Karl Marx

Just got forwarded an email containing this Karl Marx quote:

"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and mechanical products, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalised, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism"

Karl Marx, Das Kapital, 1867

Quotes like this immediately ring all my alarm bells, of which I have a large supply. This quote is all over the internet actually, it's spreading like wild fire. But it's too good to be true:

It's been fifteen years since I read Das Kapital, and I'm not sure how much I retained even when I was young and hale. But it immediately set off my fake alarms. First, because it doesn't sound remotely like anything I remember Marx saying — his core thesis was that falling wages would immiserate the working class, not that they'd be done in by their overdrafts. ...

Commenters also point out that the term technology was just coming into use and referred to the "industrial arts," not consumer goods. This quote is about as authentic as Nostradamus predicting 9/11. But it does help to demonize the idea of nationalizing the banks.

I'm actually in favor of nationalisation right now, as a type of bankruptancy procedure: force banks to take the losses they don't want to admit, wipe out the stock holders, and turn the banks over to their debitors.

The L.A. Times has an appropriate quote though:

"In every stockjobbing swindle every one knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety. Après moi le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society."

Note that "the crash" here is not the government generated business cycle, but the end of capitalism. We're a long way off from that one.

Skype now working fine

Earlier I reported that the new Skype phone didn't work either. I'm happy to report that it started to work and we've been using it for two weeks now. Initially it didn't work, but after I called support and had to give the serial number, I plugged it in again, and it started to worked. Maybe because I had to hold it upside down to read out the serial number?

Anyway, we're very happy now with the RTX 3088: very close to an analog phone. Pity we can't get a Dutch phone number.

ICE

Got an email today, with some good advice (and I checked it, it is not a hoax):

 Message from the Ambulance Service

We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its
memory. If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the
people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to
call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the
contact person in case of an emergency? Hence this 'ICE' (In Case of
Emergency) Campaign.

The concept of 'ICE' is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact
during emergency situations. As mobile phones are carried by the
majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a
contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under
the name 'ICE' ( In Case Of Emergency). The idea was thought up by a
paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents there
were always mobile phones with patients but they didn't know which number
to call.

He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a
nationally recognised name for this purpose.

In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff
would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply
dialling the number you have stored as 'ICE'.

Please forward this. It won't take too many 'forwards' before everybody will know about this. It really could save your life, or put a loved one's
mind at rest.

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.

PLEASE PASS THIS AROUND AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE AS THIS CAN HELP IN AN
EMERGENCY

I suggest you add an ICE contact in your phone immediately, or just change the name of the person you want to be contacted to ICE.

Mortaging our children's future

Sir Roger Douglas:

Under Labour, we mortgaged our houses to buy consumer goods; under National, we are about to mortgage our children's future.

I also want a High Growth-Low Welfare State.

Valentines Day

Today it was Valentines Day and I got a card from someone. Here it is:

 

 

Dat mag lekker wel

Maxime Verhagen werd onlangs op de vingers getikt omdat ie op twitter een foto had gezet van de minsterraad. Hij werd toen op zijn vingers getikt door ambtenaar Balkenende, omdat de ministerraad vertrouwelijk is. Schrijft ie net op twitter:

Maar mijn kamer op Buitenlandse Zaken mag lekker wél

The two faces of Britain

Just compare these two stories. Telegraph, July 5, 2008:

Two schoolboys were allegedly disciplined after refusing to kneel down and "pray to Allah" during a religious education lesson.

Telegraph, February 12, 2009:

A primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class is now facing the sack for seeking support from her church.

Jeduthun in Houten op zaterdag 21 februari

Op zaterdag 21 februari mag ik weer met Jeduthun naar Houten. Het optreden is ten bate van de Stichting Ontmoeting.

Stroomkabel valt naar beneden in Auckland

Een week geleden viel de stroom al uit, nu vallen de stroomkabels naar beneden:

Up to 20 people were trapped in their homes when the 250m length of cable snapped and fell 7m from the pylons supporting it onto the road and at least 16 front lawns on neighbouring Whetstone Rd.

It damaged cars and homes, and burnt through fences.

Dit is ongeveer 500 meter bij ons vandaan. In Nieuw Zeeland bouwen ze huizen rechtstreeks onder stroomkabels. En daar wordt met huizen kopen nauwelijks over nagedacht.

Richard Dawkins stumped by creationists' question

I hadn't seen this video before, but it is indeed powerful. Richard Dawkins is asked a key question in molecular biology: how can information content increase by the proceses which supposedly are responsible for evolution?

Geert Wilders denied entry to England

In the end Geert Wilders trip to England was widely reported in Dutch media. It certainly received very wide coverage in the US and England. People in New Zealand remained blisfully ignorant about a pivotal moment in history. The only story the New Zealand Herald deemed newsworthy on Holland yesterday was that some city had lost its porn archive.

