America and Europe: Democracy vs. The Welfare State

Discussion in 'Economy' started by PoliticalChic, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    "1. The modern European welfare state goes back to the late nineteenth century when Otto von Bismarck, Imperial Germany’s ruthless “Iron Chancellor,” introduced state social insurance in an undisguised attempt to placate the growing German industrial working class and the ever-increasing number of Social Democrats they elected to the German legislature. Far too many Europeans now simply assume a munificent welfare state as part of the economic landscape. Indeed the increasing number of older West Europeans today has no incentive to change. Their attitude might be described as “Après moi, le déluge.”

    2. …a disinclination of many European politicians—on the left and right—to concede that the post-war European effort to use the state to provide as much economic security as possible has encountered an immovable obstacle in the form of economic reality. Yet it is arguable—albeit highly politically incorrect to suggest—that it also reflects the workings of a potentially deadly nexus between democracy (or a certain culture of democracy) and the welfare state.

    3. One justification for democracy is that it provides us with ways of aligning government policies with the citizenry’s requirements and of holding governments accountable when their decisions do not accord with the majority’s wishes. But what happens when some citizens begin viewing these mechanisms as a means for encouraging elected officials to use the state to provide them with whatever they want, such as apparently limitless economic security? …what happens when many elected officials believe it is their responsibility to provide the demanded security, or, more cynically, regard welfare programs as a useful tool to create constituencies that can be relied upon to vote for them?

    4. Does this mean that shrinking the welfare state requires a diminishment of democracy? The answer is no….a proper response is to recognize that a democracy’s ability to resist the long slouch towards the soft despotism of the welfare state requires two things.

    a. shift the incentives for economic mobility and security so that they lie in the private sector rather than in becoming a recipient of state largesse.

    b. developing a moral and political culture which underscores the undesirability of politicians and citizens using the state to live at others’ expense.

    5. America, however, is a different story as compared to Europe. The sheer intensity of resistance to the Obama Administration’s healthcare legislation was about many things. But it surely reflected the fact that millions of Americans are simply unwilling to go the way of Western Europe. Successful long-term resistance, however, is going to depend upon Americans understanding that the link between democracy and the welfare state has to be broken, and that the only way to achieve this objective over the long term is through recommitting the United States to some of the very best aspirations of its Founding—a love of liberty, an embrace of the virtues needed to sustain freedom, and an unwillingness to delegate to the state the responsibilities that free men and women owe each other."
    MercatorNet: Fatal attraction: democracy and the welfare state
     
  2. william the wie
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    william the wie Gold Member

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    You are making the assumption that the US is a democracy i. e. no inalienable rights for citizens, no serious division of powers or other guarantees of freedom. I'm not saying you are wrong particularly in regards to trendlines but why do you think that we are more unfree than free already? Just want to better understand your reasoning.
     
  3. Woyzeck
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    Woyzeck Senior Member

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    Did I fall asleep and wake up in a world where France and Germany lost their republics and the United Kingdom lost its mostly democratically elected Parliament?

    Oh no wait. I didn't. Because they're still as democratic as the United States.
     
  4. william the wie
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    william the wie Gold Member

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    By democratic do you mean holding citizen prisoner without trial, suppressing free speech and other forms of mob rule then yes the US is becoming a European style democracy.
     
  5. Epsilon Delta
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    Epsilon Delta Jedi Master

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    Hahaha, "the soft despotism of the welfare state."
     
  6. Old Rocks
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    Old Rocks Diamond Member

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    Interesting. A number of these nations now have a higher living standard than does the US. And the Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes that I have talked to did not seem to think that there governments were despotic. In fact, they thought that we had less freedom here, because we face losing our homes simply from having an uninsured illness.
     
  7. Luissa
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    Luissa Annoying Customer Supporting Member

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    And could also be considered for democratic than the US.
     
