from November 12, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:
I have been
writing about the crisis since September
1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) and about
the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and
by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will
continue with it.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from November 12, 2018:
1. Be Afraid of Economic ‘Bigness.’ Be Very Afraid.
The items 1 - 5 are today's
selections from the 35 sites that I look at
every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
2. This Country Is on Track to Be Run by Billionaires' Kids
3. Brennan and Clapper Should Not Escape Prosecution
4. The Fight for Net Neutrality Heats Up as Democrats Take the
5. Millions in Masked Money Was Funneled Into the 2018
Afraid of Economic ‘Bigness.’ Be Very Afraid.
This article is by Tim Wu on
The New York Times. It starts as follows:
the aftermath of the Second World War, an urgent question presented
itself: How can we prevent the rise of fascism from happening again? If
over the years that question became one of mostly historical interest,
it has again become pressing, with the growing success of populist,
nationalist and even neofascist movements all around the world.
answers to the question stress the importance of a free press, the rule
of law, stable government, robust civic institutions and common
decency. But as undoubtedly important as these factors are, we too
often overlook something else: the threat to democracy posed by
monopoly and excessive corporate concentration — what the Supreme Court
justice Louis Brandeis called the “curse of bigness.” We must not
forget the economic origins of fascism, lest we risk repeating the most
calamitous error of the 20th century.
I think I should also add on a personal note - having a
father and a grandfather who were sent to German concentration camps in
1941 for resisting the Nazis - that in fact, while I am
interested in fascism
I have not seen much debate on the "urgent question [that] presented
itself: How can we prevent the rise of fascism from happening again?", but I grant that this debate may
have been held in academic circles that I did not read. Then again: Definitely
not in the Dutch mainstream/corporatist media.
Here is more:
observers like Senator Harley M. Kilgore of West Virginia argued that
the German economic structure, which was dominated by monopolies and
cartels, was essential to Hitler’s consolidation of power. Germany at
the time, Mr. Kilgore explained, “built up a great series of industrial
monopolies in steel, rubber, coal and other materials. The monopolies
soon got control of Germany, brought Hitler to power and forced
virtually the whole world into war.”
suggest that any one cause accounted for the rise of fascism goes too
far, for the Great Depression, anti-Semitism, the fear of communism and
weak political institutions were also to blame. But as writers like
Diarmuid Jeffreys and Daniel Crane have detailed, extreme economic
concentration does create conditions ripe for dictatorship.
Yes, I agree again - and make the same
qualification as I made under the previous quotation.
Here is more:
is a story that should sound uncomfortably familiar: An economic crisis
yields widespread economic suffering, feeding an appetite for a
nationalistic and extremist leader. The leader rides to power promising
a return to national greatness, deliverance from economic suffering and
the defeat of enemies foreign and domestic (including big business).
Yet in reality, the leader seeks alliances with large enterprises and
the great monopolies, so long as they obey him, for each has something
the other wants: He gets their loyalty, and they avoid democratic
are many differences between the situation in 1930s and our predicament
today. But given what we know, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that
we are conducting a dangerous economic and political experiment: We
have chosen to weaken the laws — the antitrust laws — that are meant to
resist the concentration of economic power in the United States and
around the world.
I completely agree, and I also think this is an
Here is more:
recent years, we have allowed unhealthy consolidations of hospitals and
the pharmaceutical industry; accepted an extraordinarily concentrated
banking industry, despite its repeated misfeasance; failed to prevent
firms like Facebook from buying up their most effective competitors;
allowed AT&T to reconsolidate after a well-deserved breakup in the
1980s; and the list goes on. Over the last two decades, more than 75
percent of United States industries have experienced an
increase in concentration, while United States public markets have
lost almost 50 percent of their publicly traded firms.
There is a direct link between
concentration and the distortion of democratic process. As any
undergraduate political science major could tell you, the more
concentrated an industry — the fewer members it has — the easier it is
to cooperate to achieve its political goals.
Yes indeed. And this is a strongly recommended
Country Is on Track to Be Run by Billionaires' Kids
This article is by
Josh Hoxie on Truthdig and originally on OtherWords. It starts as
This year’s stock market
saw high returns for month after month, as retirees and stock runners
alike saw their portfolios rise. Then one day this fall, the market
took a turn, and all of the increases of the past several months
That’s how it goes for the
market. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down.
For the three wealthiest
families in the country, however, the market only ever shoots skyward.
The Waltons of Wal-Mart, the Kochs of Koch Industries, and the Mars of
Mars chocolate own a combined $348.7 billion. Since 1982, their wealth
has skyrocketed nearly 6,000 percent.
None of the living members
of these families founded the companies from which their fortunes come
— all were started by earlier generations.
In fact, more than a third
of the Forbes 400 inherited the businesses that
generated their wealth. These modern wealth dynasties exercise
significant economic power in our current gilded age of extreme
Yes indeed (and
remember that Reagan became president in 1980).
