Sections crisis index
1. America the Illiterate
2. A New McCarthyism: Greenwald on Clinton Camp's
Attempts to Link Trump, Stein & WikiLeaks to Russia
3. Completing Democratic Overthrow, Brazil's
Right-Wing Senate Ousts Rousseff
4. As TTIP Falters, Campaigners Warn Against
Democracy-Wrecking Sister Deals
5. Standing up to Apple
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 1, 2016.
This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is an excellent article by Chris Hedges on the very many illiterates in the USA (originally from 2008); item 2 is about Glenn Greenwald on the strange tactics the Democrats use; item 3 is about the fact that Dilma Rousseff is deposed as president of Brazil (which may introduce a lot of terror); item 4 is about the TTIP, the TTP, the TISA and the CETA: All purported "Free Trade" initiatives, that really, each and all, are attempts to get a neofascistic world order by the rich, for that is by far the most profitable to the rich; and item 5 is by Robert Reich about the mega-rich American tax-frauds that is Apple Inc.
And incidentally... I started the crisis series on September 1, 2008 (in Dutch), today precisely eight years ago. At that time the Dutch government still firmly denied there was any crisis. Now the new Dutch government denies there is a crisis. Well, from my point of view - the poorest in Holland , but with a fine mind and excellent degrees - there was crisis since 2008, there is a crisis now, and in fact I have been growing poorer since 2008, both in what the money I have can buy, and in the services I get, for these also are all growing worse and worse, and more expensive and more expensive. 
The reason I am saying this, is that it is the simple truth. The reason you may be denying this is that you may earn inside the highest 20% (who do have it a lot easier than I do, financially, though they are very probably less educated and/or with lesser degrees than I have) or that you have been well propagandized and believe the lies, the half-truths and the many omissions you have been both fed and denied to know. (And this is probable anyway, for even if you can see through the lies, you don't know what you don't know because someone decided that "the public doesn't need to know" this or that, such as the fact that both all secret services and all dataminers have almost complete access to almost anything almost anyone does with any computer or phone that is connected to the internet).
Anyway - there is little or nothing I can do about it, except writing on. And in fact the first article to follow is quite relevant, for the USA is further down the road of neofascistic modernization than Federal Europe is - for this is what is happening, I think:
1. America the Illiterate
The first item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. Because he is on vacation, Truthdig reprints earlier articles. The following article is an excellent one from 2008, which was a year before I got fast internet (which means that today is the first time I've read this ):
This starts as follows:
We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.I completely accept this (though I admit I have never been to America, and very probably never will, for lack of health and lack of money), but I should like to point out that if you do, you accept that there are many who know a
whole lot less than you do, and who may be a whole lot less intelligent than
And while I think that is an obvious truth about the world in which I am forced to live, the 17 million Dutch have made it a law or a principle of the law that "everybody" who lives in Holland "is of equal value".
Now I think everybody who thinks that either has an IQ that is maximally 75 or is self-evidently lying, but this does not preclude this modern propaganda lie is widely embraced (publicly, to be sure, in Holland).
Anyway - I pointed this out because it should be said that the truth that there are widespread differences between different persons has been denied by the lie that everybody - you, Einstein and Hitler, for example - is equal or of equal value (if Dutch).
Here are some more facts:
There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.Incidentally, "nearly a third of the" American population is around 100 million persons (more people than live in England or France). And they are illiterate or barely literate for the most part not because they are stupid, but because they have been very badly educated.
Also incidentally, since this was written in 2008, the USA has gained a number that is equal to all of Holland's population, who cannot even read, in just 8 years (2 million a year, times 8).
