Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit, Schmexit

Just a couple of thoughts about Brexit, which I haven't really paid much attention to, despite having lived in England when I was a graduate student at Cambridge:

First of all, as usual, to American commenters, it's all about us, ranging from some guys on right wing websites blaming the whole thing on Obama (naturally,) to the standard mainstream take that, just like with Trump, it's about a bunch of angry working class white people who hate minorities in their country. This, of course, ignores another, and potentially much more damaging issue, "austerity."  Under the doctrines of austerity, the entire economy of Europe has to be subservient to the banks and seeing that investors don't lose a nickel on their loans, regardless of how irresponsible they were.  And the unfortunate reality is that the countries within the EEC who have all the power are the rich ones (I'm talking you here, Angela Merkel) which, of course, are home to all the bankers and investors.  So, guess who calls the tune?

Making the whole economy respond to the interests of the rich is, of course, hardly a new idea.  If you are interested in how it works out, you might care to look at the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge, who turned the running of the economy over to one Andrew Mellon, one of the richest and greediest people in history, who proceeded to set the government on a course of financial support to bankers and investors, and no one else.

Well, a lot of people in Europe are sick of this kind of thing, but to read most of the reporting, it is all about hating immigrants.  The truth is, the real powers behind the throne in Europe could have easily avoided the exit of Britain by recognizing the damage they were doing by catering to their rich friends' interests, but of course, as in the United States, a large part of the guys who vote on such things don't give a damn about how much damage they cause, and so we end up with Cyprus, and Portugal, and now Brexit.  If the European Union does fall apart, it will not be because of immigrants, but because of the intransigent refusal of corrupt leaders to budge one inch from their servicing of the rich.

By the way, just to return to some good old American self-obsession, separating these two issues pretty much defines the difference between Bernie's campaign and Trump's.  Of course, the mainstream press will do whatever it can to suppress awareness of any rational opposition to what is economically off kilter in this country, so they try to conflate the two candidates and their followers.

Well, in the end, despite the current panic by the chicken littles on Wall Street, my guess is that in the end this will not make all that much difference.  The economic damage that the British exit from the European Union causes is, I suspect, far less than the continuing bleeding that "austerity," i.e. giving everything to the rich, would have done in the future.


Infidel753 said...

It is absolutely astonishing how the uninformed are reacting to this. I suppose the break-up of the USSR caused a certain amount of economic upheaval too, but I don't recall anything like all this apocalyptic caterwauling, much less liberals who should know better declaring that Lithuania had erred in declaring independence.

Yes, "it's all about us" and foreign politics can be understood only by analogies with American politics, however inapplicable in reality. Boris Johnson looks a little bit like Trump, so they must be the same!

The countries suffering the most from austerity can't get rid of it because the EU isn't a democracy and makes very little pretense of being one. If they follow Britain's lead and break away, there's at least some hope of improvement. Until then, none.

Frank Wilhoit said...

The people "blaming" Brexit on Obama also think Brexit is a good thing. Evidently they are so callused to cognitive dissonance that they cannot even feel it any more.

Green Eagle said...

I suppose there is some forlorn hope that the British could force the intransigent leaders of the EU to admit, in some small degree, what a disaster "austerity," i.e. Austrian school economics, supply side economics, call it what you will, has been every time it has been applied, and to give national governments a reasonable degree of control over their currencies. This probably means a major blow for the euro, but we have seen in Cyprus and Greece how much damage can be done by encouraging (almost forcing) poorer countries to take insane loans, largely because the bankers in the rich countries are so flooded with cash that they will go under unless they can loan it out, and then taking away the only tool these countries have to control their economy in times of crisis, devaluation.

Let us remember that this is the very reason that the Great Depression inevitably forced countries to abandon the gold standard, which also denied them the ability to control their own currencies. And the result is potentially just as catastrophic.

Unfortunately, this would require governments to act in the interest of someone else than the richest people in the world. Fat chance, huh?