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by John Brian Shannon | July 3, 2016
“The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens.” — former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter
And in the UK, the vote on that was June 23rd. The result is there for all the world to see.
Had a mentally disturbed man not gunned down MP Jo Cox, the Brexit win might’ve been 70 percent.
Regardless, 52 percent of Britons said EU membership isn’t working for them, in one way or another.
And this is the whole point; If you’re a 1-percenter or an elite, the EU is a truly wonderful place to live. I’d have to call it an almost ‘unparalleled’ existence, living in historic Europe, beautiful Europe, a continent full of amazing cultures and such technological prowess and so much more(!) that it would take a year-long video presentation just to cover the basics.
But if you’re a ‘working stiff’ in the EU, it’s not so good.
OF COURSE, the economic problems in the EU and other Western nations, are globalization-induced. It’s so apparent it’s beyond all argument.
Fully half of the Brexiters angst could be traced or blamed on the follow-on effects of globalization.
That doesn’t give the EU governance architecture a ‘free pass’ however — on the contrary — the EU is one of the main ‘pushers’ of the globalization drug, and with that (good) drug come the (negative) side-effects;
Which are; the offshoring of jobs, higher unemployment, more competition for jobs, massive immigration / ghettoization, higher crime rates, higher societal costs (including, but not limited to; policing, court, incarceration, property damage, and intangibles like ‘how safe’ citizens feel in their own city) also higher traffic flows in airports / shipping ports / highways / and in cities — all of which suddenly require massive upgrades to handle the increased traffic. And so much more than that short list.
I’m the first to agree that the thing we call globalization is a truly wonderful and great thing! But the job is only half-done.
Globalization has created a permanent class of poor people (whose jobs were shipped to Asia, and many remaining jobs were taken by economic immigrants) a situation which has yet to be properly addressed in the EU.
When a society isn’t working for 2/5ths of the citizens, it isn’t working. Period. Full stop. Until the day it’s rectified.
And that’s what I’m hoping for. I’m waiting for the mandarins in Brussels (who can’t be fired by ‘The People’ because they’re unelected) to begin to address the shortcomings of their governance architecture — of which globalization is a major platform.
They should’ve been proactive all along, instead of spending hundreds of thousands of person-hours on what ingredients bread may, or may not have. (How ‘Soviet’ of them) I hear they’re working on the rules for shoe factories next week.
It’s difficult to believe that some people can’t understand how Britons could vote for Brexit.
- Either the EU must begin holding EU-wide elections for their highest officials (to allow ‘The People’ a chance to ‘vent’ when things aren’t going well) instead of choosing to ‘_exit’ the EU,
- the unelected mandarins must begin to address the negative aspects of globalization for the bottom two economic quintiles (2/5ths) of the EU’s citizenry.
Otherwise, the whole thing will eventually fail — with nations continuing to join the EU, but with more leaving than joining.
Were a similar referendum to the UK referendum held in every EU nation next week, I’d expect that 52 percent (or more) of EU citizens would vote to ‘_exit’ the European Union.
And that would be a crying shame. But it wouldn’t stop it from occurring.
There are few who support the European project as sincerely as I, but there comes a time when we must be candid about successes (many) and failures (only two; But causing two other failures, for a grand total of four failures) and with more failures likely.
The failure to address the;
(1) negative aspects of globalization, is caused by;
(2) a democratic deficit in Brussels, which caused;
(3) Swiss citizens to reject EU membership in 2014, and;
(4) British citizens to Brexit in 2016.
Stay tuned for more such failures — and all of it will be on account of the democratic deficit of the eurocrats in Brussels and their failure to address the negative aspects of globalization.
- Football, Brexit, and Us (Project Syndicate)
by John Brian Shannon | June 24, 2016
The People Have Spoken!
On the heels of United Kingdom’s June 23rd referendum centred on the question of whether UK citizens prefer to ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ the European Union, the results show that 52% of citizens voted to ‘Leave’ the EU, while 48% voted to ‘Remain’.
Within hours, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to resign no later than November, 2016 saying outside 10 Downing Street on Friday morning that he is “not the captain to steer the country through negotiations with the European Union.”
It is always heartening to see democracy in action, and PM David Cameron is to be commended for sending this historic moment to the people of the United Kingdom for decision — rather than simply trying to ram EU membership through the House of Commons without allowing the people to have their say.
