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Sunday, July 8, 2012

European Politicians pander as needed


I watch a lot of cable shows claiming to be about news or business matters. They are actually entertainment programs fighting for ratings. They try to shock, frighten and tell us what we already believe. Any facts or science in disagreement will be ignored or ridiculed. Currently the script for Europe is that European leaders are oblivious to economic reality, incapable of understanding even the basics of economic theory. I am sure that this polls well in audience studies, with the dysfunction of our American political system we can feel superior to the European’s ignorance.
I am not so sure this is a correct interpretation of the European politician. There are fundamental differences between the American and European political systems. Europeans do not have gerrymandering (they don’t even have a word for gerrymandering), the parliamentary system requires actual one on one debate. The Europeans do not have the echo chamber that insulates a politician from any contrarian data or points of view. Elections in Europe are (in general) funded by public money. A large number of studies have shown that private money distorts democratic out comes, there are no studies showing that private money improves democracy. As a result, these fundamental differences produce fundamentally different politicians.
The European politician has to practice the “Art of the achievable” and must be pragmatic, as leaders in a democracy they must bring along the general population. They are well informed and educated and they have advisers that clearly understand economics. They commission government studies about economic and social issues and then they study the studies. Europe has a much longer history of governance. The Vikings started a parliament in 979 AD and is still functioning today, European leaders think in longer time frames.
The European leaders have a long term vision of a united Europe. This is a remarkable objective and would have enormous worldwide effects. Already the European Union GDP is the world’s largest, the EU is third in population with America fourth. The European political system has already devoted 54 years to the mission of a united Europe. Being politicians in Democracies they have to pander, they have to listen to the majority of the voters, they have to tell their voters something close to what their voters want to hear, for each step toward unity there can be one step back. Remember that there is what politicians say and then there is what they mean. They are not ignorant of economics. They are directing a grand vision in a Democracy. The EU will not be dissolved. The writers for the cable political entertainment shows cannot deal with this level of meaning.

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