What America’s Founders Could Teach The European Union

Like so many of us, I have trouble conceiving of a more astute set of political theorist than the American founders. That they built for the ages, and mostly rightly is evident in what we’ve accomplished. Any, and there are some, who dispute that have one of two problems, they know nothing of history, and like all such, if we let them, will condemn us to live it yet again, although differently, most are likely tending towards being Luddites, or they are simply delusional, and believe what they believe irrespective of overwhelming evidence. Or they have an ulterior motive, I suppose is possible.

In any case, Europe has a problem. Britain is considering leaving the community. I have my opinion, as does Jess, on that, and we’ve shared them. But Europe itself seems to be floundering. Why is that? Do our founders have a few lessons for them? Why yes, I believe they do.

As a sort of lead in I want to share a joke that Oyiabrown shared recently.

Pythagoras’s theorem – 24 words. Lord’s Prayer – 66 words. Archimedes’s Principle – 67 words. 10 Commandments – 179 words. Gettysburg address – 286 words. U.S. Declaration of Independence – 1,300 words. U.S. Constitution with all 27 Amendments – 7,818 words.

EU regulations on the sale of cabbage – 26,911 words.

Think about that. If it takes almost 27K words to regulate cabbages… well you get the idea that maybe the EU is overfond of words, in 18 languages, no less, and may perhaps have a tendency to overregulate. And what are the regulatory costs of cabbage regulation anyway? In any case, a touching monument to the power of words, and the stifling of enterprise.

But to the main points.

Ask the American Founders

[…] Like Americans in the 1780s, European leaders today face an increasing security problem and a growing debt, but a lack of political power to solve it. The European Union has claimed in various stages to be a legitimate government, while few have taken its claims seriously. When the European Union is arbiter in a dispute or attempts to solve a problem, very few actually abide by the agreements made, if the agreements would solve the problem at all.

The larger the republic, the fewer factions exist, which thus preserves the liberty of its citizens.

The United States faced similar issues in the 1780s. In the “Federalist Papers,” Alexander Hamilton argued a federal constitution is necessary, because of the “unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government.” Like its contemporary European counterparts, Hamilton and many of his contemporaries thought the Articles of Confederation that held the United States together during the Revolutionary War were too weak to pay for the war debt and to provide for a strong defense against European empires.

The biggest problem the Framers faced was the issue of political factions in the federal government, comparable to “the curse of nationalism” EU officials try to cope with. Steeped in classical and Enlightenment political theory, the Framers knew factionalism eventually would destroy republics from within. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison argued in Federalist No. 9 and 10 that “a firm Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the States, as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection.

[…]EU parliamentarian and former prime minster of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt argues in his latest book “De ziekte van Europa” (“The Disease of Europe”) that decision-making in the European Union is too slow to solve past, current, and future problems and that centralization based on a federal model is the cure for this disease.

But, unlike Verhofstadt and EU officials, the Framers of the Constitution understood the difficulty of creating a large political union. The Framers argued that the United States was suited for a strong union because it was a connected and relatively homogenous nation, geographically and in spirit. A federal government would function properly because of homogeneity of language, devotion to liberty, a common history, and because, as John Jay put it, the Americans sought a united government in the revolutionary war when “their habitations were in flames, [and] when many of their citizens were bleeding.”

Probably the only commonality all Europeans share is that its peoples strongly resisted unification for centuries and still refuse to unify. Elite unification projects, such as those of Charlemagne, Napoleon, Nazi Germany, and the current European Union, all ended in failure and, more importantly, death and destruction.

The European Union likes to take credit for the decades of peace in Europe after World War II, while it was obviously the protective umbrella of the United States and the NATO alliance that kept western Europe safe. In fact, contemporary social unrest in Europe can be attributed to European Union failures, such as an inadequate protection of its borders, disastrous fiscal policies, and unnecessary expansion.

via What America’s Founders Could Teach The European Union

This is an excellent article, that I think clearly shows why the Constitution worked to unify the United States, but any conceivable similar document has almost no chance in Europe. Do read the whole thing and think about it.

How (Real) Capitalism Works

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of interesting things here, relating to capitalism, and just how very far we’ve come in the last few hundred years.

First off Deidre McClosky is in the process of explaining how we got so rich. From the Spectator, UK.

Deirdre McCloskey has been at work for many years on a huge project: to explain why the world has become so much richer in the past two centuries, and at an accelerating rate since 1945. This is the third and final volume in the series. In it she argues that ‘our riches were not made by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea’. The Great Enrichment, which she dates from 1800 to the present, depends on the spread of ideas of liberty, seeded in a series of ‘egalitarian accidents’ in European politics between 1517 and 1789.

