from September 19, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:
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.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from September 19, 2018:
1. Will Donald Trump Stand Up to China?
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:
2. How the Next Downturn Will Surprise Us
3. Ten Years Since Economic Collapse Sparked Occupy Wall
Cooperative Movement Is Surging
4. Brett Kavanaugh's Accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, Goes
5. The Capitalist Manifesto: Let Poor People Die
Donald Trump Stand Up to China?
This article is by
The Editorial Board on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Yes indeed, except - or so
I think - that the number of "more than one million people were killed" seems low. Thus, in the Cultural
Revolution (on Wikipedia) there are numbers that vary from 3
between 5 and 10 million.
Xi Jinping has imposed China’s most sweeping internment program since Mao Zedong’s
Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, when more than one million people were
killed and millions of others were imprisoned, tortured and humiliated.
Citing credible reports, a United Nations panel last
month said up to one million Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority, are
being held in detention camps without benefit of any formal legal
process. The repression is severe enough to have raised concerns even
within the Trump administration — not known for a preoccupation with
human rights abroad — and the administration is weighing possible sanctions against
the regime, a step that justice clearly demands.
Xi is China’s most powerful modern leader, and he is turning his
country into an economic and political powerhouse. But his achievements
are deeply tainted by human rights abuses, including the repression of
the Uighurs, the largest of the Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang
region of northwestern China.
Then again, it is also true that Chinese demographics of the time were
"very poor", while there is hardly any formal research.
Here is more on the Uighurs:
Uighurs are being
accused of having an “ideological virus” and are sometimes detained for
nothing more than reciting a verse of the Quran at a funeral. Held in
heavily guarded, often secret camps and cut off from their families,
prisoners are forced to listen to indoctrination lectures that human
rights activists describe as brainwashing, write self-criticism letters
and renounce their commitment to Islam. All are chilling echoes of the
Yes indeed. Here is more
on the persecution of the Uighurs:
Aided by technology
— some of which American companies
are believed to be selling to Chinese firms — the Communist Party’s
overseer in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, has intruded into the lives of
Uighurs even when they are not detained in the camps. Security forces
collect DNA samples when Uighurs undergo state-run medical checkups,
install GPS tracking systems in vehicles and cellphones and
operate checkpoints and other dehumanizing surveillance, like cameras
installed in some homes.
And this is from the ending of
And the Uighurs may
not be the end of it. As The Washington Post
Beijing is taking steps to suppress all five of China’s officially
sanctioned religions — Catholicism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Daoism and
I say. I did not know
this, and while I am myself an atheist (and have
always been one) I find these "steps" quite sickening. And
would these "steps" perhaps be related to Google's Dragonfly,
that promises to chart everything about the Chinese? This is a
the Next Downturn Will Surprise Us
This article is by
Ruchir Sharma on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
I have to start with a
correction: No, there was no "public debate about how the leading American banks had grown
“too big to fail”". What
there was was the refusal of the
American minister of Justice to
prosecute any rich bankers on
the - bullshit - economical
argument that rich bankers were "too rich to fail", but basically that
was a bullshit refusal of Eric
Holder to do his legal
the fall of Lehman Brothers 10 years ago, there was a public debate
about how the leading American banks had grown “too big to fail.” But
that debate overlooked the larger story, about how the global markets
where stocks, bonds and other financial assets are traded had grown
the eve of the 2008 crisis, global financial markets dwarfed the global
economy. Those markets had tripled over the previous three decades to
347 percent of the world’s gross economic output, driven up by easy
money pouring out of central banks. That is one major reason that the
ripple effects of Lehman’s fall were large enough to cause the worst
downturn since the Great Depression.
Today the markets are even
larger, having grown to 360 percent of global G.D.P., a record high.
Apart from that, the introduction seems mostly correct, and indeed it
is a rather serious flaw in the present economy that there is 3.6
times as much paper money each year, than the values of the goods
produced all over the world.
Here is some more, that again will need a correction:
I think it is a falsehood
to say that "the world’s
largest central banks" "have expanded their balance sheets" (enormously) "in an effort to promote the recovery": No, they
expanded their balance
sheets to increase their own power.
the past decade, the world’s largest central banks — in the United
States, Europe, China and Japan — have expanded their balance sheets
from less than $5 trillion to more than $17 trillion in an effort to
promote the recovery. Much of that newly printed money has found its
way into the financial markets, where it often follows the path of
bankers and other regulators have largely succeeded in containing the
practice that caused disaster in 2008: risky mortgage lending by big
Here is some more on the present economic situation:
listed on the S.&P. 500 index, debt has tripled since 2010 to one
and a half times annual earnings — near the historic peaks reached
during the recessions of the early 1990s and 2000s. And in some parts
of the bond markets, debt loads are much higher.
