The EU Religion

Theresa May's announcement to appoint a minister to prepare a possible hard exit from the EU hit the German media today. It is news like this that bring out the worst side of German culture.


I used to be a staunch supporter of the EU. Moving between various countries in the EU, I appreciated the ease of travelling. Romantic feelings grew. Europe was my country. Europe is my country. We all are conflicted with what regions we identify how strongly. As much as my mood has changed, Europe will always be my country, just, please, not as it is.


In my social environment everybody was and is pro-EU. People in the US or the UK cannot imagine how synchronized the thinking is done in other cultures. All public views are everybody's views. Disagreements are minor and are all handed down by the leaders of the established parties. According to what 'team' (party) you are on, the latest plan is always the best idea. The only bottom-up intellectual input is never "bottom-up"; it comes from the big money lobby groups. 


People don't notice it. There is only one thinking. Despite the fact that so many use the word religion as a derogative to attack G-d, religion is a fairly broad term. Some religions have a god, some have not, many have multiple deities. I look at religion as the ubiquitous belief of a culture. If no collision with other conflicting ideas occure, people don't see their belief as religion. What they think is just how things are - they belief.


The EU religion has some tenets. The most important one is a threat: Either the EU stays in place as is - or with amendments only initiated by our leaders - or a war breaks out, not another Balkan skirmish, but an Armageddon doomsday war.


The second tenant is that it is 'too complex' for people to understand. The Soviet Union was not 'too complex'. The United States of America are not 'too complex'. We all can describe and understand these entities. Only the EU is 'too complex' to think about it.


The third tenant is that the EU is democratic. The MPs of the only electable body are not really accountable to any constituency and all other offices are much less so. It is a zoo of unaccountable bureaucrats, but when pressed they utter some words which are derived from political theory as a smoke screen. After watching European politicians for a while, I have come to the conclusion that they don't cheat. They genuinely don't know the meaning of the words.


This is all fine as long as the leaders don't become aggressive. With the Brexit referendum things changed. At the beginning, I didn't notice what was going on. The news just got my attention when David Cameron came back from the EU with scarce negotiation results, results that were supposed to dissuade the Brexit referendum voters. Two things became obvious 1) Cameron was no talented negotiator and 2) the EU had no respect for the citizens of their member states.


So I changed gear. My left-wing newspaper helped me. Article after article explained to the Germans that the British are trash. Brits are arrogant, quaint, white and old, selfish cherry pickers, right-wing, backwards, and seek world domination through a revival of their British Empire. The popular former Mayor of London Boris Johnson was suddenly a radical xenophobe.


Once the referendum passed, I learnt more about the British from our compassionate, love-no-hate left-wing elites: "The Brits will rue it." "This will go badly for them" "They have it coming" "We must ensure that they don't get away from it too easily so others are not encouraged to do the same". Remember that the Brits are supposed to be imperialist.


Simulatenously heart-string teasing stories about Brits 'who don't know what comes next' hit the papers. A flurry of articles claimed that the Brexit voters realised that they are morons and want to turn back time, reverse the decision, be brought back into the loving arms of the faultless and caring EU. Every pro-Brexit politician was sneered and Boris Johnson was trashed for being unwilling to take any responsibility in a long, long series or reports that only ended in the very minute when Theresa May announced that he would be a member of the Cabinet.


Today, Brexit is back in the news. And the comment section on my favorite news blog ZEIT online speaks of this uni-thinking, which can turn so malicious. One commenter stuck out to say that after a u-turn of about 10 years the UK may recover. He did not even suggest that the Brits could have made a good decision and be better off then, but that was still to much. No less than 75 commenters reacted by asking, 'How do you even think they can turn around?'


