Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why Brexit Is Important to Americans

 

brexit-logoWith all that is going on in the US, perhaps the topic of “Brexit” has escaped most people. Until the last week or so, even as an American living in Switzerland, I have to admit I didn’t find it important. But Brexit is important even to Americans. It is about what happens when an “administrative state” is in the process of becoming your unwanted master.

Brexit is the June 23 referendum to decide if the UK remains in the European Union (EU). The peoples of the 28 members of the EU are governed to a growing extent by a complex organization in Brussels that can best be described as an “administrative state.” It has evolved from the original Treaty of Rome; this formed a trading bloc called the European Economic Community (EEC). When the key members formed this bloc in the 1950s, it amounted to a group of countries that sought free trade among themselves and common tariffs with countries outside the bloc. It was simple, effective, and democratic because each member’s participation was governed by the parliaments of each member state.

The European Union has evolved into a political-economic behemoth of enormous complexity and costs, headquartered in Brussels. Because of this complexity, many here in Europe believe it represents the worst of centralized government. It is seen as largely unaccountable to the average citizens of the 28 member states, and equally leaderless, incapable of speaking in a coherent voice about issues such as the tidal wave of refugees coming out of Africa and the Middle East.

So, along comes Brexit: The Movie about a week ago, just 71 minutes in length. After viewing it, I understand more. As few of us Ricochet listeners are UK citizens, few of us will have a vote on June 23. But let me assure you: The Brexit referendum is a complex issue in which hundreds of years of history and national culture are concerned.

It begins with the Magna Carta, the 800th anniversary of which was celebrated last June. Our US Constitution reflects the Magna Carta. One of the many principles in that document, which King John was encouraged to sign (he liked his head where it was), was that no people would be forced to pay taxes without their lawful consent.

When one considers how the EU actually functions, and the course of events during the last 25 years, then any rational person has to conclude that the Brexit people have an argument. The EU in Brussels can hardly lay claim any longer to being “democratic.” It is indeed an ”administrative state” without a constitution and has very limited accountability to the peoples of Europe. The vast majority of EU citizenry have no clue as to how it is organized or functions.

I strongly recommend that you view Brexit: The Movie. You can watch it here.

There are 61 comments.

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  1. Titus Techera Contributor

    So why is it important to Americans?

    • #1
    • May 20, 2016, at 2:21 AM PDT
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  2. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    TT, the argument was not made, but I’ll posit: because free states reinforce each others’ freedom.

    • #2
    • May 20, 2016, at 3:11 AM PDT
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  3. genferei Member
    genferei Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    One reason it is in Americans’ interest to get Britain out of the EU is to free the other great common law jurisdiction from the corrupting influence of continental law. The latest outrage is the invention of yet another reason to suppress freedom of speech (admittedly in a case of celebrity hijinx) in the name of respecting “private and family life”, as imported from the European Convention on Human Rights.

    But this is just a headline example of the damage done to the common law, from contracts to criminal, by the forced and unnatural commingling with civil law concepts. It is not that the common law is (always and everywhere) better than the civil law — it’s that they don’t mix. And not having another strong, pure common law jurisdiction upon which to draw, US jurisprudence suffers.

    • #3
    • May 20, 2016, at 3:14 AM PDT
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  4. Titus Techera Contributor

    Ball Diamond Ball:TT, the argument was not made, but I’ll posit: because free states reinforce each others’ freedom.

    I hoped he’d have something to say about that. Maybe something about Switzerland’s non-EU thriving in the middle of the muddle. I feel cheated out of some ten minutes I shan’t get back–more fool I.

    I certainly hope the British public, even in these trying times when neither side of an important national referendum seems to have much of an edge on the other, so that win, lose, or draw, nobody learns anything about the world they’re living in–I hope the British public makes the more daring choice to regain sovereignty, against political Establishment, & Parliament, & PM…

    I’d love to hear what it might mean for America, too. I wonder whether there are no public diplomacy opportunities on both sides; a more popular version of the special relationship.

    • #4
    • May 20, 2016, at 3:21 AM PDT
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  5. BrentB67 Inactive

    Indirectly Brexit now matters thanks to William Dudley, President Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    He mentioned Brexit yesterday during a speech.

    The timing was curious after the FOMC minutes were released on Wednesday with a hawkish tone that sent many markets reeling, especially overnight Wednesday and into our Thursday morning.

    The Fed needed something to calm markets and Mr. Dudley mentioned Brexit as something the FOMC is watching. The referendum vote takes place several days after the next FOMC meeting and Dudley floated the idea that it could factor into their interest rate decision implying that if Brexit looks likely the FOMC will not roil markets with an interest rate increase.

