from February 9, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) 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.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from February 9, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. The World is Burning, while Western Left is Quarreling
2. Senate Republicans Kept Provision to Fight High Drug
Prices Out of
Spending Bill, Democrats Say
3. Dow Drops Another 1,000 Points as Selling Spreads
4. Is the Pentagon Endorsing Trump’s War on Democratic
5. Trump’s Big Buyback Bamboozle
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:
World is Burning, while Western Left is Quarreling
This article is by Andre Vitchek on the Off-Guardian. It starts as
It really is a
shame, and it is tiring, but it is actually nothing new: there is now
total disarray amongst those countless ‘progressive’ and ‘semi-left’
Western intellectuals, publications, movements and political parties.
Cowardice, bloated egos,
lack of discipline and intellectual pettiness are often to blame, but
that is not all.
It is now absolutely clear
that the Western left lost patently and shamelessly. It has almost no
power, it has no courage to fight or to take risks, and it counts on no
real political following in Europe, North America, Australia or New
Zealand. ‘The masses’, those proverbial ‘oppressed masses’, have lately
been electing and voting in various semi-fascist populists,
unapologetic right-wing demagogues, and mainstream pro-business brutes.
Entire Marxist ‘theoretical
certainties’ have been collapsing in front of our eyes. Or at least
they have been in the West.
Yes and no, simply
because I've seen "the
Western left" lying for
over forty years now.
My experiences started 41
years ago this year, in the "University" of Amsterdam, that
been turned semi-Marxist
after the minister of education had effectively given the Dutch
universities to the Dutch students in 1971.
He did this by altering
the authoritarian structures that had been in place from 1865 to 1965
in Holland, and did so by:
(1) imposing a parliamentary structure on all Dutch
(2) a yearly elected "University parliament" had the formal
in any Dutch university,
(3) each faculty also had a parliamentary structure with the
parliament" having the local power (so far, all was very much
plus the Dutch cities), while
(4) both kinds of parliaments would be elected each year, and
(5) the voting was by the 1 man = 1 vote principle among everyone
worked for or in the university or was a student there.
And since the students
were in the absolute majority in effect the students, or rather the
student parties were - by far - the most powerful in
university, so in effect the student parties got most of the
formal powers in the Dutch universities, between 1971 and 1995, for in
1995 the whole system was completely undone
by the (new) minister of
education, and all the Dutch "universities" were handed back to
the few powerful figures from what had been "the universities'
governments" between 1971 and 1995. This was the Board of Directors.
Meanwhile, between 1971
and 1995 the formal powers were "in the hands of the students"
(to whom it probably was given in 1971 to
problems with the
students as in Paris in 1968 and in Amsterdam in 1969, that
occupations of the universities), but at least in Amsterdam, Groningen,
Nijmegen and Tilburg (all of which had universities) in fact the
power was in the hands of small leftist organized groups that were
organzied mostly by students who also were members of the Dutch
In Amsterdam that was the
ASVA, and therefore the ASVA was the most powerful
group in the
"University" of Amsterdam. And while I knew little of how it
it was supposed to do between 1971 and 1976, I know a lot about how
what it was between 1977 and 1995:
It was in fact a
completely sick, completely corrupt quite small group of members of the
Dutch Communist Party until 1983/1984, and then turned into an
more corrupt equally small group of postmodernists
(who may or may not have kept their membership in the Dutch CP, that
radically changed between 1978 en 1983).
Anyway... there is much
more (in Dutch, alas) in ME in Amsterdam.  Here is more by Vitchek:
To a great extent, what is
now happening is absolutely natural. The European left betrayed as
early as in the 1980’s, by becoming too soft, too undisciplined, too
cautious and too self-centered. It put pragmatism above the ideals. It
rapidly adopted the lexicon of the liberal ideological establishment,
complete with Western perceptions of human rights, democratic
principles and political correctness. It ceased to be revolutionary; it
essentially stopped all revolutionary activities, and it abandoned the
core element of any true left-wing identity – internationalism.
Without at least some basic
internationalist principles, the left is now essentially reduced to
some sort of local trade union level: “Let us fight for better labor
conditions and health care at home, and to hell with all that
neo-colonialist plunder of the world which is expected to pay for
almost all of our benefits. As long as we eat well and have long
vacations, why should we rebel, why should we fight?”
I more or less agree,
though not on the internationalism.
In fact, (bolding
added) "any true
left-wing identity" does not
depend on whether one practices internationalism, but on whether what
one practices is oriented towards (democratic) socialism, that
is towards another kind of economic system, that fundamentally
dffers from capitalism.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Things went much further,
still: these days, in the West, most ‘progressives’ go ‘by the issues’,
refusing to commit to anything greater, full-heartedly. This position
is increasingly in vogue, and it essentially shouts: ‘I have my own
philosophy. I don’t need any ideology at all.’
No revolution has ever been
won like this. But in the West, there is no desire for true revolution.
Belonging to left is mainly just a pose, with a social media account
and a selfie. It is not serious, and it is not intended to be.
