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Nederlog

Sep 13, 2016

Crisis: Bill Moyers, Secret Stingrays, Corporate Wealth, Facebook & Israel
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Bill Moyers: How to Save Democracy From the
     Plutocrats

2. Secret Stingray Manuals Reveal How Spying Tools
     Leave 'No Place to Hide'

3. 'Be Afraid': Largest Corporations Wealthier Than Most
     Countries

4.
Facebook Is Collaborating With the Israeli
     Government to Determine What Should Be Censored
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, September 13, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is an important article by Bill Moyers (to which I pay considerable attention, and with which I don't all agree); item 2 is about stingrays: none of your communications or writings or sayings on any computer or cellphone connected to the internet is safe (i.e. the police or the secret services may know absolutely everything about you, while you don't even know anything was stolen); item 3 is about the enormous wealth of the multinationals, who are trying to own everything and everyone, including all laws, and may well succeed because the vast majorities of American and European politicians have been grossly and willingly corrupt for 35 years, and deregulated everything for the exclusive benefit of the rich and the politicians who help them; and item 4 is about Facebook's attempts to control and falsify history, and its collaborations with the Israeli government.

Also, I have decided that most of my site has been corrected now. Here is the link to Rewriting my site, that shows I have reformatted "everything", although there is still some to do in five directories. Most of that will be done in September, though the Multatuli section (one of the oldest and longest sections on my site) probably will last longer. [0]

And in case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click twice to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer. (But it didn't do so before. And as to asking my provider: I am sorry, but most of the things they told me the last nearly twenty years (!!) were lies. I've given up on them, and I only am there because (i) I was there nearly 20 years, and because (ii) the competition in Holland probably is equally bad.)

1. Bill Moyers: How to Save Democracy From the Plutocrats

The first item today is by Bill Moyers (<- Wikipedia) on AlterNet (and on several other places on the internet):
I started this with a Wikipedia link to Bill Moyers, who is now 82 years old.

And I would guess that most intelligent people of my age (middle sixties) know who he is, if only because he was Lyndon Johnson's press secretary. I don't know whether he would be as widely known by people half my age (born around 1983, say), if only because I don't know what these people know, since subjects like history, that everybody got who is my age, seemed to have been scrapped as subjects everybody has to know (which means that many of today's twenty-year olds have no idea who was Jack Kennedy or Mao Tse Tung).

In any case: Moyers had a long career as a public broadcaster; he got many awards and honorary degrees for that work; and he is also one of the prominent critics "of the corporately structured U.S. news media
" and indeed
also of what I shall call corporate America (in this review [1]).

And it is as a critic of corporate America, who originally was quite in the middle of the road, that I am analyzing this important article, that I like and do agree with as important, simply because much of what he says is sensible and is not based on radical political values, though it is a rather thorough ciriticism of corporate America, but I also must disagree with a number of points (in ways that may not be agreeable to some of my readers [2]).

Here goes - and I quote from this long and good article in the order it was published, and will only quote a relatively small bit, which itself happens to quote quite a few.

This is a general presumption of Bill Moyers:
In one way or another, this is the oldest story in our country’s history: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a metaphysical reality -- one nation, indivisible -- or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.
He is mostly right and he is also a bit wrong, and he is a bit wrong (I think) in making democracy - defined as: governors elected by the majority of the people, in a fair way that is independent of wealth and income [3] - much too dependent on metaphysics.

I agree with Moyers' desire for a democratic society (as defined by me) but (as a philosopher also) I think you should keep metaphysics out of it, while also counting fairness, honesty and independence of wealth and income as essential to a real democracy.

And I will later apply some of this. Here is first more Moyers, who explains his point of view in terms of America's founding fathers (although these were not
democrats in any modern sense):
It’s spelled out right there in the 52 most revolutionary words in our founding documents, the preamble to our Constitution, proclaiming the sovereignty of the people as the moral base of government:  

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

What do those words mean, if not that we are all in the business of nation-building together?

Yes, but "We the People" seems to me to be too vague, although it rightly stresses that every sane adult should have some voice in determining who are to be his or her governors and government (in various ways also: on a federal level, a state level, and a city level), and also on what there plans and policies are to be (if elected).

It is too vague, because this giving and getting the voices and votes from "We the People", if it is to be honest and somehow effective in assuring that every sane adult has some voice about his governors and their plans for the society in which he or she lives, then the voting must be fair; the information "We the People" get must be honest and sufficient; and the weight of the individual votes in determining who are to be governors must be independent of the wealth and the power these individuals do have.

