After taking flak from many sides in my life last week, the UK’s decision to exit the European Union was the eventual painkiller for me. Like most others with at least an inkling about finance, I’m still numb. Apparently, my relatives are, too, since there hasn’t been a peep out of them yet. The pollsters got it wrong again.
Unless a second referendum can somehow reverse the voters’ wishes, the economic and cultural shockwaves of Brexit will ripple outward for years. There is no quick withdrawal from such a political entity, even if that’s what EU headquarters wants. I can hear them stamping their feet in pique. If you’re going to go, GO! Let’s be rid of you.
Truth be told the first mistake may have been ever joining with the Continent and others in such an un-British undertaking as the European Union but that’s torrents of water under the bridge. It certainly made worse the huge immigration problem that has plagued the nation beginning with the 1950s. Things won’t get better because of Brexit. Already, terrified tourists and commercial truck drivers are being attacked and carjacked so ruffians can get across the English Channel.
Brits have always had a soft spot for those who suffer but the government’s long-standing open immigration policy was a disaster. It overwhelmed the economy and all social services, with the worst years being in the 1990s. Yet it got replaced by the EU telling them how many immigrants and refugees they had to take each year. Excuse me? Whatever happened to the rights of a sovereign nation? (Yul Brynner could tell you something about allies in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical The King and I.)
At the time, the growing British resentment had little or nothing to do with xenophobia, though racist overtones are always present in any country being invaded. It did not and does not matter where the immigrants have been coming from. There isn’t room for them!
Manchester and London notwithstanding, average Brits don’t like being crushed and crowded by others. Almost 200 years of the Industrial Revolution cured us of that. We need physical and psychological space to breathe and cannot live (as some cultures do) like schools of sardines who all flash and sharply change direction at the same instant. Orderly assimilation of immigrants is much better than being fire-hosed with them but the powers-that-be didn’t think things through in their eagles’ aeries.
I know that fellow Brits who have remained in the mother country are angry and fed up with conditions overall, especially not being able to obtain needed medical care for months and years. Even though some “born abroad” people are there legally, too many immigrants have shoved ahead in line. The health care system could be close to being bankrupt for all I know. However, native Brits have grown resigned to it all. They are a stoic people. Until they’re not.
Exact numbers are hard to come by but already close to 8 million immigrants are estimated to have got in since 1950, only mildly offset by emigration to former colonies like Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Numbers related to Brexit will skyrocket due to fears of doors slamming shut soon. Such a massive number of immigrants can never be successfully absorbed by a nation the size of California, a nation that already had high unemployment. And then those people had kids. There were and are few jobs for them.
Of course, you can guess what happens to teenagers and young adults who have nothing to do all day. They turn into louts and hooligans who stand around on corners drinking. Then they decide to set fire to cars and smash windows in stores. England is notorious for the number of major riots that have occurred in recent memory. They haven’t even needed a specific motivation like a rare police shooting over there or government spending cuts.
The young may have leaned toward Remain but as far as voter reaction to the UK leaving EU, you’ll notice it is mostly the very wealthy and just the plain old wealthy who are vocal that the country should have voted to remain. I’m not knocking the wealthy as a group. Many of them are doing great good in the world. (And others aren’t, of course, being too busy keeping the lower classes in their places.)
Ordinary people seem ecstatic about leaving the EU, in spite of any unforeseen snarls in the process. The repercussions remain to be endured. This includes other members of the European Union also wanting their independence. France will be especially spiteful and fearful but no surprise there. Old hatreds die hard. There will be much hardship coming their way, and ours, as things shake out. An immediate result will be the opportunity for thousands more layoffs in the U.S. as revenues shrink.
What the Brexit vote shows is that people everywhere are fed up with the status quo. They don’t want ignorant, lazy politicians playing like bratty children in the great halls of the land. They don’t want politicians setting up blockades to social progress so they can continue wasting the taxpayers’ money. And they certainly don’t want loose cannon candidates running for office. But all major parties share the blame for the debacle that is happening in the UK and here in the US.
My very first thought when I heard the results of the UK referendum was, “Never underestimate an angry Brit!” And there are more than a few of us in the US, too. Some are ex-pats but more are long-time naturalized citizens with the absolute right to speak up and speak out when we smell disaster approaching.
Many so-called native-born Americans would like us to go home when we dare to get outspoken about our beloved adopted land. But it often takes eyes and experience from the outside to really see the shenanigans that are going on in the war zones of US society: government, the environment, business, academia, religions, peace-keeping, Big Ag, Big Pharma and the rest of the medical field. We all need to keep our eyes and ears open to protect our freedoms.
If the European Union comes apart at the seams, the federal government (and maybe even some state governments) will need individual trade agreements with former members. It will be difficult to negotiate them but necessary. EU was probably our largest trading partner and will leave a vacuum when it goes away. Nature abhors a vacuum, so other entities will rush in to fill the void. One of them needs to be the US, if we haven’t managed to self-destruct first.