I tend to agree. And
incidentally, those who shout "I have my own
philosophy. I don’t need any ideology at all." do not even know what a philosophy
is, nor how it relates to ideologies: They
are wholly without any sound ideas, and only practice their own
Republicans Kept Provision to Fight High Drug Prices Out of Spending
Bill, Democrats Say
This article is by David Dayen on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Senate Republican leaders tossed out a
provision slated for the bipartisan budget package that would have
increased competition in the prescription drug market, according to the
leading Democrat in the chamber.
The Creating and Restoring Equal Access to
Equivalent Samples Act, known as the CREATES Act and co-sponsored by
members of both parties, was rumored to be a part of budget negotiations until
the final days. It would have given generic drug companies the tools to
end a practice whereby brand-name manufacturers unnecessarily delay the
ability of rivals to bring their products to market.
According to the office of lead sponsor Sen.
Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Congressional Budget Office scores the
provision as a $3.8 billion savings over 10 years, because it would
increase generic drug production and lower government costs through
Medicare and Medicaid. That money could have paid for more than a year
of funding for state grants and prevention programs to combat the
opioid epidemic, funding that made it into the final agreement. Savings
to individual consumers, both inside and outside of federal programs,
would have been far higher.
I say! I mean: What is the point of
having something like a pariliament in the USA, if that is divided by
members of just two parties, most of whom have been and are being
vastly corrupted by the rich, and where it now even has degraded to
the level that one party can simply remove what it likes for a
But that seems to be the case (with the
proviso that few know what really happened, so far at least).
Here is more:
It’s unclear what exactly happened with the
bipartisan measure, which appeared primed for inclusion in the spending bill. But Matt House,
communications director for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer,
blamed the opposing party. “Republicans wouldn’t put it in,” he wrote
in an email. Other Senate staffers indicated that drug company
executives have been pouring into Washington on private jets over the
past week to push for blocking the CREATES Act from the budget
To me it seems as if the Republicans and the
drug company executives (!!) can do whatever they
like to keep up the
anyway enormous profits of the drug corporations.
Here is what it meant for the drug
Dodging the CREATES Act saves drug companies
billions of dollars by allowing them to continue schemes of delaying
affordable generic competition. The main tactic the CREATES Act
targeted involves drug companies denying generic rivals samples of
their product. These samples are used in testing so the generic
manufacturer can prove that their products are equivalent to the
brand-name alternative, as required by the Food and Drug
Administration. The bill would have given generic manufacturers the
ability to file an injunction in federal court to prevent the
deliberate delay tactic.
Turing Pharmaceuticals, the notorious
company founded by “pharma bro” and convicted securities fraudster Martin Shkreli, famously used this very tactic to limit distribution so that competitors
would be unable to obtain the requisite samples. A former Turing
employee testified that this was an “integral part” of their strategy.
And in the formerly
democratic USA now the drug corporations' executives can and do
determine their own levels of payment, albeit with the help of the
Republicans - or so it seems from the above.
Here is more:
The CREATES Act would also have stopped drug
companies from refusing to allow generic competitors to participate in
a shared safety protocol required for some medications. The FDA would
instead have been able to approve alternative safety protocols for
But instead the the drug corporations' executives can
and do determine their own levels of payment.
And then it ends as
In fact, patients could experience far higher drug costs this year, because of a change to how drug
plans accommodate payment coupons given out by pharmaceutical companies
to make their more expensive treatments affordable. The value of the
coupons will no longer be applied to a patient’s deductible, meaning patients
will likely have higher out-of-pocket costs. In the long run, it may
limit the use of coupons, which drive up costs throughout the system.
In the short run, it’ll create sticker shock for patients.
I think this is a correct expectation, and this is a
Drops Another 1,000 Points as Selling Spreads
This article is by Marley Jay on Truthdig and originally on The
Associated Press. It starts as follows:
Stocks plunged again
Thursday, and for the second time in four days the Dow Jones industrial
average sank more than 1,000 points.
The two best-known stock
market indexes, the Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500, have dropped
10 percent from their all-time highs, set Jan. 26. That means they are
in what is known on Wall Street as a “correction,” their first in
almost two years.
Stocks fell further and
further as the day wore on and suffered their fifth loss in the last
six days. Many of the companies that led the market’s gains over the
last year have struggled badly in the last week. Those included
technology companies, banks, and retailers and travel companies and
After huge gains in the
first weeks of this year, stocks started to tumble last Friday after
the Labor Department said workers’ wages grew at a fast rate in
January. That’s good for the economy, but investors worried it will
hurt corporate profits and that rising wages are a sign of faster
inflation. It could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates
at a faster pace, which would act as a brake on the economy.
I am merely reporting
this, and this is also the only bit from this article that I
And I have to admit
that by now about the only chance I see for a radical
change in the economy is a great crisis, but I have no ideas
about whether this is it: We'll have to wait and see.
the Pentagon Endorsing Trump’s War on Democratic Institutions?
This article is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet. It starts as follows:
President Trump’s proposed
military parade is the final test for the proverbial "adults
in the room." So far, they are flunking.
