Posted by: Debby Durkee | March 12, 2011

A European’s warning to America.

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A European’s warning to America.

You’ve probably seen Daniel Hannan on American television praising America and warning America. The British member of the European Parliament is a fan of freedom and its expression in the United States. Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, he said he sees the United States heading toward “Europeanization,” and he warns of where that mistake will lead. He’s the author of the book, The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America. He begins by trying to define Barack Obama.

My guess is that, if anything, Obama would verbalize his ideology using the same vocabulary that Eurocrats do. He would say he wants a fairer America, a more tolerant America, a less arrogant America, a more engaged America. When you prize away the cliché, what these phrases amount to are higher taxes, less patriotism, a bigger role for state bureaucracies, and a transfer of sovereignty to global institutions.

He is not pursuing a set of random initiatives but a program of comprehensive Europeanization: European health care, European welfare, European carbon taxes, European day care, European college education, even a European foreign policy, based on engagement with supranational technocracies, nuclear disarmament and a reluctance to deploy forces overseas.  Snip –

I don’t doubt the sincerity of those Americans who want to copy the European model. A few may be snobs who wear their euro-enthusiasm as a badge of sophistication. But most genuinely believe that making their country less American and more like the rest of the world would make it more comfortable and peaceable.

All right, growth would be slower, but the quality of life might improve. All right, taxes would be higher, but workers need no longer fear sickness or unemployment. All right, the U.S. would no longer be the world’s superpower, but perhaps that would make it more popular. Is a European future truly so terrible?

Yes. I have been an elected member of the European Parliament for 11 years. I have seen firsthand what the European political model means. Snip –

The U.S. has evolved a series of unique institutions designed to limit the power of the state: recall mechanisms, ballot initiatives, balanced budget rules, open primaries, localism, states’ rights, term limits, the direct election of public officials from the sheriff to the school board. The EU places supreme power in the hands of 27 unelected Commissioners invulnerable to public opinion.

The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction. When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless. For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine—that the nation-state must be transcended—is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.  Snip –

The single worst aspect of Europeanization is its impact on the economy…Like most folk memories, the idea of a European economic miracle has some basis in fact. Between 1945 and 1974, Western Europe did outperform the U.S. Europe happened to enjoy perfect conditions for rapid growth. Infrastructure had been destroyed during the war, but an educated, industrious and disciplined work force remained.

Human nature being what it is, few European leaders attributed their success to the fact that they were recovering from an artificial low. They convinced themselves, rather, that they were responsible for their countries’ growth rates. Their genius, they thought, lay in having hit upon a European “third way” between the excesses of American capitalism and the totalitarianism of Soviet communism.

We can now see where that road leads: to burgeoning bureaucracy, more spending, higher taxes, slower growth and rising unemployment. But an entire political class has grown up believing not just in the economic superiority of euro-corporatism but in its moral superiority. After all, if the American system were better—if people could thrive without government supervision—there would be less need for politicians. As Upton Sinclair once observed, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

Nonetheless, the economic data are pitilessly clear. For the past 40 years, Europeans have fallen further and further behind Americans in their standard of living. Europe also has become accustomed to a high level of structural unemployment. Only now, as the U.S. applies a European-style economic strategy based on fiscal stimulus, nationalization, bailouts, quantitative easing and the regulation of private-sector remuneration, has the rate of unemployment in the U.S. leaped to European levels.

Why is a European politician urging America to avoid Europeanization? As a Briton, I see the American republic as a repository of our traditional freedoms. The doctrines rooted in the common law, in the Magna Carta, and in the Bill of Rights found their fullest and most sublime expression in the old courthouse of Philadelphia. Britain, as a result of its unhappy membership in the European Union, has now surrendered a large part of its birthright. But our freedoms live on in America. Snip –

How aptly the British people might today apply the ringing phrases of the Declaration of Independence against their own rulers, who have “combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws.”

So you can imagine how I feel when I see the U.S. making the same mistakes that Britain has made: expanding its government, regulating private commerce, centralizing its jurisdiction, breaking the link between taxation and representation, abandoning its sovereignty.

You deserve better, cousins. And we expect better.

Hannan writes and speaks the way we wish our own politicians would. He is a statesman. How many of our present politicians are statesmen? We need to be reminded of the greatness of this American experiment, the uniqueness in all of history of our Constitution and our way of governing. It’s time that we look, really look at what we are letting slip away because of apathy or ignorance or simply believing that it can’t happen here. We will lose this country if we don’t fight for it. What kind of America do you want your children and grandchildren to inherit?  Please, read it all here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703559604576176620582972608.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

Here’s a video of Hannan comparing the U.S. to Europe. This is from a talk at the Cato Institute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kio5QdBc0vk&feature=related

Here’s the full speech to the Cato Institute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDKJBaCZOqQ&feature=related

Here’s an interview with Hannan as he discusses why Europe doesn’t have Tea Party protestors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDfyFWoE2Tw&feature=related

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