Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Law

Gerard N. Magliocca

Three years ago, I published a paper that tried to put George W. Bush's presidency into some historical context.  In thinking about how the September 11, 2001 attacks influenced his Administration, I pointed out that one of the deepest flaws in American constitutional theory is its parochialism.  Most of us (myself included) tend to view our legal evolution as occurring within a closed system shaped by Supreme Court cases, domestic social movements, and the actions of officials that we choose.

Historically, of course, this is not so. The Napoleonic Wars/French Revolution were crucial to the interpretation of the Constitution (consider the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Louisiana Purchase, or the sack of Washington by the British)  Revulsion toward Nazi Germany was a key factor in the decline of racism in the United States, and the Cold War was a powerful force in jurisprudence after World War II.

Why does this matter?  It matters because the 2012 presidential election may be decided in Europe.  In one sense, this is obvious. An implosion of the Euro (Greece defaults, Spain can't save its banks) could drag our economy down. But something deeper is going on. Europe is fast becoming a metaphor for the role of government.  Some people look at Europe and conclude that its problems are the result of:  (1) too much debt; and (2) bloated welfare states.  Of course, you can also make a good case that its problems are the result of: (1) too much austerity; and (2) an Articles-of-Confederation style constitution that is totally unworkable.  The point is that a European collapse may be one of those pivotal moments that shape how we think about the future, and, if so, one or the other interpretation will become conventional wisdom.


The United States needs to look long and hard at the collapse of the EU welfare state and we will see the death throes of progressivism and socialism.

Progressivism and socialism became unsustainable political econmies with the advent of birth control.

Fertility levels are inversely proportional to the size of the welfare state because the state reduces the need for an extended family to care for its members, makes having children a money losing proposition and drives fertility below replacement levels.

Without children, the work forces supporting government dependents literally die off.

Progressive and socialist attempts to reduce income inequality by artificially raising compensation for the lowest paid simply prices the young and unskilled out of a job, further shrinking and making the labor force less efficient.

Without enough workers to pay the taxes, the welfare state first raises tax rates to make up the difference until the citizenry either evades or makes it politically impossible to raise more taxes.

The welfare state then borrows to make up the difference until creditors stop lending money. This terminal stage is where the PIIGS countries are now and the rest of the EU is rapidly approaching.

The idea that the EU reached this sorry state because of a lack of borrowing and spending (austerity) is simply nuts.

Our yodeler echoes "progressivism and socialism" and welfare throughout his comment without addressing what had brought about the financial crisis in the EU. The crisis was not brought about by a lack of borrowing or austerity in spending. Rather, that is the reaction in attempts to resolve the crisis - and it's not working. Krugman, Stiglitz and a host of other economists have argued well that this approach is not a cure. The EU financial crisis was basically no different from that in the U.S. As Gerard suggests, the EU problem may relate to " ... an Articles-of-Confederation style constitution that is totally unworkable." It seems ironic that our yodeler says that making babies may be the cure to the EU's problems. And our yodeler conveniently forgets the Bush/Cheney 8 years feeding the financial crisis that ended with the Great Recession.

Yes, America will be impacted by what happens in the EU. But America has solutions other than austerity. So let's go out there and make some babies!


"Revulsion toward Nazi Germany was a key factor in the decline of racism in the United States, ...."

calls for taking a serious look at the timeline on racism in America. While WWII was a start on improving the lot of African-Americans, racial barriers were in place with returning African-American troops. It took executive action by Pres. Truman to open up the military, just in time for the Korean Conflict. And then came Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. But barriers continued in efforts to block Brown's implementation. The Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s came to the rescue, but with many more barriers placed in efforts to thwart such Acts (that continue to this day). Yes, there has been a decline in racism in America; but did this come about because of revulsion toward Nazi Germany or an inward American revulsion forced finally to recognize the evils of America's long history of racism?

Our yodeler with this:

"Progressivism and socialism became unsustainable political econmies [sic] with the advent of birth control."

demonstrates the influence upon him of Rick Santorum. So I guess we should consider the biblical math: "Be fruitful and multiply ...." After all, the .1% rely upon the 99.9% to maintain income/wealth inequality.

AlterNet has a lengthy (6 page) excerpt from Joseph Stiglitz'a just published "The Price of Inequality" at:

demonstrating the global problems of the financial crises that remain to be addressed.


My thesis has nothing to do with the morality of birth control taken on it own merits, but rather when adopted in combination with the progressive and socialist welfare state. The EU nations all suffer sub-replacement fertility rates and demographers have been studying this dystopian state of events for years. Go google welfare state and fertility rate.

Next, Krugman, Stiglitz and most of the rest of the progressive left in this country have been recommending a continuation of the very fruitless borrow and spend policies which brought the PIIGS nations to the brink of insolvency today. Such policies did not prevent or create a recovery from the EUs two recessions over the last four years and are in any case unsustainable.

As to the Louisiana Purchase, Sandy Levinson helped to edit "The Louisiana Purchase and American Expansion" that reinforces the point made in the OP.

Our yodeler's response regarding Krugman, Stiglitz et al assumes that they were pushing the:

" ... very fruitless borrow and spend policies which brought the PIIGS nations to the brink of insolvency today ..."

