Talk to Me Like I’m Stupid: Brexit & American Conservatives Edition

As longtime readers know, I’m not much of a foreign policy wonk or international affairs guy. I normally stay silent on those discussions for the sole reason that I really don’t know much about them.

So it is that I haven’t really had an opinion one way or the other on Brexit, other than envying the way the British condense into a few weeks a litmus-test election we’d turn into a multi-year cottage industry. My gut tells me that England will be fine in the long run, and that so too will Europe and for that matter the United States. But — again — what the fish do I know?

BrexitreaxYes, I understood the appeal of Remain for certain Brits. (Stability, convenience, the pooling of risk, etc.) And yes, I understood the appeal of Leave for other Brits. (Nationalism, issues with the EU, the desire for the most popular member of every successful Boy Band to go solo.) Past that, though, the Brexit vote seemed a wholly British thing, and as such something entirely disconnected from me — kind of like if Queens voted on becoming its own municipality.

So it is with no small degree of surprise that I have witnessed American conservatives throughout the intertubes celebrating Brexit as their own personal victory.1 The kind of celebratory passion I’m seeing  is at the level I usually associate with a Republican winning the White House. It’s the kind of fever I expect to see if Obamacare gets thrown out by SCOTUS. I’ll be damned if I can figure out why this would be the case. And so I turn to you, Hive Mind, in search of an explanation to my question:

Why is Brexit a victory for American conservatives? Where exactly is their dog in this fight? What thing have they won that I am just not seeing?

As always when I have these questions, I thank y’all in advance for your wise counsel.

 

 

 

 Notes:

  1. An example. Another from same guy. — BL []
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286 thoughts on “Talk to Me Like I’m Stupid: Brexit & American Conservatives Edition

  1. One answer you’re going to get, of course, is immigration. Which drove a fair amount of the vote over there, and is an animating issue over here as well. That’s only a part of it, though, for at least a lot of people celebrating.

    Euroskepticism has run pretty deep on the right for a while, including among people with moderate or liberal views on immigration. The conservatives on my Twitter feed run the gamut on the immigration issue, and are very close 100% in favor of Brexit.

    Euroskepticism has long been a view on the American right and this is a pretty big victory, and one that was not really seen coming. Most of us were like “Yeah, the polls are close, but at the end of the day…” The main reason is a mistrust of international authorities getting to tell nations what to do, beliefs in sovereignty, and so on. With the exception of the UN, we don’t have many of those debates here in the US, so the EU is where those abstract thoughts become animated. And without consequence to us, if things go wrong.

    I would have voted Remain, but it’s complicated. If the UK were not in the EU, and were voting to join the EU, I would have voted against that, too. I am a Euroskeptic. I am also just naturally conservative about things like this (coming or going) and don’t believe they should be settled with 50%+1 vote. (I am mentally drafting a post on this, so will probably not go in to detail in this thread.)

    Other than myself, the only Remainer I can name off the top of my head is Damian Penny, who is Canadian. There are a few who are ambivalent. But support is pretty broad, from Trumper to NeverTrumper, it’s an area of agreement (even if reasons differ).

    I’m curious why you’re not as curious about liberals who believe that this is the end of the world. Do you not have those in your feeds? I think it’s generally the same there. It’s a place where abstract beliefs in internationalism can be put in to practice. Also, a visceral dislike of the elements of Britain that favor leaving, and so on.

    Really, I think a lot of it comes down to seeing ourselves in their debate. The people we like most are on one side, the ones we like least are on the other. Not so much the politicians (Cameron was reasonably well liked), but the archetypal supporters and opponents. Like I said on Morning Ed, some of the pro-Remain pieces really made me want to change sides. The same is true with liberal squeamishness about nationalism.

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      • Interesting. I’m seeing comparisons between Leave and the Confederacy, including from EDK! But not limited to him. Felix Salmon said something to the effect that Britain is just going to fall off into the ocean now.

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      • Because I honestly have not seen this.

        Here are a couple representative but substantial posts that were on my feed this morning:

        http://trait.tumblr.com/post/146396880634/brexit-what-the-heck-does-it-all-mean

        http://barbieaddams.tumblr.com/post/146394085876/as-much-as-its-fun-to-laugh-at-these-brexit-memes

        Yeah, the left is reacting very strongly against this. From here, it is being viewed as “basically the same sort of people who favor Trump,” which so far as I can tell is a close-enough-to-accurate assessment.

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        • Maybe? But these seem like pretty Frutrelle-ian examples.

          (To be fair, though, that might well be more of a statement about my lack of knowledge about “what music the hip kids today are listening today” than actual reality.)

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          • — Right. I mean, I dunno what the “established left wing press” is going to say. But then, “the left” these days — it’s real energy — is randoms on social media. That is how we talk to each other. That is how energy and information spread.

            Everyone is talking about this in tones of complete dismay. Nothing is even slightly measured. People are pondering the coming 3rd world war as Europe descends into nationalist chaos. A major recession is simply assumed.

            All I’m trying to say is, this is what is happening right now on “the left.”

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              • If you note, the young voters were overwhelmingly against Brexit in the UK. And the people with the bulk of the hysteria over here are…also younger voters.

                The left establishment and pundits, by and large, seem to be taking a tone more of “You just kicked the UK’s economy in an unprecedented way, and nobody knows how it’s going to shake out, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to be ugly and chaotic before it does” with a side order of “And you idiots either didn’t think about or lied about a lot of the potential problems from doing this”.

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            • AOL. Going by the feeds I’ve seen so far, a global economic downturn, Scottish independence, referenda in Netherlands and France, and English retirees having to winter in Torquay rather than Mallorca – is the most positive possible outcome.

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            • 3rd world war? ROFL. Seriously.
              People need to grow the fuck up and pay the fuck attention here.
              Russia and China are falling apart, and people think EUROPE is gonna cause world war 3??? Hahahaha.

              A major recession was already in the cards BEFORE this vote, so of course its assumed.

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        • Its more complicated than that because many on the Far Left of the Labour Party are Euroskpetics to. The decision to join the EEC had supporters and detractors in both the Conservative and Labour Parties. Corbyn was half-hearted in his support of remain because he is a Euroskeptic leftist.

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      • I would have said that it’s because liberal internationalism, and internationalism in general, is a project of more investment for American liberals than anti-internationalism is for American conservatives. I.e., if liberals have internationalism as a major tenet of their creed, then it follows that they would care a lot about the fate of structures like the EU – and that would be independent of caring about the politics of specific countries like the UK (though they do). Whereas, even if conservatives have something of a general anti-internationalist project (though again, I would say that it’s much less a part of their program, largely because it’s there mostly as a reaction to the liberal project of internationalism), my sense is that 1) it’s a lower priority for them than pro-internationalism is for liberals, but more to the point, 2) conservative anti-internationalism, I think it’s logical to conclude, is often motivated and partly bounded by the specific nationalism in which it is situated. That is to say, American conservatives are anti-internationalist (to the extent they are) precisely in order to preserve and protect America and the American way of life and American exceptionalism and the distinctive American character and so forth, from dilution through excessive concessions to an internationalist agenda. I don’t think it’s unfair to think this, because this is the basic political argument against internationalism made by conservative nationalists the world over – it’s always in very large part specific to its own nationalism. The extent to which one can find conservative arguments against internationalism that are framed from the global perspective (i.e., “Internationalism is bad for the whole world and every country individually, regardless of how I feel about it for my own country”) is quite limited. The liberal case for internationalism certainly has its share of appeals to national interest as well, but I think it’s fair to say it is more internationalist in character. As a result, I think it’s fair to expect them to have less investment in developments in internationalism that don’t directly involve the U.S. than liberals, at least liberals for whom internationalism is a big part of their political viewpoint.

        I’m not surprised that there has been a conservative swelling in the U.S. in response to Brexit, and I do present the above in a bit of a consciously naive way – i.e., I wouldn’t actually use that view to set my expectations – but I do think that there is some reason along these lines to expect conservatives in various countries to be less. Indeed, I actually sort of expected the conservative shouts of approval to be more pronounced, and I kind of think that it makes sense that they’re not, per the above. I think they might have been louder, though, had it not been for the resonance between the Trump phenomenon and Brexit. I suspect conservatives would be more vocally pro-Brexit if they didn’t feel that roughly the same kind of forces had just given them Trump.

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    • It is an odd feature of this debate. While i’m anti-brexit and i am sympathetic to some of the pro B concerns. But when i would read Pro B pieces it often made me less sympathetic. Maybe the most animating arguments for each side weren’t the ones i bought so hearing the strong advocates make bad arguments made me less convinced.

      When i biked through the Czech republic a few years ago i heard plenty of good reasons why some people don’t like the EU; to many arbitrary rules, to bureaucratic, hurts local economies. However it does seem like the Pro B’s are just ignoring all the positives of the EU.

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      • This is common to opinions on any social order. If you see/feel* the downsides of something much more acutely than you see/feel* the upsides (because, for that person, the upsides are more diffuse or transparent), you are quickly going to become intolerant of it.

        *This, of course, need not be direct experience. It’s very easy to sell di/satisfaction to people, depending on their situation. If you have a minor grouse with institution X, and somebody wants to, they can make that grouse seem much more intense, and the converse is true as well.

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    • Yeah, it’s a little weird that everyone cares so much about this. Britain was perpetually half in and half out of the EU; why is anyone surprised that they finally picked a position?

      edit: I swear I didn’t see @glyph’s post above. For those interested, I am young enough for the period he’s talking about to encompass much of my life, and this utterly fails to surprise me.

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    • An update to my earlier comment. I am starting to get more conservative Remain advocacy on my feed. Notably, perhaps, no white Republicans/conservatives yet. (To be clear, though, some non-white Republicans/conservatives on my feed have voiced support for Brexit.)

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  2. I think the answer is “nationalism,” which frankly to me looks quite a bit like “xenophobia with some relatively translucent window dressing.”

    The forces that seemed to animate the “Leave” voters were a desire to not be subject to the decisions of faceless bureaucrats in Brussels that they felt they had no power to select or control; a fear that the UK was being economically and culturally swamped by immigrants who would not assimilate into English culture fast enough; a fear that the excessive entanglement with the economies and politics of other nations would not allow the UK to pursue a path in its own best interests.

    These parallel things that animate American conservatives. They feel like bureaucrats, judges, and Democrats from far-off places culturally distant from their own homes have too much power over them; they feel like there are such large numbers of immigrants coming in to America that honest hardworking native-born citizens can’t get work and can’t find any of their comfortable familiar cultural icons; they feel like our trade agreements deny our government the ability to act in our own best interests as opposed to the interests of an amorphous blob of poorly-defined elites that for damn sure don’t include them even though they are still very much in the majority.

    We can say “pish posh” to all of these assertions, but as a “Stay” voter wrote in the UK today upon seeing the voting results, it’s become a “post-factual world.”

    Seeing that happen in a culture not all that different from our own gives conservatives here hope and inspiration.

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    • This explanation would make more sense to me if US conservatives had been hard backers of Scottish independence a year or so ago. But I have no memories of them caring. (Which, of course, might be my memory, not the actual past.)