Politicians in both camps also ran a very respectful campaign with few, if any, occurrences of untoward behavior — although partisanship was running high, as you might expect.
Yesterday’s vote exemplifies the best that democracy offers our civilization and highlights the moral courage of citizens to vote their conscience and the high level of decorum demonstrated by people who live in the United Kingdom. Not one act of violence or intimidation has been reported and there was no need to station military tank units or machine gun posts outside polling stations in order to guarantee the safety of voters — as is (very unfortunately) required in some nations.
Although some may be disappointed with the result, life will go on, and the people of the United Kingdom will continue to set a wonderful democratic example for the rest of the world.
Each successful democratic poll in the Western democracies, such as yesterday’s referendum, strengthens democracy not only in the UK, but around the world.
I very sincerely thank the citizens of the United Kingdom and their politicians, and the citizens and government of the European Union for their enduring commitment to our shared democratic ideals.
Yesterday’s historic vote sets another great example for our civilization.
by John Brian Shannon | June 21, 2016
Many non-British commentators have strongly suggested to British voters that they should vote to remain (‘Bremain’) in the EU, in the June 23 referendum.
Yet, some of those commentators have told other non-British citizens with opposing views on the issue (‘Brexit’) that they should refrain from expressing their strong suggestions.
Which I find odd, and troubling at some level.
I’m glad they’re worried about British voters being unduly influenced by the opinions of others in faraway lands.
But I’m not worried at all.
I think British voters are educated enough to be able to discern between the opinions of foreigners, and the opinions of present-day British citizens who are eligible to vote in the referendum.
By and large, Britons are a pretty educated lot and there are many nuances to British society that demonstrate they have plenty of 21st century sophistication.
British voters aren’t likely to get the proverbial wool pulled over their eyes by commentators from around the world. If they’re susceptible to that, they’ve got bigger problems than staying in, or leaving the EU.
I do agree that people shouldn’t be stirring up trouble. After all, it is illegal to run into a crowded theatre and yell, “Fire!” in a convincing way. And for good reason.
But a person can contribute their thoughts about a democratic vote in another country in a way that is designed to not inflame people to untoward behavior.
In fact, freedom of speech goes directly to the heart of the Western democracies which is exactly why it must be practiced often.
And whether we’re commenting about the goings-on in our own country or in our fellow Commonwealth nations, fair comment ought to be encouraged — as long as the commentator refrains from unduly inciting the voters of that nation.
Some commentators have made the case for, or against, the economic angle. It’s true that UK GDP has risen since it joined the EU.
Even euro-skeptics admit that United Kingdom GDP has risen — as compared to not joining the European Union.
Read: You can’t feed a family on GDP (New York Times)
How could it not? The EU is the largest single economic unit on the planet, slightly larger in total economic output than the United States and larger than other great economic powers such as the rising tiger in China.
Not that the bottom two economic quintiles in the UK have seen it!
The economic question, then, becomes; Will voting to ‘Stay’ or ‘Leave’ the EU result in higher income for the bottom two quintiles?
They’re certainly not seeing it now while still part of the EU, therefore, what would make their cohort expect to see higher incomes by staying in the European Union?
In fact, people in the UK’s bottom two quintiles say that recent and high immigration levels have ‘stolen’ many low-paying jobs from the two bottom quintiles and UK unemployment statistics seem to bear that out.
One can therefore empathize with very large numbers of people who’ve at the end of the day ‘lost’ more than they’ve gained via EU membership.
It will be interesting to see how many vote in the referendum and to look at their voting patterns, post-referendum.
Henry Ford used to say; “Don’t tell me what you can do. Show me what you’ve done.”
Many Bremainers are quick to point out that governance in the UK could be improved by staying within the European Union. And it goes without saying that the UK would be a force for good within the European Union as it relates to EU reform.
No doubt there has already been some of that. For one example, some labour standards have improved in the United Kingdom as a direct result of EU labour directives.
It’s too bad that recent (and high) immigration levels took huge numbers of low-paying jobs away from British-born workers, otherwise Britons would be able to witness those labour law improvements instead of reading about it in the broadsheets — while (not) enjoying life on unemployment insurance.
