Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crisis: End of Internet, Poll Tax, GOP Taxes, Sexual Abuse, Chomsky & Pollin

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from November 22, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday
, November 22, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) 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.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from November 22, 2017
1. What You Need to Know About the Trump FCC's
     Plan to End Net Neutrality

2. The New Poll Tax
3. New Report Details '13 Terrible Things' About
     Senate GOP Tax Plan

4. We’re in Danger of Squandering Our Sexual Abuse

5. Imagining a New Social Order: Noam Chomsky
     and Robert Pollin in Conversation
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:

1. What You Need to Know About the Trump FCC's Plan to End Net Neutrality

This article is by Candace Clement on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
The details of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to destroy Net Neutrality are out. And they’re even worse than expected. Our lawyers and policy experts are reviewing the reports and gathering details about Pai's plan. This is our first read on the most important details you need to know about this proposal. We will update this post as new details emerge. 
The news is from yesterday. Here is how Ajit Pai plans to destroy the internet (and make himself a billionaire, or so I presume) work out:

The FCC plan will:

  • End Title II protections and erase the three Net Neutrality rules passed at the FCC in 2015 and upheld in court last year.
  • Legalize internet blocking and discrimination by Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, no questions asked.
  • Permit throttling back the speeds of different kinds of websites and apps.
  • Encourage paid prioritization — sticking most sites and apps in the slow lane and reserving the fast lane for the few wealthy companies that can afford special treatment.
There is also this:

The FCC will vote on Pai's plan on Dec. 14: We need to throw everything we've got at this fight in the next three weeks. We’re planning protests across the country, mobilizing thousands of calls to Washington and planning a big rally outside the FCC on Dec. 14.

This is a wake-up call for all of us. We need to fight and we need to do it now if we want to save the internet.

I have to admit that I agree this is necessary, but I expect it will fail, though indeed not through any fault in the activists: They lack the money to corrupt the corrupt politicians to do as they want, or so it seems to me.

And I add that this plan to radically break down the internet corresponds to the late Gore Vidal´s assessment from 2008 that it would take some ten years to destroy the internet. (Incidentally: in the last link I gave most links - still - work.)

I think Vidal was right, and this is a recommended article.

2. The New Poll Tax

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being denied the right to vote because they are poor.

In nine states, Republican legislators have enacted laws that disenfranchise anyone with outstanding legal fees or court fines. For example, in Alabama more than 100,000 people who owe money – roughly 3 percent of the state’s voting-age population – have been struck from voting rolls. 

This is unconstitutional.
I completely agree with Reich that these denials of the right to vote are a great shame, although I would like to see some support for his claim that these denials are ¨unconstitutional¨ (in combination with the fact that these - indeed pretty sick - denials of the right to vote are based on laws).

Here is some background:

These new laws are a modern reincarnation of that unconstitutional system, disproportionately disenfranchising people of color.

Income and wealth should have no bearing on the right to vote. Many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. But they still have a constitutional right to make their voices heard.

Preventing people from voting because they owe legal fees or court fines muzzle low-income Americans at a time in our nation’s history when the rich have more political power than ever.

These state laws are another form of voter suppression – like gerrymandering, voter ID requirements, and bars on anyone with felony convictions from voting.
Yes indeed, and this is a recommended article.

3. New Report Details '13 Terrible Things' About
Senate GOP Tax Plan

This article is by the Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams. It starts with a subtitle that I quote:
Americans for Tax Fairness warns that the bill gives most of the tax cuts to the richest 1%, makes 82 million middle-class families pay more in taxes, and endangers funding for public services
This seems to be quite correct. Here is some more:

Amid mounting efforts to block the Republican Party's latest attempts to cut taxes for the nation's corporations and wealthiest families, a new report out Tuesday details 13 "terrible things" about the most recent GOP tax bill put forth in the U.S. Senate.

The analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF)—a campaign of more than 425 national, state, and local groups that advocate for progressive tax reform—is just latest in a series of warnings about the consequences of passing what's being called the #GOPTaxScam.

And here are four main points in the GOP´s tax plan:

  1. Gives most of the tax cuts to the richest 1%. The share of tax cuts going to the richest 1% is 62% in 2027, up from 18% in 2019. Their tax cut will be $33,000 in 2027, on average. [Tax Policy Center (TPC)]
  2. Gives 53% of the tax cuts to corporations and businesses. These tax cuts mostly benefit the wealthy. [Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT)]
  3. Makes 82 million middle-class families pay more in taxes. Half of all households—94 million—would pay more in taxes in 10 years. Of those, 82 million are of low- or middle-income. Two-thirds of families earning $55,000 to $93,000 will see a tax increase. [TPC]
  4. Pays for corporate tax cuts by taking healthcare away from working families and seniors.
I think all of this is correct. And the following is an excerpt of the titles of 9 points, that I quote here without the texts that support them (that are indicated by ¨(...)¨):
1. Makes corporate tax cuts permanent, but makes
     tax cuts for individuals and families temporary.  

2. Adds $1.4 trillion to the national debt jeopardizing
     critical services.

3. Puts wealthy business owners over seniors (...)
4. Kills American jobs by encouraging outsourcing
     and profit shifting.

