Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bigger countries work better

Hey, the stock market went up today! That doesn't seem to have happened in a while.

Ostensibly this strange phenomenon is because there are a handful of signs that Europe is finally getting it together. Far be it from me to give an opinion about whether Europe is actually getting it together -- I'm no expert, but I'll note that the optimists have always been wrong before -- but the markets, at least, seems mildly relieved by something that occurred somewhere in the world, which has to be a nice change of pace for the markets.

It does make you wonder how much of the US economy's dismal performance has been the result of Europe dragging everyone else down. It's not like the US economy is exactly going like gangbusters right now, but there were a couple of years of mildly encouraging signs before this summer, when everyone seems to have collectively looked down, and noticed that they were running on thin air, a la Wile E. Coyote.

What this news does do for me is help vindicate my general preference for big governmental units over small governmental units. (Think the EU vs. Greece, or the United States vs. New Hampshire, or the coming One World Government vs. your antiquated and pedestrian conceptions of nations with borders and identity.) That's because Europe finally getting it together, and the US economy improving as a result, would be great news for Barack Obama's reelection campaign, which, as a demonstration of democratic accountability, doesn't make any sense at all. After all, what can Barack Obama do about Europe? Unfortunately for Obama and elected representatives everywhere, voters aren't smart or astute enough to separate Things Their Leaders Can Change from Things Their Leaders Have No Control Over. It's the same story in every country: if the economy sucks, the guys in charge will probably get the hatchet. You have perfectly capable leaders getting booted out of office in favor of their (potentially) less capable opponents for no particular reason at all. All in all, this isn't exactly a recipe for a sustainable or sensible system of government.

Some of this is inevitable, I suppose. ("Meteor Collides with Earth, Obama's Approval Rating Falls.") But some of it can be avoided by giving elected leaders the ability to actually influence the events that determine whether or not they get to stay elected leaders. If, on the other hand, power is concentrated in smaller, weaker political units, leaders can't control their destiny (and knowing that, might have less incentive to take proactive action to fix problems). Some people think that smaller government means that elected leaders are more vulnerable to public opinion. But that's not the only thing they're more vulnerable too: they're also left more at the mercy of pure, random chance. So for democracy's sake, let's have big countries.

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