in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from April 25, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Thursday,
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 April 25, 2019:
1. Stiglitz: Capitalism Hasn’t Been
Working for Most People for the Last 40
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. Stiglitz: Warren & Sanders Want
to Make the Economy Work for All
3. Do Democrats Prefer Trump in the White House?
4. Savagery and Its Promoters and Profiteers
5. What Is the 'AI Agenda,' Who's Pushing It and Why?
Capitalism Hasn’t Been Working for Most People for the Last 40 Years
article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! I
abbreviated the title. It starts with the following introduction:
We look at staggering
inequality and the state of the U.S. economy with Nobel Prize-winning
economist Joseph Stiglitz, who served as chair of the Council of
Economic Advisers under President Clinton. Joseph Stiglitz is a
professor at Columbia University and chief economist for the Roosevelt
Institute. His latest book, out this week, is “People, Power, and
Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent.”
Well... I think Joseph
Stiglitz is one of the more interesting economists, but I also
should warn you right away that I don't think the present
much of a science (one simple reason is that it has three distinct
incompatible foundations), and I am not much impressed by a
Then again, I do
some of his ideas are sensible. As an introduction, here is Abigail
Disney, who is no economist:
GONZÁLEZ: Well, Disney heiress Abigail Disney is speaking out
against wage inequality, calling Disney CEO
Bob Iger’s salary, quote, “insane.” In an opinion
piece for The Washington Post published Tuesday titled
“It’s time to call out Disney—and anyone else rich off their workers’
backs,” she wrote, quote, “I had to speak out about the naked indecency
of chief executive Robert Iger’s pay. According to Equilar, Iger took
home more than $65 million in 2018. That’s 1,424 times the median pay
of a Disney worker. To put that gap in context, in 1978, the average CEO made about 30 times a typical worker’s salary.
Since 1978, CEO pay has grown by 937
percent, while the pay of an average worker grew just 11.2 percent.
This growth in inequality has affected every corner of American life.”
GOODMAN: Those are the
words of Abigail Disney. She went on to write, “At the pay levels we
are talking about, an executive giving up half his bonus has zero
effect on his quality of life. For the people at the bottom, it could
mean a ticket out of poverty or debt. It could offer access to decent
health care or an education for a child,” she wrote.
I agree with Disney, and so
STIGLITZ: She’s absolutely
right. You mentioned that in the late '70s it was 30 to one, on
average; today it's over 300 to one. And it’s not as if our CEOs have
gotten 10 times as productive in those intervening years. It’s not as
if—you know, American CEOs get paid so much more than their workers
relative to those in Europe and even more relative to those in Japan.
And it’s not because our CEOs are that much more productive. It’s
because we have a real problem in our corporate governance laws, in our
norms, that allow them to take away that much money.
Yes indeed. Here is some more:
GONZÁLEZ: And then, of course, you have to add the taxation
policy, which is gradually protecting wealth rather than trying to
create a level playing field, whether it’s with the elimination of the
inheritance tax or the ending, effectively, of progressive taxation.
That means that all that money that they get, they get to keep, as
STIGLITZ: Yeah. You know,
this is a time where we—given the growth of inequality, you would have
thought the natural response is to ramp up a progressivity of our tax
system. And we’ve done just the opposite. The 2017 tax bill is a real
illustration of that. It increased the tax rate on a majority of people
in the second, third and fourth quintile. In other words, the vast
middle class, when the bill is fully implemented, will see higher tax
rates, in order to give a tax cut for billionaires.
I agree with
when he says "And we’ve done just
the opposite": In fact "we"
(whoever that is or may be, except for the few very rich) did no
thing, for these things were pushed through by the small minority of
the very rich.
Here is some more by Stiglitz:
STIGLITZ: So, in those few
words in the title, I try to pack an awful lot. So, one of the things I
wanted to say is that any modern economy, the market is going to have
to play an important role. So, that’s why I wanted to use the word
“capitalism.” But I wanted to signal that the form of capitalism that
we’ve seen over the last 40 years has not been working for most people.
And that’s why I talk about people. We have to have progressive
capitalism. We have to tame capitalism and redirect capitalism so it
serves our society. You know, people are not supposed to serve the
economy; the economy is supposed to serve our people.
Well... I have several
questions about this:
First, what has "the
to do with "capitalism"? (And remember that both terms are rather
Second, I don't
"the form of capitalism that
we’ve seen over the last 40 years has not been working for most people", but then around 40 years is the
life of most people. So my question is: Why favor "capitalism"
doesn't work for the vast majority during 40 years?
