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From what I understand, the whole point of the EU is to economically compete with large markets like the US, China, Southeast Asia. Slice it anyway you want, but that is why countries want to join. Not mutual defense.
Globalisation is certainly one factor and mutual defense is only beginning to be addressed. But you miss all the other things - regional development, sectoral development, environmental policies, human rights, security cooperation - and all the things that are best handled on a Europe wide basis.
You forget a few things about the EU.
Your Tuscan friends are buying into this game. The reality is Italy would be a basket case without the EU and the Euro - and is in significant difficulty even with them. Alitalia has more debts than it has assets despite massive (illegal) Government subvention and support.
The reality is all EU policies are agreed by EU Governments. Some suit some members better than others, and so a lot of horse-trading takes place. You get a lot of messy compromises - a bit like the US Budgetary process.
If anything it is too easy for a particularly short sighted or self-interested Government to block necessary proposals. The evidence presented by the surveys cited here is that most Europeans view the EU positively, would like to take a more active role in many areas, and support its enlargement.
Far from being governed by an unaccountable bureaucracy, most people actively support and vote for the policies which have been implemented. I have argued long and hard that the level of transparency, accountability and efficiency in decision making needs to be radically improved as the EU grows larger and deeper.
You say that Americans are individualists and want to restrict the power of Government as much a possible. Europeans see Americans as being ruled by corporations, the military/industrial complex, private interest groups and lobbyists, and would prefer to be ruled by an inefficient Government rather than an unaccountable corporation.
Index of Frank's Diaries
I trust individuals to make free, unfettered decisions. Americans support their system because it has promoted individual achievement and generated personal wealth.
As for the mutual defense, does Germany still want Alsace Lorraine? Europe's borders have been cemented over the past 50 years. Democracies do not war with each other. America has pretty muched guaranteed europe's freedom from soviet threats. So, war in Europe shouldnt really be a factor. When there was (Kosovo), europe didnt do anything about it.
And if Europeans wholeheartedly support the EU, why are the member states governments trying to backdoor popular referendums to avoid "Non" votes again?
Corporations don't vote. The government does regulate and tax corporations as well as give them certain benefits. As it does for enviromental groups, unions and other entities. Europe does not do the same?
Corporations don't vote, but they influence the law-making directly, via impressively effective lobbying. We're all free to lobby, true, but it costs money and thus somehow ends up favoring those that can actually afford to do it on a systematic basis.
Government does regulate and tax corporations, but it is doing an increasingly poor job of it because of corporate lobbying.
In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
Americans also have free speech (provided they aren't labeled a communist) but corporations control what voices are heard. I don't doubt that many Americans buy into the corporatist culture you exult in, but many do not.
In contrast more Europeans tend to buy into and participate in their local and national political cultures -including the emerging EU dimension to many of those aspects of Government - and this despite the fact that Europeans come from many different and diverse countries without the homogenising effects of a single dominant national culture which you so often express here on behalf of the US.
Index of Frank's Diaries
But there are also unions, enviromental groups, the Sierra Club, the ACLU, Women's groups and a host of other leftist groups that also attempt to buy influence and do. This doesnt go on in Europe? Come on.
Communists and Socialists have the right to free speech and often use it in the U.S. Most socialists actually hide within the Democratic Party because most americans dont like socialism. Socialism likes to hide its agenda under other agendas because socialists here cannot convince the electorate otherwise.
Those who dont participate in the US political system tend to support the way its going. Massive turnout happens when the electorate is very upset with the current state of affairs.
As to corporations, why are corporations so evil? Corporations employ people and provide goods and services. In fact, I believe one employs you Frank. If it wasnt for corporations, you probably wouldnt have a computer to type on. Corporations dont take anything from anyone. They offer a good or a service that people buy voluntarily. Socialists tend to be people who really cant produce anything on their own. Thus, they advance themselves by taking the means of production into their own hands (by force) so that THEY can be in control.
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