TED Conversations

Timm Amstein

Student , TU Dresden

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Do you want a united Europe?

Dear Europeans,

I want to take the opportunity to ask the question, all our politicians should have asked. Do you want Europe? I mean not as a union of many sovereign states! Instead I mean a united Europe. Many people are talking about it. The media sometimes use it to scare, sometimes to inpire people. Is the dream of Europe, that is dreamed by many politicians really the dream of the people? I personally think a Europe build by the people is the only way to restore our reputation and our future. In my opinion, we should start a national assembly right away and build something the world hasn't seen before. It maybe take us 10 years, but sooner or later we have to start if we don't want our future shattered by old politicians who are obsessed with their power. What do you think?

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    . . 100+

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    Jun 13 2013: I want a united Earth.
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    Jun 14 2013: First of, everything I heared, you find in this project of the european commission:
    https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en/listfutures

    And here is mine:
    https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en/content/end-global-warming-and-tax-evaders-easy-way-or-hard-way

    But yes of course we want Europe! Together we can stay strong! What we don't want is everybody being so self- centered. We want power to the people and no managers as politicians. Homage to George Papandreou for this wake up call!

    Stop the selfcentered idio and start by participating in the project above!

    Quoting is my new principle in ending comments.
    Quote Marcus Cake:
    http://is.gd/wnewn
    http://is.gd/wnecon

    I like these, you should upload them to futurium, or I may soon.
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      Jun 15 2013: Thanks Vincent! I will take your advice and upload a piece to Futurium on "European Wisdom Network (EWN) crowd creates productivity, growth, a single digital market and Network Society". http://is.gd/wnewn
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      Jun 16 2013: Hi Vincent! Than you for directing me to Futurium.

      I have submitted an entry on "European Wisdom Network (EWN) crowd creates Europe, Network Society, productivity, growth and a single digital market".

      It is available for review at http://is.gd/ewnfuture

      Feedback welcome!
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        Jun 17 2013: Alright, that seems great! I don't have the time yet to read it all now, but I will (maybe you should add something like an abstract). I have been so free to add a supplemental policy and keywords so your article is easier to find in category search. For a better world! ^^
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    Jun 14 2013: I see we are in minority: I want United Europe.
    The current 'state of the union' is not perfect, perhaps even not good, but it is perfectible.
    There is no law nature to say that big union has to have big bureaucracy. We have it now (I am in EU :-), and it is not responsive and there is hardly any sensible discussion forum (as far as I know). Those are the tasks ahead.
    EU will be and should be different from US. There will be and will continue to be different languages, nations, traditions. But there is no reason for not having common currency, ability to travel and seek employment and have
    some useful union-wide institutions which work, such as (for example) FDA in USA. If a medicine works in Germany and Italy, will - it will probably work in Poland and Spain. There is lot opportunities and tasks here.
    Lets make it work !
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    Jun 13 2013: I am not European and it is not appropriate for me to comment on the politics. I would, however, like to introduce the possibility of taking a proactive approach and moving beyond the Information Age to Wisdom Networks. It is my view that many of the problems of the world are a result of structures of the Information Age.

    The underlying problem is that information is isolated, communities are opaque and deriving profit from information discourages the inevitable and necessary shift to transparency, access and a prevailing meritocracy which is the environment in which wisdom can be achieved.

    Society has crowd created connectivity (internet), information (world wide web) and software (open source software communities). The community needs to crowd create Wisdom (knowledge and action) in a person to person network which achieves accountability and transparency within our community.

    After a long wait, we finally have all of the pieces to move to the next stage of economic development. It is a future that has been described as the Network Society. It can now be enabled by Wisdom Networks. Wisdom Networks are a cloud of things, books, process and outcomes distributed amongst the people. A European Wisdom Network (EWN) could be launched within 180 days and (with citizen adoption) provide integration, accountability, transparency and accessibility within a short period. It may sound bold. However, Wisdom Networks simply reduce complex communities to 6 types of things and a few simple interactions. The cloud simply scales this simplicity.