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      • US conservatives were against because the Scotish Nationilsm overlaps very closely with Scandinavian levels of welfare state. The big driver for independence was keep English Tories hands out of my NHS (free university education/housing subsidies/child support/you name it)

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        • Let’s see, what else goes on that list… The SNP opposes, long term, basing the UK’s ballistic missile subs and Trident nuclear warheads at Faslane. London has at least suggested that there’s no suitable alternative, and that loss of Faslane would pretty much put them out of the strategic nuke game. Scotland has pushed hard for renewable electricity, and I believe the SNP’s official policy is “no new nukes”. For the price of a big nuke plant, they could probably build an HVDC link to Iceland and get hydro and/or geothermal base load power.

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    • I think the other element, which is also present in Republicans, is disdain of experts/technocrats.

      Brexit voters (like Republican voters that pine for non existing factory jobs) have no clue how large the economic impact of being Europe’s financial capital is(*). To them, it was always about Polish plumbers, and when technocrats warned about the economic impact their reaction was either to ignore it, because experts are elites worth only of mockery, besides, because finance is not real, or to welcome the destruction of the financial sector, because it will teach toffs a lesson (plus, finance is not real).

      The impact will be dramatic. And you can see it in Boris Johnson agreeing that there is no rush to invoke Article 50 and start the process.

      The other funny thing is that, the best case for the UK: being out of the EU but remaining in the European Economic Area, like Norway or Switzerland, they will still have to allow for free movement of people: so the Polish plumbers will stay.

      All this pain and yet the main objective of most Brexiters will still be lost.

      (*)But you cannot be Europe’s financial capital if you are no longer in Europe

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      • I could be wrong, but Johnson signing on to the Brexit seemed mostly a maneuver of opportunity. Like he could have gone either way, but there were better and faster opportunities down that path.

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        • You could be right, but he became the Tory face of Brexit, and probably will be the next Prime Minister come October.

          Between him, Teresa May (the most milquetoast Remain you can imagine – plus a War Criminal wanna be) and (the probably now politically dead) Cameron’s Dauphin George Osborne, the Tories really don’t have much more to chose from

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      • I think one of the reasons I feel so blasé about the matter is specifically that this referenda isn’t a literal invocation of Article 50 yet. I honestly feel like this vote is the severed horsehead and Europe is going to scream piercingly and make up some offers to get Britain to stay that the relatively pro-stay British establishment will use as an excuse to stay. I’d presume there’ll have to be an election fought on the matter before Britain literally invokes Article 50.

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        • I agree with the second part of your statement. I think it’s likely that the next government come October will voluntarily trigger a no confidence and call a snap election (a snap election is not possible unless a lot of Tories vote for it too) and let the new government deal with Article 50

          I totally disagree with the first part. If the cost of playing chicken and threatening to leave is zero, then everybody will do it. Perhaps everybody should leave, but that’s a different political decision that should be taken en toto, not by letting everyone play both sides: in and out, depending on the issue. I think the EU will not be accommodating, and they have already asked the UK to start the Article 50 process ASAP.

          You really cannot keep the not in-not out status for too long. After all, you are not Romania. You are the purported finance capital of Europe. If you are not going to be in for the long run, the EU better find itself another finance capital.

          I’m sure several bank executives are buying first class plane tickets to Dublin as we speak.

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  3. IMO it’s really all about nationalism. That touches on immigration, not being forced to honor the whims of lesser countries (like some Americans feel about the UN), not being dragged down by foreign economies, etc.

    My personal feeling is that considering who in Hollywood is complaining, I should probably be happy about it.

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  4. From what I have been reading, a big part of the conservatives here supporting Leave comes from the idea of striking a blow to neo-liberal technocracy (that is my interpretation, no one has said that directly.) And in that idea, I support leave. In general I am against technocracy as it doesn’t seem to help “raise all boats,” rather it raises the boats of those whose hands are on the technocratic levers, indeed that is why they have hands on the levers, though they convince themselves that everyone really wants what they want.

    This is a rather large part of what informs my Libertarianism.

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    • I’m a bit curious about that, since it seems to me that a libertarian ought to be torn. The EU means bureaucracy and regulation for the UK, but also open borders, free trade, and possibly the prevention of future armed conflict. Do you think that this reflects some of those values being more important to you than others, or is there something else at play?

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        • In the short or medium term, nobody. But the failure of the EU is a necessary condition for any armed conflict between member states, so an outcome that puts the European project at risk increases the odds of war down the line.

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          • the failure of the EU is a necessary condition for any armed conflict between member states

            Well, Yugoslavia shows that merely drawing national boundaries around rather than between entities isn’t sufficient to prevent armed conflict, and AFAIK the creation of the EU has not led to a reduction in national identity among member states. As Matthew Yglesias pointed out, “A unified EU soccer team would dominate the World Cup, but nobody would actually want to root for it. ”

            ISTM that in the case where the EU fails and then war breaks out, the EU failing would be seen as an additional symptom of the underlying causes of war, not as a cause in and of itself.

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      • Those are issues are taken into consideration among the libertarians that I know and read, But the Continent State of the Unelected European Overlord overshadows that. So yes , torn. (Some English libertarians are also giddy at the thought of getting rid of Scotland and its dole state.) And a Ken below me alludes, the idea of another European war at this point is not really in most peoples minds (an eastern front on the other hand…)

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    • This struck me a either shorthand or glib. Isn’t the phrase “technocrat” hiding the ball?

      Do you dispute that post-exit UK would lose EU research grants, EU students (with associated revenue, and completely free infra-EU travel? Do you dispute it will disrupt the market and risk the UK losing its top seat in finance? Which arguments from experts do you disagree with? Or are all experts simply wrong because they are experts (except, presumably, the experts attacking the first group of experts).

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      • Seems like a mistake to discuss the government goodies without also looking at the costs. How much is Britain paying into the EU to help fund some of those things?

        I don’t really know much about the EU arrangement but it’s certainly a common enough habit among liberals to talk about the wonderful gifts our government gives us without considering that we’re also supplying the money for them.

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        • The UK is a net contributor to the EU (because the EU has added less wealthy eastern european countries that get a lot of support). It is a net beneficiary of science funds, for example. It certainly has a far better university system than any other EU country, and also therefore benefits from pan-european education programs.

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          • This doesn’t make sense to me. If the UK is a net contributor then it doesn’t make sense to say that funds from the EU are a benefit — if they want to spend that money then they can do that on their own. Similarly, the UK is free to set their own immigration policies as they see fit. Only those benefits that the UK can’t provide on its own should be included in this accounting — free(r) trade, freedom of movement from the UK to member states, etc.

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      • Well, along with the points KenB mentions, what I mean by Technocracy is, in general a government that is supposedly lead by data driven inputs and best practices. In reality, both of those ideals are in reality moral positions when looked at from a different vantage. For example, welfare benefits, which from a technocratic standpoint could be looked at as a sort of GBI, which is essential to the modern state moving forward, while the working class may see it as over straining already tight resources for people who haven’t really paid into the system. Now I am guessing that many here would see the welfare as an important part of the new internationalism, but that is a moral choice. Different than the moral choice of the of the working class, and in reality no better. Just, in my view, coated with the a veneer. Experts aren’t wrong because the are experts, they are wrong for the same reasons that command economies are wrong. Which isn’t that they are wrong, it is that they don’t have all the information no matter how hard they try. They create as many harmful externalities as they solve.

        Could/will the UK loose things? Absolutely. But they do have their own university’s doing research, their own students whom they can develop, and they can let in promising foreign students who want to research there. Will France shut down its end of the Chunnel? Ban all Englishmen and the money they do bring? Could it loose its top seat in finance? Oh, sure, like any divorce it will be painful.

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        • On Facebook, Jason linked to an essay by a left-libertarian who came to the conclusion that the welfare state is required to get people to agree to a free market and a deregulated economy. Your going to have provide some economic security in some way.

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        • You’d have to climb well out of the working class in Britain before you are going to find a lot of people who look at welfare in its various forms as a bad thing straining limited resources. Hell, Trump is demonstrating that not even the right wings working masses fancy getting rid of welfare; certainly not for themselves.

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          • In other words, Liberalism isn’t an ideology, it’s just an adherence to Good Facts.

            In other words, what’s wrong with conservatism is that it has a moral philosophy. Not that its moral philosophy is wrong.

            In other words, liberals have a monopoly on reason.

            Liberalism, according to Chait, has no ideology. Only a desire to use data in order to produce “beneficial outcomes”. How do we know what outcomes are good? Unanswered. Irrelevant.

            In practice liberalism’s commitment is to capitalism (but nicer!). Its moral question is “How can we grow GDP, but in a way that isn’t quite so brutal as the conservative plan?”. I believe that these are not especially good moral goals, but the more immediate frustration is that liberals by and large do not want to admit that they are moral goals. Just the results of Good Facts in a vacuum.

            This, at bottom, is the trouble with The Smug Style. If you do not admit that you have ideological commitments, you will be blind to the harm caused by those commitments. If you believe the trouble with others is that they don’t share your dedication to Facts, you will tend to believe they are either willfully ignorant or stupid. You will fail to defeat your ideological enemies. Worse: you will fail to understand the nature of the battle itself. Chait’s essay shows us not only the fundamental nature of the smug style, but also its consequences.

            Emmett Rensin

            It isn’t experts per se, but technocrats. The above pretty well explains it.

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  5. I concur with and . American conservatives were always generally against the centralization that you find with the EU and they oppose it hear as well. Democratic types generally support stronger federal government and centralization these days.

    I think Brexit gives them hope that the GOP won’t be savaged in November by Trump’s tanking numbers. They hope the same forces are secretly in play here.

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    • I think Brexit gives them hope that the GOP won’t be savaged in November by Trump’s tanking numbers. They hope the same forces are secretly in play here.

      This is definitely true of Trump supporters. Obviously, it doesn’t have the same currency with Brexit-NeverTrump folks.

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    • Yes, especially the latter part. Trumps national campaign launch, such as it is, has not been filling politically engaged supporters with hope. The Brexit forces tend to feel and look a lot like the Trumpkins on this side of the pond so seeing them pull out a win is viscerally satisfying and reassuring to the Trumpkins suggesting that the possibility of a quiet majority in their corner is not as far fetched as it seems (and IMHO is).

      Add to that the establishment rights general horror of the EU both justly (undemocratic, administratively bloated, cumbersome, intrusive) and unjustly (pacifist, irreligious, low military spending, multicultural); and you really can find something for everyone on the right wing in America to like.

      Oh and anecdotally most of my liberal feeds are full of bloodless “The EU had better up its game and start sorting shit out” analysis.

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    • I actually don’t think it will have a major impact on November:
      – Sanders holdouts have an object lesson in what lack of “tactical voting” gets you.
      – So does the DNC with regards to complacency in the ground game when the poll numbers are going your way, and also in the wisdom of triangulation rather than pointing out the weaknesses in the other guy’s policies (one of the things I have heard from UK posters is how little the Remain side did to point out how much money flowed back from the EU, tacitly supporting the Leave narrative).
      – Not just the 1%, but all Country Club Republicans who know what a bond rating is realize how their bottom line will be affected by a populist victory.
      – Conservative minorities get another chance to see just how much some people are willing to sacrifice in order to be exclusionary.
      – A potential summer economic slowdown in the USA is going to be lost in a worldwide financial crisis that is unequivocally not Obama’s fault.