Here is what the enormous American illiteracy means for the practice of politics:
The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information. American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives. Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience. They do not require cognitive or self-critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation. Campaigns that succeed are carefully constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal. They create a public ecstasy that annuls individuality and fosters a state of mindlessness. They thrust us into an eternal present. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state of permanent amnesia. It is style and story, not content or history or reality, which inform our politics and our lives. We prefer happy illusions. And it works because so much of the American electorate, including those who should know better, blindly cast ballots for slogans, smiles, the cheerful family tableaux, narratives and the perceived sincerity and the attractiveness of candidates. We confuse how we feel with knowledge. I think again this is all true, though I also want to say that (i) this is rather a lot like it was - say - forty years ago (which I can easily recall, as I was 26 then), but indeed also (ii) I agree propaganda has been made more and more stupid, and also (iii) both the printed press and the TV have been growing more and more limited, selective or lying in what they deign to discuss as "today's news".
And there is this on the political leaders in the USA:
Political leaders in our post-literate society no longer need to be competent, sincere or honest. They only need to appear to have these qualities. Most of all they need a story, a narrative. The reality of the narrative is irrelevant. It can be completely at odds with the facts. The consistency and emotional appeal of the story are paramount. The most essential skill in political theater and the consumer culture is artifice. Those who are best at artifice succeed. Those who have not mastered the art of artifice fail. In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek or want honesty.Again I completely agree. But I should indicate one complication: I also agreed with all that has been said by Hedges, indeed apart from the specific numerical facts he mentions about the degrees of illiteracy, in 1980, for it was then much as it is now, although I agree it was slighly better then (and there were far fewer people on earth).
I do know, for I have extensive journals. Then again, I agree that there has been a shift to "an image-based society" and it started to happen around 1980, but wasn't done yet then:
The change from a print-based to an image-based society has transformed our nation. Huge segments of our population, especially those who live in the embrace of the Christian right and the consumer culture, are completely unmoored from reality. They lack the capacity to search for truth and cope rationally with our mounting social and economic ills. They seek clarity, entertainment and order. They are willing to use force to impose this clarity on others, especially those who do not speak as they speak and think as they think. All the traditional tools of democracies, including dispassionate scientific and historical truth, facts, news and rational debate, are useless instruments in a world that lacks the capacity to use them.Yes indeed - and the barely literate lack the minimal capacities to maintain a truly democratic society because they have been very badly educated, and much of their education did not consist of real knowledge but of ideology, propaganda and superstition.
The core values of our open society, the ability to think for oneself, to draw independent conclusions, to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong, to be self-critical, to challenge authority, to understand historical facts, to separate truth from lies, to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable, are dying.I agree, and the reason is quite simple and factually adequate: There is at present only a fairly small minority in the USA who have these skills, to some extent. I do not know how large this subset is, but I would guess that it is no more than 1/5th at most, that is about 60 million persons.
And they are educated enough to have the capacities - which does not mean they will use them, nor does it mean that if they do, they will use them sensibly.
And this seems to be a fairly adequate sketch of the USA: 1 in 3 is barely literate or illiterate, and at most 1 in 5 has the capacities to be a more or less decent democratic voter.
I say. God bless America! And this is a recommended article.
2. A New McCarthyism: Greenwald on Clinton Camp's Attempts to Link Trump, Stein & WikiLeaks to Russia
The second item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
- A New McCarthyism: Greenwald on Clinton Camp's Attempts to Link Trump, Stein & WikiLeaks to Russia
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald says Democrats have adopted a "Cold War McCarthyite kind of rhetoric" by accusing many its critics of having ties to Russia. "It’s sort of this constant rhetorical tactic to try and insinuate that anyone opposing the Clintons are somehow Russian agents, when it’s the Clintons who actually have a lot of ties to Russia, as well," Greenwald said. "I mean, the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton helped Russian companies take over uranium industries in various parts of the world. He received lots of Russian money for speeches."I think this is somewhat interesting, indeed in considerable part because the Democrats are trying to warm over (and serve again, as if it were brand new) a piece of propaganda that was started in the 1950ies.
