Brexit: Economics or Racism?

June 27, 2016

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

others leavingAs you might know if you follow me on social media, I’m ecstatic about Brexit! My heart-felt congratulations to the United Kingdom for parceling off and getting out of the EU.

As I wrote last week, I’m absolutely confident that the UK can stand on its own and that it does not need to cow-tow to a larger central government to have the benefits it had as a member nation of the EU. If it fails, it will be entirely the fault of the UK getting in its own way, not for lack of EU hand-holding.

As a general principle, forced associations do not foster peace. Anyone who has just ONE family member that drives you insane knows you can only handle about one dinner’s worth of their company before things erupt and get ugly. If the strain of enduring a meal is impossible, imagine sharing living space. The fact is, going your separate ways makes that one peaceful meal possible.

The same is true for countries. The UK going back on its own will make the few needed cooperative moments with Europe, such as trade, possible. There was obviously enough resentment toward the EU to where it was creating hostile sentiments. Those sentiments stem from forced association, but manifested themselves in scapegoating.

The truth is, there has been a movement to get out of the EU ever since the UK joined… if not leading up to their initial membership even! Look at the Leave vote demographics. The older the voter, the higher the concentration of leave voters. Why is that? Because they were there when the UK joined the EU 40 or so years ago. They didn’t want it then, they don’t want it now.

brexit demographicPeople like to point to the recent refugee and immigration influxes out of the Middle East as the reason why the Euroskeptics’ platform has gained footing. That’s such a red herring. I’m not saying that there aren’t people who are total xenophobes with their own agenda, as is the case in any political collective. But on a list of top 10 reasons to get the hell out of the EU, that’s hardly among them for the UK.  The cost-benefit analysis just doesn’t favor them.  And in the end, a bottom line makes a far more compelling case to people than any anti-migrant sentiments.

People conquer for racism, but they don’t secede for it. In every case where bigotry was at the heart of an act of aggression, there was conquest, not retreat on the part of the bigot. Hitler’s Germany: conquest. American genocide of the Native American: conquest. Today’s Israel: conquest. America’s involvement in the Middle East: conquest. American Civil War: secession. American Revolution: secession. The last two were economic wars, not a race war.

Secession has to do with economics and self-determination. The US seceded over taxes. The South, which constituted about 25% of the population, was supporting a Northern gravy train, shouldering 70% of the US exports and 80% of tax revenues at the time of the civil war. When you hear about people expatriating, renouncing citizenship, or inverting into other countries, they are seceding! And much of the time it’s for economic reasons. (I’ll make allowances for the folks who just like the culture, have friends and family in other corners of the earth, or are just exploring the space.) They aren’t showing partiality to the culture or race that is most like them. They are showing preference toward the jurisdiction that is most respectful toward their wealth!

Even Jill Stein, who is on the very far left of the American political spectrum has this to say about the Brexit:

“The vote in Britain to exit the European Union (EU) is a victory for those who believe in the right of self-determination and who reject the pro-corporate, austerity policies of the political elites in EU. The vote says no to the EU’s vision of a world run by and for big business. It is also a rejection of the European political elite and their contempt for ordinary people.

“Unfortunately, the rejection was also motivated by attacks on immigrants and refugees, which must be opposed. That is a defeat.

“The Brexit vote is one more sign that voters are in revolt against the rigged economy and the rigged political system that created it. People want change and they will get it one way or the other.”

In the case of the UK, they left. And their leaving was 40+ years in the making. No one is calling Iceland or Switzerland racists or bigots for withdrawing their bids from EU membership. No one called Scotland bigoted for wanting to secede from the UK. No one called Quebec or Australia racist when they sought their own sovereignty through their failed referendums. Likewise, no one calls any other island country racist for not merging governments on the larger continent. So why the UK? Why single them out?

