians, Jews and Mormons in the United States, but less so for Muslims, and anyway religion still does not pay any taxes, and is much more influential than the founding fathers - Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Hamilton - thought desirable; trial by jury and indeed trials by some court have been severely curtailed for both Muslims and whistleblowers; and the
freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures has been completely lost: The NSA knows everything about anyone, and the police seizes computers and hard disks as if they have a right to them, especially on borders.

I conclude that the
"inalienable political rights" Roosevelt was (rightly) proud of have not been "inalienable", for they are curtailed by something like half (or more, depending on how one feels about the great decline of the free press, that was once thought a necessary factor for the maintenance of a real democracy).

[3] I completely agree "that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence" indeed for the given reason: “Necessitous men are not free men.”

But the GOP pretends to believe that men who are poor or starve owe this to themselves, and should be starving, and are not entitled to any help from those who are less poor. They inverted the Christian teaching to "Blessed Are The Rich", while insisting that poverty and starvation are just.

[4] I agree that a great many poor are a great danger to any society and any civilization, and indeed "are the stuff of which dictatorships are made" (together with lies, propaganda, deceptions and corruption).

I also think this is both a political and
an economical truth, but these days it may not be self-evident, because truth is widely supposed not to exist, and science is widely supposed to be "just another opinion". I think both are self-evident lies, but at least many of the Republicans pretend to think otherwise.

[5] I agree that a "second Bill of Rights" that tries to give "security and prosperity" to all, completely independent from "station, race or creed" would be a very significant improvement of the Constitution - but it has not been there for the last 70 years, again mostly because the rich few were much against it, and had and have a lot of power (and now more than the last 100 years).

[6] One major problem with getting a fairly paying job in "the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation" is that thanks to the many deregulations under Reagan, Clinton and Bush, most of the industries have been exported to countries with far lower salaries; most of the mines have been closed and most of the small farms have been destroyed.

This really is a major problem, and the only solution I see is undoing the
deregulations (which only help the very rich) - but I agree that will be very diffficult. But without it, a decent income for most Americans is a thing of the past.

[7] There are not many small farms or farmers left: See [6].

[8] There also are far less small businesses: Most business is, directly or indirectly, owned or co-owned by the billionairs who own the large multi-national corporations, and they approve only if the business agrees with their interests: A few multi-national oligopolies rule most businesses.

[9] This is plainly denied by all the Republicans who insist that it is one's own fault if one isn't rich - which is utter bullshit that only serves the few rich, and harms the many who are not rich severally.

[10] There still is no "adequate medical care" for the many poor in the United States, where health care also is more expensive than anywhere else, to keep the medical doctors and the pharmaceutical corporations rich, at the costs of the ill and the poor.

[11] The "economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment" still exist, and have existed all the intervening 70 years. Why? It seems to me mostly because the rich make a large part of their profits by paying low wages, while they also had the power to forbid or diminish workers' unions (and the last considerably more so than in Europe).

[12] This just doesn't exist: Nearly all education is bad or insufficient, and also most education after age 18 has become very expensive, while also growing less and less in quality.

[13] Indeed "these rights spell security" and also were meant to help guarantee that "human happiness and well-being" were accessible to all or most.

They were mostly not achieved, simply because a secure income on which one could live was not in the interest of the powerful rich, who in effect also held, all these seventy years, that the only ones with a right to
"human happiness and well-being" were the rich.

Summary: This still is an admirable program, but it only can be realized after most or all of the
deregulations get undone, which may need a revolution of some kind.

2. Hang On to Your Wallet: Negative Interest, the War on Cash and the $10 Trillion Bail-In

The second item today is by Ellen Brown (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig and originally on the Web of Debt:
This starts as follows:

In uncertain times, “cash is king,” but central bankers are systematically moving to eliminate that fact. Is it really about stimulating the economy? Or is some deeper, darker threat afoot?

Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned “Let your money work for you”? Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into “all manner of private enterprise,” including “bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . .”?

That may still work if you’re a Wall Street banker, but if you’re an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Four European central banks – the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, and Denmark’s Nationalbank – have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussion has turned to whether it’s time to pass those costs on to consumers. The Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve are still at ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), but several Fed officials have also begun calling for NIRP (negative rates).
I say. And I also am one of those who is very much opposed to this, and who fears that there is a deeper, darker threat afoot.

Here is the "justification":

The stated justification for this move is to stimulate “demand” by forcing consumers to withdraw their money and go shopping with it. When an economy is struggling, it is standard practice for a central bank to cut interest rates, making saving less attractive. This is supposed to boost spending and kick-start an economic recovery.

That is the theory, but central banks have already pushed the prime rate to zero, and still their economies are languishing. To the uninitiated observer, that means the theory is wrong and needs to be scrapped. But not to our intrepid central bankers, who are now experimenting with pushing rates below zero.

