EU Polling Day

I received my polling card for the EU referendum this week. I am a registered voter and now have the piece of card to prove it. All I need do now is to look into the two sides of the debate and work out which offers the best future for the country. Where do I start my little investigation? Well, obviously one starts with Facebook. Where better to seek advice and guidance from my peers and contemporaries? Lots of people have clearly researched the issues throroughly at the University of the Internet Meme and are sharing their new found wisdom with joyful abandon. Let’s look at Exhibit A:

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That’s a confident sounding meme if ever I saw one. Starting with the claim to authority – Norwegians have rejected membership of the EU twice. As we all know, ‘the people’ rarely make mistakes of judgement. And there have been no recorded cases of ‘the people’ making the same mistake twice. George Bush Jr, for example, was  elected to the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 and was a resounding success. You’ll not hear a bad word said about the chap. Ever. By anyone. Anywhere.

Except. When I looked into it, it turned out that George Bush’s legacy was far from stellar and there appear to have been countless occurances of Joe Public getting it horribly wrong in a wide range of social arenas. I’m sure this news is as shocking to you as it was to me.

The claim to authority is followed by a fairly standard list of soundbites. A boring list of soundbites. But the implication is clear. If Britain leaves the EU, there will no no negative side effects for our economy. The opposite, in fact, will occur. It almost sounds like success outside of the EU is pretty much guaranteed. Norway and the UK are almost identical in almost every way, after all.

The claim is implied rather than stated, I imagine, because the Leave campaign have still failed to provide a single reputable study that shows anything other than a negative financial impact in the aftermath of Brexit. But what isn’t mentioned is perhaps more interesting. It turns out that Norway’s population is only about 10% that of the UK and they are one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers, the revenues of which have propped their economy up very nicely indeed. But without which their current economic model would fall over in five minutes flat.

But at least Norway have control of their borders and don’t have to pay the EU exhorbitant fees every year. Right? Well, as it happens Norway is a member of the EEA and as such has to abide by EU rulings, allow free movement of people and they pay a similar amount into the EU per head as we do in the UK. They just have no say in the way the EU is run. Or not run, as the case may be. They just blindly obey.

There are other great memes out there. One of my favourites lists some highly speculative opinions (ranging from pointless through misleading and onto the ridiculous)  and then at the bottom declares them to be indisputable facts. Underlined and in bold to be sure that this is understood.

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Another meme laughs at the suggestion that a country that won two world wars couldn’t survive on its own. I laugh at the spelling and grammar of the meme.  The meme ignores the fact that the aforementioned country won two world wars with an awful lot of help from the riches and manpower that had been plundered and enslaved from across an empire spread over several continents. Oh, and with the considerable help of the United States. And the Soviet Union. And that we almost certainly couldn’t have done it on our own. It also ignores the fact that nobody is arguing whether or not the UK would survive outside of the EU, only that we’d be better off in it.

It’s a bit depressing that one of the most important national decisions of this generation is going to be fought on a battleground that allows stupid such a prominent say in the debate. As if having to listen to Boris and Gove waffle on with their nationlistic, unsubstantiated ignorance wasn’t bad enough. I almost feel that society owes the mainstream media an apology. For years they have been accused of ‘dumbing down’ society, but it has so transpired that when left to its own devices, society is apt to dumb itself down far more effectively. But there is one consolation. At least we don’t got Trump. Who is as ripe for an internet meme as a guy gets.

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14 Comments

  • The real reason that TBTB are fighting Brexit so hard has nothing to do with Britain. Because if Britain leaves, the likelihood is that any problems or benefits will be fairly minor. The Germans are still going to want to sell the Brits $90 billion worth of exports a year. And the Brits are still going to want to sell what they sell on the Continent.

    But when places like Greece or Italy or Spain see that you can exit and survive just fine, then they leave and all of the German banks will explode in a ball of bad debt. No more “Greek” rescues that are in reality pumping up the likes of Deutschebank.

