from December 19, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
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 three 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 December 19, 2018:
1. As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It
Carved an Opening for Tech
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. Good Luck in Court, Mr. Trump
3. The Pentagon Failed Its Audit Amid a $21 Trillion Scandal
4. The World Is Now the Property of the 1 Percent
5. Jeff Bezos Has Enough! It’s Time for a Maximum Wage
Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants
This article is by
Gabriel Dance, Michael LaForgia and Nicholas Confessore on The New York
Times. It starts as follows:
I strongly dislike
despise - Facebook. I think it treats everyone who is not a billionaire
or at least a substantial millionaire as stupid slaves who are
hardly any knowledge about computing, and who can be tricked
giving away all or most of their privacies for nothing at all.
For years, Facebook gave some
of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to
users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those
business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal
records and interviews.
The special arrangements are
detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New
York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal
system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet
of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore
how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital
age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in
Silicon Valley and beyond.
The exchange was intended to
benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more
users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired
features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users
connected with friends across different devices and websites. But
Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information
of its 2.2 billion users — control it has wielded with little
transparency or outside oversight.
Facebook allowed Microsoft’s
Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’
friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify
the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.
The social network permitted
Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their
friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as
this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of
sharing years earlier.
Also, I think Facebook is fundamentally a deeply criminal
that works essentially by fraud
and by lying.
The above bit strongly supports me:
Besides, the above
quotation shows the fundamental difference between billionaires and
- ¨personal data has
become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast
scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and
but even so:
- all personal
data are essentially frauded
from their owners (the individuals
whose personal data they are): they are either simply taken without
any notification, or are obtained by
fundamentally false promises,
- ¨Facebook also
assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2
billion users — control it has wielded with little transparency or
The billionaires who own Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft,
Amazon and Yahoo are given all the personal information - about
their friends - but each and all refuse
to tell honestly to the
non-rich how their private information is
abused, who abuses or has it,
and what it is used for.
Here is some more from this article:
Yes indeed - and Mark
again, which - to the best of my knowledge - he always
does when he is addressing ¨the public¨, except for a single
described his users (quite a number of years ago) as ¨dumb fucks who
trust me¨, and that is the only bit I know of
Zuckerberg´s public prose that is true (and originally this was
prose at all).
has been reeling from a series of privacy scandals, set off by
revelations in March that a political consulting firm, Cambridge
Analytica, improperly used Facebook data to build tools that aided
President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Acknowledging that it had breached
users’ trust, Facebook insisted that it had instituted stricter privacy
protections long ago. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, assured lawmakers
in April that people “have complete control” over everything they share
the documents, as well as interviews with about 50 former employees of
Facebook and its corporate partners, reveal that Facebook allowed
certain companies access to data despite those protections. They also
raise questions about whether Facebook ran afoul of a 2011 consent
agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that barred the social
network from sharing user data without explicit permission.
Here is more on Facebook´s frauds:
In all, the deals described in
the documents benefited more than 150 companies — most of them tech
businesses, including online retailers and entertainment sites, but
also automakers and media organizations. Their applications sought the
data of hundreds of millions of people a month, the records show. The
deals, the oldest of which date to 2010, were all active in 2017. Some
were still in effect this year.
This means that the privacies of ¨hundreds of millions of people a month¨ where shared
for seven years on
end with ¨more than 150 companies¨, none
of of which had any
right on these data (just as Facebook has no right at owning or
reading your private data).
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
data is the oil of the 21st century, a resource worth billions to those
who can most effectively extract and refine it. American companies
alone are expected to spend close to $20 billion by the end of 2018 to
acquire and process consumer data, according to the Interactive
companies have better data than Facebook and its rival, Google, whose
popular products give them an intimate view into the daily lives of
billions of people — and allow them to dominate the digital advertising
and I think that neither Facebook nor Google has any right whatsoever
on owning or reading anyone´s private data. There is a lot more
in this article, that is recommended.
Luck in Court, Mr. Trump
This article is by
The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Yes indeed. Here is some
A bit of common sense and
common decency intruded on Tuesday into the crazy world of Donald Trump.
In New York, the state attorney general announced that the president had
agreed that the “charity” he used as a piggy bank has no reason to
In Washington, a federal
judge let a former top presidential aide know that you can parrot
political spin or you can tell the truth, but you can’t do both to
someone who can send you to prison.
Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s
former national security adviser, appeared before Judge Emmet Sullivan to be sentenced to
what he expected would be a term of probation, after pleading guilty to
lying to federal investigators about conversations with the Russian
ambassador. The office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, had
earlier filed a memo that said it would be right for Mr. Flynn to avoid
prison after his extensive cooperation in the investigation of Trump
ties to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and after.
