This is a
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links :
1 is about Oxfam's report and position, and is quite good (and I am
a supporter of Oxfam); item 2 is about Switzerland
and Europe, where the human rights and freedoms are
rapidly destroyed by the local politicians, in favor of state
terrorists who know everything about anyone; item 3
is about Elizabeth Warren and a good recent speech she made; item 4 is about a - sympathetic - background article
on Robert Reich, part 2 (part 1 was reviewed here); and item 5 is
about another article by Robert Reich, who explains - quite
cogently - why he supports Sanders rather than his friend since many
It seems I've missed Part 1. In any case,
these are interesting interviews. This is from near the beginning - and
this is a recommended read:
AMYGOODMAN: And, of course, they pour
fortunes into lobbying for those loopholes.
Actually, this is what we’ve seen over the last 20 or 30 years. We’ve
seen sort of a dismantling of the economic system in a way that has
produced the kind of volatility that produced the financial crisis of
2008 and 2009, which bankrupted many poor families across the United
States. But ironically, in the period subsequent, we saved the banking
sector. It’s been making record profits. There’s been an enormous
amount of accumulation and concentration of wealth at the top end post
the financial crisis, meanwhile while Main Street has not necessarily
I think I can date it a bit more
precisely: since 1979 and 1980, simply because then Thatcher and Reagan
elected. But the rest is correct, though "the banking system" was saved
while it was - and still is - extremely corrupt.
Then there is this, with Raymond
I think, the question that we’re raising
here, is, fundamentally, what we’re talking about here is a rigged
system that lacks transparency and in which there’s all kinds of
opportunities for abuse, tax evasion and tax avoidance, that actually
is undermining, I think, a number of things—democracy in the United
States and around the world, the social cohesion and social contract
that hold countries together, and even, I think, most importantly, I
think, for your listeners here in the United States, social mobility.
In fact, I do not think social
as important or more important than social cohesion and a fair
social contract: If these are present, there will be social
and if these are absent there will be no social mobility.
Here is a fine example how tax havens work:
There are 24,000 people who live in the
British Virgin Islands, and there are 800,000 shell companies there
that actually are servicing corporations from throughout the world,
enabling them to put—offshore their profits and put them into the
British Virgin Islands. And then you have a whole massive number of
international banks. There are some 50 banks that are the—kind of the
transaction agents for all this money moving around the world to tax
havens. And if you sort of look at the profits that they’re achieving
through this—in managing all that money, they’re astronomical over the
last number of years.
This also means: Today and since the
past decades, all of these astronomical amounts of money
have been stolen and went into the pockets of the rich. It
really is as simple as
Then there is this, again with Raymond
I think that, the globalization process
that I think we’re living today, actually has disconnected companies’
sense of responsibility to their—to the public that they actually
should be serving. And so, we basically expatriate all this value, and
then we tax some minimal amount in our home countries. And meanwhile,
these same companies actually require public services, roads,
infrastructure, all sorts of things that if they didn’t exist, their
companies would actually suffer, but they want the tax burden of that
to be shifted to the individual taxpayer and away from the corporation
itself, in the name of, as the speaker said, tax efficiency.
Yes, indeed - though I do myself see less
of a "disconnect" than I see the quite clear decisions to be as greedy,
as egoistic, as self-serving as possible - which again
is permitted by most
politicians, especially though not only in the USA, because these are
strongly lobbied and mostly bought.
Indeed, here is a quotation from Bernie Sanders on corruption that is
also in the
—how corrupt this system is. Goldman Sachs recently fined $5 billion.
Goldman Sachs has given this country two secretaries of treasury—one on
the Republicans, one on the Democrats. The leader of Goldman Sachs is a
billionaire who comes to Congress and tells us we should cut Social
Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Secretary Clinton—and you’re not the
only one, so I don’t mean to just point the finger at you—you’ve
received over $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in one year.
