Παρασκευή, 24 Ιουνίου 2016

Το BREXIT και το Όραμα για την Ευρώπη

Πριν πω για το Brexit πρέπει να πω ότι για την Ευρώπη υπάρχουν δύο διαφορετικά οράματα. Υπάρχει το φιλελεύθερο όραμα, και υπάρχει και το σοσιαλιστικό όραμα. Βλέπε Mises Academy “The Two Visions of Europe”.

Το φιλελεύθερο όραμα θέλει ελεύθερη αγορά και ελεύθερη μετακίνηση των πολιτών στις Ευρωπαϊκές χώρες, αλλά θέλει οι σημαντικές αποφάσεις να λαμβάνονται όσο πιο αποκεντρωμένα γίνεται, που πρακτικά σημαίνει να λαμβάνονται σε επίπεδο κρατών, και όχι σε επίπεδο Ευρωκοινοβουλίου. Το σοσιαλιστικό όραμα θέλει οι αποφάσεις να λαμβάνονται όσο πιο κεντρικά γίνεται πχ στο Ευρωκοινοβούλιο.



Μία από τις πολύ σημαντικές επιπτώσεις του φιλελεύθερου οράματος είναι ότι τα κράτη μέλη θα αποφασίζουν τα ίδια για την φορολογική τους πολιτική. Με αυτόν τον τρόπο υπάρχει ανταγωνισμός ανάμεσα στα κράτη μέλη για τους φορολογικούς συντελεστές, και τα κράτη μέλη έχουν κίνητρο να κρατάνε τους φορολογικούς συντελεστές χαμηλά προκειμένου να παραμένουν  ανταγωνιστικά. Με αυτόν τον τρόπο διασφαλίζεται ότι δεν δημιουργείται ένα τεράστιο κράτος.

Δυστυχώς όταν σήμερα στην Ευρώπη και τις ΗΠΑ μιλάμε για χαμηλούς φορολογικούς συντελεστές αναφερόμαστε σε έναν φόρο εισοδήματος περίπου 30%, μιλάμε για ΦΠΑ 20%, μιλάμε για μεγάλους φόρους ακινήτων, μιλάμε για πλήθος άλλων φόρων και τελών. Αυτό έχει δυστυχώς επικρατήσει στην ΕΕ και τις ΗΠΑ να θεωρείται ένα πλαίσιο χαμηλής φορολόγησης, ενώ δεν θα έπρεπε να είναι έτσι. Χαμηλή φορολόγηση πρέπει να σημαίνει για παράδειγμα ένας φόρος εισοδήματος 30% περίπου και τίποτα άλλο.

Το σοσιαλιστικό όραμα για την Ευρώπη θέλει οι αποφάσεις για τους φορολογικούς συντελεστές να αποφασίζονται κεντρικά, και να επιβάλλονται υποχρεωτικά σε όλες τις χώρες, ώστε να μπορούν να νομοθετηθούν ακόμη υψηλότεροι φορολογικοί συντελεστές, οι οποίοι θα εφαρμόζονται σε όλες τις χώρες υποχρεωτικά, με αποτέλεσμα οι χώρες που έχουν αριστερές και εθνικοσοσιαλιστικές κυβερνήσεις να μην γίνονται μη ανταγωνιστικές λόγω της τεράστιας φορολόγησης. Πόσο όμως να ανεβάσεις τους φορολογικούς συντελεστές όταν χαμηλή φορολόγηση θεωρείται το 30%, συν 20% ΦΠΑ, συν πλήθος τελών?

Το Brexit τώρα. Οι Άγγλοι παραδοσιακά υποστηρίζουν το φιλελεύθερο όραμα για την Ευρώπη, και το πρόβλημα τους είναι ότι οι αποφάσεις στην Ευρώπη λαμβάνονται πολύ συγκεντρωτικά. Γι’αυτό θέλουν να φύγουν από την ΕΕ. Ο δικός μας  ο θυμός αφορά στο ότι δεν μας δίνουν παραπάνω χρήματα. Δεν έχει καμία σχέση αυτό με το Brexit. Οι Άγγλοι συνεισφέρουν στην ΕΕ οικονομικά, αν και ο μεγάλος χρηματοδότης δεν είναι οι Άγγλοι αλλά οι Γερμανοί.

