from December 31, 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 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 31, 2018:
1. Minimum Wage Rising in 20 States and
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. Amid Shutdown, Trump Freezes Pay of
2 Million Federal Workers
3. A New Playing Field for Democracy Reform
4. How Worried Should We Be About Declining Insect Populations?
5. Could a Maximum Wage Gain Traction in the United States?
Wage Rising in 20 States and Numerous Cities
This article is by
David A. Lieb on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It
starts as follows:
At Granny Shaffer’s
restaurant in Joplin, Missouri, owner Mike Wiggins is reprinting the
menus to reflect the 5, 10 or 20 cents added to each item.
A two-egg breakfast will
cost an extra dime, at $7.39. The price of a three-piece fried chicken
dinner will go up 20 cents, to $8.78. The reason: Missouri’s minimum
wage is rising.
Wiggins said the price
hikes are necessary to help offset an estimated $10,000 to $12,000 in
additional annual pay to his staff as a result of a new minimum wage
law taking effect Tuesday.
“For us it’s very simple.
There’s no big pot of money out there to get the money out of” for the
required pay raises, Wiggins said.
New minimum wage
requirements will take effect in 20 states and nearly two dozen cities
around the start of the new year, affecting millions of workers. The
state wage hikes range from an extra nickel per hour in Alaska to a
$1-an-hour bump in Maine, Massachusetts and for California employers
with more than 25 workers.
Seattle’s largest employers
will have to pay workers at least $16 an hour starting Tuesday. In New
York City, many businesses will have to pay at least $15 an hour as of
Monday. That’s more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
A variety of other new
state laws also take effect Tuesday. Those include revisions to sexual
harassment policies stemming from the #MeToo movement, restrictions on
gun sales following deadly mass shootings and revamped criminal
penalties as officials readjust the balance between punishment and
I say, for none of this
was clear to me. And while some may say that quite a few of these
changes are not large, I think they are advances for those on a
Here is some more:
The new state minimum wage
laws could affect about 5.3 million workers who are currently earning
less than the new standards, according to the liberal-leaning Economic
Policy Institute, based in Washington, D.C. That equates to almost 8
percent of the workforce in those 20 states but doesn’t account for
additional minimum wage increases in some cities.
Advocates credit the trend
toward higher minimum wages to the “Fight for $15,” a national movement
that has used protests and rallies to push for higher wages for workers
in fast food, child care, airlines and other sectors.
And I regard this as an
advance as well, and this is a recommended article.
Shutdown, Trump Freezes Pay of 2 Million Federal Workers
This article is by
Jake Johnson on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as
Yes, I completely agree
with Reardon. And incidentally, I am rather sure that in Holland and
Western Europe you can't force bureaucrats to work without pay
(without a judge ordering you).
With hundreds of thousands
of federal employees currently furloughed or working without pay due to
the ongoing government shutdown, President Donald Trump delivered
another blow to struggling
workers on Friday by signing
an executive order that will freeze the pay of around two million
public employees in 2019.
“This is just pouring salt
into the wound,” declared Tony
Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which
represents around 100,000 federal workers. “It is shocking that federal
employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks
and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that
they don’t even deserve a modest pay increase.”
Here is some more:
And I agree completely
with Barbara Lee.
order—which largely flew under the radar of national news
coverage—makes official his announcement
earlier this year that he would cancel a scheduled 2.1 percent
pay raise for 1.8
million non-military federal workers.
As justification for the
widely denounced move, Trump cited the need to “put our nation on a
fiscally sustainable course.”
The president’s sudden
concern for the budget deficit came just months after he signed into
trillion in tax cuts, which have disproportionately flowed to
wealthy Americans and large corporations.
“President Trump pushed
through a tax scam that gave unprecedented handouts to billionaires and
corporations—but believes it’s too expensive to pay hardworking federal
workers a reasonable wage,” wrote Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) following
Trump’s August announcement.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which is about
Yes indeed, and this is a
“We’re sort of being held
hostage in the middle, and we have families and obligations,” Dena
Ivey, a furloughed probate specialist in the Anchorage office of the
Bureau of Indian Affairs, told the New
York Times on Friday. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able
to make rent. I’m basically living on credit now.”
outrage on Thursday by suggesting that federal workers could
do odd jobs for their landlords such as “painting” or “carpentry” to
help cover rent as the shutdown continues.
As Vox reported
on Thursday, while many federal workers could receive back pay after
the government is reopened, thousands of government contractors aren’t
“going to be paid at all.”