None of this involves that the individuals who vote are equals in wealth, in power, in intelligence or in knowledge. But the above rules are about the minimum guarantee that every sane adult who does vote has some influence, that also is not twisted into his or her personal (dis)advantage by an undue influence of his personal riches or power.

It is precisely in these respects - fairness, honest and adequate information about one's possible choices, and voters' influence that is independent of voters' wealth or power - that the current USA is sorely lacking: Elections are not fair; people do not get sufficient honest information; and personal wealth and power have far more influence on governmental power than is fair, or is tenable in a real democracy.

But then Moyers introduces someone who in fact asked far more than fairness, honest and adequate information, and voters' influence that is independent of voters' wealth or power, namely Walt Whitman (<- Wikipedia):

American democracy grew a soul, as it were -- given voice by one of our greatest poets, Walt Whitman, with his all-inclusive embrace in Song of Myself:

“Whoever degrades another degrades me,
and whatever is done or said returns at last to
     me...
I speak the pass-word primeval -- I give the
     sign of democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms...
(I am large -- I contain multitudes.)”

I think that is a mistake. I like Whitman, but he was a mystic and a poet, and I do not think that it is fair to "accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms...", for the simple reason that there are very many human talents, of which no man has more than two in an extreme fashion [4], and it is totally impossible for everyone to be everyone's equal in all talents, all tastes, or all appreciations.

That is: If you are living in a real democracy, you must accept that each individual person is not the equal of any other individual person, but precisely for that reason you insist on equal rights for all:

He may be far more or far less intelligent than you are; she may be far richer or far more poor than you are; he may be far more or far less strong than you are; she may be far more or far less pretty than you are - but all must have equal rights if the majority wants to make it probable that all have some influence about who governs them and what his or her ideals and values are to be.

And equal rights in no way implies that those who are for equal rights also believe all are equals, nor does it in any way apply that those who favor equal rights also should love or like most: One cannot force emotions like love or liking, and one should not try to do so by law or rule.

Next, here is Barry Goldwater quoted, and in fact he is mostly right (I think):

“The fact that liberty depended on honest elections was of the utmost importance to the patriots who founded our nation and wrote the Constitution.  They knew that corruption destroyed the prime requisite of constitutional liberty: an independent legislature free from any influence other than that of the people.  Applying these principles to modern times, we can make the following conclusions: To be successful, representative government assumes that elections will be controlled by the citizenry at large, not by those who give the most money. Electors must believe that their vote counts.  Elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people, not to their own wealth or to the wealth of interest groups that speak only for the selfish fringes of the whole community.”

I agree with everything except that I do not think that it is merely required that "[e]lectors must believe that their vote counts", for the simple reason that electors may be misled, deceived, deluded, misinformed and manipulated in many possible ways that do give them the belief that their vote counts, when in fact it doesn't.

Electors must know that their vote counts, which means that they must have good and credible reasons that the voting must be fair; that the inform- ation "We the People" get must be honest and sufficient; and that the weight of the individual votes in determining who are to be governors must be independent of the wealth and the power these individuals do have.

And these days each of these three conditions does not apply at all in the USA.

Here is Gordon Gekko (<- Wikipedia) quoted about what does apply in the current USA:

“The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars… You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip.  We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it.  Now, you’re not naïve enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you, Buddy?  It’s the free market. And you’re part of it.”

You may believe that Gordon Gekko merely is the character in a film. You can more or less validly downplay Gekko's words, but then there are statistical facts like these:

When I was a young man in Washington in the 1960s, most of the country’s growth accrued to the bottom 90% of households.  From the end of World War II until the early 1970s, in fact, income grew at a slightly faster rate at the bottom and middle of American society than at the top.  In 2009, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez explored decades of tax data and found that from 1950 through 1980 the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans had grown, from $ 17,719 to $ 30,941.  That represented a 75% increase in 2008 dollars.

Since 1980, the economy has continued to grow impressively, but most of the benefits have migrated to the top.  In these years, workers were more productive but received less of the wealth they were helping to create. In the late 1970s, the richest 1% received 9% of total income and held 19% of the nation’s wealth. The share of total income going to that 1% would then rise to more than 23% by 2007, while their share of total wealth would grow to 35%. And that was all before the economic meltdown of 2007-2008.