This is the climate you get, when there is no shared platform for differing opinions, no market of ideas, no Fox News and MSNBC, no Breitbart and no New York Times. All voices are just one voice and nobody notices it when the one voice speaks hate.


opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 1:25pm
EU - better together and outward looking!!
We will certainly rue that vote and the cretin Cameron who arrogantly called the referendum. The rabid right-wing nationalists won and are now plotting our future.
Our prestige and economy will now go through the floor.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 1:56pm
Opher: cretin, arrogant, rabid, plot - that is exactly the vocabulary that I have a problem with and what the article is about. I don't want to make the case for or against the brexit, but the way we have come to talk to each other as if the other were apostates.
CC: Nobody wants ONE person to run everything yourself. Do you understand the details of the computer that you sit on? You still think about your computer and how to use it and that is how it should be.
Must not most of the details of operating a government of such a society be so esoteric that they can only be handled by those with the necessary expertise?
No, an operative government should care about its basic operations and do them very well. 'Don't have your finger in every soup', Maggie Thatcher used to say.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 2:22pm
CC: Why are you constantly talking about an individual? No Stalin for you!
You need the informed to give their contrarian views to the public so the latter can vote a representative who will implement the best solution. That's how a democracy works.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 4:05pm
CC: I don't know what you try to get at. The individual does not need to read your thousands of regulations. The individual understands, however, that it does not want a shared EU military (currently built up). The EU is a state like any other state. As a consequence it is not more 'complex' than the US and citizens should be encouraged, not discouraged, to think about it.
opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 4:06pm
Benjamin - putting your party and lust for power above the good of the country is the act of a cretin. The extreme right-wing nationalists who are running this country are thoroughly objectionable. Their policies are scandalous. I'm sorry if my language offends you.
Dino Manalis Added Jan 8, 2018 - 4:11pm
The European Union should be the United States of Europe with respect for member states  and municipal governments.  There is nothing wrong with diversity of opinion and every effort must be made to keep Britain part of the European family.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 4:14pm
Opher, could you do me a favour and say the things that you want to say without words like 'cretin' or 'extreme' or 'scandalous'? It is just so much more worthwhile to listen to your thoughts when they have the form 'I don't like that the UK leaves the EU because ....' or 'In the UK we had a similar one opinion only climate during, maybe, the Iraq war'.
I know that all sides do it, but as I explained in the text above it feels very scary when you only here one side verbally abused all the time - as is the situation in Germany. I just notice that I am a snowflake and a pussy.
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2018 - 4:20pm
Interesting discussion indeed
I don't know that much about the inner workings of the EU, so I shall refrain from commenting directly on that topic. But after observing how Canadian and American politics work, I can see that legislation is often created without much thinking on how impacts other affairs of society. In essence, we get legislation that kind of works and kind of doesn't work. And we are stuck with it for a decade or two until the political will is there to change.
If the EU is seen too be bureaucratic, then maybe it just might be more able to see more of the angles and perspectives than North American legislative processes. When the bureaucrats come up with their "one voice", maybe that one voice was created with a lot of thought and deliberation. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 4:39pm
CC: We ask the citizen what portion of regulation he considers to replace with slimmer regulation. In a healthy society you can hear various suggestions. People like Milton Friedman or Thomas Sowell are often very specific about what they want. That is also true for Gill Stein, Gloria Steinem and so on. You need a variety of ideas and eventually elections will result in this or that being implemented. I'd like to see the EU work that way.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 4:43pm
Dave: Nice to hear that you find the topic interesting. I don't believe in a superior Big Brother voice that knows it all. Usually the voice does not understand all sides of an issue.
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2018 - 5:10pm
Benjamin: As you know, I have an agenda of promoting the TDG.  While I have laid out the foundation of how the TDG should be built, it will be up the actual builders to put the work into it. They are going to debate, discuss, try things out, make changes to the structure of the TDG. Therefore, I cannot envision what the final product will look like.
