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A Second Lisbon Vote to be announced shortly?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:50:55 AM EST

Government set to decide on second Lisbon vote - The Irish Times - Sun, Nov 16, 2008

The Government will make a decision on holding a second Lisbon Treaty referendum before a meeting of EU ministers next month, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said today.

Micheál Martin said the Government will table proposals at a European Council meeting next month to deal with the impasse following the Irish electorate's rejection of the treaty in a referendum last June.
--------snip

"We want to be at the heart of European decision making," he said. "That would enable us to have some impact on decisions into the future and that would strengthen our hand in negotiations on agriculture and budgets and so forth."

Mr Martin said the Government has yet to make a decision on holding a second referendum. "The Government will make that decision in advance of the December meeting," he said.

-------snip

Earlier this week, Mr Martin dismissed speculation about forcing Ireland from the European Union if voters reject the treaty a second time.

The so-called "Norwegian option" of reducing Ireland to associate member status has been floated by senior German foreign ministry officials as a means of clearing the way for the ratification of the treaty.

--------snip.

"We are at a turning point in our relationship with Europe and, as a Government, we will offer advice that future generations are better at the heart of Europe than at the margins," said Mr Martin.

"But the Germans are very committed to Lisbon, they are not leaving us in any doubt about that."

The Norwegian suggestion was, he said, "not in any room of consequence".

So take that, you nasty "senior German foreign ministry officials"!

Promoted by DoDo


The Germans seem to be playing a double game: Martin rejects talk of Ireland being forced out of EU - The Irish Times - Fri, Nov 14, 2008

Mr Steinmeier denied such a "Norwegian option" had been floated, saying that Berlin would "naturally give Ireland time to make the necessary decision".

He suggested that recent world developments, in particular the war in Georgia and the financial crisis, had "encouraged new thinking everywhere in Europe that perhaps this EU does have a greater value than many have assumed in recent years".

Annoyed Irish officials view the "Norwegian" remark as an unhelpful distraction in the domestic debate and grist to the mill of Lisbon opponents.

"We don't know what the Germans are playing at," said one. "The message they were giving us before was, 'don't be ambushed by Sarkozy', now here they are at it themselves."

Since the failure of the Irish referendum, the foreign ministry in Berlin has been sceptical of the chances of a second vote, and had never believed such a vote would be possible before next year's European Parliament elections.

Yesterday, one long-term observer of the foreign ministry described the "Norwegian option" as an "old-school Schröder scare tactic".

Mr Martin remarked that such a tactic "doesn't work and won't work".

Chancellor Angela Merkel's office was surprised to hear of the foreign ministry speculation yesterday. "I have no time for threats and what-if scenarios in the case of a second failure," said the chancellor's spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm.

"On the contrary, I am confident that the Irish Government and people will find a common path that is good for Ireland and . . . for all EU member states."

Several other EU member states, including Sweden and Germany's eastern neighbours, have already indicated they would oppose even discussing such a proposal, which they view as a worrying precedent.

At yesterday's meeting Mr Steinmeier made clear that, in Berlin's opinion, Ireland can have whatever opt-outs and clarifications it wishes, and in whatever form it requires, once it does not reopen the Lisbon package and require countries that have already ratified it to do so again.

Without Lisbon, Germany will not agree to any further enlargement of the EU even though it may be technically possible with the Nice rules.

That raises the pressure on Ireland if, with Croatia already knocking on the accession door, Iceland requests EU membership as an alternative to accepting Russian loans to prop up its economy.

If a second referendum is not held next year, Ireland will, by Berlin's reckoning, enter the last-chance saloon in the spring of 2010, with British parliamentary elections due and Conservative leader David Cameron promising an EU referendum.

German officials are at pains to stress that they are still optimistic for a successful second referendum.

But analysts at think tanks in Berlin report hearing senior German and EU officials openly discussing such a "Norwegian option" at conferences.

"For them, this is no longer science fiction but a real option," said Jan Techau, director of the Alfred Oppenheimer Centre for European Policy Studies.

"What I find interesting about it is that they aren't ashamed to be so forthright about it even if it sets a catastrophic precedent that will generate nothing but ill-will and defiance in Ireland."

So those nasty double dealing German officials don't care about upsetting the Irish any more?

Meanwhile in polls...

Poll gives second Lisbon referendum chance of passing - The Irish Times - Sun, Nov 16, 2008

A second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty has a chance of being carried, according to a new Irish Times /TNS mrbi poll which shows a swing to the Yes side since the referendum defeat last June.

The poll shows a change in public attitudes since June with 43 per cent now saying they would vote yes, 39 per cent no and 18 per cent having no opinion.

In the poll, people were asked how they would vote if the Treaty was modified to allow Ireland to retain an EU Commissioner and other Irish concerns on neutrality, abortion and taxation were clarified in special declarations.

A 4% margin in favour - with 18% don't knows - is hardly a resounding margin.  A lot will depend on how the campaign is conducted and on the ultimate turnout.  The collapse in the Governments popularity to unprecedented levels will also not be helpful to a yes vote - although perversely, the loss of confidence in the Irish Government may also sharpen awareness on our dependence on the EU to help dig us out of a very big economic hole.

However the Renegotiation of treaty will not happen, says Wallström - The Irish Times - Fri, Nov 14, 2008

RENEGOTIATION OF the Lisbon Treaty is not going to happen, a Dáil committee was told yesterday.

Margot Wallström, vice-president of the European Commission, said it was unrealistic of Ireland to believe member states would engage in a renegotiation.

"My impression is, that door is closed," she told the Sub-Committee on Ireland's Future in the European Union.

So it was rather strange when she then suggested that

On the issue of the need to reduce the numbers of commissioners in the Commission next November, Ms Wallström said that would have to happen under the Nice Treaty. But she hinted at the possibility of the issue being revisited, should the Lisbon Treaty be ratified. She said she believed every member state needed to have a commissioner.

"What you gain in efficiency you lose in legitimacy," she said. "Let's see how this can be resolved in the future."

Given that restoring a Commissioner to each country would require a revision of the Treaty, this rather negates her previous point.  Perhaps she is just clearly laying out the limits of any possible renegotiation.  If so, that shouldn't be a problem, given that all the other issues which arose in the first referendum campaign can be dealt with by way of a "Decision" on the Danish Model:

Dr Gavin Barrett, UCD Dublin European Institute .... suggested that the Danish-style "Decision", an agreement introduced at the Edinburgh summit in 1993 to allow Denmark to ratify the Maastricht Treaty, might offer solutions. He said a "Decision" would be outside the treaty and would not need to be ratified by other members, but would be legally binding. It could contain clarification on issues of concern to Ireland. It would offer a "belt and braces" solution, he said.

My view has always been that the best option for the Irish Government would be to hold a second referendum at the same time as the EU Parliament and Irish Local elections in June.  This would have the effect of significantly increasing the turnout and reducing the risk of a more mobilised and motivated "No" campaign carrying the day.  (The EP elections would have to be carried out under the old Nice rules).

Irish voters, more angry at their own Government than they are with the EU, could split their vote by voting for the Referendum and against Government candidates in the EU Parliament and Irish Local elections.  In fairness, the Irish electorate has often been quite discriminating in the past in how he wields the scalple on a very unpopular Government.  

Indeed, if the Governing Coalition unravels much further, we could be having a general election in June as well.  However Irish Governing Political parties (the recently deceased Progressive Democrats notwithstanding) are not in the habit of committing hari-kari - and would certainly face a resounding defeat in a general election held any time soon. In the time honoured fashion they will "hang together" rather than be hung out to dry by the electorate and hope that things improve in due course.

The extreme sensitivity of the situation was highlighted when the Czech president's State visit ends on acrimonious note - The Irish Times - Thu, Nov 13, 2008

IN AN acrimonious end to his State visit to Ireland Czech president Vaclav Klaus accused Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin of being a "hypocrite", while a number of leading Irish politicians accused Mr Klaus of an unprecedented breach of diplomatic courtesy.

Mr Klaus, whose country takes over the EU presidency in January, made his comments after Mr Martin accused him of an "inappropriate intervention" on Tuesday night. Mr Martin was referring to the joint press conference held in Dublin by Mr Klaus and Libertas founder Declan Ganley at which they criticised the Lisbon Treaty.

"Such hypocrisy I cannot accept," Mr Klaus was quoted as saying in Dublin by the Czech Republic's CTK news agency. "If someone doesn't please me, I will say so to his face - and not behind his back."

In the Dáil, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny criticised the Czech president. "It is inappropriate and an embarrassment for the Government in the context of where we stand in Europe and our future in Europe," said Mr Kenny. "Perhaps the visit should have been cancelled altogether," he added.

Labour Party spokesman on European affairs Joe Costello accused Mr Klaus of "an act of unprecedented diplomatic discourtesy by a visiting head of state". "I am well aware that Mr Klaus is an extreme right-wing figure who likes to court controversy," said Mr Costello, who added that a dignified but firm diplomatic protest about the president's behaviour should be made to the Czech government.

The Minister of State for European Affairs, Dick Roche, said Mr Klaus's description of Mr Ganley as a dissident was "misguided, misinformed and insulting" when applied to a state which had an unbroken tradition of democratic political life and free debate.