New Playing Field for Democracy Reform
is by Miles Rapoport and Cecily Hines on Common Dreams and originally
on The American Prospect. It starts as follows:
Yes indeed. This also is
the beginning of a rather long article that is too long to excerpt
So, it looks like Fixing
Our Democracy is officially Cool. Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats
have announced that their first bill out of the box—H.R. 1—will be an
omnibus democracy reform bill including voting rights, partisan
gerrymandering, campaign-finance reform, and ethics reform. For many
people who have worked on these issues for years, this is a significant
moment. Of course, there is the Senate, and the president, so no one
thinks H.R. 1 will become law in anything close to its original form.
But the message is major: that putting democracy reform front and
center is not just “good government”; it is good politics.
But if you want to see
where democracy reform was Really Cool in 2018, let’s take a look at
what happened in the states, and how the stage has been set for even
Here is some more:
Well... I mostly agree,
although I observe that 116 million voters is also not more than little
over half of those who are allowed to vote. But I agree the Democrats
won in 2018, and indeed by more than I originally thought.
The New Landscape
Perhaps the most amazing
thing about the 2018 midterms was the turnout itself. The latest
estimates are that 116 million people voted, compared with 83 million
in 2014. That striking turnout clearly helped fuel the Blue Wave, both
in Congress and at the state level. The turnout of constituencies
voting Democratic was even enough to overcome the walls of
gerrymandering in many districts, at both the congressional and state
levels. In the states, the shifts in state control were not a
full-scale tsunami, but they were significant enough to dramatically
shift the equation on democracy issues going forward.
Here is some more from the article:
I think that is a genuine
advance (in Florida). Here is the last bit that I quote from this
Ballot Initiatives Rule
From the point of view of
democracy advocates, the results of election-related ballot initiatives
were, in a word, stunning. A remarkable element of these wins was that
most of the ballot initiatives passed by more than 60 percent, meaning
that they had strong bipartisan voter support.
Leading these results was
the mammoth victory in Florida of Amendment 4, with almost 65 percent
of the voters supporting the restoration of voting rights to 1.4
million former felons. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition led an
extraordinary campaign that received bipartisan support, including from
evangelical churches that believe in redemption. This will be
transformative of democracy in Florida.
One encouraging development
is that organizations that in the past have been focused on one primary
issue, such as the environment, workers’ rights, or gun control, have
now realized that none of these issues can be successful if we do not
have a functioning democracy. So a growing number of them, led by
organizations such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace and unions
including the AFL-CIO, have decided to raise “democracy reform” to
a top priority co-equal with their other primary issues. This is an
exponential boost to the power of this movement, as well as a deepening
base of volunteers and resources. And it makes the much-needed trust
and collaboration in the movement that much easier to create and
Yes, I think that is both
quite true and quite important: You cannot enforce the changes that
most people want without having something like a genuine democracy -
which has in fact been whittled down in the USA for almost 40 years
now. And this is a recommended article in which there is a lot more
than I quoted.
Worried Should We Be About Declining Insect Populations?
is by Mary Hoff on Truthout and originally on ENSIA. This is from near
Yes indeed, and I have
written in Nederlog about this before. Also, I may be a bit more
worried than Mary Hoff seems to be, and part of my reasons are these:
the globe, scientists are getting hints that all is not well in the
world of insects. Increasingly, reports are trickling in of unsettling
changes in populations of not only butterflies and bees, but of far
less charismatic bugs and beetles as well. Most recently, a research
team from the US and Mexico reported
a startling decline between 1976 and 2013 in the
weight of insects and other arthropods collected at select sites in
have called the apparent trend an insect
Armageddon. Although the picture is not in crisp enough
focus yet to say if that’s hyperbolic, enough is clear to compel many
to call for full-scale efforts to learn more and act as appropriate.
That is: I do not know
whether "the picture" that emerges is "hyperbolic", or indeed even what
"hyperbolic" is supposed to mean in a world where twice to thirty times
as many species that have been discovered remain to be discovered, but
given that many of the known species of insects do seem to go down
radically, and that insects are absolutely necessary for humans to get
food, I think it is alarming enough.
people tend to think of animals as large, furry, likeable creatures. In
reality, insects are the dominant form of animal
life. Close a million species have been described to date — compared
with a paltry 5,416 mammals. And depending on who you ask,
entomologists suspect there could be two
to 30 times as many actually out there.
only that, but insects are linchpins of the living world, carrying out
numerous functions that make life possible.
pollinate a spectrum of plants, including many of those that humans
rely on for food. They also are key players in other important jobs
including breaking dead things down into the building blocks for new
life, controlling weeds and providing raw materials for medicines. And
they provide sustenance for a spectrum of other animals — in fact, the
Puerto Rico study showed a decline in density of insect-eating frogs,
birds and lizards that paralleled the insect nosedive.