Look, racists drive cars and eat peanut butter too, but that doesn’t make people who drive cars and eat peanut butter racists.  There are going to be things that racists like, but that doesn’t make that a racist thing by association.  Likewise, racists might very well agree with secession, but that doesn’t make the act inherently racist.  It doesn’t detract from the myriad economic benefits of secession.  It doesn’t negate the liberties and self-determination begotten of decentralizing government and keeping it small.  Nor does it inherently promote racism.

Let’s not pretend for a second that the UK is the only country who is frustrated with the EU! And let’s not fool ourselves into believing that the success of this secession vote won’t lead to a precipitous exodus out of the EU either. Whether they think the EU is rigged, too liberal, or too conservative, it is obvious that each member country has its own comfortable ideas on how their respective societies should be run.

Frustrations are mounting throughout the EU. This is what forced associations do. The novelties have long since worn off. As Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP from England, points out the EU economy is stale and stagnant while the rest of the world is booming. Member nations are hostages to this. They can’t just sign other trade agreements with non-member countries. There’s a “process”. How are any of the troubled nations within the EU going to get back on their feet with so much bureaucracy?

Trade, immigration and residency privileges aren’t the only standardizations. There is also a call for standardization of welfare, and a standing EU army.

As it turns out the people of Hungary, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands… all of them have growing Euroskeptic sentiments. These are also large welfare states who have mostly stayed homogenous and had limited immigration problems… until Merkel started letting refugees in.

All of this poses not only an economic problem, but a democratic one. I’m not a huge proponent of borders, but I’m certainly not for imposing one will on another be it country-to-country or person-to-person. One of the major issues tied to a country’s self-determination is immigration policy. Merkel introduced a whole new problem to an already economically troubled region.

“Mrs. Merkel refused to back down on her controversial migrant stance, which has angered German taxpayers who will have to fork out £36 billion in welfare and other payments by 2017 and neighboring countries which have seen a surge of asylum seekers towards their borders.

“A war of words has broken out between Germany and neighbors Austria, as well as Balkan countries including Hungary and Slovenia, who all accuse the German leader of fueling illegal immigration with her reckless welcome to all Syrians.” (Source: Sunday Express)

Letting people in with a large and generous welfare state is not a good idea at all. If Merkel hasn’t yet realized it, she soon will. People think it’s a cultural thing. It’s really not. There’s no popular movement against productive members of society. You will always have hate groups regardless of politics, but on the whole, no one cares if you’re working.

People do, however, get jealously protective of welfare programs when they see them being used by people who’ve not been paying in. When they start to associate migrants with economic woes, then the migrant becomes the scapegoat, and anyone resembling the migrant is lumped in with them.  It’s an ignorant position to take, but still, this isn’t culturally motivated. Nor is it just because these people have a darker skin tone.  This is a byproduct of what first and foremost is an economic concern.

This is a similar problem found in the United States. People like to get pissed off at immigrants, but their real beef is with our welfare state. People like to get pissed off at gang violence, but their real beef is with our prohibition laws that beget that violence. People like to get pissed at rich people and large corporations, but their real beef is how the system is rigged to favor certain entities, and manipulate prices.

It’s funny how so many of the Remain folks wished the UK and EU could’ve come to an agreement on reforms. I don’t think that’s the way the EU works, from what I’ve seen. You’re talking about a group of people that had NO compunction of not only expropriating funds from pensioners in Cyprus, denying them their savings… but also had no spine to give Greece the boot when it came to them with their hand out for their THIRD bail out! Were the Remain folks really thinking the EU could be reasoned with? That their PM could “change it from the inside”?

Think of the story of the last two years. David Cameron criss-crossed across Europe, travelling from one capital to another, trying to get a better deal. And what did he come back with? Not one power was repatriated, not one of our budgets were reduced, not even a new treaty – the thing that he said was the minimum definitive sign that something had changed. That’s how intractable the European Union is, that’s how unable or unwilling they are to make significant concessions and so I want to ask Ed Balls just one question: if this is how the European Union treats us now, the second largest contributor when they are about to vote on whether to leave, how would we be treated the day after voting to stay?” – Daniel Hannan, MEP SE England.

