A la carte EU

By listing some of the media stories about the European Union Charles Moore provides a good illustration of all the things that are wrong with the EU. The bureaucracy, the desire to impose more and more regulations, the tendency to talk big words and think that just by saying them they will come to be. The more you hear them say the more you wonder what living inside the EU bubble does to the way those who do views the world.

To some extent this is probably true of most political institutions, including national parliaments and governments, but there is something extra frustrating about the things going on at the European level, which is probably why a lot of Europeans view the EU with a lot more scepticism than they do their own government. It might have to do with the inability to do anything about it. The Parliament is a pseudo democratic show. The Commission seems distant and unreachable, and the proceedings in the discussions between ministers are hidden, where one’s supposed representative can always point to the others for undesired outcomes. Meanwhile the European Union is happy to communicate (which is Eurospeak for spending money to convince us that they are right), but not to leave us with any real influence. Further integration is the mantra, and we’ll go there whether anyone wants to or not.

This is all extra sad since the European Union has a lot of potential, and can provide some good advantages (and does so). The free trade within the Union (which should be expanded), the free movement of capital and goods, which should be extended to people and services. Can we get back to these fundamentals?

One way to improve things is by moving towards a more a la carte EU, where countries can join in areas they see beneficial but opt out of the rest. In practise this already happens, with some countries remaining outside of the common currency and other treaties. It seems likely that this way of doing things will expand.

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Lästips: Public Service

Läs Per Gudmundsons utmärkta text om varför Public Service inte alls fyller den funktion som ofta påstås, och om varför vi trots det inte lär bli av med varken SVT eller SR i första taget. Mycket insiktsfullt. Och dystert.

Om det offentliga skall driva någon tv- eller radiostation bör det möjligen vara okommenterade riksdagsdebatter som sänds. Men med tanke på deras innehåll är nog inte behovet så stort.

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Nanny state expanding

UK citizens, like Swedish and most likely many others, already have to read big fat warning labels saying that “Smoking kills” when they pick up a packet of cigarettes. Our friendly politicians apparently figures that this will make smokers stare at the packet in surprise, realise the error in their ways, and refrain from getting their tobacco fix.

The British Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, seems to think this has been such an astounding success that the whole warning label concept needs to be expanded to the alcoholic beverages industry too. Drunkards need to be informed that the bottle of vodka they are consuming will make them drunk. And dead.

Thus the nanny state expands, and moves into one more territory, with the well meaning government telling us how to live our lives, supposedly in our own interest. In ten years time maybe we will see the hoods of cars saying “Stepping in front of cars kills” or warning labels having a warning label telling us that “Looking at ugly warning labels makes you go blind”.

Ms Flint, please, mind your own business and we’ll mind ours.

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Den självbedragande 50-åringen

EU firar 50 år genom att dunka sig själv i ryggen, och berömma sina insatser för fred och harmoni i Europa. Den bästa skildringen av spektaklet ger Johan Ingerö, som kontrasterar EU-politikernas bild av sig själva och av vår kontinent mot den man kan tänka sig att människor har i USA, Afrika och Asien.

Den något äldre släktingen några kvarter västerut, vilken vid ett antal tillfällen kallats in för att släcka de bränder som jubilaren tänt i sitt eget kök, skulle möjligen beskriva festföremålet som en dryg och gnällig jävel som snackar mycket men är något sämre på att skrida till handling.

Den väldigt fattiga Fru Söderut skulle antagligen ha ett och annat att invända mot sin dumsnåle granne som vägrar låta henne sälja sina varor på hans gata.

Den flitige arbetsnarkomanen Herr Öst skulle förmodligen skaka på huvudet åt att festföremålet lägger så mycket energi på att bygga monument över sig själv samtidigt som Öst är på god väg att bli både rikare och mäktigare än den utbrända femtioåring som för länge sedan upphört att vara någon verklig konkurrent.

Bristen på självinsikt tillhör Europas större problem, eller åtminstone många europeiska länders. Vad det gäller EU tror jag att det är en närmast oundviklig konsekvens av hur unionen är konstruerad, med en maktfördelning som börjar i Bryssel, fortsätter till huvudstäderna och där medborgarna endast skymtas vid horisonten. Att kommunicera med oss som påverkas är fint och önskvärt, men att låta oss bestämma är det inte. Därav det tämligen pajasartade parlamentet.

Om Europa skall kunna inneha den storhet som det så gärna pratas om, och som vi så gärna inbildar oss att vi besitter — både ekonomiskt och kulturellt — krävs det att ögonbilden tas av, att blicken riktas framåt istället för bakåt, och att det offentliga drar sig tillbaka och ger människorna det utrymme som krävs för att initiativkraft och framåtanda skall spira. Kan vi komma dit?

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On the road

I am currently on the road, visiting the amazing Grand Canyon, after the long drive west from Oklahoma through the prairie of northwest Texas and New Mexico, and the desert of Arizona. The landscape is harsh but beautiful, none more so than the majestic canyon itself.

I’ll post some pictures when I get back to Oklahoma, at the end of the week or so. Perhaps sooner if the oppurtunity arises. A few more places to visit before it’s time to start driving back east.

Communists are funny

Recently Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, included Cuba on his list of countries lacking in the protection of human rights, in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council — a council hard to take seriously, given that it spends most of its time condemning Israel while happily turning a blind eye to the widespread oppression in the Middle East.

Apparently the Cuban ambassador wasn’t too happy to see his Communist paradise included on that list, and his response is hilarious. One would have to conduct a rather ambitious search to find something equally silly in the realm of diplomacy. The ambassador said that Sweden has no right to accuse Cuba of anything, given our history of imperialism and colonialism and with our boots covered in blood. Also he had a few things to say about our immigration policies:

Cuba, unlike Sweden, does not persecute migrants or carry out ethnic cleansing that only allows those whose skin and hair color fit with the racial patterns of former Viking conquerors to remain in the country.

Hmm. What is there to say? Those Cuban commies should take up stand-up comedy!

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You can listen to the Cuban ambassador here.
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Hitchens on free speech

In the clip below Christopher Hitchens gives a passionate lecture in defence of free speech, and convincingly demonstrates how dangerous it is to restrict people’s rights to express their views, no matter of ignorant or stupid they might be. The talk was given at the University of Toronto, in opposition to a proposed amendment that would criminalise so called hate speech. The speech is about 20 minutes long, and well worth the time.

[youtube]4lBw99RbEyA[/youtube]

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Thanks to Dick Erixon
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