The liberalism she describes operates in a very narrow free zone, hemmed in by what she calls the ‘clerisy’ — critics on left and right alike who do not accept a full version of liberalism — and roughly a third of the text sees McCloskey, vorpal sword in hand, slaying the dragons of the state. But she’s fighting enemies from the past: her side has won the battle. Globalisation, neo-liberalism, the expansion of monetary assets and instant internet communication have spawned a new world order without any state powerful enough to contain it.

A couple of notes here, unless I’m mistaken, she’s referring here to classical liberalism, not the socialistic nonsense we hear now on both sides of the Atlantic. And she has much right, although I find the adjective European, misleading at best because it has little to do with Europe, it is the classical form of the British and American ‘rule of law’ that has made it so. There’s a reason why the industrial revolution happened first in that ‘nation of shopkeepers’ and then why they financed it here. More later on that.

[…] The world today produces 70 times more goods and services worldwide than in 1800. McCloskey gives imaginative examples of the improved standard of living by looking at the products in one’s room, starting with ‘the 20 ballpoint pens stuffed into a mass-produced coffee cup, pens and cups greatly cheapened after the second world war’. I have just that on my desk. Citizens of the most prosperous half of the world are hundreds of times better off than they were even in 1900 or 1945, and that standard of living is spreading quickly to the poorer places on the planet. A small refrigerator at Home Depot today costs 15 hours of work: at Sears in 1956 it cost 116 hours.

The history of western capitalism does owe a great deal to the onward march of ideas of liberty. But it’s not the whole story. The greatest expansion of capitalism, the Chinese economic miracle, has taken place under a very restrictive communist regime.

Except the Chinese form of capitalism bears about as much resemblance to real capitalism as does that of Mussolini. I wonder what the Chinese could do if the government got out of their way. And finally:

Unbridled liberalism on a global scale today has little in common with its portrait in this book. It has exploded its limiting conditions to make the whole world economy a giant speculative game. It looks, to this member of the clerisy, to be a threat to the society that spawned it.

All from: How capitalism really works

And that’s one problem with the British, and increasingly, with us as well. We’ve forgotten how we got rich, and now we’re getting poorer because we aren’t doing those things anymore. Instead, we’re copying the Chinese, God help us!


You’ve likely heard that Beyoncé’s clothing line is produced in Sri Lankan sweatshops. Well, that’s a shame, It’s also what happens in every single industrializing country, not excluding the UK and the US. When labor is plentiful and jobs are few labor gets paid less, always. And by the way, if Trump gets his tariffs, those jobs won’t be coming back, but the prices will be going up probably far more than the tariff rate, and a good many of those sweated seamstresses (who in actuality make far more than most of their neighbors) will revert to the real minimum wage, which is $0. And there is this.

In 2001, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman Paul Krugman, whose written some of the most effective defenses of so-called sweatshops — “bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all” — explained why these efforts were insanity:

In 1993, child workers in Bangladesh were found to be producing clothing for Wal-Mart, and Senator Tom Harkin proposed legislation banning imports from countries employing underage workers. The direct result was that Bangladeshi textile factories stopped employing children. But did the children go back to school? Did they return to happy homes? Not according to Oxfam, which found that the displaced child workers ended up in even worse jobs, or on the streets — and that a significant number were forced into prostitution.

When VICE reached out to a Sri Lanka labor expert, no doubt expecting him to describe some soul-crushing hellhole, it got a pretty tepid response. “MAS [the factory] are essentially top of the range in terms of labour conditions in Sri Lanka,” Dr. Kanchana Ruwanpura of the University of Edinburgh told VICE. “They’re brilliant factories in terms of the build space and the attention they usually pay to the codes they work with. However, I would say that when it comes to wages and freedom of association, MAS don’t do a very good job.”

So, after having to grapple with two inconvenient facts — 1) that salaries at MAS are better than prevailing wages in Sri Lanka, and 2) that the factory is probably a relatively modern and safe place to work[…]

Lots more on this at: Beyonce’s ‘Sweatshops’ Do More For The Poor Than You Ever Will

And that is the pure and unvarnished truth. It’s not optimum but it’s better for these people than it ever has been. So why would we not want to help them? As Daniel Harsanyi says in the article:

In fact, if you want to help the world’s impoverished, you should probably buy her products. The more demand there is for tight-fitting, overpriced celebrity clothing lines, the more factories Sri Lankans will have to work in. As those workers have more choices, salaries will rise and so will the quality of life. This competition will impel employers to increase productivity and, if Sri Lanka doesn’t revert to its old ways, the economy will grow. The children of these workers will turn to white-collar professions. And before you know it, factories will be taken over by automatons and the Sri Lankan middle class will grumble about how the Indonesians are stealing their jobs.

