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Nederlog

January 12, 2016

Crisis: "Neoliberalism", Police State, Encryption, Reich, Terrorists
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Introduction   

1.
What is Neoliberalism?
2. Metadata Comes Home With New 'Threat Score' Policing
     Tools

3. Companies, Scientists, and Activists Worldwide Call On
     Global Leaders to Protect Strong Encryption

4. “The Big Short” and Bernie’s Plan to Bust Up Wall Street
5. The Real Terrorists: The .01%
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, January 12, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: item 1 is a fine article on the real meaning of the neoliberal lie: it is extreme neoconservatism; item 2 is about the new threats of a US police state; item 3 is about the need for strong encryption; item 4 is about an article of Robert Reich, who prefers Sanders over Clinton; and item 5 is about real terrorists who also are very rich with a solution of mine - that probably will not be followed, even though it is quite fair and will only improve the lives of the 99%.

Also, I added a statistic to the Nederlog of January 9 simply because it is a lot better than the one I used (from 1980).

1. What is Neoliberalism?

The first article is by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia on CorpWatch:

This is a very good question, with a fine answer that I will quote, but I will first outline why the question is really good.

There are two reasons:

First, the question is logically quite correct, and should be asked and decently answered much more often than happens in fact:

Extremely many terms, especially in discourses about politics, are not clearly defined, have often somewhat or radically different meanings depending on the political values of the speaker or writer, but they are used as if they are quite clear - which is often unjustified and leads to much more confusions than is, logically speaking, necessary.


Second, this is especially the case with "neo-liberalism" or "neoliberalism" - and I know, because I am a European, and one with excellent academic degrees and a lot of knowledge:

It is not because of my lack of knowledge that I was confused, it is because the very name "neoliberal" was a propaganda lie, an intentional deception, from the very start, that jhas little or nothing to do with (real) liberalism.

It was framed by strong conservatives, in part to make their extremely con- servative rightist plans seem "liberal", in part to confuse the real liberals, and in part because the neo-conservatives who posed as if they were liberals, in fact wanted to serve their own neoconservatism pro-rich agenda by making it appear as if they were "for freedom", whereas in fact they were for the freedom of the rich to fleece, repress, and steal from everybody who did not belong to the very rich. Also, they aimed at destroying most of the legal, political, trade union and other defenses of the non-rich.


"Neoliberalism" was and is a complete propaganda lie, an intentional deception, and was so from the very start. It was meant to deceive, and it deceived many, especially by unqualified insistence that "the neoliberals" all were for "freedom!", "freedom!", "freedom!" (rather like Obama was (until he was elected) for "Change!", "Change!", "Change!"):

The only freedoms the "neoliberals" were interested in were (i) the freedom from any legal constraint to make maximal profits, which meant the freedom from any governmental legal regulations, and (ii) the freedom of the rich to fleece, defraud, deceive, manipulate and abuse the non-rich for more profits for the rich.

Here are the real ends of "the neoliberals" (= neoconservatives), as explained by
Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia:

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

  1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.

  2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

  3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

  4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

  5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."

Quite so! Here is the ending of the article:

In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and cutbacking social programs. The Republican "Contract" on America is pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself -- and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will "get government off my back." The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world's people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last 60 years, suffering without end.

Tĥis is a very good article (in spite of some small disagreements) and it is highly recommended you read it and save it, so that you can compare the "neoliberal" lies and deceptions with the cruel egoistic truths they are working for.

Finally, I have an additional point that was not covered by the article: The TTP, the TTIP, the TiSA and the CETA are all "neoliberal" i.e. neoconservative plans to
deceive humanity into corporate fascism - corpo-fascism, to brand a neologism - by promising "freedom" while delivering repressions and deregulations of the rights of the many.

2. Metadata Comes Home With New 'Threat Score' Policing Tools

The second item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Police in the U.S. are rolling out new technology that gives them "unprecedented" power to spy on citizens and determine their "threat score" based on metadata, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Fresno, California's police department was one of the first to adopt the software, known as "Beware," which allows officers to analyze "billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and...social-media postings" to calculate an individual's alleged potential for violence, the Post explained.

