in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from February 4, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
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 February 4, 2019:
1. Schumer and Sanders: Limit Corporate
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. Russia to Pull Plug on Nuclear Arms
Pact After U.S. Does Same
3. Hunger for Socialism Is Giving Centrist Democrats Cold Feet
4. AOC’s 70 percent billionaire tax is not high enough
5. Substituting the So-Called "Possible" for What's Morally
and Sanders: Limit Corporate Stock Buybacks
This article is by
Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders on The New York Times. It starts as
I say, for while I do
some about stock buybacks, the above explains it as quite serious, and
indeed more so than I thought.
From the mid-20th century
until the 1970s, American corporations shared a belief that they had a
duty not only to their shareholders but to their workers, their
communities and the country that created the economic conditions and
legal protections for them to thrive. It created an extremely
prosperous America for working people and the broad middle of the
But over the past several
decades, corporate boardrooms have become obsessed with maximizing only
shareholder earnings to the detriment of workers and the long-term
strength of their companies, helping to create the worst level of
income inequality in decades.
One way in which this
pervasive corporate ethos manifests itself is the explosion of stock
So focused on shareholder
value, companies, rather than investing in ways to make their
businesses more resilient or their workers more productive, have been
dedicating ever larger shares of their profits to dividends and
corporate share repurchases. When a company purchases its own stock
back, it reduces the number of publicly traded shares, boosting the
value of the stock to the benefit of shareholders and corporate
Between 2008 and 2017, 466 of
the S&P 500 companies spent around $4 trillion on stock buybacks, equal to 53 percent of
profits. Another 30 percent of corporate profits went to dividends.
When more than 80 percent of corporate profits go to buybacks and
dividends, there is reason to be concerned.
This practice of corporate
self-indulgence is not new, but it’s grown enormously. Fueled by the
Trump tax cut, in 2018, United States corporations repurchased more
than $1 trillion of their own stock, a staggering figure and the
highest amount ever authorized in a single year.
Here is some more:
Yes indeed - and
incidentally: I hold for a long time - more than 5 years - that the
division of adults in the USA by income is more or less fairly
represented by 90 : 10, that is by 90% non-rich or poor and by 10% rich
to very rich, and perhaps also by dividing the 10% into 9% millionaires
and 1% billionaires.
has become an enormous problem for workers and for the long-term
strength of the economy for two main reasons.
stock buybacks don’t benefit the vast majority of Americans. That’s
because large stockholders tend to be wealthier. Nearly 85 percent of
all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of
households. Of course, many corporate executives are compensated
through stock-based pay. So when a company buys back its stock,
boosting its value, the benefits go overwhelmingly to shareholders and
executives, not workers.
when corporations direct resources to buy back shares on this scale,
they restrain their capacity to reinvest profits more meaningfully in
the company in terms of R&D, equipment, higher wages, paid medical
leave, retirement benefits and worker retraining.
I still do, and while I know this is not quite correct,
I think it is
by and large correct.
Back to the article:
This seems a quite
idea to me. Here is part of the justification:
is why we are planning to introduce bold legislation to address this
crisis. Our bill will prohibit a corporation from buying back its own
stock unless it invests in workers and communities first, including
things like paying all workers at least $15 an hour, providing seven
days of paid sick leave, and offering decent pensions and more reliable
other words, our legislation would set minimum requirements for
corporate investment in workers and the long-term strength of the
company as a precondition for a
corporation entering into a share buyback plan. The goal is to curtail
the overreliance on buybacks while also incentivizing the productive
investment of corporate capital.
I more or less agree and have two additional remarks:
First, $4,000 : $9.11 = 0.00225, which also may be taken as an
indication of Trump's promises and : Trump's actual creations, and
second I do consider this evidence that the Democrats are
pulling to the left. And this is a recommended article.
past two years have been extremely disappointing for millions of
workers. President Trump promised the typical American household a
$4,000 pay raise as he pushed for his tax giveaway to the rich. The
reality, however, is that from December 2017 to December 2018, real
wages for average workers have gone up by just $9.11 a week. Sadly,
average workers are making less today than they made in 1973 after
adjusting for inflation, while stock buybacks have skyrocketed to
time is long overdue for us to create an economy that works for all
Americans, not just the people on top. Our legislation will be an
important step in that direction.
to Pull Plug on Nuclear Arms Pact After U.S. Does Same
is by Vladimir Isachenkov on Truthdig and originally on The Associated
Press. It starts as follows:
Yes indeed - and this substantially
increases the risk of nuclear war.
Also, while the
reporting in this article is factual, I think it also may be
taken as a
fact (and not mere appearance or "being seen as") that
that take a few minutes to reach their targets do
increase "the likelihood
global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning".
Following in the footsteps
of the U.S., Russia will abandon a centerpiece nuclear arms treaty but
will only deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles if Washington does
so, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.
