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Saturday, December 28, 2019

A Teachable Moment for Americans: Solidarity as a Shared Value in European Identity

Speaking at the Schloss Bellevue palace in Berlin, President Joachim Gauck used a televised speech in February 2013 to make the case for more European integration. At the time, calling for “more Europe” in terms of shifting still more governmental sovereignty from the state governments to that of the Union was not a very popular task. Further limiting the power of his message is the fact that the German presidency is largely ceremonial , unlike the office of governor in an American state. Nevertheless, Gauck was determined to put the contemporary condition of the “European project” in favorable perspective. The most striking—and even effective—aspect of his speech is his repeated references to “European citizens.” Had he used “Germans” instead, he would have subtly undercut his own message. The prime minister of the E.U. state of Britain at the time would never have used the term, "European citizens." Nor would he have agreed with the E.U. value of solidarity and especially the ensuing social policy. The American media tended to follow suit, rather than covering the otherness of the other: the European Union as having a societal political value that has been very recessive in the United States. In this regard, I contend, the American media companies let down the American people, who would have stood to benefit from the wider perspective that would have enriched American political debates from the tyranny of the hegemonic value ensconced in American culture: that of the self-sustaining individual ideally in the state of nature, economically speaking. Reporting on the principle of solidarity would have given Americans the acccurate picture of the E.U. as being more than just a trading "bloc." This point in turn could have resulted in Americans coming to the realization that the E.U. is equivalent to the U.S.—both being empire-scale federal systems wherein governmental sovereignty is split.

The full essay is at "Solidarity as a European Value."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Italian Election Roils Markets: An Over-Reaction

With no party having gained sufficient seats in the upper house of the Italian legislature, analysts warned on February 25, 2013 of a “hung parliament,” which would make it even more difficult for structural and fiscal reforms to be passed. Even though the Democratic Party appeared to have gained a slim victory in the lower house, giving that party the majority of 340 seats out of 630, the upper and lower houses have equal law-making ability so even the possibility of a hung parliament roiled markets. I contend that this is yet another case of financial analysts over-reacting to political uncertainty. 

The full essay is at "Political Uncertainty Overstated." 

American Federalism: Christianity as the Official Religion in North Carolina

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or preventing the free exercise thereof.” Congress. The writers of the First Amendment of the U.S. federal Constitution were obviously excluding the state governments. Even so, the U.S. Supreme Court has established that the amendment applies to the states as well as Congress. From Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), the Court gave us what is known as the Lemon test. State funding for parochial schools (e.g., Catholic schools) must have a secular legislative purpose (e.g., education), neither advance nor inhibit religion in its consequences, and not foster “an excessive government entanglement with religion.” Yet the leap in claiming that the amendment bears on the states must deal with the explicit language that “Congress shall make no law.” Even so, it did not seem constitutional to many people in 1913 when the North Carolina legislature tried to make Christianity the republic's official religion. Even so, because the United States is essentially a federal empire of fifty republics, care ought to be taken when applying a one-size-fits-all approach as it does not take into account interstate political, religious, and cultural differences. Much is made of these in the European Union, but not in the United States. 

The full essay is at "Christianity as a State Religion in the U.S.