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Lurking in the Cafe and Bookstore #2

This visit to Sally’s place was planned a while ago. We had a long chat, listened to music and cooked a spicy, if imaginary, joint. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed being part of it.

via Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview with author Frank Parker

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An Apology to Everyone Who Voted ‘Leave’ on June 23rd

If I have given the impression via my several comments on the outcome of the referendum that I think you are ignorant, or stupid, or racist, or xenophobic, I apologise unreservedly. I have no wish to insult your intelligence. I do believe that one or more of those epithets can fairly be leveled at some of those who led the campaign. I also believe that it is they who are guilty of insulting your intelligence.

I watched a woman on Question Time last night saying that she had listed the pros and cons and made a carefully considered decision on the basis of that list. I would have loved to have seen the contents of that list. I can’t help wondering how many of the ‘cons’ were based on the myths and misunderstandings that the campaign leaders and the media perpetuate about the nature of the EU.

In the same audience was a man who stated quite firmly that ‘we don’t want their socialist ideas’. And yet it is well documented that many who support Labour, and Jeremy Corbyn’s particular version of Socialism, voted to leave. You should not be surprised if I see something of an inconsistency there.

Others have stated that the EU exists to feather the nests of bankers and big business. The opposite of ‘socialist ideas.’ I wonder which of these diametrically opposed ‘cons’ appeared on that woman’s list?

The EU has been characterised as undemocratic, yet its governance is probably more democratic, with more checks and balances, than that of any member state. There is a parliament elected by a system of proportional representation. There is a Council of Ministers in which each member state has equal representation.

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It has been described as overly bureaucratic, yet employs fewer officials than Birmingham city council. (See panel. There’s more detail here)

Of course it has its faults. The idea of the parliament having to meet in two different places, is wasteful, since the location of the parliament has no bearing on the decisions it makes. The location does, however, gain some economic benefit from its presence, and the practice is a mistaken homage to the principle of ‘sharing’ where only two of the 28 members are able to reap the almost negligible benefit.

Getting 28 different nation states to agree on anything is difficult and demands a degree of compromise that is often frustrating. But it is worth noting that Britain has ‘got its way’ more often than not in key decisions. The article to which I have linked shows that UK MEPs were on the ‘winning side’ in fewer votes than those of any other member nation. Even so, they were on the losing side in less than 30% of all votes. Most decisions have a high degree of support across the board.

What I am saying here, is that much of the rhetoric of those who have opposed Britain’s membership of the EU since the beginning is based, if not on downright lies, certainly on distortions of the truth.

I understand that many people did not know which set of ‘facts’ to believe. When I say [some] people did not know what they were voting for, it is because of the disparity in beliefs between those who, like the man in last night’s Wakefield audience object to ‘the Socialist ideas’ they believe the EU stand for on the one hand, and those, on the other, who object to the austerity measures the EU has imposed on Greece. You surely have to admit they cannot both be right.

New World Order – Discussion

Before proceeding, please read at least the opening paragraphs of the post titled ‘New World Order‘. If you have come here via the link at the end of that post welcome to the debate. I offer the following points for discussion in the on-going debate between free-market economics and socialism.

  1. Neither the French revolution, the Russian and Irish revolutions, nor more recent left wing movements have succeeded in their original aims. All have, sooner or later, reverted to what seems to be the natural order with a powerful minority controlling the economic life of the rest.
  2. All movements need a leader – in my embryonic story Jason seems the most likely to assume this role – and all leaders eventually have to become dictators or give way to a stronger personality who becomes the dictator.
  3. The overthrow of dictators in my lifetime – in the Balkans, in Iraq – has resulted in anarchy and violence.Cover #104. Despite the undoubted failings of free-market economics it is a system that provides openings for those who are dealt the right cards and play them well to join the wealthy elite. In my lifetime one thinks of Lord Sugar who rose from market stall holder to head up a technology and property empire or Richard Branson who started out in the 1970s as editor of a student magazine and rose to lead a transport and media conglomerate. More recently we have seen the phenomenal growth of corporations like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook making fortunes for their founders who began without the benefit of inherited wealth. It is my contention that such successes would be impossible in the economic environment proposed by the Left.

     

    5. The fact that a tiny number of people are possessed of the bulk of the wealth, as measured in dollars, is, on the face of it, utterly deplorable. But it is the case that the wealthy do not keep their dollars under the mattress. They invest them in businesses that create jobs. They use them to purchase enviable artifacts – mansions, yachts, limousines – which, again, provide jobs that enable the rest of us to provide for ourselves and our families. In addition, many of them engage in philanthropy, using their wealth to assist others to access education, to assist budding entrepreneurs with seed investment, to support self-help projects in the most deprived communities.

I could go on, but the idea was to provoke discussion so I want to hear your response to these initial points first. Feel free to use the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter to make your contribution to the debate.