Ο Φάρατζ, τον οποίο αποθεώνουν οι σανοφάγοι μας, είναι αυτός που λέει ότι οι Άγγλοι πρέπει να φύγουν για να μην πληρώνουν τους τεμπέληδες Έλληνες και να μην είναι υποχρεωμένοι να παίρνουν μετανάστες. Και τον έχουν θεό οι σανοφάγοι.



Ίσως όμως το μεταναστευτικό να ήταν το βασικό επιχείρημα όσων δυνάμεων υποστήριξαν το Brexit στην Μεγάλη Βρετανία. Αν προσέξατε ο Jeremy Corbyn, που είναι ο Τσίπρας της Αγγλίας, στήριξε το Bremain. Ακόμη και οι Ποδέμος στην Ισπανία στήριξαν το Bremain. Αντιθέτως, μέσα στο κεντροδεξιό κόμμα του Πρωθυπουργού Ντέιβιντ Κάμερον υπήρξε εμφύλιος, και πολλοί βουλευτές στήριξαν Brexit.

Θέλω να πω ότι αυτά που ενοχλούν τους σοσιαλιστές, πχ η αντιμονοπωλιακή νομοθεσία της ΕΕ, που χαλάει τα μονοπώλια της ΔΕΗ, του ΑΔΜΗΕ, της ΔΕΠΑ κλπ, ή ότι δεν μας δίνουν περισσότερα χρήματα οι Γερμανοί, δεν ήταν μέσα στην ρητορική αυτών που στήριξαν Brexit. Το αντίθετο μάλιστα. Αν και για τα ενεργειακά δεν είμαι σίγουρος, γιατί ο Φάρατζ έχει παρτίδες με Ρωσία, και η Ρωσία πλήττεται πάρα πολύ από την αντιμονοπωλιακή νομοθεσία της ΕΕ στο θέμα της ενέργειας (energy union). Άρα μπορεί στο στόχαστρο του Φάρατζ να είναι και η αντιμονοπωλιακή νομοθεσία της ΕΕ, και σε αυτήν την περίπτωση ο Φάρατζ έχει όντως ένα κοινό με όλους αυτούς τους υπαλλήλους των ΔΕΚΟ που βλέπετε να βρίζουν την ΕΕ.

Για τους μετανάστες, ο λόγος που οι Βρετανοί, αλλά και άλλοι, θέλουν να μπορεί κάθε κράτος να αποφασίζει μόνο του πόσους μετανάστες θα δέχεται, είναι ότι σε διαφορετική περίπτωση, στις χώρες όπου κυβερνάνε αριστερά κόμματα οι πρωθυπουργοί θα έχουν κίνητρο να κλείνουν “δουλειές” με τις πλούσιες Μουσουλμανικές χώρες, και πάνω και κάτω από το τραπέζι, και να φέρνουν στην χώρα τους μεγάλο αριθμό Μουσουλμάνων μεταναστών. Στην συνέχεια αυτοί οι μετανάστες θα κατανέμονται υποχρεωτικά σε όλες τις χώρες της Ευρώπης, όπως ζητάνε οι σοσιαλιστές, με αποτέλεσμα οι ψηφοφόροι να μην δυσαρεστούνται, και να μην υπάρχει πολιτικό κόστος για πολιτικούς που ακολουθούν πολιτική ανοιχτών συνόρων.

Είδατε ότι όσο οι μετανάστες που έφερναν ο Τσίπρας και ο Ερντογάν πήγαιναν στις άλλες χώρες της Ευρώπης, δεν υπήρχε κανένα πολιτικό κόστος, γιατί οι κουτοπόνηροι ψηφοφόροι τους έβλεπαν χαιρέκακα τα επεισόδια που προκαλούσαν οι μετανάστες στις χώρες της Βόρειας Ευρώπης. Και είδατε πόσο άλλαξαν τα πράγματα για τον Τσίπρα μόλις “ο κακός Σκοπιανός” έκλεισε τα σύνορα.

