Saturday, April 02, 2005

Government Lesson No. 2: A Tale of Two Democracies

Even though present day European and American democracies are not purely capitalistic, as explained in Economics Lesson No. 6, they are still democracies based on a capitalist market system. The difference between them is that the American form, at least as intended by the creators of our Constitution, leans further toward a more pure capitalism, with its greater appreciation of individual contributions and freedom, while the European form prefers to add socialist ideas in an effort to promote social and economic equality.

The academics disagree on whether the Europeans are successful, but having seen it firsthand, I know that European-style socialist democracy is an ailing democracy. It undervalues ingenuity, genuflects to intellectual and class distinctions, discourages enterprise, encourages parasitism and corruption, and mandates centralist and wildly expensive socialist policies in a pantomime of cosmetic "egalitarian" efforts to "spread the wealth around."

And that's not all; while Europe is doing all of that, she also ignores three facts: first, that it is capitalism and capitalism alone that is the creator of wealth in the first place; second, that any effort to "improve" upon the free market is hypocritical, ineffective and even counterproductive because ultimately it reduces capital, wealth and general welfare instead of increasing it; and third, that their grandstanding social efforts put an enormous financial burden on the market system's capacity to survive, taxing away the working population's income, strength and will to sustain it.

If that's social and economic equality, I'll take American inequality every time, thank you very much. (And I'll do my social equalizing through my generous giving where and when I please, and not at the beck and call of some peacock politician's pathetic power procurement programs.)

If you compare European and American standards of living, national production, unemployment statistics, and technological innovations, you will be forced to agree with my point of view; but for some strange reason, many Americans see Europe as an older, wiser, grown-up, adult version of humanity. For me, the reverse is true. It is America (as she was originally envisaged) that is more mature and realistic in her conception of the capacity of each of us to determine our own destiny, and it is Europe that hangs on to her outdated academic hierarchy, her childish, ancestral social class rigidity, her stodgy fear of change and her lack of faith in the evolution of the human spirit.

Now, here's the nitty-gritty: The fundamental difference between European and early American political philosophy boils down to this:

In Europe, a godlike, elitist, powerful, corrupt government is seen as the source of the people's welfare. In America, a greater number of us have managed to retain sight of the fact that we ourselves are the very source of all government power (rulers can't rule if the people don't choose to obey, even when the sole alternative is death); and that to allow politicians to take some of it away is equivalent to volunteering for some degree of slavery.

When establishing our Constitution, early America's founders understood the most important three characteristics of government: First, it is a necessary evil; second, it craves power; and third, it is supremely susceptible to corruption. The whole idea behind the US Constitution was to recognize these very shortcomings and thereby prevent the federal state from acquiring too much power, as it will tend to do by nature.

That is the US Constitution's main purpose, and it is for this that our Revolution occurred, and people gave their lives. However, more and more Americans now envy the Europeans, where their entrenched power establishment has managed to control its constituency for centuries, only giving hollow lip service to independence, and where pervasive corruption is mind-boggling.

How soon America forgets.


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