The main if not the only reason for that is that nearly all elected politicians (in the USA, but also in Europe) have sold out to the rich, and have supported (and supported and supported) deregulation after deregulation after deregulation, each of which gave the rich more power and higher incomes, which also were systematically taken from the non-rich.

Here is more on the same:

The Pew Research Center recently released a new study indicating that, between 2000 and 2014, the middle class shrank in virtually all parts of the country.  Nine out of ten metropolitan areas showed a decline in middle-class neighborhoods. And remember, we aren’t even talking about over 45 million people who are living in poverty.  Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2013, that top 1% captured 85% percent of all income growth.  Even after the economy improved in 2015, they still took in more than half of the income growth and by 2013 held nearly half of all the stock and mutual fund assets Americans owned.

Next, here is Terry Eagleton quoted:

”Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality?... Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it... plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality?”

To answer merely the last question: I don't think so. What generates deprivaton and inequality is not "capitalism" (which anyway is not very
specific or precise) but are accepted legal and moral rules that make people more unequal, more deprived, less informed, less free and more dependent
- as indeed should also be quite clear if you compare the rules and regulations of capitalism in the 1950ies and 1960s, and the same from the 1980s on.

The latter are far more unfair than the former, and the explanation is again that
nearly all elected politicians (in the USA, but also in Europe) have sold out to the rich, and have supported (and supported and supported) deregulation after deregulation after deregulation, each of which gave the rich more power and higher incomes, which also were systematically taken from the non-rich. (Yes, I know this is a repeat. It also is important, I think.)

And here is Supreme Court Judge Brandeis quoted:

“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Of course the rich can buy more homes, cars, vacations, gadgets, and gizmos than anyone else, but they should not be able to buy more democracy. That they can and do is a despicable blot on American politics that is now spreading like a giant oil spill.

I agree with Brandeis - which also means that I can distinguish at least three distinct responses to the problems of inequality and great wealth concentrated in the hands of very few:

(1) you agree with the current system of unbridled deregulated capitalism that - in the end - will try to transport all wealth to the very few very rich, or (2) you agree with the previous system of bridled, regulated capitalism of the 1950ies and 1960ies (including high taxations for the rich, and something like a fairish sharing), or (3) you agree capitalism itself should be removed and replaced (which will take a revolution), and be remade into something like socialism, in which nobody can earn more than - say - twenty times as much as the poorest, while the poorest have sufficient money to live decently. [5]

I merely listed three distinct possibilities. Here is a bit about how difficult life has become for many in the current USA, that is ruled by plan (1):

People reported that they are working harder for financial security.  One quarter of the respondents had not taken a vacation in more than five years.  Seventy-one percent said that they are afraid of unexpected medical bills; 53% feared not being able to make a mortgage payment; and, among renters, 60% worried that they might not make the monthly rent.

In fact, all of them have it worse than I have it now, which is because they are living in the very unequal USA, while I am living in the - so far - less unequal European Union (which is rapidly changed into the current USA system by its leading utterly corrupt politicians, who sell out everything and everyone because it will leave them rich - precisely as has happened in the USA since 1980).

Here is G.K. Chesterton quoted (from long ago, but still applicable):

As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, “In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of the doctrine of the equality of men.  But the capitalist really depends on some religion of inequality.” Exactly.  In our case, a religion of invention, not revelation, politically engineered over the last 40 years. Yes, politically engineered.

Yes, and Moyers is quite right that the present "religion of inequality" that rules the USA has been "politically engineered", and indeed I can point to both the man and his work who started that (I think, and many others do): Lewis Powell Jr and his  "Powell Memorandum" of 1971.

And this is what happened since 1979/1980 (with Thatcher and Reagan elected) - and "they" are Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, who investigated how and why the few rich got a lot richer since 1980 while the many non-rich all got a lot poorer from 1980 onwards:

With convincing documentation they concluded, “Step by step and debate by debate, America’s public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many.”There you have it: the winners bought off the gatekeepers, then gamed the system.  And when the fix was in they turned our economy into a feast for the predators, “saddling Americans with greater debt, tearing new holes in the safety net, and imposing broad financial risks on Americans as workers, investors, and taxpayers.”

This is what I think has happened over the past 36 years, and is also probably the most important conclusion of the article:

The rich have corrupted the majority of the elected politicians; the majority of the elected politicians - left, right and center - have purposely betrayed the interests of the many that elected them, and sold out to the few rich for a share of their own.

More specifically, and back to the "Powell Memorandum":

In the 1970s, Big Business began to refine its ability to act as a class and gang up on Congress.  Even before the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, political action committees deluged politics with dollars. Foundations, corporations, and rich individuals funded think tanks that churned out study after study with results skewed to their ideology and interests.

And not only that. At the same time they tried to transform the whole ideology of capitalism, and mostly succeeded, also with the help of Ayn Rand and other egoists who sold their greed as moral and good to the public:

The greed of the Gordon Gekkos -- once considered a vice -- was transformed into a virtue.  One of the high priests of this faith, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, looking in wonder on all that his company had wrought, pronounced it “God’s work.”

Mr Blankfein, in case you doubted it, is an extremely rich person who personally profited enormously (at the costs of the many).

There is this on American democracy:

A plethora of studies conclude that America’s political system has already been transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy (the rule of a wealthy elite).

I think that simply is correct, and it exists for thirty years now, or so, though it stilll grows worse and worse (from the point of view of a democrat).

Finally, there is this by Bill Moyers, who also is a Master of Divinity (I take it in roughly the same sense as my being a Master of Psychology) and who was ordained as a minister in 1954:

I realize that the command to love our neighbor is one of the hardest of all religious concepts, but I also recognize that our connection to others goes to the core of life’s mystery and to the survival of democracy.

I have to disagree with this bit, indeed for similar reasons as I rejected Whitman's teachings: No one should be required to love all, or even to like
all, for emotions should not be forced by law or moral regulation.

All should have equal rights, but that should be sufficient, in a real democracy. Universal love or universal friendship are quite unnecessary: what are required are real equal rights (plus perhaps a legal regulation that forbids individuals or groups of them to get excessively rich).

But there are no real equal rights in the USA; democracy has been mostly killed; the leading politicians all are very rich people trying to please various segments of the rich; and the resulting inequalities in the USA are the worst since nearly 100 years.

This is also why the article by Bill Moyers is good and important. There is a great lot more in it than I've quoted, and it is strongly recommended, even
though I don't agree with all.

2. Secret Stingray Manuals Reveal How Spying Tools Leave 'No Place to Hide'

The second item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

The technology manufacturing company Harris Corporation has fought to keep the public from knowing about how its surveillance devices work—specifically, the controversial cell phone spying tools known as Stingrays—but The Intercept on Monday published about 200 pages of Harris Corp. instruction manuals detailing how to build and use them.

Harris has argued that releasing information about Stingrays could help criminals. But privacy activists and the general public say the devices threaten "civil liberties, communications infrastructure, and potentially national security," especially as wireless capability extends more and more into our personal lives, The Intercept's Sam Biddle explains.

He writes:

The documents also make clear just how easy it is to execute a bulk surveillance regime from the trunk of a car: A Gemini "Quick Start Guide," which runs to 54 pages, contains an entire chapter on logging, which "enables the user to listen and log over the air messages that are being transmitted between the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) and the Mobile Subscriber (MS)." It's not clear exactly what sort of metadata or content would be captured in such logging. The "user" here, of course, is a police officer.

[....] In order to maintain an uninterrupted connection to a target's phone, the Harris software also offers the option of intentionally degrading (or "redirecting") someone’s phone onto an inferior network, for example, knocking a connection from LTE to 2G[.]

In other words: Harris Corp. takes care - in secret, though that has been broken in this case - that the police and the secret services know or can find out absolutely everything about absolutely anyone with some internet connection, while "the people" are its victims, whose rights on privacy and free uncensored and unread mails and posts are systematically destroyed and denied.

In fact, this means that nearly everyone will be as the slaves of those who - totally illegally, but with the blessings of both the current Supreme Court and the current government - control the communications of everyone by simply stealing them:

"As more of our infrastructure, homes, environment, and transportation are connected wirelessly to the internet, such technologies really do pose a massive risk to public safety and security," Tynan said. "There really isn't any place for innocent people to hide from a device such as this."

Stingrays operate by simulating cell phone towers, which tricks nearby phones into connecting with them, allowing police and other law enforcement agencies to monitor incoming and outgoing calls and texts and other communications. They also have the capability to interfere with communications, which can be dangerous in cases of emergency calls.
The USA is very rapidly transforming itself into a police state. (And no: I do not know how one can defend oneself against either stingrays or the powers
of the police or the secret services that are allowed to steal anything that connects to the internet from anyone.)

