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Nederlog

February 16, 2015
Crisis: British society, We Europeans, Porn, Major Disasters, Pharmaceutical Rape
  "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. British society favours the rich – the tax avoidance
     scandal makes this clear

2. We Europeans must face up to our own security
     challenges
 
3. ‘Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like’
4. This is How the World Ends: Twelve Risks That Threaten
     Human Existence

5. Pharmaceutical Rape
 
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 16, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about how British society favors the rich; item 2 is pretty sick nonsense about We Europeans Who Must Live With An All-for-one, One-for-all Security Guarantee (+ Kant + Venus + Mars); item 3 is Chis Hedges about pornography; item 4 is about major disasters; and item 5 is about pharmaceutical rape (which does exist).

1. British society favours the rich – the tax avoidance scandal makes this clear

The first item today is an article by Owen Jones on The Blauified "Guardian":
This has the following subtitle:
While the poor’s smallest misdemeanours are punished, the rich are able to draft the loopholes they then use to avoid tax
I like the subtitle, because one of the consequences I have drawn from the deregulation, that is now going on for 35 years, and the very shameful saving of the banks and the mega-rich criminal bank managers, is that I now live in times
that are closer to a 100 years ago than to 40 years ago, and that the real economic conflict is between the rich, who are all very proud to be greedy egoists, and who form 1-10% of any society, together with their eager servants, and the poor, who make up most of the rest.

And yes: Without rules and laws, that are used to protect the poor and the middle class, and that took care that the income all of a society earns gets distributed with some fairness, but that now have been mostly shifted aside by propaganda and bullshit from the rich, and from their spokesmen, the ever lying creeps who lie for the rich in their "public relations" scams, and who write all the advertisements that are everywhere, it really is down to these terms: the battle between the few, greedy, egoististic, lying, deceiving rich, and the many poor (most of whom are not well educated, and therefore easily tricked, deceived, deluded, scammed, and frauded).

Also, while I am poor and on the side of the poor, and while I know there are many more poor than rich, I do not know who will win, since the rich owe big money, have fine false propaganda from "public relations" and, especially, now know almost everything about almost anyone, in principle, and also in fact,
if you are a known opponent of the government, all thanks to the NSA, the GCHQ etc.

Anyway... the article starts as follows (and is about Great Britain):
Life is cheaper for the rich. That holds for many reasons – not being saddled with personal debt, for example – but being able to use devious means to avoid paying tax is one privilege of the rich. Lord Fink tried to mitigate the embarrassment of his climbdown with Ed Miliband by claiming that “everyone” avoids tax. This attempt by wealthy individuals to sow mass confusion about what tax avoidance is must not go unchecked.

The retort of tax avoidance apologists always goes like this: “Ever bought anything from duty free? Got an Isa by any chance?” There are many ways to avoid tax, goes this line of attack, and everyone from a hospital cleaner to a multibillionaire hedge fund manager uses them. This nonsensical argument reinvents what tax avoidance actually is. As HMRC puts it: “Tax avoidance is bending the rules of the tax system to gain a tax advantage that parliament never intended.” To avoid tax is to not pay tax parliament intended you to pay; it is to go against the spirit of the law without going against the letter of the law; it is to exploit loopholes that by definition were unintended.

Yes. There is also this:
Tax avoidance really underlines how different life is for the rich and for everybody else. Wealthy individuals can afford accountants to zealously hunt down loopholes and exploit legislation. The “big four” accountancy firms are themselves employed by government to advise on drafting tax laws. As the House of Commons public accounts committee has detailed, they then use their expertise to tell their clients how to get around the legislation they have helped to draft.
(...)
To avoid tax is to scrounge off the state. Rich individuals and major companies depend on the state: whether it be a financial system that was bailed out by the state; state-funded infrastructure; tax credits to subsidise the wages of their low-paid workers; a law-and-order system to protect them and their property; an education system to train up their workforce and those of other institutions they depend on; and so on.
Yes, indeed. There is more under the last dotted link. (And as Justice Holmes said, quite memorably: "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society" - those who do not want to pay them, who are mostly the rich, are against any civilized society.)

2. We Europeans must face up to our own security challenges

The next item is an article by Natalie Nougayrède on The Blauified "Guardian": I picked this article because I disagreed with the title: If you believe that "We Europeans" are there, and may be addressed, you must have a very different mind from mine.

And indeed... "We Europeans" are told by Ms
Nougayrède that (hold on, for Herr Blau found it also important enough to quote again in big letters):
For years, Europe built its common project with a Kantian view of the world – the Venus syndrome (with the US as Mars), as described by Robert Kagan(...)
I have no idea who Robert Kagan might be; I know about the bullshit mythology about women from Venus and men from Mars, but have no idea whatsoever what
this utter sillines has to do with Kant; I have read Kant, being a philosopher, in German also, I think very probably quite unlike Ms
Nougayrède, but have no idea what she may be talking about, apart from Venus and Mars, that do not occur in either of his Critiques..... in brief, this is utter bullshit. (But Ms Nougayrède picture is some 2 by 2 inches, so clearly she must be A Great Writer, according to Herr Blau, at least.)