Όσο για την ουσία του Brexit, το πως θα επηρεάσει την Ευρώπη δηλαδή, δεν είμαι σε θέση να ξέρω. Σίγουρα φαίνεται αρκετά τρομακτικό, γιατί αν διαλυθεί η ΕΕ και βρεθεί η Γερμανία με την Ρωσία από την μία, και η Γαλλία και η Αγγλία με τις ΗΠΑ από την άλλη, μπορεί να θυμηθούμε τα παλιά μας.

Υ.Γ.

Να πω ότι δεν πρέπει να παρασύρεστε από κόμματα όπως η Φιλελεύθερη Συμμαχία του Βαλλιανάτου, που προτείνουν και καλά ένα φορολογικό πλαίσιο με χαμηλούς φορολογικούς συντελεστές. Τα μέλη τέτοιων κομμάτων, τα οποία δεν είναι Ελληνικό φαινόμενο, προέρχονται από την αριστερά, και είναι ακραίοι φιλο-Ισλαμστές, και πολλές φορές χρηματοδοτούνται και από Ισλαμιστές, πχ Ιράν, Τουρκία, Κατάρ, Σαουδική Αραβία κλπ.

Αυτά τα κόμματα ζητάνε ανοιχτά σύνορα με τις Ισλαμικές χώρες, και την έλευση εκατομμυρίων Μουσουλμάνων μεταναστών στις ΗΠΑ και την Ευρώπη. Όχι επειδή τα παίρνουν από τις Μουσουλμανικές χώρες, ούτε επειδή οι Μουσουλμάνοι μετανάστες ψηφίζουν αριστερά κόμματα, αλλά τάχα μου επειδή αυτό επιτάσσει η φιλελεύθερη οικονομία. Αν ακούσετε την Φιλελεύθερη Συμμαχία να μιλάει για τους μετανάστες είναι σαν να ακούτε τον Ερντογάν. Ο Τσίπρας μπροστά τους δεν φτουράει.

Ανοιχτά σύνορα μπορεί να υπάρχουν ανάμεσα σε χώρες που έχουν σχηματίσει ζώνες ελεύθερου εμπορίου, και έχουν και κάποια πολιτισμική ομοιότητα. Δεν μπορεί δηλαδή η ΕΕ να έχει ανοιχτά σύνορα με την Τουρκία όπως ζητάει η Φιλελεύθερη Συμμαχία και άλλα τέτοια τάχα μου φιλελεύθερα κόμματα.

Επίσης, η δημόσια περιουσία ανήκει στους πολίτες κάθε χώρας, και η παράνομη είσοδος μεταναστών συνιστά καταπάτηση της ιδιοκτησίας όπως θα διαβάσετε στο άρθρο του Mises Academy, με τίτλο “Open Borders are an Assault on Private Property”.

Το άρθρο είναι γραμμένο από το ιδρυτικό στέλεχος και CEO του Mises Academy Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. Το άρθρο αναφέρει τον Murray Rothbard, ο οποίος έλεγε ότι όταν ο Στάλιν έστειλε χιλιάδες Ρώσων στην Εσθονία δεν το έκανε επειδή ήταν φιλελεύθερος, και η πράξη αυτή δεν είχε καμία σχέση με τον φιλελευθερισμό, αλλά αποσκοπούσε στο να αποκτήσουν οι Ρώσοι μεγαλύτερη δύναμη στην Εσθονία. Το ίδιο κάνει ο Ερντογάν και ο Τσίπρας σήμερα, και τους χειροκροτούν κόμματα όπως η Φιλελεύθερη Συμμαχία. Τους χειροκροτούν στον τομέα της μετανάστευσης τουλάχιστον, επειδή τάχα μου ο φιλελευθερισμός απαιτεί να έχουμε ανοιχτά σύνορα με την Τουρκία.