      Maybe I’m whistling in the dark. Maybe I’m too scared of the filthy scarecrow waving his broomstick arms where your eyes don’t go…

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  6. I like the answers others have given, so I’ll just note that this morning I saw someone refer to the “facist communist EU”. As oxymoronic as that is, it gives one a sense of how much certain people hate the idea of collective action.

    This is an idea that all democracy is based on, but they hate the idea that one holds a vote, and then one abides by the result, even if one did not vote for that result. This is the fundamental issue of a republic, and one which has been in dispute in our own.

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    • I think this is true, though it should be pointed out that lack of democratic legimitimacy is one of the complaints of the EU, and the UK democratically decided to leave and it’s the EU fans who are pointing out the flaws with democracy.

      Not that I disagree with the latter, but it is what it is.

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  7. Forgive me, I’m ill and in bed and slightly bonkers today. But also seems worth noting that amidst the left wing dismay there is also a left wing sympathy-with-leave which overlaps a tiny bit with a certain kind of Bernie supporter (#NotAllBernieSupporters). They’re angry at heavy coverage of falling of financial markets as opposed to working class dismay which (they say) drove the vote. Got into a very tiny snarl with author Walter Kirn, whose a representative voice of this trend, on my Twitter TL about this.

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  8. Ahem… I live in the UK, so let me give my two centspence on it.

    If I had registered to vote 3 months ago, I would have voted remain.

    That said, I talked to someone who did vote for to leave. She is a property agent (she was showing me a house and was driving me home) and in fact the co founder of her property firm. Her concerns were two things:

    1. She did not mind refugees or immigrants who came in and worked. She had lots of nice things to say about Syrian doctors etc etc. What she minded was the abuse of the welfare system. Maybe its a big problem, maybe its not. But welfare abuse is an understandable concern.

    2. UK joining the EU created a whole new layer of regulatory burdens. Part of this is that when regulations are made uniform for a whole continent, it is going to be less responsive to particular local concerns. She also felt that there was more regulation and bureaucracy since joining the EU.

    There are, if this property agent is right, at least some object level policy concerns that count in favour of Brexit, or at least that animate it and which I think helped garner support for Leave from the moderates.

    Well, at this rate, there is probably going to be some retaliatory action from the EU. Scotland, probably will leave the UK to re join the EU. In the long run will this be better or worse? I don’t know. In the short run there will be some significant amount of economic pain. Scottish separation will be a big blow to British prestige in the international sphere. Maybe that is good for the world, maybe its bad. I don’t know that either.

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    • Did she mind welfare abuse in general or welfare abuse *by immigrants* in particular? Because that’s kind of a big difference. I mean, everyone loves the Huxtables, it’s the Obamaphone lady they mind.

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          • That “or” seems to be doing a little heavy lifting there.

            As for the pernicious, horrible racism that it would be, I don’t see how that’s an argument for or against the sentiment’s existence. Is this one of those things that I should be polite enough to not notice?

            I should also probably be polite enough to not notice how the proverbial antibiotic of accusations of racism seems to be meeting more and more resistant strains in recent years.

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              • The beauty of playing a game ABOVE the game is that you can sit back in a comfortable chair while sipping a cocktail or shooting down trees and judge the game-players on the assumption that there isn’t anything more to their views than playing a game, while KNOWING that it’s really nothing more than that. A game!

                Adding: “Well you got yer homicidal racists over here and your peace loving hippies over there, and when it comes to hypocrisy Both Sides Do It.”

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                • It’s also fairly important to notice the mechanics of the game below the game.

                  And I am sitting in a comfortable chair in a luxury hotel while sipping a double espresso that was started for me the moment the hostess saw me walk into the dining area.

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                  • — Please understand that there is no “meta,” not really, if you presume to “play meta,” well that is kind of a dick move.

                    Did you know that the word “game” was on of Wittgenstein’s examples of a word whose meaning no one could agree on. We can use the word “game” for many things, but it is so slippery. On the one hand, games are superficial, they are unserious — but on the other they are fucking life-or-death. The word means all of that, and when you use it the way you are using it, you get to wiggle around in that space. That’s a dick move.

                    A better word is “systematic.” Yes, there is a structure to this. Yes, people do things for reasons, and there is strategy and back and forth and posturing and many things.

                    If you are commenting on a social situation, and if anyone is listening to you, then you are also part of the (as you call it) social “game.” There is no meta. There is no “above the fray.” What there are, instead, are different levels of vulnerability, people with different stakes.

                    If you’re stakes are rather low, but your influence high, then indeed people are going to notice that. This position will itself become a “piece on the table.”

                    And then perhaps you feel like you have something at stake. And so you will play “the game.” To pretend you don’t play is to be dishonest.

                    #####

                    Please understand, the term “game” can be used in a way that is cynical, dismissive, and arrogant. “Oh they’re just playing social games,” is not a nice thing to say. If you say that to people, they will not like you.

                    You said that. You were being snide. This was unambiguous.

                    For those of us who have no choice but to play these games at high stakes, it is insulting. I feel insulted by you. I feel as if you are dismissing real struggle.

                    This is not “all in my head.” You certainly are smart enough to follow the chain here.

                    Please change how you think about these things. You are part of it. There is no outside.

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                    • Well, there are many ways to play.

                      But when I say something like “I observe a Phenomenon Phi” and the responses have more to do with how I ought to have phrased my observation rather than whether my observation is incorrect, then something is going on. A different game yet again.

                      It seems to me that if there is a problem that tone policing is a solution only in the very short term.

                      In the short-to-medium term, it seems to me that a likely result is a referendum that goes the wrong way.

                      And one of the responses to this referendum seems to be, as far as I can tell, criticism of those who chose the way they did. I suppose that’s all well and good… but, as you said, there is no meta here.

                      If we can’t see why there was a Brexit, we won’t be able to address what’s going to happen systemically over the next decade or so.

                      I suppose, in the short term, we can talk about me, though.

                      Less overhead.

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                      • — The problem is the “Is this one of those things that I should be polite enough to not notice?” phrasing. Right at that point you made it about you and about your stakes in discussing the issue. That is when you turned the lens to Jaybird, and thus here we are.

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                        • Not sure I agree. I can find evidence that the problem was with my original phrasing of my “like it or not” comment.

                          (Phenomenon Phi is still over there, by the way.)

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                    • There is always meta. It is very difficult to escape meta. The only way to escape meta is to agree on the meta and abide by the meta. Either that or not talk to each other.

                      There are at least some cases where we can distinguish between object level disagreements and higher order ones.

                      Suppose I believe P and you believe not-P. That’s an object level disagreement.

                      Merely stating our first order reasons for our positions (R1 and R2 for me and R3 and R4 for you) does not make it meta. It is meta when we disagree about whether some argumentative move of type M1 is an acceptable move. where the movement from R1 and R2 to P is a token of M1. Hell, meta level discussions often just involve us sussing out what kinds of argumentative moves the other person is committed to seeing as acceptable.

                      The mere fact that meta-level disagreements bear on object level issues does not mean that meta-level issues are the same as object level issues.

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    • Something else I saw mentioned – co-membership in the EU was arguably a major calming factor on the tensions between Ireland and NI. If that co-membership is broken, not only is the influence removed, but there will also no longer be an open border. In a lot of ways, this risks returning to the status quo ante, which was basically a low-intensity civil war at times.

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    • Does “welfare abuse” actually mean some sort of fraud or other illegal activity? Or just immigrants making use of the system? I can understand why people would be bothered by the idea of folks who haven’t “paid into the system” then making use of advantages of that system. But to call that abuse feels… wrong.

      It also assumes that all the non-immigrants who make use of the system did pay into.

      Of course, there are probably no shortage of people who object to those people making use of the system also. Or, at least, the people they think are those people.

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      • Its a matter of deterioration of services: If lots of europeans come in and use the welfare services which are already overburdened, things start going to shit at an accelerated pace. Ideally the policy should have been to limit welfare services to British citizens, but given the almost complete lack of private sector in healthcare provision, that’s not a viable option. If the only healthcare is government subsidised healthcare, then the NHS just cannot accomodate those extra numbers.

        Edited to add:

        I have little qualms resolving the conflict between open borders and the welfare state in favour of open borders. But for people who have grown up with the welfare state and have recently faced cut backs on it, it is a lot more understandable if they don’t come to the same conclusions that I do.

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        • You can’t do that in the EU with EU citizens under the freedom of movement treaties. EU citizens have the same rights as nationals -even if rights change from country to country.

          You probably won’t be able to do that even after Brexit if somehow the UK ends in a Norway/Switzerland kind of deal – remaining in the European Economic Zone.

          Plus there is a matter of equal protection. EU citizens in the UK pay the same UK taxes as nationals. It’s kind of rude to say they cannot get the benefits their taxes pay for. Should they be allowed in the roads at all? That too is a benefit

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          • Golly, that’s a real pickle. If only there were some sort of mechanism for allocation of goods and services under which people paid for the things they used, in proportion to their costs, so that nobody else would be burdened by their use of those things. Kind of like the way we do at supermarkets.

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            • I’m sure there is. I hope you pay every time you step on the sidewalk. Those things aren’t free, you know?

              [“Those things are paid with my taxes”, says Brandon Berg]
              [“Imigrants pay the same taxes. Have the same right as you to the goodies”, he heard answered]

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          • There has to be some way you can manage a “no coming to the UK just for the NHS” kind of thing right?

            Plus there is a matter of equal protection. EU citizens in the UK pay the same UK taxes as nationals. It’s kind of rude to say they cannot get the benefits their taxes pay for.

            The problem is that the particular subset is not paying taxes right?

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            • I understand you are there in the ground, so to speak, so I take your comment seriously, but from where do you get the conclusion that Polish plumbers in the UK do not pay UK taxes?

              Are there medical tourists from Bulgaria coming for free quadruple bypass at the NHS and then leaving? Perhaps, but my understanding is that, absent emergency care, you have to register with a local GP and, more or less, be local (have a local address, etc, all of which makes you liable to taxes). If there are medical tourism, they shouldn’t get bypasses, or Bulgaria, where they pay taxes, should reimburse them.

              Full disclosure: I’m a USA citizen living in Houston, but I’m also a Spanish Citizen from Barcelona, with two elder British born and raised brothers (born in “bugger Bognor” Regis), now living in London, and I travel there several times a year

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              • European citizens with a Euro health card are eligible for free non-emergency care anywhere in the EU and Switzerland. There are also other forms of social security which do not require much or any paying-in in order to be eligible to claim benefits from. If this makes it very easy for unproductive europeans to just come to the UK to sponge off this generous system then the system is going to fail.

                Now, it may turn out that given the actual numbers, the influx of foreigners is not a real worry, but it is understandable that people might think otherwise.

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                • If a Bulgarian citizen has a Eurohealth card, then I would assume he has paid for benefits in Bulgaria. The fact that he uses his card in the UK for a quadruple bypass the day after jumping off the boat is kind of a dick move. But in principle UK citizens can do medical tourism in Bulgaria too. Perhaps the waiting time for critical, but not emergency, surgeries is shorter in Sofia than in Liverpool.