Here is one other gem of this Great Mind:
But the fact that debates continue about Nato’s ability to enact Article 5 of its treaty (the all-for-one, one-for-all security guarantee set in place for its members) is testimony to how shaky the transatlantic bond has come to be perceived.
I will skip the lousy grammar ("fact - debates - testimony - bond - come - perceived") and merely comment on what the debates are about:
(the all-for-one, one-for-all security guarantee set in place for its members)
The reason there are debates about this is that this is a completely crazy piece of propagandistic bullshit:

Nations - territories with a population with a definite language and long, centuries old, traditions of doing many things in their own ways (rightly or wrongly) - have a fairly well-defined historical existence; federalist partnerships of tens of different nations with different languages
and different norms and regulations are completely new creatures and have no well-defined historical existence whatsoever, while the notion that all these different nations have to act as "
all-for-one, one-for-all" - Greece? Portugal?
- merely is an insane piece of wishful thinking by "European politicians" who
are full of nonsense, propaganda, and no knowledge of literature beyond the utterly fictional "The Three Musketeers"
.

But OK - here then is the background from Wikipedia:

The Three Musketeers (French: Les Trois Mousquetaires [le tʁwa muskətɛʁ]) is a novel by Alexandre Dumas.

Set in the 17th century, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. D'Artagnan is not one of the musketeers of the title; those being his friends Athos, Porthos and Aramis, inseparable friends who live by the motto "all for one, one for all" ("tous pour un, un pour tous"), a motto which is first put forth by d'Artagnan.
All pure fiction, even for persons, but adapted by scarcely thinking politicians for tens of nations, as a rule for each and for all...

3.
‘Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like’

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
“Fifty Shades of Grey,” the book and the movie, is a celebration of the sadism that dominates nearly every aspect of American culture and lies at the core of pornography and global capitalism. It glorifies our dehumanization of women. It champions a world devoid of compassion, empathy and love. It eroticizes hypermasculine power that carries out the abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture of women whose personalities have been removed, whose only desire is to debase themselves in the service of male lust. The film, like “American Sniper,”  unquestioningly accepts a predatory world where the weak and the vulnerable are objects to exploit while the powerful are narcissistic and violent demigods. It blesses this capitalist hell as natural and good.

“Pornography,” Robert Jensen writes, “is what the end of the world looks like.”

I haven't read or seen "Fifty Shades of Grey" and do not want to because I dislike sadism and masochism. I have seen some porn, but not on the internet, and most of that is from the eighties or nineties. Most of the porn I've seen - all regular, straight, and without obvious perversions, which I simply don't like - seemed fairly innocent to me, but then I haven't seen much, most of it is at least 15 years old, and - having been born in 1950 - I well know the distinctions between sex and love, and while I like sex I don't mistake it for love.

And I suppose - but do not know - that I may be a bit more innocent than most, simply because I haven't seen much porn and also am not much interested in it, though I like women and sex, but indeed not reduced to mere porn, which - for what I've seen - tends to be fairly stupid and single-minded, and is intellectually completely non-alluring.

From Chris Hedges's story I get a rather different view from porn. I will leave the starker bits to your interests, and just quote two bits with some backgrounds.

First, there is this:
A new wave of feminists, who have betrayed the iconic work of radicals such as Andrea Dworkin, defends porn as a form of sexual liberation and self-empowerment. These “feminists,” grounded in Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, are stunted products of neoliberalism and postmodernism. Feminism, for them, is no longer about the liberation of women who are oppressed; it is defined by a handful of women who are successful, powerful and wealthy—or, as in the case of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” able to snag a rich and powerful man.
I suppose this is more right than not, and indeed I agree with Hedges that both neoliberalism and postmodernism are evil and stupid schemes of ideological wishful thinking very much rather than serious - if mistaken - philosophy. Indeed, their crudeness is an important part of the reason for their popularity: Most men (and most women also) are not very intelligent, and are much easier moved by crude but appealing falsities and deceptions than by any subtle argument.

And there is this on the financial side of things:

The income of the global porn industry is estimated at $96 billion, with the United States market worth about $13 billion. There are, Dines writes, “420 million Internet porn pages, 4.2 million porn Web sites, and 68 million search engine requests for porn daily.” [To see excerpts from Dines’ book, click here.]
I say. I assume the $96 billion is yearly, but I don't really know how big this is (though it seems less than Big Pharma makes from psychiatric drugs!) nor how to compare it, except that per present inhabitant of the earth it works out as a little over $ 13 per person per year - but that is all persons, of any age and any sex.