"Given the type of business activities that Mr Ganley has been involved with, the comparison is not simply over-the-top but an insult to the selfless men and women that challenged communism," said Mr Roche.

Let the fun and games begin!  Generally speaking, the Irish electorate doesn't take kindly to being told what to do by visiting Heads of State - especially when on a State Visit - and Vaclav Klaus' dinner and Press Conference with Libertas President Declan Ganly could be construed as interference in Ireland's internal political affairs.  Mr. Martin may well be a hypocrite, but he is our hypocrite!  I suggest we invite Vaclav Klaus  back just before the referendum in order to inspire the pro-EU vote!  Declan Ganley's professed intention of setting up a pan-European Eurosceptic party also won't sit well with the Irish electorate - who remain solidly pro-EU.

If the Commissioner, abortion, tax and neutrality issues can be taken off the table by a combination of the Danish Maastricht precedent and a commitment to restoring a Commissioner to each country, the second Referendum will be re-cast as a vote either for the EU or for a Ganleyite Eurosceptic re-nationalised collective of Sovereign nations.  On that basis I believe a second referendum would be passed despite the unpopularity of the Government and general annoyance at being asked to vote on basically the same Treaty twice.

But it could be a close call, and it would be helpful if the EU could show greater leadership on the Global Financial crises and recession in Ireland and the Euro area in the meantime.

Display:
I hate to say it, but after Irish behavior in the banking crisis, what with their rather shall we say provincial attitude to insuring deposits, and the fact that, in reality, the more responsible parts of Europe, starting with Germany and France, are essentially now bailing Dublin out via monetary policy, a bailing out that wouldn't be necessary if the Irish had kept their pound...

...there's nothing mean about the German response. It's the only right response.

If Ireland wants to go back to the pound and rejoin the UK, that's their right. But, being an integral part of the EU, including enjoying the full faith and credit of our currency, means acting like Europeans.

Haven't been seeing much like that from Ireland lately. And, if the Irish want to see what they could have looked like if they had kept their silly punt instead of converting to the Euro, it would suffice to exchage a "c" where there is an "r" in Ireland.

by redstar on Sun Nov 16th, 2008 at 07:06:01 PM EST
What a "provincial" French response! Or rather an imperialist one.  France doesn't own the EU, the Lisbon Treaty, or the Euro any more than Ireland does! And yes, the Euro does make our present crisis more manageable than our last one in the 1980's, but far from bailing out the Irish economy, Ireland is now a net contributor to the EU.

As for the Irish response to the Banking crisis, that lead has been followed in varying degrees throughout Europe - except that we haven't bailed out any of our banks with (anti-competitive) taxpayers subsidies (yet).  I'm surprised that French Socialist/Communists should advocate that!  Unlike some French Banks, Irish banks did not invest in US sub-prime derivatives.

If Germany or France wants Lisbon to be ratified then a slightly less arrogant attitude would be helpful.  Ireland isn't going anywhere and ratification depends as much on Ireland as it does on France!

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 16th, 2008 at 07:32:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"France doesn't own the EU, the Lisbon Treaty, or the Euro any more than Ireland does!"
"Ireland is now a net contributor to the EU."

Very true, but the use of fiscal dumping (classic prisoner's dilemma behaviour) when receiving European funds in order to get there sure left a sour taste in the mouth.

As did the insistence that the regional funds be allocated based on GNP rather than GDP (which made no sense but could be bargained against the threat to block EU initiatives otherwise), which meant Ireland kept receiving funds long after having become one of the richest (per capita) EU countries. Then we had to read the Friedman's columns stating that all EU countries had to copy the Irish strategy or else...

You must understand how all that, followed by a rejection of Lisbon, is a bitter pill to swallow for the other EU countries.

Now, Ireland is (for whatever reason) one of the most loved countries in the world, so I think it can be quickly forgotten. But at the moment it does not look like a team player and, of course, there is this unhelpful think that so many journalists will somehow call Ireland British and that is very bad publicity ;-)

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 01:24:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They're not British?

They sure act like they are.

by redstar on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 02:28:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<sigh> Who wants to revise the difference between income and wealth?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 02:53:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Touché, I didn't use the proper words in that respect. I don't think I actually confuse the two though. And while Ireland are (were?) indeed better off in income than wealth, it's not doing too bad on either one.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 03:28:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it depends how you measure wealth: our infrastructure is still pretty far behind the really wealthy countries, partially because of our dear government's mismanagement and partially simply because we haven't had time to build it up yet.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 03:34:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant relative to the EU as a whole, not just relative to the wealthy countries.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 04:32:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Including new member states?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes. They are the natural recipients of structural funds these days. It's only natural that Ireland should be a net contributor now that we have those member states!

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:41:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And now we are: we switched a few years ago as I recall.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:42:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to this website Ireland in 2007 was still a net recipient?
Not an official website though so they might be wrong.

But it seems that according to the EU budget 2007 report (pdf-file) Ireland:
National contribution Ireland: 1586,4 mill Euro
Allocation of EU expenditure Ireland: 2166,7 mill Euro

Assuming of course that IE means Ireland. :)

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 04:40:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
GNP is a better measure than GDP, also for the allocation of regional funds. A lot of Irish GDP ends up filling American coffers, the Irish themselves don't benefit as much as you'd think.

Then again, this is a side-effect of the Irish tax paradise strategy.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:44:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What matters with the structural funds is how many jobs you have. They should reduce pockets of unemployment.

And GDP is a much better figure than GNP for that.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:57:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing unemployment is one of multiple objectives:

Regional Policy Inforegio - Key objectives

The European Fund for Regional Development (EFRD), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund contribute to three objectives: Convergence, Regional Competitiveness and Employment, and European Territorial Cooperation in the following way:

Both GDP and GNP are flawed as measures of employment. GDP growth, averaged over multiple years, is sometimes a good proxy, depending upon policy.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 07:26:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great graphic.  I can understand European annoyance at Irish tax competition.  (I also used to take a perverse pleasure in thanking my German relatives for paying for our new Irish motorways on their visits here!)

However there are certain in-built disadvantages to being on the periphery of Europe and one of the few members without a land link.  Some degree of structural competitive edge is always going to be required to compete on a level playing field with countries at the core/centre of the market and industrial complex.  The alternative is permanent peripheral marginalisation with higher unemployment and lower wage rates.  

Does France not also have internal structural policies to assist more remote rural regions? Many of the European funds were targetted at what we joking called our BMW regions  - Boarder, Midland and West - which were slow to benefit from the EU and latter even from the Celtic Tiger.

I think we should all be glad that Ireland migrated from a gross dependency status to a relatively wealthy net contributor so quickly, and that we are now in a position to help even more disadvantaged member states to the east.

Yes there has been a fiscal overshoot - the result of excessive private borrowing far more than EU aids - and which led to a property and wages boom which will take some time and be very painful for us to recover from.  But don't forget that membership of the Euro also has some disadvantages for us - which meant that interest rates were far too low for some years for our economy (and thus encouraged the boom - and were until recently far to high not to accentuate the bust which followed).

The reality for us is that ECB policy is set very much with German/French priorities/interests in mind.  We can't complain too much about that because that is where the bulk of Eurozone economic activity is - but my point is that membership has costs as well as benefits, and sometimes those disadvantages need to be offset by political/structural measures.

Whether a low corporate tax rate is the best method of doing so - from an Irish and a European perspective is, of course, an entirely different (and interesting debate) - one which I will leave to the more economically literate amongst us.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However there are certain in-built disadvantages to being on the periphery of Europe and one of the few members without a land link.  Some degree of structural competitive edge is always going to be required to compete on a level playing field with countries at the core/centre of the market and industrial complex.  The alternative is permanent peripheral marginalisation with higher unemployment and lower wage rates.

Ireland has structural advantages as a hub to mainland Europe for Anglosphere companies. It does not suffer disadvantages by being on the periphery, because it is at the centre of something else. Southern Italy, Greece and Portugal currently have more difficulties caused by being on the periphery.

The cost disadvantages Ireland has as an island are largely compensated by weighing its GNP for purchasing power parity.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:43:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would a US or British Company which wants to build a hub to mainland Europe locate in Ireland unless there were some structural incentives to do so?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:56:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because Ireland has a young, well trained, English-speaking workforce and has already attracted and more importantly, started up plenty of companies, creating network effects in certain industries.

I'm not saying Ireland should raise its corporate taxes above those of Germany and France, but as long as they're kept slightly below the English taxes and the public administration is operated in a smooth way, its structural advantage should be maintained.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:01:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At the moment almost no one is investing in Ireland so - short term - any structural advantages we have aren't sufficient to attract whatever mobile international investment there is - most of which still seems to be going to the far east and perhaps Eastern Europe.  Longer term, the point is somewhat moot until "normality" returns - if it ever does.

Of course "young, well trained, English-speaking workforce" has been part of our sales pitch all along, but you can get that in India or Eastern Europe, or even "old" Europe if you want it.  Structurally, I would say our competitive advantage within the EU has already been eroded significantly since enlargement - not helped by our own property/wages bubble - which in part was caused by inappropriately low (for us) ECB interest rates.