Then last week, in a memo about their client’s sentencing, Mr. Flynn’s lawyers
implied that he had been tricked into lying and that the F.B.I. acted
improperly in interviewing him — points raised by pro-Trump
commentators elaborating on the president’s claims of being victimized
by a witch hunt.
Judge Sullivan was having
none of it.
“I cannot recall an instance
of a court ever accepting a guilty plea from someone who did not
maintain he was guilty,” Judge Sullivan said, “and I do not intend to
I say. And this is a
recommended article with more in it than I quoted.
Flynn should be grateful the judge offered him the chance to come
clean. By contrast, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity that
provided no charity, quite properly received none from the New York
attorney general’s office.
General Barbara Underwood
accused it of “a shocking pattern of illegality” that “amounted to
the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to
serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”
money that remains will be disbursed under the supervision of Ms.
Underwood’s office and the judge overseeing the continuing lawsuit
her office filed in June, seeking $2.8 million in restitution and a ban
on Mr. Trump and his three oldest children serving on the boards of
other nonprofit organizations.
a series of stories exposing the foundation’s true nature, The Washington Post
found that its largest donation was to fix a fountain in front the
Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, which Mr. Trump owned at the time, that its
funds were used to buy a portrait of Mr. Trump, and that it illegally
provided political donations and paid for personal legal settlements.
Pentagon Failed Its Audit Amid a $21 Trillion Scandal (Yes, Trillion)
is by Lee
Camp on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
In fact, I did
Camp´s story and it is here. And I praised
it, except that I disagree about trillions
and billions, since
these are quite easily (and normally)
reckoned with by physicists and
A few months ago, I covered
the story of the $21
trillion that has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon. That’s
right—trillion with a T—an amount of money you can’t possibly come to
terms with, so stop trying. Seriously, stop. It’s like trying to
comprehend the age of the earth.
(The earth is 4.5 billion
years old. To put that into context, the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change says we have 11
years left to completely change our ways or climate change will
make the earth uninhabitable. If you were to take the age of the earth
and lay it out on the span of a calendar year, this means we would have
less than a millisecond left on Dec. 31 to utterly change our ways or
all is lost.)
Anyway, the $21 trillion
includes $6.5 trillion unaccounted for at the Pentagon in 2015 ALONE.
When I covered all this a few months ago, very few people were talking
Here is some more from the present article:
Anyway, my column
on this topic went viral, as did the Forbes article, each garnering
hundreds of thousands of views. Yet despite all that, still not a word
from Congress, and not a word from the hacks at your mainstream media
outlets. But then again, getting important news about the corruption of
our military- industrial complex from the mainstream media would be
like getting a philosophy lesson from a strip-club dancer (in that it
would be most unexpected, and it’s not really why you’re there).
Yes, I agree
Here is some background from The Nation:
If they want to learn what
real reporting looks like on this same topic, they can read The
Nation’s investigative exposé. That
For decades, the DoD’s
leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic,
unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to
mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher. … DoD has
literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to
Congress— representing trillions of dollars’ worth of seemingly
nonexistent transactions … according to government records and
interviews with current and former DoD officials, congressional
sources, and independent experts.
Quite so. Here is more
the same source:
Here’s more analysis from
The Pentagon’s accounting
fraud diverts many billions of dollars that could be devoted to other
national needs: health care, education, job creation, climate action,
infrastructure modernization, and more. Indeed, the Pentagon’s
accounting fraud amounts to theft on a grand scale—theft not only from
America’s taxpayers, but also from the nation’s well-being and its
Yes indeed. Here is the last
bit that I quote from this article, which is about how the above
are reported in the mainstream media: ¨It was just an accounting
(of 6,5 or 21 times 1.000.000.000.000 dollars from the taxes):
These are not “accounting
errors.” It’s impossible to have trillions of dollars of “accounting
errors.” Since I have now saturated my keyboard with my anger-saliva,
I’ll let Laurence Kotlikoff at Forbes
Let’s recall that this is
not simply a matter of boring accounting. Trillions in unaccounted
outlays, if that’s what’s involved here, is trillions of our tax
dollars being spent without our knowledge. If that’s the case, we’re
talking about the biggest government financial deception in the history
of the country.
Long story short, this $21
trillion story is starting to gain traction. People can finally see the
truth. And right now, it is the corporate media puppets who are trying
to make sure you think, “It’s just a few accounting errors. Pay no mind
to the fact that it amounts to the largest theft ever perpetrated
against the American people.”