For people in New Zealand it might be helpful to understand what a dividing figure Geert Wilders is. The reaction of the left against Don Brash is timid compared to the emotions Geert Wilders evokes. You are either for him or against him. If you are against him, you believe that British customs should have locked him up upon entering Britain, and throw away the key. If you are for him, you think he should be allowed to say what he says, which is invariably immediately followed by an admission that you don't agree with him. If you agree with him, it might lead to police protection, 24 hours a day, at best, or your throat slit at worst.

The NRC, seen as a or the quality newspaper in The Netherlands, expressed popular left opinion. I summarise:

Geert Wilders should be allowed to say what he says. But Geert Wilders isn't consistent. He denies other freedom of speech when he claims that radical muslims should be deported, and when he asks to forbid the publication of the Koran.

Completely missing the point of course. This is not about free speech. Geert Wilders did not want to go to England to show his movie Fitna. He was invited to a private screening in the House of Lords by a British Lord. This was not a publicity stunt by Geert Wilders as others have expressed. Again, he was invited.

We have to go beyond the borders of Holland to find any insightful discussion of the matter. Philip Johnson in the Telegraph captures what happened:

The reason for the ban appears to have been the possibility of protests by some Muslim organisations against Wilders's visit. In other words, his freedom to express a view and the liberty of peers to hear it in an institution supposedly devoted to free speech, were set aside in the face of intimidation

That is exactly the point. He was denied entrance by the British Government, because his presence:

would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.

Wilders himself can do no such thing. And it wasn't he who was doing the threatening. The threatening was done by another British Lord, Muslimi peer Ahmed, who promised to moblise 10,000 muslims. When hearing that, the British government caved. Philip Johnson compares this to a situation 20 years ago:

The very people who in 1989 were demanding the murder of Salman Rushdie for writing a book are today leading the charge against a Dutch MP for making a film. The fundamental difference is that 20 years ago, the government supported free speech; today, it has cravenly surrendered. It is simply not good enough to say that Wilders should not be heard because he might provoke a backlash from those who do not like him or his views. That is not upholding the law. That is appeasement.

Or as the PowerLine blog expressed it:

The British government has also given militant British Muslims the right to set the boundaries of debate about their religion. This, of course, is one of the main evils about which Wilders came to warn the English.

The grasp of this reality is almost completely absent in Holland. Because acknowledging this would lead to the admission of some very unpleasant truths.

14th Birthday

Yesterday I had a birthday party. Three friends came over (some couldn't make it). We went swimming at the pools. There was a fun long slide. After that we went home and played computer. We had pizza for lunch and fish & chips for dinner.

 

Today is my Birthday (Friday 13th February, I haven't had anything bad happen yet). We have holidays now, and the family is coming over.

 

I got a watch and a book from my parents.

All one needs to know about banks

The US House Financial Services Committee recently staged a bit of theatre, calling upon the big bank executives to appear and make statements. That's how these things go: once part of the government, the government will now run the business. The following answer tells us the banking crisis has barely begun:

Jamie Dimon attempted a back-of-the-napkin calculation, estimating the $25 billion JPMorgan had received had resulted in $50 billion to $75 billion in loans.

Let me explain this for the layman with the usual cow example: you have 0 cows. The government gives you 1 cow. You loan two to three cows to your neighbours.

This is the famous multiplier effect in action...

Finally, SEC gets savaged

Representative Gary Ackerman savages the SEC. A must watch. If you don't understand what the SEC is saying, it's not because you don't understand English. They just speak SECish.

The SEC is one of the reasons why I only can laugh if people say we need more regulation if some industry or that there isn't enough regulation.

The non-story of the day

The non-story of the day is Geert Wilders. Again. This elected Dutch MP  has been denied entrance to England, probably the first time such a thing has happened in modern history. Maxime Verhagen, minister of foreign affairs, has claimed that Britain had denied entrance to imams and right wing Israeli politicians before. Nice to be in that category Verhagen...

I could find no examples of Israeli politicians who have been denied entrance, so he might as well have made that up. But Geert Wilders isn't from Israel. He is from a neighbouring country, is dutifully elected by a sizable minority.

But it is amazing that this story isn't getting much play in The Netherlands. The main stream media, commentators and usual politicians are embarrassed by Geert Wilders. They wish he would just go away. And if he would go away, the problems he highlights would just go away. No one ever asks themselves what has become of the Netherlands if a politician needs 24 hours police protection. Geert Wilders has had this for many years now. Every night he sleeps in a different location. This has become acceptable and normal.

One would suppose the banning of a politician by a supposedly friendly country would be frontn page news. But it isn't. Newspapers report it, they have to. But not on the front page. In other countries there is far more attention. Fox News calls it the Battle of Britain:

In a sense that is what it is of course: England now bans people due to real or perceived reaction from its own population, not on the particulars of the person entering.

Wilders will fly to England today, so we'll see what happens. What will be the reaction of the Dutch population when they see a Dutch politician arrested at Heathrow and thrown out of the country?

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