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Comment: Re:You're missing the point. Reread the post. (Score 1) 133

Sorry, but unless you think my clients are no longer going to have power outlets in their office those few years down the road, I just don't see this as a big deal.

The first thing I do when I arrive at any remote office today is plug the laptop in, and then plug in a real mouse. I expect I'll do the same if I visit a remote office tomorrow, just like literally every other person in the room.

Comment: Re:You can replace Windows... But not the battery. (Score 1) 133

One can buy a far better desktop machine and a UPS for that money. And it would be user-serviceable and upgradeable.

A bit harder to transport to a client's office, though.

These machines are obviously aimed at a particular niche that full desktop workstations can't cater for.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

I think the challenge with the current system and shared Euro currency isn't that a nation loses control of its own policies on things like taxation and trade, its that whether those policies actually work is significantly influenced by the equivalent policies set by other nations that share the currency. As we've seen in recent years, if some nations screw up their own economies due to poor management, corruption, or for any other reason, it does have a serious knock-on effect across the whole currency group.

So, although a shared currency doesn't in itself imply shared tax and spending policies, I suspect that more centralised government (and therefore necessarily less autonomy and sovereignty for each member state) will follow in practice. To a degree, it already has, with the nations that struggled worst after the crash effectively being forced into unpopular austerity policies by foreign influences in return for bail-out money or even having their entire governments replaced by technocrats for a while.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

The mostly-unspoken underlying question here is whether the people of Europe actually want to bound together in that way. Some people do see a United States of Europe in the future. Generally speaking, the people of the UK don't, or at least don't want to give up our own national identity to become part of such an umbrella organisation, any more than Canada wants to be the 51st state just because some Canadians speak the same language as most people in the US and they share a border and some broadly similar political views.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

[Free movement] just needs to be worked out, not abandoned.

In principle, I agree with you.

However, "working it out" when you're starting with the level of disparity between countries like the UK and Germany on the one hand and the "new Europe" nations on the other is a generational problem that will take many years to solve. It's not something that can be finished in a matter of months with a quick treaty or two.

In the meantime, if you immediately establish tight integration as something like joining the EU does, you have artificially increased the pressure on both the weaker and the stronger nations. Consider that Greece -- which was already an EU member and part of the Eurozone -- is still in serious economic trouble today, coming up to seven years after the big crash. There are still serious political frictions there over dealings with Europe, and there are still serious political frictions in nations like Germany, where they have been picking up the tab for all that time.

One possible alternative is to provide humanitarian and economic aid to less fortunate nations without such close formal ties. For example, the UK has a government department responsible for international development. It has thousands of staff, and now sends over £10B per year in aid funding, mostly to nations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This makes the UK the #2 provider of official development aid (after the US) in absolute terms, and the #5 provider (after Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Denmark) relative to gross national income.

So again, if the UK were no longer part of the EU, this doesn't necessarily mean the UK would no longer support the economic development of the "new Europe" states. A cynic might also point out that unlike the EU, there are also actual accounts showing where the money for UK overseas aid is really going and robust mechanisms for reporting and shutting down fraudulent claimants.

For the near future, this kind of arrangement might be more beneficial to the nations receiving the aid and impose a lower risk on the nations giving it, without the mechanics of shared currencies and the like clouding the issue. So again, looking at the big picture, I don't see much of an argument for the UK becoming more tightly integrated with the EU and in particular joining the Eurozone given the current economic disparity among member states.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

This only works as long as everybody is equal.

Precisely. And since, in terms of economic strength, everybody in the expanded EU most certainly isn't equal (please note that this is not intended as any sort of insult, merely a statement of fact) the free movement principle does not work well.

In particular, what has really happened in certain cases, for example with Poland and England, is that most of the movement has been one way. This puts strain on English services, but it's important to recognise that it also means many of the people who would be best placed to help Poland develop its own economy are among the most likely to find working in richer European countries more attractive and/or lucrative, creating a "brain drain" effect back home. In the long term, both nations could end up worse off because of the imbalance.

