Sunday, June 26, 2016

Some commentary on Brexit: Let’s ‘raise a glass to freedom’

From Mark Perry.
"There has been a lot of media and pundit commentary about Brexit, here’s a roundup of some comments that I think are especially interesting and illuminating:

1. John Bolton writing in the Boston Globe, “Brexit Victory Is a True Populist Revolt” (emphasis mine):
During 43 years of British EU membership, UK citizens came increasingly to believe they were losing control over those governing them. Decisions were made in an utterly opaque EU bureaucracy, with British interests routinely overwhelmed by those of other EU members, especially Germany. Nonpartisan analyses concluded that approximately 60 percent of all legislation enacted by Britain’s Parliament was dictated, in whole or in part, by decisions already breached by Brussels bureaucrats or EU diplomats.
The outcome was a true populist revolt. Only a few members of the elite supported Brexit, but the middle class was overwhelmingly in favor. The dispositive margin of victory, however, came not from the ranks of “the nation of shopkeepers,” but from blue collar, trade union members.
Immediately, the United States should do everything we can, politically and economically, to come to the side of our strongest ally in the world. Contrary to President Obama’s threat during his recent visit to London, Washington should put a bilateral US-UK free trade agreement at the very front of our diplomatic agenda. But most of all, we should welcome Britain’s departure from the EU. Happy Independence Day!
2. Megan McArdle writing in Bloomberg‘Citizens of the World’? Nice Thought, But …“:
The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment was in full display on social media last night. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told.
Or perhaps they were just unable to grasp that nationalism and place still matter, and that elites forget this at their peril. A lot people do not view their country the way some elites do: as though the nation were something like a rental apartment — a nice place to live, but if there are problems, or you just fancy a change, you’ll happily swap it for a new one.
In many ways, members of the global professional class have started to identify more with each other than they have with the fellow residents of their own countries. Witness the emotional meltdown many American journalists have been having over Brexit. Well, here’s one journalist who is not having a meltdown.
3. Matt Ridley writing in the Wall Street Journal, “The Business Case for Brexit“:
The EU is also against free trade. It says it isn’t, but its actions speak louder. The EU has an external tariff that deters African farmers from exporting their produce to us, helping to perpetuate poverty there, while raising prices in Europe. The EU confiscated Britain’s right to sign trade agreements—though we were the nation that pioneered the idea of unilateral free trade in the 1840s. All the trade agreements that the EU has signed are smaller, as measured by the trading partners’ GDP, than the agreements made by Chile, Singapore or Switzerland. Those the EU has signed usually exclude services, Britain’s strongest sector, and are more about regulations to suit big companies than the dismantling of barriers.
Even worse than in Westminster or Washington, the corridors of Brussels are crawling with lobbyists for big companies, big banks and big environmental pressure groups seeking rules that work as barriers to entry for smaller firms and newer ideas.
4. Brian Wesbury writing for First Trust PortfoliosBrexit is Freedom“:
The bottom line is that investors should ignore scare stories about what would happen if Brexit wins. Great Britain runs consistent trade deficits with the rest of Europe.Regardless of what foreign leaders say before the vote, if the British vote to leave, the rest of the EU is going to chase them to the ends of the earth. No way will they allow one of their biggest export markets to become more distant. They will beg the UK to sign a free trade deal. In addition, and this is actually great economic news, it would free the US and UK to sign a free trade deal that the EU is now holding up. Any market volatility would be short – lived and any swing to the downside would be a buying opportunity. Brexit is not a reason to sell. In fact, freedom is a good thing.
5. Tim Carney, writing in the Washington Examiner, “In the U.K.’s Tribal Battle, the Cosmopolitan Elite Tribe Just Lost“:
The EU moved political power further away from home. More power, more concentrated, benefited the tribes of cosmopolitan elites — whose tribal bonds were Twitter, Facebook, journalism and education.
The EU took power from the tribes that were more based on place and language and history. These latter tribes had been largely deprived of their ability to shape the world around them. The elite tribes, on the other hand, had actually seen their political capacities multiplied.
Now the elites of the continent have lost some power to change the UK, and the elites of the UK have lost some power to shape the continent. Meanwhile, the populace, by bringing power closer to home, has regained some of the power it naturally ought to have.
6. Michael Goodwin writing in the New York Post, “Britain’s Vote for Freedom Proves Power is with the People“:
The world is coming full circle because now it’s the Brits who are free. It took them a while, but they finally had their own Tea Party and their own revolution. I salute them for their courage. And I raise a glass to freedom.
This is Western democracy in all its grandeur. It refreshes itself not with the blood of innocents, but with the peaceful passion of ordinary people.
That’s the beauty of Brexit, and of grand old England. The people spoke, they were heard, and the wheel of history is turning. Let’s get on with it. Raise another glass to freedom."

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