And third, why should
we "have to tame capitalism and
capitalism so it serves our society"?
And besides: if "people
supposed to serve the economy; the economy is supposed to serve our
people" then this seems quite
incompatible with almost any form of "capitalism" that existed since
I know none of these
questions has obvious clear answers, but I do think they are quite
Here is some more:
GONZÁLEZ: But hasn’t the exacerbation of inequality—I go back
to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc. There were
competing systems back then, and Western capitalism had to at least
provide some benefits to its workers to prevent them from going toward
socialism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern
European countries, not only were new markets opened up for capitalism,
but there was no longer a need to give any sops to the working class,
as a result of the fact that there was no longer a competing system.
STIGLITZ: I think you’re
I don't quite agree.
all, the "socialism" of the Soviet Union (etc.) was not socialism
any sense that I (or George Orwell) understand by it. And second, I
don't think capitalism has become more and more
because of the collapse of a system some call "socialism" but because
the very rich capitalists got much better organized, from the early
seventies (see Lewis
Powell Jr.) onwards.
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
STIGLITZ: (..) To put it,
you know, another way, in the 1950s, we aspired to be the first
middle-class society. And we talked about education for all. We had
infrastructure investment. We had a tax rate at the top of 90%, and we
had the fastest rate of growth that we’ve ever had.
Well... I agree
that "in the 1950s, we
aspired to be the first
middle-class society" - but
then capitalism exists at least since the 1840ies, and if an
system takes over 100 years to arrive - briefly, for something like 25
years - at a "middle-class
society", that is, a
society were more than around 10% do get a decent income, then once
again: What is so attractive about capitalism for the 90% who are
rich capitalists themselves?!
Anyway... I do
this article is interesting and worthwile, and it is strongly
recommended. Also there is some more Stiglitze in the next article I
Warren & Sanders Want to Make the Economy Work for All Americans
article is by Amy Goodman and Juan
González on Democracy Now! I abbreviated the title. It starts with the
As the 2020 election race
barrels forward with nearly 20 Democratic candidates, we speak with
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz about the policy
platforms of progressive hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders,
including Warren’s plan to break up big tech companies and cancel
student debt and Sanders’s commitment to democratic socialism, which
Stiglitz compares to “what in Europe is called social democracy,
sometimes called the welfare state.”
Yes, I agree with the
which I also extend somewhat by saying that - so far, at least
and Sanders are the only elected Democrats elected before 2016 and
since Bill Clinton was president who strike me as honest. And
Stiglitz is quite right that what Bernie Sanders is in favor of is - in
European terms, at least - social democracy rather than
Here is some more:
STIGLITZ: (..) I actually
think there should be a global minimum tax, because what is going on is
that they’re avoiding not only taxes in the United States, but they’re
looking around the world for places, like Panama and the tax paradises,
to avoid taxes. Apple was particularly bad, where they shifted all
their money into Ireland, from all their profits in Europe, and then
did a special deal with Ireland so they basically paid almost no taxes,
.02 or .2%—I mean, really very low, a real example of tax avoidance,
almost at the level of evasion.
Yes indeed: I quite
agree. Here is some more:
STIGLITZ: On the student
loan thing, we have a student debt now of $1.5 trillion. It’s so large,
it’s beginning to affect our macroeconomy. It’s affecting individuals’
lives. They can’t get—you know, buy a home, start a family, because of
the debt. Now—
GONZÁLEZ: It’s a new form of indentured servitude.
STIGLITZ: It’s a new form
of indentured servitude. And so, we have to think about it in two
parts. One, going forward, how do we make sure that a university
education is affordable to everybody? And the second part is: What do
we do with the backlog of $1.5 trillion?
Now, she has a particular
proposal. It’s somewhat different from the one that I’ve been
advocating. What I think is that you should have what I call contingent
repayment. If your income is below a certain level, say, below $50,000,
you don’t pay back anything. If it’s over $200,000, you might pay back
Yes, and I can add that Holland
(where I live and studied in the university) did
have such a
system, which indeed saved me a lot of money (by the time I was 53,
it was clear that I never would have a well-paying academic job).
Then again, at present
Dutch are moving "academically" strongly in the direction of
"indentured servitude", and also have halved the academic educations in
almost every field of study.