I find it very strange that a major financial institution that pays $5
billion in fines for breaking the law, not one of their executives is
prosecuted, while kids who smoke marijuana get a jail sentence.
In fact, I'd say Goldman Sachs are simply
acting quite openly like the mega-rich thieves and deceivers
they are, because Obama's former minister of Justice
Eric Holder told them - criminally and illegally, in my
opinion - they were too big to fail.
From that point on their illegal activities became "legal" i.e. they
could illegally enrich themselves enormouslywithout
fearing any punishment.
Finally, here is a last bit of Raymond Offenheiser, that shows how the permission of
financial crimes and major financial criminalsstimulated
criminals to do even more to get even richer:
But we see Wall Street thriving and
booming and, at the same time, assuming, to some degree, in some cases,
even a victim narrative, in which they need more deregulation, fighting
the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act and the elements within it to
this day and trying to block the writing and implementation of the
rule-making process under the SEC, which
still is not complete yet. And they’re, you know, fighting tooth and
nail to kind of resist the kind of change that we really need to make
for a more fair and equitable tax system in this country.
Yes, indeed. There is a lot more in the
interview, which is recommended.
2. How a
Small Company in Switzerland Is Fighting a Surveillance Law — And
is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
A small email provider and its customers
have almost single-handedly forced the Swiss government to put its new
invasive surveillance law up for a public vote in a national referendum
“This law was approved in September, and
after the Paris attacks, we assumed privacy was dead at that point,”
said Andy Yen, co-founder of ProtonMail, when I spoke with him on the
phone. He was referring to the Nachrichtendienstgesetzt (NDG), a
mouthful of a name for a bill that gave Swiss intelligence authorities
more clout to spy on private communications, hack into citizens’
computers, and sweep up their cellphone information.
This is mostly here to show what is
happening in Europe, for similar things are happening in
France: The local politicians have decided they can fuck all
privacy-laws, many human rights - and indeed these are now "guarded" by
European laws that say they are human rights, but in fact
consist mostly of exceptions that allow the secret services
to do as they please in almost any case, and for almost any reason.
So in fact I am pretty pessimistic about the eventual outcome.
what European politicians planned for Switzerland:
The new law is the first of two
surveillance laws that have been circulating through the Swiss
Parliament. The NDG law was fully passed in September, but can’t take
full effect until after the referendum vote in June. The NDG would
“create a mini NSA in Switzerland,” Yen wrote — allowing Swiss
intelligence to spy without getting court approval. It would authorize
increased use of “Trojans,” or remote hacking tactics to investigate
suspects’ computers, including remotely turning on Webcams and taking
photos, as well as hacking abroad to protect Swiss infrastructure. It
would legalize IMSI catchers, or Stingrays, which sweep up data about
cellphones in the area.
The second law, known as the “BÜPF,” might
come up for a vote in the Parliament’s spring session, but may be
revised or delayed. The BÜPF would expand the government’s ability
to retain data for longer, including communications and metadata, as
well as deputize private companies to help spy on their users, or
face a fine.
In brief, the European politicians - including
the Dutch and the French - want to take fascisticpowers
"because of the dangers of terrorism". Well, let me repeat
it once more: The state's own terrorists, which are the secret
services, have murdered thousands or tenthousands more
people than the terrorists they were supposed to do battle with - in
the Soviet Union, in Hitler's
Germany, in Mussolini's Italy, in Franco's Spain etc. And now they want
able to do the same or similar things throughout Europe. "To catch
Here is some more on the decline of Europe into neo-fascism:
As of November, 14 countries
had passed new
laws bequeathing more power to intelligence agencies to spy. France’s
upcoming surveillance law, though it will not mandate backdoors in
allow law enforcement more surveillance powers, including to spy on
phone calls and emails without a judge’s approval and install key
logger devices on suspects’ computers to retrieve their passwords. The
Chinese government passed a law in December requiring companies to turn over encryption keys, and the Cuban
government has the power to approve all encryption technology before it
hits the market. In Bahrain, where dissenting political speech is
condemned, encryption is outlawed for “criminal intentions.”