Long term, we have to address our own problems by building up our indigenous industries and not relying so heavily on foreign direct investment.  That has been happening but has a long way to go.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 11:16:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er, I beg to differ. You cannot compare a some people speaking English to the whole population having English as the mother tongue.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:24:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would it matter to an incoming Corporation what the whole population spoke provided there was a sufficient cadre of appropriately qualified English speaking managers available for recruitment?  Most younger, professionally qualified people in Europe that I know speak more than adequate English.  It doesn't matter - for the most part - what language junior staff speak, provided their managers can communicate well with HQ in London/New York.  And if the customers are based primarily in mainland Europe, having a linguistic diversity im the workforce(which we don't have) is a positive advantage.

I'm not saying its not one of the things we have hyped in the past in our attempts to attracted foreign investment, I just don't think it is anything like as important as it may heave been in the past - and even then I think its importance was deliberately exaggerated (by us) to bolster our case.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:01:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you do want as many of your junior staff to be eligible for the management jobs where the people talk to HQ, so you can have a cut-throat competition for those management jobs, and cut salary for the people competing for the jobs while raising the salary of the jobs they are competing for.

After all, that "tournament" is why the people at the top are paid so obscenely much, in't? That's what it says in the business economics textbooks.

It couldn't be a good old boy network where boards selected by senior management gives senior management fat paychecks and senior managements give boards healthy renumeration for being on the board, now could it? That can't be it, because that's a lot harder to model with calculus.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:16:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
iN A CLASS SOCIETY, YOU DON'T WANT THE LOWER ORDERS TO COMPETE FOR THE TOP JOBS AT ALL...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:23:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you do want the lower ranks of the higher orders competing to get ahead for the higher ranking positions held by higher orders ... that ensures that the ones that best display class solidarity can be rewarded, and potential class traitors punished ... and the lower ranks of the lower orders competing to get into the higher ranking positions held by higher orders ... that ensures that the ones that best display class solidarity can be punished, and the potential class traitors rewarded.

And fix your capslock mate ... you'll have me thinking I'm superior to you if I can get you to shout in a discussion, and I'm junior to peon rank.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
and the lower ranks of the lower orders competing to get into the higher ranking positions held by higher orders

My bold.  I think you meant lower.  I agree - the importance of promotional mechanisms in ensuring class solidarity in the ruling class, and undermining class solidarity in the working class - is critical.

I'm not a touch typist - so occasionally capslock gets stuck in the wrong position.  Always annoyed me that you can't simply select text and toggle case, bu there you are.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:39:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the boldfaced is an edito.

There's a tool that lets you select text and toggle case, for Firefox, but I never tried it, so I don't know if its buggy ... its one of the editing tools I like in word processors which I wish was more widely distributed.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 02:05:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There would be more to redistribute, if Ireland had higher taxes. Correct me, if I'm wrong, but I have read Ireland has 12.5% corporate tax rate. 25% as a minimum corporate tax rate in the EU would be appropriate. The large countries would likely be still above that.

After all the big advantage for the small countries to be part of the EU, is to have a barrier free access to a market of large scale. For big countries this is a smaller issue. Small countries have the advantage to attract capital with special regulation. Large countries lose their protection from regulatory competition by abolishing barriers. They should get something as compensation - a selfbinding of the smaller countries not to stretch this regulation advantage to much. Initially most of the smaller countries were much poorer than the large countries. Maybe therefore one didn't want to attach too many strings to EU membership. But once the catch up process is done, there should be such rules (more pronounced for Luxembourg than for Ireland, however).

The regional redistribution in France is not a beggar thy neighbor policy. The EU would be better off with somewhat higher corporate taxes and on gov't level pay some of that money out to the periphery than with low taxes for foreign investors. It would be more honest in a way as well. Unfortunately many people don't see that the wealth of all smaller countries in Europe (OK, except Norway) is due to a voluntary cooperation of the larger countries, that are much less dependent on the existence of the EU.
Market competition is for enterprises and people, not for states. The referee shouldn't play the game instead of the players.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 01:21:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All arguable, and all arguments made at the time of Ireland's accession and subsequent negotiations.  Ireland has also lost exclusive access to huge fisheries resources.  Market access would be available under EFTA in any case and doesn't require EU access per se.  Your arguments about larger countries having in built advantages reinforces the point of smaller countries having structural disadvantages.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 01:35:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But when the Irish corporate tax rate was raised as an issue in the US presidential campaign, it came out that US corporate tax incidence is lower than in Ireland, despite the higher rate ... I wouldn't know the corporate tax incidence in the various EU nations, but that is the more appropriate comparison.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 02:11:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a tax expert, but as far as I know there are no loopholes - you can't pay less than 12.5% - whereas in other countries with higher rates there are often many ways of avoiding tax to the point that some companies pay none.  So we would need a comparison of effective, or actual taxes paid as a proportion of total corporate profits.  Before you can talk about tax rate harmonisation you have to talk about a standardisation of the ways taxes are applied.

PS McCain repeated referred to Ireland having a 11% rate - and as far as I could see none of the fact checkers corrected him.  But then Ireland never mattered in the debate - it was used for rhetorical purposes only, and McCain was obviously not aware we were in a recession.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:15:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a tax expert, but as far as I know there are no loopholes - you can't pay less than 12.5%

I'll take your for it, but in any case the 12.5% issue is just a red herring. The insufficiently acknowledged issue is this:

Morning business news - May 2

Accounts for Microsoft Ireland Research, an Irish subsidiary of the global software giant, show that the company paid just €460,000 in tax, on profits of more than €1.2 billion last year, by using provisions in Irish tax law to take its corporation tax bill down from €158m. Much of Microsoft's international profits are channelled through Ireland, but because the main company for Microsoft's activities has unlimited liability, it does not have to file detailed accounts.

That is an effect tax rate of <0.0004%. I am in no doubt that Microsoft would quite happily pay a corporate tax rate of 100% (EUR 3.68m) as long as it could continue to avail of the other attractive "provisions". Ireland accepts pittance; other countries get shafted.

by det on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 02:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
effect = effective

and the missing word is ... "word".

by det on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 02:46:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well if your quote is correct, then it negates my point about effective tax rates.  It's possible that they have been able to write off some revenues against "research", or something like that - I don't know the rules.

The larger point, also made by Humbug and BruceMcF below, is that "transfer pricing" allows companies to declare profits where they will be taxed least.  Thus the Irish Microsoft Research unit could charge other parts of Microsoft huge fees for research done in Ireland - thus reducing tax exposure in high tax environments, and increasing it in low tax environments.

I have do doubt that, long term, a global system of corporate taxation must evolve - to avoid creating tax shelters like the Cayman's and to avoid providing incentives to distort revenues as above. The first step must be to create common accountancy standards for the taxable base to be calculated, and the next step would then be to gradually harmonise the tax rates.  

Provided peripheral/underdeveloped countries are provided some means of playing catchup or creating a more level playing field, I have to problem with this being done.  However it would require a huge Brettoon Woods like global agreement, with the threat of exclusion from the global trading system for all countries which fail to comply.

This was unthinkable under Bush, and probably under Obama - because it will be presented as socialism on a world scale.  Global Capitalism will fight it tooth and nail.  I don't expect to see it in my lifetime, but you never know.  Obama may surprise us all.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 01:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's great. They have been reported to pay no taxes in Germany, too. Surely they ought to be awarded a patent for this business idea?

Long ago, there were rules against this moving around of profits; evidently, our glorious government has conveniently found a way to forget them.

Now at last we understand why the customs need to search us for euros we could want to smuggle. When will they come for our golden teeth?

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 05:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There may be formal rules against moving around profits, but as long as there is unfettered ability to shift financial wealth across national borders, there will always be a way around those rules.

Even with a return to regulating international wealth flows, with half or more of "world trade" as transactions between branches of the same multinational corporation, there's ample opportunity to set transaction prices that make sure the profits appear where it is most beneficial for them to appear.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 11:15:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That depends very much on how sharp teeth you give your tax authorities. Besides, you can just tax turnover instead of profits. I'm sure that has some undesirable effects, but if the alternative is to leave gargantuan loopholes in the tax code... I guess we'll just have to live with those side effects.

And anyway, in a regulatory environment where anti-trust laws were actually taken seriously, most of those transnats would very quickly end up with a severe case of being dead.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 11:28:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[W]ith half or more of "world trade" as transactions between branches of the same multinational corporation, there's ample opportunity to set transaction prices that make sure the profits appear where it is most beneficial for them to appear.

The mentioned rules addressed exactly these concerns.
by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 05:06:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uhmm, Ireland has given guarantees to all creditors of the banks. I'm not aware that any other EU country has done something comparable.
I don't know about details of other countries, but in Germany the strings attached to any protection apart from deposit insurance, which is a rather small issue compared with insurance for all creditors of the bank, are so significant, that private banks are very reluctant to take part in the scheme. The idea, that the Irish state aid would be less anti-competitive is simply nonsense.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 12:55:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Irish banks are paying a substantial creditor insurance premium of c. €1 Billion which is why their share price is under pressure.  So this is not a subsidy but a form of insurance guaranteed by the state.  Other EU countries have provide creditor guarantees without afaiaw requiring the payment of an insurance premium.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 01:26:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Danish bailout depositor guarantee also comes with strings attached in the form of an insurance premium and a not inconsiderable up-front allocation of the banks' capital to burn through before the tax payers take a hit.