    A introduction presentation "European Wisdom Network (EWN) crowd creates productivity, growth, a single digital market and Network Society ( http://is.gd/wnewn ). A second presentation "Wisdom Networks crowd create Network Society" provides 67 slides of detail ( http://is.gd/wnecon ). I uploaded these about a week ago. It's time I submitted them for review to the "crowd"
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      Jun 14 2013: Okay, as a student I am really thrilled about the concept. But I think it's a very scientific approach. Thats very unfamiliar to most of the people.
      You say that the status quo has changed and I would agree that for companies the use of Web 1.0 is absolutly compulsive. When we talk about Web 2.0 I think the acceptance and familiarity is still low (but growing rapidly). I don't think that we are ready for a wisdom network. Not yet. I still see the generation 40-50+ who are struggling, how to really utilzed their PC. Even our politicians just recently leaned how to use the internet. So from my standpoint I don't see that the status quo has changed that much.
      I also think that the expectations about implementing it are too optimistic, because you have to get rid of the existing system. Technically speaking you can't format europe and install a new Operating System. Scientificly I ecpect your estimates to be correct but I don't see a possibily to implement it that fast in real.
      But I really hope you proof me wrong!
      From a scientific standpoint I think it's a great concept, thanks for sharing it.
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        Jun 15 2013: You have described the reason for two phenomena that exist in our society today. Firstly, government use yesterday's solutions to tomorrows problems. Secondly, there is a 30 year delay before the internet is used to its full potential to reshape society. We literally need to wait 30 years for a generation to die out before opportunities to improve society are fully exploited.

        Government has a monopoly on power. It also has legislative power to make immediate change in society. Unfortunately, the hierarchy becomes more inefficient and ineffective the larger it gets. Government is further compromised by additional political considerations.

        Europe can not afford to wait another 15 years for the second internet generation to be given positions of influence. From an economics perspective, productivity is negative, growth is inadequate and debt is approaching unserviceable levels. From a social perspective, citizens of the EU resent others for a variety of reasons.

        Europe CAN launch an EWN within 6 months. We could call it "Europe The Game". Wisdom Networks have gamification or points built it. People earn points for the quality and quantity of their contribution. The effort and Wisdom of Crowds is bought to every 'thing' in Europe. It is a contribution that a government irrespective of size or budget could never match. George's TED talk describes how this would work in democracy.

        Europe NEEDS to accelerate the evolution toward the wisdom of crowds given economic and social challenges. Without a proactive approach Europe may descend into crisis, lower standards of living,and social decay. The future of 300m people depends upon politicians just learning to use a PC while most of their citizens spend 6-8 hours a day playing games or on social networks. Europe needs to harness this time and effort to unify Europe. The vision for a United Europe can be achieved with a gamified EWN.

        Will add a slide on gamification to the EWN presentation over the weekend.
  • Jun 13 2013: For most of the people the crisis conferences and discussions are too complex to understand. I think that Western Europe has generally underestimated the measure of corruption and manipulation in South and East Europe and they have to deal with it now. Maybe we should just slow down a little, instead of making the next decision, we could just consolidate and stabilize the situation. People feel a little forced, they may need some time to think. And as the next generation grows older, who was born in a more united Europe, they might think differently. To figure out which way Europe is going, will be a long process. I would hate to see Europe failing, but if this is what the people want, than we have to let happening it.
  • Jun 17 2013: 10 years might just be start itself.
    Uniting states to EU is the easy bit. Uniting nations into United Europe is the hard bit.
    The flags, the anthems and anything that lowers the chance of englishman to feel home in Ireland and a romanian in France is in the way.
    The way forward is through encouraging people to move out of their own pool, create mixed families and set roots. This will take generations and the process has started and its well on the way.
    We can all help this by including people from other states to our lives and supporting young mixed nationality families as much as we can.
  • Jun 13 2013: When I consider the biggest countries in the world, it appears to me that they are all too big.

    I think we should consider, what is the optimal size of a nation state? Consider the best countries in the world, the countries with the best education, income and health and the least strife and turmoil. I think it is fair to say that the best countries are middle sized. Some of the smallest countries are also the most peaceful. Large size certainly has benefits, but it is not at all clear that they are worth the costs. It appears to me that all large countries tend toward very powerful national governments that degrade individual freedoms.

    A united Europe would likely become another plutocracy.
  • Jun 13 2013: I have to say, Timm, maybe your letter should be addressed to everyone in the world, not just Europeans, since a united anything on this Earth effects us all... Right?

    I would really love it if the bureaucracy would all just end, everywhere. I live right in the border between Holland and Belgium, and it seems the borders have only become stronger the past couple decades, nationalism has been at an all-time high ever since the Euro was introduced and especially now with the global recession. Europe will never be united, not until our leaders understand that we already ARE.
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      • Jun 14 2013: I agree with everything you're saying, ZX - we're actually on the same wave length.

        What I was referring to, was that we are united as a world. We are interconnected, one nation affects another, each individual is connected to one another. But whether that will ever be accepted and bridged so that we truly can be unified is, like you say, unlikely.
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      Jun 14 2013: we have a super-predator growing and preparing to feast on us. in such times, people tend to keep together, and hope the predator takes not them, but their neighbor. this is the reason why we compete and not cooperate. this is why tribes close tight, and look at the other tribes with suspicion.

      it is a pity i can't tell this to mr papandreou himself. at least not on ted anyway, thanks to the moderators.
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    Jun 13 2013: Timm, I sat and listed the pros and cons of a united Europe ... the obsticles far out weigh the benefits. It would be good to see the lion and the lamb ... the frog and the limey ... etc ... to lay down together but I just cannot see it. The countries have to much history and baggage to set asiide. Some countries are representative and some socialist / communist ... there is a vast array of economic models ... Keynesian that spends with almost no regard to GDP or any accountability to the Austrian that is designed to be debit free and build assets. How about the royality of Europe .... some of the worlds oldest banking families are European .... industrial giants .... none of these would give an inch. The demonstrated problems with the Euro as a common factor highlighted the regional issues and the strengths and weaknesses of the various countries. Leadership would attempt to equalize the balance by takibng from the rich countries to invest in the poor countries ... which history has proven to be a failure in almost every case. A country that is designed to suck money from tourists has little in common with a industrial nation. The current problem of big government and social programs would only be magnified and become a even larger problem.

    I am from the USA and perhaps see this issue through a different filter ... I mean no offense. The USA may provide you with a model as we are experiencing some of these changes in our current administration. As a result of bad decisions we are on the brink of depression and recession .... and still spending and initializing social programs that have no basis for funding. We will fall soon. The combination of the FED and the administration have sealed our fate. You may also want to read on Argentina (circa 1916) and how it went from the top to the bottom in a total free fall and how that compares where the USA is today and where the EU may be heading also.

    Learn from history. Bob.
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    Jun 20 2013: A quick wrap up for everybody, who is interested what the outcome of this dicussion was.

    Sadly, i must say that the general opinion is slightly negative. The reason for that I think is the scepticism if a united europe can be created as an effective state without to much regulation and burocracy. So the real feedback was positive. Most of the europeans, who wrote, were not against the idea but didn't believed it was possible. Other problems mentioned were the dangerousness of a centralized government in connection with the immense size or that the cultural and historical differences are still too large. Our American friends reminded us that we should be careful not to take the same path as they did and that learning from History is absolutly mandatory. I think thats okay because we have to find our own way. We aren't the USA and it's not the 18th century anymore so there is clearly no blueprint to use. So we have to come up with something on our own.
    To conclude I want to say that if we would demand a poll tomorrow and ask "Europe yes or no" I think the collective answer would be NO, but not because the people don't want, but rather they don't believe it can be done properly.

