Monday, July 4, 2016
"Brexit:" The U.K. Declares Independence From the EU.
240 years ago the "United Colonies of America" declared independence from Britain and the tyrannical reign of King George the Third.
Actually, independence was declared on July 2nd, but hey, it's not up to me to decide when we celebrate it. Look it up if you doubt me.
Anyway, we all know (except for Millennials) the reasons why: "Taxation without representation," Tax Stamps, the (very first) Tea Party, The shot heard round the world," "One if by land, two if by sea," "The battle of Concord," etc., etc. Suffice it to say, the Mother Country wasn't making colonization work so well for our forebears. So the pulled the plug, and the rest, they say, is history.
Flash forward to now. Just as we declared our independence from the tyrannical reign of Great Britain, a major chunk of the United Kingdom just declared its independence from the tyrannical reign of the European Union. It was called "Brexit" for short, as in "British exit." And unless you're happily retired and have plenty of time on your hands to research arcane matters such as this one, you might now know exactly why.
I am, and I do.
So, my friends, and you are my friends, I'm about to tell you exactly why. And why our Limey friends' decision could well turn out to be a precursor as to what might transpire here in good ol' 'Murica come November.
Suppose, for a moment, that the U.S., Canada and Mexico all decided to get together and form the "North American Union." And then suppose that the Headquarters of that Union were to be placed in Mexico City. Yeah, Mexico City would be in charge of deciding what goes on in the North American Union. Who buys what, who sells what, and who whom, and who pays for what, and how much. Mexico City. Hmmm.
Can you then imagine that perhaps the decisions that would come out of Mexico City might be a bit slanted toward the benefit of Mexico? Me too.
Oh wait. Is there anybody left in Mexico City? I kind of figured they all had left and are living in Los Angeles, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. But then again, maybe not.
Anyhow, now let us take a look at the European Union. There are, or rather were, 28 countries in the European Union. It was crafted to knit together countries with differing interests, languages, political leanings, religions, wealth, natural resources, histories and agendas. Many of these countries had been warring with each other for more than 1,000 years. They had undergone the Hundred Years War. The War of the Roses. The Napoleonic Wars. The War of British Succession. And World Wars One and Two, to name just a few. There's an area between France and Germany, for example, called "Alsace-Lorraine." It's a stretch about 30 miles wide and a hundred miles long that reflects what happens when two countries fight wars with each other over a period of a millenia. The residents of this patch of dirt all speak French and German, because one country or the other had "owned" this land at one time or another over a millennia.
So these 28 disparate countries decided that banding together into one large economic group could benefit them all financially through enhanced trade, while also removing any chance they would take up arms against one another ever again. Kind of a"mutually assured prosperity" thing.
That's what we call one of them there good ideas on paper, that just don't work out so very well in practical application.
So the EU got going in 1973 and picked up speed, adding more and more countries, until just this past week. That's when the fromage, as they say, got binding.
Countries, you see, are kind of like people. Some are self-reliant, hard-working, self-sufficient, penurious and proud. Some are quite the opposite, being often lazy, self-centered, boneheaded, drunken partying spendthrifts, desiring that their more focused and hard-working neighbors provide them with support. Count Germany among the former, and Greece among the latter.
So over the years Germany and Switzerland and the United Kingdom had to pony up $billions in aid to the countries that overspent and overindulged. That group would include France and Spain and Portugal and Italy, in addition to the aforementioned Greece. We're talking bailing out those countries with $billions in foreign aid so they wouldn't have to go bankrupt! Kind of like what the U.S. is now going through to help Puerto Rico keep from pulling the plug.
And where were the rules and regulations being made and passed down to their member countries? Brussels, Belgium.
Brussels, a big town in a small country, most notable for being the location of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the armed forces that protect it, called "USAREUR," for United States Army - Europe.
But Belgium was small potatoes in terms of gross national product, or the ability to contribute the big tax receipts necessary to cover the costs of running the EU. And the Big Time Countries, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, were on the paying end of that equation. Think of the United States and its relationship to the United Nations: We pay 30% of the entire costs of running that Band of Bozos. Why? Beats me.
And so the "paying countries" were growing ever more weary with that situation. Plus, Brussels was demanding that their member countries take more and more Syrian Muslim refugees.
As you likely know, the flood of Syrian refugees resulted from Barry Obama's little "Red Line in the Sand." He drew it when Bashir al Assad, Syria's Prez, started making a hobby out of gassing his people. To death. Barry took issue with that. Told Assad, he did, that if he didn't stop, he would come across that Red Line and smack him around a little. Assad didn't stop. Barry went golfing. Seems he does that a lot.
So the flood of Syrian refugees reached a fever pitch. Hundreds of thousands of them began streaming into Europe. The EU demanded that its member countries take them. Some blanched at having their ethnic, economic, democratic and religious makeup changed forever by an influx of tens of thousands of mainly mid-twenties, uneducated, poor Muslim men. Too bad, the EU said. Get over it.