                  Now, a Polish plumber that has been in London several years has for sure paid into the system, perhaps less than a British plumber, but that’s the nature of health insurance in the grand scheme. I pay fully my health insurance in the USA and most years I only do my (free) checkup. I have a colleague with a handicapped child that runs through his deductible by mid February. He will never pay enough into the system to make up what he is taking out. Is he like a Polish plumber? Should we stop treatment to his kid until he gets up to speed with paying into the system?

                  That’s my concern. Once the Polish plumber sets shop in London he is playing by UK rules, and should be dealt with under UK rules. Would it be better if everybody had the same rules, costs, taxes and quality of service across Europe? Perhaps.

                  And if I were a Bulgarian looking where to go have a free quadruple bypass with my Eurohealth card the NHS would not be my first choice. Now, if I’ve been working as a plumber in London for a couple of years, it’s a different situation.

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        • I recognize the tension that exists between open borders and the welfare state and won’t pretend to have a solution. However, I will say that calling what you describe here “welfare abuse” feels unfair. I don’t know if that is your term or someone else’s but abuse implies some sort of direct harm wrought through willful intent or negligence. And while a combination of open borders and robust welfare state is likely unsustainable, any harm done by immigrants making use of available services is really the responsibility of those who designed the system and not the immigrants themselves.

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          • On the general topic, see Reihan in Slate.

            Re who should be blamed — a poor person immigrating to a country that gives generous welfare benefits is rather like a rich person exploiting loopholes to minimize the tax bill. In either case it’s ultimately the responsibility of those in charge of the system, but both the immigrant and the rich person probably realize that what they’re doing isn’t what the government had in mind.

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            • Right. Tax code abuse is the right term to use when rich people use loopholes to avoid paying taxes even if and in part precisely because it happens legally.

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            • I’m not saying those people bear no responsibility. But “abuse” seems to imply they are exploiting or misusing the system. If the system was designed to allow for that sort of behavior, then where is the exploitation or misuse?

              Once upon the time, I spoke behind the scenes with Rose about wealthy (and I mean wealthy… like exceedingly wealthy… like .1% wealthy) taking advantage of special education services through the public school system. On the one hand, they are fully legally entitled to those services if their child qualifies. On the other hand, these services are limited (though technically they shouldn’t be but in reality they are) and providing services to one child often means not providing services to another child. And this is a family that would see paying for a private provider as a rounding error. Rose — as both a mother of a child who has special needs and someone who thinks deeply about such issues from a philosophical standpoint — was pretty strongly in favor of these parents making use of the services available to them and which they are legally entitled to as they see fit. It was a pretty convincing argument.

              Would it have been MORE noble of them to have passed on the public services? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it was WRONG not to. Nor do I think it is wrong for an immigrant to make use of welfare services or a billionaire to take advantage of legal options to reduce his tax load. That is how those systems were designed and it isn’t wrong or abusive to engage with them accordingly. At least, that is my two cents.

              I also think such languages can muddy up the conversation. If you talk about “welfare abuse” and I understand you to mean “welfare fraud”, we’re not really talking about the same thing. I think fraud or any other attempt to acquire services that one is not entitled to is undoubtedly abuse.

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      • I can understand why people would be bothered by the idea of folks who haven’t “paid into the system” then making use of advantages of that system. But to call that abuse feels… wrong.

        Are there degrees here?

        I mean, would it be possible for me to come up with a hypothetical example of someone who has not paid into the system and then goes on to make use of the advantages of that system in such a way that games that system to a degree that would get you to say “okay, even though I am above the fray, I can see how 99% of the people who are not above the fray like I am would call that particular, hypothetical, example a good example of abuse.”

        (For the record, I am certain that you could provide examples of people making use of the system though they have not contributed to it that would get me to say “yes, that’s exactly why they set the system up, that’s what it is for” were I not similarly above the fray.)

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          • I’d add that there’s an investment dynamic going on as well. It’s one thing to prime the pump and pour money into people who will some day be able to pay into the system… and quite another to pour money into people who will only go on to take more of the system’s money.

            You see this attitude with public schooling, you see this attitude with health care, so on and so forth.

            We’ve come a long way from leaving our inferior infants at the base of Taygetus,.. but you can still see the remnants of the attitude, if you look for them.

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          • And what gets lost in all this is the fact that welfare isn’t *just* for the benefit of the poor. Having extremely poor people run around is expensive in a bunch of different ways for society. It causes all sorts of crime, for one thing.

            Often it’s cheaper to give someone who hasn’t contributed anything at all a small amount of money to live off of vs. having them go out and commit crimes (Which cost people money) that then have to be solved (Which costs society money) and then they’re locked up (Which, by *itself*, is going to be more expensive than the hypothetical money they could have lived on. Room and board provided by a prison is always going to be more expensive than normal room and board.).

            If there’s one thing we should have actually realized from looking at the world, it’s not that a rising tide lifts all boats…it’s that people in crappy boats without navigation often run into and damage working boats, and people without boats sometimes try to climb on board boats and tip things over, and we’d having to spend a lot of money to navigate around all this…and we might be better off if we just bought everyone a cheap, study, working boat, even if they didn’t deserve it.

            Of course, in this *specific* situation, the idea that was that people in crappy boats were pouring into the normally calm waters of Britain. This is a pretty incorrect understanding of what’s wrong in Britain (Which is really just general recession stuff.), but if you *start* from there, the idea that they shouldn’t be able to come to Britain makes sense.

            That said, if people were rational, and thought about their money rationally, and thought about how the government should spend money rationally, we’d be living in an entirely different universe.

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            • Yes to this, and also that even in the most perfect of thriving societies, there will be a certain percentage of failures of different sorts.
              A certain number of businesses end in bankruptcy, a certain number of people become addicts, some become sick, most become elderly, others simply never find a way to fit in or take care of themselves.

              Moreover, our roles change over time- the breadwinner yesterday is the sick elder today, the head of household today may end up the homeless addict tomorrow.

              A healthy society has a way of anticipating failure, disaster and loss, and coping with it in a way that is sustainable over the long term.

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          • If I answer your question, will you answer my question?

            Let’s find out.

            I said anything about being above the fray.

            Now for my question: Are there hypothetical abuses that someone could give as examples that would get you to say “okay, that *WOULD* be abuse”?

            (I’d settle for “okay, that would be abuse, but rich people abuse the system too and British people do too and Scottish people do too and Irish people do too and everybody abuses the system so I don’t see why it’s a big deal for someone to point out this particular example of abuse as being abuse because everyone does it.”)

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            • Honestly, I’m not sure I understand your question.

              “Are there abuses you’d consider abuse?”

              Well, yes. That is what makes them abuses.

              I think what you mean to ask, “Are there actions that are legal/permissible within the system which you would label abuse?”

              No, I don’t think so. There might be actions that are legal/permissible within the system which I would argue should not be legal/permissible within the system. But that doesn’t make them abuse. I’d call things abuse if they involved fraud or other means to engage in actions that are not legal/permissible within the system but which somehow were attained.

              Now, to clarify my own question, what does “being above the fray” have to do with it? Am I acting as if I am somehow “above the fray”?

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              • So, for instance…

                Joe is eligible for Service A. Jon is not eligible for Service A. Jon pretends to be Joe and gains access to Service A. That is abuse.

                Joe is eligible for Service A. Joe can independently pay for a private provider to offer Service A. Joe opts to get Service A from the government. That is not abuse.

                Now, if Jon was destitute and would die without Service A and is ineligible because his eyes are blue, I’d argue that the system shouldn’t function that way and would consider that form of abuse a less-awful form of abuse than other forms of abuse. But it would be definitionally abuse and I wouldn’t pretend otherwise.

                Would I also possibly argue that there should be means testing when it comes to getting Service A from the government if Service A is limited in some way? Yes, I might take that position (but I might not… it would depend on the specifics). Even then, I wouldn’t consider Joe to be abusing the system, even if I considered his use of the system a less noble choice he could make or somehow less than someone who did not have the options he did getting Service A from the government.

                I think there is a large space wherein we can say, “I wish the system functioned differently than that,” without then saying, “And therefore those who make use of it in that way are abusing it.”

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                  • That is a fair distinction to make. But… how do we determine the intent?

                    If the goal was “universal healthcare”, then are we really comfortable saying that either immigrants OR rich folk are “abusing” the system by accessing it? Because if that is abuse, than “universal” is the wrong word to use there.

                    In fact, I had a conversation with a Department of Ed person about the expansion of “Universal PreK” (UPK) in NYC (since renamed PreK-For-All).

                    “That UPK has been open a few years. But this year, every child has a seat.”
                    “So it wasn’t really universal before?”
                    “No, it got UPK funds.”
                    “Yes, what I mean is that we didn’t have seats for all children before. Ergo, it wasn’t ‘universal’.”
                    “Oh, yea. It wasn’t universal. But it was a UPK site.”

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                    • I suppose one way would be to look at what was budgeted. E.g. there would be a big difference between a welfare budget designed to cover the current population vs a welfare budget designed to cover an expected large number of immigrants hoping to receive them.

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                      • Genuine question: How often are such plans actually budgeted in that way?

                        That seems like a reasonable way to get at intent. Though it can still cause confusion…

                        The plan was setup to meet the needs of 1000 people. Does that mean it was meant for 1000 current citizens of all incomes? Or the 1000 poorest people on a date six months hence, regardless of whether their family has been in the country 5 generations or 5 minutes?

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                        • And even then I’m uncomfortable with the word abuse…

                          Imagine a person immigrates (legally) and upon arriving is told, “Oh, by the way… the public school your kids can go to is down the road and the public health clinic is on 6th Street and if you need money for food there is an office in government center where you can apply.” Now, that person wasn’t part of the original intent of any of those programs nor was their participation budgeted for. Are we really going to say them making use of any of those services is abuse that they are guilty of engaging in?

                          Does that change if instead of being told about any of those services, they observed their native-born neighbors accessing them and followed suit with no one along the way saying, “Ya know, this wasn’t really meant for you”?

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                          • I don’t think anyone thinks that scenario would be abuse — if one is going to use that word, it would apply to someone who purposely immigrates to the given country in order to collect the benefits. Perhaps even with the intention to not have to look too hard for work.

                            Personally I’m mostly indifferent to this question — ultimately it really is a policy issue and there’s no reason to judge the individuals who are just doing what rational economic actors do.

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                            • Well, that is sort of what I’m getting at…

                              The sustainability of programs is hugely important. And, rightly or wrongly, people feeling as if they are getting “fleeced” on a deal might be more reluctant to support it. So, yea, we need to consider how a program is intended to work (or, perhaps more specifically, what has been communicated to the primary stakeholders about how it is intended to work) and how it works and what to do about any disparity between the two.

                              But if immigrants accessing benefits of a welfare state is automatically considered abuse… I struggle with that.

                              Though it seems that might make it seem as if I consider myself above the fray and I’m trying to understand why that is the case and what that means (if anything).

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                              • There are immigrants and there are immigrants. The original complaint, such as it was made to me, was not about all immigrants. It was about a particular subset which allegedly moved to the UK to use their welfare services without contributing anything.