Βλέπε επίσης "Η Κρίση του Ευρώ"

Άρθρα

“Open Borders Are an Assault on Private Property”
Whether we’re talking about illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America, or birthright citizenship, or the migrants coming from the Middle East and Africa, the subject of immigration has been in the news and widely discussed for months now. It is an issue fraught with potentially perilous consequences, so it is especially important for libertarians to understand it correctly.
This Mises Circle, which is devoted to a consideration of where we ought to go from here, seems like an opportune moment to take up this momentous question.
I should note at the outset that in searching for the correct answer to this vexing problem I do not seek to claim originality. To the contrary, I draw much of what follows from two of the people whose work is indispensable to a proper understanding of the free society: Murray N. Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.
Some libertarians have assumed that the correct libertarian position on immigration must be “open borders,” or the completely unrestricted movement of people. Superficially, this appears correct: surely we believe in letting people go wherever they like!
But hold on a minute. Think about “freedom of speech,” another principle people associate with libertarians. Do we really believe in freedom of speech as an abstract principle? That would mean I have the right to yell all during a movie, or the right to disrupt a Church service, or the right to enter your home and shout obscenities at you.
What we believe in are private property rights. No one has “freedom of speech” on my property, since I set the rules, and in the last resort I can expel someone. He can say whatever he likes on his own property, and on the property of anyone who cares to listen to him, but not on mine.
The same principle holds for freedom of movement. Libertarians do not believe in any such principle in the abstract. I do not have the right to wander into your house, or into your gated community, or into Disneyworld, or onto your private beach, or onto Jay-Z’s private island. As with “freedom of speech,” private property is the relevant factor here. I can move onto any property I myself own or whose owner wishes to have me. I cannot simply go wherever I like.
Now if all the parcels of land in the whole world were privately owned, the solution to the so-called immigration problem would be evident. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that there would be no immigration problem in the first place. Everyone moving somewhere new would have to have the consent of the owner of that place.
When the state and its so-called public property enter the picture, though, things become murky, and it takes extra effort to uncover the proper libertarian position. I’d like to try to do that today.
Shortly before his death, Murray Rothbard published an article called “Nations by Consent: Decomposing the Nation State.” He had begun rethinking the assumption that libertarianism committed us to open borders.
He noted, for instance, the large number of ethnic Russians whom Stalin settled in Estonia. This was not done so that Baltic people could enjoy the fruits of diversity. It never is. It was done in an attempt to destroy an existing culture, and in the process to make a people more docile and less likely to cause problems for the Soviet empire.
Murray wondered: does libertarianism require me to support this, much less to celebrate it? Or might there be more to the immigration question after all?
And here Murray posed the problem just as I have: in a fully private-property society, people would have to be invited onto whatever property they traveled through or settled on.
If every piece of land in a country were owned by some person, group, or corporation, this would mean that no person could enter unless invited to enter and allowed to rent or purchase property. A totally privatized country would be as closed as the particular property owners desire. It seems clear, then, that the regime of open borders that exists de facto in the U.S. and Western Europe really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not genuinely reflect the wishes of the proprietors.
In the current situation, on the other hand, immigrants have access to public roads, public transportation, public buildings, and so on. Combine this with the state’s other curtailments of private property rights, and the result is artificial demographic shifts that would not occur in a free market. Property owners are forced to associate and do business with individuals they might otherwise avoid.
“Commercial property owners such as stores, hotels, and restaurants are no longer free to exclude or restrict access as they see fit,” writes Hans. “Employers can no longer hire or fire who they wish. In the housing market, landlords are no longer free to exclude unwanted tenants. Furthermore, restrictive covenants are compelled to accept members and actions in violation of their very own rules and regulations.”
Hans continues:
By admitting someone onto its territory, the state also permits this person to proceed on public roads and lands to every domestic resident’s doorsteps, to make use of all public facilities and services (such as hospitals and schools), and to access every commercial establishment, employment, and residential housing, protected by a multitude of nondiscrimination laws.
It is rather unfashionable to express concern for the rights of property owners, but whether the principle is popular or not, a transaction between two people should not occur unless both of those people want it to. This is the very core of libertarian principle.
In order to make sense of all this and reach the appropriate libertarian conclusion, we have to look more closely at what public property really is and who, if anyone, can be said to be its true owner. Hans has devoted some of his own work to precisely this question. There are two positions we must reject: that public property is owned by the government, or that public property is unowned, and is therefore comparable to land in the state of nature, before individual property titles to particular parcels of land have been established.
Certainly we cannot say public property is owned by the government, since government may not legitimately own anything. Government acquires its property by force, usually via the intermediary of taxation. A libertarian cannot accept that kind of property acquisition as morally legitimate, since it involves the initiation of force (the extraction of tax dollars) on innocent people. Hence government’s pretended property titles are illegitimate.
But neither can we say that public property is unowned. Property in the possession of a thief is not unowned, even if at the moment it does not happen to be held by the rightful owner. The same goes for so-called public property. It was purchased and developed by means of money seized from the taxpayers. They are the true owners.
