Friday, July 23, 2010

European Union Chaos - The People's Rule

Now that I know a few people who I count as friends in Sweden, a member of the European Union, I'm paying attention to what the Union does. In this article, Europe Turns Ear Toward Voice of the People -, a German member of the European Parliament is proposing that "the people" of the Union approve a referendum that all Union countries require all businesses to close on Sundays and make Sundays a "family day." It seems to me a bit arrogant for a guy in Germany to suggest which day of the week a family in Sweden set aside as "family day." What if a Swedish family business made all of its income on weekends and couldn't survive on the income it made Monday through Saturday? Or, is a sport, which is usually played on weekends, including Sunday, a business or a sport? In those cases, should a guy in Germany set the law on the conduct of those businesses in Sweden, or Greece or Spain or any other country of the European Union? I would have a real problem with that. In fact, the Sunday Family Day proposal is laughable.

We had a similar discussion at dinner with Robert and Yvonne Claesson about why it was a good decision that Sweden did not join the common currency, the Euro, even though it is a member of the European Union. There is no better example than Greece, that is no longer in control of its own destiny, since it is now having to listen to Germany's and France's dictates on controlling its debt and government expenditures. Greece cannot print its own money to control its inflation or deflation, nor can it set its own interest rates or even dictate its own salaries to its government employees. Greece is at the mercy of Germany and France. I wonder what Robert and Yvonne, devoted to American Baseball in Sweden at the national level, would say if this "Sunday" law affected what day of the week they played baseball? What would they say if some Union parliament member from Italy suggested that Soccer be the premier sport in all European Union countries, perhaps because soccer related corporations want to eliminate baseball competition?

I would also have a problem with the "Sunday" law if I were a Jew, because my family day would be my Sabbath, my day of rest according to long tradition, beginning Friday evening and ending Saturday evening. Sunday would be the first day of the workweek for me. In fact, the proposal to make Sunday a family day smacks of religious implications and nonsense to a Jew.

The article mentions California's mess, its people approved referenda that have made governing California impossible. There is a growing idea in California that we need to start again, to scrap the state constitution, amended by thousands of conflicting people approved referenda, and writing a new constitution and a new basis for government. There doesn't seem to be any other way for California to pull itself out of the mess it is in. In each California election there are propositions for the people to vote on, to approve or disapprove, and behind each one, if seriously researched, is a special interest group who will benefit by passing the proposition at the expense of the majority. A few elections ago, the State of Utah and the Mormon Church poured money into supporting a proposition to modify California's State Constitution, and the proposition passed. Now the proposition is being challenged in the State Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Of course, Utah and the Mormon Church spent a hundred million dollars to change the law in California, and not only to change the law, but to change the State Constitution. I guess that's what gets me riled up, that someone outside of California can dictate to California its behavior, to force California to spend its taxes on a law that another state desires. Want to fight, Utah? I'm ready.

In this past election, only a few weeks ago, the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Corporation spent $40 million on a proposition to limit local governments' ability to choose its own source of electrical power. PG&E suggested that a local government should require a two-thirds vote to choose its own power source. It suggested that a two-thirds vote would "restore" democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each local government is chosen by a simple, 51%, majority. That is democracy. Town hall meetings are democracy and community dissent at those meetings is democracy. Voting people out of office, holding them responsible, is democracy. PG&E doesn't know anything about democracy. All it knows about is its profit... period.

So, in my opinion, the European Union is going down a primrose path of troubling times if it believes that the masses can decide the rule of law. It seems to me that "government by the people" was never intended to mean that people approved referenda rule. The mob cannot rule. That's especially true when money dominates politics, when special interests of corporations and specific groups can shove their ideas down people's throats with deceptive propaganda campaigns, convincing people to support ideas that are not in their best interest. Tea Parties can't work. Ignorance doesn't work. Intolerance doesn't work. Rational thought, logical review of facts and a thorough study of effects work. The path of mob rule leads to revolutions, unnecessary wars, hate, dissension and injustice. Never let a Sarah Palin tell your community what it should and shouldn't do. Send all Sarah Palins of this world back to Alaska, or wherever they come from with their tail between their legs. We don't need cult leaders and ignorance.

I'm reminded of what Magnus Karlsson told me during the two-hour conversation we had on the flight to Sweden. He said the Swedes are humble to a fault because of their numbers, only eight million in a world of six billion people, and because they live their own lives. But, I sensed another aspect of the Swedish people, tall and handsome, perhaps shy, as Ante Carlstedt said, but resolute and fearless if pushed, and independent, more than willing to let others live as they want and determined to live their lives as they want. I suspect that if the Union gets the Swedes riled, the Union will hear about it in a loud and resounding voice. I'll lend my voice to that, too.


No comments: