1. Flint’s Crisis Is About More Than Water
2. Why We Must Try
3. Rebuke Swift After
Albright Declares: 'Special Place in
Hell' for Women Who Don't Vote
4. We Are Hopelessly Hooked
Would Sanders Do? An Analysis of His Proposals
This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 8,
Crisis Is About More Than Water
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an excellent article by Chris Hedges on Flint, together with quite a few remarks of myself on stupidity,
ignorance and egoism; item 2 is about an article of Reich about why Americans must try to do more than most politicians want them to; item 3 is about Madeline Albright who will send any American woman to hell (!) if she doesn't support Hillary Clinton; item 4 is about the fact that very many seem hopelessly hooked to their smartphones; and item 5 is about the economy and Sanders' plans.
This also got a bit longer than I thought it would, but this is mainly
due to the very fine first item, which caused me to add quite a few
by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
What is in the mind of someone who
knowingly poisons children and impairs their lives? Why did the
politicians, regulators and bureaucrats who knew
the water in Flint, Mich., was toxic lie about the danger for
months? What does it say about a society that is ruled by, and refuses
to punish, those who willfully destroy the lives of children?
I do have answers, which indeed
are something like 45 years old (!)  for the
most part, and that amount to something like this:
The great majority of people are stupid,
ignorant and egoistic: They are too stupid to understand much of real
science; too uninterested to read any serious science or literature;
and they guide their lives mostly by what they see on TV.
They have totally
ideas, and effectively live in an illusory world
mostly made for them by TV. They are socially very inadequate, and live
mostly for their family, their work and their friends, together
amounting to 30 - 100 persons or so, and know little else about
any other human being except vague (but often very false) generalities.
And their moral
norms are mostly limited to the interests of themselves,
themselves, themselves, and a few others, that are nearly all family
members or friends, and otherwise they simply don't care, which
basically means that they decide about others' needs (that is, nearly
everyone) by how much it would cost themselves.
Finally, almost none of
the ignorant, stupid egoists that make up the vast majority of Western
men and women thinks of himself or herself as ignorant, stupid or
egoistic: for most the moral top of their considerations is themselves,
and their own interests, and very many also insist that absolutely no one is
better - more moral, more learned, more intelligent - than they are....
But then I clearly must be very
wrong to oppose so many excellent men and excellent
women, all of the brightest intellects, and with the greatest
values, who all just know (especially if Dutch), that everyone
- absolutely everyone - is of equal value as themselves
(so no one is any better than they are, will be or can be), and
that everyone knows that truth does not exist, even though
no one can define truth and hardly anyone knows any real science. 
Also, as I said, I am thinking something
like this for 45 years or so (at least), but indeed I am severely
handicapped by having a very high IQ, the very best
academic degrees, and a communist education by intellectually
gifted people who belonged to the very few in Holland (where there were
6 times more people who volunteered for the SS than
who went into the resistance) who did go into the real resistance . (So clearly a man with my opinions must
be extremely inferior compared to the very many millions of
excellent equals of anyone, who proudly surround me.)
Here is more Chris Hedges:
The crisis in Flint is far more ominous
than lead-contaminated water. It is symptomatic of the collapse of our
democracy. Corporate power is not held accountable for its crimes.
Everything is up for sale, including children. Our regulatory
agencies—including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan’s Department of
Environmental Quality—have been defunded, emasculated and handed over
to corporate-friendly stooges. Our corrupt courts are part of a mirage
of justice. The role of these government agencies and courts, and of
the legislatures, is to sanction abuse rather than halt it.
I agree mostly, but I should add - with my
radical background and radical opinions - that the groundwork for this
existed already in the 70ies (and that groundwork can be simplified to:
native and proudly acquired stupidity, ignorance and immoral egoism,
while simultaneously insisting that everyone is of equal value, also quite
regardless of ignorance and stupidity and immorality: all of that started in the 70ies).
Also, Chris Hedges is quite correct that
these social forces - ignorance, stupidity and immorality - have been
growing stronger and stronger over the last 35 years, and have been
very much fanned by the propagandists for the rich, who
effectively have taken over both governments and most major corporations.
