Cultural Psychology

Archive for June 2008

Beware EU Federalism!

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It is a privilege to be an American living in Europe during this important phase of European history.

In one sense, what happens here is none of my business. I may observe, but it isn’t my home continent and it’s not ‘my fight’, so to speak.

But in another sense I have a responsibility to at least offer an informed opinion. I do have the benefit of having lived in the United States most of my life and having watched what’s happened there over several decades.

Thus, taking the latter point as more important, let me give some ‘advice’ to my European friends: Beware of the EU federalist movement!

Look at it this way. People in Europe love to criticize the United States. They criticize George W. Bush. They criticize the war in Iraq. These are good things to criticize! In fact, these are the reasons I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the U.S. for a while.

But the problems of the U.S. are in many ways the direct result of federalism — the excesses of an immensely powerful central government with no accountability to its constituency. It’s too big and too remote from the people it “represents.”

The very name “United States”, in fact, is currently an absurdity. There no longer 50 “states”. There is just one large country. State rights and state identities have consistently diminished since the nation was first hobbled together as a loose confederation of 13 distinct and autonomous colonies.

Things would be lot better in the U.S. if the states had a greater share of the power. States, unlike the federal government, are still responsive to citizen input. I’m from Arizona. If/when I have a strong opinion on some policy that affects Arizonans, I can drive down to Phoenix and meet with a state representative. I can attend public meetings and make a speech or presentation. I can personally affect government. It is still “my” government, something I am part of.

But if I were to try to do the same thing in Washington DC I’d be laughed out of town.

That’s the problem with the U.S. right now. It’s run by a vast machine — the federal government — which is beyond the ability of citizens to control or even comprehension.

Do Europeans really want to go down the same road?

Okay, there are good economic reasons for promoting European unity. But most of that’s already accomplished. There is a common currency (well, almost), and trade barriers within the EU have been removed. That ought to be enough. Nothing more will be gained by adding to this a strong central EU government. In particular, the last things you want are (1) a central EU “foreign policy” administration, and, especially, (2) an EU army.

The latter is especially insidious. Once you have a government army, then you open the door for the military arms industry to control government policy. That’s what’s happened in the US.

And what about this nonsense of rotating representation of member countries on the central committee?  The sheer complexity of it ought to alert people to the fact that something is basically wrong here.  Imagine the games this might lead to:  okay, Great Britain will be off the council for five years; time for all the other contries to railroad policies against Britain’s interests.  Then when GB returns and you can be it will be payback time.

Then we come to the issue of taxes. How do you suppose a central EU government would be funded? Naturally, by taxes. Do you really think that the individual governments — Germany, France, Great Britain — will divert their own tax revenue to this purpose? Not very likely. To do that, they’d have to cut their own programs — something which all governments are extremely loathe to do.

No, the existing national governments will not shrink. (In fact, they’ll probably manage to find some way to use EU consolidation as an excuse to add services and increase taxes! That’s what governments do: they grow automatically until some social force resists them). But then, inevitably, additional taxes will be levied to fund the new EU programs. And since Europeans are already crushed under excessive taxes, to add even more taxes is both absurd and tragic.

All this would be bad enough if citizens were being given clear information about the choices. But EU centralization is being forced upon them. In 2005 when the EU constitution was subject to public referenda in France and the Netherlands, citizens in both countries rejected it. Now in 2008 the people of Ireland rejected the so-called “Lisbon Treaty” (i.e., the revised Constitution, but referred to by this pseudonym, as though in a shabby attempt to fool voters)

(This point is important enough to dwell on for a moment.  Folks, this is serious business!  The Irish referendum was for ratification of the EU Constitution.  Why on earth would you want people to ratify a constitution without making them fully aware of the fact that it is a constitution?  Do you want to disguise the fact or minimize its significance?  Wouldn’t you rather want to make them abundantly aware of the full importance of what their doing? )

After the French and Netherlands rejection, EU centralists simply found ways to bypass public referenda, seeking to ratify the Constitution by national parliaments. Again, what could be shabbier than this, or a more glaring exposition of the intention to force policy without the consent or full understanding of the public?

If I were from Europe I would be outraged at this. If expanded EU powers are a good thing, then let the issues be publicly debated. Let all sides be explored. But most importantly, let the public be fully informed and let them decide what they want. At present the good citizens of Europe are being worked and taxed senseless — and even though I am not from Europe, I am rather angry about what I see in this regard.  In this climate, the politicians, getting no resistance, are seeking to expand government control.

European Libertarianism?

As always, we should try to close on a positive note. One thing sorely lacking in European politics is a “libertarian” perspective. In both America and Europe, you have left-wing and right-wing positions. But in the U.S. you also have a strong “limited government” viewpoint. This, no doubt, is something that goes all the way back to the founding of the country as a nation of emigrants from Europe — people escaping organized governments and all the associated evils.