(This, incidentally, was the correct way to approach de-socialization in the former communist regimes of eastern Europe. All those industries were the property of the people who had been looted to build them, and those people should have received shares in proportion to their contribution, to the extent it could have been determined.)
In an anarcho-capitalist world, with all property privately owned, “immigration” would be up to each individual property owner to decide. Right now, on the other hand, immigration decisions are made by a central authority, with the wishes of property owners completely disregarded. The correct way to proceed, therefore, is to decentralize decision-making on immigration to the lowest possible level, so that we approach ever more closely the proper libertarian position, in which individual property owners consent to the various movements of peoples.
Ralph Raico, our great libertarian historian, once wrote:
Free immigration would appear to be in a different category from other policy decisions, in that its consequences permanently and radically alter the very composition of the democratic political body that makes those decisions. In fact, the liberal order, where and to the degree that it exists, is the product of a highly complex cultural development. One wonders, for instance, what would become of the liberal society of Switzerland under a regime of “open borders.”
Switzerland is in fact an interesting example. Before the European Union got involved, the immigration policy of Switzerland approached the kind of system we are describing here. In Switzerland, localities decided on immigration, and immigrants or their employers had to pay to admit a prospective migrant. In this way, residents could better ensure that their communities would be populated by people who would add value and who would not stick them with the bill for a laundry list of “benefits.”
Obviously, in a pure open borders system, the Western welfare states would simply be overrun by foreigners seeking tax dollars. As libertarians, we should of course celebrate the demise of the welfare state. But to expect a sudden devotion to laissez faire to be the likely outcome of a collapse in the welfare state is to indulge in naïveté of an especially preposterous kind.
Can we conclude that an immigrant should be considered “invited” by the mere fact that he has been hired by an employer? No, says Hans, because the employer does not assume the full cost associated with his new employee. The employer partially externalizes the costs of that employee on the taxpaying public:
Equipped with a work permit, the immigrant is allowed to make free use of every public facility: roads, parks, hospitals, schools, and no landlord, businessman, or private associate is permitted to discriminate against him as regards housing, employment, accommodation, and association. That is, the immigrant comes invited with a substantial fringe benefits package paid for not (or only partially) by the immigrant employer (who allegedly has extended the invitation), but by other domestic proprietors as taxpayers who had no say in the invitation whatsoever.
These migrations, in short, are not market outcomes. They would not occur on a free market. What we are witnessing are examples of subsidized movement. Libertarians defending these mass migrations as if they were market phenomena are only helping to discredit and undermine the true free market.
Moreover, as Hans points out, the “free immigration” position is not analogous to free trade, as some libertarians have erroneously claimed. In the case of goods being traded from one place to another, there is always and necessarily a willing recipient. The same is not true for “free immigration.”
To be sure, it is fashionable in the US to laugh at words of caution about mass immigration. Why, people made predictions about previous waves of immigration, we’re told, and we all know those didn’t come true. Now for one thing, those waves were all followed by swift and substantial immigration reductions, during which time society adapted to these pre-welfare state population movements. There is virtually no prospect of any such reductions today. For another, it is a fallacy to claim that because some people incorrectly predicted a particular outcome at a particular time, therefore that outcome is impossible, and anyone issuing words of caution about it is a contemptible fool.
The fact is, politically enforced multiculturalism has an exceptionally poor track record. The twentieth century affords failure after predictable failure. Whether it’s Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, or Pakistan and Bangladesh, or Malaysia and Singapore, or the countless places with ethnic and religious divides that have not yet been resolved to this day, the evidence suggests something rather different from the tale of universal brotherhood that is such a staple of leftist folklore.
No doubt some of the new arrivals will be perfectly decent people, despite the US government’s lack of interest in encouraging immigration among the skilled and capable. But some will not. The three great crime waves in US history – which began in 1850, 1900, and 1960 — coincided with periods of mass immigration.
Crime isn’t the only reason people may legitimately wish to resist mass immigration. If four million Americans showed up in Singapore, that country’s culture and society would be changed forever. And no, it is not true that libertarianism would in that case require the people of Singapore to shrug their shoulders and say it was nice having our society while it lasted but all good things must come to an end. No one in Singapore would want that outcome, and in a free society, they would actively prevent it.
In other words, it’s bad enough we have to be looted, spied on, and kicked around by the state. Should we also have to pay for the privilege of cultural destructionism, an outcome the vast majority of the state’s taxpaying subjects do not want and would actively prevent if they lived in a free society and were allowed to do so?
The very cultures that the incoming migrants are said to enrich us with could not have developed had they been constantly bombarded with waves of immigration by peoples of radically different cultures. So the multicultural argument doesn’t even make sense.
It is impossible to believe that the US or Europe will be a freer place after several more decades of uninterrupted mass immigration. Given the immigration patterns that the US and EU governments encourage, the long-term result will be to make the constituencies for continued government growth so large as to be practically unstoppable. Open-borders libertarians active at that time will scratch their heads and claim not to understand why their promotion of free markets is having so little success. Everybody else will know the answer.