One thing I do envision is that there won't be any political messiah to tell us how he/she is going to fix things for us. The cult of the personality should be weeded out with the TDG.
Rather I see a lot of people coming having lots of discussions with lots of different perspectives. And eventually "one voice" amorphously comes out with a clear direction of where society needs to go next. If done well, the one voice will have somehow "used" any contrary perspectives. This direction will implemented, but if changes are forthcoming, it will easier to make those change---unlike western democracy where mediocre legislation is apt to sit for several decades.
I don't follow the EU enough to realize how far it aligns with my TDG vision. And I do have some concerns in that it seems the EU bureaucrats are not that accountable, yet have some comfortable salaries.  There may be things the TDG builders can learn from today's EU.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 5:24pm
Dave: Yes, from a discussion can emerge a temporary consensus, but usually, while a best solution is implemented, people already note changes and want to talk about alternatives. So the debates must always flourish.
Yes, I would advice that you look into the details of the Lissabon Treaty and the insititutions of the EU to avoid the evasion of accountability that is egregious in Europe.
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:02pm
Yes, the debates must also flourish, but I would substitute "discussion" for "debate". When we make a societal decision, we need to realize that no one knows for sure how it will work out. So the decision must be monitored and changes made. If the decision faces staunch opposition and then fails, can the failure be because of the opposition or the decision running its natural course? And if staunch opposition arises, then the supporters of the decision are more apt to defend the decision, which then means they cannot make the changes. 
I have had a few life experiences in both the public and private sector of people getting paid very well, but not really doing very much. It's not hard for me to envision a few EU bureaucrats earning $200,000 a year because of their credentials but not really contributing very much. And because EU decisions come from a fairly amorphous process, it's hard know for sure those who are true contributors from those who only occupy office space and have a nice salary.
I somehow think the culture of the TDG will percolate through the new bureaucracy as well. Bureaucrats start at the bottom--and rise according to the trust and respect of their fellow bureaucrats. But again, this mechanism is something for the future TDG builders to figure out.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:15pm
Dave, you will be shocked to learn about pointless EU officials when you look at it in more detail. I just notice that there is no nice word in English for needless positions. In German we say "Wasserkopfamt", which translates to administrative hydrocephalus. ;-)
Dave Volek Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:25pm
I would have to take your word on the EU having a few too many pointless officials. I've seen it before, and it's not hard to extrapolate it to the EU. We still have a lot to fix in this world.
But I wouldn't throw out concepts like the EU entirely.
opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:51pm
Benjamin - I will do my best.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Jan 8, 2018 - 9:10pm
It used to shock me how many people not only accept or desire an all powerful supreme state but actually need it in much the same way they need oxygen and water. Not any more. 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 9, 2018 - 1:28am
Jeff Gilbert: I am still under shock. At this point one can only negotiate a light-weight entity to avoid an enormous power concentration to eventually turn tyrannical.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 9, 2018 - 1:31am
We Swiss aren't in the EU, and it's good like that. Although we have to make concessions....
Stone-Eater Added Jan 9, 2018 - 1:33am
...because we agree with Ben. Too much power concentration, and even more, totally controlled by NATO. EU is and was a backdoor to NATO (see the history of Ukraine....).
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 9, 2018 - 1:42am
SEF: Yes, the EU made a treaty with Ukraine that included stationing missiles in the proximity of Russia. Yet, for many the EU is the 'we together, love and peace' motherly entity that cannot be blamed. It is a tenet of the religion that war only happens without, not because of, the EU.
Neil Lock Added Jan 9, 2018 - 3:16am
Benjamin: Good article. I didn't realize how bad the groupthink has become in Germany. I'm not sure, though, that there aren't people in several other EU countries secretly cheering Brexit on. My Polish friends certainly agree... and it's even possible that, if push came to shove, the Dutch might decide to go too if Brexit succeeds.
I myself voted Leave. I did not do this because I am either right-wing or a nationalist. (I am neither). Nor am I rabid, although I was once bitten by a French dog! My reasons for voting Leave were:
(1) I'm sick and tired of all the bloody directives that spew forth from the EU. Light bulbs, bananas and all the rest. Granted, the cretins that run the UK (Opher is right on that count, at least) are still far too fond of ordering people around for the sake of ordering us around. But at least getting out of the EU increases the chance of change in that area.
(2) The EU is economically unstable, because of the single currency. A small country like Greece has already almost pulled it down. The way it's set up, without the UK contributions the only way to hold it together is to force the Germans (and, to an extent, the French) to subsidize the whole caboodle. The Italian volcano is smouldering, but personally my money is on the Spanish to be the ones who actually trigger the collapse.
(3) Back in the 1970s, when the UK joined what was then the European Economic Community, we were led to believe that it was, and would remain, an economic relationship. The people of the UK approved it by referendum in 1975 on this basis. The EEC was indeed a good thing! I myself lived and worked in Holland from 1977 to 1980, which would have been a lot harder without the EEC. But the EEC morphed into the EC (European Community), and about 1991 we came to realize that the goal was political union - and the EU as it exists now was the next stepping stone towards that. We had been misled and lied to, and those of us who remember back to the 1970s weren't happy. (BTW, I think this is the main reason why many older people voted Leave; it has nothing to do with being conservative).
(4) The cretinous Cameron had the effrontery to spend £9 million of taxpayer money on sending out, to every household in the land, a booklet of Remainer propaganda. That was the last straw, for me as I suspect for many others. I was one of many who took Liam Fox's suggestion, and posted it back to 10 Downing Street without a stamp.
That Brexit is such a divisive issue shows, to me at least, that political communities today are far, far, too big. Even Britain, I contend, is far too big; particularly given that the Scots have gone strongly socialist in the last 20-odd years. The system as it stands isn't sustainable; and getting the UK out of the EU is a necessary first step in the direction of change for the better.
opher goodwin Added Jan 9, 2018 - 5:01am
Neil - the myth about directives spewing out of Europe - bent cucumbers and the like - are just that exaggerated myths. The British Tories have put out more bloody directives and red tape than anybody. Education, my area of expertise, was clogged up with it.
The problem with the currency is the problem with inequality. The poor countries are completely on another level to the rich ones. But that is absolutely no different to the USA. The different States in the US have massive economic disparity - Mississippi and California. What is required is time and attention to bring those weaker areas up to the mark.
One can clearly see that America would not be the force it is if the separate States all acted as independent countries.
I see nothing wrong with a greater political unity. What we have found is that so many aspects have become collaborative - to the benefit of us all. Instead of everyone reinventing the same systems we share them. I had to live through the stupid break up of Humberside into 4 separate areas. The cost was stupendous. In education we moved from one Head of education to 4 Heads of Education (all paid more than the original). The old Head of Education in Humberside took over one of the areas with a big pay increase and a quarter of the responsibility. They all had to have their offices and staff. The bureaucracy increased. The headings on paperwork and equipment was all duplicated. How does that make sense?
This idea of sovereignty is just nuts. I don't think I've ever had a government that really represents my views. I'd much rather have sensible laws passed by Europe that austerity imposed by the Tories for ideological reasons.
Cameron was responsible for putting this hugely expensive folly to the country. He did that purely for party political reasons, to bring the right-wing of his party in line for an election he did not expect to win. He thought that by offering them a vote he'd keep them quiet and also undermine UKIP. He also thought that he would pull out of it because the likeliest result was a coalition and he'd blame it on the Lib-Dem. It went horribly wrong.
I do not like the EU. I think there is too much red-tape, too much corruption, it is too inefficient and not democratic enough. In fact exactly the same things as Westminster.
But I think that the talk has kept peace in Europe and the collaboration has been great for fighting crime, terrorism and environmental issues. That science and technology can be funded better on a European basis without duplication. That human and worker rights are brilliant and based on the British model. That money laundering and tax evasion are best dealt with in larger blocs, as is pollution, alternative energy and conservation. I have greatly enjoyed the freedom of movement and opportunities for study and business that it opened up. It has been an economic success.
Much regeneration has occurred with European money and Britain has greatly benefitted.
Leaving has already cost us a fortune, reduced our standing and will mean we have to duplicate all those many institutions at enormous cost.