    That’s what the real fear is. Britain itself (aside from its banks) is almost irrelevant in this entire “debate.” Sadly.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where we our Brexit thesis is borne out by today’s performance in Northern European bank stocks.

    • Of course, if the German banks all implode, that in itself will bring about all kinds of economic hurt for European nations. Whether they are in or out of the EU. The Germans would also have to pick up the British tab when our EU contributions stop rolling in. That won’t help, although it’s not the worst of the negative aspects to Brexit.

      The UK would survive outside. No doubt. But we’d be that little bit less competitive in the EU market. That little bit less attractive for foreign investment. There will be a financial price to pay for exiting. We really don’t know how high that price might be. And those Germans, and the French for that matter, might want it to be painful (and seen to be painful) for the very reasons you give.

      • Hola Gary,

        The Germans and French are unlikely to be able to make Brexit solely painful for the Brits without harming themselves too.

        After all, the British goods and services now being purchased are presumably not being purchased for reasons of national altruism.

        Saludos,

        Kim G

        P.S. Your replies no longer show up on my WordPress notifications. Blah! And since you’re normally not exactly lightning-fast about replying, this creates a bit of a problem of when to check back.

        • If Britain leaves the EU, the French and Germans will suffer a degree of harm. How they decide to manifest that harm is the open question. To accept that Britain will just have to be given the best bits of the EU without paying the key prices? Or to make an example of the UK to prevent others following suit?

          I wouldn’t imagine Greece or Spain would want to leave just yet. They are both net beneficiaries of the EU and although it’d be nice to devalue that debt, the resulting firestorm of their departure could wreck their economies beyond repair.

          It’s the Hollands and Denmarks who are more likely to say adieu.

          I did originally install Disqus before going off on an experimental tangent. I may well revisit it tomorrow. Although this current comments system is standard Jetpack powered WordPress. So it should work just fine. In theory…

          • Greece is not receiving much benefit from being in the EU. Instead, all the EU funds going to Greece are being recycled back to Northern European banks. As for hurting Greece’s economy, it has declined 34% from peak, which is probably the biggest depression ever suffered by a first-world country. So it’s hard to argue that it’d be much worse if they left the EU. There likely would be one last decline, and then they could probably start growing again. Under the EU, growth seems very unlikely.

        • The Greeks had their opportunity to Grexit a year or so ago and took their case to the brink. I understand that you think an exit and devaluation of the debt would be a good thing long term, but the Greeks clearly don’t want to ride that one last decline, one imagines because that could end in a very bad place.

          You’re right that the EU and its financial institutions need a reset, along with most other major economies. But there could be serious consequences to pressing that button.

  • As you were lamenting the stupidity of a sizeable portion of the electorate, I was going to comment that Trump is a prime example. But at the end, you beat me to it!

    • One really wonders how history will view the Trump phenomenon. Very unkind, methinks. We can but hope that history has only a campaign to review, not a presidency.

      • The GOP seems to be planning something on the Trump issue. Trump is just too wild for the stuffed shirt GOPers. I think they are going to run a third party candidate with the understanding that they are forfeiting the executive office in 2016 but lining up a strong runner in 2020. My guess it will be Ohio’s current governor.

        It is early, most nations do not start electioneering until a few months before an election. This is a case where they are starting the process better than four years early. I just can’t see the GOP letting Trump in the Whitehouse. They will not admit it but most of the stuffed shirt wing of the GOP would rather have four years of Clinton and a vetted candidate for 2020 than Trump.

        • Clinton is as good as a Republican anyway, some would say. From what I can see, a fair few GOP supporters are attempting to hold their nose and support him. But it seems that no matter how tightly they squeeze, the stench just won’t go away.

          There is simply no rational means of justifying Trump’s candidacy. He is what he is and what he always has been. And none of those qualities are presidential. Quite the opposite. He might not be America’s Hitler. Claims that he is are a stretch to say the least. But he goes down too many dark paths and he’s closer to it than anyone would ever want a president to get.

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