Public choice economics and the European Union

I can appreciate that greater European union has benefits for the continent\’s politicians, who get their hands on the delightful baubles of office: motorcades, private jets, fawning officials and the intoxicating sense of power. But what does it do for the rest of us?

To put partisanship aside for a moment (difficult, I know, for I would hang the lot in an instant) this is actually a fairly serious problem.

For as James Buchanan won the Nobel for pointing out, politicians and bureaucrats are driven by the same things that everyone else is driven by. Their own self-interest given the incentives on offer.

It may or may not be a good thing that ever more power accrues to the European institutions. But those in them will always argue that it is a good thing, for this benefits them in their personal interests.

\”Mr. Commissioner, should the Commission have the power to regulate chocolate teapots?\” \”Yes\” \”Well, you would say that, wouldn\’t you?\”

All of which means that, being entirely non-partisan you understand, the one group of people we should not listen to on the subject of eurocrat powers are the eurocrats.

Straying off that path of pure non-partisanry, I suggest that we revive one of the Greek additions to democratic debate.

In one of the City States (Athens I believe but would not swear to) if you proposed a law but if failed then you were strangled. This ensured that only those who thought that their proposed law was very important brought it up in the first place.

I think we should go further than this. Anyone proposing greater power for the EU should simply be hung, on the spot. The proposal will still go forward, still be debated, voted upon and implemented if it passes those hurdles. Only the original proposer will be hung, but hanged they will be whatever the result. We could in fact schedule the hanging for when the results of the implementation of this movement of powers is known.

For of course any true believer in European Integration will be happy to give their lives for the cause, won\’t they? Think of the joy with which they will descend to their coffins: the Euorpean Commission has indeed just signed into law those new and terribly important EU wide regulations on the manufacture of chocolate teapots, at which point the gleeful citizen, chosen by lot, gets to pull the lever which opens the trapdoors.

Bit of a pisser for those who see their life\’s work fail with their lives but fair I think, still fair.

I hesitate to mention the obvious side effect: the general winnowing of those who would propose the EU do more things.

9 thoughts on “Public choice economics and the European Union”

  1. An eminently sensible, objective and dispassionate idea. I would add to the Gallows the beaurocrats responsible for drafting the legislation .
    BTW, it is ,”hanged”, not ,”hung”, though those hanged could be hung over the entrance to the EU Parliament buildings as an object lesson to those who pass beneath.

  2. No one being above the law, I applaud the spirit of self-sacrifice you show in your modest proposal, Tim.

  3. Any polity with a standng legislature is doomed. That’s the bit that’s wrong. England worked pretty well until we made the Parliament a permanent fixture, instead of being called as need arose. Then it went downhill.

    Legislating needs to be incovienent to the legislators. Maybe not the death penalty, but it certainly ought to be something they’d generally prefer not to do. This of course covers legislators under euphemisms, like “regulators” and “standards bodies” and so on. Maybe we could be kinder and just chop off a finger or toe for each law, something like that.

    Twenty strikes and you’re out, kind of thing.

  4. Can we do it for national and local government as well?

    Short of hanging, surely borrowing the conclave system from the papists would make a suitable deterrent to spending too much time legislating. No water, no toilet breaks, until it’s done. And no Mercedes.

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