Hannan on the EU

I’ve been reading MEP Daniel Hannan’s series in the Mail this week. It’s a sort of summary of everything that’s wrong with the EU.  Here are some extracts from the first long article:

Democracy is not simply a periodic right to mark a cross on a ballot paper.

It also depends upon a relationship between government and governed, on a sense of common affinity and allegiance.

It requires what the political philosophers of Ancient Greece called a ‘demos’, a unit with which we the people can identify.

Take away the demos and you are left only with the ‘kratos’ – a state that must compel by force of law what it cannot ask in the name of patriotism.

In the absence of a demos, governments are even likelier than usual to purchase votes through public works schemes and sinecures.

Lacking any natural loyalty, they have to buy the support of their electorates.

 The EU buys support, needless to say. And it’s thoroughly undemocratic.

The plain fact is that the EU is contemptuous of public opinion — not by some oversight, but as an inevitable consequence of its supra-national nature.

The EU is run, extraordinarily, by a body that combines legislative and executive power. The European Commission is not only the EU’s ‘government’, it is also the only body that can propose legislation in most fields of policy.

Such a concentration of power is itself objectionable enough. But what is even more terrifying is that the 27 Commissioners are unelected. Many supporters of the EU acknowledge this flaw — the ‘democratic deficit’, as they call it — and vaguely admit that something ought to be done about it.

But the democratic deficit isn’t an accidental design flaw: it is intrinsic to the whole project.

The EU’s founding fathers had mixed feelings about democracy — especially the populist strain that came into vogue between the two World Wars. In their minds, too much democracy was associated with demagoguery and fascism.

They prided themselves on creating a model where supreme power would be in the hands of ‘experts’ — disinterested technocrats immune to the ballot box.

More ‘experts’. I’m so sick of ‘experts’.

It is a shock to discover just how extensive the EU’s reach is. Take its claim in 2003 to be ‘consulting the people’ about the draft of a new constitution by inviting 200 ‘representative organisations’ to submit their suggestions.

Every single one of them, I discovered, received grants from the EU. If you scratch the surface, you find that virtually every field of activity has some EU-sponsored pressure group to campaign for deeper integration, whether it be the European Union of Journalists, the European Women’s Lobby or the European Cyclists’ Federation.

These are not independent associations which just happen to be in receipt of EU funds. They are, in most cases, creatures of the European Commission, wholly dependent on Brussels for their existence.

The EU has also been active in spreading its tentacles to established charities and lobbying groups within the nation states. The process starts harmlessly enough, with one-off grants for specific projects.

After a while, the organisation realises that it is worth investing in a ‘Europe officer’ whose job, in effect, is to secure bigger grants.

As the subventions become permanent, more ‘Europe officers’ are hired. Soon, the handouts are taken for granted and factored into the organisation’s budget. Once this stage is reached, the EU is in a position to call in favours….

These days, the EU’s strength is not to be found among the diminished ranks of true believers or the benign cranks who distribute leaflets for the Union of European Federalists.

Nor, in truth, does it reside primarily among the officials directly on the Brussels payroll.

The real power of the EU is to be found in the wider corpus of interested parties – the businesses invested in the regulatory process; the consultants and contractors dependent on Brussels spending; the landowners receiving cheques from the Common Agricultural Policy; the local councils with their EU departments; the seconded civil servants with remuneration terms beyond anything they could hope for in their home countries; the armies of lobbyists and professional associations; the charities and the NGOs.

 From the second long article:

The trouble is that the people running the EU refuse to learn anything from the failure of their project. Since the euro crisis began, they have pursued only one policy: bailout-and-borrow. When it doesn’t work, they accelerate it.

For years, EU leaders have been conditioned to spend public money. The first instinct of a Eurocrat, in a crisis, is to reach for his wallet — or, rather to reach for your wallet, since EU officials themselves are exempt from paying national taxation.

Expanding their budgets, of course, is what bureaucracies do best.

 Yes, this seems to be their only solution.

When I debated the crisis with a socialist MEP on television earlier this year, I suggested Greece wouldn’t begin to recover until it decoupled, defaulted and devalued. He stared at me in horror.