And this is a rather
serious sign that a new recession is close. Here
is a bit more on why:
Right now the
typical American company owned by a private equity firm has debt six
times higher than its annual earnings — or twice the level that a
public ratings agency would consider high-risk or “junk.”
Here is the last bit that
I quote from this article:
I find the argument that "[m]ost economists put the probability of such
a recession hitting before the end of 2020 at less than 20 percent" very
weak, for the simple
reason that I have learned in the past 50 years that "most
economists" are simply mistaken in most
of their predictions.
a downturn follows, it is more likely to be a normal recession than
another 100-year storm, like 2008. Most economists put the probability
of such a recession hitting before the end of 2020 at less than 20
economists are more often wrong than right. Professional forecasters
have missed every recession since such records were first kept in 1968,
and one of the many reasons for this is “recency bias”: using economic
forecasting models that tend to give too much weight to recent events.
Also, how Sharma can insist that "economists are more often wrong than right" (which is false since 50
least) while also insisting in his next sentence that "[p]rofessional forecasters have missed every
recession since such records were first kept in 1968" - which happens to be 50 years ago -
completely escapes my (logically trained) mind.
Years Since Economic Collapse Sparked Occupy Wall Street, the
Cooperative Movement Is Surging
article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts
with the following introduction:
This week marks the
seventh anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement and 10 years
since the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, which
triggered the onset of the global financial crisis. The crisis also
sparked massive global anti-capitalist movements, including Occupy Wall
Street, the M-15 movement in Spain and the anti-austerity movements in
Greece. “It’s striking how little we are marking these anniversaries,”
says author and activist Nathan Schneider. “I think … we recognize we
really haven’t done anything serious to deal with the causes of this
crash.” Schneider’s new book outlines an alternative economic model
based on cooperative ownership that saw a resurgence since the 2008
financial crisis. It’s titled “Everything for Everyone: The Radical
Tradition That Is Shaping the Next Economy.”
Well... there certainly
are several other reasons, but one reason that Occupy Wall Street etc.
are not often commemorated is that they mostly failed. (Also,
as I have
said many times before, I do get rather sick of the twice repeated "we"
that should have been "many": "
we many recognize we
many really haven’t done anything serious to deal with
the causes of this crash".)
Finally, while I have sympathy for "an alternative economic model based on cooperative ownership", I have seen similar plans
that go back to the 1820ies (for I had intelligent though not
educated communist parents, who had a fair amount of literature about
Here is some more:
(...) To talk more about the impacts of the crisis 10 years later,
we’re joined by Nathan Schneider, whose new book outlines an
alternative economic model based on cooperative ownership. He argues
the cooperative movement has witnessed a resurgence since the 2008
financial crisis. Schneider’s book is just out. It’s called Everything
for Everyone: The Radical Tradition That Is Shaping the Next Economy.
His recent piece
for Vice is headlined “Rich People Broke America and Never Paid
the Price.” He’s also the author of Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from
the Occupy Apocalypse. Nathan Schneider is a journalist and author
and media studies professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Well... this gave you the
title of his book. Here is Schneider:
Well, it’s striking how little we are marking these anniversaries,
especially the anniversary of the crash, which has so defined the last
10 years and has defined my generation, has defined so many of our
lives. I think a reason that we haven’t been celebrating it is we
recognize we really haven’t done anything serious to deal with the
causes of this crash and to deal with the horrific response to it, in
which millions of people were allowed to lose their homes and their
jobs. And quietly, in the midst of this lack of imagination, there has
been a growing movement on a grassroots level, increasingly at a policy
level, to recognize that there is an opportunity to make a difference
through this tradition of cooperative enterprise.
I can't really see much
that I agree with in this quote, except for one thing: It is
quite true that "the anniversay of the crash" of 2008 has been little
marked, though again mostly not for the reason Schneider gives
again ("we" "haven't done anything serious") but because the
media mostly did not even admit it was a crash.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
That is true, but I do not
think this was an interesting article.
GONZÁLEZ: Well, but some might argue that even some predatory
capitalists have come up with or are developing the idea of cooperation
among businesspeople. I’m thinking of Airbnb, Uber, this whole sharing
economy. They’re sort of taking a cooperative idea and standing it on
its head in terms of how they can make money off of it.
SCHNEIDER: That’s right.
You know, cooperation was really the original crowdfunding. It was the
original sharing economy. But I think most of us have kind of wised up
to the fact that this is not a real sharing economy, this economy of
Uber and Airbnb; this is an extraction economy.
Kavanaugh's Accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, Goes into Hiding
This article is by Mark Chapman on AlterNet. It starts as
One of the first criticisms
Senate Republicans had of the allegation that Supreme Court nominee
Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual
assault at age 17 was to ask why Democrats had waited
until the last minute to take any action on the letter, despite
having it for weeks.