This process might not sit will with the empathetic American liberal, and it might not happen as quickly as we’d like, but it’s how the world works.

 

Lefty bishops rumbled. Thought for the Day is hugely biased against the market economy – The Conservative Woman

BBC_TV_CentreThis is interesting. Yes, it’s about the BBC, and so maybe not directly relevant to us. But then again, I think what Britain (and the world) think of us has at least some relevance. In addition, I wonder if it doesn’t apply full force to NPR also because it seems to me to have much the same set-up, and the same biases as well.

Of the many compelling arguments the respected Institute of Economic Affairsmakes today for privatising the BBC commercially the one that struck me most was the BBC’s bias.

Most TCW readers are more than aware that the BBC is no longer fit for purpose; that its market power – especially in terms of news provision – coupled with its compulsory funding method and its closeness to the political process is hugely problematic.

Many hope that commercial competition will soon render it irrelevant. But that’s not likely as long as it holds onto its licence fee monopoly. That’s why this new evidence from the IEA is so important – proving as it does that BBC no longer deserves its privileged position.

The IEA argues that all media outlets are likely to have biases. However, the BBC’s is more problematic for reason of its trusted reputation, the inability of its customers to withdraw payment and the fact it provides 75 per cent of all televised news and thus has a ‘monopoly’ over  public opinion.

The IEA’s new case studies are a shocking demonstration of  how the BBC fails the public’s trust.

To take just some examples:

Its analysis of Radio 4’s Today programme – from March 2004 to July 2015 – revealed gross bias by omission. One guess as to whose voices were omitted: those favouring Britain’s exit from the EU of course. Over the period the IEA found of the 4,275 guest speakers on EU themes only 3 per cent of these were explicitly in favour of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Seven in ten of these speakers were from Ukip, and over a third were Nigel Farage alone. We can but wonder where John Redwood, Richard North, Owen Paterson, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, John Mills, Jacob Rees Mogg, Dominic Raab, Sir Archie (now Lord) Hamilton, Frank Field and Kate Hoey were – to name but a very few leading Eurosceptics. In hiding? Were they refusing to take Today’s calls?

When it came to the official 2015 General Election campaign, Today fielded 25 business speakers to discuss the EU referendum. What did the IEA uncover? That over three-quarters of these speakers saw the referendum as a worry or a threat to business, despite the contemporaneous polling finding that two thirds of businesses back the holding of a referendum. […]

Of the 167 items that included discussions and opinion on capitalism, markets and business they found only 8 per cent gave any sort of positive perspective. Negative commentary outweighed positive commentary by a factor of more than eight to one. […]

There is more – our worst fears at TCW of the BBC’s biased ‘gender agenda’ were confirmed, demonstrating once more that the BBC in no way deserves its reputation for fair coverage.

The particular example the IEA’s scrutinised was the BBC’s News website coverage of the government’s new measures to try to combat the gender pay gap through imposing new requirements on large companies. It contained neither expert economic opinion on the use of crude average gender pay gap figures nor dissenting opinion on the effectiveness of the policies.

via Kathy Gyngell: Lefty bishops rumbled. Thought for the Day is hugely biased against the market economy – The Conservative Woman

Kathy’s right here, I think, and I think that because I too listen to the BBC (a lot), in fact as I write this I’m listening to BBC Radio Norfolk, which is my favorite office station. I even watch it a good deal, and that is how it sounds to me, as well. Sort of like NPR, but on some really good steroids. And I treat it the same way, in anything but the hardest of news, I simply disbelieve it. Hardly a trusted voice of news, but then few are, and as I’ve said, their biases are predictable, and so one can discount, and revise, and get within shouting distance of the news. But how many do?

They’re right, kick ’em loose, and let them sink or swim.

Christ is offensive and outrageous

maxresdefaultIt doesn’t get much better than this. One of my favorite writers, Laura Perrins,  Co-Editor of The Conservative Woman, interviewing one of my favorite writers, Tim Stanley, a historian, leader writer for The Daily Telegraph, and contributing editor for the Catholic Herald.

Yes, most Americans have little interest in Brexit, after all, we have no vote, but like the British interest in our presidential election, it matters. It will affect us.

But keep going they discuss several issues that have direct applicability to us as well.

It’s an outstanding interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Laura Perrins: Why should Britain leave the EU?