    It will be an interesting month.

    • #5
    • May 20, 2016, at 4:13 AM PDT
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  6. Arnold Falk Member
    Arnold Falk

    Let me try to improve on my hypothesis of why Brexit is important to Americans. It has to do with our own emerging “administrative state”.

    When you look at the excellent video by Martin Durkin, around minute 52, you will see that portion of the interview with Beat Kappeler about why Switzerland has stayed clear of the EU. It has to do with the fundamental nature of the government of Switzerland, which was inspired by Magna Carta and an oath taken on the plains of the Rütli in 1291. Switzerland’s society requires a “bottom up” form of government, and direct accountability of those in Bern and cantonal capitals. The numerous referendums we have during the year here only begin to tell the story, but are constant demonstrations that “the people must approve change”. The Brexit vote is important to Americans because we too are fundamentally a “bottom up” society. Read Article I of the Constitution if you doubt that. The Congress, and not the bureaucracy under the President ( Article II), has the only legal authority to “make all laws” and to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises…”. (Section 8) My understanding of the British Constitution, which unlike ours is embodied in the laws and interpretations over the centuries, is similar in that the true power resides with the People and in their House of Commons. And yet, the bureaucracy in Brussels is well along the way of rendering many societal decisions of the House of Commons mute. The British People are losing their grip on their destiny. That, Sir, is where the problem is with both our societies: In our case, the Executive’s bureaucracies have become the origins of most of the laws and regulations that control our lives; our Congress, elected by the People, is losing control of the process, just as Parliament is losing control to unaccountable bureaucrats of Brussels. It is noteworthy that the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE) was never ratified after being rejected by the French and Dutch voters in 2005. The Treaty of Lisbon was created to replace TCE, and it entered into force in late 2009. But, there is no such thing in the EU as a “separation of powers” and a notion of “checks and balances”. And these are precisely the features that are slowly eroding in the United States. If one wants to see what Washington could become, look to the evolving scene in Brussels. That is “why Brexit is important to Americans”.

    • #6
    • May 20, 2016, at 5:39 AM PDT
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  7. BrentB67 Inactive

    May I recommend including your recent comment in the post. You are one of the first to discuss this issue and I think it is important. Perhaps it will get considered for the Main Feed.

    Although you aren’t denigrating Donald Trump’s supporters as knuckle dragging racists so it is debatable whether this will get the MF treatment.

    • #7
    • May 20, 2016, at 5:59 AM PDT
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  8. Z in MT Member

    BrentB67:May I recommend including your recent comment in the post. You are one of the first to discuss this issue and I think it is important. Perhaps it will get considered for the Main Feed.

    Although you aren’t denigrating Donald Trump’s supporters as knuckle dragging racists so it is debatable whether this will get the MF treatment.

    I agree main feed with comment included in post, but there is no need to stir the Trump pot.

    • #8
    • May 20, 2016, at 6:52 AM PDT
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  9. Retail Lawyer Member

    “The European Union now has evolved into a political-economic behemoth of enormous complexity and costs, headquartered in Brussels. Because of this complexity, many here in Europe believe it represents the worst of centralized government. It is seen as largely unaccountable to the average citizens of the 28 member states, and equally leaderless, incapable of speaking in a coherent voice about such issues as the tidal wave of refugees coming out of Africa and the Middle East.”

    The problem is much worse than being unable to speak with a coherent voice. The EU is unable to actually do anything when something obviously need to be done. It cannot timely set up a border patrol. It cannot strike a deal with Turkey to house “refugees”. It cannot find a solution to the currency crisis. It cannot even enforce its own rules. (Germany was the first country to violate the budgetary rules necessitated by the common currency – and nothing happened!) Even worse, its structure preempts individual countries from addressing these problems – unless they break the rules, for which there will be no consequences.

    • #9
    • May 20, 2016, at 6:53 AM PDT
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  10. Titus Techera Contributor

    Mr. Lawyer, there may be a contradiction in your last remark: The example of Germany suggests there is a way to do what cannot be done. The lack of penalties & the apparent paralysis of the system might go together-

    • #10
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:03 AM PDT
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  11. I Walton Member

    I don’t suppose Switzerland is relevant to any place else, they are so hard working, disciplined, small, democratic and still busy body enough so that social pressure works to repress anti social behavior without resorting to intrusive law and opening themselves to top down bureaucratic nonsense. Europe is relevant to us because taken as a whole it is almost as heterogeneous as the US and even bigger so they demonstrate daily that an administrative state can’t work in such a large diverse jurisdiction. It is impossible. And yet, there they are floundering around and believing that their decline and stagnation has other origins. Of course it should be dismembered but trade is different. The optimum size for free trade, i.e. private goods, is the whole world. The optimum size for public goods, the things governments or some collective or cultural attitudes and practices should do, depend on a huge number of variables, e.g. fire departments or littering in contrast to nuclear umbrellas and basic national security?

