Unanimity, Consent, and the Lisbon Treaty
By Arnold Kling
Some deluded soul in the EU read a copy of John Calhoun instead of Buchanan and Tullock’s Calculus of Consent. Hadn’t they remembered the history of 17th and 18th century Poland and decided that a unanimity rule is a bad idea?
What strikes me as remarkable is that if a majority of Irish voters had said “yes,” then this would have constituted Irish consent. If the majority of Americans voting in a referendum were to say “yes” to joining the European Union, would that meant that all of us have consented to do so? The procedures for amending our Constitution are rather stricter than that.
I would like to see government by consent look more like fast food by consent. I would like to be able to change providers of government services as easily as I can change from McDonald’s to Burger King.
I realize that there are many obstacles to having this sort of choice, at least the way we are used to government working today. I can stay right where I am and switch from Mickey D to BK. But to change local governments, I have to sell my house and move to a different city. To change state governments, I have to move even farther. To escape the federal government, I would have to move even farther still.
Conceivably, the government that I most want to live under is located in Brussels. But the decision of whether I live under that government ought to be one that I can make for myself, rather than have it made for me by a majority of people living in any location in particular.