There will be far more red-tape, bureaucracy and directive shooting out of Whitehall. The complexity of business and interaction will be huge. They'll all require forms, tariffs and extra costs. Travel will be far more difficult.
It will make us poorer in every single sense.
Neil Lock Added Jan 9, 2018 - 5:28am
Opher: The light bulb directive is no myth. Now we are stuck with bulbs that give less light than the old ones, are more expensive, are less reliable and contain toxic materials!
America would not be the force it is if the separate States all acted as independent countries. Indeed: and why would that be a bad thing? Would Montana have invaded Iraq?
As to red tape and bureaucracy - well, that's just what politicians and bureaucrats do! The smaller the unit, the more chance we have of changing that stuff for the better.
opher goodwin Added Jan 9, 2018 - 6:25am
Neil - of course there were a number of mistakes. We've changed all our lights to LEDs. They are so much better.
No. Again - one can cite a number of things that would be better for the world with a far weaker USA. But would it have been safer? Perhaps Russia or China would now be controlling everything?
A strong America has a lot of drawbacks but also a lot of benefits.
I don't agree with small is best. From what I've see the smaller the more duplication and cost.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 9, 2018 - 1:38pm
Neil: Thank you a lot for your long thoughtfull comment. I agree with almost everything you say. You see me swooning. The Polish are rebellious. They were also the first to stand up against the communist. I once have heard that they were the intellectually freest in the Warsaw Pact at the time. The Dutch likewise have a special history of publishing the works of intellectuals when nobody else did. My money is on the Polish to stomp out when the bribery stops and, if you are right, Spain may become the reason for it.
Opher: I've heard that about 80% of laws passed by the parliament in Germany are implementations of the Brussel directives. I bet that the situation is not much better in other member states.
Your jabs at the Tories are utterly irrelevant because none of our current participants at WB is a Tory.
Your view about government is very much based on your own experience as an administrative insider. Some minor efficiency improvements can be achieved when administrative areas are put together. You can fire staff. Likewise smaller entities need more staff. At least that is true when the entities are not corrupt. Larger entities tend to corrupt and you have a lot of pointless people.
The bigger problem, however, is that smaller communities are better controlled by the electorate (it is also the reason why there is not that level of Washington/Brussels corruption). So regulation and laws are bespoken to the very community. They have  a much bigger impact than the purely administrative effects of such a move. Poorly fitting laws cause a lot of bureacratic overhead in companies.
Science must be funded in duplication.
From a military perspective, I think the US would just be as effective as a loose group of allied states as it is now. The apparatus could however not as easily be abused. Like the Attic Sea Alliance of ancient Greece, forces are joined when a real threat emerges. France and UK also provide the nuclear power for all of Europe. Europe could fill the void America leaves if it chose to withdraw militarily. 
Smaller isn't better per se. Before the current US constitution there was a contract that was much leaner and did not work out. The EU is too big, though.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 9, 2018 - 1:59pm
It is a tenet of the religion that war only happens without, not because of, the EU.
IF the EU were independent of the US I would agree.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 9, 2018 - 2:02pm
France and UK also provide the nuclear power for all of Europe.
Europe could fill the void America leaves if it chose to withdraw militarily. 
A very important point which is overlooked on purpose !
Stone-Eater Added Jan 9, 2018 - 2:15pm
BTW2: Ben, please excuse - I used above comment and shared it on my other media - without mentioning your name, of course. But I think it is a very important detail.
Shane Laing Added Jan 10, 2018 - 3:53am
Well where to start. Okay France is only a part of NATO in times of war.
As to the EU. In the then Prime Minister Ted Heath came and painted a wonderful picture of a common market free trade etc.  He did not sway anything about political union, even though he knew that was the end game.  The reason why, because he knew the population would not go for it.  He didn't lie about it, he just didn't tell anyone.  He admitted this in an interview I saw.
Next the collapse of the EU.  It could well happen. With the UK being the second largest contributor, where will the money come from. Germany pays the most and the French certainly don't want to pay more.
As to a trade deal, well that could be a bit of a problem. Spain has a huge elephant its riding about in the room but no-one can see it or are choosing to ignore it.  Gibraltar, oh yes the Spanish want it and I would say they wont sign any trade deal unless they get it.  Will the UK give it away? No. Quite simply because too much foreign money flows through Gibraltar. Most Russian mafia money I grant you.  I know it, the residents know it and I am pretty sure the UK government knows it.