Here is some more by Bernie
Democratic socialism, to me, is creating a government and an economy
and a society which works for all rather than just the top 1%. It means
ending the absurd inequalities that exist today. And I want to lay this
out, because you’re not going to hear this much on Fox, and you’re not
going to hear this much in the media, in general. And the American
people have got to conclude whether we think it is appropriate and what
America is about to have three families owning more wealth than the
bottom half of the American society, 160 million people; whether it’s
appropriate for the top 1% to own more wealth than the bottom 92%;
whether it is right that 49% of all new income goes to the top 1% (..)
I agree with
this, but I don't think I would call this "democratic
is the last bit of Stiglitz I quote:
STIGLITZ: So, I think he’s
given a good definition of what is called democratic socialism. Now,
what Trump is trying to do is confuse people’s minds. Traditionally,
socialism, you know, a hundred years ago, was about the ownership of
the basic means of production. You didn’t hear a word about that from
Bernie Sanders. He’s not talking about that old-style socialism. He’s
not saying we want to bring Maduro, Venezuela, to America. That’s not
what he’s talking about. What he’s really talking about is what in
Europe is called social democracy, sometimes called the welfare state,
sometimes—you know, it’s basically based on: We need systems of social
protection; we need systems to make sure that we invest in our young
people, invest in our infrastructure, invest in R&D; we invest in
the future, protect the climate and protect the environment. In other
words, we make our economy work for all Americans.
And the word I use is
progressive capitalism. But, you know, is there any difference between
my definition of progressive capitalism and what Bernie has called
democratic socialism? No. It’s all trying to get at an economy that
serves our citizens.
Well... (i) Stiglitz is not
correct in saying that Sanders gave "a good definition of (..)
democratic socialism". Also (ii) he is correct that "socialism"
"was" (and is) about the common ownership of the basic means of
production. Then again, I am not sure (at all) what
means by "progressive capitalism", and I am quite certain that this
is definitely not the same as "what Bernie has called
Anyway, this is again a strongly
Democrats Prefer Trump in the White House?
This article is by
Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
What will happen in the
where Democrats hold 235 of 435 seats and where only a simple majority
is required for impeachment? A left-leaning House minority wants the
body to exercise its constitutional authority. But don’t hold your
breath waiting for the multimillionaire House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and
other well-heeled Wall Street Democrats to act. They know that a
thoroughly debased Republican Party would never try to remove Trump
from office, and they are reluctant to feed a narrative, championed by
the president and Fox News, that the former is the victim of a “witch
Yes, this is more or
less correct. Here is some more:
While Trump deserves the
historical black mark of impeachment, obstruction of justice is likely
the least of his crimes. His worst transgressions include a ramped-up
war on a habitable earth (Trump is gleefully enabling the fossil fuel
industry’s exterminatory campaign to turn the planet into a giant
greenhouse gas chamber), his nativist war on immigrants, his
championing and passage of a regressive tax cut in an already absurdly
unequal society, his ongoing campaign to kick millions of vulnerable
people off the health insurance rolls, and his broadly authoritarian
wars on truth, democracy and the rule of law.
Well, I agree with
Street on what Trump is doing, but then neither of the things
he mentions was investigated by Mueller.
Here is some more:
Pelosi and the rest of
establishment Democrats are right to calculate that an impeachment
spectacle would not only sputter in the Senate but perhaps even benefit
Trump and his party in 2020, much as it did for Bill Clinton in the
late 1990s. If nothing else, it would likely help Trump rally his
horrid white-nationalist base in several key battleground states.
I think this is also mostly
correct. Here is some more:
This also may be correct.
Barring the onset of a
recession (another distinct possibility), only popular front-runner
Bernie Sanders is likely to prevail against Trump. And, as in the last
presidential election cycle, corporate politicos are already working to
sabotage the nomination of their most viable candidate in a general
Look for the Democratic
establishment to do everything it can to prevent its party from
defeating Trump in 2020. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. At this point,
the party exists to serve its corporate clients. Its leaders fear the
specter of socialism while the world’s most powerful nation threatens
to slide into fascism.
Establishment Democrats would
rather lose to a white-nationalist right than even the mildly
social-democratic left within their own party. It’s why the late
political scientist Sheldon Wolin labeled them “the
Inauthentic Opposition.” --
Perhaps. Also, this would
considerably more convincing if Street (or somebody else) had given evidence
about the corruption of a great number of elected Democrats. In fact, I
think he may be right, but I do not know the evidence.
