Friday, February 06, 2009

Europeans are finally waking up to the demise of democracy

As of this posting please note President Obama's backtracking on the protectionist proposals in the current bailout bill due to pressure from the 'world.'

See also for background this blog's post from June 8, 2008, entitled "Republic v. Democracy."

Janet Daley
02 Feb 2009

The peoples of Europe have finally discovered what they signed up to. I do mean "peoples" (plural) because however much political elites may deceive themselves, the populations of the member states of the EU are culturally, historically and economically separate and distinct. And a significant proportion of them are getting very, very angry.

What the strikers at the Lindsey oil refinery (and their brother supporters in Nottinghamshire and Kent) have discovered is the real meaning of the fine print in those treaties, and the significance of those European court judgments whose interpretation they left to EU obsessives: it is now illegal – illegal – for the government of an EU country to put the needs and concerns of its own population first. It would, for example, be against European law to do what Frank Field has sensibly suggested and reintroduce a system of "work permits" for EU nationals who wished to apply for jobs here.

Meanwhile, demonstrators in Paris and the recalcitrant electorate in Germany are waking up to the consequences of what two generations of European ideologues have thrust upon them: the burden not just of their own economic problems but also the obligation to accept the consequences of their neighbours' debts and failures. Each country is true to its own history in the way it expresses its rage: in France, they take to the streets and throw things at the police, in Germany they threaten the stability of the coalition government, and here, we revive the tradition of wildcat strikes.

But the response from the EU political class is the same to all of these varied manifestations of resistance. Those who protest are being smeared with accusations of foolhardy protectionism or racist nationalism when they are not (not yet, anyway) guilty of either. It is not purblind nationalism, let alone racism, to resent the importation of cheap labour en masse when its conditions of employment (transport and accommodation provided, as seems to be the case at Lindsey) allow it to compete unfairly with indigenous workers. The drafting in of low-wage work gangs has always been seen as unjust: exploitative of the foreign workers, and destructive of the social cohesion of existing communities which, incidentally, is something about which the Tories say they are much exercised. So can the protesters expect their support?

The US had a rule during its great period of immigration in the early years of the last century, that no one could enter the country with a pre-arranged job. This was designed precisely to prevent the unfairness and disruptive effect of the wholesale import of cheap labour. An individual travelling to seek work, prepared to take his chances in fair competition with local workers is one thing: the organised recruitment of people from the poorest regions of the poorest countries in Europe in order to reduce employers' wage costs in the more prosperous ones, is something else altogether.

Nor is it "protectionism" to argue that competition for employment should take place within a context of social responsibility and respect for the fabric of communities. Genuine protectionism is setting up barriers to free trade: this is what Barack Obama is doing when he forbids the importation of foreign materials such as British steel, and urges his countrymen to restrict their purchases of goods not manufactured in the US ("Buy America!") I eagerly await the condemnation of his proposal for US economic isolationism from all those European leaders who were so anxious to see him elected.

Free trade in goods, as opposed to unlimited open borders for transient labour, is absolutely essential to the recovery of the global economy (and for that matter, to the relief of poverty in the developing world). I agree with those who fear that the US under President Obama may be about to do what it did under Franklin Roosevelt, whose protectionism and hard-nosed refusal to make concessions to international needs condemned the world to a depression (followed by a war). But what the British strikers are demanding is not the same at all, and if their complaints are caricatured or defamed, the price in social disorder could be hideous. It is not an exaggeration to say that this could be the moment of justifiable anger that neo-fascist agitators have been waiting to exploit.

The protesters are simply demanding what they thought – what all free people have been taught to think since the 18th-century enlightenment – was their birthright. That is to say, for the basic principle of modern democracy: the understanding between the state and its people that the proper function of a government is to represent the interests of those who elected it. And to be fair to both presidents, Obama and Roosevelt, this assumption is so deeply grounded in the American psyche that it is almost inconceivable for any US administration not to abide by it quite literally.

In the grand abstract terms of the enlightenment, the legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed, and therefore no government should have the right to hand over its authority to some external body which is not democratically accountable to its own people. So when the framers of the EU arranged for the nations of Europe to do exactly that, they were repudiating the two centuries old political struggle for the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens, of government "of the people, by the people and for the people". It has always been my view that this was a quite conscious decision by the EU founders who, in the wake of two world wars, came to believe that the infamous national crimes of the 20th century could be traced directly to the democratic revolutions of the 18th century, and that the only long-term solution to this was to replace democracy with oligarchy.

