from January 15, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Tuesday,
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 three 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 January 15, 2019:
1. The ‘Private Governments’ That
Subjugate U.S. Workers
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. The FBI’s Investigation of Trump
3. As Gov’t Shutdown Drags On, IRS Continues to Aid the Rich
4. This Is How American Democracy Ends
5. The Trump Dictatorship
‘Private Governments’ That Subjugate U.S. Workers
This article is by Chris Hedges on
Truthdig. It starts as follows:
strip employees of fundamental constitutional rights, including free
speech, and which increasingly rely on temp or contract employees who
receive no benefits and have no job security—rule the lives of perhaps
80 percent of working Americans. These corporations, with little or no
oversight, surveil and monitor their workforces. They conduct random
drug testing, impose punishing quotas and targets, routinely engage in
wage theft, injure workers and then refuse to make compensation, and
ignore reports of sexual harassment, assault and rape. They use
managerial harassment, psychological manipulation—including the
pseudo-science of positive
psychology—and intimidation to ensure obedience. They fire workers
for expressing leftist political opinions on social media or at public
events during their off-hours. They terminate those who file complaints
or publicly voice criticism about working conditions. They thwart
attempts to organize unions, callously dismiss older workers and impose
“non-compete” contract clauses, meaning that if workers leave they are
unable to use their skills and human capital to work for other
employers in the same industry. Nearly half of all technical
professions now require workers to sign non-compete clauses, and this
practice has spread to low-wage jobs including those in hair salons and
I say, and I do so
because (1) I think many of the things ¨the corporations¨ can
do in the USA, cannot be done (at all, or to the same extent)
in Holland, under Dutch laws, and (2) in one major way, Hedges is quite
right that ¨the corporations¨ try to impose their own system of government on their
employers, and that system of government tends to be much stricter than the restrictions a
democratic government imposes on its citizens.
Then again, I have to
admit as regards point (1) above I do not know about the current
Dutch regulations of the relations between corporations, the
people they employ, and the law of the land as kept up by the Dutch
government, and the reason is that I (and my former wife) have been ill
for more than 40 years with ME/CFS.
But I am still pretty
sure that what I said in (1) about the differences between the USA and
Holland is more or less correct.
Here is more:
The lower the wages the
abusive the conditions. Workers in the food and hotel industries,
agriculture, construction, domestic service, call centers, the garment
industry, warehouses, retail sales, lawn service, prisons, and health
and elder care suffer the most. Walmart, for example, which employs
nearly 1 percent of the U.S. labor force (1.4 million workers),
prohibits casual conversation, which it describes as “time theft.” The
food industry giant Tyson prevents its workers from taking toilet
breaks, causing many to urinate on themselves; as a result, some
workers must wear diapers. The older, itinerant workers that Amazon
often employs are subjected to grueling 12-hour shifts in which the
company electronically monitors every action to make sure hourly quotas
It´s the same about the above
quotation: I think these measures are not possible in Holland.
Here is more:
Two-thirds of workers in
low-wage industries are victims of wage
theft, losing an amount estimated to be as high as $50 billion a
year. From 4 million to 14 million American workers, under threat of
wage cuts, plant shutdowns or dismissal, have been pressured by their
employers to support
pro-corporate political candidates and causes.
And again, in so far as I
know in Holland your employer (at least in most professions:
there are some exceptions) has nothing to say about or to do
with your opinions, political or otherwise. In fact, that is an
important part of what democracy means.
Here is more:
The corporations that in
effect rule the lives of American workers constitute what University of
Michigan philosophy professor Elizabeth
Anderson refers to as “private governments.” These “workplace
governments,” she writes, are “dictatorships, in which bosses govern in
ways that are largely unaccountable to those who are governed. They
don’t merely govern workers: they dominate
corporations have the legal authority, she writes, “to regulate
workers’ off-hour lives as well—their political activities, speech,
choice of sexual partner, use of recreational drugs, alcohol, smoking,
and exercise. Because most employers exercise this off-hours authority
irregularly, and without warning, most workers are unaware of how
sweeping it is.”