I think I should add a personal note, which is more extensively
explained in my Crisis: On Socialism, that my own remedy against
2500 years of profiting by the few from the many, which
Orwell's definition of socialism, is to legally prevent anyone
from owning or earning more than 20 times as much (Orwell: 10
times) as the poorest in society, who also should have a decent life.
I am also quite aware
this is a radical proposal, but it has never been
tried, while almost every other aspect of human behavior has been -
somehow - subjected to laws, and I think at
least this one socialist proposal should be tried, after 2500 years of profiting by the few
Back to the article:
A new report I co-authored
with my colleague Chuck Collins at the Institute for Policy
Bonanza 2018, looks at the rise of these wealth dynasties. The Forbes
400 combined own $2.89 trillion, we found. That’s more than
the combined wealth of the bottom 64 percent of the United States.
The median family in the
United States owns just over $80,000 in household wealth. The richest
person in the United States (and the world), Jeff Bezos, has
accumulated a fortune nearly 2 million times that amount.
Quite so - which
my eyes, at least) not only very dangerous (because Bezos is
with extremely much more power than almost anybody else only because of
his wealth) but also quite ridiculous: Absolutely no one,
talented, is 2 million times as much talented as anybody else.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Wealth is concentrating
into fewer and fewer hands while the rest of the country struggles to
get by. One in five families has zero or negative wealth. Two in five
Americans couldn’t come up with $400 if they needed it in an emergency.
Previous generations tried
to warn us about economic inequality. Former President Teddy Roosevelt
said in 1913, “Of all forms of tyranny, the least attractive and the
most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of a plutocracy.”
A generation later, Supreme
Court Justice Louis Brandeis warned in 1941, “We must make our choice.
We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands
of a few, but we can’t have both.”
Quite so - and again: 1
in 5 families has zero wealth or debts, while 2 in 5 Americans "couldn’t come up with $400 if they needed it
in an emergency" is again
due to the fact that personal wealth can grow to any extent - which
means that the very few with lots of wealth have at least as much more
power than the very many with no or hardly any wealth.
Also, I completely
agree with Roosevelt and Brandeis, and especially Brandeis is quite
relevant to my own proposal (see above) simply because I think Brandeis
wrote the truth. And this is a strongly recommended article.
and Clapper Should Not Escape Prosecution
is by John Kiriakou on Consortium News (that has now a new horrible
font). It starts as follows:
Chuck Grassley, the longtime chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made
a dramatic announcement Nov. 1 that should lead to jail time for
both former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper.
I completely agree. Here
As reported, but widely
overlooked amid the media focus on the midterm elections, Brennan
ordered CIA hackers to intercept the emails of all potential or
possible intelligence community whistleblowers who may have been trying
to contact the congressional oversight committees, specifically to the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary
Hacking the Senate’s computer
system constitutes illegal use of a government computer, illegal
espionage and wire fraud.
Brennan and Clapper, in 2014,
ostensibly notified congressional overseers about this, but in a way
that either tied senators’ hands or kept them in the dark. They
classified the notifications.
As a result, Grassley knew of
the hacking but couldn’t say anything while senators on neither the
Intelligence or Judiciary Committees didn’t know.
It’s a felony to classify a
crime. It’s also a felony to classify something solely for the purpose
of preventing embarrassment to the CIA.
For all of this—for the
hacking in the first place, and then the classification of that
criminal deed—both men belong in prison.
trying to get these two notifications declassified four years ago. The
Iowa senator said that during the last two years of the Obama
administration the Intelligence
Community Inspector General—a monitoring entity established in
2010—repeatedly ignored his requests to release the information.
Again I completely agree.
here is the ending of this article:
This time, after the exit of
the Obama people, the request was approved.
There is hyper-partisan
sensitivity around Brennan, who has publicly denounced Trump and is
widely understood to be a leading source in the spy community pressing
the idea that the Trump colluded with the Russians’ interference in
2016 the elections.
Partisan passions, however,
should have no place in all this.
What should matter is the law
and the efforts by these two men to place themselves above it.
Brennan and Clapper
think the law doesn’t apply to them. But it does. Without the rule of
law, we have chaos. The law has to apply equally to all Americans.
Brennan and Clapper need to learn that lesson the hard way. They broke
the law. They ought to be prosecuted for it.
Precisely. And this is a strongly
Fight for Net Neutrality Heats Up as Democrats Take the House
This article is by Mike Ludwig
on Truthout. It starts as follows:
The fight to restore
net neutrality is heating up in the wake of the midterm elections.
Yes, I think this is all
correct, but I think I should warn you that while "the Democrats" now
have the majority in the House, nearly all of "the Democrats" are
paid by rich corporations, which in turn means that their votes may not
be what one would think Democrats should
Every Democrat in the House
of Representatives who supports reversing the Trump administration’s
decision to repeal popular net neutrality rules has held on to their
seat. House Democrats also secured a majority in the lower chamber,
setting the stage for a potential showdown between Congress, the White
House and the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) over how the government should regulate powerful internet service
providers (ISPs) like AT&T, Cox and Comcast.
