who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
The Political Roots of Widening Inequality
2. Congressional Republicans
and Democrats Unite to Check
Surveillance and Patriot Act
Caving In to Corporatism: Endgame for Secret “Trade”
The Sanders Challenge
In Defense of Hillary Clinton, Democrats Embrace Citizens
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, May 2,
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about a - fairly long - article by Robert Reich; item
2 is about a bill that is supposed to pass that will assure there
is more surveillance; item 3 is a good article
about how democracy is doomed and will be overtaken by corporatism; item 4 is about the challenge of Bernie Sanders and is
a good article; and item 5 is about how the
registered Democrats shift their opinions 180 degrees to support
Also, as I briefly explained yesterday: I had problems with my
computer, that meanwhile have been overcome. (These were - in the end -
not serious, but I
did fear I had to buy another computer, which I wanted to do anyway,
The present outcome is good, because the problem was solved; I have a
new computer; and I can install it at my leisure. More later.)
And the present file got uploaded a bit earlier than is normal for me.
Political Roots of Widening Inequality
item today is an article by Robert Reich on his blog:
This starts as follows (and
this also is a longer article than is usual for Reich, at least on this
For the past
offered in articles, books, and lectures an explanation for why average
people in advanced nations like the United States have failed to gain
and are under increasing economic stress: Put simply, globalization and
technological change have made most of us less competitive. The tasks
to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by
I say. And I say so,
because this sounds pretty incredible to me, for at least two reasons:
First, I do not see any specific reason why the
supposed facts that "The
tasks we used
to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by
computer-driven machines" should
be related to being or feeling "competitive".
And second, I
don't believe there is any good research that connects feelings
(states? convictions? theories?) about "competitiveness" (anyway a word
with many different meanings) to these supposed facts (or
almost anything else).
This doesn't mean - I am "a social scientist", in some sense, after all
 - there is no such "research",
for there is a lot
of "research" in "the social sciences" that I regard as trashy anyway,
but I am pretty certain "competitiveness" is difficult to research, and
not very relevant anyway - as are "income" and "(perceived)
inequality" (for example).
But OK - Robert Reich also tells us that he changed his mind:
explanation I offered a
quarter-century ago for what has happened is still relevant—indeed, it
the standard, widely accepted explanation—I’ve come to believe it
critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of
power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to
rules by which the economy runs.
And about this he is
right, in some sense at least, for "political
not a concept all agree about, nor are "the
rules by which the economy runs".
I'll leave that for the moment, and turn to another
thing Robert Reich is right about:
Worse yet, the
ensuing debate over
the merits of the “free market” versus an activist government has
attention from how the market has come to be organized differently from
it was a half-century ago, why its current organization is failing to
the widely shared prosperity it delivered then, and what the basic
rules of the
market should be.
I agree. First, the
"ensuing debate" was almost only propaganda,
since it was based on
false premisses. The truth is that (1) there is no free market
activist government that maintains it by laws and regulations, while
(2) for most on the rightist site of the debate, the phrase "free
market" was used as a false
and intentionally confusing term that in real terms
meant the freedom
of the rich to exploit the poor without almost any law or regulation.
Next, there is this:
understanding of what has
happened to American incomes over the last 25 years requires an
changes in the organization of the market. These changes stem from a
increase in the political power of large corporations and Wall Street
the rules of the market in ways that have enhanced their profitability,
reducing the share of economic gains going to the majority of
True - except for the
facts that (1) this movement for the rich and against the poor started
in 1979 and 1980, with the elections of Thatcher and Reagan, which is 35
rather than 25 years ago, and (2) the "dramatic
increase in the political power of large corporations and Wall Street"
mostly consisted in very many deregulations
i.e. abandonments of legal rules that protected the
non-rich many from the rich few, which indeed had the effects Reich
stated, and besides were effected by the incredible corruption of
Holder and Obama, who chose to create "too big to fail"
banks led by "too big to jail" financial criminals. 