    • #11
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:09 AM PDT
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  12. Rick Poach Inactive

    I’ve taken to calling the EU – the EUviet and the Euroviet Union.

    • #12
    • May 20, 2016, at 10:22 AM PDT
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  13. BettyW Inactive

    I’m just about 3/4 of the way through watching Brexit the Movie, and the EU mess seems like what the “progressives/Marxist/communists/socialists” are in the process of doing to the USA. Sad and scary. I hope GB succeeds in getting out.

    • #13
    • May 20, 2016, at 4:30 PM PDT
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  14. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Betty:I’m just about 3/4 of the way through watching Brexit the Movie, and the EU mess seems like what the “progressives/Marxist/communists/socialists” are in the process of doing to the USA. Sad and scary. I hope GB succeeds in getting out.

    Send Obama back across the pond to make the case again for how Britain will have to go to the “the back of the queue” in its relations with the US if it votes Brexit.

    He probably did more, in less time, than anyone else has been able to do to galvanize opposition to Europe, especially in the heart of the British Common Man.

    • #14
    • May 20, 2016, at 5:54 PM PDT
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  15. John Walker Contributor

    I Walton: Europe is relevant to us because taken as a whole it is almost as heterogeneous as the US and even bigger so they demonstrate daily that an administrative state can’t work in such a large diverse jurisdiction.

    “Almost as heterogeneous as the US”? Try twenty-four official languages of the European Union, plus numerous others spoken in regions. Since its foundation, the U.S. has had one major war on its territory: Europe has had too many to enumerate here, including two which embroiled large parts of the world.

    • #15
    • May 20, 2016, at 6:09 PM PDT
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  16. David Knights Member

    Watched it today. I recommend it to everyone.

    • #16
    • May 20, 2016, at 6:39 PM PDT
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  17. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m not sure someone who’s lived all, or even most, of his life in the US can appreciate the extent of the meddling that comes from Brussels into the lives of ordinary people in their homes, and into the business of the small businessman.

    Probably the most famous recent example of this was the EU rule banning (or at least making incredibly difficult) the sale of cucumbers and bananas that were too ‘bendy.’ Next, European restaurants, which have been putting dishes of olive oil along with fresh bread on the table for guests for years were suddenly ordered to remove them. (You may still serve olive oil, but only in an unopened, tamper-proof bottle with proper EU labeling). And on and on.

    Europe is much further ‘ahead’ than the US when it comes to energy-efficient appliances, limits on the wattage of things like toasters and vacuum cleaners, and the available selection of things like lightbulbs and cleaning products. All labeling and ingredient approval must come from Brussels, and the regulations change on a whim.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be an alarming tendency on the part of many Brits to suck all this up and become deeply attached to, if not exactly in love with, Big Brother. (It’s OK. No need to redact. Many of you can’t say this, but I have unimpeachable moral authority, on this matter, at least).

    Millions live in daily fear of what are referred to as the “Authorities,” who can track you down for the slightest infraction and make your life miserable (there have been a number of ‘free speech‘ incidents lately that make this point). I’m afraid it’s hard to know how much of this is a result of living under the thumb of the EU, and how much of it is just endemic to the citizens of this island nation.

    Take, for example, the Named Person Scheme for Scotland. Under this program (which is set to begin this August) every child born in Scotland will have a state-appointed ‘guardian’ who will report (to the “Authorities,” of course) on eight indicators which may affect that child’s wellbeing–is the child Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active Respected, Responsible and Included?

    Needless to say, the pilot program didn’t go particularly well, and although the measure had widespread approval at one point and passed the Scottish parliament without a single dissenting vote, a substantial portion of the Scottish public is finally rousing itself in opposition.

    There are currently a number of legal challenges to this new law and a decision is pending from the Supreme Court in London (the case having been rejected by Scotland’s top court). The underlying basis of the plaintiffs’ claim is that the Named Person Scheme should be abandoned because it treats children and parents with total disrespect, and it violates the terms of both British Common Law and . . . ummm . . . well . . . .

    The European Convention on Human Rights.

    Go figure.

