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."
Crisis of Public Morality, Not Private Morality
2. Krugman: Why Bush's
Attack on Trump is Exactly Wrong
3. "I'm In": Lawrence
Lessig Confirms White House Run
Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts
5. Crane Brinton on
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday,
September 8, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about an article by Robert Reich I completely agree with, but I do not
broadly based citizen
movement to rescue our democracy"
(and also have a radical proposal of my own, although I don't see that
being practised either, though it is quite simple
and quite fair to at least 97% of all
Americans); item 2 is about an article by
Paul Krugman that in fact shows the large differences between the
educated minorities, and the majority the third Bush relies on; item 3 is about Lawrence Lessig, who runs for
president, in whose success I cannot believe; item 4
is about a review of a book by economist Michael Hudson, who seems an
interesting man; and item 5 is about a book about
revolution (which I haven't read, but I offer a few thoughts and an
Crisis of Public Morality, Not Private Morality
The first article today is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
This is followed by a sketch
how things were quite different in "the first three decades
after World War II", that also seems correct to me, as does the above
quotation, but which I leave to your interests.
At a time many Republican
presidential candidates and state legislators are furiously focusing on
private morality – what people do in their bedrooms, contraception,
abortion, gay marriage – America is experiencing a far more significant
crisis in public morality.
CEOs of large
corporations now earn 300 times the wages of average workers. Insider
trading is endemic on Wall Street, where hedge-fund and private-equity
moguls are taking home hundreds of millions.
A handful of
extraordinarily wealthy people are investing unprecedented sums in the
upcoming election, seeking to rig the economy for their benefit even
more than it’s already rigged.
Yet the wages of average
working people continue to languish as jobs are off-shored or
off-loaded onto “independent contractors.”
All this is in sharp
contrast to the first three decades after World War II.
Then there is this:
The change began when
Wall Street convinced the Reagan Administration and subsequent
administrations to repeal regulations put in place after the crash of
1929 to prevent a repeat of the excesses that had led to the Great
This, in turn, moved the
American economy from stakeholder capitalism to shareholder capitalism,
whose sole objective is to maximize shareholder returns.
I agree - the crisis
in the Western economies are due to deregulations,
that is the repeal of laws that protected the 99% from the greed
and egoism of the rich. (I am sorry if you disagree or think this
simple minded: Ayn Rand agrees with me, except that she thinks
greed and egoism are good.)
This is followed by a sketch of what deregulations produced, that I again agree
with, but leave to your interests, after which came this:
The final blow to public
morality came when a majority of the Supreme Court decided corporations
and wealthy individuals have a right under the First Amendment to spend
whatever they wish on elections.
Yes - and I called
that decision two days ago
intentional fraudulent bullshit by the majority of the Supreme Court:
Money is not speech, and those who say it is are
Then there is a list of the
things Robert Reich thinks are necessary to undo 35 years of systematic
deregulation. I quote, but edit it as points:
Again, I agree with all that.  But there is a catch:
- Glass-Steagall must be
- Big banks have to be
- CEO pay must be bridled.
- Pay in excess of $1
million shouldn’t be deductible from corporate income taxes.
- Corporations with high
ratios of executive pay to typical workers should face higher tax rates
than those with lower ratios.
- People earning tens if
not hundreds of millions of dollars a year should pay the same 70
percent tax rate top earners paid before 1981.
- And we must get big
money out of politics (..)
None of this is
possible without a broadly based citizen movement to rescue our
democracy, take back our economy, and restore a minimal standard of
And I do not see this
happening. Not at all. At least not now. Apart from that: There are a
whole lot of legal regulations (re-regulations) necessary, but I
see no majority for that in Congress, and besides, it will take
a lot of time to undo 35 years of deregulations, while the rich now can use their millions
freely to spend on laws and deregulations they like.
So while I agree with Robert Reich on nearly everything he wrote in
I see hardly a hint (apart from Bernie Sanders, is true) that there is
or will be "a broadly based
citizen movement to rescue our democracy".
And I am very sorry, but these seem to be the facts. For a bit
more, see item 2 and item 3.
2. Krugman: Why Bush's Attack on Trump is
next article is
by Janet Allon on Alternet:
I selected this mainly
because of the light it sheds on item 1, and will
do so by two quotations. The first is this:
That is to say:
Presidential candidate Bush2 Jr simply defends the rich as if these
It was not easy, but Jeb Bush managed to find the two issues
that Donald Trump is not utterly wrong and dangerous about, and attack
him on those. Rather than go after Trump on his "viciously absurd" idea
to depport 11 million undocumented immigrants and his persistent
underlying racism and misogyny, Paul Krugman points out in Monday's
column, that Bush is attacking the front runner on his stated
willingness to raise taxes on the rich, and positive words about
universal health care. That's sacrilege!
needed defense - and he expects a considerable part of his
electorate (that may
eventually make him the third Bush president) to swallow that as if
their interests (which is quite false - and see ).