As to free movement.  Is it so hard to get a visa? I would suggest not.  A work permit for those who want to work here, is that so hard to do?
Why should the UK have to obey stupid rules. I shall give an example for those who have stuck with this so far.  An EU citizen can come to the UK, claim child benefit at the UK rate and then send that money back home to Romania where his wife and children are living. Surely the child benefit should be claimed where the children are living. The money is then gone from the UK so is not being spent in the UK to help the economy.
EU grants are fabulous things but the UK contributes far more than it gets back from the EU.
Tariffs. As a sovereign nation we do not have to impose any tariffs on any goods coming into the UK if we do not wish to. That's under WTO rules by the way.  Only 20% of UK companies have dealings with the EU all other companies exporting etc are working under WTO rules anyway.
If the UK and EU want to have tariffs then have 1% tariffs on goods and services both ways.  Keeps things very simple.
I should point out that I am not against immigration to this country. I think that having a diverse population is a great thing. I would point out that we should only allow those in that we actually need. Before that we need to make sure that we have the infrastructure, such as housing and an increase in hospitals etc to cope with the influx. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 10, 2018 - 4:07am
Shane - you might want visas, border controls and long queues. I prefer to walk straight through. I also prefer trade without barriers or tariffs, without long waits at the border, more costs and more bureaucracy.
Yes there have been many silly nigglely rules that need ironing out. Some of them are the result of our inept government - like for instance not signing up, like the rest of Europe has, to the treaty to send people back to their country of origin if they don't have a job. Those silly rules should have been dealt with by the EU. Why didn't Britain press for them to be addressed?
At the moment we are stuck with ridiculous silly rules imposed by the British Government. I have an English friend who has been married to an American for twenty years. They've lived in the States and brought up two children (17 and 15). His parents are getting old and he has moved back to England. His wife is only allowed in on a six month visa. She had to return to the States leaving him and her kids in England. She had to employ a solicitor to gain another visa that allows her into the country for two years. Then she has to go through it all again. Madnes - British madness.
We do need controlled immigration because we have had too much too quickly - but again -this should have been addressed inside the EU. It affects all EU countries.
In my view the stupidities should have been internally sorted. Leaving is like chopping your leg off because you got ingrowing toenails.
Doug Plumb Added Jan 10, 2018 - 4:18am
I watched the movie "The Real Face Of The European Union" and there are some aspects wrt secrecy of law making that are particularly relevant that are not covered elsewhere. I don't know the history of the EU but that movie matches what I know about political philosophy. The EU should really scare the hell out of everyone.
  Its amazing that people worship the gods of efficiency more than anything. Economics gets all kinds of attention but not law.
Shane Laing Added Jan 10, 2018 - 4:23am
The UK did press for the reforms, the CAP springs to mind but the EU didn't want to accept reforms as it effects other countries in the EU. The UK government does have such stupid rules I agree, the example you quote just shows how stupid things are. Immigration is simply not being addressed. The EU will not accept any restrictions on free movement. It is because of EU intransigence on this that many voted to leave.  Personally I voted out simply because VAT issues were imposed by the EU on the UK. The Tampon Tax. Yes believe it or not ladies and gentleman on WB, the EU told the UK that they much put VAT (value added tax) on women's sanitary products as they are a luxury item.  I would suggest that women do not see it the same way. I would be interested to hear the ladies on WB point of view on the subject.  
opher goodwin Added Jan 10, 2018 - 4:28am
Shane - I really do think that Cameron did not take the EU seriously and Britain should have pressed a lot harder. We should have been leading like Merkel has. If we had been a force in Europe we would have got changes. We needed more forceful leadership, more demands and less willy-nilly, weak-kneed sitting on the periphery and moaning.
The trouble with Britain is that they were totally preoccupied with domestic politics and did not see themselves as being at the heart of Europe transforming it into our vision of what it should be.
We've done the same with the leave negotiations and taken silly posturing and then capitulated.
Shane Laing Added Jan 10, 2018 - 4:40am
Opher. You are right on the money. We needed a Maggie Thatcher character not afraid to take them on and push hard for change but all we got was Cameron.
Shane Laing Added Jan 10, 2018 - 4:46am
Doug. I shall watch it. Opher you do the same and we can discuss that as well.  Good discussion Opher, we should go for a beer I'm sure we could sort the whole sorry mess out.
Dave Volek Added Jan 10, 2018 - 11:15am