    • #17
    • May 20, 2016, at 6:55 PM PDT
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  18. Al Sparks Thatcher

    I Walton:I don’t suppose Switzerland is relevant to any place else, they are so hard working, disciplined, small, democratic and still busy body enough so that social pressure works to repress anti social behavior without resorting to intrusive law and opening themselves to top down bureaucratic nonsense.

    I have a different theory of Switzerland. Because circumstances and geography have enabled them to stay neutral in the various wars that raged around them the last few hundred years, they have never had to adopt a war economy which has the effect of concentrating power to a central government.

    It’s the real reason why they have been able to preserve their federal system of government in a way we have not. The government growth spurts the U.S. has had have all coincided with the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. I posit that World War II was what really consolidated the gains government made from the New Deal. That’s when real government power was exercised with wage and price controls, and rationing, not to mention very oppressive income tax rates.

    I don’t know that you can say the same thing about the Vietnam War and the Great Society, which seemed to be on separate tracks and almost in opposition to each other.

    But getting back to WWII, one of the sacrifices our country ended up making was our own loss of freedom at the home front not just during the war but after.

    Other nation’s peoples, including our own have been disciplined and hard working. Switzerland is unique in the way they’ve been able to avoid war, though not without moral consequences (their appeasement of NAZI Germany at the expense of Jewish refugees).

    • #18
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:00 PM PDT
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  19. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have been following this a lot lately. Why it matters is two fold. One the E.U. bureaucrats are anti-Free Speech and Anti-freedom of religion. The E.U. constitution in 2004 which was rejected and re-branded virtually word for word under the Lisbon treaty terrified Christians who read it. It makes only speech and religion approved by Brussels legal. This can only lead to violence which we are seeing.

    Free Speech and Freedom of religion are basic human right all men should have. So if you care about your fellow human being you will be against any government who is moving to oppressing them and take away their freedoms even more.

    Secondly, and more importantly, many of the un elected heads of the E.U. (who are legally the only ones who are allowed to write law) have stated they are attempting to resurrect a European version of the U.S.S.R. We will be fighting another cold war if the E.U. gets its way because it will become another communist block. I have no doubt because the E.U.bureaucrats are filled with avid Communist and socialist by Europeans definition (which really are just Fascist). Once they control Europe they will set their sites on the rest of the world all under the name of European glory which is a major argument everyone is making why Brits should stay in the E.U. When ever someone says you should give up your freedoms for a greater glory, all I hear are wannabe dictators trying to rebrand a nationalist religion so you can give up all your powers to them.

    So not only due I think the Brits should get out of the E.U. I don’t think any nation should be a member of it.

    • #19
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:01 PM PDT
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  20. RightAngles Member

    I’ve always taken a dim view of the EU, ditto the Euro, and I haven’t been proven wrong. I read an extremely leftward-slanted article about Brexit in the NY Times, which implied that anyone opposing Brexit is obviously a cretinous racist who actually only wants to limit immigration. The author says proponents are trying to peddle “an emotionally gratifying movement.” He sounds the alarm of British businesses going under due to tariffs slapped on them and not enough immigrants to fill needed jobs.

    I’m partway through the movie, which I highly recommend, and which I hope is seen throughout Britain. I’m more and more disturbed at the global trends I’m seeing lately. I believe these people are aiming for some kind of International Federation of Earth or something. Wake up, people.

    • #20
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:19 PM PDT
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  21. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    The EU’s demise can’t come soon enough. Same with the UN.

    • #21
    • May 20, 2016, at 7:58 PM PDT
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  22. barbara lydick Inactive

    Some years ago I wrote a post on Ricochet describing the curvature of bananas fiasco handed down by the Brussels masters and its effect on small grocers in England. The post generated quite a bit of interest – and humor. Today, the stakes are even higher and the bananas, well, they’re still providing good employment for the Banana Inspectors.

    And how, we ask, does this affect us? Acfalk’s response was spot on. All we need to consider is the EPA – a bureaucracy accountable to no one. This due to the fact that Congress ceded all rights of governance to them; they are in fact the lawmakers, the judges, and the executioners. This way of doing business has crept into other large bureaucracies with the same results – bodies accountable to no one, e.g., The Dept. of Education, Obamacare. The list goes on. We need to take a good look at the real life consequences as Brussels is these departments, agencies, and corporations practicing crony capitalism writ large.

    • #22
    • May 20, 2016, at 9:04 PM PDT
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  23. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m ambivalent about Brexit. On the one hand, I feel kinship with, and sympathy for our British cousins and want to see them move forward to the broad, sunlit uplands of freedom. On the other hand, if they sink farther into the quagmire of the administrative state it will serve as a cautionary tale for us: we’ll observe their decline into despotism and misery and seek to avoid it. The faster Europe goes down the tubes the better.