The reason was that the
survivor, California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford — who alleges
that in the early 1980s at a party, Kavanaugh pulled her into a
bedroom, forcibly held her, tried to undress her, and covered her mouth
to muffle her screams while a friend looked on — was fearful of
the personal consequences if she ventured into the national spotlight
to speak out against such a powerful figure.
Yes indeed - and for
more on Kavanaugh see yesterday and
last week and more (in the index). And here is
And if reports
in The New York Times are any indication, Ford's worries were
not without merit:
Dr. Blasey, thrust
suddenly into a spotlight that she never sought, has been inundated
with vulgar email and social media messages, and even death threats,
according to a person close to her, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity to discuss a private matter. “From what I’ve heard you have 6
months to live, you disgusting slime,” one message said.
Dr. Blasey, who has two teenagers, has moved out of her house, is
arranging for private security for herself and her family, and is
effectively in hiding, the person said. But Dr. Blasey has also been
buoyed by a flood of supportive messages from friends and strangers.
“Ninety percent of
people think she’s a hero and are extremely supportive of her, and 10
percent want her to die immediately,” the person said, adding, "Her
worst fears are coming true."
I say, and this is a
Capitalist Manifesto: Let Poor People Die
article is by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
The original Capitalist
Manifesto was a 1958 book by economist Louis O. Kelso and
philosopher Mortimer J. Adler. In their view of a properly conducted
democratic capitalist society, a sort of modern-day Homestead Act was
envisioned, in which all Americans would participate in the "capitalist
revolution" of growing stock portfolios. This would be
possible because of great technologies (energy in the 1950s, AI now)
that would allow all of us, in Aristotelian and Jeffersonian
property-owning ways, to become 'free' to pursue the arts &
sciences and to enjoy more leisure time. Today, this form of democratic
capitalism could be realized through the Employee Stock Ownership
Plan promoted by the "Just Third Way" movement.
I think this is mostly
quite correct, although I have to grant that this is the first
time I hear about the Capitalist Manifesto (and no, I am not
interested: I know about Adler, and think he was mostly mistaken).
Just one problem. Apparently,
in 1958, economists and philosophers were not able to foresee the
unlimited greed of the relatively few people with the power to
manipulate the strings of the capitalist state.
Average Americans have been
cheated out of the gains from technological productivity. Just in the
past ten years in our world of big business, over $30
trillion -- nearly a third of our nation's TOTAL current
wealth -- has gone to the richest 10% of Americans. Yet market-happy
illusionists like the Wall Street
Journal keep spouting nonsense about a healthy economy built
on today's capitalism.
Here is more:
The root of the
problem is the condemnation of anything 'social' as un-American, which
has helped modern-day capitalists to justify their belief
in individual gain by any means. Wealthy conservatives know
that social responsibility might take away some of their riches by
providing opportunities and jobs and a decent standard of living for
all Americans. In their minds, the poor have only themselves to blame
for being poor, and for dying. But it is capitalism that is killing
I agree with the above,
and like to point out that one other cause is the fact that John
Nash's game theory, which is still very widely used, is based on
the assumption that everyone is egoistic and out to
increase his or her
own income or pleasure.
Here is more:
and Plutocrats Stand By as People are Poisoned
This simply is true, and
indeed for quite a long time. Here is more:
What is the capitalist
incentive to clean the water in Flint,
Michigan? Little money is to be made, so little effort is made to
save lives. People are DYING because
there's no market for profit-making.
without Health Care—for Many Americans that Means Death
I think all of the above
quotation is true as well. Here is more:
Over 30 million Americans
health insurance in our business-driven, capitalist society.
The American Journal of Public Health flatly states,
"Numerous investigators have found an association between uninsurance
and death...Our estimate for annual deaths attributable to uninsurance
among working-age Americans is more than 140% larger than [the
Institute of Medicine's 2002 study]."
One of the most disturbing
examples of individual disdain for society is the opioid epidemic.
Purdue Pharmaceutical executives admitted to the felony charge
of lying about their product's addictive qualities, but no one went to
jail. In a six-year period to follow, other Big
Pharma dealers, including AmerisourceBergen and McKesson, distributed nearly
a billion pills to West Virginia alone.
are Surging, and so are Suicides
Quite so, again. Here is
the last bit that I quote from this article:
The percentage of elderly
Americans filing for bankruptcy is
three times what it was in 1991. Individualism over social
consciousness is much to blame. A study by
the Social Science Research Network found that the shift from employer
and government pensions to individuals has increased risk while
exacerbating stress. Meanwhile, much of the stress for working people
comes from the 40-year stagnation
Meaning of Socialism
Yes but it - to be real
and realistic - must also incorporate legal, political and
changes. For more see my Crisis:
On Socialism. And this is a strongly recommended article.
It takes a
tragedy to reveal the true meaning of socialism. It's not government
control, but rather people controlling their own lives through empathy
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl 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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
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 (!!).