There is also this by Krugman on this nonsense:
bespectacled, bilingual Bush is a case in point. How anyone can believe
he is a reasonable, responsible policy wonk is beyond comprehension.
"His actual economic platform, which relies on the magic of tax cuts to
deliver a doubling of America’s growth rate, is pure supply-side
voodoo," Krugman writes.
Yes indeed - but Bush2
Jr peddles his voodoo as if it convinces his electorate,
and seems to be right in his convictions (which I
agree are bullshit,
that works - so far - in that it deceives a large part of his
electorate and makes
them vote against their own real interests).
That is: Krugman does not believe Bush2 Jr "is a reasonable, responsible policy wonk"; I do not believe it; I guess
many with decent intelligence or a good education do
not believe it - but these are not the majority of Bush2 Jr's
electorate, who do not have much knowledge, and have been taken in for
many years now (notably by the crap of "trickle down economics", which
is just a lie).
"I'm In": Lawrence Lessig
Confirms White House Run
next article is
by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
First, here is the
Wikipedia lemma on Lawrence Lessig,
which I supply because I suspect quite a few of my readers don't know
who he is (though I did write a few
times about him in Nederlog).
In any case, it is
fairly interesting, and it shows Lawrence Lessig is a quite prominent
professor of law.
The article starts as
Campaign finance reform
advocate Lawrence Lessig on Sunday confirmed that he would run for U.S.
president in 2016, announcing that the exploratory committee he formed
in August had hit its $1 million fundraising target by its Labor Day
Lessig made his statement on ABC's This Week during an interview
with host George Stephanopoulos.
"I'm in, George," he said. "I'm running to get people to acknowledge
the elephant in the room, right. We have to recognize we have a
government that does not work."
As he explained
in August, Lessig will run on a platform that targets campaign
finance—and, if elected, would step down as soon as Congress passed a
package of pro-democracy reforms.
"I want to run to be a different kind of president," Lessig wrote
for the Huffington Post last month. "'Different' not in the
traditional political puffery sense of that term. 'Different,' quite
literally. I want to run to build a mandate for the fundamental change
that our democracy desperately needs. Once that is passed, I would
resign, and the elected Vice President would become President."
I am sorry, but I don't
think it will work. I probably do agree with most of the changes he
will propose if he is elected president, but I cannot possibly
him win, in part because he doesn't want to be an ordinary president,
because he isn't widely known, and doesn't have enough money.
And also see , for a rather more simple
proposal, that is radical, but will not
harm 97% or more of all Americans, and will only lessen the
3%, who are the richest few anyway.
4. Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts
next article is
by Pam Martens on Wall Street on Parade:
First, here is
the Wikipedia item on Michael
Hudson, that shows him to be an American professor of economics in
his middle seventies.
This article starts as follows, and is a review of Michael Hudson's
book, "Killing the Host":
There is a lot more in
the article, which is quite interesting and recommended,
The riveting writer,
Michael Hudson, has read our collective minds and the simmering anger
in our hearts. Millions of American have long suspected that their
inability to get financially ahead is an intentional construct of Wall
Street’s central planners. Now Hudson, in an elegant but lethal
indictment of the system, confirms that your ongoing struggle to make
ends meet is not a reflection of your lack of talent or drive but the
only possible outcome of having a blood-sucking financial leech affixed
to your body, your retirement plan, and your economic future.
In his new book, “Killing
the Host,” Hudson hones an exquisitely gripping journey from Wall
Street’s original role as capital allocator to its present-day
parasitism that has replaced U.S. capitalism as an entrenched,
politically-enforced economic model across America.
This book is a must-read
for anyone hoping to escape the most corrupt era in American history
with a shirt still on his parasite-riddled back.
but I will select just two more quotations.
This is on the 2008 crisis:
And there is this on the
difference between the schemes to enrich oneself that were used in the
1980ies and those used today:
Hudson correctly calls
2008 a “dress rehearsal,” writing that “Wall Street convinced Congress
that the economy could not survive without bailing out bankers and
bondholders, whose solvency was deemed a precondition for the ‘real’
economy to function. The banks were saved, not the economy.” Hudson
adds that the “debt tumor” was left in place. (This is the nightmare we
are presently watching unfold.)
The result of the systemic
disabling of regulations on Wall Street has resulted in the following,
says Hudson: “…the wealthiest One Percent have captured nearly all the
growth in income since the 2008 crash. Holding the rest of society in
debt to themselves, they have used their wealth and creditor claims to
gain control of the election process and governments by supporting
lawmakers who un-tax them, and judges or court systems that refrain
from prosecuting them. Obliterating the logic that led society to
regulate and tax rentiers in the first place, think tanks and business
schools favor economists who portray rentier takings as a contribution
to the economy rather than as a subtrahend from it.”