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                                • 1.) Is it possible for anyone to actually be present in the country and contribute nothing? If you are paying rent, buying food, directly or indirectly you are paying into the system via one tax system or another.
                                  2.) “Allegedly” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there.
                                  3.) What of folks who say, “I’m going to move there so my kids can go to school and become educated and get jobs and become doctors and lawyers in that country”? While there is no guarantee any of that will happen, it certainly adjusts an understanding of their intent to simply rob the system blind.
                                  4.) And still, those people didn’t create the system… they are simply functioning within it.

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                                  • Is it possible for anyone to actually be present in the country and contribute nothing?

                                    Yes, of course. If the government spends more on you than you pay in taxes, you’re contributing nothing on net. “Paying taxes” isn’t a binary thing. Paying a thousand dollars per year in taxes isn’t the same as paying ten thousand per year, which isn’t the same as paying a million per year. Everyone “pays taxes,” but a great many people don’t pay taxes. Probably a majority, when you measure it on a lifetime basis. I did the math once, and you’d actually have to pay several thousand a year in taxes just for the government to break even on your K-12 education.

                                    If you are paying rent, buying food, directly or indirectly you are paying into the system via one tax system or another.

                                    If you spend your welfare benefits on a taxable good, you’re technically “paying taxes,” but only in roughly the same sense in which kids “buy” birthday presents for their parents with money given to them specifically for that purpose.

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                                    • But the argument isn’t “on net”. If we only look at net impact, everyone is either a giver or a taker. And while that might be useful in some contexts, it isn’t here because the net “takers” aren’t limited to immigrants.

                                      Murali specifically identified people who aim to take and give NOTHING or as little as possible. I’m just not sure such people exist in any meaningful quantity.

                                      And if considering “net”, we can do all sorts of math that makes even billionaires look like “takers”. Employees on welfare? Taking. Tax subsidies and breaks? Taking. Disposing debt through government-sactioned bankruptcy? Taking… From your fellow citizens directly! Government contracts? Taking! Customers and employees taking public transport to your place of business? Taking! Breathing air made less toxic by government regs? Taking!

                                      So, yea, not buying. You’re moving the goalposts. Stop.

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                            • Personally I’m mostly indifferent to this question — ultimately it really is a policy issue and there’s no reason to judge the individuals who are just doing what rational economic actors do.

                              Actually, there is.

                              What is rational for a given economic actor depends on that person’s goals. If that person’s goal is to consume without contributing anything, then that is morally criticisable on the grounds that we couldn’t will that everyone act on such an intention at the same time. (It wouldn’t be possible for everyone to act on that intention because nothing would be produced).

                              It seems that a basic application of the Kantian categorical imperative does give you reason to criticise people if they had such a goal.

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                              • Does that cut all ways?

                                How many people willingly say, “I know this is against my own best interests but I will do it anyway”?

                                Everyone is trying to get the best day for him/herself. Now, that may involve factoring in non-economic variables which muddies the calculus from the outside.

                                But if immigrants heading to high-welfare countries to access benefits with minimal input to the system is “morally criticizable” than mustn’t we also consider American companies that not only pay minimum wages but aggressively lobby for keeping them low while their workers go on welfare so that they can maximize profits and executive pay to be “morally criticizable”? Aren’t they, too, trying to get as much out as they can while putting in as little?

                                And then mustn’t we also criticize folks who go after every tax deduction and credit they can legally make use of?

                                And folks who negotiate for a lower price on a car?

                                Or a higher salary?

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                                • It doesn’t cut as much as you think it does because it doesn’t forbid as much. Its not that you are never supposed to act on self interest. It just means that you’re not supposed to act on a motivation if you don’t want others to act on that same motivation. Tax loopholes? depends on the tax loopholes. Bargaining down prices and moving businesses to cheaper locations? You should want everyone to be doing that! Things go better for you when everyone economises than when everyone doesn’t.

                                  To be clear, it is about the intention. So, someone who uses the welfare state just to extract as much from it as they can without contributing anything to it is morally criticisable. Someone who uses the welfare state with the intention to contribute when able, but through bad luck never ends up doing so is not.

                                  Someone who uses a tax loophole just to avoid paying taxes is criticisable. Someone who uses a tax loophole to avoid paying taxes that he honestly judges to be unfair is less so. Intentions should also be interpreted in light of what you are willing to do. If you are willing to lobby the government to block competitors, then your profit motive is sufficiently rapacious to be morally criticisable. The moral criticisability of one’s profit motive depends on what limits you are willing to place on your motive. What lines will you cross? The point is not to rule out self interest as a motive entirely. The point is to place lines that constrain how you pursue your self interest. (or for that matter, any other goal)

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                                  • “So, someone who uses the welfare state just to extract as much from it as they can without contributing anything to it is morally criticisable.”

                                    How many of these people do you think actually exist?

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                                      • Is there room to acknowledge the validity of their calling such behavior abuse while also pointing put that the behavior is relatively rare?

                                        “Yes, people who come with the sole intent of using as many services as possible while paying as little as possible are wrongly abusing our system. We should stop them. Fortunately, 95% of immigrants do not fit that description!”

                                        It’s not unlike saying, “Mass shootings are awful and we should try to stop them. Thankfully they are less than 1% of annual gun deaths.”

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                                        • Is there room to acknowledge the validity of their calling such behavior abuse while also pointing put that the behavior is relatively rare?

                                          Definitely

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                                  • Someone who uses a tax loophole just to avoid paying taxes is criticisable. Someone who uses a tax loophole to avoid paying taxes that he honestly judges to be unfair is less so.

                                    I think I disagree. What one person might call a “tax loophole” another person might call a benefit written into the tax code.

                                    The US permits me to use the interest I pay on my student loans to reduce my taxable income, which means that in practice, I pay a lesser amount of income tax than I might otherwise pay. I don’t think it’s criticizable for me to use that loophole, even though I don’t honestly think the extra tax I would otherwise pay is unfair.

                                    I think most “loopholes” are of that sort. But maybe that’s not what you meant, and you were aiming more at something that wasn’t anticipated by the law (as opposed to the loan interest exemption, which is clearly part of a policy to help people who’ve taken out student loans).

                                    If that’s the case, my main concern shifts to how we can discern intent of the law or the tax and the loophole in the first place. I suspect that many of the things that seem like unintentional loopholes are actually intentional. Or if they were unintentional to begin with, legislators’ refusal to close the loopholes is an intentional approval (of sorts) of those loopholes, especially if the loopholes were up for debate in the legislature and lawmakers specifically voted against closing them.

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                                  • No. Did I suggest that we must?

                                    I think the furthest I’ve gone is to say that the use of a certain term (“abuse”) where it does not seem to fit definitionally troubles me.

                                    If I have gone further than that, please point it out.

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                                    • Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve seen stuff like “gaming the system” called “abuse”.

                                      I’ve seen the term used to mean “violating the trust that allowed the system to be set up in the first place”.

                                      But if that’s not the definition you’re using, that’s not the definition you’re using. It’s good to hammer that out.

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                                      • I want to again ask where I indicated we must criticize those people. Because if I didn’t and you asled that question anyway, it feels quite a bit like strawmanning. If you think I did indicate that, I’m all ears! But if I didn’t, I respectfully request that you engage with what I actually said as opposed to what maybe a worse person on “my side” might say.

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                              • Well, I’m not a Kantian myself, but working within that framework, I think it’s a problem only with the maximally selfish rule you proposed, of doing zero work. If instead we phrase the goal as minimizing one’s own amount of work while still receiving an adequate amount of goods, then that’s generalizable without causing the world to come to a halt — it just requires that opportunities to put in zero work are scarce. And if that really were everyone’s goal, then those opportunities would indeed be scarce, since there would be little or no surplus to share.

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              • There might be actions that are legal/permissible within the system which I would argue should not be legal/permissible within the system. But that doesn’t make them abuse. I’d call things abuse if they involved fraud or other means to engage in actions that are not legal/permissible within the system but which somehow were attained.

                Okay, fair enough.

                So what happens when someone sees something that they feel should not be legal/permissible within the system and then goes on to try to change the system?

                Is that cool or does that merely deserve discussions over whether, tautologically, the legal/permissible acts were technically “abuse”?

                Now, to clarify my own question, what does “being above the fray” have to do with it? Am I acting as if I am somehow “above the fray”?

                Whether or not you have a vested interest in who wins, I’d think. Rooting for one side above the other due to wanting “your” team to win.

                Do you have a team?

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                • Do I have a team? With regards to British/European politics? Dude… I don’t even know which teams are playing! I hear folks use terms like “Tories” and “Labour” and I genuinely don’t know what they mean. So, no, I’d be hard pressed to identify a team.

                  “So what happens when someone sees something that they feel should not be legal/permissible within the system and then goes on to try to change the system?

                  Is that cool or does that merely deserve discussions over whether, tautologically, the legal/permissible acts were technically “abuse”?”

                  That’d be totally cool! That is how it is supposed to work! I just think saying, “Hey… this system doesn’t seem to be working quite right,” is a very different approach to saying, “Hey, those guys over there are abusing the system and must be stopped.”

                  As I’ve said many times throughout, I *totally* get where the concerns these folks have are emanating from. I in no way think they are legitimate. Hell, as I discussed in these threads, I’ve had similar thoughts myself!

                  But as we’ve already seen, Murali has discussed a very specific set of people who might be engaged in what we could call abuse — those with the specific intent of extracting as much from the welfare state while contributing nothing — but only after several back-and-forths when that term was used with a much broader brush.

                  At which point my question to those people is: Is the issue the folks in that subset? Or is the issue immigrants making use of state benefits at all? *BOTH* of which are conversations I’m willing to have but they are different conversations and I’d at least like to know which we are talking about. When you say “abuse”, I think of the subset or, more likely, people engaged in fraud or other criminal activity. If you mean the latter, then we aren’t speaking the same language or discussing the same problem and need to correct for that first.

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                  • That’d be totally cool! That is how it is supposed to work! I just think saying, “Hey… this system doesn’t seem to be working quite right,” is a very different approach to saying, “Hey, those guys over there are abusing the system and must be stopped.”

                    It’s about the pre-change signaling, then?

                    I suppose we can reach a handful of conclusions about the likely processes they’re going to put in place following a sober “this is not working the way we intended” rather than a “HEY LOOK THOSE GUYS ARE CHEATING” but that seems a lot more likely to result in training people to soberly say stuff like “this is not working the way we intended” whenever they feel a flash of “HEY LOOK”.

                    If you mean the latter, then we aren’t speaking the same language or discussing the same problem and need to correct for that first.

                    I could not possibly agree more with this.

                    For what it’s worth, I think that what we’re talking about is the whole “we all have responsibilities to each other” conversation. One of the reasons we set up such things as a robust social safety net/welfare state is because we all have responsibilities to each other.

                    When people start shirking on their responsibilities, that undermines the robustness of the system.

                    When folks start asking “what are their responsibilities to me?” about the immigrants, there pretty much has to be an answer or else we’re going to see “we all have responsibilities to each other” cease to have any persuasive power.

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                    • I agree one hundred percent with the first part of your comment.