Yes, I agree and this
is a strongly recommended article.
World Is Now the Property of the 1 Percent
This article is by Nomi
Prins on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Yes, I completely
and have been writing about the crisis of 2008 ever since (for
years now) as a
crisis, indeed in part because I - who is very
poor, though probably slightly less than over 250 million Americans) - did
and do experience it that
As we head into 2019,
leaving the chaos of this year behind, a major question remains
unanswered when it comes to the state of Main Street, not just here but
across the planet. If the global economy really is booming, as many
politicians claim, why are leaders and their parties around the world
continuing to get booted out of office in such a sweeping fashion?
One obvious answer: the
post-Great Recession economic “recovery” was largely reserved for the
few who could participate in the rising financial markets of those
years, not the majority who continued to work longer hours, sometimes
at multiple jobs, to stay afloat. In other words, the good times have
left out so many people, like those struggling to keep even a few hundred dollars in their
bank accounts to cover an emergency or the 80% of American workers who
live paycheck to paycheck.
In today’s global economy,
financial security is increasingly the property of the 1%.
Here is some more on what happened in 2008 (and in fact I wrote
over 2100 articles that all start with ¨Crisis:¨ since
September 1, 2008):
To understand how we got
let’s take a step back. Only a decade ago, the world experienced a
genuine global financial crisis, a meltdown of the first order.
Economic growth ended; shrinking economies threatened to collapse;
countless jobs were cut; homes were foreclosed upon and lives wrecked.
For regular people, access to credit suddenly disappeared. No wonder
fears rose. No wonder for so many a brighter tomorrow ceased to exist.
Precisely. Here is more:
Thanks to the massive
accumulation of wealth by a 1% skilled at gaming the system, the roots
of a crisis that didn’t end with the end of the Great Recession have
the planet, while the dividing line between the “have-nots” and the
“have-a-lots” only sharpened and widened.
Again I wholly
Here is what happened between 2009 and 2017:
Or if you really want to
what’s been happening, consider that, between 2009 and 2017, the number
of billionaires whose combined wealth was greater than that of the
world’s poorest 50% fell from 380 to just eight. And by the way, despite
claims by the president that every other country is screwing America,
the U.S. leads the pack when it comes to the growth of inequality. As
Inequality.org notes, it has “much greater shares of national
wealth and income going to the richest 1% than any other country.”
In fact, to the best of
my knowledge, the differences between the
very few rich and the very
many poor are larger than they ever
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Even in the U.S.,
where a magnificent recovery was supposed to have been in place for
years, actual economic growth simply didn’t materialize at the levels
promised. At 2% per year, the average growth of
the American gross domestic product over the past decade, for instance,
has been half the average of 4% before the 2008 crisis. Similar numbers
were repeated throughout the developed world and most emerging markets.
In the meantime, total global debt hit $247 trillion in the first
quarter of 2018. As the Institute of International Finance found,
countries were, on average, borrowing about three dollars for every
dollar of goods or services created.
This is more evidence
that the crisis that started in 2008 continued ever since for the
and only stopped for the rich and very rich. There is a lot
this article that is strongly recommended.
Bezos Has Enough! It’s Time for a Maximum Wage
is by Mark Engler and Sam Pizzigati on Common Dreams. It starts as
For Republican members of
Congress and cable news pundits, a cap on the earnings of the super
rich might sound like a dystopian nightmare. Yet, as author Sam
Pizzigati argues in his new book, The Case for A Maximum Wage,
those who are not ardent free marketeers should give the idea some
only as a desirable policy, but also one that might be more practical
than some might imagine.
Yes, I strongly agree and in fact pleaded the
same argument in my Crisis: On Socialism
(and I got the idea originally from George Orwell,
in fact long before
2008, and quite possibly before 1970, although I am not certain about
Here is more:
In 2010, trade union leaders presented elites
at Davos with a proposal for a ratio-based maximum wage—something proposed in the U.S. by
Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley. Hanley’s version
would mandate that a top executive’s pay be no more than 100 times the
salary of the company’s lowest-paid worker. In other words, if the
receptionist or janitor makes $35,000 per year, the CEO would take home
no more than $3.5 million. To raise his or her pay further, the boss
would have to bring up the bottom as well.
While a 100:1 gap comes nowhere close to
rigidly enforced equality, it would break from current norms in the
U.S., where a CEO in one of the country’s largest 350 firms earns an
average of 271 times that of a
typical worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
I did not know about Hanley´s
proposal - and
in fact my own proposal was 20:1 (instead of 100:1),
Orwell´s (from the 1940ies) proposal was 10:1, which should be
with the desire of American workers, some time ago, that their
should earn no more than 7:1 of what the workers did).