And I agree with Glenn Greenwald this is what they are trying to do, quite consciously also, and part of the reason I agree is that I was born in 1950:
GLENN GREENWALD: To me, this is one of the more remarkable things of this campaign, which is that any of us who grew up in politics or came of age as an American in the ’60s or the ’70s or the ’80s, or even the ’90s, knows that central to American political discourse has always been trying to tie your political opponents to Russia, to demonizing the Kremlin as the ultimate evil and then trying to insinuate that your political adversaries are somehow secretly sympathetic to or even controlled by Russian leaders and Kremlin operatives and Russian intelligence agencies. And this was not just the McCarthyism, which was sort of the peak of that, but even long after. This was typically a Republican tactic used against Democrats.I think this is more or less correct (and I say "more or less" because I am sure I know a lot less relevant evidence than Glenn Greenwald does). And I think the basic reason that the present Democrats are using this schema is that they know there are more than 65 years of American insistence on the "Russians Are Evil" bullshit schema .
And it’s amazing to have watched, in this campaign, Democrats completely resurrect that Cold War McCarthyite kind of rhetoric not only to accuse Paul Manafort, who does have direct financial ties to certainly the pro—the former pro-Russian leader of the Ukraine, but really anybody who in any way questions the Clinton campaign. I mean, they even tried doing it to Jill Stein a few weeks ago by claiming that she had done something nefarious by attending an event in Moscow sponsored by the Russian television outlet RT that’s controlled by the Putin government. And so, it’s sort of this constant rhetorical tactic to try and insinuate that anyone opposing the Clintons are somehow Russian agents, when it’s the Clintons who actually have a lot of ties to Russia, as well.
Here is the same schema applied to Edward Snowden and to Wikileaks:
GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, what I just talked about, in terms of this tactic of trying to depict political adversaries as being agents of Russia, obviously, from the beginning of the Snowden reporting, that was used to try and demonize Edward Snowden by virtue of the fact that he ended up in Russia, where he sought and then obtained asylum.I believe that is correct as well - that is, I believe this was done and had this intent of deceiving the public about Snowden and about Wikileaks.
And they’ve done the same to WikiLeaks, especially since WikiLeaks disclosures this year have been damaging to the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign. (...) So WikiLeaks has become an enemy of the Democratic Party, and they seem to have one tactic with their adversaries and enemies, which is to accuse them of being Russian agents. And that’s the tactic that has now been used against WikiLeaks, as well.
Finally, there is this about the elections and the desirability of having debates between the four presidential candidates there are at present (Clinton, Trump, Johnson and Stein):
GLENN GREENWALD: I think—yeah, I think American political discourse would value greatly from the inclusion of both of them in the debates, which is exactly why neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party will allow it. What—the big scam of the Democrats and Republicans is that they agree overwhelmingly on most issues. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case, because that’s the scam.I agree. But it will not happen, because the media like to see the scam continue, and the media mostly decides what the people get to see (after the government has decided what the public is not to see: thus it goes now).
3. Completing Democratic Overthrow, Brazil's Right-Wing Senate Ousts Rousseff
The third item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
- Completing Democratic Overthrow, Brazil's Right-Wing Senate Ousts Rousseff
There is more in the crisis index under "Brazil", and indeed the last item there on Brazil was yesterday, before Dilma Rousseff was suspended.
As expected, Brazil's Senate on Wednesday voted to impeach suspended President Dilma Rousseff.
The 61-20 vote to oust her from office means an end to 13 years of rule by the Workers' Party and the completion of her term by conservative Interim President and former Vice President Michel Temer, who, as the Guardian reports, "was among the leaders of the conspiracy against his former running mate."
As ABC News reports, the nation's first female president faced charges of "violating fiscal laws by using loans from public banks to cover budget shortfalls, which artificially enhanced the budget surplus." Critics of the process, however, have repeatedly argued the legal grounds for those charges are essentially non-existent and evidence suggests the charges were largely, if not exclusively, politically motivated.
During her speech to lawmakers on Monday, Rousseff rejected the charges levied against her and reiterated her belief the proceedings represented a coup. She warned, "I'm afraid that democracy will be damned with me."
Now she is, and I fear that she was right when she said "I'm afraid that democracy will be damned with me".
Finally, here is Glenn Greenwald on what I agree was a coup (and see here):
Yes. And I prefer to call it a coup, because that is what it looks like; because Dilma Rousseff says so; and more especially because others I respect say so: See here.
