States of Europe?
by Jim Davies
by Jim Davies: The
to watch the unfolding shambles in Europe, rather like observing,
from a nearby lifeboat, the Titanic slowly but inexorably slipping
under the water. "Expert" predictions are either gloomy
or non-credible; either the EU will break up or its currency will
collapse, or both. The dominoes are poised to tumble. But recently,
a whisper has been heard about a rather different possible outcome.
Conspiracists will leap at the chance to say the crisis was planned
for that purpose.
just bailing out the PIIGS with money stolen from German and other
taxpayers, the idea is being floated that to prevent any recurrence,
at least, a central European authority should control the budgets
of member states.
blame for the mess there is the institution of democratic government.
As Bastiat famously noted, "Government is the great fiction
through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of
everybody else" and in this context the parasitic voters of
Greece and elsewhere became able a few years ago to live not only
at the expense of other, taxpaying Greeks but also at that of other,
taxpaying Europeans; those vast -loans were handed over to
the Greek government on the naïve assumption that it could be trusted
to pay it back with interest. It and others cannot.
Hence the crisis. I said the assumption was naïve, but really it
was founded on the fact that while all governments are always ultimately
bankrupt they have no assets, for those they seem to have
were all stolen they do have the power to tax. It's
no more a legitimate asset than the Mafia's power to collect protection
money, but in practice it normally works. It isn't working now,
because large parts of the respective populations are rioting and
striking; not only are they unwilling to pay more taxes or suffer
the loss of government handouts like sinecure jobs, they are unable
to do so, for the heavier the tax burden the less can be produced
to furnish a tax base. The Laffer Curve
is triumphant. So has the much-vaunted "power to tax"
encountered its limit.
So the option
of a Continental bailout is deeply unpopular with the bailers, the
option of a disintegrating Europe is deeply unopopular with the
political class that has spent six decades glueing it together (and
will not in any case avoid all the pain because the more productive
economies depend in part on trade with the PIIGS) so the third option
is now being floated: not to let the Union fall apart, but screw
it more tightly together. Create a United States of Europe, a U.S.E.
The key words came, so reports the New
York Times, on Monday from Angela Merkel, Germany's Chancellor:
is now the task of our generation to complete the economic and
currency union in Europe and create, step by step, a political
There is a
rich irony at work here. Germany is today a very different place
from the strident, arrogant bidder for world domination of the early
1940s, but the core values of hard work and thrift that have long
characterized its people are now leading to just such a prominence,
at least in Europe, but without bloodshed and because people in
the rest of the Continent are lazier and less thrifty. If a "political
union" were to take place, Berlin would be its center. It's
hard not to wonder whether those boasts of a "thousand year
Reich" may have been buried prematurely.
it's by no means a done deal. As Nicholas Kulish of the Times
remarked, "many countries already using the euro are concerned
about how rigorous the fiscal controls could be under German leadership."
Seldom was penned a more profound masterpiece of journalistic understatement.
A U.S.E. would
be a dreadful idea, and it may be dead on arrival. From the perspective
of individuals seeking freedom, it would be yet another layer of
government, always the destroyer of freedom. It would be a supra-national
parasite, forming a superpower to compete, in the coming decades,
with the emerging Chinese and Indian superpowers as well as the
declining American one; and rival powers have always, sooner or
later, shed massive amounts of blood. From the perspective also
of the member governments, however, it would be as welcome as a
skunk at a garden party; for all of them consist of people intoxicated
by power, and Merkel's "political union" would take away
some measure of that power; she may favor it only because she hopes
to lead it. Indeed, some of the EU governments have declined to
adopt the common currency, the Euro; the British Pound, the Swedish,
Norwegian, Icelandic and Danish Kronor, the Swiss Franc and the
Estonian Kroon, for example, are still well under the control of
those respective governments, to print at will. Not only did some
of the Pols (eg Margaret Thatcher) refuse to surrender that counterfeiting
of the people they rule also said "no thanks" to the Euro
and to a European Constitution.
Nationalism, in other words, whether rational or not, is alive and
well and stands firmly astride the road to a U.S.E.
American States formed such a political union in 1788 because they
saw no alternative way to defend themselves against the dominant
military power of the time; they collectivized defense, but not
much else. The States supposed they could not do without it and
that they could control it. They were wrong on both counts, as we
now know; they were foolish even as governments, to surrender
even that much sovereignty. The lesson of the founders of the USA
may not be lost on the potential founders of a USE.
The last vote
I ever cast in a public election was in 1975, in a UK referendum
on joining what Edward Health mendaciously promoted as the "European
Common Market." At the time I appreciated neither the real
nature of a market, nor the immorality of voting,
nor yet the routine mendacity of politicians, but it still made
sense to me to abolish customs barriers and passports. Not long
after that endorsement, all the Eurocrats phased out the name "market"
and set out to build the skeleton for a supra-government
and instead of a free market we have a Europe riddled with labyrinthine
trade regulations and heading for financial chaos. Government is
a truly terrible idea, but small ones are less ugly than big ones,
any day of the week.
Davies [send him mail] is
a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of
an on-line school of liberty in 2006,
who expects to experience a free society in his lifetime, and who
in 2008 wrote the books A
Vision of Liberty,
Transition to Liberty,
and, in 2010, Denial
of Liberty and To
FREEDOM from Fascism, America!
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.