And indeed, Reich sees that as well, for he later says:
Financial laws and
instituted in the wake of the Great Crash of 1929 and the consequential
Depression have been abandoned—restrictions on interstate banking, on
intermingling of investment and commercial banking, and on banks
publicly held corporations, for example—thereby allowing the largest
Street banks to acquire unprecedented influence over the economy.
Precisely - which is a major
crime: The hundreds of millions non-rich are made to pay
mistakes that a few thousands rich bankers made.
Meanwhile, the largest banks
and auto manufacturers were bailed
out in the downturn of 2008–2009. The result has been to shift the
economic failure onto the backs of average working people and taxpayers.
And not only that:
corporate executives and
Wall Street managers and traders have done everything possible to
wages of most workers from rising in tandem with productivity gains, in
that more of the gains go instead toward corporate profits. Higher
profits have meant higher returns for shareholders and, directly and
indirectly, for the executives and bankers themselves.
Yes, indeed - but the
following may be a little clearer:
Fifty years ago,
when General Motors
was the largest employer in America, the typical GM worker earned $35
in today’s dollars. By 2014, America’s largest employer was Walmart,
typical entry-level Walmart worker earned about $9 an hour.
The - very large -
was pocketed by the few rich. Here is one of Reich's conclusions:
The more basic
problem is that the
market itself has become tilted ever more in the direction of moneyed
that have exerted disproportionate influence over it, while average
have steadily lost bargaining power—both economic and political—to
large a portion of the economy’s gains as they commanded in the first
decades after World War II.
That is mostly true, as is the
last paragraph of the article:
trend toward widening
inequality in America, as elsewhere, can be reversed only if the vast
whose incomes have stagnated and whose wealth has failed to increase,
together to demand fundamental change. The most important political
over the next decades will not be between the right and left, or
Republicans and Democrats. It will be between a majority of Americans
been losing ground, and an economic elite that refuses to recognize or
to its growing distress.
But I fail to see why
political right and left are - in effect - declared irrelevant:
It seems to me that the right are for the rich and the bankers
with very many lies and intentional confusions, and these days even
with a whole Orwellian
set of terms that do not mean what they do mean in
terms) and the left are for the non-rich, and it also seems to
the party of the right is the Republican Party and the party of the
left is the Democratic Party.
Indeed, one of the things I fail to understand is why so many people
there is no right nor left: I can see that most of the leading
are corrupt, lying and deceiving, and I can also see that the
supposedly leftist politicians have been turned to rightist rich careerists
who merely pretend they are leftist.
But I do not see that the few leading liars who are politicians
way refute the basic opposition between right and left that goes back
18th Century, and that still seem to be quite valid:
The right is
conservative and pro rich; the left is progressive and pro non-rich;
the right wishes to undo all regulations that protect the poor from
excessive exploitatation; the left wishes to increase
regulations that protect the poor and the non-rich; the right is for
more inequality; the left is for more equality.
And so on, and so on - but I also realize that few who talk
with dogmatic certainty have read as much as 5 or 10 procent of the
list of political texts I put up (which is quite interesting and
Republicans and Democrats Unite to Check Surveillance and Patriot Act
item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Twin bills that
would revise the Patriot Act and curb the state surveillance exposed by
Edward Snowden look certain to become law as bipartisan support mounts
in both chambers of Congress.
Unfortunately, what the "twin
bills" are remains unstated, but I take it these bills are not
the bill that is
supported by the whistleblowers. Here
is a quotation from the New York
Which is to say: Surveillance will
continue, but the phone companies have to
do the dirty work of
storing everything so that the NSA can read it at its convenience (and
the FISA "courts" are irrelevant anyway: they hardly ever object to
anything the NSA does or wants).