But there it is. And here we are, with a generation of European political leaders who almost all accept the terms in which their predecessors gave away the most important principle of that great democratic pact between a free people and its government. While times were good and there was enough prosperity to keep everybody distracted and happy, the loss went almost unnoticed except by a few persistent and despairing critics. Well, not any more. The American government may be committing itself to a policy that is economically unsound and even irresponsible, but its insistence on maintaining the compact with its own voters – on putting their concerns first – will at least ensure that democracy will survive there. I am not at all sure that will be true in Europe.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Thanks to a friend who caught this good article and passed it on.

January 26, 2009
Laurence M. Vance

The Republican Revolution has been gasping for breath since the Democratic Party won the congressional midterm elections in 2006. After the Republicans were soundly defeated in the 2008 elections, the Revolution was in its death throes until noon on January 20 when George Bush’s second term as president ceased and the Republican Revolution officially came to an end.

Thank God it’s finished.

The Republican Revolution began on January 3, 1995, after the Republican Party had won control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the 83rd Congress (1953–1955) under Dwight Eisenhower. Although a Democrat (Bill Clinton) occupied the White House for the remainder of the decade, the Republicans hung on to the House and Senate until the election of a Republican president (George Bush) in the year 2000 gave them an absolute majority.

The Revolution had reached its zenith. Republicans were ecstatic. Although Vermont senator Jim Jeffords soon attempted to derail the speeding Republican train by leaving the Republican Party – temporarily shifting the balance of power in the Senate to the Democrats – Republican victories in the 2002 midterm elections restored the GOP’s absolute majority.

After enjoying this absolute majority for the last two years of Bush’s first term, Republicans coasted to victory in the 2004 election – retaining the presidency and further increasing their control of the Congress.

And the country is worse off for it. So worse off, in fact, that I, a conservative Christian who has nothing but contempt for the Democratic Party, much prefer the presidency of Bill Clinton the fornicator in chief to that of George Bush the warmonger in chief, spy in chief, and spender in chief.

The Republican Revolution was a failure from the beginning. The Contract with America that was introduced by the new Republican-controlled Congress in 1995 was bogus because it focused on reforming government agencies and programs instead of eliminating them. It was pointed out in 2000 that "the combined budgets of the 95 major programs that the Contract with America promised to eliminate have increased by 13%."

I remember speaking with Joe Scarborough, my congressman at the time, on a local call-in radio talk show in late 1994 or early 1995. I asked him about the new Republican-controlled Congress repealing some of the legislation passed during the first two years of the Clinton administration. He would have to stand in line to introduce such legislation, he said, because of everything his fellow Republicans had planned.

Okay, let’s take two of the worst pieces of legislation passed during Clinton’s first two years. Did the new Republican majority in the 104th Congress repeal the Family and Medical Leave Act (PL 103-3) or the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (PL 103-159)? Of course it didn’t. Just like it didn’t repeal the Motor Voter Act (PL 103-31) or the Violence Against Women Act (PL 103-322).

And what did the Republican majority in Congress do throughout Clinton’s terms? Sure, there were a few good things that Congress did – like repealing all federal speed limits in 1995 – but how many major federal agencies, programs, or regulations were actually eliminated? How much really egregious legislation was repealed? How many pork-barrel projects were denied funding? How much was overall federal spending reduced? Was the government any less intrusive at the end of six years of Republican control of the Congress? What was actually done to limit the government to that prescribed by the Constitution?

The size and scope of the federal government were not reduced by one inch during the first six years of the Republican Revolution. All we heard during the six years of a Republican-controlled Congress under Clinton were excuses about needing a larger majority, a veto-proof majority, or, better yet, a Republican president to really complete the revolution.