                      Now, the responsibilities of (legal, forpurposes of this discussion) immigrants towards you and towards the system are the same as those of your con-nationals. Obey the laws and pay the taxes? Are they doing that or not should be the extent of the query. If you want to ask something additional from them, you should provide a reason why.

                      I’m willing to estipulate that a good reason might exist, but I wouldn’t ask for something just in case a reason for it may exist.

                      It’s like SSM will destroy civilization but we can’t really say why, but it totally will.

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                        • I’m not saying those are ALL their responsibilities. They should also be kind to puppies.

                          More seriously, as I said somewhere else in this thread, (legal) immigrants, such as Polish plumbers, should act and expect to be treated just as citizens, unless there are good reasons not to. If citizens have more obligations than paying taxes and obeying the las, well yes, immigrants have those too.

                          There might be reasons why Imigrants should be subject to further requirements, but we should evaluate on a case by case what those requirements are, and why should immigrants but not citizens the ones fulfilling them. I am happy to estipulate those cases might exist. Feel free to propose some examples and we can talk about those specifically.

                          And please don’t hug a puppy today. Hugs scare dogs. It’s a reflex. Don’t do it even if you are a citizen

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                    • Signaling? No.

                      “Hey look!” begets “Why?” begets “Because that isn’t how it’s supposed to work.”

                      If we start with “Because…” we skip some steps and avoid some messy diversions.

                      It’s more efficient and constructive.

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  9. Yes, the Commission does want to increase its powers. Yes, it is a non-elected body and I do not want the Commission to increase its powers at the expense of the House, so of course we are differing. Of course… the President of the Commission, Mr. Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the Executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate. No, no, no!

    -Margaret Thatcher, 1990

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  10. I have been thinking of what is in the future for the U.S.. There is a theory that the right could have what I call a y-axis inversion, in which most of it’s authoritarians divest authority in social constructs and move downward into anti-authoritarians.

    Most of the time the population only contains 30% or less, low right y-axis people. A strong inversion could push the population beyond 50%. At that point your talking half the population willing to disassemble social constructs.

    For the left freedom is about social constructs, to the right freedom is absence of social constructs.

    Nationalism I hope, is not the destination.

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  11. A reasonably large part of conservatism is preferring smaller, more local branches of government to larger, more distant ones. People who are hostile to something as toothless as the UN are not going to be fond of a supranational organization with actual power.

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    • I agree with this.

      Local conservatives are cheering this because they can point to Brexit and say “see??? They agree with us!”

      Even if they cannot put together a coherent paragraph discussing what propositions are being agreed to.

      They can, however, point to the people who are weeping, gnashing their teeth, and calling people “racist” and say “well, the right people are upset by this…” and establish that, on a culture war level, the right side lost.

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  12. There is a smart reason to break up the EU and a dumb one.

    The smart reason is that the financial system is dysfunctional. A common currency requires a common central bank, period. And also requires a bare minimum common welfare state.

    California is young, highly-educated and highly-populated. Its economic engine pumps billions of tax dollars into the federal system every year. Florida is the opposite and a net taker. As we are these United States, there’s not much to do but grouse. (And the State takers vs makers issue seems to have died down in recent years.)

    Germany and Greece, by contrast, are waging economic warfare with each other and it ain’t pretty.

    This is the good reason to remake the EU at a fundamental level or dissolve it.

    (NOTE: Britain did not join the common currency and thus is no part of this problem.)

    The bad reason to leave the EU is the regulatory burden issue. Once it exits, Britain has (to put it simply) two choices: it can negotiate a trade agreement with the EU as a whole, and take back on all the EU regulatory burdens, or it can negotiate separate trade agreements with each member state of the EU, and take back on all of the EU regulatory burdens plus whatever additional craziness gets layered on.

    It’s not like the Germans and the French and the rest are all of a sudden going to put Britain in the drivers’ seat. In terms of economic power, Britain’s very much the tail on that dog.

    As to the immigration issue, on this I know so little as for once I’ll keep quiet.

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    • The smart reason is that the financial system is dysfunctional. A common currency requires a common central bank, period. And also requires a bare minimum common welfare state

      This, a thousand times.

      And more than that. The inability to control the printing of money not only risks individual governments defaulting, but it renders them unable to fix any problems.

      I have a postulate: Monetary policy has to be set at the level of government that is the strongest and does the most amount of work…or possibly the level that just collects the most taxes. It has to be at the ‘biggest’ level of government.

      In the US, that’s the Federal government. (It wasn’t originally, but that was before ‘monetary policy’ even existed.) In the EU, that’s the *national* governments, not the EU.

      The EU either needs to 1) go in an impossible direction of basically being a national government, collecting taxes, operating a security net, etc, which not only would not be very likely, but would also require Europeans to fundamentally change how they think about themselves and Europe, or, easier, 2) Not have a single currency, let everyone manage monetary policy.

      They could change to #2. The single currency is *much* less important now than it was when it was created. Everyone uses plastic now, and everyone has the ability to check currency conversions rates.

      The EU could require everyone to accept all currencies, with a set discount, and have a *notional* currency that is used for conversion, with a central clearing bank that deals with it and the market setting the prices, but let all countries keep their individual currency. (Yes, yes, good currency drives out bad, so there would have to be some sort of rules where everyone in Greece can’t just use German marks, but there are ways to force that.)

      I’m not 100% sure how this would actually work in practice, there’s a lot of oddity when money goes sloshing around outside the country, but the US seems to manage, and it would almost certainly work *better* than what is going on.

      Ironically, this monetary policy thing was something that the UK had *managed to avoid*, by keeping the pound. Greece had a point wanting out of the EU, in that their inability to print currency was about to destroy them. (As opposed to just having some inflation. Inflation is bad, but is way better than defaulting!) The UK…had less of an argument than anyone else!

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    • This is where is it important to distinguish the EU from the Eurozone. The Eurozone is a classic case of using political logic to make an economic decision, and it is a total mess as a result.

      While I think the EU is too protectionist and too bureaucratic, its done a lot to promote trade, and by extension peace, between its member countries. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the UK finds itself in more-or-less where it is now regarding the EU’s regulations even after Brexit.

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      • James-

        Assuming that the divorce settlement includes the UK (possibly minus Scotland and/or NI) joining the EEA, perhaps by rejoining the EFTA, i.e. futureUK being in about the same legal position vis a vis the EU as Norway*, it appears that some but by no means all of the EU regulations and policies would apply.

        For example, Norway pays into the EU structural adjustment funds (not sure how the quota is set), but does not participate in the CAP. One reference I found said that about 25% of the EU regulations and directives apply in Norway, but did not provide a breakdown regarding which.

        *Ignoring the rather different view in Brussels, Berlin, Paris, etc. of the UK for being a “quitter”, whereas Norway rejected membership in two referenda.

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          • Yeah, I know that Norway and the other tiny EEA members are basically in Schengen and Dublin Regulation modulo a couple of fine points.

            I believe Switzerland is in some level of uncertainty in that respect after their 2014 immigration referendum. I recall much huffing and puffing from Brussels about how the Swiss vote (which was ridiculously close and had very low turnout by Swiss standards) was putting all the bilateral agreements going back to 2000 in jeopardy.

            According to this 1) Consequences have been minor so far; but 2) the referendum has not yet taken actual effect (quotas) on the ground, but is required to do so within less than a year now. No idea (and too lazy to seriously research: quick Google not finding anything) the [Swiss] National Council has not done anything about implementing quotas.

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  13. A little late to the party, and I haven’t read any comments so this may have already been mentioned, but I think US conservatives would view (insofar as they do…) Brexit as a victory because it the Brits valued their autonomy and independence above short term economic considerations. Insofar as fractal-logic can be employed here, the conservative ideal at the level of the individual is comprised of autonomy, independence and self-reliance, and those values plays out (fractal-like) in the exact same dimensions at the level of states, nation-states and international organizations. So leaving the EU is – at least according to one conception of conservativism – a demonstration of conservative principles.

    Of course, it could be that many people who felt intensely passionate about leaving yesterday are less certain of their choice this morning, or this afternoon. Economically, they’re gonna feel the pain, at least for a while. But it should be pointed out that the downside economic risks of leaving were widely known, and promulgated with such certainty that I have a difficult time believing that Leavers weren’t aware of those risks but felt/believed that something more important was at stake. The irony (I’m not sure that’s the right word…) is that Leavers were primarily opposed to persisting as a partner in an interconnected economic world which deprived them of their autonomy, yet, because of the interconnectivity of economic world we live in, their choice to leave had immediate negative impacts on British life.

    I don’t know what the moral of the story there is: that they were wrong to leave, or that the price they’re paying proved their point.

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    • There was a fair bit of poo pooing of the economic downsides. A number of politicians were claiming that Britain could have all the upsides (free trade, access to european market) without the downsides (having to accept immigrants, foreign bureaucracy etc) That might have been an option if Britain had never joined in the first place, but the EU has to punish Britain for Brexit if it wants to prevent other countries from leaving as well.

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      • Well, first, any politician who said that Britain would be able to maintain access to European markets and was believed deserves consideration for a lead role in a major BBC production. Second, I’ve heard lots of clamoring about the EU punishing Britian for having left in order to send a message to any other potential Leavers, but I gotta say, I find that reasoning pretty unpersuasive. A) the lid has already been lifted off the steaming kettle, and B) the EU decision-makers will only be able to punish Britian as much as they can, not as much as they might like to. A whole slew of downsides obtain regarding excessive punishment which run counter to not only the interests of individual EU members, but maintaining unity as well. Seems to me the EU is in a precarious position here, where too heavy a hand against Britain (the whip!) could reinforce what other country’s populaces are already feelin.

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      • “We need to punish them for leaving as example to the others” is something a polygamist does with his errant wives, not something people ostensibly engaged in mutually beneficial peaceful transactions need to do.

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          • I’ve been mainlining Brexit news for most of the past 20 hours or so, but I missed that British forces laid seige to an EU military installation, forcing the EUers to surrender and withdrawal. And I haven’t seen the coming of the glory of the Lord yet, either.

            But really, I have seen allusions to Csaxit a few times, and what everyone seems to forget is that the union did bend over backwards to accommodate special provosions for the South for approximately 80 years, from 3/5 to fugitive slave law, until everyone finally got sick and tired of their bullshit. (And a lot of the bullshit still lasted another 100 or more years)

            Isn’t it better for the new Union to learn from that example, and let go of the problematic relationship early, rather than keep on compromising until it blows up anyway?

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            • Along that one dimension, yes, you may have a point. Unfortunately the people involved didn’t think as clearly as you. If only they knew then what you know now…

              But I think the analogy is misplace, actually. Beating up on Britain has no bearing on compromises with other nations. It sends a signal, and that’s all it would (presumably) be intended to do. It’s still up to the member states to determine how they respond to that signal. Cuz like you mentioned, the EU ain’t under siege.

              Well, it sorta is, actually.

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        • Are you saying that a polygamist ISN’T engaging in mutually beneficial voluntary transactions?

          And here I was thinking you were a liberal thinking libertarian… :)

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  14. How much of this is explained by Farage being a US conservative darling? I’m pretty sure American views of European politics don’t go much farther than the top-line personalities.