On Thursday, a bill that
would overhaul the Patriot Act and curtail the so-called metadata
surveillance exposed by Edward J. Snowden was overwhelmingly passed by
the House Judiciary Committee and was heading to almost certain passage
in that chamber this month.
An identical bill in the
Senate — introduced with the support of five Republicans — is gaining
support over the objection of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of
Kentucky, who is facing the prospect of his first policy defeat since
ascending this year to majority leader. …
Under the bipartisan
bills in the House and Senate, the Patriot Act would be changed to
prohibit bulk collection, and sweeps that had operated under the guise
of so-called National Security LettersU issued by the F.B.I.
would end. The data would instead be stored by the phone companies
themselves, and could be accessed by intelligence agencies only after
approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.
The legislation would
also create a panel of experts to advise the FISA court on privacy,
civil liberties, and technology matters, while requiring the
declassification of all significant FISA court opinions.
But yes, this is the probable future of surveillance: it will
and most of what you hear in the mass media about it, including
the New York Times, is propaganda
and/or subtly or grossly misleading bullshit.
Caving In to Corporatism: Endgame for Secret “Trade” Pact Negotiations
item is an article by Don Quijones on Wolf Street:
This starts as follows:
Two game-changing trade
agreements — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
and its sister pact, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — are
perilously close to completion. Their basic aims are three-fold: to
elevate the rights of “investors,” that is of corporations, above the
rights of citizens; to transfer sovereignty from the seats of national
government to the corporate HQs of the world’s largest multinationals;
and to cement Western domination of the global economy for the
Naturally, few voters are
likely to support such a radical program. Hence the acute need for
secrecy, obfuscation and lies throughout the negotiation process.
Eventually, even they are not enough. The lies start showing through
and the flimsy facade begins to slip. In the later stages — roughly
where we are now — the only way to finish the job is to incrementally,
almost imperceptibly snuff out the institution of representative
democracy itself. To do that, one must still keep the illusion of
democracy alive, at least until the ink on its death warrant (i.e. a
fully signed trade agreement) is dry.
Yes, quite so - and Don
Quijones article is quite good and well worth reading, even though it
is far from optimistic. It ends as follows:
Unfortunately, few people
in positions of power or responsibility seem to notice or care, while
the vast majority of the population remains oblivious to what is even
happening under their noses. And that is how democracy dies.
The Sanders Challenge
item is an article by Robert Borosage on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed - though I have to
add that if Sen. Bernie Sanders is "not widely known" the
reason must be that the majority of the Americans is (at least) quite ignorant about
and politicians - which again is not amazing if it is true (as I have
heard repeatedly, from different sources) that 60% (!!) of the
day Americans believe that Noah's Ark really
Tweeting that “America
needs a political revolution,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders threw
himself Thursday into the race for the Democratic nomination for the
Sanders is in many ways
the mirror image of Hillary Clinton, the favored candidate in the race.
She has universal name recognition, unlimited funds, and a campaign
operation rife with experienced political pros. He is not widely known,
has little money, and has never run a national campaign. But in a
populist moment, he is the real deal – a full-throated, unabashed,
independent, uncorrupted, straight-talking populist. And that is a big
Anyway - this is a good article that well deserves full reading. Here
is some about the good points about Sanders:
Note that there is
considerably more in the article (and I mostly agree with
Sanders, who seems one of the few honest, intelligent and sensible
Sanders has already
released a 12-point Economic
Agenda for America. He
has been a leader in
what is increasingly a consensus agenda for Democrats: an increase in
the minimum wage, paid sick days, paid vacation, pay equity, affordable
But Sanders’ agenda is
far bolder. It addresses the structures that are geared to generate
extreme inequality. Since 1978, CEOs have increased their own pay by
almost 1,000 percent, while the wages of 90 percent of Americans have
lost ground. As Sanders says, that can occur only if the rules are
systematically rigged to favor the few.