This wasn’t about the economics, he spluttered. It was about the European ideal.
Surely it would be unthinkable for the EU to go ahead without the country where democracy was born. That would be a calamity for Greece and for Europe!

No, I felt like saying, it would be a calamity for you personally. As an MEP, you are far better off than you were as a Greek minister.

 And from the third long article (maybe I missed one?):

Every nation joins the European Union for its own reasons. The French saw an opportunity to enlarge their gloire, the Italians were sick of a corrupt and discredited political class.

The burghers of the Low Countries had had enough of being dragged into wars between their larger neighbours, and the former Communist states saw membership as an escape from Soviet domination.

One thing in common is that they all joined out of a sense of pessimism: that they couldn’t succeed alone.

Confident and prosperous nations, such as Norway and Switzerland, see no need to abandon their present liberties. Less happy nations seek accession out of, if not despair, a sense of national angst. Britain signed up in 1973 at what was our lowest moment as a modern nation. Ever since the end of World War II, we had been comprehensively outperformed by virtually every Western European economy.

Suffering from double-digit inflation, constant strikes, the three-day week, power cuts and prices-and-incomes policies, decline seemed irreversible.

It was during this black period that we became a member of the Common Market, with the electorate confirming the decision by a majority of two to one in a referendum two years later.

He said that it was possible that the EU would just carry on like it is now, or carry out a managed separation, or an uncontrolled break-up of the eurozone.

It seems to me that what the EU is doing right now is trying to carry on as if nothing had happened. These people are idealists, not pragmatists. And the upshot therefore seems most likely to be a uncontrolled break-up, when something snaps and there’s no more sticking plasters to cover it.

Anyway, it was a fascinating read. There was a lot that I didn’t know.

P.S. On a lighter note, H/T James Higham for this fantastic NASA photography from the Curiosity lander on Mars. I almost felt like I was standing on it.

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23 Responses to Hannan on the EU

  1. smokervoter says:

    What an incredible feat that is when you think about it. A live remote from Mars. It’s an amazing world we live in.

    It looks exactly and precisely like Bullhead City, Arizona, some 200 miles from my humble abode. The soil looks like what they call caliche out there. I’d never heard the term before 25 years ago, when my friend Michael decided to build a house out in the middle of nowhere for himself where he could do whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased, however he pleased. He asked me to help him build it for him and I did. The foundation form stakes had to be driven into that caliche. I can’t describe how unforgiving that stuff is.

    About five years ago he asked me to build him an enclosure for his stable of off-road vehicles and I accepted the job, wanting to see what the place looked like now and to make a few extra bucks in the process. I stayed out in a guest room I had personally designed and framed years ago, kinda’ neat.

    Mike, an inveterate smoker who started me machine rolling my own cigarettes, neglected to tell me that he had new house rules – no smoking inside the premises – before I drove 200 miles to complete the project. It ruined the entire project/trip. So much for his freedom house out in the middle of Mars as I affectionately call his place.

    I’m surprised the first order of business wasn’t for NASA to plant a regulation Smoke Free Planet sign on the red planet. That is, if they could manage to get it into that damned impenetrable caliche.

    BTW, that Moon over Death Valley inset at the top right is annoying as hell, as are all of the icons. Can’t anyone just put up a pure unadulterated graphic anymore? And where’s the ubiquitous Facebook ‘Like’ button – can’t live without that now, can we?

  2. Very interesting, particularly the distinction between the demos and the kratos.

    We still have the demoi as local government units in Greece, based on a small geographical area about the population size of the average uk parish council.

    The little demoi politicians are as corrupt and as corruptible as the big kratos ones, but bought more cheaply. Think uk borough and town councils in the 1960s. They demolished entire mediaeval town centres for the price of a new avocado bathroom suite from dodgy developers like T. Dan Smith and his friends.
    In 1972 in Bradford, the wall graffiti read: “Avocado bathroom suite? No thanks, I’ve already had one from Mr. Poulson.”
    Local and national uk politicians gave government jobs and contracts and local council houses to their business allies and friends and supporters. It still goes on today.
    (Non-uk people may be surprised, but we Brits actually still expect our national and local government officers to be both politically neutral and reasonably honest. I know, we can be naive.)