5. Hands a $565 billion tax cut to offshore tax

6. Repeals the federal deduction for state and local
     taxes (SALT) hurting the middle class.

7. Helps Donald Trump pay much less in taxes. (...)
8. Lets many wealthy heirs avoid paying the estate

9. Breaks Trump’s promise to close the “carried
     interest” loophole benefitting Wall Street.

Here is a last summary:

Both the House and Senate versions of the tax bill have been heavily criticized for proposing massive tax cuts for corporations and rich Americans—which even lawmakers admit is aimed at satisfying the GOP's wealthy donors—while hiking taxes for graduate students and millions of middle-class families.

This is a strongly recommended article.

4. We’re in Danger of Squandering Our Sexual Abuse Moment

This article is by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones.

I´ll give two quotes from it in a moment, but first like to remark that by now I have decided that (i) the USA is backwards as regards to dealing with sexuality compared with - Western - Europe, that (ii) in considerable part this is so because of the strong influence of very radical ¨Christians¨ [2], while also - I am a psychologist - it is my guess that (iii) more than mere (rather sick) sexuality is involved: It seems to me that there also is a strong sadistic component. [3]

My reason for supposing sadism is involved as well is that most of the sexual transgressers are quite rich, and could have gotten their sexual comforts (of elderly males, having sex with young females) by hiring prostitutes.

They did not, and instead forced themselves on young females they met in their capacities as media stars, all of whom had far less personal power than the males had.

Here is the first bit of Kevin Drum, who notes a fairly large difference between the Democrats and the Republicans with regards to sexual transgressions by powerful men:

There’s a partisan issue here, but there’s also, for lack of a better phrase, an assole issue as well. If you’re fundamentally a decent human being, like Franken, you apologize. Then you get investigated. Then you might resign, because lots of your fellow decent human beings think you should.

But if you’re an asshole, not only do you deny the charges, you do your best to smear the accusers. That’s what Moore and Trump have done. This gives your fellow assholes the cover they need to back off while they “wait for more evidence.”

The result is that the more decent you are, the more likely you are to pay the price for your sexual misconduct. The more of an asshole you are, the less likely you’ll pay any price.

Actually, I do not know whether Franken is a decent human being. I believe he may be, and he (almost certainly) did far less wrong than Moore or Trump, but I do not know him at all.

But it seems the rest of Kevin Drum´s considerations do apply. And here is his expectation of how this may be (ab)used:

The fastest way for this moment in time to be squandered is for it to become a partisan football. If liberals eat their own because they believe sexual abuse is intolerable, but conservatives survive by simply denying and blustering, what do you think will happen? First, conservatives will spot an opportunity: a way of taking advantage of liberal principles that they’ve learned doesn’t apply to them. Second, liberals will probably start to back off. Like it or not, this is just human nature. No group ever remains completely committed to a principled stand if it becomes obvious that it only applies to themselves.

Incidentally, there is also another relevant difference that may apply: Franken, Moore and Trump are politicians, whereas Louis C.K., Charlie Rose and others are not.

5. Imagining a New Social Order: Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin in Conversation

This article is by C.J. Polychroniou on Truthout. This starts as follows:

We live in an age of illegitimate neoliberal hegemony and soaring political uncertainty. The evidence is all around: citizen disillusionment over mainstream political parties and the traditional conservative-liberal divide, massive inequality, the rise of the "alt-right," and growing resistance to Trumpism and financial capitalism. 

Yes, the present age is full of contradictions of every type and variety, and this is something that makes the goals and aims of the left for the reordering of society along the lines of a true democratic polity and in accordance with the vision of a socialist reorganization of the economy more challenging than ever before.

In this context, the interview below, with Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin, which appeared originally in Truthout in three separate parts, seeks to provide theoretical and practical guidance to the most pressing social, economic and political issues facing the United States today. It is part of an effort to help the left reimagine an alternative but realistic social order in an age when the old order is dying but the new has yet to be born.

I have reviewed these articles in Nederlog. The present article is their reappearance as one article, that downloads as 195 Kb (some 40 A4 pages of text).

And since I think it is very well worth reading, I list them here again, but I add I will not even try to excerpt all three in Nederlog.

Here is some more on Chomsky and Pollin:

Noam Chomsky is professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT and laureate professor in the department of linguistics at the University of Arizona. Robert Pollin is distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. These two thinkers are pathbreakers in the quest to envision a humane and equitable society, and their words can provide a helpful framework as we strive -- within an oppressive system and under a repressive government -- to fathom new ways of living together in the world.

This is a recommended article.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only 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 (!!).

[2] As to ¨Christian¨: I refer you to (i) my Nederlog of March 1, 2017 and also to Chris Hedges & Abby Martin - Trump, Fascism & the Christian Right which is a fine video of around 25 minutes with Abby Martin and Chris Hedges. And incidentally: Chris Hedges is a Christian minister.

[3] Yes indeed, but I do not know how evident this is to people who did not study psychology, although I do give my main reason to suppose so immediately following this note in the text.
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