I could almost subtitle this “why the Brexit debate turned nasty”, although the problem is far older and deeper than anything it directly deals with. It is something I never realised, possibly because I am not British by birth, until I realised that people who vehemently disagreed with each other shared a common, mistaken, assumption.
What has the EU ever done for us? Mostly, a lot of harm.
Consistently favoured corporate interests over public interests
The EU is far more insulated from public pressure than national governments but even more prone to listening to corporate lobbyists. It is not transparent enough about lobbying for us to even know what the real expenditure is, but we know it a lot.
The greatest single case of this is in the supposedly free trade, but really corporate welfare, TTIP treaty which the EU is pushing hard, despite widespread public opposition. Who wants the treaty? Corporate lobbyists. It also binds countries permanently to particular policies, undermining democracy.
This post was sparked off by a comment a teacher made about the British government’s education policy, but the point I want to make is that this is the result of a globally accepted change in values. There is a link between education policy, how prisoners are treated, arts policy and more. Continue reading
My idea, intended for the UK, but possibly applicable elsewhere, will generate a huge amount of government revenue, complete change immigration, and stimulate economic growth. The idea is a very simple: auction residence visas. Continue reading
One reason that Marx’s prediction that capitalism would lead to increasing inequality, and then failure, was wrong, was that advancing technology lead to increases in prosperity for almost everyone. Slowing technological change will mean an increase in inequality, so Marx may have another chance to be proved right. Continue reading
In the 1990s it looked as though democracy was spreading irresistibly. Not only do I think this trend has reversed, but that there will be very little public objection to it, and the push-back against it will be comparatively little even from those who seek to oppose it. It will happen slowly, but democracy is dying. Continue reading
Conventional wisdom has long been that the internet (and IT and modern telecommunications) are hard for governments to control and empower anyone willing to use them — activists and protesters in particular. I have long been sceptical, but I think its now clear I was right. Continue reading
A few years ago we were assured that complex financial models used by banks could be relied on to correctly assess financial risk. This was supposed to ensure that banks would stay solvent, and the financial system stable. It turned out that insufficient back-testing, subtle pressure on those building the models to produce the “right” results, and the intrinsic problems of complex models, meant that the models were far from good enough.
We are also asked to trust complex models of climate change that predict rising temperatures. I am inclined to distrust complex models in general, but leaving that aside, are these likely to suffer the shortcomings of the bank’s risk models? Continue reading