    It’s interesting because there’s a lefty narrative here that’s just as compelling: ply people for too long with austerity and they will lash out in ways the job creators won’t like.

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  15. Listening to Marketplace on the way home, heard a great quote (paraphrasing here):

    The price of gold surging is a great indication that human beings are doing something stupid.

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    • The price of gold surging is a great indication that human beings are doing at least two stupid things, one of which is buying and hoarding a metal whose only useful application is in making connectors for high-end electronic components.

      If at the very least it was the price of lithium surging….. But, look there, you, there’s a shiny thing!

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  16. 1. Leaving something as momentous as this to a simple majority vote is insane. Its insane for Britain, and its insane for the EU.

    2. Poles feel deeply betrayed by Britain right now. They say that once again, Britain has abandoned them to the Germans, without an ally.

    3. People should be rightfully upset and worried about the naivety of the calls for a glorious future of independent sovereign states in Europe, because it ignores a thousand years of bloody European history, not to mention the two, still relatively recent, ghastly great wars that engulfed the continent and the rest of the world.

    4. I doubt that Russia could be any more pleased by this result.

    5. EU immigration policies should have been more gradually liberalized, to avoid the backlash that large-scale immigration usually entails. Immigrations is not just about non-Europeans or Muslims, but typical citizens of other EU nation states. Like Poles, for instance, who immigrated to Great Britain in great numbers: doctors, nurses, engineers, artists, and blue collar workers.

    6. The EU *is* a bureaucratic mess, and not democratic. Worse, the monetary union has been an utter disaster for everyone except Germany, and for those who wisely didn’t accept the euro or who hadn’t yet transitioned (Britain, Poland, etc.).

    7. The rollback of the EU can mean the rollback of democracy; it is much easier for individual states to go rogue into authoritarianism. EU monetary policies have only made this more likely. Monetary union without fiscal union is not sustainable. And fiscal union is not politically feasible.

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    • Poles feel deeply betrayed by Britain right now. They say that once again, Britain has abandoned them to the Germans, without an ally.

      Nobody goes from zero to Godwin like the Poles, bless them.

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      • Perhaps that’s because the memory of the catastrophe of the German conquest, and subsequent abandonment by its so-called allies to the Russians, for fifty years, still lives and breathes in Polish culture today. It is little wonder that the same is not deeply felt in the US and Western Europe; to easy to forget, to convenient not too.

        Do not underestimate how much of Polish politics is driven by fear of Russia, and suspicion of Germany.

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    • The rollback of the EU can mean the rollback of democracy; it is much easier for individual states to go rogue into authoritarianism. EU monetary policies have only made this more likely. Monetary union without fiscal union is not sustainable. And fiscal union is not politically feasible.

      This part strikes me as… well, cognitive dissonance.

      Is being governed by unelected technocrats a good example of democracy or of authoritarianism?

      From here, it seems like a good example of a *RETURN* to democracy.

      Of course, this may be Britain showing us the downsides of democracy in the same way that the Republican party is in the middle of showing us said downsides…

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      • Jay, get real. Apart from the Euro, EU institutions are mostly toothless. And while they are not paragons of democracy, neither are they entirely undemocratic. These institutions are the results of decisions made by democratic member states, which (theoretically) can agree to change how the EU is governed at any time, and representatives in the EU government are selected by member state governments as well.

        Asserting independence for a country like the UK may increase the freedom of Brits, but the same may not be true for other countries, and for some, quite unlikely to be true. Not every member of the EU has as strong a tradition of democratic governance as Britain or France, or even Germany. Portugal until 1974, Spain until 1975, Greece until 1973, Romania, Bulgaria until around 1989. The current government in Poland is dangerous; in Romania too. Unconstrained by the requirements of EU membership, many of these states may drift back out of the democratic zone, or even fall under the influence of Russia.

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        • I’m JLo-level real.

          And while they are not paragons of democracy, neither are they entirely undemocratic.

          So, like, compare to what Brexitania just did. Was that less entirely undemocratic or more entirely undemocratic?

          Asserting independence for a country like the UK may increase the freedom of Brits, but the same may not be true for other countries, and for some, quite unlikely to be true.

          We can argue that it would be bad for Poland to leave the EU when Poland has a referendum. But we shouldn’t argue that Britain shouldn’t leave the EU because it’d be bad for Poland if Poland left the EU.

          Or, technically we *CAN*… I just don’t see why we’d expect that argument to be particularly persuasive to anybody at all and especially the Brexes.

          Unconstrained by the requirements of EU membership, many of these states may drift back out of the democratic zone, or even fall under the influence of Russia.

          I’m going to need it explained to me why this would be bad.

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      • At the risk of going Goodwin again, 1933 is a great example of a people democratically taking charge of their destiny, and rejecting the chains of unelected enforcers of a multination Treaty.

        There’s plenty of people in the EU today that look fondly at that gloriously democratic day. Some are even in government. Please do google Fidesz and Viktor Orbán.

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        • Remember how the first thing Adolf did when Prez Zeppelin made him Chancellor was take action to get Prussia out of the confederation of German states that made up the Weimar Republic?

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        • Speaking of going full Godwin

          German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that the EU would weather the shock of the British vote to leave the union as he convened crisis talks.

          “I am confident that these countries can also send a message that we won’t let anyone take Europe from us,” he said heading into a meeting in Berlin of his counterparts from the EU’s six founding members.

          (Emphasis added.)

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      • Things like this should be done before but to me it sounds like requiring such high numbers that your opponent can’t win. At a certain point there has to be some finality to the decision.

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        • Finality is the issue with requiring only 50% for a major change to the status quo. A second referendum a few months later might well go the other way. And that might not even reflect a real change in people’s views as much as more efficient getting out the vote by the other side, or people getting tired of deciding the same issue over and over.

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            • Joining the EEC in 1975 was negotiated by Labor and then put to referendum with Labor’s recommendation to approve. It passed by 60%+

              The Maastricht Treaty (1992) was not put to referendum and was passed by John Major’s conservative government amid open rebellion in his party. UKIP relates its founding to this rebellion. The treaty laid the ground work for an expanded role of new commissions, and set the stage for…

              The Treaty of Lisbon (2007), which created the modern EU, was signed by Gordon Brown and not put to referendum. The UK negotiated special Protocols for itself (as did Poland) which essentially exempts the UK from any laws the violate its fundamental historical rights, freedoms or privileges. Remainers could (and rather weakly did) argue the UK Protocols to the EU constituted a better deal than simple EU membership.

              So, one of the salient points was that what started as a free trade community among neighboring nations had morphed into a body that was regulating more than simply trade… further, the make-up of the European Parliament isn’t really democratic in anything other than a bureaucrat’s dream of what democratic would look like if you could make it undemocratic so as not to hinder the important business of governing.

              Importantly (and this was under reported in the US) Cameron’s key strategy was to negotiate new concessions from the EU a’la Brown’s Protocols leading up to Lisbon Treaty with the threat of his election bribe promise to call a Referendum as leverage against the EU. Depending upon whom you read, his negotiated reforms were a smashing success or a giant FU from Merkel. He negotiated these new concessions in February 2016 and called for the referendum as we all know in June. Judging by the vote, the concessions were not compelling – either for lack of substance, or addressing concerns that weren’t the real concerns, or both.

              So there you have it… a com-box tour of Britain’s highlights in the creation of first an Economic Block and then a proto-state; the populace assented to the former, dissented from the latter.

              My suspicion is that if Cameron were really interested in changing the EU and building a stronger Federated approach and reforming the actual institutions in Brussels into true governing bodies (a tall order indeed), he would take the referendum back to the EU and negotiate such; obviously he, a) has no real interest in a Federated EU, b) knows the EU cannot be reformed, and c) knows exactly what Merkel said behind closed doors in February, and therefore isn’t going to push that rock up that particular hill. And, who knows, that may be the next PM’s strategy while preparing for exit.

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              • So it’s like Comcast. Real easy to get in and there were real nice terms, at first. Stick around for a while and you suddenly realize that you’re paying out the nose but, if you’re lucky, you have a channel that makes some of the things somewhat more pleasant. Someday you may even decide that that channel is not enough to make up for the costs.

                But try to leave and WHAMMO.

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                • Right… you forgot that you hadn’t paid for all the set-top boxes and they send you a bill for $800 just to not have their service.

                  Another absurd analogy might be this: You sign-up with Comcast for digital cable, but their real goal is to provide health insurance… 5-years later and you can’t change the channel without a co-pay or a referral.

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              • Marchmaine, I realize that I ought to have thanked you for putting that together. It’s exactly what I needed to know.

                Thank you. Thank you very much.

                In reading that, I notice that the 1973 vote was downright overwhelming (60%!) but that wasn’t really to join the EU.

                To make a bad example, using that vote to justify entry into the EU would be like using Bush’s Authorization of Kinetic Action in Iraq to explain why it’s okay to bomb some other country.

                Maastricht and Lisbon seem like things that ought to have been put up for referendum. I wonder if they would have passed more than 51/49.

                This is very different from a theoretical Greece threat to leave the EU. The EU has a lot of carrots and a lot of sticks to use against Greece… what could you offer Britain? What threats could you make?

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                • Maastricht was put in referenda in most EU countries. In some it barely squeezed by. The U.K. Government knew it would never pass so they had it approved in Parliament (which, after all, IS the Sovereign, not the people)

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    • I’m surprised at how much “morning after” regret there is. A lot of people seem genuinely surprised that they (not the greater British public, but they themselves) actually pulled the “Leave” lever, which strikes me as rather odd. And genuinely surprised that cartoon villain Nigel Farage lied to them, which strikes me as ridiculously naive.

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      • I am waiting to see some actual poll data on this. Right now I’m not sure it isn’t a NYT trend piece or a #NeverTrump that gets attention far outweighing their numbers because it’s an interesting story for news outlets dealing with an unexpected and unwelcome outcome.

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        • Oh, it’s clearly at the level of anecdote and not data – if they revoted next week, I actually wouldn’t be surprised either way it went. People not realizing it was a straight yes/no vote and not a standard constituency-based FPTP election was likely a bigger factor by far.

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          • And yet just because the establishment failed, that doesn’t mean the demos have won. Not fully, anyway. We must stay vigilant. For there will now be a concerted effort to thwart our democratic statement, to weaken it by calling into question its legitimacy. This is already happening. Apparently the demos behaved rashly. We ‘voted emotionally rather than considering the facts’, says Labour MP Keith Vaz. We were in the grip of fear, say others. Or we were making a xenophobic statement, they claim, overlooking the irony of their pontificating about prejudice while suggesting that the 17.5million people who said No to the EU, this vast swathe of people, is a tabloid-poisoned blob given to disliking foreign people. Demagogues ‘injected poison into the nation’s bloodstream’, commentators are already saying, the implication being that we were brainwashed, made mad by evil men. We know not what we do. We’re children.
            The efforts to rebrand this vote as a kneejerk thing, an emotional thing, a racist thing, are already underway. And others will no doubt argue that because the vote was very close, perhaps we shouldn’t take drastic measures; perhaps we should reform our ties with the EU rather than sever them. We must stand against all this, and insist that the people have spoken, and the people are sovereign, or ought to be. Indeed, that is fundamentally what the referendum was about: do you think Brussels or the parliament in London should be sovereign? The people voted for themselves. We must now deepen the argument for democracy. Breaking links with Brussels won’t remake Britain as a brilliantly democratic, engaged nation. Other institutions will need to be rethought, and public debate re-energised. But what a great starting point we have. If we can ditch something as huge as the EU, what else can we do to the end of enlivening the democratic sphere?