Here is some more (and this is also from severak countries and a
the 1990s, reports started
cropping up around the world of disappearing pollinators. In 2006,
researchers reported dramatic
declines in counts of moths attracted to light traps in
Great Britain. A 2010 international gathering of firefly experts
downward trends. In 2017, scientists reported a decline
of more than 75 percent in insect biomass across 63 nature areas in
Germany between 1989 and 2016.
Worldwide, a 2014 summary of global declines in biodiversity and
abundance estimated a 45
percent drop in the abundance of invertebrates, most of
which are insects. And many individual species and species groups are
declining or even being threatened with extinction, from bumblebees in Europe
and the United
States to fungus
weevils in Africa.
Quite so - and I regard a decline of "more 75% in
insect biomass" throughout Germany and a global decline of 45% as quite
alarming. And this is a recommended article.
a Maximum Wage Gain Traction in the United States?
is by Mark Engler on Truthout and originally on Dissent. It starts as
follows - and in fact I think this is the most important article of
today, in part because it is an idea that I myself had as early as
1960, when I was 10 years old (and those responsible are probably my
parents, who were genuine and intelligent communists for 45 years of
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 serious consideration—not
only as a desirable policy, but also one that might be more practical
than some imagine.
In 2010, trade union
leaders presented elites at Davos with a proposal for a ratio-based maximum wage—something
proposed in the United States 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 United States, 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
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
As I started saying, I had
the idea when I was 10, and indeed I was not original at all, for many
leftist persons have argued similar ideas, indeed long before I was
born. For more on this, I thibk the best article on my site is my Crisis: On Socialism from 2015, in which I discuss socialism in
general, and a proposal of George Orwell (from the 1940ies) that amount
to the thesis that the difference between the rich and the poor should
not be more than 10:1; a proposal of myself that it should not be more
than 20:1; and the fact that American workers - it seems in the
1950ies, but I am not sure of that - were in favor of (surprise!) 7:1.
I think each of these
proposals is much more fair than the current 271:1 ratio that is
Besides, and in much more
general terms, I think that the inequalities in power and in wealth
should be curbed or else soon there will be a few superrich owners of
almost everything, together with their effective manipulated subhumans
who earn a 250th, a 500th or a 1000th part of what the rich get in the
Back to the article:
Yes, I agree to that, and in
fact the same applies to power. Here is some more:
Sam Pizzigati: (..)
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. If you look historically, we see that the epochs
where working people increased their standards of living most
significantly correspond to periods where we cared about countering the
concentration of wealth.
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 Blairite moment.
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.”
In fact, both the Clintons
and the Blairs rapidly succeeded in becoming considerable multi-
millionaires (with more than 100 million in resp. dollars and pounds)
after having been president or prime minister - which are two of my
reasons to despise both.
Here is more from the article:
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 well-being 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.
This can be generalized
Without any legal
regulation on power and wealth, the differences between the few rich
and the many non-rich will probably increase without bounds (as is
happening now and since 40 years in the USA), and therefore - if you
want all persons to have somewhat equal chances to make most of their
lives and their talents - the differences between the few rich and the
many poor, and the differences between the few powerful and the many
powerless should be somehow be legally regulated.
And in fact I think I
was as far as the above in 1960. Here is more, and it is the last bit
that I quote from this fine article:
goal here would be to incentivize companies so the CEO doesn’t make
more than, say, ten times the amount of the lowest paid employee?
Pizzigati: Yes. And
there can be all sorts of variations on that theme. If corporate
executives on average are making over 350 times what workers make, you
can put the initial cap at 100 to 1 and start penalizing corporations
that exceed that. Then, over time, you could start decreasing the ratio.
Back in the 1960s and
1950s, the typical CEO in the United States of a major corporation took
home between twenty and thirty times the pay of the lowest paid worker
in their enterprise. Last year, at least twenty-one 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
It’s important to note that
most Americans have no idea that corporations are paying CEOs at those
incredible rates. In fact, when you ask people what you think the
appropriate ratio should be, they’ll talk about less than ten to one.
Precisely so - and this
was already the case in the 1940ies and 1950ies. And this is a strongly
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 (!!).