I say. In case you are
interested about Anderson,
this was a reference. I have studied philosophy myself, but was removed
from the right of doing an M.A. in it (with excellent
marks, also on my B.A.) while I was ill and very briefly before
taking it, because I had dared to criticize the
competence of the (for 95%) utterly incompetent people who were
supposed to touch me philosophy. This does not reflect on Anderson
directly or indirectly, but it does mean that I am somewhat
more skeptical about academic
philosophers than about - say - academic mathema- ticians or
Anyway. It is also true that
- so far as my knowledge about Holland reaches, where I´ve been born
and lived for 65 of my 68 years - no
Dutch corporation has ¨the legal authority¨ (..) “to regulate workers’ off-hour
lives as well—their political activities, speech, choice of sexual
partner, use of recreational drugs, alcohol, smoking, and exercise.¨
Here is a sum-up by Anderson:
workers,” Anderson writes, “outside of collective bargaining and a few
other contexts, such as university professors’ tenure, is sweeping,
arbitrary, and unaccountable—not subject to notice, process, or appeal.
The state has established the constitution of the government of the
workplace; it is a form of private government.” These corporations, by
law, can “impose a far more minute, exacting, and sweeping regulation
of employees than democratic states do in any domain outside of prisons
and the military.”
If this is right (and I
see no specific reason to doubt this), this is very
bad and indeed seems a lot like dictatorship.
Here is more on
¨neoliberalism¨ (which is bullshit
however it is defined):
Neoliberalism posits that
choice is between a free market and state control, whereas, as Anderson
writes, “most adults live their working lives under a third thing
entirely: private government.” Neoliberalism argues that the
essence of freedom is free enterprise, while never addressing workers’
surrender of basic freedoms.
The neoliberal ideologues’ solution to the cannibalization of the
economy is to call for fostering a nation
of entrepreneurs. This is a con. Corporations and their lobbyists
write the laws and the legislation, creating a two-tiered legal system
in which poverty is criminalized and we are controlled, taxed and
punished. The corporate oligarchs, however, live in a world where
monopoly, fraud and other financial wrongdoing are legal or rarely
punished and taxes are minimal or nonexistent.
Yes indeed. Here is the
last bit that I quote from this article:
American workers have
achieved the array of rights won by workers in other industrialized
countries. At the height of union representation in 1954, only 28.3
percent of American workers were union members. This number has fallen
to 11.1 percent, with only 6.6 percent of private-sector workers
belonging to unions. Wages have for decades declined or been stagnant.
Half of all U.S. workers make less than $29,000 a year, effectively
putting their families in poverty.
Workers, lacking unions and the ability to pressure management through
collective bargaining, have no say in their working conditions. If they
choose to leave abusive employment, where do they go? The inequalities
and the workers’ loss of liberty and agency are embedded within the
corporate structure. It is impossible, as Anderson warns, to build a
free, democratic society dominated by private governments. As these
private governments merge into the superstructure of the corporate
state we are cementing into place an unassailable corporate tyranny. It
is a race against time. Our remaining freedoms are being rapidly
extinguished. These omnipotent dictatorships must be destroyed, and
they will only be destroyed by sustained popular protest such as we see
in the streets of Paris. Otherwise, we will be shackled in 21st-century
I think I quite agree,
and one reason for my agreement is the fact
of surveillance of everybody´s computers by both the
secret services of most countries and by Google, Facebook,
Microsoft, Apple and some more, which seems to me - and in
complete independence of what was said in the present article - the
best guarantee for the arisal of a
complete dictatorship that I do not
know how to avoid, except indeed by trying to destroy it before it has
the dictatorship over almost everyone. And this is a strongly
FBI’s Investigation of Trump
This article is by
Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Last week, the New York
that the FBI, in 2017, launched an investigation of President Trump
“to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible
threat to national security” and specifically “whether he had been
working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The story was
predictably treated as the latest in an
endless line of Beginning-of-the
for the Trump presidency, though – as usual – this melodrama was
accomplished by steadfastly ignoring the now-standard, always-buried
paragraph pointing out the boring fact that no actual evidence of
guilt has yet emerged:
The New York Times
(...) No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in
contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. (..)
The lack of any evidence
guilt has never dampened the excitement over Trump/Russia innuendo, and
it certainly did not do so here.
Yes, I agree about both
points Greenwald makes: After two years of searching, there still
has been no evidence produced that Trump worked - somehow - for the
Russians, but this fact does not seem to have ¨dampened the excitement over Trump/Russia
Here is more from
Greenwald (who has a lot more, that I leave unreviewed):
That the FBI conducted an
extensive counterintelligence investigation of Wallace was unknown
until 1983 – eighteen years after his death. Citing reporting by the
Des Moines Register, the
New York Times explained that “Wallace was watched by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was Vice President under
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of Commerce for Harry S. Truman,
and also in his 1948 run for the Presidency” and that “the bureau
opened Wallace’s mail, tapped his supporters’ telephones and used
informers and agents to trail him in search of ”possible Communist or
In case this does not worry
It is not difficult to
understand what is so ominous and even tyrannical about the FBI
investigating domestic political figures whose loyalties they regard as
“suspicious,” and whose political career they regard as a “national
security threat,” simply because those politicians express policy
positions about U.S. adversaries that the FBI dislikes or regards as
It’s the FBI’s job to
investigate possible crimes under the law or infiltration by foreign
powers, not ideological sins. If a politician adopts policy views that
are “threatening” to U.S. national security or which is unduly
accommodating to America’s adversaries or “enemies,” that’s not a crime
and the FBI thus has no business using its vast investigative powers
against a politician who does that.