Brazil-based journalist Glenn Greenwald also said this week that the "majority of the Senate sitting in judgment of her are people who themselves are extremely corrupt, if not outright criminals. They are either people who are convicted of crimes or who are under multiple investigations."He added: "You can call it a coup, you can debate whether that word applies, but what it is is a complete reversal of democracy in a way that is ushering in an agenda that benefits a small number of people that the Brazilian citizens have never accepted and, in fact, have continuously rejected."
4. As TTIP Falters, Campaigners Warn Against Democracy- Wrecking Sister Deals
The fourth item is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
- As TTIP Falters, Campaigners Warn Against Democracy-Wrecking Sister Deals
The contentious Euro-American trade pact—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—may finally be at death's door, but campaigners are warning that recent pronouncements of its demise are merely a "tactical retreat" in order to save two lesser-known and equally "toxic" sister agreements.
"In other words," Nick Dearden, director of U.K.-based Global Justice Now (GJN), wrote in a Wednesday op-ed, "TTIP has been sacrificed to save the wider agenda of which TTIP was only one part"—namely the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union and the 50-nation Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which Dearden describes as "a massive, super-privatization deal covering everything from finance to education."
Firstly, I also doubt whether the TTIP will be discarded. I have reported on that possibility (see here), but then again that were the feelings of one - important - German minister, who also described the present state of debate. I regard and regarded that as mildly hopeful, but not (yet, at least) as a "sacrifice".
Secondly, I have now many times repeated what I think NAFTA, the TTP, the TTIP, and indeed also the CETA and the TISA are: They are all very explicit attempts by the rich and their lawyers to destroy democracies, to destroy states, to destroy the power of parliaments, to destroy the powers of any national government, and to hand all these powers over to the CEOs of multi- national companies and their lawyers, who have one and only one goal: To make their own profits as large as possible - no matter what the costs to others, no matter morality, decency, equality or declared and accepted rights and laws: They want to destroy it all, and replace it by the absolute dominance of the multi-national corporations and their CEOs and lawyers.
Thirdly, I think this is quite evident given how they play this, for they present it to the public as if this is "Freedom!" and "Free Trade!", while they deny or leave wholly untreated that these are exclusively the freedoms of the rich and their lawyers, while they deny any access or almost any access to any of the real legal texts they are preparing and want to push these through parliaments of all countries essentially unread, undiscussed, and unseen.
Fourth, for me, who knows a whole lot about fascism (see e.g. politics) it is by far the best prepared neofascist attack on everything democratic, everything parliamentary, everything national, everything equal that I have ever seen: This is neofascism pure and simple.
And fifth and last, mostly because of the developments Chris Hedges sketched in the first item of the present Nederlog, I am very much afraid they will succeed, also because the rich have the money to buy parliamentarians, and they seem to have bought many.
So here is first the neofascistic TISA:
A new briefing on TISA published Tuesday by GJN warns about the global ambitions of the deal, which focuses on services—rather than goods (like most trade agreements)—and primarily "allowing multinationals to provide services across borders."
The primer explains:
TISA considers all regulations to be trade barriers. This means that it has serious consequences for things that have little to do with trade, affecting areas like labor rights, banking regulation and whether public services like electricity and water are run for the benefit of the people or by profit-making multinational companies. [...]
Much of the danger in TISA lies in the fact that it turns many public services into commodities to be run for the benefit of business, rather than in the interest of people who need services like electricity, healthcare and transport. TISA signatories will have to treat foreign multinationals from TISA countries with at least as much favor as local companies, even if local firms are much smaller.
What's more, negotiations over the deal, which are expected to conclude by late 2016, have been conducted with "even less transparency than those on TTIP."
This - "TISA considers all regulations to be trade barriers" - means in effect that TISA desires to terminate all laws that parliaments anywhere imposed on corporations: The corporations are to decide what the national laws are to be (as under Mussolini, except that now they are multi-nationals).
This is an explicit neofascistic law that will only benefit the CEOs and the lawyers of multi-national corporations, and has been explicitly designed to do so: Exit all public goods and all public services your parliaments granted to the
many in the last 100 years or so.