A while ago, I promised to go through all the legalese and try to figure out where the one-armed blind man with a limp is, but I've been doing other things so far...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 11:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The other thing in favour of a second referendum being passed is that the  rules on referendum coverage may not be as restrictive as generally believed:

Broadcasting Commission of Ireland CEO Michael O'Keeffe said the BCI requirement specified 'fair and balanced' coverage but did not specify that it must be equal. (RTE)

The reductio ad absurdem is that there is an upcoming referendum on children's rights and a strict interpretation of the rule as 50% coverage could require  giving equal airtime to people advocating sex with children.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 05:12:18 AM EST
What's fair and balanced about giving Declan Ganley as much publicity as any party leader when he hasn't even stood for election to a local council?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was rather the point of the comment he was making.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My guess is that with Ganley setting up his own political party it will be much easier for the MSM to contextualise his remarks and give it the appropriate amount of publicity - i.e. very little.  The novelty value has worn off and he will come to be seen as just another politician on the make.


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 11:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... just another politician on the make take.

There, fixed it for ya :-P

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 12:42:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah he claims to be worth €300m - so he can make without having to take (in Ireland) - although he has been taking rather a lot of defense contracts in the USA.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 12:54:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nobody gets to a personal net worth of €300 mil without being on the take in some way or another... Or maybe that's just me being a DFH :-P

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 02:33:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
The reductio ad absurdem is that there is an upcoming referendum on children's rights and a strict interpretation of the rule as 50% coverage could require  giving equal airtime to people advocating sex with children.

That would at least be something new on television...

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 01:43:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The contempt for democracy shown by European elites is disgusting.

Ah, I forgot, as most of ET is aligned, on this issue, with the wishes of the said elite, that is OK. It seems that the role of democracy is more instrumental than principled.

Can I have a vote (just a single one, I don't require two), please?

This whole thing reminds of Ford sentence: "You can have the model T in any color, as long as it is black". With the exception that we are not discussing car colors.

by t-------------- on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:25:54 AM EST
"Can I have a vote (just a single one, I don't require two), please?"

Take it up with your government.

by det on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:36:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on your definition of "most of ET"...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 06:45:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most FPers, most active users.. I think he has a fair point.  I make no bones about being pro- Lisbon and have the comfort of being part of the majority here on that issue so that my diaries on this topic get a relatively easy ride compared to some others.

Personally I think ET would be enriched by us encouraging more minority viewpoints to make their point and I would welcome by a diary by tiagoantao on why he thinks Lisbon should be subject to popular referendum in all member states.

That is one of the main (and most successful) arguments used by the No campaign in Ireland.  I opposed that argument on he basis that it was not up to the Irish electorate to tell (say) the French people how to conduct their affairs, and that the fact that different States ratified Treaties in accordance with different constitutional rules was an example of the principle of subsidiarity and diversity - something which the more nationalist inclined NO campaign should welcome.

It would actually extend the process of European integration if all Members ratified Treaties in the same way  - and I have no difficulty if Member states decided to do so.  However my sense is that the NO campaign's advocacy of popular referenda in all states was purely tactical and opportunistic - because they knew it was highly unlikely that a majority in each of the 27 member states would approve.  

However, logically, if they wanted to be truly democratic, they would insist on one EU wide referendum - one which would in all likelihood be carried.  The alternative is that a few million voters in Ireland hold  a veto over the actions of several hundred million throughout Europe.  But you will never catch the NO campaign or diverse nationalist groups throughout Europe making that argument.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:30:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Although most of the readership would vote yes on a Lisbon referendum, I'm not so sure you'll find a majority of the people here agreeing with the French way of approval (no on the referendum, yes through parliament) or even the Irish attempt (no through referendum, so let's try it again)...

You'll even find EU political parties approving Lisbon yet wishing for a EU-wide referendum !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just go dig for Migeru's comments on the topic.

My position is simple (and there has been a lot of disagreement with expressed here on it): the French "non" was a very bad result for the French (and European) left, which caused exactly what many were claiming would be the result of the "oui": more neo-liberalism, less democracy, less accountability of the elites. So far I don't feel I've been proven wrong by facts on the ground.

Lisbon is irrelevant, mostly.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:41:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone know where Migeru is these days? I miss his informed comments on this topic as well as many others!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:48:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've heard he is high up.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:51:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's busy with other stuff at the moment, as I understand it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:52:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's in Spain, I think. I'm not sure whether he checks the internet these days.

Then he was considering some more exotic trips, the reason for my "I think". Anyway, he should return to London in December.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't depend on your definition of "most of ET", it depends on your definition of "the wishes of the said elite".

"one EU wide referendum", for example, has been proposed here and supported by many of the people you're tagging there. Migeru has often put it forward, and I among others supported the idea. I can recall no one opposing it.

So there may be perceptions and perceptions again about what is a "minority point of view". And tiagoantao is under no censorship and can post what he likes.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:57:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would oppose "one EU wide referendum" for the simple reason that small member states like Ireland would then have almost no say and would be giving up all sovereignty - something even a majority of the Yes side wouldn't want.

There is generalised acceptance for better EU coordinantion and decision making, for more weighted majority voting to avoid decision making logjams, etc.  But you will find very little support for a single EU superstate with almost no local sovereignty anywhere in Ireland, and across a lot of Europe, I suspect.  In fact you could read what NO votes there have been as at least partially a rejection of the very limited degree of further integration as contained in Lisbon.

In fact my concern would be almost the reverse -that disillusion over Lisbon and the way it was handled will lead to a resurgence of nationalist sentiment in at least parts of Europe.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I would oppose "one EU wide referendum" for the simple reason that small member states like Ireland would then have almost no say"

I didn't realise that democracy meant one state one vote.

Yes there are more people in France or Germany, but that also means that my vote is more diluted.
There is already a considerable skewing towards smaller states (nowhere near proportional representation in the EU institutions). There should be far less.

"Ireland" can't have a say because a country does not speak. But the Irish would have as much of a say as the Germans.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:47:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can I point out (again) that the problem with this wonderful idea is that it requires preliminary legislation and possibly preliminary referendums to set up the legal framework to allow an EU referendum.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:53:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, of course it does.
Is that reason enough never to attempt to reach that situation?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:57:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is the reason why it won't ever happen - all the smaller member states will vote against it - and logically so.  (We don't want our countries taken over by Frenchmen - even nice Frenchmen!)

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:05:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You did in 1798.

And I know how long the Irish memory is...they'll destroy monuments to the Norman arrival is you give them long enough.

by redstar on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was just the ruling elites.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual, you let us down, mostly through sheer incmpetence, so we won't go there again!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:12:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not our fault the only arms the Irish irregulars had were shillelaghs.

Can't beat a musket bearing lobsterback with one of those too often.

by redstar on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 01:39:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry but the EU is a Union of 27 Member States no 500 million citizens..  It is the States that are members not the individual citizens - who are only belatedly getting some recognition in the form of directly elected EP, rights to submit petitions, consumer protection etc.

And as things stand there is only some weighted majority voting amongst states on some issues - with others requiring unanimity - so we are not even close to simple majority rule amongst states.

Sovereignty still overwhelming resides at the member state level, with only some Sovereignty pooled by unanimous agreement of the member states.

Much of the Euroskeptic opposition to the EU comes from a feeling that that pooling process has already gone too far.  Most citizens do not want to live in a 500Million member superstate. Decision making is already too remote and too complex for them, and the examples of the only other Superstates with hundreds of millions of citizens - the USA, China, India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Brazil, Nigeria, Russia, Indonesia etc.- are not exactly inspiring.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:01:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(How many people in the EU believe their Miranda rights will be read to them if they are arrested ?)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:04:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i.e have as much trust in the police and judicial systems of other EU members states as they have in their own?  I doubt very many would have - if only out of ignorance of foreign judicial systems - and not because of any great trust in their own.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:10:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'd say a significant minority makes no real distinction between the (American) justice system they see on TV and their own. And they quite like the US democracy, especially now that Obama has been elected - and are inspired by what they understand of it.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're white, reasonably well off, have a job and don't get sick, the US system can be very congenial in many ways - provided you don't mind your kids being indoctrinated in school as well as through the media.  The cops will even read you your rights before they cuff you, and a good lawyer will nearly always get you off whatever misdemeanor you may have committed.  Many people found Apartheid very congenial as well.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:37:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's note that usually (as is the case with Miranda rights), the entity that was freeing people was the Federal State, as in, the courts...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:51:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... one Person one vote (the House of Representatives), one State one vote (the more powerful in most areas Senate), and weighted majority voting ... it was weighted majority voting, after all, that gave Obama the Presidency, not One Person One Vote.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:29:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to agree.  I don't know where all this "the only proper democracy is direct democracy" is coming from - well the Murdoch press actually.  But it is constitutionally, historically, and politically illiterate.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:34:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's okay.  Rush Limbaugh thinks we should decide the presidency based on who wins the most counties.

As if Alaska and Wyoming hadn't made us suffer enough already with Bible Spice and the Penguin.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:43:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It reads ... Rush Limbaugh thinks ... first, evidence that he does think on such topics would be required, and second that what he thinks corresponds to what he says.