Democratic state attorneys
general, who have been united in challenging the Trump administration’s
effort to end net neutrality in federal court, now hold a majority
of state seats nationwide.
Here is more (and here is a bit on Phil Weiser):
This sounds fine (in my ears).
Here is an explanation of net
“The FCC’s action —
undermining 14 years of protecting an open Internet — is arbitrary,
capricious, and cannot be justified on a reasoned basis,” Weiser told
Truthout in an email. “I look forward to joining with other state
attorneys general to fighting for an open Internet, leveraging my
expertise in this area and my long history of support for net
neutrality, including working with President Obama on this important
Net neutrality is
the principle that ISPs should not block users from accessing legal
content, or favor loading speeds for some apps and websites over others
in order to extract lucrative fees and stifle competition. The FCC
established strong net neutrality protections under the Obama
administration. In response, internet service providers went on the
and launching a legal challenge, which finally faltered last week after
the Supreme Court refused
to hear an appeal to a lower court ruling upholding the protections.
This also seems good to
me. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
“The opportunity for or
five years ago to put something out that is called net neutrality but
is not really net neutrality…it’s not the same, it’s a lot harder to
sneak something through on this then it was in 2010 or 2014,” Aaron
Aaron is not expecting a
divided Congress to pass many bills next year, but he said there are
plenty of opportunities for net neutrality advocates in the House.
Democrats will gain the power to investigate the Republican-led FCC and
“make life a lot harder” for decision makers like Pai by calling them
to testify before congressional committees.
“We are going to push the
House to pass actual good legislation, even if it runs into a wall into
the Senate, to be clear about what are the big policies, and what are
the things that need to be done,” Aaron said.
And this also sounds
good to me, although I do not expect that net neutrality will
guaranteed until after Trump ceased to be president (and it may
fail if he is reelected). This is a recommended article.
in Masked Money Was Funneled Into the 2018 Elections
is by Anna Massoglia on Truthout and originally on opensecrets.org. It
starts as follows:
election cycle has attracted record spending by partially-disclosing
groups that give the appearance of reporting at least some of their
donors but, in reality, are little if any more transparent than other
‘dark money’ groups.
Voters may not be
left totally in the dark about these groups’ spending but, in many
cases, the identities of funders behind the spending ultimately remain
hidden. By deploying novel tactics to mask their financial activities,
these groups have been able to keep donors secret while giving some
illusion of more transparency.
groups have already reported $405 million in 2018 election spending,
according to federal election records analyzed by the Center for
This is the third
consecutive election cycle that the portion of outside spending made up
by partially-disclosed groups has more than doubled. Making up more
than 31 percent of all outside spending, spending by partially
disclosing groups this election cycle is up from 12.5 percent in 2016
and 6.1 percent in 2014. The 2018 election cycle is even on track to
amass around $100 million more in spending by partially disclosing
groups than the previous record of $306.9 million in the 2012 election
I did know some of this
but I had no idea that "partially
(I think "mostly closed" seems a better name, but that is an aside) did
spend more than 30% on the last elections, and indeed spent more
Here is more:
groups have accounted for over 42 percent of TV ads during the 2018
election cycle, the Wesleyan Media Project’s research
in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics found.
More than half of the
group-sponsored ads for GOP House candidates are from
partially-disclosing groups and nearly half of the outside group ads
backing Senate Democrats come from partially-disclosing sources.
That was for 2018.
is how much the "partially-disclosing groups" spent since 2010
indeed see the Citizens
United decision of 2010):
I say: (bolding added) "a quarter
million ads in the 2018 election cycle"! In case you consider this strange:
In Holland these
kinds of advertisements are forbidden.
‘Dark money’ groups
have reported spending more than $750 million on independent
expenditures since 2010 — the year the Supreme Court’s Citizens
United decision came down — and even more on political activities
framed as “issue” advocacy that may not be reported to the FEC.
The number of ‘dark
money’ television ads has hit a four-cycle high, with around a quarter
million ads in the 2018 election cycle as of October 25, 2018.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
were later to jump on the dark money bandwagon, but quickly ramped up
momentum in recent years — a trend that has only escalated during the
2018 election cycle.
I say, again. And there is
considerably more in the article, that is strongly
‘dark money’ groups also make up a larger portion of outside spending
backing candidates than Republicans in House and Senate races, with 41
percent of outside group ads for Democrats in House races paid for by
‘dark money’ groups compared to 28 percent for Republican candidates.
‘Dark money’ has accounted for 43 percent of outside group ad spending
on Democratic candidates running for the Senate, slightly higher than
the 39 percent of ads for Republican candidates that have been funded
by ‘dark money.’
more than 38 percent of TV ads during the 2018 election cycle have come
from ‘dark money’ groups, the report found.
hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, donors to most of the
‘dark money’ groups and partially disclosing groups that mask their
funding sources remain hidden from voters.