I agree that the formally democratic France
is put on a par with China and Cuba, simply because the politicians in
each country do the same:
All power in their very few hands; no privacy for
99.99% of the population; full control of what everyone
writes, and wants, by stealing their access to their own
supposedly private computers on the totally insane accusation
that they - 99.99%
of the population whose total privacy got stolen, in secret
also - "may
This is state terrorism directed against almost everyone,
by a few
handfuls of extremely powerful totally corrupt European
who are out - knowingly and on purpose - to destroy democracy,
human rights and equalities of many kinds.
VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren: Anyone Who Says ‘Change Is Just Too Hard’ Is
in ‘Bed With the Billionaires’
third item is by Natasha Hakimi Zapata on Truthdig:
The Massachusetts senator’s fiery
speech on the Senate
floor Friday echoed some of Bernie Sanders’ powerful criticisms of
Hillary Clinton. Although Warren hasn’t endorsed any of the Democratic
candidates (and is in fact the only female senator not to have endorsed
Clinton), that hasn’t stopped speculation.
Here is a little more:
In any case, the speech she delivered on
anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens
United decision underscored her true
concerns—essentially the same
as Sanders’ central goal: getting big money out of politics.
Watch her excellent, detailed speech
about how we can go
about accomplishing this goal, below.
4. Robert Reich’s Hilarious
Crusade to Save Capitalism and America’s Middle Class (Part 2)
I did review Part 1 - see here - and this
continues that. Again, this is a fairly long interview, which is
recommended. I select a few bits:
Here is something about how Reich spent most of his time since 2000:
Reich, who co-founded the
American Prospect magazine, and has written seven of his 16
books since 2000, excels at translating the arcana of economics into
language that is both accessible and inviting, all the while making the
case for greater equality in the distribution of income and wealth.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is
also friends with Reich and shares many of his views, described him in
an email as “smart, thoughtful and utterly fearless. Our economy is
rigged to work great for those with money and power, while everyone
else gets left behind — and Bob is doing everything he can to change
This is about the videos Reich lately
produced with Kornbluth, quite a few
of which were also linked in Nederlog:
Reich and Kornbluth soon formed a
nonprofit organization, Inequality Media. In 2015 alone, they produced 25
videos that were viewed more than 25 million times. Most present sober
topics in a light-hearted style — how the sharing economy is hurting
workers, why deficit hawks are wrong. One, set during a family
holiday meal (see below), even features Reich playing two
characters: himself, and a Scrooge-like conservative, dubbed “Uncle
Bob,” who fires off straw man lines like, “I’m paying too much in taxes
to support poor people who are sitting on their duffs.”
This means an average of one million
per video. I like this, because the videos are usually both
intellectually clear and morally good, and indeed explain a lot in a
clear way and in a short time.
Finally, here is something Reich and I may disagree about -
although I agree with him one must make an assumption
makes to do what he does - and my disagreement is less with the
assumption that follows, than with its efficacy:
“I have a basic faith that people
are rational,” Reich told me. “If you explain something in ways that
are not threatening and lace that explanation with enough illustration,
example and humor, people at some point can relax and take it in.”
Robert Reich clearly is a rational man. I am
a rational man . But rationality clearly is a
matter of degree, and
depends on several things: one's native intelligence; one's education;
and the trouble one took to overcome the lacks in one's education.
I am willing to agree with Reich that everyone who is human, adult and
sane, which is the great majority, therefore and thereby does
rational capacity - but I am also certain that it often is not
enough to allow them to see through their own prejudices.
Also, if the IQs were all 30 points higher than they are
in fact - which is a counterfactual assumption, I agree -
then I am pretty sure the complete political situation would be quite
different, simply because it would be much more difficult to deceive
the less intelligent half, which as it is, is frightfully easy.