Nevertheless, because libertarianism is a sound idea, it is inevitable that it will eventually manifest itself in Europe. Therefore I am pleased to supply this link to the Netherlands Libertarian Party:

They are not very large now, but perhaps they will grow and their ideas will spread to other European countries.

Also, I thought worth sharing is this website by Finn Skovgaard:  it’s encouraging to see that there are people like Finn paying close attention to European politics!


Written by John Uebersax

June 21, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Ron Paul’s new book – The Revolution: A Manifesto

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You HAVE to check out this new book by Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Some people say America is finished. But they’re wrong.

America is still the last, best hope for establishing a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Yes, America has fallen onto bad times and has made mistakes. That merely proves that a modern democracy is difficult to establish. If other countries were as large and as free as the United States is, they’d likely be making the same or worse mistakes.

Ultimately, if America cannot succeed in this grand experiment, then nobody can. Or, stated conversely, if modern democracy is feasible at all, then America will find a way to make it work.

This new book is a case in point of how America is still fundamentally committed to the ideals of justice and liberty. The Republican/Democrat political establishment has managed to engineer an oppressive political system. But Americans are still fundamentally free — that’s something built into the principles and spirit of the nation. In a free environment it’s only a matter of time before someone speaks out — and Ron Paul has done so.

His new book is titled The Revolution: A Manifesto

The timing of the book couldn’t be better — obviously planned to coincide with the upcoming November elections.

Here are some excerpts from the editorial review at Amazon:

* The government is expanding.
* Taxes are increasing.
* More senseless wars are being planned.
* Inflation is ballooning.
* Our basic freedoms are disappearing.

The Founding Fathers didn’t want any of this. In fact, they said so quite clearly in the Constitution of the United States of America. Unfortunately, that beautiful, ingenious, and revolutionary document is being ignored more and more in Washington. If we are to enjoy peace, freedom, and prosperity once again, we absolutely must return to the principles upon which America was founded. But finally, there is hope . . .

In THE REVOLUTION, Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul has exposed the core truths behind everything threatening America, from the real reasons behind the collapse of the dollar and the looming financial crisis, to terrorism and the loss of our precious civil liberties. In this book, Ron Paul provides answers to questions that few even dare to ask.

Written by John Uebersax

June 11, 2008 at 5:53 pm

The Senate’s Compliance in the Iraq War

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Breaking headline:

Iraq report rips U.S. leaders : Senators: Invasion misused intelligence.

Don’t you think this is a little late?

Yes, the Bush administration lied. They willingly exaggerated the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) as a pretext for invading Iraq. And you (John D. Rockefeller, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the rest of the U.S. Congress) are just figuring this out? Where were you in 2003? Or after the invasion, when our troops failed to find any evidence of WMD production? Why didn’t you pass a resolution to leave Iraq then, when the country could have still saved thousands of casualties and a trillion dollars?

I don’t suppose any of you happened to watch Secretary of State Colin Powell’s ludicrous address to the U.N. Security Council in Feburary 2003. There he tried to make the case for a U.S. invasion based on a supposed Iraq WMD development program. Obviously, in appearing before the Security Council Powell was going to give his best shot — and supply the most compelling evidence possible. Instead everyone was treated to some highly ambiguous photos of trailers — supposedly portable WMD factories, but which could have been just about anything. No substantial evidence of WMD production was supplied — and that itself was revealing. The real message to anyone discerning and attentive was that the U.S. had no evidence of WMD production in Iraq!

Powell made an utter fool of himself. One got the impression that he hated every minute of it, but was pressured by the Bush administration to make the presentation.

And what about the repeated protests of Hans Blix, the U.N. weapons inspector — who was *in* Iraq, who repeatedly insisted that there was no WMD program? Why didn’t the U.S. Congress listen to him?

Okay, so the Bush administration lied. Fine. We shouldn’t pass that by too lightly. But, still, in a sense, one expects ruling administrations to lie. You have to maintain healthy skepticism. Nodoby forces you to swallow everything they say hook, line, and sinker.

The bigger problem, if you ask me, is that Senate *believed* the Bush administration (or pretended to).

So excuse me, Senate Intelligence Committee. If you’re saying now that the Bush administration grossly lied about the WMDs, then by implication you’re also saying that you didn’t do your job at the time. You should have recognized that the Administration was lying. Instead you just played along. And why not? If America benefited from the Iraq War, then you could claim some of the credit. And if (as it’s turned out), the war became a fiasco, then you could just blame Bush — as you’re doing now.

As Lincoln said, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. At least one citizen — me — is calling you on this. The U.S. Senate should have objected to Bush’s march to war. And by not doing so, they are just as much to blame as the Bush administration.

And as far as I’m concerned, the whole lot of you — anyone who voted for the war — should be summarily drummed out of office (and without a pension!).

Written by John Uebersax

June 6, 2008 at 5:47 pm