    Self-interest and expensive ‘expert’ policy advice and corruption seems endemic: this was already embedded in individual nations and was simply concentrated in Brussels when the EU was established. EU workers and members went on to learn from each other, much as jailed juvenile offenders learn how to become more effective criminals from their co-prisoners.

    If the EU ever breaks up, the corruption will simply return to the member countries, but now engorged and cleverer and more greedy. It won’t disappear. And this is partly what this is about: tiny individual corruptions on a massive organised scale.

    I’ll go and read the whole series now.

  3. c777 says:

    It is also the heart of the European economic crisis.
    Europe will never run on an economically viable model whilst it hobbles it’s productive sectors with over regulation and taxation.
    The prime example of Big Government run for the benefit of itself only.
    As the government grows it becomes the biggest employer the effect of this is no one wants to change the status quo for fear of losing their non job or benefit hand out.
    It’s a self fulfilling prophecy all the way down to the pit of economic disaster.
    It is what will come after that collapse that will set the scene.
    Hopefully it will herald a return to saner economic policy with smaller government.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Yes, it is at the heart of the crisis. All the rules and regulations strangle the economy. And the bloated state extracts higher and higher taxes which have the same effect. Collapse is inevitable.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        When non-producers outnumber producers…………its all but over as the only way to sustain the system is to print money and then that only lasts so long!

        • Marvin says:

          @c777

          Nail on head !!!

          But I would argue it is a world crises, not just a European one.
          Because, over time, manufacturing industry requires fewer and fewer people, due to its ever increasing automation.
          This is a good thing, because mass production gives us all a relatively high standard of living.

          However, governments have to create the non-jobs or welfare benefits for the people no longer required by the manufacturing sector.
          This is not some evil conspiracy, it is done to maintain the political stability of the system as a whole and is practiced by all governments “left” or “right”.
          The conservative right sees this as increasing “sovietisation”, while the left (including the National Socialists) try to push us back to a pre-industrial age with their cottage industries and windmills etc.

          No one can see the obvious solution, keep the automated mass production, but quit using it to produce only for the market and instead use it to produce for the peoples needs. More leisure time (idle time) for everyone, while still maintaining a high standard of living.

          Of course abolishing “the market” would be revolutionary, but entirely rational.

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    EU plans cigarette logos ban
    Published on Saturday 18 August 2012 14:44

    THE European Union is considering banning logos on cigarette packets as part of an upcoming review of its law to deter smoking, a spokesman said on Thursday, a day after Australia’s highest court upheld a similar ban.

    Cigarettes sold in Australia now have to be contained in plain khaki boxes with no logo after the Australian court dismissed a legal challenge to the government’s ban in a case filed by British American Tobacco, Britain’s Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco.

    The EU will publish a draft revision to its 2001 Tobacco Products Directive this autumn, and may introduce more stringent rules on packaging as well as extend legislation to newer tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes.

    “Many things are being discussed, including the possibility of plain packaging,” Antonio Gravili, a spokesperson for the European Commission said.

    http://www.scotsman.com/business/personal-finance/eu-plans-cigarette-logos-ban-1-2476217

  5. churchmouse says:

    Hello, everyone

    Here’s a German entry which might interest you:

    http://www.lokalkompass.de/gelsenkirchen/kultur/das-neue-nichtraucherschutzgesetz-oder-der-totale-krieg-gegen-die-raucher-d199188.html/action/posted/1/

    It seems as if the Greens want the ban extended in Bavaria (it’s a long editorial with many interesting but lengthy comments, so my apologies if I mistranslated). I only noticed it because a nice reader mentioned my post on Prof Grieshaber.

    The author of the piece — a smoker — has been getting smeared on Facebook, apparently. The scene among antis in Germany seems to be much like it is here — ‘smokers should be thrown off trains’, ‘smokers should be killed’, ‘smoking mothers should have their children taken away’. The author says the whole anti-smoking thing is like the SS — her words.

    It seems the most militant antis are Greens. No surprise there.

    German readers might have more to add.

    • Reinhold says:

      Thanks for your interest, Churchmouse.