Even "Rush Limbaugh argues ..." is arguable, leading to images of the Monty Python I Want An Argument sketch. Perhaps "Rush Limbaughs claims ...".

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 02:14:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its very simple really.  He saw an electoral map coloured red and blue and saw more red than blue which made him realise that republicans control more land area and that thus the real Americans won the election.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:22:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... from his linguistic emissions ...

... in the face of the alternative hypothesis that he is a cynical bastard emitting rationalizations and justifications to arrive at whatever is his fore-ordained conclusion, and so the rationale presented is pure propaganda with nothing to do with how he arrived at his conclusion.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 04:24:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Propagandists - cf Goebbels - can be very smart people and should not be "misunderestimated".  They just think in a different way, and have a unique ability to get into the mindset of their target market.  What others think of them is irrelevant.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:01:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... of speaking as if what they are thinking is directly expressed in what they are saying.

And when addressing the output of a propagandist, it is therefore sloppy to fall into the same bad habits of the corporate media when they say "so and so thinks", when all that can in fact be reported is, "so and so says".

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FiveThirtyEight.com: Politics Done Right
Hosting talk radio is an exotic, high-pressure gig that not many people are fit for, and being truly good at it requires skills so specialized that many of them don't have names.

To appreciate these skills and some of the difficulties involved, you might wish to do an experiment. Try sitting alone in a room with a clock, turning on a tape recorder, and starting to speak into it. Speak about anything you want--with the proviso that your topic, and your opinions on it, must be of interest to some group of strangers who you imagine will be listening to the tape. Naturally, in order to be even minimally interesting, your remarks should be intelligible and their reasoning sequential--a listener will have to be able to follow the logic of what you're saying--which means that you will have to know enough about your topic to organize your statements in a coherent way. (But you cannot do much of this organizing beforehand; it has to occur at the same time you're speaking.) Plus, ideally, what you're saying should be not just comprehensible and interesting but compelling, stimulating, which means that your remarks have to provoke and sustain some kind of emotional reaction in the listeners, which in turn will require you to construct some kind of identifiable persona for yourself--your comments will need to strike the listener as coming from an actual human being, someone with a real personality and real feelings about whatever it is you're discussing. And it gets even trickier: You're trying to communicate in real time with someone you cannot see or hear responses from; and though you're communicating in speech, your remarks cannot have any of the fragmentary, repetitive, garbled qualities of real interhuman speech, or speech's ticcy unconscious "umm"s or "you know"s, or false starts or stutters or long pauses while you try to think of how to phrase what you want to say next. You're also, of course, denied the physical inflections that are so much a part of spoken English--the facial expressions, changes in posture, and symphony of little gestures that accompany and buttress real talking. Everything unspoken about you, your topic, and how you feel about it has to be conveyed through pitch, volume, tone, and pacing. The pacing is especially important: it can't be too slow, since that's low-energy and dull, but it can't be too rushed or it will sound like babbling.
Not to reduce Wallace's fine prose to a catch phrase, but the distinguishing feature of radio is that it exists in a sort of perpetual amnesiac state. In a book, you can go back and read the previous page; on the internet, you can press the 'back' button on the browser. In radio, there is no rewind: everything exists in that moment and that moment only. This is, theoretically, a problem with teleivsion too, but in teleivison you at least have context clues -- graphics and what not, and what falls under the heading of "non-verbal communication". In radio you do not. Just a sine wave in the ether.

Moreover, almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they're in the process of doing something else. (If they weren't doing something else, they'd be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes -- and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what Wallace refers to as the importance of "stimulating" the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio! And Ziegler had no idea how to answer them.

Stimulation, however, is somewhat the opposite of persuasion. You're not going to persuade someone of something when you're (literally, in Ziegler's case) yelling in their ear.

The McCain campaign was all about stimulation. The Britney Spears ads weren't persuasive, but they sure were stimulating! "Drill, baby, drill" wasn't persuasive, but it sure was stimulating! Sarah Palin wasn't persuasive, but she sure was (literally, in Rich Lowry's case) stimulating! By the way, let's look at another little passage from Lowry's paragraph on Palin:
A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It's one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O'Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat.
I'll bet you that TV executive began his career in radio. Television too has to be stimulating (although perhaps not quite so immediately, since the television viewer is usually giving you a larger proportion of his mindshare). But it can stimulate you in a variety of different ways -- through visual cues as well as verbal ones.

FOX News is unusual television, really, in that almost all the stimulation is verbal, and almost all of it occurs at the same staccato pacing as radio. You could take tonight's broadcast of Hannity & Colmes or the Factor and put it directly on radio and you'd lose almost nothing (not coincidentally, Hannity and O'Reilly also have highly-rated radio programs). That wouldn't really work for Countdown, which has higher production values, and where the pacing is more irregular. It certainly wouldn't work for the Situation Room -- or moving in a different direction, the Daily Show.


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 20th, 2008 at 01:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rush Limbaugh thinks ... first, evidence that he does think on such topics would be required

"Pix or it never happened"? ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 04:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... he is obviously quite skilled in weaving a basket of rationalizations with cherry picked "evidence" that his listeners will accept.

But he is not always the author of each rationalization ... he has staff, and they can use the InterTubes ... and since he is none too concerned with the validity of the arguments he uses, presuming that he has thought through an argument he is making, as opposed to recognizing something that will work with his audience ... how could one possibly sort that out?

Indeed, given the deep dive into the words and works of Rush that would be required to sort it out if possible, how could one stomach sorting it out? (!)


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:07:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would oppose “one EU wide referendum” for the simple reason that small member states like Ireland would then have almost no say and would be giving up all sovereignty – something even a majority of the Yes side wouldn't want.

Although the sizes of EU member states show a greater variance, the rules that the Swiss use should suffice, I suppose: a majority of the population and a majority of the member states.

Of course, there will be always cases where puny details might have made a difference, and the one or other will inevitably feel betrayed by the rules.

Regarding the alleged loss of sovereignty, of which there is probably already little left, perhaps it is more the lack and dwindling of chances of participation and supervision that should bother us?

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:32:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, I seem to be a in a distinct minority on the topic of elites in the EU machinery (which are not quite the same thing as national elites)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 08:47:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Boohoo!  Tell me who's been bullying you on that topic and I'll stand up for you!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:34:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm complaining about complaints that I'm somehow buyllying others on ET.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:37:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no complaints about you and would be surprised if others did.  You did seem a little testy on a couple of threads I followed recently (which I put down to the disorientating effect of almost being burnt out of your home) and you're as entitled to an off day as any of us.  In fact I would always give your comments a wide measure of respect because you generally also make a positive and informative contribution to the threads you comment on.  You're certainly always welcome to comment on my Diaries.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:48:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Contempt for democracy from our rulers as in:

  1. Calling votes only when it is strictly necessary (as it seemed to be the Irish case). This mainly because people have been shown to vote in "undesired" directions (see point 2).
  2. Calling votes when you are sure to win. In fact the constitution referenda strategy was clear: start with the friendliest pro-EU bureaucracy countries (Lets not confuse being pro-constitution and being for the EU - these are 2 different things) and leave the  most difficult cases to the end. The strategy bombed out when the supposedly friendly France and The Netherlands voted in an "unexpected" way.
  3. If referenda are lost in the undesired direction, then repeat them until the desired outcome is obtained.

That being said, I am not against repeating referenda. It is just the motivation (repeat until the desired outcome is achieved) that I criticize.

This is mocking democracy, and a good way to develop cynicism.

It is OK if one has an instrumental view of democracy (ie, as in "democracy is good as long as the results are inn my desired direction"), but is not OK if one sees democracy as an end in itself (with all its shortcomings).

by t-------------- on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:41:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1 and 2 are the precise definition of how UK elections happen. Why is that anti-democratic: it's just politics.

The problem with referenda on EU Treaties is that you need unanimous votes in every single country. That's not democracy by any stretch of the word.

And in order to get a Europe-wide referendum (which would be a great idea), you'd still need to get unanimous agreement in each country to do such a referendum and agree to be bound by such a vote, which again would need to follow in each case national rules.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:44:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's anti-democratic when you feel you won the first referendum or when you would have won if the vote had been when you chose.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]

1 and 2 are the precise definition of how UK elections happen. Why is that anti-democratic: it's just politics.

Just because it exists in a EU country, doesn't make it a good argument. Elections should not be called at the convenience of the existing powers. And (as a side) I would not know if I would call a system based on uninominal seating a representative democracy. I would prefer to call it a non-dictatorship.


The problem with referenda on EU Treaties is that you need unanimous votes in every single country. That's not democracy by any stretch of the word.

Yes it is, you are going through the fallacy of considering Europe a single voting block, it is not. Last time I checked there was no EU-nation, so you don't have a EU democracy as the fundamental piece, you still have nation-based democracies. Each nation is still (mostly) sovereign. The process was, in an accepted agreement, a consensual-based one in respecting of that sovereignty.

The rules of the game were clear. The fact that an enlargement was done to unmanageable proportions on top of a consensual schema is an argument for the incompetence of those of enlarged without first shaping the necessary management framework, it is not an argument against the existing model. It is in Ireland's right to deny the framework change.