PRIOR to the financial crises of 2007-8. That is NOT the case. Since the crises, they have been challenging the EU austerity response, which has not been resulting in either political or financial well-being in the EU. Both Krugman and Stiglitz have pointed to the EURO problem that ties-into:

" ... an Articles-of-Confederation style constitution that is totally unworkable ... "

that Gerard referenced. More and more economists and elected officials are recognizing the problems with the EURO Zone. That is not a problem in America in addressing the Bush/Cheney Great Recession.

And our yodeler's thesis that Obama is a socialist has turned into a colander what with public sector jobs down significantly since Bush/Cheney and the increase in private sector jobs since Bush/Cheney. Perhaps our yodeler's thesis might be modified to describe Bush/Cheney as socialists.

As to the fertility rate, immigration in the EU might resolve this problem; recall the financial benefits of guest workers.

Fertility...purity of essence...precious bodily's all so clear now.

The debt ceiling obstructionists in US congress do not understand the interconnectedness of the economies of Europe and the US.

The debt ceiling balk by Republicans of last year is a diorama that is about to enter stage right, once again, shortly following US national elections in the autumn.

The US Republican toying with debt limit adjustment last year precipitated much havoc in Europe.

As for European nations' historic perfections, my take has been that we got a lot of good concepts that Europe's best thinkers and government people could advance no farther in Europe; so, they came here to America to accomplish those aims. But there is more work to do on both sides of the Atlantic.


The EU has been borowing and spemding with abandon for decades. See Greece:

Next, the EU confederacy has many defects, but the rules preventing the EU central bank from devaluing the currency is not one of them. The PIIGS nations are not insolvent because the EU is astable currency.

Bush was a standard issue RINO progressive, Obama crossed the line from progressivism to socialism. Both expanded government, the later more than former.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Yes, yes, it just makes so much sense

Go to the Balkinization archives during the Bush/Cheney 8 years for many examples of our yodeler's adulation of their administration to compare with this current comment of his:

"Bush was a standard issue RINO progressive, ...."

My, my. Was our yodeler deceived during those 8 years of adulation? "Standard issue"? Perhaps our yodeler thinks that Jeb Bush's recent critiques of the GOP reflect his desire that Obama be reelected so that in 2016 Jeb would not have to challenge Romney in a reelection bid.

I guess our yodeler concedes that neither Krugman nor Stiglitz pre-Great Recession were in favor of the PIIGs' borrow and spend policies.

As to Obama, return to the Balkinization archives beginning in January, 2009, for our yodeler's branding of Obama as a Socialist from day one, before Obama could even start to climb out of the deep, deep financial hole that Bush/Cheney's 2008 Great Recession left. That hole was deep enough for a herd of RINOs.

And this by your yodeler:

"Both [Bush and Obama] expanded government, the later more than former."

is not quite accurate, despite the deep, deep hole.

I find some of the comments here, particularly those by Mr. dePalma, laughably inaccurate and ignorant of the economic and political forces behind the crises. The fundamental problem with the euro is that the eurozone countries agreed to a monetary union but kept their own fiscal policies (17in all) in place. There was euphoria in the markets immediately after Maastricht, hopes that the euro would become the reserve currency of choice (at one point there was even talk that OPEC would abandon the dollar for the euro), and the tacit belief that sovereign debt in one eurozone country (e.g. Greece) was as safe as any other (e.g. Germany). Want to know why the Germans are skeptical about Eurobonds? In essence, they know what happened in the early years post Maastricht. They also know the heavy cost they've paid for reunification, so their reluctance to let the Greeks off the hook without fundamental changes in Greek fiscal policy is entirely understandable.

As to birth rates, welfare state, and other such nonsense, I note that Germany and the Nordics are doing quite well even as they maintain very generous welfare benefits and cope with low birthrates.

I could go on, but I think that's enough said on this topic.
I discover some of content here, particularly those by Mr. dePalma, laughably incorrect and unaware of the financial and governmental causes behind the downturn. The essential issue with the money is that the eurozone nations decided to a financial nation but kept their own financial guidelines (17in all) in position. There was excitement in the marketplaces soon after Maastricht, desires that the money would become the source forex of option (at one factor there was even discuss that OPEC would get away from the money for the euro)
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The Germans and Swedes liberalized their economies to stave off the inevitable with rather mediocre economic growth by US pre-great recession standards. However, neither country can maintain even this modest growth for long with shrinking labor forces and expanding elderly government dependents. This is simple and inexorable math.

The Euro itself is NOT the problem with the EU.


As you well know, the Bush fiscal policy I supported was his 2003 and not 2001 tax reforms. The rest set the pre-Obama standard for profligacy, expanding givernment from 19% to 21% of GDP.

Let's see, exactly what was the Bush fiscal policy of his 2003 tax reform? How did this differ from his 2001 tax reform? (Our yodeler uses the word reform, perhaps a tad too liberally.) A major matter in 2003 impacting on the Bush fiscal policy was the invasion of Iraq aimed at WMD and punishing Saddam for his role in 9/11/01. Both the Iraq invasion and the earlier Bush response in Afghanistan were funded with deficits, as were Bush tax cuts, which were in no sense reform. When our yodeler starts his response with "As you well know, the Bush fiscal policy I supported ... " antennas of reality go up. Fortunately the Balkinization archives are available to trace our yodeler's adulation of Bush/Cheney up to their 2008 Great Recession when he switched from their Kool-Aid to tea.

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