Reader feedback: EU integration is not a socialist agenda

Re: Euro would be a disaster, Readers' feedback, Volume 12, Number 13, April 03 - April 09, 2006

To say that the EU is heading toward socialism just does not convince me. Its electorates may be moderately centre-left rather than very free-market-oriented, but this reflects the voters' agenda, and should be respected. The euro is a resounding success, despite the scare tactics employed by those opposed to it.

The national forum may be a suitable platform for local issues, but joining the EU has brought a higher standard of international politics to many countries that lacked it. No nation-state should feel threatened by the EU, which has rightfully adapted to a time when economic blocks magnify one's voice in the world. Most Europeans feel the EU is too right-wing, not too left-wing.

I also hear this argument being used against the ECB setting a central interest rate. I'd like to know what the alternative is. You cannot have a single currency with many interest rates. Over decades, the single market will smooth the differences and the exchange rate will fit all. That is how the Federal Reserve was created. And that means the creation not of one country, but of a coordinated economic block made up of differing nations. Most people in Europe like belonging to an economic superpower, while retaining a narrower national affiliation.

Britain has steadily lurched to the right since 1980, and, little by little, to an Americanisation of its economy. There might be some benefits to that, but there are also some big financial and social drawbacks, such as big economic divides, especially in London, where there is a growing underclass that does a lot of the dirty jobs. Some people might want to live in a society like this, but I increasingly do not. There are some crazy prices for housing in this country, and a very lopsided economy, and the divides cause real envy and hostility between the rich and the poor. This is the American way of gated communities, the gun in the glove compartment, and the constant fear that the poor masses are one day going to switch off the television and revolt (like they periodically do in the United States, with Third World-like scenes of looting in New Orleans and LA, etc.)

People work longer and longer hours, and have increasingly unrewarding lives and terrible job insecurity. This makes them not want to have children anymore or leaves them with very little time to spend with their families.

The commercialisation of everything has made people prostitute themselves or their values or both for money.

True, the average EU country may be economically centre-left, but the UK is heading into an aggressive, ultraliberal future. Although it made sense when Thatcher was PM to take the economy in a more free-market direction, the same recipe is not appropriate now. Labour should have brought it a nudge to the left, taxing the very rich a bit more, for example.

George, London and Bratislava

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