Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brexit THIS!

People, I am really getting tired of all the hand-wringing, apocalyptic post-Brexit posts.  Please try to take a deep breath and chill.

It's not that big of a deal. Yes I know stock markets are down. They will come back up.

Yes the pound is down. Who give a $%#$%#$? So what?

If the UK actually exits (for me this is p = .75), economically it will be fine. The US doesn't have zero tariffs with the EU, but we still manage to survive.

This whole thing is much closer to a non-event than the earth-shaking mistake it's taken to be.

Some specific things that really bug me.

1. Claiming that the result was not democratic. Rogoff and Gowder, you both know better.  This is just ludicrous.  There is nothing more democratic than a referendum. Full stop. This was pure democracy in action. Many people who claim to love democracy but dislike this outcome are tying themselves in knots trying to avoid the implication that in this instance at least they are anti-democracy ( welcome to the club, let me show you the secret handshake).

People, the US is not a democracy! We are a Republic. We have tons of checks on democracy. Deciding everything by a simple majority referendum would be a disaster in the US. But it would be a decidedly democratic disaster.

2. Claiming that some voters have a greater right to decide than others and shouting that they were "robbed". It turns out that the youngest voters went for remain while older voters chose leave. And of course this means that the old are robbing the young and the vote is somehow illegitimate because..... old people suck? Because 18-24 year olds have so much more economic and political savvy than do 60 year olds?

I do like the idea that the shorter is your remaining life span, the less your vote should count. I wonder if the folks who are screaming about the pernicious old voters in Brexit would be willing to apply this principle to US elections?

3. Blaming Reagan. Oh Neoliberalism, is there nothing bad that you didn't do? This one is a howler of the highest order. Brexit has nothing to do with what the people who decided it said was important and was caused by Ronnie and Margie Thatcher!  Whatever you are mad about, just trot out the old shibboleths and invoke the ritual incantations. Why hasn't Naomi Klein pinned Brexit on Milton Friedman yet?

Did something happen you don't like? Look back in history,  find the first other thing that you really don't like. There's your cause.

Brexit apocalypse punditry has been some of the stupidest and laziest punditry I've had the misfortune to endure.

We will all survive Brexit with little lasting damage. This will be clear within 6 months.


Simon Spero said...

How do you get P(Leave) = 0.75 as your current estimate?

The only events that I can see that would work against it would be;

a) the EU offering a renegotiation of terms so favorable that the leave case weakens enough to make calling a second referendum politically survivable. They had a chance to make much smaller concessions before the referendum, and did not do so; had they offered Cameron a fig-leaf, the outcome would probably have been different.

b) individual members of parliament deciding that, even if it means losing their own seats, this is such a matter of principle that they must ignore the vote.

c) EU governments deciding that even if if hurts their own economies and strengthens their own domestic opponents enough to cost them the next election, this is such a matter of principle that a second continental blockade is essential.

d) events, dear boy, events.

1. It's not necessary to have a republic in order to have checks on democracy; in a constitutional monarchy where parliament is supreme (e.g. the UK), parliament is free to ignore the results of referenda, though at great political cost. In various continental republics, referenda are required in some defined situations, and the results are binding. In the latter case the EU has in the past been forced to order a do-over.

3. It's not like Thatcher was on the remain side during the original "leave" referendum (unlike the Scottish Nationalists), or in power when the Maastricht treaty was negotiated (to her later regret). I don't recall any specific comments by Reagan on the appropriate scope of qualified majority voting. Walls, yes (against).

Maybe the US media is preparing for an in-depth analysis on the question devolved powers and appropriate levels of competency. (p < 0.05)

Warren said...

When I read about Brexit I get the impression that Britain is going to float away to the South Pacific somewhere and never have anything whatsoever to do with Europe for the rest of time. I'm pretty sure if the UK leaves all of the doom and gloom apocalyptic scenarios will die down and it will be more of a Norway/Switzerland situation rather than Venezuela/Argentina.

Tom Davies said...

Simon -- what do you mean by "It's not like Thatcher was on the remain side during the original "leave" referendum" -- she supported entry during the 1975 referendum.

Simon Spero said...

Tom- the 1975 referendum was called by Wilson to reverse the assession treaty negotiated by Heath in 1972.
The omitted /sarc tag was weakened by my misremembering which treaty was which: I meant the "Single European Act", not Maastricht, which was a bruges too far.

Tom Davies said...

You're right-- it was a 'brexit' referendum, not a 'join', I had forgotten.
Sarcasm is easy to miss on the internet. Tags are vital!

Noah Carl said...

Old people aren't to blame anyway: http://posnetres.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/did-more-old-people-than-young-people.html

Stuart said...

Since neoliberalism is so hegemonic and everything, you'd think the ruling class would do a better job of manufacturing consent.

Walter Guyll said...

My weak morning eyes...
I read it as 'If the UK actually Exists (for me this is p = .75)' which took me down a different rabbit hole.

Chris Cuilla said...

On point #2 and the idea "that the shorter is your remaining life span, the less your vote should count." maybe we could just apply a compromise and count those votes as 3/5ths.


Ernest Ellingson said...

Quoting David Burge:
"History has taught us that Germany has always had Britain's best interesests at heart."