And Chris Hedges is right that it is
especially profit - the single real moral value in a
very capitalist society: How much do I profit
from this? The more I profit, the better
this is - that plays a key part:
The primacy of profit throughout the
society takes precedence over life itself, including the life of the
most vulnerable. This corporate system of power knows no limits. It has
no internal restraints. It will sacrifice all of us, including our
children, on the altar of corporate greed. In a functioning judicial
system, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint’s former emergency manager,
Darnell Earley, along with all the regulatory officials who lied as a
city was being sickened, would be in jail
Indeed: If it is not profitable
for me to save some children, too bad (let them die). If
it is not profitable for me that there is no lead in
the water others drink, too bad (let them be poisoned, as long as I and
my family aren't). If it is profitable to me that
society corrupts, very good, for I profit (let them be corrupt). If it is profitable
to me that our leaders are lying degenerates, very good (let them
be degenerate and let's praise their moral excellence as Our Leaders).
I do what I can, provided it is most profitable to me:
I am a deeply moral
Unfortunately, Chris Hedges turns to
literature - Arendt, Adorno, Finkielkraut - that I have read (not all,
to be sure) but that I don't much like or admire. An exception is Primo
Levi (who survived Auschwitz):
“Monsters exist,” Levi noted, “but they
are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the
common men.” These technocrats have no real ideology, other than the
ideology that is in vogue. They want to get ahead, to rise in the
structures of power. They know how to make the collective, or the
bureaucracy, work on behalf of power. Nothing else is of importance.
“The new state did not require holy apostles, fanatic, inspired
builders, faithful devout disciples,” Vasily Grossman, in his book
“Forever Flowing, wrote of Stalin’s Soviet Union. “The new state did
not even require servants—just clerks.”
Yes, indeed: It are the common men
who keep up both the social structures and the morality by which these
work. And indeed they are not monstrous: They are just ordinary men
 who try the best they can in order to
survive, and to make at least as much as those they know.
And there is this:
We churn out millions of these
technocrats or clerks in elite universities and business schools. They
are trained to serve the system. They do not question its assumptions
and structures any more than Nazi bureaucrats questioned the
assumptions and structures of
the “Final Solution.” They manage the huge financial houses and
banks such as Goldman Sachs. They profit from endless war. They
orchestrate the fraud on Wall Street. They destroy the ecosystem on
behalf of the fossil fuel industry. They are elected to office. They
are empty shells of human beings who stripped of their power and wealth
are banal and pathetic. They are not sadists. They do not delight in
cruelty. They are cogs in the machinery of corporate power.
Yes, indeed - although I have a remark on sadism:
Most of the Amsterdam bureaucrats I've dealt with were neither
sadists nor non-sadists, for they simply didn't care at
all whether I was in pain; whether my human rights were denied;
whether I could not sleep; whether I was threatened with murder;
whether I was ill; or how I felt or thought about anything whatsoever:
I was not an important politician; I was not rich; therefore
I could not touch them, and therefore they felt free to not
care as much as they liked (and regardless
of all laws, all morality or any decency). 
There is this on the "universities" of
We have turned our universities into
temples dedicated to corporate vocational training. Most graduates of
Princeton or Harvard have no more ability to question the operating
systems of the corporate state than an inner-city boy or girl who is
taught basic functional literacy only so he or she can stock shelves or
sell fast food. We all have our place in the great machine of corporate
self-immolation. We all are drones.
First, of all this is not true of
me - but then I am one of the very, very few who tried to save the
universities as scientific institutions, and who completely
failed, simply because hardly anyone cared: it was not
profitable for them.
Otherwise, it is correct, and indeed apart from mathematics, physics,
biology, and possibly computing I see no valid study in any university
I know anything about, and also most students are not
learning any real science
anymore, but only a few bits that fit their "vocations" or that will
allow them to pretend they
are "scientists" when faced with laymen.
This is Chris Hedges' ending:
If we cannot think morally, if we
live devoid of empathy, if our advancement comes at the expense of the
other, if we lose touch with the wisdom of the past, we cannot rebel.
And if we do not rebel we will sustain a system that will ultimately
Yes indeed. And this is a strongly
recommended article: Download and save it, for much of it is simply
both too true and too bitter for many to face up to as
long as they make decent amounts of money for themselves.
It may explain you quite a few things if and when you are out
of work, as many will soon be, now that most profitable things are made
in China or India and no longer in Europe or the USA (because of deregulation, in
case you asked).
2. Why We Must Try
is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
There is more there in the same vein. I
mostly agree, though I have one remark:
of “Yes we can,” many Democrats have adopted a new slogan this election
“We shouldn’t even try.”
try for single-payer system, they say. We’ll be lucky if we prevent
from repealing Obamacare.
shouldn’t try for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The best we can do is $12
shouldn’t try to restore the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate
and commercial banking, or bust up the biggest banks. We’ll be lucky to
from repealing Dodd-Frank.
shouldn’t try for free public higher education. As it is, Republicans
are out to cut
all federal education spending.