Here is the last bit that I
quote from this article:
The Democrats were neoliberal
partners in Trump’s ascent; now they appear eager to ensure the
second term of a presidency that could spell the end of American
Well... this is quite
possible, and this is a recommended article.
and Its Promoters and Profiteers
This article is by
David Swanson on Washington's Blog. It starts as follows:
Max Blumenthal’s new book,
“The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State
Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump,” is over 300 pages
and wastes not a word. It also does far more than it claims.
“This book,” Blumenthal
writes, “makes the case that Trump’s election would not have been
possible without 9/11 and the subsequent military interventions
conceived by the national security state. Further, I argue that if the
CIA had not spent over a billion dollars arming Islamist militants in
Afghanistan against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War,
empowering jihadist godfathers like Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin
Laden in the process, the 9/11 attacks would have almost certainly not
taken place. And if the Twin Towers were still standing today, it is
not hard to imagine an alternate political universe in which a
demagogue like Trump was still relegated to real estate and reality TV.”
I like Max Blumenthal,
and the second paragraph may be true, though the problem with it is
that none of the things Blumenthal says might have happened did
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
This is a recommended article.
“The Management of
not only shows us what it sets out to, but shows us some of why and how
people have been led to believe false narratives. “The American people
did not choose this fight,” lied President Barack Obama. “It came to
our shores and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.”
If you believe that one, I’ve got a couple of dozen presidential
candidates to sell you.
Is the 'AI Agenda,' Who's Pushing It and Why?
article is by Jim Hightower on Common Dreams and originally on
Creators. This is from close to its beginning:
Well... yes and no. I have
a remark on each paragraph.
What? AI stands for
artificial intelligence, the rapidly advancing digital technology of
creating cerebral computers — essentially, robots that think. Able to
program themselves, act on their own and even reproduce, these
cognitive automatons are coming soon to McDonald's and other workplaces
Yes, exclaimed the
innovative CEO, consumers need a robotic order-taker to advise them on
what to order — based on AI's ability to analyze millions of data bits
about the weather, traffic, time of day and what other people are
ordering. "Decision technology" it's called, and Steve spent 300
million McDollars to buy a whole company that peddles these so-called
The AI outfit says the
benefit of its brainy computer system is that it allows "the rapid and
scalable creation of highly targeted digital interactions." Now what
could be more inviting than that?
First, I do not think that AI is (now) creating "robots that think", at least not as you or I are thinking.
Second, "the innovative
CEO" is the CEO of McDonald, and one of the points of AI is that it
currently get any information that is on virtually any computer that is
connected to the internet, including more about your own life and your
own privacies than you recall.
Third, "the rapid and
scalable creation of highly targeted digital interactions" is total bullshit,
but it is no fault of Hightower, but an example of how CEOs lie.
Here is some more:
Far from helping you, the
snazzy new AI ordering system at McDonald's will be helping the
corporation by silently compiling personal information about you,
ranging from your "movement patterns" to your license plate number. As
Easterbrook admits, McDonald's will use the technology to "make the
most" of the data collected.
The CEO of McDonald's may
be talking about his "digital interaction" plan, but most corporate
bosses won't talk about theirs in public. Amongst themselves — psssst —
they whisper excitedly about implementing a transformative "AI agenda"
across our economy.
In their boardrooms and clubrooms, however, top executives see AI as
their golden calf — a holy path to windfall profits and personal
enrichment by replacing whole swaths of their workforce with an
automated army of cheap machines that don't demand raises, take time
off or form unions. Kai-Fu Lee, a longtime tech exec, confided to The
New York Times that AI "will eliminate 40 percent of the world's jobs
within 15 years."
Well, yes but it is far
less the probable fact that "whole swaths of their workforce" will be replaced "with an
automated army of cheap machines that don't demand raises" etc. then the fact that AI
gives those who have the money to abuse it the possibility of knowing
(in principe, on some hard disk, that may not (yet) have been read by
human eyes) absolutely everything about anyone - which is the utter
death of any personal privacy, and therefore (I think) the utter death
of any realistic personal freedom (except for the braindead
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Executives try to skate by
the human toll by saying that the machine takeover is a natural
process, the inevitable march of technological progress. Hogwash! The
AI agenda is not coming from the gods, nature or machines. It's a
choice being made by an elite group of corporate and political powers
trying to impose their selfish interests on everyone else.
Yes indeed, and this is a
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 3 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 (!!).