3. 'Be Afraid': Largest Corporations Wealthier Than Most Countries

The third item is by Nika Knight on Common Dreams:
This should be read in combination with my "Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis" (that goes back to 2012: the linked version is from 2014):
Corporations are running the world, according to new figures released Monday from the U.K.-based Global Justice Now.

The economic and social justice advocacy group discovered (spreadsheet) that the ten largest corporations are wealthier than most countries in the world combined.

"Today, of the 100 wealthiest economic entities in the world, 69 are now corporations and only 31 countries," wrote Global Justice Now campaigns and policy officer Aisha Dodwell. "This is up from 63 to 37 a year ago. At this rate, within a generation we will be living in a world entirely dominated by giant corporations."

Indeed, multinational behemoths Shell, Apple, and Walmart each rake in more revenue than the world's 180 "poorest" countries—a list that includes Ireland, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Vietnam, and Colombia—combined.

This is probably also the real financial reason behind the enormous growth of inequality and power of the multi-national corporations, that has been created,
fundamentally through corruption, it seems to me, in the present USA.

The multi-national corporations are intended to get all powers, including most power over the taxes that most pay, namely by switching off most of the existing legal systems, and switching on the "legal" systems that allow multi-national corporations to attack all governments whose laws threaten to diminish their expected profits in special "courts" to which no one but states and multi-national corporations have access, and that award
punishments of billions in tax money to the inhabitants of nations whose democratic choices have somehow hurt the expected profits of the multi- nationals.

Here is one financial reason why (the multi-nationals can buy virtually anyone):

And the top ten largest companies have a whopping combined value of $2.9 trillion, which is larger than China's economy.

Walmart, the biggest corporate entity in the world, is valued at over $482 billion, which makes it wealthier than Spain, Australia, and the Netherlands, individually.

"The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world's problems—like inequality and climate change," said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. "The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. These figures show the problem is getting worse."

Here is what the multinationals count on:

"As multinationals increasingly dominate areas traditionally considered the primary domain of the state, we should be afraid," Dodwell continued:

While they privatize everything from education and health to border controls and prisons, they stash their profits away in secret offshore accounts. And while they have unrivaled access to decision makers they avoid democratic processes by setting up secret courts enabling them to bypass all judicial systems applicable to people. Meanwhile their raison d'etre of perpetual growth in a finite world is causing environmental destruction and driving climate change.
Again, the underlying reason is not that "this is the way things must happen"; the underlying reason is the enormous corruptions of the vast majority of all politicians who were elected since around 1980: They nearly all betrayed those who elected them, because this was rewarded by riches or rewards for the politicians. [6]

4. Facebook Is Collaborating With the Israeli Government to Determine What Should Be Censored

The fourth item is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Last week, a major censorship controversy erupted when Facebook began deleting all posts containing the iconic photograph of the Vietnamese “Napalm Girl” on the ground that it violated the company’s ban on “child nudity.” Facebook even deleted a post from the prime minister of Norway, who posted the photograph in protest of the censorship. As outrage spread, Facebook ultimately reversed itself — acknowledging “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time” — but this episode illustrated many of the dangers I’ve previously highlighted in having private tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google become the arbiters of what we can and cannot see.
Yes indeed, and I don't use Facebook, Twitter or Google, indeed apart from Youtube: In fact I think these are forces for a kind of neofascism of the rich.

And incidentally, about Facebook's presently claiming about this image that "
the history and global importance of this image" (!!!) "in documenting a particular moment in time" seems to imply that Facebook does claim the right to falsify history in any way they think fit, provided only there are not too many prominent individuals who protest.

The idea that falsification of history is totalitarian did not pass their minds, or at least: They act as if it did not pass their minds.

And indeed here is Facebook now involved in the typical sort of thing Facebook's owners seem to love to interfere in:
Having just resolved that censorship effort, Facebook seems to be vigorously courting another. The Associated Press reports today from Jerusalem that “the Israeli government and Facebook have agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network.” These meetings are taking place “as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence.” In other words, Israel is about to legislatively force Facebook to censor content deemed by Israeli officials to be improper, and Facebook appears eager to appease those threats by working directly with the Israeli government to determine what content should be censored.
To repeat: "Israel is about to legislatively force Facebook to censor content deemed by Israeli officials to be improper, and Facebook appears eager to appease those threats by working directly with the Israeli government".