So Sanders calls for an
end to the corporate-defined trade and tax policies that have racked up
unprecedented and ruinous trade deficits while shipping good jobs
abroad. He is a leader in the effort to stop fast track and the
Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is supported by the Democratic
president, the Republican congressional leadership and the business
He calls for breaking up
the big banks, and making Wall Street serve rather than savage Main
Street. The big banks are more concentrated than ever. Too big to fail,
too big to jail, they are too big to exist. His leading donors are
unions, not Wall Street bankers.
Here is the end of the article:
And win or lose,
Sanders’ campaign will have far greater importance than serving as
Clinton’s trainer. His message will reach millions, helping to
reinforce the central realization that the rules have been rigged
against them. He will powerfully attack Republicans for both their
fawning billionaires competition and their reactionary economics.
Yes, indeed. If he looses, as indeed he well
may, it will be because he lacks the money, and not because his ideas
and values are bad. And in any case, he will
Running for president
against the Clinton operation, with little money and limited name
recognition, risks embarrassment and reputation. Sanders has decided
that the stakes are high enough and it is time to take that risk.
Whether you support him or not, don’t discount him. He’s the real deal
and this is a big deal.
have the opportunity to make his ideas and values more widely heard
than they were till now, and that is important as well.
In Defense of Hillary Clinton, Democrats Embrace Citizens United
item today is an article by David Sirota on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
I say?! But no, I see no
reason to doubt David Sirota, and indeed he gives evidence in the rest
of the article, which is well worth reading in full.
Less than three weeks
into her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has already
accomplished a stunning feat: She appears to have unified large swaths
of the Democratic Party and its activist base to support the core
tenets of the Citizens United decision—the one that effectively allowed
unlimited money into politics.
That 2010 Supreme Court
ruling declared that, unless there is an explicit quid pro quo, the
fact that major campaign donors “may have influence over or access to
elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt.” The
theory is that as long as a donor and a politician do not agree to an
overt bribe, everything is A-OK.
When the ruling was
handed down, Democrats were outraged, and Hillary Clinton herself has
recently suggested she wants it overturned. Yet with revelations that
firms with business before Clinton’s State Department donated to her
foundation and paid her husband, Clinton’s campaign and rank-and-file
Democratic activists are suddenly championing the Citizens United
He also says:
To advocates for
limiting the influence of money in politics, this pushback from
Democrats is particularly rich (pun intended) coming from a party that
spent a decade asserting that Republicans raking in cash from Big Oil
and pushing oil-friendly policies was rank corruption. The Democratic
defense of their presumptive presidential nominee registers as
especially disturbing to campaign finance reform advocates considering
the mighty efficiency of the Clinton fundraising machine.
Yes, indeed. And for me
it either proves or strongly supports the notion that the majority of
the registered Democrats are more like cattle-following-the-Leader than
human beings - and please note that I am speaking of "registered
Democrats" rather than of "Democrats" or "Americans".
And in case you think that is too strong: I also think that most
politically active people in either American party are personal careerists,
these days, much rather than honest rational persons, and I
think that was mostly brought about in the Democratic Party by the
other Clinton, Bill himself, who argued for the lie
that is known as
the Third Way.
Namely because I have an excellent M.A. in psychology, and besides know
the University of Amsterdam very well, because I visited it regularly
there between 1970-2005. Besides, I know more about methodology and
science than anyone I've ever met.
Yes, they chose to do so, and yes it was - very - corrupt.
And to the best of my knowledge, Eric Holder already affirmed in 1999
that he would not jail big corrupt and criminal bankers on the
explicit - completely illegal - ground that he supposed their
banks were "too big to fail". And then he got to control the
 I have
read or heard this several times, and each time it was received with little
amazement, even though this means that 60% of the present Americans are
both more stupid and more dogmatic than their - much more
religious! - forefathers of the 18th Century, who were not as
minded. (I do not know whether it is correct, but if it is
I'll be pretty disappointed though not very amazed.)