A time for chosing

Ok sorry.  The title is misleading.  This is not about Ronald Reagan’s seminal 1964 speech.  Unfortunately.

Follows is a brief extract from Daniel Hannan’s book, The New Road to Serfdom.  This extract is his comparison of the US constitution and the EU constitution.

As we Australians are about 2 weeks from a national election, it is both interesting and deeply depressing to read.  If only we had such a choice:

On my desk before me as I write are two constitutions: that of the United States and that of the EU. To demonstrate what makes the United States exceptional, I can do no better than to compare the two texts.

The U.S. Constitution, with all its amendments, is 7,200 words long. The EU Constitution, now formally known as the Lisbon Treaty, is 76,000.

The U.S. Constitution concerns itself with broad principles, such as the balance between state and federal authorities. The EU Constitution busies itself with such details as space exploration, the rights of disabled people, and the status of asylum seekers.

The U.S. Constitution, in particular the Bill of Rights, is mainly about the liberty of the individual. The EU Constitution is mainly about the power of the state.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence, which foreshadowed the constitutional settlement, promises “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The EU’s equivalent, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, guarantees its citizens the right to strike action, free health care, and affordable housing.

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11 Responses to A time for chosing

  1. Enoch Root

    Apparently Australian Constitution is about 20-thousand word… Just found it curious.

  2. LGS

    What Pat Condell thinks of the EU is just about unprintable.
    I couldn’t agree more with him about the unelected, chardonnay-sipping socialist parasites, and blight on humanity.

  3. Mother Lode

    Whenever I hear about a politician with ‘vision’ I get an apprehensive feeling that their vision is very detailed (i.e. prescriptive).

    Progressives, not being particularly gifted between the ears – with all those bothersome contradictions papered over with the word ‘nuance’ and unsupported assumptions wrapped in an inextricable tangle of jargon – have vision with a very exact and static landscape: The population like so, living in houses like so, working jobs like so, speaking and thinking like so. Precise, detailed, but unmoving.

    Like a diagram of an engine that looks every inch like an engine with rods and levers connected, pistons, tubes, intakes, exhausts etc. With specifications in centimetres, angles, pascals, degrees, percentages etc of lengths, diameters, tolerances, materials etc.

    But never actually built and never actually operated.

    And there is the small matter that humans are not really comfortable being cogs.

    It takes a far more uncommon and elevated mind to have a vision freedom because choices are not visible, only outcomes are, and planning to give people outcomes takes away their choices. It is an entirely different kind of vision.

    No grand vista of glistening towers with blue clouded skies, brown kids and white kids tumbling on verdant lawn that races to the horizon, and tucked in the corner a few windmills, facing into the wind, turning lazily as they sip from natures bounteous winds.

    Instead imagine a vision where people argue. Some are vegetarian, some eat meat. Some abstemious, some drinkers. Some pray, some sleep in. Some work hard, some are lazy. Some spend their money on holidays, some save, some invest.

    So, yeah, when a politician thinks their vision is a reason to vote for them, I usually see it as a reason not to.

  4. Chris M

    And it’s Facebook Kristallnatch.

    Should the people even have access to the constitution? Like the dark ages it should only be for bishops to interpret, commoners would not understand.

  5. the sting

    Australia is now faced with the fundamental question , to stuff the country or to not stuff the country ?

  6. Behind Enemy Lines

    Moderators – apologies for the thread hijack (albeit one that’s somewhat on-topic), but would any of you care to open a thread on tactical voting for the coming election? Early voting’s already underway, and it would be helpful to hear from some Cats with practical, hands-on experience of retail politics in how to sort the chaff from the chaff. On present trends, this is going to be an evergreen topic. . . .

    [Apologies if this is already being taken up in general threads, but if so I couldn’t find it.]

  7. 2dogs

    General question to all conservatives:

    Where, amongst your beliefs, does preserving the current constitution (Westminster system with representative democracy) rank within your values?

    What things are more or less important to conserve than it?

    To understand where I am coming from, consider the Swiss constitution, which has a lot of jurisdictional competition and direct democracy. It has shown itself to be quite adept at keeping out things such as minimum wage laws, more so than representatives democracies like ours. Representative democracy, n the other hand, has shown itself to be particularly susceptible to the Left’s long march through the institutions.

    What would an alternative form of democracy have to able to deliver on, for you to abandon support for the present constitution in favour of it?

  8. Iampeter

    The American constitution does one thing fundamentally and that is create the world’s first rights protecting republic. Everything else is either non-relevant to discussing the document or a product of the times the Founders were living in. Those were things that nothing could be done about at that specific time, so they did the best they could instead. For example, allowing states to have “rights,” the superfluous Bill of Rights and many other things, those that don’t understand the fundamentals will always bring up to pretend to be discussing a topic they don’t really understand.

    So, when someone discussing this document mentions something non-essential, like it’s length, or thinks the balance between state and federal authorities are one of it’s “broad principles” or something, then this someone has missed the point entirely and probably shouldn’t be writing books on the subject.

  9. I would actually like a much longer constitution.

    We need a very long list of negative rights and many more restrictions on government. No strict or absolute liability offences. Mens rea and gens rea must always be proven. No civil penalties and so on.

    superfluous Bill of Rights

    How can you say this if you are also arguing that length is irrelevant?

  10. Iampeter

    How can you say this if you are also arguing that length is irrelevant?

    *facepalm*
    Um…because the content is what’s important not the length.
    Once you understand the content, you’ll understand why the Bill of Rights is superfluous.

    Now there’s a reason they included the BoR at the time, but that’s a discussion way beyond CatallaxyFiles LOL so you’ll excuse me if I don’t bother.

  11. Savannan

    “A Time for Chosing
    As my old Prof was prone to write in the margins. “Not in SOED”.

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