U.S. President Donald Trump
accused Moscow on Friday of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range
Nuclear Forces treaty with “impunity” by deploying banned missiles.
Trump said in a statement that the U.S. will “move forward” with
developing its own military response options to Russia’s new land-based
cruise missiles that could target Western Europe.
Moscow has strongly denied
any breaches and accused Washington of making false accusations in
order to justify its pullout.
The collapse of the INF
Treaty has raised fears of a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the
1980s, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both deployed
intermediate-range missiles on the continent. Such weapons were seen as
particularly destabilizing as they only take a few minutes to reach
their targets, leaving no time for decision-makers and raising the
likelihood of a global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning.
Here is some more:
Well... this does not make me happy, especially with
according to the psychologist who writes these reviews - insane president Donald Trump
head of the USA. And this is a recommended article.
Speaking Saturday in a
televised meeting with his foreign and defense ministers, Putin
instructed the military to work on developing new land-based weapons
that were previously forbidden by the INF treaty. Defense Minister
Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin that they would include a land-based
version of the Kalibr ship-based cruise missile and a new hypersonic
intermediate-range ballistic missile.
Putin emphasized that such
new weapons won’t be deployed unless the U.S. does so.
“Russia will not station
intermediate-range weapons in Europe or other regions until similar
U.S. weapons appear in those regions,” he said.
for Socialism Is Giving Centrist Democrats Cold Feet
is by Jon Queally on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
within progressive circles that the “moderate Democrat” remains
a serious obstacle to the kind of transformative change many
rank-and-file party members and voters in general say they want,
new reporting by Axios on
Saturday shows that it might be the centrists who are getting cold feet
as they register just how hungry the electorate has become for policy
solutions like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, tuition-free
higher education, and taxation that targets the nation’s wealthiest.
Well... I said above
(in the first reviewed article) that there is
"evidence that the
Democrats are pulling
to the left", and I
shall keep it at that, in considerable part because I do not
vast majority of the elected Democrats in Congress or the Senate.
Here is some more:
In addition, internal
taken by what Axios describes as one “prominent 2020
hopeful” discovered Democratic voters in Iowa, one of the key early
caucus states in the presidential primaries, “has moved sharply left.”
Offering a specific example, the polling reportedly “found that
‘socialism’ had a net positive rating, while ‘capitalism’ had a net
Iowa also has
over 3 million inhabitants, which is my reason not to
very significant (for this is less than 1% of the number of inhabitants
of the USA).
Then again, I do
that "the polling
reportedly “found that ‘socialism’ had a net positive rating, while
‘capitalism’ had a net negative rating”" in the United States does seem a considerable
in the last 50 years.
Here is one more bit:
Documentary filmmaker and
author Astra Taylor said:
“Ten years ago — hell, two — I never would have believed I’d be reading
this. Please let’s not squander this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Others pointed out that the
leftward lurch among U.S. voters is a phenomenon not isolated to Iowa:
Well... yes again, but
also Iowa has no more than 3 million inhabitants. Anyway, this is a
70 percent billionaire tax is not high enough
is by Bob Hennelly on Salon. I abbreviated the title. It starts as
Well... I more or less
agree, but I also think this reaction is a bit too strong, in
part because before
Ocasio-Cortez stated her idea there was hardly a chance this idea would
be quite popular, and in part because "the actual post World War II trend lines" to a large extent depended on World War
and on John
Maynard Keynes, who died in 1946 (and who was according to Bertrand Russell
the most intelligent man he ever met).
When Rep. Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez said on “60 Minutes” that she would favor raising the
highest marginal tax rate on the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers to 70
percent, roughly doubling what it is now, the idea was cast as
“radical.” It is not.
Looking at the actual post World War II trend lines, it is
no where near radical enough. The sobering reality is that it will take
a lot more to undue the massive damage done to the federal balance
sheet and the average American household by a corrupt national
government that is controlled
by the rich.
For decades, the federal government has cut taxes on the
wealthiest Americans and corporations while spending and borrowing so
profligately, it should be chargeable as a criminal act.
Here is more on the last 40 years of non-Keynesian policies:
Now, we are on the verge of spending
more on servicing this debt than the current
$700 billion we spend on our military each year. For decades we
have been cutting taxes on the highest earners and replacing that
revenue with debt for which the entire nation is on the hook. Put more
simply, we have subsidized the the Bezos,
mega-fortunes by keeping their Federal taxes at historic lows, while
shifting the cost of the government into the future by unprecedented
borrowing that casts a dark
cloud over the nation’s future.
I think this is quite correct. Here is some more:
But the 1963 to 1964
period was a key inflection point, with the top tax rate dropping from
that “radical” Eisenhower 91 percent rate, to just 77 percent in just
one year. My, how the uber-wealthy must have been relieved; and yet, it
was set to become oh, so much better.