Those who continue to hope
that Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other senior military
officers might check the delusional decision-making of President Trump
can only read the reporting of the Washington
Post, with a pang of disillusion.
President Trump wants a
military parade in Washington, and the uniformed officer corps wants to
give it to him. The emperor who has no moral clothes wants a ceremony
to celebrate the military—and his nakedness. The generals, it seems,
will oblige. Your new clothes look splendid, sir.
I am not amazed Trump wants a
military parade, indeed in part because I think Trump will turn into a
dictator if he sees a chance, but I never thought that present-day
officers might check the delusional decision-making of President
My main reason for my belief
is that Nixon terminated the draft in 1972, which means that
most of the present-day army of the USA is composed of persons who
freely chose to murder for their country - and while I agree
there must be soldiers in the present world, I think soldiers ought
to be drafted from the complete population, instead of being
Here is more on the latest
decision by Trump + his generals:
The Washington Post reports:
Surrounded by the
military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim
Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.,
Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a
presidential directive, the officials said.
“The marching orders
were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official
who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning
discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked
at the highest levels of the military."
Cue the photos of Trump
beaming at France’s pomp
and circumstance last July, and photos of dispiriting dictatorial
displays in communist
Moscow and Nazi
I say. And here is some
Well... I do not
think "the free press" in the USA at present is much of a real
Are Mattis and Dunford
implicitly joining, celebrating and promoting Trump’s ongoing war of
attrition against American democratic institutions such as the free
press and the rule of law? Both Mattis and Dunford know that Trump has
threatened to lock
up his critics—and there are hundreds of thousands of good soldiers
who did not vote for the president in the armed forces.
Trump has threatened to shut
down critical news organizations, whose freedom of speech the
military is pledged to defend.
Trump has bragged about violating
sexual assault laws, laws that are essential to military
camaraderie and discipline.
There are some exceptions, all of which do not belong to the
mainstream media, but the mainstream media mostly do not write for those who buy the paper, but for
those with big money, whose interests the editors mostly serve.
It is similar with "the rule of law" in a country whose Supreme Court
handed virtually all the powers to the few rich, by effectively
deciding that money = votes in 2010.
Anyway... this is a recommended article.
Big Buyback Bamboozle
This article is by Robert Reich on his site.
It starts as follows:
that corporations will use his giant new tax cut to make new
investments and raise workers’ wages is
proving to be about as truthful as his promise to release his tax
The results are
coming in, and guess what? Almost all the extra money is going into
stock buybacks. Since the tax cut became law, buy-backs have surged to $88.6
billion. That’s more
the amount of buybacks in the same period last year,
data provided by Birinyi Associates.
Compare this to
the paltry $2.5 billion of employee bonuses corporations say they’ll
dispense in response to the tax law, and you see the bonuses for what
are – a small fig leaf to disguise the big buybacks.
If you have been
reading Nederlog, you know I normally agree far more with Robert Reich
than with Donald Trump. In fact, this is also the case now, but
some more attention to this article because it is about stock
Stock buybacks are
corporate purchases of their own shares of stock. Corporations do this
to artificially prop up their
Buybacks are the corporate
equivalent of steroids.
They may make shareholders feel better than otherwise, but nothing
Money spent on buybacks
in new equipment, research, or factories. Buybacks don’t add jobs or
wages. They don’t increase productivity. They don’t grow the American
Yet CEOs love buybacks
because most CEO
pay is now in shares of stock and stock options rather than cash. So
prices go up, executives reap a bonanza.
That is: Stock buybacks
keep the shares high (which interests shareholders, but few other
people - and 90% of the Americans has no shares of very few
shares), and there for also keeps the CEOs pay high, because the CEOs
pay is now predominantly in terms of shares of stock.
And nobody else
profits, but this is enough for it to happen on a very large
Here is more on
And buybacks were
quite illegal from 1933 till 1981 i.e. for around fifty years, as
seems also very fair to me.
Big investors also
love buybacks because they increase the value of their stock
that the richest
10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of all shares of stock
(up from 77
percent at the turn of the century), this means even more wealth at
used to be illegal. The Securities and Exchange considered them
unlawful means of
manipulating stock prices, in violation of the Securities Acts of 1933
those days, the typical corporation put about half its profits into
development, plant and equipment, worker retraining, additional jobs,
and higher wages.
under Ronald Reagan, who rhapsodized about the “magic of the market,”
the SEC legalized
After that, buybacks took off.
Here is how much was paid on buybacks in 2017:
I completely agree. Here
is Reich's conclusion:
Last year, big American
corporations spent a record $780
billion buying back their shares of stock.
And that was before the new
Put another way, the new
tax law is giving America’s wealthy not one but two big windfalls: They
stand to gain the most from the tax cuts for individuals, and
they’re the big winners from the tax cuts for corporations.
This isn’t just unfair. It’s
also bad for the economy as a
Which also means that as
long as public policies are tilted to the benefit of those at the top –
as is Trump’s tax cut, along with Reagan’s legalization of stock
– we’re not going to see much economic growth.
We’re just going to have
more buybacks and more inequality.
I quite agree. And this is
a recommended article.