      Gelsenkirchen is a City in Northrhine-Westphalia (NRW), where the “Greens” and the “Social Democrats” are firmly intending to establish a total smoking ban just like it already exists in Bavaria (and Saarland). Bavaria is some hundred kilometers apart from NRW, so it’s not an expansion of the Bavarian ban, but they regard the Bavarian ban as a model, as an ideal, and preach that in Bavaria everything works fine and all the people are happy – and healthy!! – since the ban.

      I’m not sure if they know that they’re lying straight face – could well be they are stupid enough to belive what they say. Antis aren’t of the kind that looks around to seek the truth, are they? Repeating parrot-fashion is all what they can. And the Green NRW health minister is even a quite typical specimen of … well, I won’t tell, because she would sue me outright.

      So from this autumn on the people of NRW will presumably face Bavarian conditions, and they won’t like it at all, that’s for sure. Many of them still don’t believe the lies anyway, because they saw what happened (and still is happening) in Bavaria, but their voices will remain unheared. There was, for example, an online petition with about 50,000 subscribers against the ban – but the NRW government doesn’t care at all. They calculate like this: NRW has about 18 million inhabitants, so if 50,000 are against the total ban, 17.95 million must be in favour of it.

      Hate makes blind. And the Greens (ex-smokers most of them) hate smokers. And the “Social Democrats” aren’t in the least bit better than them. They all hate a quarter (minimum!) of the people, namely the smokers, and the other tree quarters don’t realize what’s going on. Even most of the smokers in NRW don’t notice yet what’s coming up, I’m afraid. We in Bavaria couldn’t believe what was happening then either. Now we know.

      Recently I talked with a Munich publican. “Take a look around only here in this district, only here in the neighborhood”, he said, “how many pubs don’t exist any more! They’ve all shut down due to the smoking ban, but of course not all of a sudden but with a two years delay, now that their reserves are gone. And that’s the case for me, too, so I’ll close down by the end of this year as well.”

      That’s what’s happening. That’s reality. And still the anti smoking Taliban drivel about prospering pubs, while publicans and waitresses are breathing the fresh air of unemplyment.

      • churchmouse says:

        Thank you, Reinhold, for the explanation and the details! It’s great getting the background to these stories.

        It’s amazing how people can be so blind, isn’t it?

        I feel bad for the Munich publican. Very sad.

        You’d think as leftists, the Greens and the Social Democrats would be all for the working man, wouldn’t you? Oh, the irony.

        • Reinhold says:

          I just wanted to add a comment to the news article you discovered, Churchmouse, to tell the woman who wrote it that I admire her for her courage and her knowledge, and about how it really looks like in Bavaria now.

          But they want me to give them my telephone number for registration, and that’s what I never do, because I don’t want to be called.

        • churchmouse says:

          You’re entirely right, Reinhold, about the telephone number business. As the old British maxim goes, ‘Discretion is the better part of valour’.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Thanks for this link, Churchmouse! A great article!! I have been busy the last few days and therefore have read little about what is going on in Germany. It took an hour or two to catch up and there will probably be more I don’t know about.

      The author of the piece — a smoker — has been getting smeared on Facebook, apparently. The scene among antis in Germany seems to be much like it is here — ‘smokers should be thrown off trains’, ‘smokers should be killed’, ‘smoking mothers should have their children taken away’. The author says the whole anti-smoking thing is like the SS — her words.

      Isn’t it striking that the anti-smokers everywhere use the same phrases? I dare say that the scene among the antis in Germany is more aggressive than it is in England, so one can imagine the content of “fan mail” which e.g. Prof. Grieshaber, Tamara Eggert (author of this article) will be subjected to.
      Germany is probably the most difficult country in which to dictate (I have to use this term) a country-wide smoking ban due to it’s different states.
      Sure enough, Tamara Eggert is being attacked in the comments by what seems to be to my fellow country people a well known nutter. It is amazing what people get away with these days.

      My quick perusal found another interesting article:

      http://www.westfalen-blatt.de/nachricht/debatte/2012-08-16-wirte-erteilen-gruenen-lokalverbot/613/

      The “green” party is the driving force for the extension of smoking bans; in Bremen a number of pub owners have issued a “pub ban for the “Greens”.

      • churchmouse says:

        Thanks, Beobrigitte!