  8. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    "1. Only a short while ago some European politicians were touting the European social model’s superiority over what many continental Europeans deride as “Anglo-Saxon capitalism.”
    2. Now, however, governments across Europe are scrambling to avoid the fate of Greece. Moreover, they are doing so by contemplating—and, in some cases, implementing—the hitherto unthinkable: reducing their budget deficits by diminishing the expansive welfare states to which many Europeans have long been accustomed.
    3. …several decades of low economic growth. As the Czech president Václav Klaus recently observed, “average annual economic growth in the eurozone countries was 3.4 percent in the 1970s, 2.4 percent in the 1980s, 2.2 percent in the 1990s and only 1.1 percent from 2001 to 2009.” “A similar slowdown,” Klaus added, “has not occurred anywhere else in the world.”
    Ibid.
     
  9. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Nonsense.

    I make no such assumption.

    Did you read the article from the OP?
     
  10. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I just love the style, the oh-so-sophomoric "Oh no wait."

    What ever have you been reading? Faulkner? Steinbeck? "Oh no wait..." Peanuts?

    1. European political structure is built upon a very different tradition of constructivist rationalism; the future is endangered by the failure of many conservatives to see the dangers in a European and global governance, popular with the US administration, that lacks democratic accountability and threatens liberal freedoms.
    https://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2008&month=06

    2. A major problem for the United States at the United Nations is what is known as ‘norming.” “Norming” is the idea that the U.S. should base its decisions on some kind of international consensus, rather than making its decisions as a constitutional democracy. It is a way in which the Europeans and their left-wing friends here and elsewhere try and constrain U.S. sovereignty. The fact is that we’re sitting with a majority of countries that have no traditions or understanding of liberty. The argument of the advocates of “norming” is “one nation, one vote.” That sounds very democratic: Who could object to that? But its result would be very anti-democratic. As an illustration of this, a friend of mine once went to a conference on international law and heard a professor from a major European university say, “The problem with the United States is its devotion to its Constitution over international norms.”
    https://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2008&month=04


    3. The response of the European Union Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security to the crisis over the Danish cartoons that sparked Muslim violence was to propose that newspapers exercise "prudence" on certain controversial subjects involving religions beginning with the letter "I."
    https://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2008&month=08


    4. At the end of her life, the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci—after writing of the contradiction between Islam and the Western tradition of liberty—was being sued in France, Italy, Switzerland, and most other European jurisdictions by groups who believed her opinions were not merely offensive, but criminal. Ibid.

    5. Author Michel Houellebecq was sued by Muslim and other "anti-racist groups" who believed the opinions of a fictional character in one of his novels were likewise criminal.Ibid.

    6. Not confined to Europe, Mark Steyn in Canada faced similar thinking: “In Canada, the official complaint about my own so-called "flagrant Islamophobia"—filed by the Canadian Islamic Congress—attributes to me the following "assertions":
    America will be an Islamic Republic by 2040. There will be a break for Muslim prayers during the Super Bowl. There will be a religious police enforcing Islamic norms. The USS Ronald Reagan will be renamed after Osama bin Laden. Females will not be allowed to be cheerleaders. Popular American radio and TV hosts will be replaced by Imams.
    In fact, I didn’t "assert" any of these things. They are plot twists I cited in my review of Robert Ferrigno’s novel, Prayers for the Assassin. It’s customary in reviewing novels to cite aspects of the plot. For example, a review of Moby Dick will usually mention the whale. These days, apparently, the Canadian Islamic Congress and the government’s human rights investigators (who have taken up the case) believe that describing the plot of a novel should be illegal.” . Ibid.

    7. “[European] democratic governments today preside over multicultural societies that have less and less glue holding them together. They’ve grown comfortable with the idea of the state as the mediator between interest groups. And confronted by growing and restive Muslim populations, they’re increasingly at ease with the idea of regulating freedom in the interests of social harmony.”
    . Ibid.