    In the end I want to highlight the suggestion of Marcus Cake, who presented a very interesting approach to make it possible.
    http://is.gd/wnewn

    Thanks for taking part in this converation.
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    Jun 19 2013: Poles certainly (?) but i'm only sure that I want ... but what about the Germans, it is a question worth one MARK!!!
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      Jun 20 2013: Yeah, in Germany the resistence is constantly growing mostly because the media use the constant CRISIS Status to get big catatrophic headlines . I think there are many highly determined and enthusiastic people but they are all concerned. And the burocracy in Germany you can call " one of a kind" today so nobody wants to make it more complicated. If think it's also irritating for every german to see that the sympathy abroad is consantly decreasing because of the crisis management driven mostly by our government. Another problem is that due to economic effects Germany does very well despite the crisis. So many people think we should just mind our own problems but I think that is studip because Germany isn't able to stay competetive alone. But thats a fact the penny press is ignoring.
  • Jun 15 2013: I have mixed emotions about a united europe as it is targeted nowadays...
    I think it is way too early forcing such a unity-and besides economy i see no real reason why a stronger unity than we had before is needed.

    Quite frankly, i doubt that you can establish a unity when each single member state has such strong personal and unique history lasting for hundreds of years like the european member states do. It works when you start from scratch, without a "past", beginning something new.

    And i think the european states like each other for their diffrences, not for their simmilarities. There is no such thing that all states want to become, no common dream of "what" europe shall be like in future.

    I guess the union will fail, because nobody asked the people and there is no vision behind it but economical reasons. People need more than money to become united, more than work. But what is needed they already have, no need for a change.
  • Jun 13 2013: I am an idealist probably, but I love to see Europe, the way this continent has developed recently. I love to sit around a table in Germany with my friends from Italy, Austria, Hungary and even Syria and talking in 3 different languages. This could not have been possible only 20 years ago. This led to the fact, that Europe was war free in the last 20 years, the longest peaceful period ever in the history of Europe. Forget about economic gain and benefits, this is the major goal of the EU. The fact that I was born in one EU country, working in another EU country really makes me feel like I am an EU citizen and that Europe is my home. It is a beautiful, safe and free place. EU is safer than the US and socially more appropriate (health care is provided on the highest possible standard to every citizen, socially very secure), what do you want more?
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      Jun 13 2013: I want this place you are talking about without crisis conferences every week, without discussions if the eurozone fails tomorrow, without politicians who are blaming every mistake on another politician in another country, without discussions about borders and tax agreements.
      Europe today is beautiful, but if we don't know what we want for the future and follow this path with all determination, it's going to destroy itself from the inside. Thats my concern and I hope future will proof me wrong.
  • Jun 13 2013: European democracy without borders ftw!
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      Jun 13 2013: Does that mean you are agianst the idea of europe itself or against the current system? Do you want that every country should take care about it's own business?
      • Jun 14 2013: Not at all! I was not being ironic!
        I do want a United Europe without borders, and the Euro-Parliament to be our new common "National" Democratic Parliament. I think that no country can afford to only care about its own business anymore...
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    Jun 13 2013: The best thing for Europe would be to let people travel and trade freely without any hindrance on behalf of administration. This would be, I guess, real united Europe build by the people.
  • Jun 13 2013: Read my comment on the George Papandreou speech video. I think it's been tried before in a country called the USA, which was essentially a unification of sovereign nation states. What happened though, was that gradually the sovereign states power, and the power of their citizens was gradually diminished by tyrannical government, and the rich people who controlled it.

    One of the founding fathers, -Thomas Jefferson said (when reflecting on the Revolution against the British and before the ratifying of the U.S. constitution):

    "God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty (both of which are happening in the U.S. under false pretenses). What country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

    Much of the Constitution was drafted from the ideals of the Native American states of America (the Iroquois in particular). These people were generally honorable, and had faith in God and their fellow man. There needs were met by subsistence living. As greed became a viable concept, it was only a matter of time...

    It matters not whether it be a country great or small, as long as you are knowledgeable of who controls it and what their ultimate agenda is. If the rich are not removed somehow from financial power, nothing will change. So a unified European state is doomed to fail, if no measures are taken to combat the corruption which controls it now
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      Jun 13 2013: As I said. Maybe the idea is doomed to fail. Maybe it's stupid to want it. It's clear that there is no blueprint or example of a successful realization. I study economics and I understand the importance of a working economic system and resulting of that the unequal distribution of power. From an economic standpoint I think it's even more necessary for europe to unite if it doesn't want to become meaningless in a globalized world. But it's not the question if it is possible or how it should be done. The question is do we want to do it? If THATS the case, we can discuss what could go wrong.