I make a considerable
distinction between politicians of any kind (that is:
those who make money from talking to people about politics and
morals) and the rest of the population, and it is my sincere conviction
that you cannot
trust almost any politician, indeed simply because they make money from
their craft, and get power by it.
Politicians are power-hungry deceivers, virtually all of them (with a
very few exceptions, also). And in case they are saying the kinds of
things Robert Reich attributes to them (and many are), this means
effectively that they are satisfied with the amounts of money and power
Here is Robert Reich's reaction to the above and more:
I agree. Here is part of Reich's diagnosis:
I get it,
but here’s the problem. There’s no way to reform the system without
boat. There’s no way to get to where America should be without aiming
change has never happened without bold ideas championed by bold
it was quixotic to try for civil rights and voting rights. Some viewed
it as naïve
to think we could end the Vietnam War. Some said it was unrealistic to
the Environmental Protection Act.
situation we’re in now demands such mobilization. Wealth and income are
concentrated at the top than in over a century. And that wealth has
into political power.
result is an economy rigged in favor of those at the top – which
compounds wealth and power at the top, in a vicious cycle that will
worse unless reversed.
Again I agree - and I note that the
inequalities in both money and in power are now larger than they ever
were since the 1920ies.
And here is his solution or recipe:
And again I agree. And as to the "no choice":
Something like 90% of the presently gainfully employed in the West
effectively have been given up on, now that through deregulation - Bill Clinton's ideal
- it has become possible to have the very much cheaper Chinese
and Indians do nearly all of the real work for far
pay of top corporate executives continues to skyrocket, even as most
real wages drop and their job security vanishes.
is not sustainable.
We must get
big money out of our democracy, end crony capitalism, and make our
democracy work for the many, not just the few.
try. We have no choice.
You can try to keep "a service-economy" going, but with few real things
produced, it seems only a matter of time till it collapses.
Swift After Albright Declares: 'Special Place in Hell' for Women Who
Don't Vote Clinton
third item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Maybe it wasn't such a great idea for
Hillary Clinton to invite Madeleine Albright to campaign for her in New
During a campaign event in Concord on
Saturday, the former Secretary of State declared:
"Young women have to support Hillary Clinton. The story is not over!"
"They’re going to want to push us back,"
she continued. "It’s not done and you have to help. Hillary Clinton
will always be there for you. And just remember, there’s a special
place in hell for women who don’t help each other."
And while it was not the first time
that phrase, the backlash was swift and severe.
I say. Well...
First of all, it is not true that "women have to support Hillary Clinton", if only because Jill
Stein is a woman, who also competes for the presidency (and who
is a lot better than Hillary Clinton).
So Albright is a liar. Secondly, she also
appears as a sadist (and I am a psychologist):
And just remember, there’s a
special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.
Besides, this is such a case of duplicity
and lying (which are the stock in trade of almost every politician,
male or female) that she doesn't merely insist that women (in general)
should help some women (for which something can be said), but that she
insists that all (American) women must help Hillary
Clinton or be send to hell (where they will have to burn
for an eternity).
Finally, here is one tweet:
Madeline Albright helped hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi women to death in the 1990s. Special place in hell,
Yes, indeed. So she is worthy of belief
when she casts every American woman to hell who does not
vote for Hillary Clinton.
4. We Are Hopelessly Hooked
The fourth item is by Jacob Weisberg on the New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows:
I say - which I do because I really didn't know. Also, I should admit that I do not have a cellphone, never had one, and never will have one: I will not be the willing butt of degenerate spies.
“As smoking gives us something to do
with our hands when we aren’t using them, Time gives us
something to do with our minds when we aren’t thinking,” Dwight
Macdonald wrote in 1957. With smartphones, the issue never arises.
Hands and mind are continuously occupied texting, e-mailing, liking,
tweeting, watching YouTube videos, and playing Candy Crush.
Americans spend an average of five and a
half hours a day with digital media, more than half of that time on
mobile devices, according to the research firm eMarketer. Among some
groups, the numbers range much higher. In one recent survey, female
students at Baylor University reported using their cell phones an
average of ten hours a day. Three quarters of
eighteen-to- twenty-four-year-olds say that they reach for their phones
immediately upon waking up in the morning. Once out of bed, we check
our phones 221 times a day—an average of every 4.3 minutes—according to
a UK study. This number actually may be too low, since people tend to
underestimate their own mobile usage.
