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Nederlog

January 25, 2015
Crisis: Financial Elites, Blair Loved Gaddafi, Hitchcock, Taxes, Brussels
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

Sections
Introduction

1. A too powerful financial elite threatens wider prosperity
2. Revealed: how Blair colluded with Gaddafi regime in
     secret

3.
Unseen Alfred Hitchcock Holocaust documentary to be
     released

4. 
Big Tax Bills for the Poor, Tiny Ones for the Rich
5. Ilargi: Brussels is a Bunch of Criminals 


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, January 25, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a critical report by Summers and Balls, that seems good to Will Hutton; item 2 is about one of Tony Blair's corruptions (his everlasting love for Gaddafi, and his help to him and his secret service while prime minister); item 3 is about a Hitchcock documentary that is finally released after 70 years; item 4 is about taxes: the richer you get, the less you pay, in America's "democracy" (but the rich all complain the poor have "easy lives"); and item 5 is one reaction to Draghi's giving 1.1 trillion euros to the European banks.

Also, as I said yesterday (for the few who read Dutch and are interested):
I converted two autobiography files, nl. 27 and 28. The text of 1984 now is blue; that of 2014 is black. (Unfortunately, this is difficult with the html-editor I have to use, and 28 has to be done again.)

1.  A too powerful financial elite threatens wider prosperity

The first item today is an article by Will Hutton on The Guardian:

In fact, I think the title contains two words to many, and should have been: "A financial elite threatens wider prosperity" - which also seems obvious, since (1) financial elites tend to work only to increase their own payments and profits - as indeed most men do, but the financial elites have much more power, and (2) I think it is a major social mistake to equalize having lots of power and lots of money (but SCOTUS disagrees: corporations = people, and money = votes, according to its incredible wisdom), and in fact I think a financial elite should not be a social elite: they are anyway from a very small set of people who either made their money fraudulently, most often [1], or inherited their money, without doing anything.

But OK - Will Hutton has read a report, called Inclusive Prosperity (<- pdf), written under the leadership of Larry Summers (<- Wikipedia) and Ed Balls (<- Wikipedia), and he is impressed:

(..) the report is something of a landmark. In a series of killer graphs, it eloquently tells the story of today’s dysfunctions. The growth in the incomes of the bottom 90% of industrialised countries’ workforces is everywhere slowing down, but is actually falling in the US and UK. The share of wages in national income is falling. Wage growth is everywhere lagging behind productivity growth. Austerity is causing ever-diminishing growth prospects. And my favourite – The Great Gatsby graph – shows how as income inequality grows, so inter-generational mobility slows.

Of course globalisation and new technology are a cause of some of this, but the commissioners go much further. Responsible too are weakened trade unions, along with companies that put the maximisation of the share price – and thus executive pay – before all else. It is obvious that well-functioning capitalist economies need a broadly based growth of wages and companies incentivised to invest and innovate to deliver the goods and services thus demanded; it is just as obvious that we don’t have them and need to create them.

I say. I have downloaded and looked at the pdf, that indeed does show some good graphs, but I did not have the time to read it (it also is 171 pages, and it 
is written in economese - few "the"s, very many "would"s, quite a few terms of art - though this indeed also could have been worse).

Besides, I have this dilemma: If you read the Wikipedia's on Summers and Balls, you'll find both were very high in the US resp. British governments, and seem to have contributed considerably to part of the very great economical problems that plague the West since 2008.

I must conclude that the most likely explanation is that if even these two figures
are very worried about the economy they helped themselves to bring about, then the economy is in an even more major mess than most men believe.

But  I do not know. You can make up your own mind by clicking the last dotted link, and by reading "Inclusive Prosperity", though the last will not be easy, indeed also because it seems a bit odd that Larry Summers (<- Wikipedia) and Ed Balls (<- Wikipedia) wrote it (together with quite a few others).

2. Revealed: how Blair colluded with Gaddafi regime in secret

The next item is an article by Ian Cobain on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Tony Blair wrote to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to thank him for the “excellent cooperation” between the two countries’ counter-terrorism agencies following a period during which the UK and Libya worked together to arrange for Libyan dissidents to be kidnapped and flown to Tripoli, along with their families.

The letter, written in 2007, followed a period in which the dictator’s intelligence officers were permitted to operate in the UK, approaching and intimidating Libyan refugees in an attempt to persuade them to work as informants for both countries’ agencies.

Addressed “Dear Mu’ammar” and signed “Best wishes yours ever, Tony”, the letter was among hundreds of pages of documents recovered from Libyan government offices following the 2011 revolution and pieced together by a team of London lawyers.

I say: The prime minister of Great Britain thanks a dictator ("Best wishes, yours ever, Tony")
"for the “excellent cooperation” between the two countries’ counter-terrorism agencies following a period during which the UK and Libya worked together to arrange for Libyan dissidents to be kidnapped and flown to Tripoli, along with their families."
Where they would be tortured...

Well - there is a lot more under the last dotted link, and the least you should do is read Blair's letter to his everlasting much beloved friend Gaddafi.


3. Unseen Alfred Hitchcock Holocaust documentary to be released

The next item is an article by Ben Child on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

An Alfred Hitchcock documentary about the Holocaust, which was suppressed for political reasons, is to be screened for the first time in the form its director intended after being restored by the Imperial War Museum, reports the Independent.

Hitchcock was asked to assemble footage shot by a British army film unit cameraman of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. But the resulting documentary, which had been commissioned in an attempt to inform and educate the German populace about the atrocities carried out by the Nazis in their name, was ultimately held back.