5. The Volcanic Core Fueling the 2016 Election
The fifth and last item is - again - by
Robert Reich and is on his site:
Not a day passes that I don’t get a call
from the media asking me to compare Bernie Sanders’s and Hillary
Clinton’s tax plans, or bank plans, or health-care plans.
I don’t mind. I’ve been teaching public
policy for much of the last thirty-five years. I’m a policy wonk.
But detailed policy proposals are as
relevant to the election of 2016 as is that gaseous planet beyond
Pluto. They don’t have a chance of making it, as things are now.
I agree, though I mostly agree - it seems to
me - because I am probably a bit less convinced of the basic
rationality of most people than Reich is - and see the end of the
Also, apart from that, the elections concern every American adult, and
it so happens that most do not know many things the minority
active political interests (of any kind) do know. This itself
that the elections are and
need to be about general ideas and general values.
Here is Robert Reich's idea about what the coming presidential
elections are about:
This election is about changing the
parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on
our political system.
I’ve known Hillary Clinton since she was
19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s
the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we
But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified
candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s
leading a political movement for change.
The upcoming election isn’t about
detailed policy proposals. It’s about power – whether those who have it
will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.
As I have remarked before, Robert Reich
knows both Clintons quite well and in a very personal way, indeed
since well before they entered the political arena.
This also makes Reich's support for Bernie
Sanders quite interesting, and I think he phrases his reasons to
support Sanders quite well:
Sanders is the man who desires a "political system we should have",
while Clinton merely would be a good president for "the political system we now have" -
which last system is quite unfair, and defends the few
incredible riches and their completely undeserved privileges (many of
which are criminal/illegal).
And this is how Reich compares Trump and
Either you’re going to be attracted to
an authoritarian son-of-a-bitch who promises to make America great
again by keeping out people different from you and creating “great”
jobs in America, who sounds like he won’t let anything or anybody stand
in his way, and who’s so rich he can’t be bought off.
Or you’ll go for a political activist
who tells it like it is, who has lived by his convictions for fifty
years, who won’t take a dime of money from big corporations or Wall
Street or the very rich, and who is leading a grass-roots “political
revolution” to regain control over our democracy and economy.
In other words, either a dictator who
promises to bring power back to the people, or a movement leader who
asks us to join together to bring power back to the people.
I think that is indeed how it will be if
Sanders wins the Democratic candidacy and Trump wins the Republican
 Maybe I
should say (once again) what I understand by "dotted links" and by
"recommended". There are usually more links than dotted links
in my Nederlogs, and the dotted links link to the file that is the main
subject of the item, that generally also has the name of the dotted
link. And when I say that I recommend a file it means that I
think interested readers should read all of it.
 O yes!
I may be angry, but then few in Holland have been mistreated as I have
I have been thrown out of the
faculty of philosophy as a student briefly before being able to take my
M.A. there - because I was not a Marxist, not a
postmodernist, and believed in truth and science; I
have been gassed (literally:
unconscious on the floor for hours) and have threatened with murder and
kept out of sleep for four years - also while ill all that time - because
I protested the presence of illegal drugsdealers, who
threatened to murder me, on the bottom floor of the house where I
lived, simply because these illegal drugsdealers in illegal
drugs were protected by the mayor of Amsterdam and the
municipal police of Amsterdam.
And no one even answered
any of my very well-written complaints!
Holland is very sick,
and has been made, quite intentionally also, very
sick by Dutch politicians who are no better than neo-fascists even
though they sell themselves as "New Labour". In fact, they were
narko-nazis and sado-fascists, who were only interested in
deceiving the population so as to get even richer themselves.
And yes, sometimes I am angry about this. I would not be human
if I were not:
My life and my
chances have been intentionally destroyed
by neo-nazis and sado-fascists who pretended to be from "New Labour",
but who only lived to get richer themselves by protecting illegal
drugsdealers or stealing from the university.