And there is this, which seems quite correct to me:
Our transformation into device people has
happened with unprecedented suddenness. The first touchscreen-operated
iPhones went on sale in June 2007, followed by the first
Android-powered phones the following year. Smartphones went from 10
percent to 40 percent market penetration faster than any other consumer
technology in history. In the United States, adoption hit 50 percent
only three years ago. Yet today, not carrying a smartphone
indicates eccentricity, social margin- alization, or old age.
In fact, I got fast internet only in 2009.
And indeed I am not carrying a smartphone, and am an eccentric, who is
socially marginalized through
being ill for 37 years, and who meanwhile also has reached old age.
Do I care? Yes, I am happy that I don't have a smartphone: I really do not want one.
To turn to the article. This is well done, and is a review of four
books about being hooked, and especially about being hooked to
I recommend that you read all of it, but I will only select a few brief topics I want to remark on. Here is the first one:
Turkle comments that digital media put
people in a “comfort zone,” where they believe they can share “just the
right amount” of themselves. But this feeling of control is an
illusion—a “Goldilocks fallacy.” In a romantic relationship, there is
no ideal distance to be maintained over time. As she sums up her case: “Technology
makes us forget what we know about life.
I am pretty certain it is not just technology, though I agree that is a big part of it: Surely, the points I made in item 1 - stupidity, ignorance and egoism - also play a large role. (And who will read a book on a smartphone? Almost no one.)
Then again Weisberg is also sensitive to this point, for he says:
But in the main, the Web conversation
Reagle considers suffers from tendencies similar to the ones Turkle
identifies: narcissism, disinhibition, and the failure to care about
the feelings of others. It’s a world devoid of empathy.
I prefer my terms - stupidity, ignorance and egoism - simply because they seem less technical and more appropriate, but I agree in principle.
Then there is this, that also is quite correct, and implicitly gives my reasons to
totally discard bulletin boards already in 1996, when I first got internet, and never to comment anything:
Anonymous comments are the worst, leading
to vicious mob behavior. But flamers, cyberbullies, and trolls (who all
rely on insults) ruin even identity-based, moderated conversation.
There also is another reason, next to anonymity: Democratization
- at long last even the most stupid have access to means whereby they
can multiply everything they write (etc.) all over the world, also in
an automatic visually atrractive style as well, and this never happened before.
Finally, here is the motive that binds the billions to Facebook (and other similar stuff):
What compels this level of immersion? As
Eyal writes, Facebook’s trigger is FOMO, fear of missing
Well, yes - although for me (and I am not the
only one, although this seems rather rare) there is also FOBI, especially
in regards of Facebook: fear of being in.
I really saw very little of Facebook but even the little that I
saw made me very glad that I avoid it like the plague. (And sure, not
everyone is mad or crazy there, but I am very glad not to be part of that very creepy and very sick way to find and target advertisements, which indeed is another thing I hate and despise.)
Would Sanders Do? An Analysis of His Proposals
The fifth and last item is by Gerald Friedman
(a professor of economy) on Truth-out:
This starts as follows, and is an interesting
Senator Bernie Sanders has
proposed an ambitious program of social reform, including regulatory
changes to raise wages and protect workers' rights, progressive tax
reforms, and universal health insurance (Improved Medicare for All).
Taken together, these policies would not only dramatically increase
employment and national income, but would also raise wages, reduce
poverty, and narrow the gap between rich and poor Americans.
I will restrict myself to mentioning the five
topics Friedman treats, with data and graphics, and all without any
critical word, and will leave the rest to your interests:
This is a recommended article.
- The Sanders program will end
- Faster growth,
pro-worker regulation, and universal health insurance would all help
push wages up.
- Taxes on the
wealthy would pay for widely shared benefits.
- The Sanders program
would dramatically bring down poverty.
regulatory and tax programs would sharply reduce inequality.
very probably will disappoint you, but then I have to admit that my
parents were communists, my grandparents were anarchists or communists,
while I am a scientist mostly because I have a very high IQ and could
and did think and read for myself.
Alternatively - of course! - my parents (both in
the resistance against the Nazis) were traitors (as communists), as
were my grandparents, and I am very arrogant, totally misguided and
really quite inferior. (The alternatives are what the great
majority of my fellow Dutchmen think).
 Of course! What
is the relevance of someone like me, with the best M.A. and an
IQ over 150 in a democracy where the great majority, including most
"academically educated" these days have IQs of 115 maximally?
(This is a real question. My own answer since 1980 is this:
Clearly, I am inferior to everybody who is normal in Holland - I will not
be listened to, not be answered, and not be taken
seriously. And for me, the only reason that I stay in Holland
is that I am too ill and too poor to leave, since 1980.)
