by John Brian Shannon | June 26, 2016
Seventeen million Britons voted to leave the EU, and the world wants to know why.
Could it be the Economy?
All EU citizens are feeling the pressure of falling purchasing power and lower employment levels, but only Britons have had the opportunity to leave the European Union for a shot at a better existence.
I suggest that the bottom two economic quintiles in every EU nation would choose to leave the EU today! if they could, and for the same reasons voters in the United Kingdom voted Brexit on June 23, 2016.
That’s 203 million people out of a grand total of 508 million EU citizens who now find themselves in the bottom two economic quintiles in the European Union.
That is some statistic!
If the European economy was rocking along at a furious rate, it mightn’t be too much of a problem.
GDP growth is flat and EU unemployment is cast at 9 percent of the total workforce — but in reality it’s much higher, as huge numbers of people have given up looking for work and aren’t counted on official unemployment statistics, nor are those who’ve returned to college because they can’t find a suitable job, nor are those who find themselves on some kind of government (welfare) support. Which makes the real EU unemployment rate in excess of 20 percent.
And like elsewhere in the developed world many EU jobs are entry-level jobs. And sure, the people who have those jobs know they’re lucky to have them — but they also know they’ll never ‘get ahead in life’ for as long as they stay at that job.
It isn’t an EU-only problem. In recent decades, a larger proportion of employment opportunities are low-paying jobs as multinational corporations automate many of the operations formerly performed by skilled workers.
Why pay a human, when you can pay a machine less?
Could it be a lack of Democracy?
All over the EU, everything from the price of bread to how many migrants are allowed into your EU-member country are decided by unelected mandarins in the EU’s version of the Soviet Politburo.
With an official unemployment rate of 9 percent which equates to +21 million people (but a real unemployment rate of +20 percent, which equates to 44 million unemployed people) and 203 million people living in the bottom two economic quintiles; When you combine their numbers with the people who’ve had enough of being told how to live by the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, you arrive at enough votes to exit the European Union. Exactly as happened in the UK last week.
Here’s the rough math on that for the entire EU:
- Total population of the EU = 508 million
- Of those EU citizens, 203 million are living in the bottom two economic quintiles + 44 million real unemployed + a minimum of 20 million voters living unhappily with the unelected mandarin situation in Brussels = 267 million unhappy EU citizens
- 508 million – 267 million unhappy voters (‘leavers’) = 241 million who would probably vote for continued EU membership (‘remainers’)
Do you see how the UK accumulated enough votes to leave the European Union?
If a vote were held in every EU country today, the exact same result would occur as in the UK last week.
And everyone would blame their economic woes, their lack of employment and quality of their employment, and the lack of democratic process in Brussels, for their decision to vote against EU membership.
Could it be Globalization?
Globalization has done some wonderful things for consumers over the past 25 years, some of which have been quite unnoticed by citizens.
It’s fair to say that globalization ushered in an era of low priced and higher quality goods than would otherwise have been available. It’s also fair to say that consumers have a much wider selection of goods to choose from.
And importantly, competition dramatically sharpened between corporations — which increased productivity, efficiency, national GDP statistics, and has helped developing nations to become net assets to the global economy instead of draining the strength of the world economy.
It’s all good – except the parts that aren’t
The downsides of globalization are understood; Higher unemployment, lower wages, lower quality jobs, offshoring millions of jobs, the increased power of corporations vs. citizens, and the fear of our societies transitioning from true democracies into corrupt plutocracies.
Now that we’ve reaped the benefits of globalization (but lost the UK in the process!) now might be a good time to address some of the inadequacies of globalization before we lose significantly more.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein
Legislation can solve every one of these problems if the political will exists.
If a higher minimum wage is legislated throughout the 28 EU nations (say, 15 euros per hour) and if people who earn less than 25,000 euros per year are exempted from paying income tax, and if job-sharing schemes are made mandatory with a view to employ every worker for a minimum of 6 months per year; Not only could the bottom two economic quintiles have an opportunity to improve their lives for the first time in decades, they will resume their normal voting patterns (which is more often than not) reelecting incumbent politicians and voting to remain in existing political unions.
See how easy it is?
“If you treat an individual as if he were what he can and should be, he will become what he can and should be.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
By addressing the negatives of globalization, the EU could still become what it can and should be.
And by addressing the democratic gap in Brussels where unelected officials can never, ever, be removed by voters no matter how odious the policies, the European Union could become what it can and should be.
And that’s an EU worth joining.