Recommended Reading

May 30, 2012

If you get the chance, take a look at the following Op-Ed columns published this week.

  • I recommend Our Imbecilic Constitution by Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law and pol sci professor, published in the New York Times on May 29.  Levinson’s essay hit a responsive chord in this corner.  An earlier Larry’s blog article entitled Is it Time for a New Constitution? and screened in July 2011 also postulated that a stale, outdated U.S. constitution might bear critical responsibility for declining U.S. self-confidence and faith in the American dream, but Levinson’s piece presents a greater number of arguments and better examples to prove the point.  Levinson and I both criticized the extraordinary difficulty of modifying the Constitution.  While the opportunity for frivolous amendments ought to be discouraged, excess in the opposite direction has deprived the U.S. system of federal government of the flexibility to promote the general welfare as competently in the 21st century as it could in the 18th, 19th, or 20th centuries.  Tea Party proponents invoke the spirit of Thomas Jefferson in their assertion that all that is wrong in America can be fixed by a literal adherence to the U.S. Constitution, but the third president of the union and author of the Declaration of Independence was in fact distrustful of the Constitution and favored a thorough review and modification of the document every twenty years, in other words holding a new constitutional convention at no lesser interval than once every generation.
  • This is a fiscal straitjacket for Ireland, not a union by David McWilliams appears in the May 29th Financial Times and covers material presented in many other essays.  McWilliams illustrates how poorly suited is a  logic of relentless fiscal austerity in Euroland to address a problem created by private-sector excesses.  It hit me after reading this editorial that Euroland resembles Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland into which Alice stumbles.
  • The riddle of German self-interest by Martin Wolf in the May 30th edition of the Financial Times rightly, in my shared view, concludes that the eventual resolution of the euro debt crisis hinges on the policy decisions that Germany makes.  So far, Berlin officials reject each and every imaginable area of compromise.  Simulated game theory if that absolutist position were to continue points to a messy break-up of the monetary union, which according to Wolf will likely to go badly for Germany, too.  From a distance, it does indeed seem that Germany is dragging Europe and perhaps the whole global community through the social and economic wringer for not the first, nor the second but the third time in a 100 years.  Wouldn’t it be nice to hear from former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1982-98), who as the key promoter of a common European currency argued that it would promote a spirit of brotherhood and peace among EMU participants?  It would be nice to know if he, like contemporary German politicians and central bankers, never envisioned the currency union developing into a true fiscal union as practiced in the United States.  I’d like to know, too, if he has any regrets allowing a decision as profound as shifting to a single currency and single monetary policy without submitting the question directly to voters in most countries, including Germany.  Only that way, would the project be enshrouded in the proper legitimacy that it now so conspicuously lacks.

Copyright 2012, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.

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