Posted by kallahar on Feb.22.02 at 11:37 am PST.
kallahar writes by Paul Clark - , January 29, 2002
The American right wing is very fond of characterizing the European Union as "a monstrous and intrusive socialist superstate." While I am not a fan of the EU, and suspect it is a step towards world government, the fact is that the EU government has yet to evolve into a monster. The budget of the EU government is only $80 billion - less than 5% of the budget of the US federal government. Some member states do have high taxes (and some have low), but that is up to them, not the EU. The EU has not yet, like the US government, imposed on member states an endless string of mandates forcing them to raise taxes.
In fact, the EU offers, in many ways, an example for the United States to emulate. The EU still is what the US is supposed to be: a federation of more or less sovereign states, united for economic and military cooperation. For those of us who advocate a small, truly constitutional government basically the same as the US had in 1800, the common response is that the world has changed, and that it is now impossible to have the kind of weak central government that existed two centuries ago, when the population and area were a fraction of what they are today. In response to that, one simply needs to look at the European Union.
If I were leader of an island nation in the middle of the Atlantic, and were forced to choose between joining the EU or the US, there would be only one choice. If one were concerned with preventing a deluge of tax collectors, bureaucrats, and regulators; and if one wanted to maintain traditional culture and laws, then one would not join the US.
This hypothetical island, if it joined the US, would be forced under threat of invasion to abolish the monarchy, sever all official ties to religion, legalize no fault divorce, give rodents and insects more legal rights than unborn children, permit the US government to tax the inhabitants an average of $7,000 per capita, and about billion other things.
Taxes and internal controls exercised by the EU government are still virtually non-existent. Half the EU countries are officially monarchies, most are Catholic, most have an official church, or at least a "special relationship" with the Church acknowledging it as the semi-official religion. Some European countries legally prohibit abortion, and all have more severe legal restrictions than the US Supreme Court permits any US state to have. The no fault, easy divorce foisted on US society by the Supreme Court has yet to reach Europe. The divorce rate in the EU is only a fraction of that of the US. With a few exceptions, the EU government could not care less about social policy.
The European Court is composed of one judge appointed by each member state rather than appointed by some central president or parliament. That is the kind of state input into judicial decisions which in the United States we can only dream of. There have been some worrisome decisions. The European Court has ordered Ireland to suspend all laws against sodomy and ordered some countries to change admit homosexuals into the military. The good news, however, is that if a country refused to comply, there is not much the EU government could do to force it.
The EU has no army, nor do European states depend on subsidies from the central government for large part of their revenue which the central government can threaten to withhold when a member state displeases the central government.
Moreover, the EU founding treaties quite explicitly have enshrined the principle of subsidiarity (the principle that government action should be taken at the lowest possible level) as the cornerstone of EU government. That gives the European government a philosophical framework which is lacking in the US Constitution.
Even John Calhoun's doctrine of nullification has proved practical in the EU. Calhoun, of course, argued that a state could simply declare any federal law to be null and void. American critics argued that such a policy would destroy the union, but something very much like that is now operating in Europe. The European system of government has been put into effect by adopting a series of treaties, but each country is free to adopt or reject each treaty - it is as if each state were free to reject each new amendment to the US Constitution.
For example, each country was free adopt the Euro or not as it preferred. England, Scotland, Denmark and Sweden each continue to have with their own national currency. Last year a new treaty of fundamental rights of European citizens was negotiated, but it has been rejected by Ireland, and other countries are free to accept to reject it. A country can withdraw from the EU any time it wants. The European government invading a country like Ireland if it decided to withdraw is as unimaginable in Europe today as it was in the US in 1790.
There is every reason to fear that the European Union eventually will turn into a huge, centralized, highly bureaucratic, secular, socialist monster state, worse than even the US federal government. That will be particularly true if and when Irishmen or Frenchmen stop thinking of themselves as Irish or French, but become European.
In the meantime; however, if one wants an example of a continental federal government that operates as the American Founders intended, the EU offers a pretty good example.
Paul Clark (send him mail) is Director of Coalition for Local Sovereignty, a veteran of the Gulf War and also worked with the mujahadin in Afghanistan. Copyright C 2002 LewRockwell.com