Also, I´d say that (i) the differences in power and in wealth are larger than they were ever were
before, and (ii) the only way to
decrease these successfully is by legally
forbidding differences that
are larger than x:1 (where the x may be many numbers: see
(iii) may be motivated in principle by pointing to the history of the
past 2500 years, which were not
legally bound in this way, and which
was also very unequal, with always a very few rich, supported and
maintained by very many non-rich.
Here is more on the idea by Pizzigati:
Of course, since much of the vast wealth of
the super rich comes not from salaries but from stock options and
returns on accumulated assets, a maximum wage would address only one
aspect of inequality. Yet Pizzigati argues that tackling the
“predistribution” of corporate profits by stopping runaway executive
pay is nevertheless an important part of keeping the gap from widening
Could a “maximum wage” gain traction more
widely in the United States? I spoke with Pizzigati to discuss the nuts
and bolts of the idea—and to
consider whether such a seemingly radical and egalitarian economic
intervention could ever take hold in American politics.
I agree, but at least Orwell and myself argued our
proposals not on the basis of wage, but on the basis of
all incomes one
may get. And I do not consider this very important.
Here is more fron the interview Engler had with Pizzigati. This is on
wealth without limits (that is the present norm everywhere):
I agree. Besides, it
simply extremely unfair. Here is more on the Blatcherists
Blair and Clinton:
SAM PIZZIGATI: It’s
very common, not just on the conservative side of the political fence.
It’s essentially the conventional wisdom of the Democratic Party. But
it’s deeply flawed. If we let wealth concentrate at the top without
limit, we’re undermining our democracy, we’re coarsening our culture,
and we’re leaving our economy less stable.
Quite so. Here is more on
ENGLER: You cite Tony
Blair’s Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Peter Mandelson, who
said in 1998, “We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy
rich, as long as they pay their taxes.” This notion was part of that
PIZZIGATI: That’s right.
The corresponding Clintonian notion was that “if there are rats in the
basement where poor people are, worry about that. Don’t worry about
what’s happening in the penthouse.”
Yes indeed - but I had the
same idea (and talked about incomes rather than wages, although I
do not think the difference is that important).
ENGLER: I think one of the
most important concepts you introduce in your book is the idea of
linking minimum wages with maximums. Can you talk about that?
PIZZIGATI: Right now we
have an exploitation economy. People of great wealth and power do
better, personally, by exploiting people of modest or very little
means. The more they downsize and outsource and undercut working
people, the more they earn. We need a society where the richest, most
powerful among us have a vested interest in improving the wellbeing of
the poorest. We can do that if we link a cap on income at the top to
incomes at the bottom—if we
create, in a sense, a maximum wage that’s linked to the minimum wage.
Here is more on how it was between (roughly)
1946 and 1970 in the
I think all of the above
is quite correct. Here is more on Pizzigati´s idea:
PIZZIGATI: Back in the 1960s
and 1950s, the typical CEO in the United States of a major corporation
took home between 20 and 30 times the pay of the pay of the lowest paid
worker in their enterprise. Last year, at least 21 CEOs in major
corporations in the United States made over 1,000 times the income of
their lowest paid employee. That means that this worker would have to
work more than a millennium to make as much as the CEO makes in one
is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:
course we’re a long way politically from a situation like that. But you
can visualize a society where we’d have a 100 percent top marginal tax
rate, and we’d set up a system where that top tax rate went into effect
at some multiple of the minimum wage. For instance, that 25 times the
minimum wage becomes the point at which this 100 percent marginal top
income tax rate goes into effect. That would be a very easy way of
putting in a maximum wage. In fact, Franklin Roosevelt proposed a 100
percent top marginal tax rate back in 1942. We have historical
precedent. Something like this is doable. I think it should start to
enter our political conversation, and there are steps we can take in
the interim that could move us in that direction.
Yes, but as I said: I do
not consider the differences between wages and incomes as very relevant.
ENGLER: You mentioned
before that, historically, limits on top wages were achieved
through progressive income taxes. How do you see a maximum wage as
being distinct from just high taxes on the rich?
PIZZIGATI: In the middle of
the twentieth century in the United States—as well as in major countries in
western Europe—we had very
high top marginal tax rates. For the 20 years after World War Two, the
top marginal tax rate hovered around 90 percent. It was 91 percent
throughout the Eisenhower years in the 1950s. This redistribution
through the tax code worked wonders. In the quarter century after the
war, the real incomes of average working people more than doubled.
There was very little of an increase at the top over that time.
And this is a very strongly recommended article.
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).