That being said, I am far from being a fan of "nationalist isolationism", that is not my point. I am a fan of going by the rules, which is, the civilized way for nations to interact, IMO. Bullying Ireland in going from a previously accepted framework into a new one is not a civilized, proper way to advance.


And in order to get a Europe-wide referendum (which would be a great idea), you'd still need to get unanimous agreement in each country to do such a referendum and agree to be bound by such a vote, which again would need to follow in each case national rules.

Again, that is the current existing, accepted, framework. You need consensus as per previous agreements between existing nations. Silly way of proceeding? Most probably I would agree. But you cannot simply wreck existing compromises just because it is convinient

by t-------------- on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Go tell the Brits they live in an antiquated democracy.  I wish you luck - I've been telling them for years.  And they call the EU undemocratic when the EU requires unanimity on major changes?  Go figure.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 12:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey - some of us are all too aware that we live in an antiquated pseudo-democracy.

'Democratic' here really means 'One pound, one vote' - just like in other Anglo countries.

The EU is anti-democratic because it means 'one euro, one vote', which is completely different.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are your votes being devalued along with the pound?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:47:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No - it's an internal economy.

But I don't think it's a conincidence that as income gaps have widened, political consensus has drited towards the right.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
or is it that income gaps have widened because political consensus drifted to the right?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:08:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The pushback was planned and executed before the political changes that made it possible to execute it.

Detailing the fiasco that was UK politics in the 70s and the double-chinned and wailing lurching thing that it vomited up in the form of the Tory rule of the 80s would take more space than there is here.

Today the street level political consensus is one of utter cynicism. None of the parties are trusted - with reason - so people hold their noses and vote for the one they think is likely to do the least damage to their personal interests and against the one they happen not to like much.

It's an almost entirely negative political culture if you'd like to see some vision and democracy, but a very positive form of pseudo-democracy if you want to minimise popular interference on policy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When the populace can be convinced that "they're all the same" and thus to dis-engage, it becomes easy for the elite to do the real governing.  The resulting economic changes are construed as apolitical and just the natural order of things once political "interference" has been gotten out of the way.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:31:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This works even better if it appears to be an unfortunate but inexplicably inevitable accident.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 09:25:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the present disillusion is hardly accidental, resulting from Bliar's Iraq and spindoctoring, and Brown's complicity in the financial melt-down and dour lack of empathy - or are you referring to other factors?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 09:47:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's accidental in that everyone was expecting Blair to be principled. But - oh dear - he not only turned out not to be, but he also turned out to be more of a Catholic infiltrator than a traditional guardian of the working classes.

Was it an accident that someone with such exotic religious tendencies (in a UK context) became PM?

I don't think anyone - apart from Blair, his financial supporters, and some of his minions - can answer that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 01:45:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with referenda on EU Treaties is that you need unanimous votes in every single country. That's not democracy by any stretch of the word.

Only if you accept the premise that the EU is a government of Europeans and not an organization of European countries.  Structurally, it's both or neither or something.  You have elected MEPs but membership decided at the national level with votes on a country-by-country basis for constitutional-ish changes.  But if you accept the premise that the EU is an organization of national governments, the referenda are well within reason.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no ambiguity in the legal structure of the EU.  It is a Union made up of 27 member states who have pooled some of their sovereignty (where they allow weighted majority voting (in practice virtually always, a consensus) on some defined issues, and unanimity amongst others.  The EU has several decision making bodies - the Council is the most important made up of heads of Government - as described above - and also the Commission, EU Parliament and Court of Justice.

The Treaty of Lisbon establishes the concept of EU Citizenship or rights for the first time - up until now that was always defined at the level of the member states.  So it is slowly moving from a purely inter-state arrangement to a supra state one.  However the degree of any such movement is confined by the unanimity rule as above.

Thus calls for a single demos, or for the Irish Electorate to tell the French Government how to conduct its business - are naive or disingenuous at best.  It isn't even on the radar of what the Member states will accept.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 12:29:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think y'all should take your case to Obama on kinfolk grounds.  If the Germans keep giving you shit, tell him to mess'em up for ya.  Remember what he said in the legislature:

HENDON: Senator, could you correctly pronounce your name for me? I'm having a little trouble with it.
OBAMA: Obama.
HENDON: Is that Irish?
OBAMA: It will be when I run countywide.


Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 02:59:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Working on it...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 03:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upthread there was the discussion about the tax haven Ireland. You argued essentially on the basis of fairness. I argued on the basis of national interests.
The current set up of the EU is not in the national interest of Germany. Renegotiation on basis of national interest would bring huge changes. The only justification for the hundreds of billions invested into the unification of Europe is, when one day most people in Europe feel as much to be Europeans as they feel to be Irish, German, French, Portugues or whatever there nationality might be.
To name just some things people across the political spectrum in Germany (not in the political elite) think is unfair:

  1. barrier free trade without some common tax frame work (as discussed above).  In personal opinion and what I percieve as opinion of many o
  2. being 2nd largest netpayer as share of GDP despite only close to average GDP/capita.
  3. underrepresentation at EU institutions, unfortunately it is NOT 1 Euro one vote, it is one country one vote; this includes positions as well as the dominance of English and French language.
  4. some consequences of the Euro (which would not have passed in a referendum). E.g. an upwards revaluation of one's currency is similar to a wage increase. It puts pressure on the earning margins of corporations, but makes imports cheap. Another thing was, that before the Euro German companies could borrow cheaper and were therefore more competitive for the same wage. The introduction has lost us this advantage and has lead to competing stronger with lower wages (both is popular, being highly competitive and high wages).

Especially the 2. and 4. point are sometimes outright called reparations. There is no other plausibility in accepting such terms without a vision for a more unified Europe.

I read an interesting quote in the comments on a post on the blog of Brad Setser, from a Chinese American.


I think you are stuck in the 1980's and are just ignoring demographics and economics is changing the United States. As a Chinese-American, I simply cannot see China and the United States as "us" and "them" and there are a large number of Americans who have these sorts of mixed identities, and people with mixed identities found Obama very attractive because he is the ultimately embodiment of the "global American." By contrast when Palin starts talking about "real Americans" then I get a distinct feeling that I'm not what she thinks of as a "real American." The more McCain made an issue of Obama's "foreignness" the more attractive he was. The reality of America is that if you talk about "real American jobs" going over to China, India and Mexico as if this was some kind of war, you aren't going to get too many Chinese-American, Indian-American or Mexican-American votes, and it makes me feel good that now "we" are in the majority and can elect a President that reflects "our" views.

It is simply impossible for me to view international trade as a battle ground between nations in which people and companies have to "choose sides" and like it or not, I think more and more Americans are in the same position I am. Part of the reason I voted for Obama is so that I could stop apologizing for who I am, and much of the reason I like working in multi-national corporations is that people just don't care what "side" you are on, as long as you are on the side of making money.


My boldening.

If you expect something else than being just on the side of making money, e.g. fairness and not just national interest, which are the two choices this commenter sees, then you need a feeling of community, that should hinder countries to abuse their rights to stop the reform of the EU. Afterall we are in the situation we are, because elites ignored the people and went forward without waiting for the population before. If this projects don't deliver creating a posteriori justification of the a priori undemocratic decisions, the current EU will lose its legitimation.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 08:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only if you accept the premise that the EU is a government of Europeans and not an organization of European countries.  Structurally, it's both or neither or something.

It has always been more than a simple treaty organisation. Free movement of labour and capital, e. g., while still short of a common citizenship,
is a forceful motor of integration, and was intended as such.

In German, you distinguish »Staatenbund« (confederation) from »Bundesstaat«, the former without, the latter with a common (federalistic) statehood. The EU is usually said to fall between these, a »Staatenverbund« (BVerfG), but perhaps is even more a monstrum horrendum (Pufendorf).

Any improvement, I'm afraid, can only come about by a real constitution, even if that means an act of the pouvoir constituant.

No more muddling through (yet another Anglo disease).

Ça ira !

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 06:49:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least in Ireland they have to do another referendum...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 09:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no doubt that the Lisbon ratification process (even if strictly technically legal) has been a monumental b*lls-up by several of the respective national Governments.  I use the term national Governments advisedly, because at least they are elected - unlike national elites.

I do believe that is has done long term damage to the legitimacy of the EU and will lead to a rise in popular Euroskepticism. The EU could do almost no wrong in Ireland up until now.  Now the No side is, at the very least, competitive and a more broadly based Euroskeptic right has emerged (there always was a small Euroskeptic nationalist/left).

So a lot of thought has to be given as to how future Treaties should be ratified, and even if we should have a Treaty to modify the future ratification process on an EU wide basis to make it more democratic, transparent and accountable.

In Ireland, the Treaty was rejected almost wholly for reasons unconnected with the Treaty itself - the unpopularity of the Government, a breakdown in trust with the ruling elite, abortion, corporate tax and Neutrality.  Almost the sole widespread reason for the rejection that was to do with the Treaty itself was the fact that it was so unreadable, and therefor it raised all sorts of doubts as to what it might mean.  Doubts which were very effectively reinforced by the NO campaign.

The Irony is that there need have been no Referendum at that stage at all.  The Irish constitution provides for Treaties to be ratified by Parliament (not by Referendum) and a referendum would only have been required if some sections of the Treaty were to be found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  That would probably have happened, but probably only on some relative technical and arcane points - and it is then only those points that would be put to Referendum.