      And judging the media and the first comments of this conversation the answer to my question is more likely to be a "NO" or a "I AM NOT SURE" than a "YES, I want it with all the consequences".
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      Jun 13 2013: "Much of the Constitution was drafted from the ideals of the Native American states of America (the Iroquois in particular). These people were generally honorable, and had faith in God and their fellow man. There needs were met by subsistence living. As greed became a viable concept, it was only a matter of time..."

      Not true
      • Jun 14 2013: Not True? ....and then nothing to back up your blatant contradiction?

        http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/hconres331.pdf

        The founding fathers had an almost unsurpassed, uncanny, knowledge and insight into the minds of men (humans) centuries into the future. They knew, had lived, and fought against the tyranny that we see in the U.S. today. Despite the ultimate abuse and betrayal, their intentions for the Indians were generally good, as the founding fathers were honorable men of integrity also.

        When I said "As greed became a viable concept, it was only a matter of time...", -I meant it was only a matter of time before a capitalist free market economy was abused and taken advantage of by greedy selfish men. The founding fathers, and Jefferson knew this, hence his statement, "God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion".

        The constitution is still a valid, legitimate, living document, that will always be correct, true, and relevant forever; the supreme law of the land. For decades and even centuries, our elected officials have violated their oath to abide by, defend, and protect the constitution.

        Native Americans had little or no problem with greed or corruption. As soon as the money entered the picture (expansion/industrialization), with little or no regulation or control, it opened the door for corruption and tyranny.

        "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely" -John Dalberg-Acton
        "Give me control of a nation's money [supply] and I care not who makes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild - His ultimate plan for America was realized after his passing.
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          Jun 14 2013: Yea I read the link the German chick put up also also as I stated to her your conclusion is non sequitur. Reread the link this time for comprehension. There were many sources for the ideas put in the constitution, not the least of which was natural law.

          She accused someone of tautology which I find ironic as if anyone is guilty of tautology it is her and you.

          Mr Pinter correctly expressed outrage at the use of coercion by the Greek government and his post was promptly removed. Indicating the water we swim in don't you think?
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      Jun 14 2013: i would say read mine too, but it has been deleted.
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    Jun 13 2013: I think there are very interesting approaches to my question. It will be undoutably very bad, if we would centralize europe into one big thing, ruled by Brussels. Also I think nobody thinks, that the current model o fhow politics works is the right thing to build up europe.
    But on the other hand the problem I see is that the union is especially designed for the "blaming game" Mr. Papandreou was talking about. If something goes wrong everybody will blame the others for screwing it up. Everybody knows that from other projects.
    I think everybody should feel responsible. So the only way to build europe would be from the bottom to the top not otherwise. As you said, others tried the top-down approach in history and we all know what happend.
    If the people want it it will happen.
    It will be definetly hard to do and the risks are very high, maybe it's also stupid to want it and maybe it's impossible, but that's not the point. The question is: Is it the desire of the people to work on a european state or not. Becauso if it's not there is no point that politicians are discussing.
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      Jun 13 2013: I don't know where I stand on the issue. I really like unity, it is one of the best things when used for good. On the other hand I think that we're being mislead by the politics of Brussels... A tough one...

      On a side note, politicians discuss useless things much of the time anyway.
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    Jun 13 2013: sounds cool but i don't think it's possible. :)
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      Jun 13 2013: Why not?
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        Jun 13 2013: I think it's impossible in at least 50 years. There are so many differences between all these countries in europe. People have different languages and have their pride to be german or french etc.
        But this is a attractive idea anyways, i also dream about united earth.
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          Jun 13 2013: I think that most people think that it's impossible because they think that most people think that it's impossible. Once we have enough people saying "It's possible and we're going to do it!" change is bound to happen.
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        Jun 13 2013: hahaha, cool, we can have a try.
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    Jun 13 2013: I think that a "One-world" world is the only possible solution in the long run. A "one- continent" (EU, AU, USAN, US, Pacific Union, Arab Union and so on) solution is a step in that direction.

    This is a simplified way of how I see our history. Tribes --> City states --> Kingdoms --> nations --> Unions (--> One world?)