And what will happen to your country under TISA will be determined by some CEO who lives on a private island in the Bahamas or somewhere else, and who may never have set a foot in your country: HIS desires are supreme, for HE commands billions of dollars.
Here is more that threatens (equally neofascistic, equally greedy, equally blind or uncaring for the fates of the many):
Dearden expands on some of the other known threats:
We also know that some countries are pushing clauses in TISA which would prevent signatories introducing laws to favor renewable energy over fossil fuels. Others are pushing to allow high tech companies to transfer data across borders at will. [...].
Further, the organization notes, the countries involved represent 70 percent of the total world economy, and, ultimately, the "aim is to impose the deal on the rest of the world through the World Trade Organization (WTO)...For this reason, TISA is the trade deal that most threatens poorer countries of the global south. It must be stopped."
Then there is the neofascistic CETA that aims at terminating all environmental, health and consumer protection laws in any country whose corrupted parliamentarians (they will profit, fear not!) will sign the CETA:
More imminently, Dearden notes, is the threat posed by CETA. Like TTIP, critics say, CETA aims to "water down or abolish environmental, health, and consumer protection regulations."
The deal is likely to reach a European Parliament vote before next spring and campaigners are concerned it could be "provisionally applied" as early as this autumn.
Hoping to stall the deal, a coalition of German NGOs on Wednesday launched a complaint with the nation's highest authority, the Constitutional Court, asking the judges to block implementation of CETA on the grounds that it "subverts the German constitution because it does not leave room for parliamentarians to interpret the agreement or vote against it."
The German NGOs are quite right - but who knows how much the judges of the Constitutional Court have been paid? I don't. (They may and should act correctly, but compare the Supreme Court of the USA, that effectively decided that corporations = persons and that money = votes.)
Finally there is this on the ISDSs - which are not so much "a parallel legal system" as an explicit illegal system of quasi-"laws" that are guaranteed to judge everything by just one criterion: Does this law diminish the projected profits of the multi-nationals? If yes, terminate the law and punish all the taxpayers of the nation that adopted it, democratically and all, to pay a punishment of many millions or billions to the multi-nationals.
The system is - from a democratic point of view - explicitly and intentional illegal (1) because it reduces all questions to questions of how much the projected profits of the multinationals sunk by some national, democratic,
parliamentary enacted law, and (2) because it excludes all parties even from
attending any of its "courts" if they are not either lawyers of states (who can be forced to pay punishments from taxes) or lawyers of multinationals (who can force to pay punishments from taxes, in an ISDS):
For according to CETA: Fuck everything European that hurt the profits
The NGOs are particularly concerned about the agreement's Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which employs a parallel legal system to grant corporations dangerous leverage to use against countries that attempt to pass regulations that might hurt their profits, as Common Dreams has previously reported.
Echoing those fears, a new report (pdf) published earlier this week by a coalition of advocacy groups raised alarm over the threats posed by CETA to food safety and consumer standards should the E.U. be forced to comply with Canada's more lax regulations on things like pesticide use, animal welfare, genetically modified organisms, and agricultural safety standards.
of multinational corporations if these are based on European laws that
are stronger - nearly all of them are - than Canadian laws. (And very
soon after that has been effected: Fuck all laws that agree to anything
that is better than the Texan laws.)
So yes, this is what I - very unfortunately - expect, and that is one of the reasons I am glad I have no children.
5. Standing up to Apple
The fifth and last item today is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
For years, Washington lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have attacked big corporations for avoiding taxes by parking their profits overseas. Last week the European Union did something about it.
The European Union’s executive commission ordered Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple.
But rather than congratulate Europe for standing up to Apple, official Washington is outraged.
I say, though not loudly (and as Reich explains, their story was "that is OUR money", though they did nothing to get it).
Here is more:
These are taxes America should have required Apple to pay to the U.S. Treasury. But we didn’t – because of Ryan, Schumer, Hatch, Wyden, and other inhabitants of Capitol Hill haven’t been able to agree on how to close the loophole that has allowed Apple, and many other global American corporations, to avoid paying the corporate income taxes they owe.