Officers say the tool, made by a company called Intrado, can help them thwart mass shootings and other attacks like the ones that took place in Paris and San Bernardino last year. But critics say it's just another weapon in the mass surveillance arsenal, one that further threatens privacy and civil liberties and fuels police overreach.

Yes, indeed. There is more in the article, including that no one knows the source of Intrado (except Intrado), and that many of the "datapoints" that are gathered may be biased or false.

Then again, I have been expecting developments like this as soon as I had heard about the NSA's collecting everything, for that clearly aimed and aims at an authoritarian police state.

Well... this is one further branch of the now blossoming development of an American
authoritarian police state.

3. Companies, Scientists, and Activists Worldwide Call On Global Leaders to Protect Strong Encryption

The third item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Nearly 200 experts, companies, and activists in 42 countries have signed a letter demanding that world leaders take a stand in support of encryption technology, which protects nearly every internet transaction from banking and health records to emails and web browsing.

The letter, organized by Access Now, comes in response to the challenges being mounted against strong encryption by administrations — in the U.S. and worldwide — concerned that the technology gives criminals and terrorists a “safe space” to communicate and commit crimes with impunity.

“We’re seeing threats come up all over the world,” said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. policy manager for Access Now, to The Intercept. “This is a response to that — to draw clear lines in the sand between what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to the government acting on encryption.”

“We urge you to protect the security of your citizens, your economy, and your government by supporting the development and use of secure communications tools and technologies, rejecting policies that would prevent or undermine the use of strong encryption, and urging other leaders to do the same,” reads the letter.

The article deserves full reading, and the "experts, companies, and activists in 42 countries" are clearly right.

Whether this will convince the big internet corporations, many of which exist because they steal private information from their normally very naive users, and sell what they stole to advertisement agencies, remains to be seen - and I am not very hopeful.

4. “The Big Short” and Bernie’s Plan to Bust Up Wall Street

This fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

If you haven’t yet seen “The Big Short” – directed and co-written by Adam McKay, based on the non-fiction prize-winning book by Michael Lewis about the housing and credit bubble that triggered the Great Recession — I recommend you do so.

Not only is the movie an enjoyable (if that’s the right word) way to understand how the big banks screwed millions of Americans out of their homes, savings, and jobs – and then got bailed out by taxpayers. It’s also a lesson in why they’re on the way to doing all this again – and how their political power continues to erode laws designed to prevent another crisis and to shield their executives from any accountability.

Most importantly, the movie shows why Bernie Sanders’s plan to break up the biggest banks and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act (separating investment from commercial banking) is necessary – and why Hillary Clinton’s more modest plan is inadequate.
I haven't seen the movie (and usually am too ill to go to the movies) but I am willing to believe Robert Reich.

More importantly, it seems as if this article marks some kind of break between Reich and the Clintons, since these three are personally well acquainted, and it is rumored Reich went out with Hillary Rodham before she married Bill Clinton.

To be sure, I am guessing here. Also, here is some more on why "The Big Short" had it right:

The movie gets the story essentially right: Traders on the Street pushed highly-risky mortgage loans, bundled them together into investments that hid the risks, got the major credit-rating agencies to give the bundles Triple-A ratings, and then sold them to unwary investors. It was a fraudulent Ponzi scheme that had to end badly – and it did.

Yet since then, Wall Street and its hired guns (including most current Republican candidates for president) have tried to rewrite this history.

For more - and Reich is correct - see the article. Here is the ending:

The only way to contain the Street’s excesses is by taking on its economic and political power directly – with reforms so big, bold, and public they can’t be watered down. Starting with busting up the biggest banks, as Bernie Sanders proposes.

More than a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt broke up the Standard Oil Trust because it posed a danger to the U.S. economy. Today, Wall Street’s biggest banks pose an even greater danger. They’re far larger than they were before the crash of 2008.