            Brendan O’Neill

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            • Aaron David,

              “And others will no doubt argue that because the vote was very close, perhaps we shouldn’t take drastic measures;”

              I suspect Will is planning to post something along these lines soon, but surely an action of this magnitude can reasonably be compared to, say, amending our Constitution, an action that requires a super-majority vote of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

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              • Well, those who were never supporters of entering the EU might say the same thing when those votes (didn’t) happen. It was a FPTP vote and in general a “run what you brung” election. We have a system in place of modifying the constitution already. I don’t think Britain does. Did entering the EU violate that, and if so was that on a FPTP vote? I don’t know, but this was the vote on the table, with all the high stakes, this was the result.

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                • Aaron David,

                  “Well, those who were never supporters of entering the EU might say the same thing when those votes (didn’t) happen. ”

                  Indeed. I should have been clearer, in that my POV is that any decision of this magnitude should, if it’s to be decided by a mechanism of mass democracy, require a higher bar than a single vote of 50%+1. That would apply to getting into the EU just as much as getting out.

                  The UK doesn’t have a single written Constitution that would spell out the proper procedure for this kind of thing. We’re in only marginally better shape in that regard ourselves. For example, there’s a well-established mechanism for admitting new states to the union, but no counterpart mechanism for a state to leave.

                  Consider, as analogy, how much easier it is to get into a marriage than it is to get out of that same marriage after some years, what with mutual property and children and such.

                  Anyway, I’m drifting a bit here. What a lot of people are missing here is that this isn’t really a truly binding vote. It doesn’t, as I understand it anyway, have the same force of law as say, a citizens initiative vote in California. Essentially it’s the people calling on the PM and Parliament to take certain actions. But ultimately, under the UK system, Parliament remains sovereign and they aren’t really, really legally obligated to follow through. Which isn’t to say there won’t be shit to pay if they don’t.

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                  • Which isn’t to say there won’t be shit to pay if they don’t.

                    Except, potentially, come election time.

                    I think the soft margin of victory suggests that they could have some wiggle room here, and get by with no consequences at all. Nonetheless, for the reason you mention and that I will be writing a post about, that’s an argument against 50%+1.

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                  • “Anyway, I’m drifting a bit here. What a lot of people are missing here is that this isn’t really a truly binding vote. It doesn’t, as I understand it anyway, have the same force of law as say, a citizens initiative vote in California. Essentially it’s the people calling on the PM and Parliament to take certain actions. But ultimately, under the UK system, Parliament remains sovereign and they aren’t really, really legally obligated to follow through. Which isn’t to say there won’t be shit to pay if they don’t.”

                    I think that about sums it up nicely! Considering that Labour voters joined up with Tory voters (from what I have read) this isn’t your normal election, and the hell to pay, well…

                    “Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.”
                    ? Charles Bukowski

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  17. I don’t know a hell of a lot about the topic so I put it to my twelve-year-old that’s riding with me for a couple weeks.

    Her: “Will they still make Doctor Who?”

    Me: “Don’t see why not.”

    Her: “Good. Don’t care. What’s for lunch?”

    I think I agree.

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    • Read an article this morning about a similar topic, only it was “Game of Thrones”.

      There is some EU money to encourage production companies to film in member zones, but Doctor Who and GoT are both too big for that to be a big issue even if they took the money, which they probably don’t.

      Open borders and worker movement might be a bigger issue, but since Who keeps up the great BBC tradition of trying to make Cardiff look like wherever in the galaxy you happen to be setting the episode, probably not so much. Syfy will probably have to use anonymous Eastern European locations along with anonymous Eastern European actors in their D&D knockoffs, though.

      Top Gear will probably be most affected of any show I watch. They’ve always made hay on being able to take a day trip (or race a Bugatti Veyron against James May in a weather balloon) across the Channel. And if Sabine Schmitz doesn’t qualify for a work visa, they’ll lose their only presenter with any charisma.

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  18. Well I’ll say this. This morning my stock brokerage sent out a mass email, evidently to all its clients, explaining why we really shouldn’t panic, which suggests to me that people are panicking. So Monday morning should be exciting.

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  19. I am pretty much cut off from decent internet while I’m out here (yay websites that communicate primarily through text!) and, as such, I am left to the whims of rumor and hearsay and newspapers and so I don’t have my data IV set up like I do back home and, as such, I need one of you to answer a question for me:

    Is it true that Obama recently, like before the Brexit vote, gave Britain a speech telling them that they have to vote to remain or else?

    I heard a rumor that he did but I didn’t know how much credence to give it.

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      • The guy who I was talking to specifically mentioned Obama saying something like England having to get to the back of the line for trade agreements.

        As he told me that, my mind immediately flashed back to the Guardian’s “Operation Clark County” and thinking that Obama has some seriously bad handlers *OR* that he secretly wanted Brexit.

        But if it were a speech back in April, it probably had very little to do with the other day’s vote. Though Operation Clark County took place only one month before the vote…

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        • Jaybird,

          “The guy who I was talking to specifically mentioned Obama saying something like England having to get to the back of the line for trade agreements.”

          My understanding of those comments is that they were meant more along the lines of advice or commentary than threats. It was a statement that, as a practical matter, much of what currently governs trade between the US and the UK are actually agreements with the EU. As such, the two countries would need to renegotiate some stuff just to stand still.

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          • But the President of the United States is a modern day EF Hutton- when the Prez talks, people listen.

            Obama was not engaged in idle observational chitchat. His statement that a UK departure of the EU would have negative consequences to US UK trade was a deliberate attempt to influence the vote toward the Remain side.

            His administration (and soon, Clinton’s) via the US Trade Representative has broad discretion to prioritize trade agreements and to prioritize how it seeks to create new ones.

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            • His statement that a UK departure of the EU would have negative consequences to US UK trade was a deliberate attempt to influence the vote toward the Remain side.

              It is completely out of bounds for a president to use facts and logic to persuade people to his side. That’s why I support Trump.

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            • Yes to one, yes to two, yes to three

              But the President and his party, and the opposition party in Congress) responds to local USA politics and pressures. Perhaps a larger number of voters care more about Free Trade with Latin America (because of their Lat Am origin)? Perhaps a larger number of Wall Street political donors care more about Free Trade with China?

              I honestly doubt that Free Trade with England will be very high in the radar of USA politics, because even to vote of a one page Trade Act that says “The UK gets exactly what the EU has at all times” will waste precious Congress time that many Trade actors would want devoted to other Agreements.

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              • @j_a

                I honestly doubt that Free Trade with England will be very high in the radar of USA politics, because even to vote of a one page Trade Act that says “The UK gets exactly what the EU has at all times” will waste precious Congress time that many Trade actors would want devoted to other Agreements.

                And also…the EU has a *lot* more negotiation power than the UK! Why on earth would we give the UK the same deal?!

                The EU may have started as a *political* alliance, but the reason it slowly turned into an economic one instead was to be able to compete with the US. The EU, if we still used the term ‘superpower’, would be a superpower, at least economically. (Militarily, with NATO, we’re sorta the *same* superpower)

                The UK is…uh…not a superpower. Sorry to have to point that out, guys, but you’re not.

                This is, incidentally, why it is almost recursively hilarious to see the same people who support Trump, who claims he can negotiate ‘better deal’ with other countries…standing next to the same people who seem to think the US is going to give them the same deal as the EU for no reason.

                Dude, haven’t you Leavers been listening to your political counterparts over here? When Trump is elected, we’re going to *squeeze* foreign countries! And you just put yourself out there, alone, with no support! You’re the obvious first country to make an example of! We’ll WIN our deal with you so hard you don’t know what happened.

                …or did you just forget you count as a foreign country?

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                • This seems off key to me, or possibly like wishful thinking.

                  Assuming we have a Clinton WH and a GOP Congress, we’re going to have one branch that is very concerned about US investors who have $ tied up in the UK, and another that is not going to want to punish the plucky white country that gave immigrants and the Continent the bird.

                  I don’t see how this doesn’t happen quickly, or at least as quickly as treaties can happen.

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                  • ….well, yeah, it’s wishful and somewhat delusional thinking of Trump voters, which was my point. The idea, in both the UK with Leavers, and the US with Trumpets, is that a strong leadership would negotiate strong deals for those respective countries, and that existing international entities and agreements are holding those countries back. That under *their* leadership, other countries would be forced to accept worse deals with the US or UK. It’s a pretty coherent and consistent identical worldview.

                    …which makes it all the weirder they seem to be supporting *each other*. They see the world as a zero sum game, where the entire purpose of politics is to be a winner and make the other side a loser…and they’re cheering a *different* side getting better leadership, or wrestling control from a flabby bureaucrat that doesn’t do anything except dictate rules? Huh? From the point of view of *competitors*, shouldn’t other countries ‘getting their act together’ be a *bad* thing?

                    But, of course, they actually see each other as on the same side, which is because this is not actually nationalism per se…it’s xenophobia. And the UK and US are on the same side, the white Christian side.

                    To get back to reality: The US isn’t going to punish the UK (And also Trump isn’t going to get elected.), but, as I pointed out elsewhere…England has basically lost *all* their agreements and treaties with other EU countries, and, as I hadn’t considered, as Obama pointed out, they’ve sorta lost a lot of non-EU treaties also, because those treaties were actually made with the EU. It will be a while before those can be fixed (And some EU countries are probably just going to say no.), and odds are they won’t be by the time of the exit.

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                  • Though my wording might be different, I pretty much agree with herehere. I don’t where the friction of a trade deal is likely to come from. Canada was never the source of political contention in NAFTA, from my recollection.

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        • It was a joint press conference with PM Cameron. Full remarks here,

          https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/04/22/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-cameron-joint-press

          You can make up your own mind, to me, Obama was making the argument that the Leave campaign was making assertions about what the US would do, and that he was entitled, as POTUS, to give some indication what the US would do.

          Here’s a pretty representative passage:

          PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, firsts of all, let me repeat, this is a decision for the people of the United Kingdom to make. I’m not coming here to fix any votes. I’m not casting a vote myself. I’m offering my opinion. And in democracies, everybody should want more information, not less. And you shouldn’t be afraid to hear an argument being made. That’s not a threat. That should enhance the debate.

          Particularly because my understanding is that some of the folks on the other side have been ascribing to the United States certain actions we’ll take if the UK does leave the EU. So they say, for example, that, well, we’ll just cut our own trade deals with the United States. So they’re voicing an opinion about what the United States is going to do. I figured you might want to hear it from the President of the United States what I think the United States is going to do. (Laughter.)

          And on that matter, for example, I think it’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line, there might be a UK-U.S. trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon, because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done, and the UK is going to be in the back of the queue — not because we don’t have a special relationship, but because, given the heavy lift on any trade agreement, us having access to a big market with a lot of countries — rather than trying to do piecemeal trade agreements is hugely inefficient.[…]

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