        If I were a publican I would definitely bar Greens. It might sound unfair to my English-speaking countrymen, however, it has always been my contention that the Left has been behind smoking bans — actively. The Conservatives today – a false left — go along with them.

        We have been very careful here in the Anglosphere to not mention Godwin’s law with regard to smoking. However, it is interesting to note that a few German smokers have mentioned the SS and ‘Third Reich tactics’ in their comments, not so much on the post you cited, but the ones I read last night. Their candour surprised me.

        Whatever — what matters is that such bans are totalitarian and this is what we must fight against in Europe. Wherever we are, we stand united.

        The other aspect of the German comments which impressed me was the courtesy with which they were conducted. Some commenters — Greens, I believe — were banned for having violated the standards for comments. They seemed polite enough for me — and probably for most of the English-speaking world — however, the German moderators saw their comments as inflammatory and barred them from further online discussion. Well done, moderators.

        In general, yes, I was sorry to read the same ‘talking points’ among the German anti-smokers. They said the same things as the English-speakers. And the French. Notional ‘health’, ‘think of the children’, ‘victimisation’ and so on. Very sad.

  6. smokervoter says:

    Against my own better judgment I went and did it again. Got hooked reading all of the comments to yet another controversial smoking editorial. This one I picked up from DP’s link farm and it concerned the Aussie plain packaging ruling and Brendan O’Neil’s Spiked piece.

    People get so worked up over the issue it’s crazy. The longer you keeping reading comments the harder it gets to tell whether the speaker is ‘fer us or ‘agin us. Reformed ex-smokers change course three or four times in the same paragraph and then ultimately come down on the side of the bansturbators.

    However, this ex-smokers comments stood out from the rest for it’s blunt honesty and for the raw emotion that is often missing;

    Personal Choice :

    17 Aug 2012 9:07:02am

    “As an ex smoker, I want to say: I never took up smoking back in the day because of fancy packaging (which are really not that attractive), advertising or lack of Government saying “no”.

    In fact, I started smoking to spite the Government, to spite my parents and to spite the anti-smoking brigade. My loathing for all the aforementioned, still in my 30’s I almost didn’t quit.

    Now, before the anti-smoking brigade tries to paint me as “reformed” because I did quit, be very clear: you people were the reason I almost didn’t quit: for fear of becoming one of you: you self-righteous people make me sick.”

    Amen Personal Choice, amen.

  7. smokervoter says:

    Sorry to carry on cut-and-pasting here but I liked this one too and besides it’s a slow Saturday, comments-wise (only 9, is that some kind of new record low?)

    Here goes.

    Clownfish :

    17 Aug 2012 1:24:22pm

    “Why stop there?

    Surely making people equal, regardless of looks, gender, etc., is a desirable social outcome.

    So why not legislate to make people come in plain packaging, too?

    I, for one, look forward to a government with the courage to force us all to wear head-to-toe, shapeless, plain cloth sacks.

    Then we will be truly equal!”

    Yay man!

  8. Junican says:

    We are still waiting for some sort of comment from the Health Dept about the consultation. What’s the betting that the OWNERS of the Health Dept (ASH ET AL) are even now burning the midnight oil working out how to bend and twist the results to suit their agenda? Lansley and Milton will be given a script to spout, without any alternative but to spout the script. Needless to say, the MSM will parrot the press releases and NOT ONE of them will ask the important questions.

    We must be patient since this sort of manipulation cannot go on for ever. Eventually, someone with political clout will ‘make a statement’ and, at that point, Tobacco Control will start to fall apart as the MSM will grasp the new ‘hot story’ (ASH ET AL lies and propaganda revealed!) At that point, the studies about thharmlessnessss of SHS will emerge and be highlighted. The Zealots will scurry away. The MSM is losing reader by the millions every year. They will have to change their tune about ASH ET AL press releases when the iies of ASH ET AL are revealed in order to have THE HOT STORY. .
    But then the hard work will begin. That work is persuading the Gov to repeal all smoking bans. Regardless of the obviousness of the need to repeal these unjust bans, it would be very hard to get them repealed. What is most likely to happen is that the bans will be ignored here and there and the authorities will not prosecute. That is what normally happens with such things. As a result, smoking bars will simply happen. Complaints by Zealots will just be ignored, just as no one is now prosecuting shops and pubs for not displaying external ‘no-smoking’ signs. However, the internet will then come into its own as, little by little, more and more smokers become involved and get better organised, always keeping in mind that it is essential to remain ‘a swarm’.

