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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sitting U.S. Presidents Are Not above the Law

Imagine the following hypothetical: a U.S. president, while in office, sneaks out of the White House in a tunnel, walks a few blocks further, and shoots a passerby in the head. The president returns to the White House as if the incident had not occurred. The only hint of the murder lies in the pardon that he gives himself for any crimes committed while in office. Would such a president be on solid legal grounds? 

The full essay is at "Not above the Law"

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Unenforceable E.U. as Poland Legislates to End its Judiciary’s Independence

With a state government rapidly moving on legislation that would end the independence of that state’s judiciary, the E.U. Commission announced that it would invoke Article 7 against that state. An independent judiciary is a staple of democratic governance, and is thus required of a state (as well as at the federal level, in regard to the independence of the European Court of Justice from the other branches of the federal government).  If invoked, Article 7 of the E.U.’s basic (i.e., constitutional) law would deprive the state of Poland of its voting rights at the federal level. The independence of state courts is that important in the E.U., and yet for the article to go into effect, the European Council’s vote, excepting Poland, must be unanimous. Already, the governor of the state of Hungary had made clear that he would vote against invoking the article—that state having its own constitutional troubles with the E.U. Commission and being friendly with Poland.  In other words, two conflicts of interest came into play immediately, even as the Polish legislature was still voting on the proposed judicial reform.

The full essay is at "The Unenforceable E.U.."

Essays on the E.U. Political Economy: Federalism and the Debt Crisis

The collection of essays comprising The E.U. Political Economy looks broadly at the E.U.'s federal system, with particular attention to the states, including the matter of "Brexit," which refers to the secession of Britain from the Union. The text then turns more narrowly to the government-debt and banking crisis that occurred in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. The backdrop of federalism is meant to convey the point that weaknesses in that political system hampered the E.U.'s handing of its states and banks that were in trouble with debt. Lastly, several essays are presented on some more general aspects of the E.U.'s political economy. Rather than being heavily theory-oriented, the essays draw on contemporaneous news reports to quote from practitioners from business and government.

Essays on the E.U. Political Economy is available in print or as an ebook at Amazon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Referendum on Euro in Latvia: Core of Europe

Two decades after leaving the Soviet Union, Latvia was in 2012 an E.U. state preparing to adopt the euro currency. “We want to be a part of the core of Europe,” Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said. Noting that the GDP was forecast to rise 5% in 2012, he could boast that his state would be an asset to the “Eurozone.” Indeed, only three of the 17 states using the euro—Finland, Luxembourg and Estonia—were expected to have budget deficits of less than 3% of GDP and debt of less than 60 percent—the two key requirements for joining the euro, which Latvia was poised to meet.
  Latvia's PM Valdis Dombrovskis wants to push forward on the euro without a referendum. At what cost politically though?         Getty Images

The full essay is at "Essays on the E.U. Political Economy," available at Amazon.

The Regensburg Domspatzen: Systemic Abuse of Kids in an Established Religious Institution

The utility from beautiful music for many does not justify the physical and sexual abuse of a relative few. Even though utilitarianism goes by the motto, the greatest pleasure (and least pain) for the greatest number, the severity of the pain to a few can, I submit, outweigh a more widespread, yet relatively superficial, pleasure for others. Surely the intensity of pleasure and pain must enter into the ethical calculus. I have in mind here the Regensburg Domspatzen, a Roman Catholic boys choir, in the E.U. state of Germany. This case points to the default power of established institutions and a religious psychology.

The full essay is at "The Regensburg Domspatzen."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

U.S. Senators: Falling Short in Representing their States

Like the European Council of the E.U., the U.S. Senate has polities rather than citizens as represented members. That is to say, in both cases, the states are represented. In the case of the E.U., the chief executives of the respective states represent them. In the U.S. case, the citizens of the states elect senators directly, who in turn are tasked with representing their respective states. From the standpoint of representing the polities, the E.U. case is tighter, for a U.S. senator is susceptible to the temptation to vote in the interests of the state’s citizens who voted rather than of the state itself. The two interests may overlap, but they are not identical, for citizens of a member-state may or may not be interested in protecting the prerogatives of the state (government). The Republican legislative responses to the Affordable Care Act (i.e., “Obamacare”) are a case in point. 

The full essay is at "U.S. Senators Falling Short."

For more on the U.S. Senate and the E.U. Council, see the book: Essays on Two Federal Empires, available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.com.