When The Technocrats Took My Country

Ross Douthat goes through the interesting exercise of translating what just happend to Italy into American terms, and in doing so underscores just how big the Eurozone shake up is:

The murmurs about Barack Obama being forced out began in Berlin and Beijing. After his party lost the midterm vote, there were hints that a government of technocrats would be imposed on America, to save the country from a debt crisis and the world from a depression.

As the debt-ceiling negotiations stalled out over the summer, a global coalition — led by Germany, China and the International Monetary Fund — began working behind the scenes to ease Obama out of the White House. The credit downgrade was the final blow: the president had lost the confidence of the world’s shadow government, and his administration could no longer survive.

Within days, thanks to some unusual constitutional maneuvering, Obama resigned the presidency and Michael Bloomberg was invited to take the oath of office. With Beijing issuing veiled threats against our currency, Congress had no choice but to turn the country’s finances over to the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of 6, which in turn acceded to Chinese and German “supervision” of their negotiations. Meanwhile, there was a growing consensus in Europe and Asia that only a true global superstate could prevent the debt contagion from spreading …

FOR Americans, the scenario I’ve just imagined is a paranoid fantasy, the kind of New World Order nightmare that haunts the sleep of black-helicopter watchers and Trilateral Commission obsessives.

But for the inhabitants of Italy and Greece, who have just watched democratically elected governments toppled by pressure from financiers, European Union bureaucrats and foreign heads of state, it evokes the cold reality of 21st-century politics. Democracy may be nice in theory, but in a time of crisis it’s the technocrats who really get to call the shots. National sovereignty is a pretty concept, but the survival of the European common currency comes first.

Reading news stories about the European financial crisis, it seems clear that some radical getting of the financial house in order, no matter how unpopular, is very much needed. And since it’s not our government getting told to replace itself and take action, popular sentiment be damned, it’s easy to see this as yet another turn over of far away countries which are, after all, younger and less stable (in their current incations) than ours. Still, I think Douthat’s piece serves well to illustrate the enormity of what’s happening (however necessary it may be under the circumstances) and the inherently undemocratic nature of the EU as it currently stands.

Still, it’s far less ugly than the last couple times Germany tried to exert hegemony over the continent…

8 Responses to When The Technocrats Took My Country

  • The whole EU experiment has been turning ghastly for all involved. I think the Brussel Bureaucrats are soon going to have to earn an honest living.

  • We saw a little of this in the US with TARP. Highly unpopular among Democrats and Republicans. But passed with bipartisan support because the technocrats said we had to. I think it’s a good thing when government puts the country before the polls and that needs to be encouraged. I’d replace the entire Senate with appointed technocrats. They’re more than halfway there anyway.

  • Smile when you say that RR! My faith in most technocrats is only exceeded by my faith in the prophetic powers of an eight ball. As Churchill noted about Democracy the best argument against it is a five minute chat with an average voter, but he also said this:

    “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

  • I think democracy should be a release valve not a complete system of government. Most people agree to a limited extent. We prefer a republic to direct democracy.

  • All just power derives from the consent of the governed RR. The last century graphically demonstrated what happens when elites decide that they know what is best for the people they goven, democracy be hanged. I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiments expressed by Abraham Lincoln in a speech on July 10, 1858:

    “Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it! If it is not true let us tear it out! If it is true let us stick to it then, let us stand firmly by it then.”

  • because the technocrats said we had to.

    TARP has not worked out badly. (Please note that ‘technocrats’ had a spectrum of views on the appropriate course of action at that time). IIRC, the elected officials produced no policy initiatives at that time other than a mortgage insurance scheme. Please note also that in other circumstances, the elected official most prominent in manufacturing legislation on the banking sector has been….Barney Frank. The putrefaction of our national legislature is one of the drivers of technocracy.

  • Something quite like this is already happening in Michigan, though on a smaller scale.

  • You will note in that story a problem that placing these municipalities in trusteeship was meant to address: the antecedent concession of public power to union bosses.

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