    And then, when we eventually win, we must chase the Holy Zealots from pillar to post. They cannot be allowed to slink off and enjoy their illgotten gains.

  9. waltc says:

    The contempt of the Ruling Class by now is universal and, as lysistrata notes, it goes down to the lowest level. As soon as any idiot gets a title like “councilman,” his ego starts to balloon and, given power, he’ll abuse it. There’s an added problem too. In America, the Left has a sneering contempt for the Right and, with the media on its side, it intimidates and belittles any contrary opinion and gets away with it, too, even when it’s actually a majority opinion. I once saw a furious Democratic congresswoman railing about the Republicans sullying “our” House– as though the House of Representatives was, by droit de seigneur, a Democratic property.

    Off comments from yesterday– smokers’ diaspora leading to little power– I believe that blogs like this one are vitally important. That “girl on the sidewalk” doesn’t have any power, at least at the moment, but to the extent she can understand that she really isn’t alone, that her opinions and feelings and politics and legitimate, to that extent she’ll fight on an individual basis, or at least won’t easily cave. Building spines is our business.

    • nisakiman says:

      I’m currently involved in a little spat about smoking on a forum here:

      http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/577611-smokers-to-face-harsher-punishment-for-smoking-in-public-thailand/

      And the arrogance is sometimes quite breathtaking. A little snippet, for example:

      “My experience shows me that anyone who tries to defend smoking, has a schooling of grade 12 or less. People university educated who smoke, are just quiet about it, as they cannot quit this most dangerous drug, more addictive than cocaine.”

      This was a part of a response to a comment of mine, and was a claim (about the educational level) that he repeated in a later response to another of my comments.

      Where do these people come from? They seem to be quite convinced that they are superior beings because they don’t smoke! I find myself almost speechless at their utter blind conviction of their own infallibility.

      • beobrigitte says:

        Here I have to cite a comment:
        Pattaya – Is smoking in closed / air-conditioned bars allowed or not? Where I go, I see “No Smoking” signs up, but usually within minutes some idiot shows up and starts smoking and blowing me the smoke in the face. Really pisses me off. Most of these guys are so disrespectful towards non-smokers.

        Correct me if I’m wrong; Isn’t Pattaya the place for sex tourism where most of the working girls look the age of 12 – 15?

        http://en.fishki.net/comment.php?id=102304

        And this guy talks about respect?

        • nisakiman says:

          Ha! Yes, it’s apparently the sex tourist’s favoured destination! Still, hypocrisy is a common trait in the anti-smoker brigade, as we all know.

        • Junican says:

          I’ve read your comments there, Nisak. Well done – more facts, less emotion.
          You can’t convince the Zealots, but you might get reasonable people to think.

  10. Rose says:

    Wee wisdom: Hate the cigarette, not the smoker

    “While walking with my family in Old Town this summer, we passed a man who puffed a cloud of smoke from his mouth. Sophia asked me, “Why do people smoke?”
    “I don’t know. Maybe they want to get lung cancer,” I answered sarcastically.”
    Sophia stopped in her tracks. “Why would someone WANT to get cancer?” she asked, her face contorted as only a 6-year-old’s can.”

    “Sophia still grimaces and pinches her nostrils when she passes someone smoking on the street. Words like “gross” and “disgusting” often escape her mouth, sometimes louder than Tanya and I would appreciate”
    http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20120819/COLUMNISTS112/308190009/Wee-wisdom-Hate-cigarette-not-smoker

    What an extremely rude child!

    I would have been mortified if my children had behaved in such a fashion in public and certainly would’nt have wanted to broadcast the fact.
    Wherever did she learn that such behaviour is acceptable?

    Still,if this is the new normal I’m sure someone equally ill-mannered will point, laugh and make obnoxious remarks about Sophia in due course.

    There’s a reason that society developed the concept of good manners,and it’s best learnt very young.

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