    I do however have some really big concerns with how the EU is being run at the moment. And I don't believe that a union as the one you speak of will happen under the current political model.
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        Jun 13 2013: Yeah, I've been thinking of that as well, not sure if it's true though. Might just be something that we're told to keep the "We and Them" agenda going...

        Two states with opposing ideas would undoubtedly destroy each other wouldn't they?
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      Jun 13 2013: Yes that would be the ultimate tyranny.
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        Jun 13 2013: Yeah, wouldn't it be great if we could all tyrannize you Pat?
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          Jun 13 2013: And so he reveals his true colors, power corrupts absolute...
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        Jun 13 2013: I have no power Pat, It was meant as a teasing joke since we've had this conversation for so long and you keep calling me a wannabe-tyrant all the time, it was simply time to ridicule you.
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    Jun 13 2013: depends. if it means no borders and no red tape and no restrictions, good. if it means a huge megabureaucracy, like the EP, ECB, imposing stupid rules as they used to, then no.
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    Jun 13 2013: Alexander the Great, Caesar, Hitler, EEC, folks have been trying to unite Europe throughout history. The bible foretells a world superpower in Europe which tries to obliterate Israel at the battle of Armageddon .
    I live in Scotland, where we are shortly to be given the option of voting for independence. I think that would be a great idea, but what they mean by that is Independence in Europe. Not such a great idea.
    The only opportunity we got to vote on this was decades ago, and that was for a trading agreement. Since then we have been promised an in-out referendum at regular intervals, but so far no government has had the bottle to go through with it. They know full well that the vote would be NO.
    Power corrupts, & Europe gives politicians (unelected for the most part) far too much power. Nations have different histories & priorities; that's what makes life interesting. Money has become king, it's time we started prioritising people. Small is beautiful.

    :-)
  • Jun 13 2013: As an American maybe I should stay our of it, but beyond a point What would you gain but the Greatest Bureaucracy in the World. I believe that the EEC has expanded too much, and the Brits were right in avoiding the Euro. The corps of the EEC to a point is a good idea. Perhaps new groups should build aroung other ideas. Western Eastern Europe Super Russia Osman friends revisited, etc. heck I don't know, butr should everyone have to follow Sharia Law?
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      Jun 13 2013: The US is something like the EU, a union of states.

      I have to ask, concerning this "but beyond a point What would you gain but the Greatest Bureaucracy in the World" does that mean that you think the US is/was a bad idea? would you have it dismantled?
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        Jun 13 2013: The more centralized, the worse it is.
      • Jun 14 2013: It is logical you would think that? But the U.S. had a different origin and history than Europe. The main difference seems to be a rural vs. urban attitude which can be dealt with with courtesy and common sense. Unless you really wanted to destroy the uniques national identities of the countries of Europe which are really quite old. Why I say? You don't need to do that for peace or prosperity. I don't think that issue exists in the United States. Also, the most unhappy parts of America are the poorest which receive the most from the Union. The tremendous wealth disparity in Europe make some aspects of the EU unattractive. I mean even in the United States which has had one currency for over tgwo hundred years one still has to pay more to federal civil servants serving one place than another. The wealth differences in the current EU spell D I S A S T E R.
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    Jun 13 2013: I'm not european, but No
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      Jun 13 2013: I think that it's quite alright for a non-European to comment here, after all we have non-scientists commenting on science issues.

      Why do you think the EU is a bad idea? or does it come down to taxes?
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        Jun 13 2013: It has become a Tyranny of the Majority, have you heard of it?
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          Jun 13 2013: Haha, yes, yes I have!

          It was better when ancient kings who had divine right ruled over us peasants.
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        Jun 13 2013: Occasionally there was a benign monarch who was better but for the most part No it wasn't better. Whether the tyranny of a despot or the tyranny of a majority it is still a tyranny.
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        Jun 13 2013: Don't flatter yourself. People can do whatever they want as long as they do that activity without coercion.
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        Jun 13 2013: "What then" that is called the current U.S. and Europe

        3 choices Education, Force, or defang

        As demonstrated I choose the prior, a centralized government chooses the latter 2