    On the bright side, Steyn states “It’s a different situation in America, which has the First Amendment and a social consensus that increasingly does not exist in Europe.”
    But nowhere is it more evident that Jefferson was correct in stating that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

    We must be eternally aware of any restrictions on our rights of free speech, whether it be regulation of the internet, of talk radio, or any communication.

    We must carefully consider commitments to EuroThinking, or any concepts that stem from traditions other than our own.

    8. “European governments have tried to curb the public influence of Islam, even as they disguise their intent. Caldwell writes favorably about such measures, but he also expresses reservations about their rationale. If Europe wants to challenge Islamic values, what values does it offer instead? It’s all well and good to curb the more reactionary Islamic practices, but at some point Europe must offer its own affirmative vision. As Caldwell points out, “you cannot defend what you cannot define.” The Crescent and the Continent by Jacob Laksin, City Journal 30 October 2009

    9. Commenting on Wilders, a long line of top Dutch politicians declared, in effect, that freedom of speech didn’t include the freedom to offend. In April 2007, intelligence and security officials had called Wilders on the carpet and demanded that he tone down his rhetoric about Islam; in February 2008, the Dutch ministers of justice and foreign affairs summoned him to a similar dressing-down.
    Today—January 20, 2010—the Dutch establishment’s most serious effort yet against Wilders gets under way, as he is forced to go to criminal court to defend his right to speak his mind. Wilders is, of course, not the first European to face legal action for criticizing Islam; such luminaries as Oriana Fallaci and Brigitte Bardot also appear on that honor roll. But Wilders’s case nonetheless feels unprecedented. To read the official summons addressed to him—a sitting member of the Dutch Parliament and the head of a major Dutch political party—is all but surreal. It is to feel as if one has been hurled back into a distant, pre-Enlightenment era; it is to feel that in one fell swoop, the illusion of freedom in Europe has been extinguished. (An English translation is available here.)
    A Dark Day for the Enlightenment by Bruce Bawer, City Journal 20 January 2010

    10. “In Britain, a land with rampant property crime, undercover constables nevertheless find time to dine at curry restaurants on Friday nights to monitor adjoining tables lest someone in private conversation should make a racist remark. An author interviewed on BBC Radio expressed, very mildly and politely, some concerns about gay adoption and was investigated by Scotland Yard's Community Safety Unit for Homophobic, Racist and Domestic Incidents. A Daily Telegraph columnist is arrested and detained in a jail cell over a joke in a speech. A Dutch legislator is invited to speak at the Palace of Westminster by a member of the House of Lords, but is banned by the government, arrested on arrival at Heathrow and deported.”
    Mr. van den Boogaard, a Dutch gay "humanist" (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. "I am not a warrior, but who is?" he shrugged. "I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it." In the famous Kubler-Ross five stages of grief, Mr. van den Boogard is past denial, anger, bargaining and depression, and has arrived at a kind of acceptance.
    "I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it."

    Hillsdale College - Imprimis Issue


    11. Canada threatens to arrest Coulter because they “put reasonable limits on free speech.”
    Canadian University Provost Wants to Send Me to Jail… For a Speech I Haven’t Given Yet - Big Government

    12. European countries seem to have set a precedent in defining health care as a human right, at least in wealthier nations. Next stop: vacations.
    From the Times Online:
    An overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.
    Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.
    What Counts as a (Taxpayer-Subsidized) Human Right? - Economix Blog - NYTimes.com

    13. Yob wins right to wear trousers that show his underpants after judge said Asbo ruling would 'breach human rights'

    Read more: Judge says Asbo ruling on low-slung trousers would 'breach human rights' | Mail Online

    A teenager has struck an unwelcome victory for young thugs after an order to stop him wearing low-slung trousers and a hooded top was scrapped because it breached his ‘human rights’.


    Read more: Judge says Asbo ruling on low-slung trousers would 'breach human rights' | Mail Online


    As you are clearly not ready to read great literature, at least pick up a newspaper from time to time.
     
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