This might also be put in an other way: Facebook embraces Israel's government and gladly agrees to censor content deemed improper by Israeli officials.

I don't know, but indeed I see no reason whatsoever to trust Facebook's owners or to believe that they are decent persons.

And there is this by Glenn Greenwald, which is the last bit I'll quote from this article:
All of this underscores the severe dangers of having our public discourse overtaken, regulated, and controlled by a tiny number of unaccountable tech giants. I suppose some people are comforted by the idea that benevolent Facebook executives like Mark Zuckerberg are going to protect us all from “hate speech” and “incitement,” but — like “terrorism” — neither of those terms have any fixed meanings, are entirely malleable, and are highly subject to manipulation for propagandistic ends. Do you trust Facebook — or the Israeli government — to assess when a Palestinian’s post against Israeli occupation and aggression passes over into censorship-worthy “hate speech” or “incitement”?
I don't think Zuckerberg is decent or "benevolent"; I think it is an extremely bad plan; but I also think that, in the main at least, "public discourse" has been "overtaken, regulated, and" is now "controlled by a tiny number of unaccountable tech giants".

And while I am much against this, I do not see how I can prevent this.

Also, this is a recommended article, in which there is a lot more than I quoted.
---------------
Notes

[0] Incidentally: I do want to keep my sites to look reasonable on the monitors (and computers and OSs) that I use, and I am trying to do so for
the new monitor I have, but I gave up (by 2012) trying to please everyone:

I do take care it works well on Firefox, on Ubuntu, on a normal sized squarish monitor, but I will not check anymore how my site is displayed on other monitors, other OSs and other screens: Too much work for my health. (I guess it works on most systems, since it is html that ought to work the same everywhere, but I lack the health to check and repair.)

[1] One reference in which I call the corporate Americans otherwise is here:
Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis. This also is recommended reading (but it seems not to be easy).

[2] I am a real Leftist, but this also means that - indeed for me since 1980 or so, when I also did student-politics in the University of Amsterdam - I differ in several respects from modern "leftists" (whom I put between quotes because many of them are not leftists if I am a leftist). Here are two:

First, I do not believe and never did believe in "the equality of all men" (including women, if you like). Indeed, neither did my communist and very courageous parents, nor my anarchist grandparents. And in the end the supposed "equality" of "all men" (including you, me, Einstein, and Hitler) is based on major intellectual and moral confusions between the - utterly false - "equality of all" and the - ethically correct - demand that all people, whether or not they are "equals" in some sense, do get, in ordinary social practice and laws, "equal rights". And I am in favor of equal rights because I disbelieve in the equality of all.

Second, I also do not believe and never did believe in the importance of human emotions like love ("we all should love our neighbors like ourselves") or friendship ("we all should like our neighbors like ourselves"). Again,
neither did my communist and very courageous parents, nor my anarchist grandparents. And what we need again is not a - totally irrealistic - demand to love or like all or most, but real equal rights of everyone, indeed quite independently from whether someone likes them or not.

[3] Indeed, I think all three criterions -
governors (leaders of most kinds) who are elected by the majority of the people, in a fair way that is independent of wealth and income - are necessary to define a minimal sense of real democracy. (Thus, a democracy that merely consists of majorities, apart from fairness - that includes being sufficiently well informed - and independence of wealth and income, is not a real democracy in my sense.)

[4] That is, I believe that for almost anything that any man (or woman) can do, there are other men or women who can do the same thing better; I believe there are many human talents all men may have, but few men (and women) have one such talent in a fairly extreme fashion; and I believe there is hardly anyone who has or had two such talents in a fairly extreme fashion (and indeed there are only two men I can name for whom this definitely holds: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo).

And again I am fairly certain that my parents and grandparents (all of whom were quite intelligent) thought the same.

[5] For more about the third sense, see my
On Socialism from September of 2015.

[6] I think that
the enormous corruptions of the vast majority of all politicians who were elected since around 1980 were quite important for the ever growing inequalities since 1980, which is one reason why I am quite satisfied that I refused to partake in any national or city elections from 1970 onwards: I will not vote for people whose only talent that I can see is to lie horribly to those voting for them, and I haven't done so all my adult life (45 years now).

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