“Two Visions of Europe
There has been a fight between the advocates of two different ideals from the beginning of the European Union. Which stance it should adopt: the classical-liberal vision, or the socialist vision of Europe? The introduction of the euro has played a key role in the strategies of these two visions.1  In order to understand the tragedy of the euro and its history, it is important to be familiar with these two diverging and underlying visions and tensions that have come to the fore in the face of a single currency.

The Classical-Liberal Vision

The founding fathers of the EU, Maurice Schuman (France [born in Luxembourg]), Konrad Adenauer (Germany), and Alcide de Gasperi (Italy), all German-speaking Catholics, were followers of the classical-liberal vision of Europe.2 They were also Christian democrats. The classical-liberal vision regards individual liberty as the most important cultural value of Europeans and Christianity. In this vision, sovereign European states defend private-property rights and a free-market economy in a Europe of open borders, thus enabling the free exchange of goods, services, and ideas.
The Treaty of Rome in 1957 was the main achievement toward the classical-liberal vision for Europe. The treaty delivered four basic liberties: free circulation of goods, free offering of services, free movement of financial capital, and free migration. The treaty restored rights that had been essential for Europe during the classical-liberal time in the 19th century, but had been abandoned in the age of nationalism and socialism. The treaty was a turning away from the age of socialism that had lead to conflicts between European nations, culminating in two world wars.
The classical-liberal vision aims at a restoration of 19th-century freedoms. Free competition without entry barriers should prevail in a common European market. In this vision, no one could prohibit a German hairdresser from cutting hair in Spain, and no one could tax an Englishman for transferring money from a German to a French bank, or for investing in the Italian stock market. No one could prevent, through regulations, a French brewer from selling beer in Germany. No government could give subsidies distorting competition. No one could prevent a Dane from running away from his welfare state and extreme high tax rates and migrating to a state with a lower tax burden, such as Ireland.
In order to accomplish this ideal of peaceful cooperation and flourishing exchanges, nothing more than freedom would be necessary. In this vision there would be no need to create a European superstate. In fact, the classical-liberal vision is highly skeptical of a central European state; it is considered detrimental to individual liberty. Philosophically speaking, many defenders of this vision are inspired by Catholicism, and borders of the European community are defined by Christianity.
In line with Catholic social teaching, a principle of subsidiarity should prevail: problems should be solved at the lowest and least concentrated level possible. The only centralized European institution acceptable would be a European Court of Justice, its activities restricted to supervising conflicts between member states, and guaranteeing the four basic liberties.
From the classical-liberal point of view, there should be many competing political systems, as has been the case in Europe of centuries. In the Middle Ages and until the 19th century, there existed very different political systems, such as the independent cities of Flanders, Germany, and Northern Italy. There were kingdoms such as Bavaria or Saxony, and there were republics such as Venice. Political diversity was demonstrated most clearly in the strongly decentralized Germany. Under a culture of diversity and pluralism, science and industry flourished.3
Competition on all levels is essential to the classical-liberal vision. It leads to coherence, as product standards, factor prices, and especially wage rates tend to converge. Capital moves where wages are low, bidding them up; workers, on the other hand, move where wage rates are high, bidding them down. Markets offer decentralized solutions for environmental problems based on private property. Political competition ensures the most important European value: liberty.
Tax competition fosters lower tax rates and fiscal responsibility. People vote by foot, evading excessive tax rates, as do companies. Different national tax sovereignties are seen as the best protection against tyranny. Competition also prevails in the field of money. Different monetary authorities compete in offering currencies of high quality. Authorities offering more stable currencies exert pressure on other authorities to follow suit.