Unless they’re broken up and Glass-Steagall resurrected, we face substantial risk of another near-meltdown – once again threatening the incomes, jobs, savings, and homes of millions of Americans.

To paraphrase philosopher George Santayana, those who cannot remember they were screwed by Wall Street are condemned to be screwed again.

Yes, indeed.

5. The Real Terrorists: The .01%
 
The fifth and last item today is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
They consist of 16,000 individuals, about the size of a crowd at a professional basketball game. The inequality horror they've fomented is reaching far beyond the half of America that is in or near poverty, for it now impacts those of us well above the median, those of us in the second highest of four wealth quartiles.

1. The .01% Have as Much Wealth as 80% of America

The combined net worth of the 16,000 richest Americans is approximately the same as the total wealth of 256,000,000 people. Details for this statistic and other facts to follow are at You Deserve Facts.

2. Americans with up to a Quarter-Million Dollars are Part of the Nearly 80% of Americans with Less Wealth Than the .01%

The 80% includes all Americans with a net worth up to about $277,000.

3. The .01% Own about as Much as 75% of the Entire World

The world's poorest 75% own roughly 4 percent of total global wealth, approximately the same percentage of wealth owned by the .01% in the United States. Again, calculations are shown here.

4. The .01% - Who Are They?

It starts with the billionaires, the Forbes 400 and 136 more, for a total of 536 individuals with a total net worth of $2.6 trillion at the end of 2015.
Yes, and the reference to You Deserve Facts is a good one. But what is Paul Buchheit's evidence that the .01% [1] are terrorists?

It is this - and the "2,500,000 Children" only refers to the USA:

5. The Unique Brand of .01% Terror: Making a Game of Tax Avoidance While 2,500,000 Children Experience Homelessness
I more or less agree, though I have several comments, that I will reduce to one:

I agree that the - very massive - tax evasions the US very rich indulge in are quite shameless and quite immoral, but it is not as if the very rich were moral
if only they paid the taxes they are due to pay. Not so!

In any case, I have a radical and simple solution (see my On Socialism) that ought to satisfy everyone who does not belong to the 1% [1], that is, it satisfies the 99% (who all earn less) and yet is not socialist:
  • Keep capitalism and keep most of the laws but make one single change:
    Nobody (other than actors, artists and scientists) is allowed to earn more
    than 300.000 dollars each year.
This accords with what about 99% of the American population does not make in a year: More than 300.000 dollars. It will - if done well - stop all profiteering of the very rich, and it will end their dominance. It will preserve capitalism, and nearly all of its institutions. It will bridle the greed of the super rich, simply by forbidding anyone to become super rich.

Also, anybody with any decent talent (other than screwing up the many poor to profit the few rich) can still excel, and indeed a lot better than they can in unrestricted capitalism-without-a-human face.

Will this simple plan be adopted or even considered? Here is my diagnosis from
On Socialism:

Not as long as the media are in the hands of the few who get a lot more than 300,000 euros or dollars a year. But at any rate it is a system were only the very rich loose money; everyone else retains what he or she had or receives more; where things can be arranged much more fairly; and that differs little from the existing system, except that there is a cap on incomes and on ownership.
---------
Note

[1] Actually, while I like the distinction between the 99% and the 1% I am not strongly in favor of distinguishing the .01%, although these clearly do exist and profited a lot since Reagan took power.

My reason is that the 99% all earn below $300,000 a year, which I think should be the top income (except for people with a real artistic or scientific talent), while the very rich (the 1% which indeed may be further subdivided in terms of income) do need more than 1% to support and defend themselves, and in fact it is my guess that 5% or 10% (and possibly more) of the 99% will support the very rich, more or less regardless, simply because these are very rich and the 5% or 10% (or possibly more) hope to get some of those riches.

In terms of a combination of income and social policies the division between the 1% and the 99% is more or less fair, but the further division into the .01% only looks at incomes and makes little social/sociological sense (except for those who really want to study the richest of the richest, perhaps).


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