Every single starry eyed congressman and senator in the US thinks they’re the next Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Every single person who votes still thinks if we work within the system we can change it. It doesn’t take long before they become part of the machine. Bernie Sanders was supposed to be that revolutionary candidate. Sold out immediately in support of Hillary Clinton once it was decided he would not win the nomination.

That it ONLY took the UK 43 years to figure out that the game was rigged only proves they are more astute than any of our member states!

Whether the US was an example to them or not, I don’t know. But our states are as diverse as the countries in the EU, and equally diverse within the states themselves. Red states are frustrated with blue states and vice versa. Centrally planning this much geography, this many economies, and this many people is a troubling notion if not a fool’s errand.

I hope this spurs more secession and decentralization. I really do. I hope other countries are galvanized by the success (albeit narrow) of the UK, and that momentum keeps going. Most of all, I hope it spreads to the US. I think member states and nations who are entrenched in federal welfare and funding will have a harder time of it as they have become so dependent. However, if we see richer, less dependent areas start to pack their bags, the whole scheme falls apart.

The keys to secession are: do you believe you can go it alone outside the establishment? Do you have an economic plan? And if not, is winging it STILL better than staying?

I think the answer is yes for nearly every member nation in the EU. I think the answer is yes for every member state of the US. I think the answer is yes for every productive individual in the world.

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Comments

  1. Michel Leduc says

    Nice text Bobby,
    I don’t agree with you on a lot of things in it, but one thing is sure: the EU is a very sick puppy. It is systemicly and chronically diseased. From a good idea of promoting peace and prosperity, the EU has turned into a bloated, bureaucratic monster.
    That being said, I disagree with you on the reasons why the British have voted out. In my view, the main reason for leaving is immigration. In one BBC interview, a man living in a riding that had voted 70% for leaving the EU said that is out vote was motivated by immigration. He then added, waving his hand in one direction,” Well the people in Europe it’s ok. It’s those muslims and arabs from Syria and Iraq that I don’t want to see. We have enough of them.”
    Another thing that made me choke on my glass of wine is when you say:” These are also large welfare states(i.e. France) who have mostly stayed homogenous and had limited immigration problems… ” Are you kidding me ? France has a very large immigrant population which came from Morocco, Algeria and Syria. Some of the second or third generation offsprings are the ones who have committed terrorist attacks like Charlie Hebdo, le Bataclan, le Stade de France. The situation is as bad in Belgium, where quite a few homegrown terrorists were arrested and promptly sent to France. Not having a border does help sometimes…
    I could go on and on but that would be counter-productive, but also premature. The referendum was held less than a week ago. The political conséquences, just on the British side, are mind-boggling. Why don’t we let the dust settle and see what happens next.

    • Kelly Diamond says

      Ok. France does admittedly have a diverse population. Still majority white, from what I’ve seen of their ethnic composition, but yes, diverse nonetheless. Nonetheless, a large welfare state and having an economic hard time of things. To be fair, they are coming off the heals of a bombing in Paris. I would sooner expect their issues to be more motivated by immigration than the UK though.

      The Brexit movement was strong long before 9/11. Their economy has stagnated. I think often immigrants are blamed for economic woes undeservedly. The same happens here. If you press Americans enough, you find they are upset at the economic burdens of jobs being lost to immigrants and other countries, immigrants getting on welfare, and resources being stretched thin. They think they are breaking the bank and they aren’t. Politicians and their collusion with banks are doing that.

      I’ve seen a lot of interviews that site “immigration” as the problem, but as they elaborate, they go on to talk about economic issues that they feel fall squarely on the shoulders of immigrants… that really don’t.

      I’d hardly call 2nd and 3rd generation “immigrants”. I mean what point do we consider them “French”? Perhaps to be clear, I see immigrants as first generation arrivals.

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