agree: ¨It’s the FBI’s job
to investigate possible crimes under the law or infiltration by foreign
powers, not ideological sins¨.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
If Trump’s foreign policy is
misguided or “threatening,” that’s a matter for the Congress and/or the
American public, not the FBI. However “threatening” one regards Trump’s
foreign policy relating to Russia, the FBI’s abuse of its powers to
investigate an elected official due to disagreement with his ideology
or foreign policy views is at least as dangerous, it not more so, and
the fact that those policy disagreements are characterized as “national
security threats” does not make those actions any less threatening or
abusive – whether for Trump, Henry Wallace or George McGovern.
I completely agree. And this is a recommended
article in which there is a lot more than I quoted.
Gov’t Shutdown Drags On, IRS Continues to Aid the Rich &
is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following
As 800,000 federal
remain furloughed or working without pay in the longest government
shutdown in U.S. history, we look at how the Trump administration has
restarted a division of the Internal Revenue Service to help corporate
lenders. The Washington Post reports that an appeal from the mortgage
industry has resulted in hundreds of IRS
staffers returning to the agency to carry out income verifications for
lenders. This process earns the $1.3 trillion mortgage banking industry
millions of dollars in fees. We speak with Paul Kiel, a reporter for
ProPublica and contributor to the series “Gutting the IRS.” His recent piece for the series is titled
“Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000—or $400,000?”
As I have repeatedly
pointed out, in Holland you cannot keep federal workers without
pay, nor can you force them to work without pay. That is one thing.
Besides, I also do not think it would be legal in Holland -
during a conflict between the government and part of its staff - to
return part of the staff so that they can do work that
profit the rich, although I admit I am less certain of this
Here is more from the
GOODMAN: So, they bring
in—they make these workers not only essential, but they are paying
KIEL: Right. They found
money to, I guess, make them happier workers, I guess. I don’t know.
GOODMAN: And how does this
benefit the mortgage industry?
KIEL: It makes sure that
they can make loans, so they can make money, you know, that things
don’t shut down for them, even if it’s shut down for most of the
GOODMAN: And this was done
at the behest of Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary.
That were some of the
relevant background facts. Here is the last bit that I quote from this
KIEL: Well, so, I think
it’s important to note, so, one of our largest anti-poverty programs is
the earned income tax credit. About $70 billion goes out; it goes to 27
million households. And that is run by the IRS.
And since the '90s, the right, the Republicans in particular, have put
a lot of pressure on the IRS to audit people
who receive that benefit, that comes in the form of a tax refund each
year. Over a third of the audits that the IRS
does are of people who receive that credit. And that's a type of
auditing that the IRS does that’s largely
And so, what we were able
to show in our piece
is that audits of the rich, audits of corporations have come down much
more quickly than audits of people who are receiving this credit. And
these are people, you know, households that tend to have income under
$20,000 a year. It’s a program that lifts about, you know, millions of
children out of poverty every year. And the computers can still pump
out those audit letters. And so, that area of auditing has fallen much
(..) It shows that since 2011, audit rates for the wealthy have dropped
more steeply than for the earned income tax credit recipients. For
example, for taxpayers earning between $200,000 and $500,000 a year,
audit rates dropped by 74 percent, but for earned income tax credit
recipients who have a median annual income under $20,000, audits
dropped by just 36 percent.
KIEL: Right, yeah.
GOODMAN: So, you’re more
likely to be audited if you’re making less than $20,000 or $40,000 a
year than if you make a million dollars?
And that - I
agree - seems quite immoral to me. This is a recommended
Is How American Democracy Ends
is by Bill Blum on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
For the time being,
Trump has toned down his threat to declare a national emergency to pay
for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Addressing a White
House roundtable Friday afternoon, Trump continued to insist that
he has the “absolute right” to issue an emergency decree. But, he
added, “I’m not going to do it so fast.”
The problem, however, isn’t just
that we have a mendacious crypto-fascist in the White House who looks
to other crypto-fascists for counsel and succor. The problem is that
Emergencies Act (NEA), passed in 1976 and which Trump would invoke
to get his way, makes it easy for any president to declare emergencies.