    Sympathy triumphs over self-interest. I hope they vote out.

    • #23
    • May 20, 2016, at 9:18 PM PDT
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  24. Robert Zubrin Inactive

    Countries like Britain, with a better legal foundation than that of the EU, are better off out of it. But others, such as Ukraine, whose legal tradition is worse, would be better off in it. Britons would gain liberty by leaving the EU. There are others who would gain some degree of liberty by joining, or lose it by leaving.

    But unless the EU’s defects can be corrected, it will disintegrate, with disastrous consequences in certain parts of the continent. The cause of a civilized Europe, at peace, with liberty under law, is being sabotaged by the overreaching bureaucrats who claim to represent it.

    • #24
    • May 20, 2016, at 11:46 PM PDT
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  25. Larry3435 Member

    Europe is in the process of committing suicide in a variety of ways, and the Brussels Bureaucracy is the leading cause of death. If Britain is smart enough to escape the EU, it will prolong its life. It probably won’t be enough to save it. Britain’s internal politics are infected with the same left-wing idiocy as the rest of the EU; but not quite as much so, and there may still be time to resuscitate the formerly great empire. I wish them the best of luck.

    • #25
    • May 21, 2016, at 4:02 AM PDT
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  26. mezzrow Member
    mezzrow Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks for the post and the link to the movie, which I have already seen. Time well spent.

    Go. Watch. Learn.

    It matters.

    • #26
    • May 21, 2016, at 4:26 AM PDT
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  27. HVTs Inactive

    drlorentz: we’ll observe their decline into despotism and misery and seek to avoid it.

    Unfortunately, “we” don’t. Our President, for example, observes it and cheers for more Brussels-like centralization, lack of accountability, cronyism, and control for the purposes of partisan self-interest. Our political elites, broadly speaking, envy Brussels and—just as Leftists bemoaned the break-up of the Soviet Union—will be devastated by a Brexit.

    BTW – since the UK retained control of its currency (thank you Maggie!), it has an ability for EU escape like no other. So, if the UK doesn’t manage it, it’s highly unlikely others will. The “demonstration effect”, on the other hand, will be enormous. The currency problem is daunting, but not insurmountable once a non-EU vista is established by the plucky Brits.

    • #27
    • May 21, 2016, at 6:41 AM PDT
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  28. HVTs Inactive

    Robert Zubrin: But unless the EU’s defects can be corrected, it will disintegrate, with disastrous consequences in certain parts of the continent. The cause of a civilized Europe, at peace, with liberty under law, is being sabotaged by the overreaching bureaucrats who claim to represent it.

    What’s the mechanism with which one can “fix” Brussels? I don’t understand the workings of the EU well enough . . . is there Federalism built in? I suspect not . . . if there is, it’s not evidently being used.

    Which is the same problem we have here. The Constitution, at Article V, affords the States (which, after all, begat the Federal government not the other way around) the ability to rein in Washington, D.C. But rights that aren’t exercised atrophy. We have to get our State legislatures to exercise their Constitutional responsibility to protect us from Federal overreach. That movement is afoot, and seven States have passed the necessary resolution to make Washington once again our servant instead of our master.

    • #28
    • May 21, 2016, at 6:57 AM PDT
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  29. Titus Techera Contributor

    Larry3435:Europe is in the process of committing suicide in a variety of ways, and the Brussels Bureaucracy is the leading cause of death. If Britain is smart enough to escape the EU, it will prolong its life. It probably won’t be enough to save it. Britain’s internal politics are infected with the same left-wing idiocy as the rest of the EU; but not quite as much so, and there may still be time to resuscitate the formerly great empire. I wish them the best of luck.

    I respectfully dissent. The EU is about the most harmless of the dangers the various European nations are facing. It is more of a soporific than anything else. & if we are talking about the effect of politics rather than anything else, NATO is far worse a soporific-

    • #29
    • May 21, 2016, at 8:02 AM PDT
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  30. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    HVTs: Unfortunately, “we” don’t. Our President, for example, observes it and cheers for more Brussels-like centralization, lack of accountability, cronyism, and control for the purposes of partisan self-interest.

    *Sigh* I know, I know. But not all Americans are like our president. While he may never awaken to reality, the voters can.

    HVTs: Our political elites, broadly speaking, envy Brussels and—just as Leftists bemoaned the break-up of the Soviet Union—will be devastated by a Brexit.

    That works for me. The more devastated the better.

    • #30
    • May 21, 2016, at 9:36 AM PDT
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