EU ‘Mission Creep’
Separate from labour law improvements and lower employment levels for British-born workers, is what could be termed the ‘bureaucratic mission-creep’ of the EU governance structure.
We all know what mission creep means in the military sense, it typically happens during long military campaigns where the fight has been long and hard, and the progress uneven.
Military commanders begin expanding the definitions of engagement and troop commitment on their own volition in order to more quickly or more fully attain their standing orders.
With the exceptionally clear lines of command found in military units, such liberties taken by commanders are almost always caught and rectified.
I don’t know that is always the case with regards to faceless, nameless bureaucrats who are in the business of running the EU’s governmental architecture. Many of whom may not be under the direct authority of duly elected politicians it must be said.
Instead of following the instructions of their elected leaders, such bureaucrats could easily engage in their own ‘mission creep’ and elected EU politicians wouldn’t know about it unless a whistleblower made it public.
For ambitious (unelected) EU bureaucrats with few checks and balances to worry about: Why bother to go through all the trouble of staging a coup (in a single EU country) in order to get the life they want, when by playing it coy and telling the politicians exactly what they want to hear over a period of years, the bureaucrats could eventually do whatever they wanted throughout the entire European Union, using the levers of power available to them in the existing governance architecture? Maybe with some help from other ambitious (unelected) EU bureaucrats?
Q: What are the chances of that, exactly?
A: About 100% — given enough time.
Who would know until it was already too late? How can you see hidden crime? How to stop them?
Eventually, the unelected functionaries in Brussels will be telling the elected politicians what to do, where to go, and at what time to do it. Some suspect they already are…
It’s bad enough that segments of the EU governance architecture are maintained by powerful and unelected individuals. When you factor-in bureaucratic mission creep it quickly scales-up to terrifying dimensions.
Some highly educated and respected commentators have spoken to the lack of democratic legitimacy for EU Apparatchiks and their masters the EU Nomenklatura — even at this early stage. I guarantee they’re not taking into account the bureaucratic ‘mission creep’ that is guaranteed to occur within the EU governance architecture over time.
It is likely to be cumulative and significant.
Windows of Opportunity
Quite separate from ‘Stay’ or ‘Leave’ debate is the future the British people could attain outside of the European Union political structure.
Some of us think that opportunities as big as the sky would be missed by the United Kingdom permanently joined to the EU.
While some ideas seem fanciful until someone crunches the numbers, a different plan could allow the United Kingdom to excel as never-before.
As there’s no precedent for the Brexit situation it could now become anything the UK government wants it to become.
Every day, we teach others how to treat us. At a personal level, how we interact with others shows them how to treat us.
Even the political relationship between nation-states are directed by human beings (not artificial intelligence bots) therefore:
As human nature is the foundation of all human relationships;
If we make people feel afraid, they will act defensively toward us.
If we solve their problems, we’re teaching them to become dependent on us.
If we act as their genuine partner, we are teaching them to trust us.
If we act as a team-player, they will either become part of our team or we will become part of theirs — either way, it works.
If we teach half of the UK population that their concerns aren’t a priority for us right now, we’re teaching them to withdraw from us.
In the end, we reap what we sow.
EU membership isn’t working for Britain’s bottom two quintiles and bureaucratic ‘mission creep’ will eventually bring a complete end to democracy within the EU, and Britain might miss windows of opportunity larger than the sky for as long as it stays in the EU.
If those reasons (and more that I haven’t touched on) aren’t enough for British voters to exercise their vote carefully, I don’t know what might qualify.
Whatever the results on June 23rd, I support the right of Britons to choose their future. It’s my goal however, to do my part to ensure that they go into the future (whichever way the vote goes) with ‘eyes wide open’ as opposed to ‘ears stopped shut’.
No matter the outcome of the referendum, the people of Europe have created an astonishing success story out of the rubble of World War II, and I salute their sacrifice, their dedication, and their ingenuity, and I very sincerely wish every one of them eternal peace, prosperity, and good governance.
Present Brexit/Bremain discussions aside, Europe is one of the brightest lights of our civilization. But we must always remember: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
And some in the UK expected better.
Isn’t that everything?
- Brexit in Context (Project Syndicate)
- With two days to go, Britain’s EU referendum vote still on knife edge (Reuters)