It's kind of interesting watching the comments in this thread. When should we organize ourselves for when bigger is better? When is smaller better?
I don't have the answers for there are pros and cons to both sides. And times and places may require their own specific application of centralization vs. decentralization.
It's too bad that government, in general, is so discredited that if it makes a step in either direction, it is a sign of a foolish government.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 11, 2018 - 5:00pm
France is only a part of NATO in times of war.
Ah-huh. And who decides when it's time for war ?
Stone-Eater Added Jan 11, 2018 - 5:03pm
Europe has to get independent of the US and not be mingled into Russian affairs too. When we don't succeed at that, it's our fault. It means that we're weak, have no self-respect and like to be led by external forces. Concentrate on business. IF there's a "continent" which is able to understand foreign cultures, it's us - by our past. And when we don't know how to use that for the good, we're as stupid as ever.
John Minehan Added Jan 11, 2018 - 9:36pm
I suspect "Hard-Brexit" will be a disaster.  The fact that the UK didn't completely collapse (and has shown some economic growth) is a sign "Soft-Brexit" might have worked well and might have been a good model for reform of the EU.
This will be interesting.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 12, 2018 - 12:51am
Minehan: Why would a hard brexit be a disaster in your opinion?
Shane Laing Added Jan 12, 2018 - 1:39am
Stone. The French decide when they want to join in.
Shane Laing Added Jan 12, 2018 - 2:02am
John. The trouble is the EU does not reform. That's the whole problem with it. Each country in the EU has a veto. Any reforms must be agreed by all or any reforms just don't happen. As to a hard brexit, that's what the UK should have done. Had a clean break, then started negotiations. The soft brexit option is turning into a disaster with the UK government pandering to demands of the EU. It would be well for all to remember that the EU also needs access to our markets. EU imports are more than we export to the EU.
Something along the lines of 40% of german car manufacturing is exported to the UK.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 12, 2018 - 4:10pm
The French decide when they want to join in.
Join into what ? Miterrand finally gave in after a long struggle with the US concerning NATO. 4get it. We in Europe are occupied land.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 12, 2018 - 4:14pm
Look at the Germans. How many US bases are there ? Can the German government kick them out ? No. Fucking pussies. Probably paid under the table. Ramstein is a mere 50 miles from where I live in Switzerland. We don't want their shit here. But who cares ?
We're in the Stone age ;-) The one who has weapons needs no brain. What for when you can flatten everything ?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Jan 12, 2018 - 4:22pm
Shane: Yes, I also told myself that the EU would reform eventually. When Cameron came back with empty hands I knew that I was wrong.
Everybody pretends as if it was a big deal to write a tariff agreement on a napkin and sign it. I mean the overhead is ridiculous. Even without deal, could the UK decide to reimburse tariffs and drop import tariffs unilaterally. It is all about power, not about issues.
Stone: German politicians love the military bases. They love the US dollars they bring. They are an economic factor in their region. Yet, there are less and less because America knows that they have no point anymore.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 12, 2018 - 4:26pm
The EU was a US idea at first. They sold it as an economic club, but in fact it was a step to secure NATO (-> Ukraine didn't work - Putin saw what would come). 
Divide and rule is often a good method, but centralize power can also be. Think about what would have happened with TTIP when it would have passed. Europe is small, and, be sure, since the US doesn't allow a war on its soil, the battle against Russia will happen here in Europe. Advantage for the US would also be that an economic weight would be eliminated.
Hm...haven't we seen that with Germany last century ? Who made the bomb possible ? German scientists. The US imported war criminals, and IBM even played a big role in Hitler's rise.
Not talking about Prescott Bush, the Nazi. Actually, the first Nazis were British.......
Conclusion: The so-called "anglophone" culture is mainly responsible for a lot of the wars. We even see that today by the "special relationship" of the UK to the US and the commonwealth.
And the old trauma of the Anglophones that Germans and Russians ally is still alive. That was also a reason for the creation of the EU. To keep control of the Germans LOL
Stone-Eater Added Jan 12, 2018 - 4:32pm
The US is a land of immigrants. They never cared where someone comes from, and if he's a criminal or not, as long as he's useful for the country. Maybe your founding fathers had another idea, but now, as we see it from the outside, the US has become a hegemon which gives a shit about the UN charta or human rights when it comes to profit - NOT for the people of the US, but for the elite.
I hope that the 320 million people in the US start to lift their fog.

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