Let’s be clear. The products Apple sells abroad are designed and developed in the United States. So the foreign royalties Apple collects on them logically should be treated as corporate income to Apple here in America.
But Apple and other Big Tech corporations like Google and Amazon – along with much of Big Pharma, and even Starbucks – have avoided paying hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes on their worldwide earnings because they don’t really sell things like cars or refrigerators or television sets that they make here and ship abroad.
Yes and no, though mostly yes: I think myself that "the loophole" Reich speaks of is less a loophole as an accepted way for the rich to grow even richer by paying hardly any taxes, were it only because these so-called "loopholes" exist for a very long time now (15 years, at least).
And also I don't care where Apple develops its products: Apple is legally an American company and therefore Apple should pay taxes to the American state. But it simply doesn't want to, and Congress doesn't really mind (for if they had, the "loopholes" would have been closed a long time).
The rest is mostly quite correct, although I don't agree on "intellectual capital", as Reich calls it:
Intellectual capital is hard to see, measure, value, and track. So it’s a perfect vehicle for tax avoidance.
Apple transfers its intellectual capital to an Apple subsidiary in Ireland, which then “sells” Apple products all over Europe. And it keeps most of the money there. Ireland has been more than happy to oblige by imposing on Apple a tax rate that’s laughably low – 0.005 percent in 2014, for example.
Apple is America’s most profitable high-tech company and also one of America’s biggest tax cheats. It maintains a worldwide network of tax havens to park its global profits, some of which don’t even have any employees.
My reason is very simple: it is a product; it is sold as a product; therefore it should be taxed as a product. I don't care where it is made, and I don't care
whether it is compiled code: If the company that owes it and sells it is American, it should pay taxes to the American state.
Then again, I agree with the rest - and "0.005" is 5/1000ths = 1/200th part of the sales they make has to be paid to the Irish, for "the right" not to pay taxes in the US. (The Dutch are also extremely good at this: Getting big foreign companies for very little taxes.)
And this is the first result of Apple's policies to enrich itself and its investors at the cost of every American:
Precisely. There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.
As a result, over last decade alone Apple has amassed a stunning $231.5 billion cash pile abroad, subjected to little or no taxes.
This hasn’t stopped Apple from richly rewarding its American shareholders with fat dividends and stock buybacks that raise share prices. But rather than use its overseas cash to fund these, Apple has taken on billions of dollars of additional debt.
It’s a scam, at the expense of American taxpayers.
To make up the difference, you and I and millions of other Americans have to pay more in income taxes and payroll taxes to finance the U.S. government.
 For I started working at 17, but was too young to get as much as a full minimal legal income; then I worked half days, to study more, and idem; then I got a study loan that paid less than the dole, which is less than the minimal income; and then I got a minimal pension, which was minimized again by 4% because I lived for 2 years in Norway, so yes: While I have one of the best M.A. degrees ever given in Holland, I absolutely never succeeded to get as much as the minimum income. (I agree I am ill since I was 28, but I also have not been treated as if I am ill by bureaucrats.)
 I will not say much about it, here and now, but everything is getting more and more expensive since the euro was introduced, and many essential services, like real radio, simply have disappeared.
I fear all services will disappear, thanks to TTIP, CESA and TISA, but indeed I also hope to be dead by the time fullfledged neofascism has arrived (which I do think is the most likely expectation: The rich have been breaking down all the civil laws that restricted their greed, or indeed forced the laws to many non-repaired "loopholes" to pay no more than ridiculously low taxes, and they have been working for 35 years to deregulate everything and do as they please, and have been succeeding for 35 years now, and they have nearly all of the money as well - so no, I am not optimistic).
 I do have internet for nearly 20 years (since November 1996), but until 2009 this was by a telephone modem that had a maximum of 28 Kb per second, though in real fact a lot less, and I had to pay for every telephone tick. Therefore, although I did surf some, I didn't surf much, and could do so reasonably only since the summer of 2009, when I got fast internet.
 For this started around 1950 (or the late forties).