But what happened when the Republican-controlled Congress finally got a Republican president? We got an unprecedented increase in the welfare/warfare/surveillance/nanny state. First came the ignoble USA PATRIOT Act (PL 107-56). This was followed by the No Child Left Behind Act (PL 107-110). Then came the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (PL 107-243), which gave us the senseless, immoral, unconstitutional, unjust war in Iraq that has already cost the American taxpayers about $1 trillion. Although the seed of the Iraq War was planted by the Iraq Liberation Act (PL 105-338), that was also passed by a Republican-controlled Congress. And then there is the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (PL 108-173) – the largest expansion of the welfare state since the Great Society. Even LBJ would be shocked at the cost of this welfare scheme. And who can forget the increase in farm subsidies, the crony capitalism, the mockery of the Constitution, the Republican acceptance of the neoconservative agenda, and the imperial presidency. No wonder Republicans earned the wrath of voters in the recent election. They deserved to lose as bad as they did, and more.

As I pointed out the following in my article on how bogus the Republican Revolution was, one statistic is all it takes to see that there has been no limit to the growth of government under the Republican Party – the national debt. Consider the following:

On the eve of the new Republican-controlled Congress in 1995, the national debt was just under $5 trillion.
At the time of Bush’s first inauguration in 2001, the national debt stood at $5,727,776,738,304.64.
At the time of Bush’s second inauguration in 2005, the national debt stood at $7,613,772,338,689.34.
On the day of the 2006 midterm elections, the national debt stood at $8,592,561,542,263.30.
On the last day of Bush’s second term, the national debt stood at $10,626,877,048,913.08.
Who is responsible for this tremendous increase in the federal debt? Not the Democrats. Not Bill Clinton. It is the party that laughingly said in its 2004 platform that it was committed to "lower taxes, limited regulation, and a limited, efficient government." Yes, the same party that helped the Democrats pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the Bailout Bill).

But is this really a surprise? Not if one knows anything about the history of the Republican Party – a history of state capitalism, militarism, presidential power, big government, plunder, compromise, and sellout.

Just look at the Republicans' latest outrage: the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Since the day her husband became the president, the personification of evil according to all Republicans has been Hillary Clinton. So, what did the Republicans do when Mrs. Clinton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to receive the first vote toward her confirmation as secretary of state? With but one exception (David Vitter of Louisiana), the Republicans on the committee voted for Hillary. Then, when the full Senate took a vote on Clinton’s confirmation on January 21, only two Republican senators (the aforementioned David Vitter and Jim DeMint of South Carolina) voted against her. During the presidential campaign, before it became evident that Barack Obama would get the Democratic Party nomination, John McCain never ceased to remind us how bad it would be if we voted for Clinton instead of him. And then he turns around and votes for her confirmation for secretary of State.

This, of course, does not mean that I prefer the Democratic Party. There is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties. Neither party is the lesser of two evils; they are both pure evil.

Nevertheless, I rarely bother to write about the evils of the Democratic Party. The socialist and statist policies of the Democratic Party are well known. And since the Democrats don’t masquerade as advocates of smaller and less intrusive government, it is pretty obvious that the Democratic Party is the party of liberalism, socialism, organized labor, environmentalism, affirmative action, wealth redistribution, the nanny state, and increased government intervention in the economy and society. Another reason I don’t bother is that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Michael Savage need something to rant about.

Strom Thurmond was right. He left the Democratic Party because the party was "leading the evolution of our nation to a socialistic dictatorship." I would just go a step further: The Republican Party during the so-called Republican Revolution was leading the evolution of our nation to a faith-based, compassionate, fascist dictatorship.

When bad revolutions have run their course, they often lead to something just as bad or even worse. The Republican Revolution, like the French and Russian Revolutions, was an absolute disaster. And just as these revolutions gave the world Napoleon and Lenin, so the Republican Revolution has given us Barack Obama – a man with a radical left-wing congressional voting record, with even more radical associations, with a life spent in the service of racial preference, with an aberrant vision of Christianity, and with plans to further redistribute the wealth of taxpayers to tax eaters. That being said, whether he can possibly top George Bush in the "one of the worst presidents ever" category remains to be seen.

The Republican Revolution failed because it was not based on any real principles. Contrast this with the Ron Paul Revolution, which continues unabated because it is based, not on empty Republican rhetoric about the benefits of the free market and the need for less government intervention, but on the bedrock principles of peace, nonintervention, economic freedom, personal liberty, sound money, and a drastically limited state. Any Republican who really believes in these principles should abandon the GOP’s sinking ship of war, statism, and fascism.

Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. His latest book is a new and greatly expanded edition of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State.