This would have the effect of structuring debate on around those aspects which actually were unconstitutional - and not around a series of artfully sown red herrings. Complex international Treaties - and this one was unnecessarily so - are not normally to subject of popular referendum in any democracy.  We rely on our Governments and their legal experts to negotiate those on our behalf.  

The Constitution is there to put limits on their discretion and to ensure the people are consulted where they have exceeded previously agreed briefs (as contained in the constitution).  That is the proper use for popular referenda, and I would not necessarily prefer political systems were all sorts of measures - e.g. gay marriage - are put to popular vote as a matter of course.

The conflation of parliamentary democracy with popular referenda is promoted by the Right for entirely opportunistic reasons - only on those issues they think they can win on - whilst they call for "Parliamentary or Political Leadership" whenever they want actions that haven't a snowballs chance of passing by referendum - e.g. bank bail-outs.  

We can all cherry pick the elements of democracy that suit us at a particular point in time, but the future of any progressive EU has to be built on respecting whatever constitutional mechanisms have been built up so far.  The UK, for instance, has only had referenda on EU and devolution issues whilst asserting parliamentary primacy in all other areas.  Why set a higher standard for the EU?  What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  If you want more popular democracy, lets be consistent about it and write it into all of our constitutions.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:18:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]

We can all cherry pick the elements of democracy that suit us at a particular point in time, but the future of any progressive EU has to be built on respecting whatever constitutional mechanisms have been built up so far.  The UK, for instance, has only had referenda on EU and devolution issues whilst asserting parliamentary primacy in all other areas.  Why set a higher standard for the EU?  What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  If you want more popular democracy, lets be consistent about it and write it into all of our constitutions.

So, you are advocating that a least common democratic denominator is acceptable as long as you find a supporting example in any EU country? Who is cherry-picking now?

And trying to increase democracy at a nation level is not incompatible to, in parallel, increase it at the EU level (though calling the EU democratic is, in my view, a big stretch). More, I prefer to maintain certain powers a the nation level if they are democratically controlled than to transfer them to the EU if I feel that democratic control is loosened.

Again, I am far from being a hard-core nationalist: that is not my agenda. The fact that some in the hard right are in operational agreement with this is not something I take as a pleasure, but it is not an argument per se also (the reasons for tactic agreement are completely different at its root).

by t-------------- on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 12:02:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is it in this matter you put such emphasis on direct democracy?

As a larger point, what exactly is the advantage of your democratic ideal with respect to actual policy outcomes, especially as regards real working people?

by redstar on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 02:54:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea, democratic centralism the way to go...!  :-)

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 03:35:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Why is it in this matter you put such emphasis on direct democracy?

As a larger point, what exactly is the advantage of your democratic ideal with respect to actual policy outcomes, especially as regards real working people?

A proper answer would be pages long, as that is, for me one of the fundamental issues in politics.

First, just a point: I don't put an emphasis in "direct" democracy. My concern is just power. I don't like the transfer of power from nations to the EU because nations are still more democratic at its core than the EU would become with Lisbon. I see this as a transfer of power from places where there is some democratic control to places with much less democratic control. If the EU was more democratic than nation states, I would be mostly for it.

Now, to your fundamental observation, which I repeat:


As a larger point, what exactly is the advantage of your democratic ideal with respect to actual policy outcomes, especially as regards real working people?

You see, I don't have a direct belief that democracy gets the "best decisions" for "real working people". My philosophical standpoint is not directly based on pragmatics, but principled. Democracy is a fairly good system to disallow mass concentrations of power (1). Sometimes, nonetheless, it gets the worse possible decisions for working people.

But the reality is, that most people here who seem to live well with a democracy-light are delusional in thinking that the alternatives (a compassionate elite?) are better for "real working people". Even if sometimes that happens, any minority that appropriates power will, in the medium term start to make decisions that stem from their own view of the world and are not in line with the needs of the many (this has nothing to do with bad intentions, just with the fact that we, as a species, are quite limited in our ability to see the world outside our shell, even if we try)

(1) - OK, there have been mass failings lately, with mass concentrations of power (in the form of wealth and media-control). But I am hopeful, that when the sh.t its the fan (i.e. now) the system will self-correct some of the imbalances.

by t-------------- on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:11:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your fundamental assumption seems to be that the EU is less democratic than its constituent member states.  At a superficial level this may well appear to be the case - Brussels is more remote from most citizens than their National Capital.  Also, as the EU comprises 500Million people, it is bound to be less responsive to individual/local issues than a local, regional, or even national administration.

But the reality is that power in the EU is wielded by 3 main institutions:

  1. The European Council - made up of elected Heads of Government and requiring unanimity on all major issues, and weighted majority voting on all others.

  2. EU Parliament - directly elected by citizens

  3. EU Commission - the favourite bogeyman for Eurosceptics, but in reality only empowered to act within manadates freely given to it by the elected Governments of Member States (who like it to take the rap for unpopular decisions which they have asked it to make in the first place).

I fail to see anything undemocratic about any of this.  If anything the EU Commission has been a bulkwark against unelected economic elites who want to liberalise markets and constraints on Capital - which is the main reason it is the focus of sustained attack from the Murdoch Press and the organs of free market capitalism.

In General the EU is far more effective at regulating global capital than any National Government could be - which is why Global Capital wants to render it toothless - in the name of a populist form of Democracy which doesn't exist in the USA or any of the member states themselves.  What other country ratifies international Treaties by popular referendum?  Does Britain even have any kind of a written constitution other than the Magna Carta?

There is a reason why Eurosceptics come from Authortarian nationalist and laissez faire global capitalist traditions - both see the EU as an obstacle to their ambitions to increased power.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 08:53:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

EU Commission - the favourite bogeyman for Eurosceptics, but in reality only empowered to act within manadates freely given to it by the elected Governments of Member States (who like it to take the rap for unpopular decisions which they have asked it to make in the first place).

First, I would appreciate that you did not confuse me with "Eurosceptics". I am skeptic of the current arrangement. Confusing that with being against more European integration is not correct.

Yes, it is my favorite bogeyman. And you have one fact wrong: in many places (most? all?) governments are not elected. MPs or Presidents are. Governments are already an indirection. So the commission is an indirection of an indirection. It is too far away.

As a citizen I know, in my country, that when a certain configuration of parliament is elected what government I get. I can influence the final composition of the government in a very clear way (the same if the government is chosen by an elected president). There is very direct relationship.

While for the bogeyman (excuses to any bogeymen that feel offended by the comparison) it goes like this: The head is chosen by some background games. Ah, currently the head is a conservative Portuguese. Portugal as a absolute majority labour parliament/govt. Great match eh? Then, the position for each member is assigned in backstage games among countries. And while the choice of local govts are a direct result of elections, members of the commission are chosen on a completely separate cycle, which might be out of sync with the local elections at all.

Ah... and I help choose whole govt. Not just a single member that might get an irrelevant post.

Do you really think it is a fair comparison that of the democratic relationship between local govts and the bogeyman?

I have nothing against the European Parliament. That is a good start.

by t-------------- on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:44:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The European Council - made up of elected Heads of Government and requiring unanimity on all major issues"

How can you call that democratic?
For a lot of people, "the EU is not democratic enough" means "we don't get as much opportunities to block things as we'd like".

That's a very negative view of things. It would imply that any change is for the worse and that we must stay as we are or, better, were. Not very consistent with "an ever closer union".

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:27:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is democratic because - until such time as its citizens agree otherwise - a Nation is sovereign and not subject to rule by others.  The fundamental unit of democracy within the EU is still at the level of its constituent member states.  

With the agreement of the citizens of each member state, some (but by no means all) sovereignty has been ceded and pooled in EU institutions - subject to certain constraints on the degree to which "vital national interests" within one member state can be overturned by a majority of other states.

Suppose other EU member states decided that France had an unhealthy monopoly of the quality wine market, and a majority decided to impose strict quotas on its production and sale.  Or they decided that smelly French cheeses were an abomination and should be banned?  Would France not object?  Should France not have a right to object?

The reason all Member States retain sovereignty over a lot of issues is that it is right and proper that those issues should be decided at a national level "the principle of subsidiarity" and with the consent of the governed.  

You wouldn't want those scheming Irish, in cahoots with the UK and Eastern European friends to have Guinness declared the national drink of France, now would you?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:16:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Respectfully, I would submit that there are many markets which, by the very nature of the complexity of the good or service on the supply side, give rise, a priori, to the sort of information asymettry which cause at best distorted inefficient markets and at worst market meltdowns. The health care industry is a prime example: we can't all be physicians, that would be horribly inefficient and certainly not pareto optimal, and by the same token, because we are not all physicians, only a relative few having done the 20+ years of study all told from Primary school to internship/specialisation, the supplier of the service is in a privileged position vis à vis demand. Such markets scream for heavy regulation, and most likely some level of nationalization of the means of production.

Monetary policy is a similar thing, as is most of the working of diplomacy, interpretation of civil and commercial law, establishment of the law itself, the proper management of an economy, and so on.