It was not shown at all until 1984, in an incomplete version at the Berlin film festival, and was missing a sixth reel and in poor quality when it was screened on the PBS network in the US a year later. Now the film, retrospectively titled Memory of the Camps, is to finally see the light of day in a format Hitchcock would have approved of.

I am quite interested in this because my father, his father, and my mother were members of the Dutch communist resistance to the Nazis, who arrested my father and grandfather in 1941, tortured them, and had them convicted as "political terrorists" to German concentration camps, where my grandfather was murdered.
My father survived more than 3 years and 9 months of these camps, and in the end was knighted, in 1980 - as one from only two Dutch communists, as the communists were vastly discriminated in Holland as "traitors of the Dutch nation" - for making a quite successful exposition about the dangers of fascism and the concentration camps.

Also, I know about the existence of this film for some 50 years, at least, and was always interested, firstly because of the subject and secondly because of Hitchcock: I liked most of the films he made that I saw. [2]

I understand this film is supposed to be "
both terrible and brilliant at the same time", but since I have seen vastly more about concentration camps than most people, I think I can handle that, and indeed I do hope - at long last indeed: 70 years after WW II - to be able to see it. (But no, I don't have a TV.)
 
4. Big Tax Bills for the Poor, Tiny Ones for the Rich

The next item is an article by David Sirota on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

American politics are dominated by those with money. As such, America’s tax debate is dominated by voices that insist the rich are unduly persecuted by high taxes and that low-income folks are living the high life. Indeed, a new survey by the Pew Research Center recently found that the most financially secure Americans believe “poor people today have it easy.”

The rich are certainly entitled to their own opinions—but, as the old saying goes, nobody is entitled to his or her own facts. With that in mind, here’s a set of tax facts that’s worth considering: Middle- and low-income Americans are facing far higher state and local tax rates than the wealthy. In all, a comprehensive analysis by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent).

Well, let me first direct a few words to "the most financially secure Americans" who believe that (I quote) “poor people today have it easy.”

First of all, my congratulations on the vast riches you own - and no, I do not envy you them, if only because I think the vast majority of all riches are earned by fraud or by dishonest exploitation: You cannot be an exception to that rule, nearly all of you. [1]

Second, I have lived now for 45 years on the lowest income that is possible in Holland (that for decades was lower than the minimal legal income), and I have for 45 years lived on 10 guilders or 10 euros a day, after paying the rent, the gas and electricity, and these days the utterly degenerate premiums - 6 times what they were!  - for "health care", that even force me to pay my own sleeping pills. [3]

Third, none of you rich moral degenerates was forced to live a life like I was forced to live, by real illness that for the 37th year is denied by the sick moral degenerates who rule Amsterdam for the benefit of themselves and their drugsdealing friends, for which reason I get quite angry to read your sick and immoral lies that
“poor people today have it easy”:

None of you was gassed by drugsdealers, but I was, because I was ill and poor but objected to their presence in the house where I also lived; nor was anyone of you rich degenerates threatened for nearly four years with murder by the same drugsdealers, while these were all the time protected by the police, the district attorney and the mayor, who refused, and refused and refused and refused and refused to answer any letter I personally handed to his doorman, and has not answered anything I wrote ever.

Fourth - no, I stop.

There is more under the last dotted link.

5. Ilargi: Brussels is a Bunch of Criminals

The next and last item today is an article by Raul Ilargi Meyer on Nakedcapitalism:

This starts as follows:

I was going to start out saying yesterday was the saddest day in Europe in 50 years, or something like that, because of the insane and completely nonsensical largesse the ECB permits itself to launch, aimed at once again saving a banking system, but which will not only not help the European people, it will make things even much worse than they already are. Which is also, lest we overlook that ‘detail’, entirely thanks to the ECB/EU/IMF Troika.

I’ve said many times that the EU in its present form should be dismantled tomorrow morning (even though it’s not the same tomorrow morning anymore), and if Draghi’s $1.1 million x million ‘stimulus’ should make anything clear, it’s that the dismantling gets more urgent by the day.

But calling it the saddest day in Europe in 50 years would show far too little respect for the people who died in former Yugoslavia, and in eastern Ukraine. It’s still a very sad day, though. And I was already thinking about that even before I read Theopi Skarlatos’ article for the BBC; that really made me want to cry.

When you read about female doctors(!) feeling forced to prostitute themselves to feed their children, about the number of miscarriages doubling, and about the overall sense of helplessness and destitution among the Greek population, especially the young, who see no way of even starting to build a family, then I can only say: Brussels is a bunch of criminals. And Draghi’s QE announcement is a criminal act. It’s a good thing the bond-buying doesn’t start until March, and that it’s on a monthly base: that means it can still be stopped.

There is a lot more under the last dotted link. And it doesn't get any less radical.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Notes

[1] O yes! Most money is being made by a profit margin of 2 to 5 %, for which reason the few who get the information that allows them to make 10% or 50% or more must have - somehow - come by that information dishonestly. (Also, these facts were known already in the 18th Century - though then indeed the very rich did not lie that the poor had it so very easy.)

[2] Another reason to be especially interested in Hitchcock is that the films I have seen about the concentration camps were for the most part not very good, indeed often because of lack of money and/or lack of filmed materials (for the Nazis also were rather secretive about their concentration camps). Hitchcock had the money, the talents, and some - then - very recent filmed materials from several German concentration camps that were liberated by the British army.

[3] Although the rule is "1 euro = 2.20 guilders" in fact a euro is much like a guilder (or less: I have seen tin breadboxes on offer for 245 euros, that cost ca. 15 guilders - 7 euros - 20 years ago!), and I had considerably more money in the time of the guilder than I have in the time of the euro, and in fact numerically - apart from the euro or the guilder - I get about the same, but I can buy even less these days.
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