I think this was the review by
a fan (and there is considerably more in the article), but Michael
Hudson seems an
Hudson says that what is
happening today in corporate America is very different from the
corporate raiders of the 1980s who used leveraged buyouts to gobble up
companies. Today, says Hudson, “corporate executives raid their own
company’s revenue stream. They are backed by self-proclaimed
shareholder activists. The result is financial short-termism by
managers who take the money and run. The management philosophy is
extractive, not productive in the sense of adding to society’s means of
production or living standards.”
Make no mistake about it:
this is a dangerous book to the status quo. It is truth-telling at its
finest in America’s darkest age of entrenched lies.
Crane Brinton on
The last item of
today is by Lambert Strether on Naked Capitalism:
This starts as follows:
I say. I know the name
of Crane Brinton
(<- Wikipedia), although I do not recall reading anything by him,
but three reasons I am interested is that I may be living in
pre-revolutionary times; that my parents and grandparents were leftist
(real, sincere, intelligent, decades long) revolutionaries; and that I agree
with Lambert Strether's qualifications:
An appropriate topic for
Labor Day, given the history? I’d say yes. One of my tsundoku
has long been Crane Brinton’s The Anatomy of Revolution; a
friend of mine recommended this little paperback to me, since they
believe the United States is in a pre- revolutionary state. Me, I’m not
so sure that’s true, and not sure that would be a good thing, if true,
but it’s certainly a matter of due diligence to consider it. (...)
Brinton’s Anatomy was
first written in 1938, and revised in 1952 and 1965. Here’s a review
from the Journal of Peace Research:
For half a century
Crane Brinton’s Anatomy of Revolution has remained one of the
most widely read scholarly accounts of revolutions. This book, which
compares four case studies — the English, the American, the French, and
the Russian Revolutions — is rich in insights. It offers an exemplary
application of the comparative historical method; it discusses its
subject matter brilliantly; it provides a coherent and parsimonious
conceptual scheme of a central political issue. Brinton imposes a
vision of order on the chaos of revolutionary politics. It has had such
a rare seductive appeal that policy-makers have, on occasion, confused
it with a description of reality and allowed it to guide their actions.
(...) they believe
the United States is in a pre-revolutionary state. Me, I’m not so sure
that’s true, and not sure that would be a good thing, if true, but it’s
certainly a matter of due diligence to consider it.
First why I (also) am "not sure that [a revolution] would be a good
There are three main reasons: (i) most revolutions require a social
collapse or a war to get started, which means misery for many; (ii)
most revolutions (Lenin's revolution, Hitler's revolution, Mao's
revolution, Castro's revolution) fail: they do not
reach their aims, indeed generally not at all; and (iii) most
revolutions (same examples) end in dictatorships (that vary,
but may murder tens of millions).
None of that is necessary, but all of it is common (and the French
Revolution also failed), while failed revolutions may marr the lives
and possibilities of hundreds of millions or indeed billions
of people (e.g. by the Russian and Chinese failed leftist revolutions,
though it is difficult to put precise numbers in place).
Second, I didn't read the book, and can't really judge this review, but
I do have one comment on one sentence, namely this one by Crane Brinton:
We shall regard
revolutions as a kind of fever.
In fact, I doubt the
metaphor is very helpful, but it is true that the one failed revolution
I was an observer of, namely in France
in 1968, where I was in the
beginning of May and the beginning of June, did happen in an
exhilarated or indeed feverish climate of opinion, which I have not
met anywhere else.
Then again, that revolution failed right at the start, and also I don't
know how typical it was. I merely report the fact, which is somewhat relevant
in the present context.
First, from US Income
income measures the combined income earned by all persons in a
particular income group. In 2007, all households in the United States
earned roughly $7.723 trillion.
One half, 49.98%, of all income in the US was earned by households with
an income over $100,000, the top twenty percent. Over one quarter,
28.5%, of all income was earned by the top 8%, those households earning
more than $150,000 a year. The top 3.65%, with incomes over $200,000,
This means, I would say,
that less than 3% earn over $300,000 a year. In other words:
More than 97% of all American households (!) earn less than $300,000 a year.
What about this - I admit it: on the face of it quite radical -
This may seem
radical, but it will only limit the incomes of less than 3%.
And we may tell them: If you want to excel, you are quite welcome
to excel - at arts, at mathematics, at science, at music, at
comedy, at sports, indeed at anything, except making more money
for yourself than $300,000 a year, for unlimited incomes of a few
are a major danger to nearly all.
- No American should
earn more than $300,000 a year.
Indeed, if all you can do really well is making money, you are
allowed to make as much as you can, except that it will all be taxed
As far as I can see, this one measure will solve most of America's
problems, and without endangering anybody's income that is less
than $300,000 a year. And besides, most Americans seem to agree that
incomes between $15,000 and $300,000 are fair...
I may be dreaming, but to me, with my communist parents and
this does seem a fair proposal - that is not radical at all for
more than 97 out of a 100 Americans.