Anyay - there is considerably more under the last dotted link, and I have not served the more awful or the more sexy bits. Also, while I guess Chris Hedges'
reaction is rather stronger than mine, he does have a point.

4.  This is How the World Ends: Twelve Risks That Threaten Human Existence

The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Extreme climate change. Global pandemic. Major asteroid impact. The rise of artificial intelligence.

These are just a few of the potentially world-ending events that threaten civilization as we know it, according to a new report from researchers at Oxford University.

The study, "Global Challenges" (pdf), urges readers to consider a new category of global risks—low-probability, high-impact scenarios that hover at the extreme end of the spectrum.

"This report has, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, created the first list of global risks with impacts that for all practical purposes can be called infinite." However, the authors note, "the real focus is not on the almost unimaginable impacts of the risks the report outlines. Its fundamental purpose is to encourage global collaboration and to use this new category of risk as a driver for innovation."

I say. Well... here are the risks the study distinguishes:

Current risks

1. Extreme Climate Change
2. Nuclear War
3. Ecological Catastrophe
4. Global Pandemic
5. Global System Collapse

Exogenic risks

6. Major Asteroid Impact
7. Supervolcano

Emerging risks

8. Synthetic Biology
9. Nanotechnology
10. Artificial Intelligence
11. Uncertain Risks

Global policy risk

12. Future Bad Global Governance

I want to add one more, although this may fall under (12):
13. The rise of financial fascism + universal secret surveillance
For it seems to me I may be witnessing the start of this, both in the U.S. and in Europe, and while this will not end humanity's existence, it will, if it is successful,
make most men into effective slaves
of the very few very rich (while the many powerless poor even may be kept synthetically happy with new drugs).

There is more under the last dotted link.

5.
Pharmaceutical Rape

The next and last item today is an article by David Healy (a professor of psychiatry) on his site:
This starts as follows (with the colors as in the original, but with the fonts straightened out a bit and all converted to Verdana) and is by Laurie Oakley:

PHARMACEUTICAL RAPE

An act of plunder, violent seizure or abuse, despoliation, to rob of goods by force, to seize wrongfully or by force, steal.

PHARMACEUTICAL RAPE CULTURE

A concept that examines a culture in which harm from pharmaceutical products is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about medicine and health care. It is a complex set of beliefs that encourages capitalistic, pharmaceutical domination of healthcare and supports everyday harms in medical and mental health care settings. It is a society where harm is only acknowledged as rare, yet is accepted as necessary, and inevitable. In a pharmaceutical rape culture, doctors and patients unknowingly trust what are oftentimes pseudo-scientific facts put forth by drug makers about drug safety. Both doctors and patients end up disbelieving the reality of the adverse events they see and instead believe alternate explanations for such events. A pharmaceutical rape culture condones harms caused by the industry-government-medical trade alliance because the culture produces, reproduces, and is completely saturated with “information” that supports that alliance.

BEHAVIORS ASSOCIATED WITH PHARMACEUTICAL RAPE 

    • Denial of widespread pharmaceutical rape: A tendency to remain oblivious in the face of evidence of harm.
    • Trivializing pharmaceutical rape: A response to harm by denying that real damage was done.
    • Medical/pharmaceutical objectification/commodification.: An attitude about patients that is limited to placing primary value on what goods or services can be employed for reimbursement or compensation. Reducing him/her to a commodity with value being limited to financial usefulness.
    • Victim blaming: It is your fault you were hurt because you did x, y, z. If you hadn’t done x, y, z, you would not have been harmed. You went to the doctor, you asked for medication, you consented to the treatment, you kept going back to the doctor, you didn’t do your homework, you should have known better, you should have listened to your body, I knew better and I didn’t do those things.
    • or, what you experienced was your own illness, it was your poor diet, your lifestyle, your lack of exercise, your use of alcohol or other drugs, your age, your family genetics, etc.
    •  you are at fault because you are a drug addict, (even though the addiction came about through or was aided by what is considered legitimate prescribing).
    • The refusal to acknowledge reports: only accepting controlled clinical trials and not case studies.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but while I like it (as a psychologist with excellent degrees, now ill for the 37th year, but without anybody bureaucratic or political admitting this, because this is much cheaper, and also because I protested against the illegal dealing of illegal drugs by illegal dealers that Amsterdam's mayor Van Thijn gave permission to make their profits from the bottom floor of the house where I lived, instead of his own house, or that of his aldermen, and such things are Not Done by other Dutchmen) I must say that the formatting is not very good.

But I like the piece and I also like and admire dr. Healy's courage and character.
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