And so the United Kingdom decided to have a referendum, which is a vote on whether their good folks wanted to continue in the EU, coughing up $billions to their lesser neighbors, or exit ("Brexit"), regaining their sovereignty once again. And that referendum took place a week ago. And the Brits, in a squeaker, decided to bid adieu to the EU. Let's take a deep dive into why they felt that way:
- The Banana Regulation: Yes, you read that right. A 1994 Brussels regulation dictated that fruit could not be too curvy or it could not be sold. That reg specified that fruit must be "free from abnormal curvature." Why? Don't know. But there just could not be bendy bananas or crooked cucumbers. Make sense? Not to me. Not to them.
- EU regs out of Brussels started phasing out incandescent light bulbs in 2009, starting with 60w bulbs. By 2011 they were all phased out. The EU didn't like them because they "wasted energy." We did the same, and for the same reason. But many folks over there started reporting an uptick in epileptic fits due to the flickering of the florescent bulbs. Perhaps their differing voltage standards has something to do with that.
- In 2014 the EU banned the purchase of vacuum cleaners over 1,600 watts and hair dryers over 1,000 watts as part of a drive to reduce the use of electricity usage. Somehow forcing the U.K. to use less so that others could use more didn't sit well with our British friends.
- Would you believe that the EU doesn't believe that drinking water does not prevent dehydration. Whaaaat? That's right. If you're dehydrated, the Boys from Brussels tell you "don't drink water." The EU won't let those who sell water in plastic bottles state on the label that it will reduce dehydration. This is what's called micromanagement via bureaucratic interference. It's also called stupid.
- In 2011 the EU adopted laws that state diabetics who have had two or more episodes of hypoglycemia, or light headedness due to low blood sugar, could lose their driving privileges. They would be forced to report such episodes to the "Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency," which could then require that you fork over your license. And no, I'm not making that Orwellian title up.
- In the EU it's illegal to eat your pet horse. You read that right. In 2009 a new law was dumped on the Great Unwashed over there specifying that it had been reported that up to two million pet horses were being eaten every year, and that could not be permitted to continue! Thus, every pet horse, as well as ponies, donkeys and zebras (!), would be required to have a "Horse Passport." And on this Passport the owner would be required to list whether the horse was a pet and whether it would be eaten at the end of its useful life (!). The Passport could not be changed later. As if somebody would actually want to.
- In 2010 a new directive came forth relating to fruits, jellies, jams, marmalades and sweetened chestnut puree intended for human consumption. The EU's rules stated that a preserve must contain at least 60% sugar to be called a jam. Anything containing less had to be called a "fruit spread," while a low sugar jam with less than 50% sugar was to be called a "conserve." Are these people for real?
- And lastly, for this little exercise, the EU decided three years ago that restaurants could no longer refill their glass jars containing olive oil from their tables. It seems that restauranteurs would refill those dispensers each day with fresh oil for the next shift. This angered the EU-types for some strange reason. They decided that only plastic non-refillable olive oil dispensers could henceforth be used, meaning that the restaurants had to toss out the unused oil at the end of each day. Olive oil costs money. But it doesn't cost the EU dictators anything, apparently.
Now you know how the majority of Brits felt going into last week's election.
Theirs was a battle between the forces of nationalism vs. globalism. Their pride in making their own decisions as opposed to having those decisions made for them from afar.
And of unfettered immigration vs. maintenance of the status quo. In other words, preventing potentially dangerous uncontrolled immigration of hundreds of thousands of primarily Syrian Muslim men, as demanded by their overlords on the Continent, or maintaining control of their borders and their cultural equilibrium. Perhaps you've heard about people being beheaded in broad daylight on the streets of London. Would have a tendency to cause one to want to retain their cultural identity, wouldn't it?
They chose to bolt. And the world went nuts! Stock markets plummeted! Dire predictions of doom and desperation were bandied about by all sorts of talking head pundits! Pissed off EU dandies who saw a major chunk of their funding going away fussed and fumed in disgust! It was as if the U.S. voted to get out of the U.N., and the U.N. came to the realization that their sugar daddy had finally cut off the allowance. Even a chunk of Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU, threatened to leave the United Kingdom. Many, but not most, of the Brits were against the move. But the "most" were overjoyed to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel...that was no longer the headlight of an oncoming train.
The U.K. voted to take control of their country once again. And a parallel can be drawn with what's now happening here in America. The election that looms in front of us will tell us whether our populace is happy with our headlong dive into globalism, and socialism, courtesy of the Obama Administration, or a return to more America-centric immigration, military, energy, environmental, taxation and spending policies of the good ol' days.
The Brits have voted. It's our turn come November...
And so, my friends, I wish you a very happy Independence Day! Go forth and consume mass quantities of burgers and hot dogs! And remember, were it not for the sacrifices of our Founding Fathers...and Mothers...today we would be noshing on bangers and mash...