Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reflections on the Brexit Vote

Since the Brexit vote, in which voters in the high-turnout UK referendum, voted to leave the European Union, I've seen a lot of words from a number of commentators. The most laughable to me (somewhat paraphrased) was

The only reason I can think of for people to vote against their economic self-interest is racism.
There are several things wrong with this. The two biggest are these:
  • It's a huge assumption to say voting to leave the European Union is against the economic interests of the UK. This is what the "Remain" partisans claimed, but I don't see that should be given a lot more weight than the claims by the "Leave" partisans that Brexit would be better for the UK economically. Indeed, I would say leaving the European Union would be more likely to be in the UK's economic interests (see below).
  • "Racism"? Really? Racism of Europeans against Europeans? How dumb is that? Europeans are all pretty much the same stock — just ask
Other commentators have said
the votes to leave the European Union came from those who feel they haven't shared in the economic benefits of EU membership.
Essentially, they are saying the Brexit vote result was a matter of "sour grapes." But the statistics don't bear this out. Poll results just before the vote show the difference in voters was between the young who favored "Remain" and the older voters who favored "Leave". Or as one correspondent put it,
Millenial socialists who don’t understand vs. older folks who remember what Britain was.
As if to hammer the point home, here's a picture of one of London's young Millenials.

Aside from the voters who don't think of themselves as British, it seems to me a primary motivation was probably a lot simpler: They simply got tired of the overregulation and stupid regulation coming out of the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. Little things like orders that a series of popular products could no longer be sold. Little things like a bureaucratic decree that drinking water is ineffective against dehydration. Little things like labor regulations Britain never had (or needed) till they were imposed by the EU to match those in other parts of Europe. A lot of those objectionable regulations are economic, and getting rid of them may well free the UK economy to grow at a faster rate. But it's also true that some of the recent (and projected soon to come) directives are in the "hot button" area of immigration and EU demands that eath country in the Union take their "fair share" of "Syrian" migrants.

In other words, a key issue area — regulatory overreach and objectionable regulations — is the same there and here. But with the Brexit vote there's an additional factor:

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