That’s the argument that British economist Andrew Lilico made recently in an interview with Vox’s Timothy Lee—that while Britain has gained from being part of the EU, both entities will be better off apart, and that the split, while upsetting to markets in the short term, will ultimately pave the way toward long-term gains for both, with the EU becoming stronger and more unified in a way that it simply couldn’t with Britain attached. Britain, in this thinking, helped set EU culture early on, but was simply too independent to ever fully integrate with the continent. Post-Brexit, basically, the EU is free to become the United States of Europe.
I’m a little less confident that this scenario will play out. Britain’s exit from the EU is just as likely to lead to more sovereign squabbling and a further breakdown of the EU. But ultimately even that might be better in the long run, as the EU as it stands is a deeply dysfunctional governing body that has consistently proven itself unable to effectively respond to the challenges it faces. The design of the EU is inherently awkward: Its monetary union is undercut by its lack of a fiscal union, and its attempts to maintain some level of national sovereignty are undercut by its power imbalances andanti-democratic elements. The structure is inherently unstable.
Regardless of which way it goes, the Brexit vote is likely to spur the EU to take action and move beyond its current unstable equilibrium. It’s as clear a sign as any that the EU can’t go on doing what it’s been doing. It’s a wake up call, basically. So while there are certainly risks to a dramatic move like this, that’s a good thing overall.
In the meantime, Britain is probably better off no matter what. If the EU moves toward becoming the smoothly functioning super-state that Lilico hopes for, then Britain will have helped make that possible. And if the EU continues in its dysfunction, or breaks up further, Britain will have extricated itself, protecting its own interests.
Brexit might spur U.K. reforms.
The entire video was very concise, lasting less than four minutes, so it only scratched the surface. For those seeking more information on the topic, I would add the following points.
- Businesses will never create jobs unless they expect that new employees will generate enough revenue to cover not only their wages, but also the cost of taxes, regulations, and mandates. This is why policies that sometimes sound nice (higher minimum wages, health insurance mandates, etc) actually are very harmful.
- Redistribution programs make leisure more attractive than labor. This is not only bad for the overall economy because of lower labor force participation. This is why policies that sometime sound nice (unemployment benefits,food stamps, health subsidies, etc) actually are very harmful.
The American economy is in the doldrums. And has been for most this century thanks to bad policy under both Obama and Bush. So what’s needed to boost growth and create jobs? A new video from …
Back in 2010, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually claimed that paying people not to work would be good for the economy. Wow, that’s almost as bizarre as Paul Krugman’s assertion that war is good for growth. Professor Dorfman of the University of Georgia remembers Pelosi’s surreal moment and cites it in his column in Forbes, […]
I find it fascinating, if not reassuring, in the struggles for economic liberty that the same feeble arguments against free commerce and in defense of statism, even 166 years ago in post-revolutionary France, were peddled as progressive and as our salvation from the evils of commercialism on society . It was a lie then, just as it is today.
That which is seen, and That Which is Not Seen; by Frederic Bastiat
While the exaggerated development of public services, by the waste of strength which it involves, fastens upon society a fatal sycophancy, it is a singular thing that several modern sects, attributing this character to free and private services, are endeavouring to transform professions into functions.
These sects violently oppose what they call intermediates. They would gladly suppress the capitalist, the banker, the speculator, the projector, the merchant, and the trader, accusing them of interposing between production and consumption, to extort from both, without giving either anything in return. Or rather, they would transfer to the State the work which they accomplish, for this work cannot be suppressed.
The sophism of the Socialists on this point is showing to the public what it pays to the intermediates in exchange for their services, and concealing from it what is necessary to be paid to the State. Here is the usual conflict between what is before our eyes, and what is perceptible to the mind only, between what is seen, and what is not seen.
It was at the time of the scarcity, in 1847, that the Socialist schools attempted and succeeded in popularizing their fatal theory. They knew very well that the most absurd notions have always a chance with people who are suffering; malesuada fames.
Therefore, by the help of the fine words, “trafficking in men by men, speculation on hunger, monopoly,” they began to blacken commerce, and to cast a veil over its benefits.
“What can be the use,” they say, “of leaving to the merchants the care of importing food from the United States and the Crimea? Why do not the State, the departments, and the towns, organize a service for provisions, and a magazine for stores? They would sell at a return price, and the people, poor things, would be exempted from the tribute which they pay to free, that is, to egotistical, individual, and anarchical commerce.”
The tribute paid by the people to commerce, is that which is seen. The tribute which the people would pay to the State, or to its agents, in the Socialist system, is what is not seen.
In what does this pretended tribute, which the people pay to commerce, consist? In this: that two men render each other a mutual service, in all freedom, and under the pressure of competition and reduced prices.
It works like this: Politicians find it in their self-interest to take from Peter and give to Paul, whenever Paul can offer more political support than Peter – in the form of votes, campaign contributions, get-out-the-vote efforts, etc. But as tax rates rise to pay for these political acts of theft, some of the Peters begin to emigrate to other jurisdictions. As more taxpayers leave, the tax rates needed begin to rise – leading to a greater exodus. Eventually there are no Peters left to tax to pay for all the benefits the Pauls were expecting.
In the United States I associate this general approach to politics with Franklin Roosevelt, who had two important insights.
If you want a 12 minute economic eye-opener about what our economy is really built on and what we need to do about it, please listen to this. All the complex mechanistic mumbo-jumbo from the Fed about treasury yield curves and productivity are distractions… full of circular logic and designed to keep the bubbles inflated for a while longer. Will there be short-term pain if we do the right thing??? You bet there will be…and it will be worth it long term.