The news brings word that the British public is now telling pollsters they are tilting heavily toward voting to leave the European Union. If the Brexit referendum passes, the British government will be required to paddle the island further into the North Sea in order to get beyond the reach of Brussels. That’s figuratively, of course. Actual paddling could cause the island to flip over if too many people were on one side or the other.
This is setting off panic on the Continent as Britain is a major financier of the project. The Brits pay roughly €13 billion per year into Europe. They get out about €6 billion, or roughly half of what they contribute. This sounds terrible, but this does not account for the intangible benefits, assuming they exist, of having a say in the management of the European Union. That’s been the argument against Brexit. The indirect benefits of Remain dwarf the costs.
Like all economic arguments, the Remain argument is built on a foundation of statistical falsehoods and manipulation. They assume the worst case scenario of Brexit and the best case of Remain. In reality, most of the trade in place now will remain in place. The Germans need open access to British markets and they don’t have any desire to start a financial war with the English speaking world. They are in no position to pick that fight.
For all the talk of hidden benefits, there’s little talk of the hidden costs. Globalism is built on the concept of privatizing profits and socializing costs. Importing migrant labor, for example, allows the employer to avoid the cost of labor laws, insurance and competitive wages. At the same time, they can shovel those costs onto the public via welfare programs, crime, charity, etc. There’s nothing more expense than cheap goods made with illegal labor.
In the case of Brexit, there’s an enormous hidden security cost to the British that comes with European membership. This story about a Russian mole in NATO is a good example. During the Cold War, intelligence gathering and handling was managed by the Brits and Americans. The so-called Five Eyes did all of the electronic snooping and managed that information. The Brits have always been one of the best at spy craft and the Americans have always been great at signal intelligence. It made for a great partnership.
Since the Cold War, NATO intelligence has become a de facto European intelligence. That means the active participation of all EU members. Countries like Portugal, with their poor record of keeping secrets, gets the same intel as Germany, with their excellent record of keeping secrets. The golden rule of all security systems is that they are as strong as their weakest link. In the case of Europe, their intelligence services will always be as reliable as Athens and Lisbon.
When you have separate countries, this problem is easily addressed. First, no country passes on intel to a third country without first getting permission from the source country. Countries that violate that rule are cut out of the loop. You can’t enforce that rule in a world without countries. The Portuguese and Turks get the same information as the Brits and Germans. Since that can’t possibly work, the result is going to be endless scheming, hidden agendas and deception. Nothing sows distrust like cooperation.
The other “hidden” benefit of separate countries is the British intel services, for example, know perfectly well whose interests they are serving. The goal of their efforts is manifest to everyone in MI6. All of these motivations are transparent so everyone knows their job. Policing these relationships becomes much easier. If James Bond is living beyond his means and cavorting with a Russian mistress, you know something is amiss. When the guy with the thick German accent shows up demanding a briefing, you know better than to give him keys to the vault.
That, of course, leads to another problem. The British not only understand their interests, they can act on them unilaterally, if they think it necessary. If the US passes on intel that a mosque in London is housing mischief of Exploding Mohameds plotting to blow up a school, the Brits can act on that as they see fit. The people in charge of Britain know that their first duty is to protect their people. That’s where their loyalties begin and end.
All of this leads to the fundamental problem of the borderless world. It makes for a dangerous world. Government is not a precision instrument. It is a hammer. The bigger the government, the bigger and less precise the hammer. Public safety and national security are precision games. National government does them poorly which is why so much is delegated to local government and autonomous agencies. That’s not possible in a global world.
Instead it is armed guards looking out over a prison yard, waiting for the inevitable shanking.