The Socialist Vision

In direct opposition to the classical-liberal vision is the socialist or empire vision of Europe, defended by politicians such as Jacques Delors or François Mitterand. A coalition of statist interests of the nationalist, socialist, and conservative ilk does what it can do to advance its agenda. It wants to see the European Union as an empire or a fortress: protectionist to the outside and interventionist on the inside. These statists dream of a centralized state with efficient technocrats — as the ruling technocrat statists imagine themselves to be — managing it.
In this ideal, the center of the Empire would rule over the periphery. There would be common and centralized legislation. The defenders of the socialist vision of Europe want to erect a European megastate, reproducing the nation-states on the European level. They want a European welfare state that would provide for redistribution, regulation, and harmonization of legislation within Europe. The harmonization of taxes and social regulations would be carried out at the highest level. If the value-added tax is between 25 and 15 percent in the European Union, socialists would harmonize it to 25 percent in all countries. Such harmonization of social regulation is in the interest of the most protected, the richest, and the most productive workers, who can "afford" such regulation — while their peers cannot. If German social regulations would be applied to the Poles, for instance, the latter would have problems competing with the former.
The agenda of the socialist vision is to grant ever-more power to the central state, i.e., to Brussels. The socialist vision for Europe is the ideal of the political class, the bureaucrats, the interest groups, the privileged, and the subsidized sectors who want to create a powerful central state for their own enrichment. Adherents to this view present a European state as a necessity, and consider it only a question of time.
Along the socialist path, the European central state would one day become so powerful that the sovereign states would become subservient to them. (We can already see first indicators of such subservience in the case of Greece. Greece behaves like a protectorate of Brussels, which tells its government how to handle its deficit.)
The socialist vision provides no obvious geographical limits for the European state — in contrast to the Catholic-inspired classical-liberal vision. Political competition is seen as an obstacle to the central state, which removes itself from public control. In this sense the central state in the socialist vision becomes less and less democratic as power is shifted to bureaucrats and technocrats. (An example is provided by the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. The commissioners are not elected but appointed by the member-state governments.)
Historically, precedents for this old socialist plan of founding a controlling central state in Europe were established by Charlemagne, Napoleon, Stalin, and Hitler. The difference is, however, that this time no direct military means would be necessary. But state-power coercion is used in the push for a central European state.
From a tactical perspective, crisis situations in particular would be used by the adherents of the socialist vision to create new institutions (such as the European Central Bank (ECB) or possibly, in the future, a European Ministry of Finance), as well as to extend the powers of existing institutions as the European Commission or theECB.4
Conclusion
The classical-liberal and the socialist visions of Europe are, consequently, irreconcilable. In fact, the increase in power of a central state as proposed by the socialist vision implies a reduction of the four basic liberties, and most certainly less individual liberty.
This article is excerpted from Tragedy of the Euro (Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2010).


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