Tim Stanley: There are logical reasons and then there are emotional reasons. Logically, the EU is turning into something that we don’t belong in. The only way to make the single market work is to integrate politically. Not only do we not want to do that but we’ve also made it clear – by staying out of Schengen and the Eurozone – that we’re not going to change. Hence, the British future within the EU is actually a future on the fringes of the EU. We’d have to suffer all the consequences of European decisions without full democratic control over the decision making. We’ve reached a point where the UK and the EU have to part company.

But I also have “sentimental” reasons for favouring Brexit. Culturally, legally, economically – we’re a very different place to the rest of Europe. Our future lies within the Anglosphere, trading globally. I’m tired of our Parliament being undermined. I don’t like pooling sovereignty, especially when the benefits are unclear.

LP: You support Brexit but many in the Catholic Church and hierarchy believe the EU is a force for good. Arguably the Union has stabilised the Continent twice ravaged by war in the last century. It has also brought huge economic benefits to the people of Europe. The idea of solidarity is essentially a secularist version of Christian charity. Surely, it is unchristian to want to leave?

TS: Yes, we Christians are universalists – and that should logically make us favour of political unions. But if they lead, as the EU has led, to economic chaos in constituent countries then the case for them collapses.

The Union has done nothing to defend the Continent or bring peace. If it had, that would imply that it has a political or military dimension to it – something Cameron denies and wouldn’t be desirable anyway (another natural conclusion to integration is a single army, and few actually want that). The Cold War only brought a veneer of stability to Europe: nuclear deadlock prevented war but not terrorism or post-colonial conflict overseas. After 1989, the Continent suffered genocide in the Balkans and now chaos in Ukraine. The EU isn’t a guarantor of democracy either. It has cut a new integration deal with Turkey, despite its government’s war on the press.

And, yes, solidarity is a secularist version of Christian charity and, therefore, inadequate. To stand with someone is not the same as to suffer with them – a literal translation of compassion. Christian action is best expressed through charity, aid, giving. Not regulations about the correct shape of bananas.

LP: In a recent piece in the Catholic Herald you discuss the dilemma facing American Catholics who might have to choose between Trump or Hilary Clinton for President.

via The Laura Perrins Interview: Christians have to fight back, says the Telegraph’s Tim Stanley – The Conservative Woman

BRUSSELS ATTACKS: SUPPRESSING THE FACTS AND MUZZLING THE TRUTH

The Embattled Farmer

The Embattled Farmer

Well, we’re going to let the real world in here, for a bit. I seem to think I should mention a bit about the terrorist attack in Brussels.

It’s a terrible tragedy, and the victims and their families have my sympathy. But no one should really be surprised.

Weakness always invites attack. That’s one of the things Jessica was talking about yesterday as she spoke of The Man who shot Liberty VallanceBecause Ransome Stoddard looked weak to Liberty Valance, and indeed in a physical sense he was, but moral courage sometimes needs to be protected by rough men like Tom Doniphan.

And so it is today in Europe, as western civilization crumbles back into chaos. Europe has a dearth of rough men willing to challenge Islamic terrorism. Maybe the continent is simply worn out from the wars of the twentieth century, but that’s how history works.

Today, I hear some crying that we should simply nuke them. Well, one doesn’t fight evil by becoming evil. I think we really are degrading them, we could likely work harder at it, but we are having an effect. One does not if he is a real man, indiscriminately kill whole populations, at least if he has other options. We do.

The weapon that symbolizes America is the rifle, not the IED. Why, because a rifle defends against evil, only going after the evil, not all. And that ethos is exactly why we have developed missiles that can be used almost like a sniper rifle. It’s an extension of the old American canard, “One man, one bullet. Yes as Jess said earlier, men, all men, do bad things in war, that is the way it is. But civilized men do not do evil things by plan. Civilized people do not murder. That’s why the cold war, for all the tensions, never went hot.

But, understand this, this is not a political ploy, although many will fit into their reference as His Grace outlines below. It will be settled only one way, with cold steel, and hot lead. If Europe can not deal with that; Europe will die. And if America has learned anything in the last 20 years, it is that we cannot make men free, that is their right, and their duty, and they shirk it at their peril.

Here’s a bit from Archbishop Cranmer.

To every thing there is a season..
..a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak..

(Ecclesiastes 3:1,4,7)

Horror, disgust and incredulity come first, usually followed by tears, heartbreak and compassion. And sometimes there’s a prayer, even from the non-believer.

Each of us processes dismay and deals with grief differently. For some, they are dissected, scrutinised and embalmed within minutes; for others, they gnaw at the soul for weeks and months, and the consecrated mourning becomes a shrine in the temple of sacred memory. Anyone who profanes the holiness, let him (or her) be anathema.

Telegraph journalist Allison Pearson tweeted this swift response to the terrorist atrocities in Brussels:

Allison Pearson

“What a horror you are,” responded the SNP’s Alyn Smith MEP in equal haste. “Dust not even settled and you try to make a political point? For shame.”

Perhaps Ms Pearson had processed her dismay and grief a little quicker than Mr Smith managed to, but either way, it seemed insensitive and indecent, to say the least, to score points off Islamist bombs in Brussels for the Leave/Brexit cause. And yet..

via Archbishop Cranmer.

A wise dead white man once said:

Si vis pacem, para bellum

That man was Vegetius, and his people, the Romans didn’t listen.

It translates as,”if you want peace, prepare for war.” True then, true now, will be true until the second coming.

Obama’s wrong. Americans should back Brexit – and so should you

1776Because Americans love Britain, and because we are a presumptuous lot, we often advise the United Kingdom on its foreign policy. And not only the UK, but Europe. Successive US administrations have urged European nations to form a United States of Europe as an answer to the question attributed to Henry Kissinger: ‘Who do I call if I want to call Europe?’

The latest such unrequested advice was offered to your Prime Minister by no less a foreign-policy maven — see his successes in Libya, Middle East, China, Crimea — than Barack Obama. The outgoing president informed David Cameron that his administration wants to see ‘a strong United Kingdom in a strong European Union’. He seemed to assume that, in the words of the Sinatra ballad, you can’t have one without the other.

But many of us here in the US are rooting for Brexit, and not just because we want what is best for Britain. We think Brexit would be in America’s interests.

Britain has long been America’s most valuable ally.

via Obama’s wrong. Americans should back Brexit – and so should you » The Spectator.

Yup, a full hundred years now, and our history of cooperation goes back even further, to almost immediately after the War of 1812. We’re proud of that, but there’s more. In many ways we are you. We, like you, look back at the long sweep of history and we see our political ancestors, fighting for liberty, against the Stuarts, the Plantagenet’s, and the Normans, all the way to Alfred the Great and perhaps further to Aethelbert of Kent, who wrote the first written law code in any Germanic language. Here, with the codification of Aethelberts’ Law is the origin of The Common Law, our joint heritage, and the one thing above all others that has made Britain and the America the only modern superpowers.

And mind you, the common law is the basis of the entire modern age, without its protection of lives and property from random seizure by an autocratic king, the world we jointly have made, would not exist. It would likely still be Hobbes’s vision, “Nasty, brutish, and short.” Look around, at the world, and where our influence is strongest, the people, not just the rulers prosper, where it wanes, the people suffer.

Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb made a video a few years ago that is on point, I think

I think she correct, and you know, if the Tudors made you what you are, you, at the height of your freedom, made us, it is above all the common heritage of the Anglosphere, and one that the whole world envies. If you would know why Britain and America are hated, look no further, it’s all based in envy of the people, and fear on the part of their rulers. Because we, and pretty much only we, have done all the things required to make it work. The rest, including most of Europe, give our principles only lip service, if that, and that is why thrice in the twentieth century, we, led by Britain and America, have had to rescue them from tyranny. Thrice, no less!

What I see in the European Union is still another attempt to bring Britain back under the control of Europe. One of the best analyses on this I’ve read is from Think Defence, an excellent British defense blog. He ends this way:

From a short to medium term operational defence and security perspective, I actually think the impact of BREXIT would be minimal either way. The advantages and disadvantages of EU membership, at least from this writers view of the defence and security landscape, seem to be hugely exaggerated by both sides of the debate.

NATO would remain, bilateral cooperation would continue and develop in other ways, defence spending will go up and down depending on threats and mechanisms for intelligence sharing explored, developed and implemented.

There are risks and opportunities on either side, but short term doom and gloom or the wide open uplands, in defence and security, you are looking in the wrong place.

At moment, more EU defence generally means more HQ’s, marching bands and flags, but after a remain vote and a period for dealing with the migrant crisis, calls for actual, real and tangible integration will get louder and louder.

For me at least, this is the question we should be dealing with, do we want a single EU state with a single EU Navy, Army and Air Force?

Everything else is a minor detail.

As an American, I can’t help but believe that the day the White Ensign is furled for the last time, succeeded by that obvious rip-off of the canton of the American flag, the chance of real freedom in the world, for all of us, will be reduced immeasurably. The Tudors made you (and us), it would be a shame to let Europe undo six hundred years of improving the human condition.

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