Again this is quite
correct (and 1964 was during Johnson's presidency). Here is some more:
By the 1980s and the so-called Reagan revolution, that top tax rate
dropped to 45 percent. By the 1990s, it dropped even further to 36
Things really got out of whack when, during President
Obama’s tenure, we kept fighting the pricey global war on terror, the
Federal government bailed out Wall Street banks and Detroit, leaving
Main Street America to twist in the wind. Americans lost $20 trillion
in household wealth lost that had taken generations to accumulate.
Several million American families lost their homes. This
took the heaviest toll on African-American
and Latino households.
Where did it go? Right to the top. In the 21st century
gilded age the ethos is not ‘to those that much is given, much is
expected’ but rather ‘to those with the most even more must be given'.
I think this is also quite
correct (and the Dutch have a proverb that says
"the Devil shits
on the highest heap" which is a way of saying that to those with the most even more will be given).
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Inequality.org “in 1982, the “poorest” American listed on the first
annual Forbes magazine list of America’s richest 400 had a net worth of
$80 million. The average member of that first list had a net worth of
I said I more or less
agree in principle and I do, but I also think that Ocasio-Cortez's
proposal was quite reasonable in the circumstances in which she
proposed it. And this is a recommended article.
Scroll forward to 2016 and rich Americans needed a “net worth of $1.7
billion to enter the Forbes 400, and the average member held a net $6.0
billion [fortune], over 10 times the 1982 average after adjusting for
Meanwhile, down here on earth, from where we can’t see the top of the
Bezos, Bloomberg Schultz wealth pyramid, close to 80 percent of
paycheck to paycheck.
No, I would say 70 percent for the highest
marginal tax rate is too low, in light of our track record for the last
70 years. Call me an Eisenhower “radical”. I am holding out for 90
the So-Called "Possible" for What's Morally Necessary
is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. I shortened the title. This is
from near its beginning:
I think there is something
in the above, but it is far too strong, for the reasons "why the country has drifted to the right for
more than three decades now"
have a lot to do with Reagam's presidency (that started
years ago) and the ever-increasing wealth and power of the richest
Americans (rather than the fact "that Democrats should only run on things that poll well").
This perspective [i.e. the
entire notion that Democrats should only run on things that poll well -
MM] is shared by the party's leadership, by most of the media, and
virtually all of the political consultants and contributors.
It's not only wrong, it's
morally bankrupt and a prescription for at least two existential
crises. It also explains why Republicans have been so successful
despite being a minority party, and why the country has drifted to the
right for more than three decades now, despite the fact that a firm
majority of American voters remain progressive on an issue-by-issue
Here is some more:
I think this is more or
less correct. Here is some more:
But as presidential
historian Jon Meacham said on HBO's "Real Time w/ Bill Maher," it is
often easier to make big honking changes than to try to accomplish
incremental ones. Back in 2016, Democrats faced a choice between
incrementalism—"a progressive who got things done"—and an advocate for
a fundamental transition away from a rigged system. The party
apparatchiks threw their weight and influence behind Hillary Clinton, a
reluctant incrementalist who would have preferred to be a status quo
candidate, and against Sanders, who advocated for more radical
change. Polls show that Sanders would have trounced Trump, and
Clinton's ratings were always within the margin of error.
So, at a time when folks
are desperate for change, incrementalism is bad politics.
I more or less agree - and
if you wonder what "monopsony"
means, this was a link explaining it.
Today, we face two
existential challenges and both demand that Democrats shape the polls
rather than be shaped by them.
The first is income
inequality, and it is driven by the fact that the rich and corporations
have used their wealth to completely subvert the democratic process in
America. Elections are bought; politicians
all but ignore the wishes of the people, while doing the bidding of the
rich, corporations, and special interest; income disparity
has reached grotesque proportions globally and nationally, fueled by
public policies favoring capital over labor; and with monopolies and
monopsonies keeping wages low even in times of full employment, there's
no solutions in the offing absent radical policy changes.
Historically, inequality of
this magnitude has been a harbinger of revolutions—it presages crowds
with pitchforks and torches storming the bastions of wealth.
Here is some more:
The second challenge is
Four months ago, the IPCC’s Special Report Global Warming of 1.5 C
essentially said we only had 12 years left to avoid catastrophic
warming and irreversible feedbacks. In other words, no matter how
bad you think climate change might be, it’s likely to be worse, unless
we act now, today. Literally.
And these two issues—income
inequality and climate change—have a kind of negative synergy.
I more or less agree. Here is
the ending of this article:
Perhaps. This is a
The choice is clear.
We can drift toward an economic and climate related Armageddon by
following polls, or we can move toward a broadly shared sustainable and
prosperous world by shaping them.
Sadly, it looks like we’re
choosing the former.
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 (!!).