 The numbers are quite real. Holland is
also the country where more than 100,000 people with a Jewish
background were murdered in WW II, thanks to the help of many Dutchmen
and some rich Jews.
As to the real resistance: The whole Dutch communist party went
into resistance from May 15, 1940 (ten days after the outbreak of the
war in Holland), indeed well before the Soviet Union was attacked. This
was the real resistance, together with some groups of
Much of the rest of the resistance - keeping a radio, spreading illegal
pamphlets etc. - was less real, because not armed, not oriented towards
helping Jews, and less organized. It too was dangerous, but less
dangerous than being a communist in Nazi-occupied Holland.
 I put in the bracketed parts because I
did not want to have to make a note that I was speaking ironically...
 In case you missed the reference to
ordinary men, here is a bit of it (and no, I am not an ordinary
man, and neither were my parents or grandparents):
ordinay men: Here are some human all too human weaknesses that -
especially but not only - ordinary men easily fall prone to
- Ordinary men
- engage mostly
in wishful thinking (so as
keep themselves "happy")
- are ruled by
- do not know
science, logic, mathematics or philosophy
- do not do unto
others as one would not
be done by only within one's group
- are role-players who
play by wishful
thinking, make-believe - "The quality or act of pretending;
assuming something is true when in fact one knows it is not" (wiki
dictionary) - and pretension
normally do not step out of their roles out of self-interest
and because of
- are collaborators:
They mostly do as they
are told by leaders
- are followers, of fashions
and leaders of
all kinds, usually
because it is the fashion and they are conformists
- are levellers:
only ones who excel are the leaders of the group and what the media
display as excellent
- believe truth coincides
with their interests and
prejudices, especially as regards things that involve their or their
groups' supposed interests
- personalize or
animate everything: all manner of abstractions - nations, corporations,
groups, the people - are supposed to will and feel
- do not reason
terms of quantified
like "Some", "most" are carefully avoided often to infer all from some
without mentioning either: ("Women are emotional", "Germans are no
- cannot reason
abstractly on any high level
- make all
manners of fallacies
ambiguity and begging the question
- are not
individuals with their own ideas and values intentionally gathererd by
their own life's practice
Rummel's statistics, is this:
live in a world in which war and racism are ubiquitous, in which the
powers of government mobilization and legitimization are powerful and
increasing, in which a sense of personal responsibility is increasingly
attenuated by specialization and bureaucratization, and in which
peer-group exerts tremendous pressures on behavior and sets moral
norms. In such a world, I fear, modern governments that wish to commit
mass murder will seldom fail in their efforts for being unable to
men" to become their
"willing executioners." " (Christopher
Browning, "Ordinary men", p. 222-3)
 I have had very
much to do with Amsterdam bureacrats because Mayor Van Thijn decided to
give his personal permission to two of his good friends to deal illegal
drugs (in fact: both soft drugs and hard drugs, in the late 1980ies)
from the bottom floor of the house where I lived, as if this
were legal in Amsterdam or Holland, which it never was or is.
I learned that absolutely no one of the bureaucrats wanted to do anything
for me - who was gassed (literally) and five times
threatened with murder and who was kept out of sleep for 3 1/2
years: No Dutch bureaucrat or politician ever
cared, not even enough to confirm the receipt of my letters or mails.
My conclusion is that the mayor and his lawyers - very, very,
VERY probably - worked for the illegal drugsdealers, for a share in the
profits. I have no valid legal proof of this (so you don't
need to kill me, as did happen to many others in Amsterdam)
other than asking for something like 10 years for protection
or for replies to my many very clear letters and mails, which I
As to the profits: The amount of money that was turned over merely
in soft drugs - marijuana and hashish - in the 1990ies was around 10
billion euros each and every
year. If hard drugs are added, the amounts triple or quadruple.
If the mayor and his friends received a 1/1000th part of the turnover,
then they (would) have received 250 million euros in 25 years (merely
for soft drugs) which is an amount of money by which you can buy very
many Dutchmen and remain very rich on the rest.
Again, I am not saying they did, for I don't know (in good part because
all these things have been successfully kept secret for more than 25
years now). But being completely neglected for 4 years in which I might
have been murdered or
(again) gassed, and never slept enough incline me strongly to believing that
the masters of Amsterdam served themselves rather than the people they are
supposed to serve.
And yes, everything that is there that relates to illegal drugs (all drugs are illegal
in Holland, in spite of hundreds of coffeeshops that sell them, all with "personal permission" from the mayor) seems
to be in place to keep everything as secret and uncontrollable as
Finally, for those who read Dutch: The full story is in ME in Amsterdam.