Trump’s threat to deploy extraordinary powers to counter a fake crisis
on our southern boundary should spark a clarion call to reexamine,
repeal and replace the NEA.
I mostly agree, but I
do not think that the term ¨crypto-fascist¨
helps (other than to relieve some of Blum´s anger) and my reasons are
(once again) that (1) there are at least 22 different definitions
of ¨fascism¨ (that you all find here, with my comments and
Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions), while (2) I have been reading about
¨fascism¨ for at least three years now, but I have not found a
single journalist (i) who gave
any definition of the term, and (ii) also no
journalist who seems to know ¨fascism¨ is quite ambiguous.
This is - once again -
quite the same, and as regards the ¨crypto¨: that generally means that
the term which follows it might not quite apply - but in which
of the at least 22 senses?!
Anyway. Here is more:
But then again (as the
article makes more or less clear, but I do not review the parts) the
NEA also failed.
By the early 1970s,
Congress had enacted some 470
statutes, delegating extraordinary powers to the president in times
of crisis on issues ranging from public health, natural disasters and
land management to national defense and security. A 1934 law
still on the books even allows the president to shut down or take
control of “any facility or station for wire communication” (arguably,
the internet in the digital era) upon his proclamation “that there
exists a state or threat of war … or other national emergency.”
As Elizabeth Goitein,
co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan
Center for Justice, writes in The
Atlantic, the NEA was passed to “rein in this proliferation.”
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, which is Blum´s
Worse still is the prospect
that after pressing the emergency button for the border wall, Trump’s
appetite for even more outrageous initiatives will expand exponentially
until he destroys our democracy piece by piece, one phony national
emergency at a time.
Possibly so - and you
also may be interested in the next article I review:
is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Actually, I don´t
think I quite agree with the proposed distinction (in terms of ends and
means) between democracy and dictatorship, for I think more is
involved, but OK.
The only redeeming aspect
to Trump’s presidency is he brings us back to basics. And what
could be more basic than the difference between democracy and
Democracy is about means,
not ends. If we all agreed on the ends (such as whether to build a wall
along the Mexican border) there’d be no need for democracy.
But of course we don’t
agree, which is why the means by which we resolve our differences are
so important. Those means include a Constitution, a system of
government based on the rule of law, and an independent judiciary.
A dictatorship, by
contrast, is only about ends. Those ends are the goals of the dictator
– preserving and accumulating personal power. To achieve those ends, a
dictator will use any means necessary.
Which brings us back to
Here is more:
I agree with the latter
part of the quoted paragraphs, but less with the beginning: I am one of
the meanwhile quite many psychologists (and psychiatrists) who
say that Trump is ¨unfit
to be president¨ because he is insane (which also
goes quite far explaining his thousands of lies).
The conventional criticism
of Trump is that he’s unfit to be president because he continuously
breaks the norms of how a president should behave.
Trump’s norm-breaking is
unsettling, to be sure, but Trump’s more fundamental offense is he
continuously sacrifices means in order to preserve and accumulate
He thereby violates a
president’s core responsibility to protect American democracy.
Anyway. Here is more:
Yes, I totally
agree with the second paragraph, and my reason is that Congress
has the legal right to apportion money, much rather than Trump.
He is treating the
government of the United States as a bargaining chip. He is asserting
power by any means possible. This is the method of a dictator.
A president who claims he
has an absolute right to declare a national emergency and spend
government funds that Congress has explicitly refused to appropriate
for the ends he seeks, is also assuming the role of a dictator.
Trump’s entire presidency
to date has sacrificed the means of democracy to the end of his
He has lied about the
results of votes, and established a commission to investigate bogus
claims of fraudulent voting. He has attacked judges who have ruled
against him, with the goal of stirring up the public against them.
He has encouraged followers
to believe that his opponent in the 2016 election should be imprisoned;
and condemned as “enemies of the people” journalists who report
unfavorably about him, in an effort to fuel public resentment – perhaps
even violence – against them.
Yes, I agree,
though once again I tend to explain many of the things Reich
mentioned by saying that they are well explained by Trump´s lack of sanity.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
I think I agree and this
is a recommended article.
The choice could not be
clearer. Democracy is about means, while dictatorship is about ends.
Trump uses any means available to achieve his own ends.
We can preserve our
democracy and force Trump out of office. Or we can continue to struggle
against someone who strives to thwart democracy for his own benefit.
In the months ahead, that
choice will be made, one way or the other.
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 (!!).