The reason why the EU cannot be as Democratic as the sum of its parts is precisely because of the federal nature of the institution, zhich others have pointed out. The EU is a federation of nation states, not a country of 500 million citizens. As such, you cannot have proper Democracy of any direct sort. But the irony is this: if you want for the EU to continue to integrate and move ever closer toward a more democratic ideal of 500 million citizens, you have to do with a democratic deficit, at least initially.

Why? Because left to their own, the nation states which comprise the EU do not have, by and large, the leadership and the natural domestic constituencies for greater integration. That's not how organizations work - they tend to self-perpetuate, they do not tend to work towards outcomes which diminish their organizational power, and increased power in Brussels and Strasbourg and Frankfurt is very much a decrease in the power of national institutions. As for constituencies at the national level, it is equally more likely that there be institutional hostility to increased power in Brussels, Strasbourg and Frankfurt. This is normal - people's bread tends to get buttered at the local or national level, less at the EU level, and so those who are getting the butter and wanting to keep it that way want to make sure the mountain of butter is where it has always been (though the criticisms of Ireland often are tinged with commentary alluding to the fact that, at least in Ireland over the past few decades, plenty of money has come from the EU, thus theoretically minimizing that dynamic).

Put it another way, if it weren't for elites deciding rather than the people, there would be no gay rights in many places (witness California's Prop 8, in the US, today), women's rights pretty much anywhere (unsurprisngly, one of the most directly democratic places in Europe, Switzerland, was also the last place to universally grant women suffrage - 1990). There would be no national currencies, no financial stability, peace would be fleeting and left to happenstance. There would be periodic episodes of repression of minorities, as unfettered popular democracy tends to occasionally degenerate into tyrannies of the majority. There would be no United States. There would be no EU.

If that's the world you're looking for, fortunately, you are in the minority, though it is true that elements of your position here are often used by demogogues for the precise purpose - accumulation and/or maintenance of power - that you decry.

But I for one, and I think this is in fact a general sentiment of the majority here, think our better European future lies in a stronger, more integrated EU. The nation of 500 million citizens will be the Europe of my children or grand children, but we don't get there without starting.

by redstar on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 09:01:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To a big answer a small one:
United States of America (less lobbist power). Works for 50 states, 330 million people and growing. It is possible. It works.
by t-------------- on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 02:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not very well though.

If the US didn't have the rest of the world to feed on, how democratic would it be?

There are also many things about federalisation which don't work. The advantage the US has isn't so much because of its peculiar federal model, but because of its mythologies of manifest destiny and the American Dream.

The EU will shamble along in a divided way without an equivalent. There's some consensus on what the European Dream is within the core, but much less so at the periphery, especially in those countries which have a strong competing Anglo or Anglo-affiliated mythology of their own.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:06:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU does require that all applicants for membership be democracies - without having a precise definition of what form that democracy should take.  Thus is Turkey - with a dubious human rights record - sufficiently democratic?

It gets more complicated and awkward if an existing member appears to veer from a democratic path - e.g. when Austria included what many regarded as neo Nazis in the Government.  

It certainly isn't prescriptive as to precisely what form democracy should take - or indeed the balance between parliamentary and direct democracy - this remains within the competence of individual members and their respective constitutions and courts.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 03:42:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Italy veered off a lot more now. But they are a founding member, so nothing much is said or done.
Maybe the real reason is that they don't speak German, so it's not as scary.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 01:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I speak (some) German.  Does that make me scary?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 07:27:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, you know what I meant. I reckon that Haider was more frightening to most than the neo-fascists may have to do with nazism.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 03:23:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was joking, but I also don't think that Austria has exorcised its Nazi past in the way that Germany has.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 07:18:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Government in talks on retaining EU commissioner - The Irish Times - Mon, Nov 17, 2008

The Government is in talks with other European Union member states about retaining an Irish commissioner, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin confirmed this morning.

snip-------

"Clearly the issue of a commissioner almost signified what people perceived to be a loss of influence at the table, despite the fact that one has ministers at the table and civil servants at the table at different levels. So therefore we are in discussions on that specific issue.

snip----------.

The Minister said finding solutions to the Lisbon Treaty referendum defeat was something that affected everyone.

"I genuinely think we're at a crossroads in terms of our membership of the European Union, and the reason we set up the Oireachtas committee was to really indicate that all of us are involved here . . . it's not just the Government, it's a societal issue," he said.

Anti-Lisbon Treaty think-tank Libertas dismissed the latest poll findings with its chairman Declan Ganley claiming there is no appetite for a re-run of the referendum even if the controversial charter is changed to allay concerns on issues such as tax and neutrality.

"I am confident that the Irish people would reject Lisbon again should the Irish Government be so spineless as to allow themselves to be bullied into asking us a second time," said Mr Ganley.

Libertas insisted that if the treaty text is tinkered with, the resulting "Frankenstein version of Lisbon" would not win majority support from voters.

"We believe that in any referendum, here or abroad, our message of democracy, accountability, transparency, and a prosperous, strong Europe, will trump the scaremongering and personal attacks of a vociferous minority who continue to hold democracy in contempt," added Mr Ganley.

Sinn Féin claimed the Government was ignoring the will of the people "in an effort to ensure an easy life with its European peers".

"The Government needs to go to December's summit with the firm intent of negotiating a better deal that includes a social progress clause for workers, strengthening of key vetoes on public services, taxation and international trade, the removal of all self amending clauses including Article 48, secure vetoes on all aspects of common foreign and defence policies, and the retention of Ireland's permanent Commissioner," said Sinn Féin's Lisbon dampaign director Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.

"Obtaining declarations on a small number of issues that the Government alone perceives as central to the No vote will not be enough," he added.

Chair of the anti-Lisbon campaign group the People's Movement, Patricia McKenna, said declarations on tax, abortion and neutrality were "a devious ploy designed to dupe Irish voters into believing that our Government have somehow obtained concessions from other EU States on the Lisbon Treaty".

She said "nothing could be further from the truth".

"Declarations, unlike protocols are not a legal part of a treaty and thus holding a second referendum on Lisbon will in legal terms mean voting on the exact same treaty rejected by the voters in June."



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Nov 17th, 2008 at 01:11:43 PM EST
Thanks for the Promo DoDo.  I thought this diary was dead.  Meanwhile, in the Irish Parliament...Libertas chairman calls for EU constitution - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 19, 2008

THE LISBON Treaty is dead and should be replaced by a 15- or 25-page EU constitution, Libertas chairman Declan Ganley told the Oireachtas Subcommittee on Ireland's Future in the European Union yesterday.

Commenting on the result of the referendum which took place last June, he said: "It was not a vote against the EU or Ireland's membership. It was a vote against the Lisbon Treaty."

He added that "our membership has been extremely beneficial". The decline in emigration as a result of EU membership had contributed to the fact that, "my children won't have to speak with the same accent as I do".

The referendum result meant there was an opportunity for "a reinvigoration of the European ideal" and "what I really believe can be a new European renaissance". He added: "We have to make the citizens of Europe feel like this is their project. We have to make them stakeholders."

However the Lisbon Treaty was "an affront to the idea of participatory democracy". He said it was "the embodiment of the worst example of what so-called elitism can bring about in Europe".

Describing Nicolas Sarkozy as "the preening prince of the Élysée Palace", he said the French president had promised a "mini-treaty" and had instead delivered a document 10,000 words longer than the European constitution with almost no changes.

Asked by Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley what elements of the Lisbon Treaty could be renegotiated, Mr Ganley said: "This is a dead document." Proposals for a second referendum were "an insult to democracy".

Criticising the Taoiseach, the Libertas chairman said that, when British foreign secretary David Miliband telephoned him after the referendum result, Mr Cowen should have pronounced the treaty dead but instead "he remained silent".

"Your party gave away the very best negotiating card we had, which was to stop the ratification," Mr Ganley said.

snip--------.

Mr Dooley commented that, during the referendum campaign, Mr Ganley had told people that if they voted No, the Lisbon Treaty could be renegotiated.

"You didn't suggest it could be thrown in the bin at that stage."

Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton put it to Declan Ganley that, while he talked constantly about "unelected elites", his own wealth and power put him in a position of "hosting big dinners in the Shelbourne" and was he, therefore, a member of an elite?

Mr Ganley replied: "In terms of my hosting a dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel, I am a citizen and I am free to host anybody I want, anytime I want, and not have that data splashed all over newspapers from leaked documents from one or other government agency."

Green Party Senator Deirdre de Burca said she was confused about Mr Ganley's position. He was keeping company with "diehard Eurosceptics" in the UK and elsewhere, as well as American neo-conservatives, while at the same time propounding a vision of more democracy in Europe.



notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:26:27 AM EST
No, no, it's never anti-EU.

Mr Ganley replied: "In terms of my hosting a dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel, I am a citizen and I am free to host anybody I want, anytime I want, and not have that data splashed all over newspapers from leaked documents from one or other government agency."

Wanker.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 08:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lisbon opponents stage protest at Swedish Embassy

The People's Movement says the Irish Government should have told other EU countries that ratification is pointless as the treaty has been vetoed by Irish voters.

Who the hell are "The People's Movement"?

by det on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 09:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.people.ie/english1.html

Based on their list of patrons, they are on the left/liberal wing of the No campaign

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Nov 19th, 2008 at 09:16:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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