I agree that (1) the "justification" is utter trash: it is a long time ago since I got any interest, and besides (2) the whole recipe of austerity only serves the banks and the bankmanagers, and not ordinary folks.

There is also this:

The problem with imposing negative interest on savers, as explained in the UK Telegraph, is that “there’s a limit, what economists called the ‘zero lower bound’. Cut rates too deeply, and savers would end up facing negative returns. In that case, this could encourage people to take their savings out of the bank and hoard them in cash. This could slow, rather than boost, the economy.”

Again, to the ordinary observer, this would seem to signal that negative interest rates won’t work and the approach needs to be abandoned. But not to our undaunted central bankers, who have chosen instead to plug this hole in their leaky theory by moving to eliminate cash as an option. If your only choice is to keep your money in a digital account in a bank and spend it with a bank card or credit card or checks, negative interest can be imposed with impunity. This is already happening in Sweden, and other countries are close behind.
I do believe that the bankers want to get even more power by eliminating cash. Indeed, as an ordinary user of a bank (where I stood positive for over 10 years, also) I am only allowed to take up 250 euros a day, and that from a bank which had to be saved by the likes of myself (without ever being asked, of course: it was all forced).

Also, I think Martin Armstrong sees it correctly:
Economist Martin Armstrong goes further and suggests that the goal is to gain totalitarian control over our money. In a cashless society, our savings can be taxed away by the banks; the threat of bank runs by worried savers can be eliminated; and the too-big-to-fail banks can be assured that ample deposits will be there when they need to confiscate them through bail-ins to stay afloat. And that may be the real threat on the horizon: a major derivatives default that hits the largest banks, those that do the vast majority of derivatives trading.

Yes, indeed. There is more in the article, that is recommended.

3. UN Council Approves French Resolution for 'All Necessary Measures' Against ISIS

The third item today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

The United Nations security council has unanimously approved France's resolution to take "all necessary measures" against the Islamic State (ISIS) and urged all able member states to join in the fight.

The 15-member panel adopted the resolution Friday after the French government called for "merciless" military action against the militant group following the attacks in Paris which killed 130 people.

According to media outlets who saw the text of the resolution, it calls for "member states that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures—in compliance with international law, on the territory under the control of [ISIS]—to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts."

Member states should "intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism," the resolution says.

I think this shows two things: (1) the United Nations is not more sane than Francois Hollande, and (2) it cannot be trusted (if it ever could be) as an independent force: it is mostly a sick bureaucracy that supplies incomes to
many bureaucrats, but which does little good, and mostly speaks like the US wants it to speak. (There are a few exceptions, but this seems the rule to me.)

There are rational people outside the UN, and here is one of them:

As Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Common Dreams on Friday, "Resolutions like this can be dangerous."

"It is important that it is not taken under the terms of chapter seven, but it is implying support for all countries to use military force in ISIS territory, which is heavily populated," Bennis said. "We have been using military force against terrorism for the past 15 years, and it has failed."

The reason I just said that the UN cannot be trusted anymore is - in part - that the 15 years of failure are still not evident to most of the bureaucrats and politicians who make up the UN.

4. Rational Monster: How Terror Fits into Islamic State's Plan

The fourth item today is by Christoph Reuter on Spiegel International:
This starts as follows:

"It was a terrible night. We heard the roar of the jets, the detonations. Then, the power suddenly went out and everything sunk into darkness," the young woman on the phone says. She said that she could only see the flashes from the explosions, with one bomb landing right near where she was. "But I don't want to die after all that we have already gone through here."

The woman is from Raqqa, where Islamic State has its headquarters in Syria. She lives there together with her parents and brothers. Still. As do so many other civilians. On the phone, she was describing the first wave of attacks in the "war" that French President François Hollande declared against Islamic State following the attacks in Paris.
Thanks to Hollande and the UN she will have a front seat to many subsequent bombardments, as long as she doesn't flee or gets killed.

There is also this on Raqqa and Isis:

But the upper echelons of IS have been living for months in the city's densely populated residential areas and are careful to keep their movements inconspicuous. As such, they have likely been able to escape the US-led coalition's airstrikes, which have been ongoing for 15 months.
(...)
At the most, airstrikes have weakened Islamic State, but have certainly not defeated it. Hollande has declared a war that is almost impossible to wage.
It is simply impossible to win, as it is now fought: You cannot win a war with just artillery, and you cannot win a war with just air-bombardments. I suppose someone has said that much to Hollande. Whether the French and the US will send "boots on the ground" remains to be seen.

Finally, there is this (from considerably more), which only shows how stupid most papers are:
The fact that an intact (though probably fake) Syrian passport was found near the bodies of one of the suicide bombers is likely no coincidence. Suddenly, all Syrian refugees are viewed as potential terrorists -- just as IS had hoped.
For clearly to generalize from one doubtful Syrian passport to "all Syrian refugees" is a plain fallacy.

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