In principle, freedom of movement is a good idea, for both business and pleasure purposes. But on the business side, it does require reasonably balanced parties so the traffic at least roughly cancels out. This was the case in the early days when there were far fewer nations in the shared European machine, but with the expansion to nearly 30 actual or aspiring member states with much more diverse economic conditions, the same logic no longer holds.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

You are talking as if none of Britain's booming trade has anything to do with the common market

It has plenty to do with the Common Market.

It has very little to do with the rest of the stuff the EU added on top of that Common Market.

and as if that relationship would continue unchanged if Britain exits the EU.

There is no reason why in the long term that should not be the case. It worked before, something similar works today with the EFTA nations, and it is still in everyone's interests for a separated UK and the nations still in the EU to remain effective trading partners.

If that really happens and the EU bureaucrats allow Britain to exit whilst retaining all of its trade agreements and privileges except influencing internal EU affairs

Where did that "and privileges" come from? What privileges are these, and why do you keep adding extra one-sided straw men to the discussion when no-one else is suggesting them?

what is to stop Greece, Hungary or any other country where EU skeptics have come into power from demanding the same?

If EU skeptics have come to power elsewhere, why does the EU have any right to try to prevent them from leaving? You could hardly blame, for example, the Greek, for having second thoughts. Though of course the general population in Greece seems to be consistently in favour of trying to make the Euro work rather than going back to their old currency anyway, so this is just another straw man.

Anybody interested in keeping the EU in tact is going to be as enthusiastic about giving Britain a 'leave while retaining all membership privileges' deal as the UK government is to give you a 'continue to earn money and use public facilities while paying no taxes' deal.

And the same number of people are actually suggesting each of those deals here: zero. You seem to be making up random straw men for reasons I don't understand, and I don't see how that is furthering any useful debate here.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

No, it's not. One of the strategies requires everything to work almost immediately or it almost immediately starts building up to a failure that undermines the economies on both sides. The other strategy can be used over arbitrarily long timescales, with full integration determined by when everyone is ready instead of artificial pressures because of unwanted economic side-effects, and in fact full economic integration not necessarily ever being required at all.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 3, Informative) 396

People who voted in the referendum tell me that it was made clear at the time that it wasn't just a trade agreement, it was a larger project.

What referendum and what agreement?

The beginning of the European Union as we know it today was the Maastricht Treaty in 1991.

The last referendum on major European integration in the UK was held in 1975, and it was about membership of the European Economic Community, which was explicitly about trade -- in fact, it was widely known as the Common Market.

This went as far as some provisions for freedom of movement, but was long before the kind of centralised government and economic integration we see with today's European Union.

For those keeping score at home, yes, that means no-one under the age of 57 in the UK has ever voted in a referendum on European integration at all.

If it is working well why quit?

Because the EU today doesn't just have the useful trade agreements, but also a lot of other baggage.

That isn't correct. Such free trade agreements only work if both countries are on an equal footing, otherwise there will be conditions to keep things fair.

An interesting perspective, considering how unequal the footing is between different EU member states today, and how much this is responsible for many of the serious problems facing Europe recently.

Note also that when people say the UK wants to develop relationships with other global trading partners, what they mean is that they want to reduce conditions and wages for employees to the same levels as those economies.

Now you're just making things up and fear-mongering again.

For example, one of the widely reported pre-leaving business comments recently was from some of the senior executives at JCB, which is a large organisation that makes engineering vehicles and the like. They made a reasonable point that there is relatively little demand for such vehicles within Europe under the current economic conditions, while there is a great deal of demand and even more potential in rising global economies like China, to which the vehicles can be exported in large numbers. Limiting potentially beneficial trade agreements with those developing economies for the sake of keeping the EU happy simply isn't in the interests of a business like that, and in turn of that sector of the UK economy. This has nothing to do with the kind of exploitation of the workforce you're alleging.


The numbers are what they are. The UK has a healthy balance in trade with most of the more economically advanced EU member states, but overall it is the non-UK side that tends to export slightly more at the moment, so they have more to lose if the bureaucrats throw their toys out of the pram instead of dealing with any UK exit like adults.

And there is no particular reason to assume the trade rules would change dramatically in any new agreements anyway. As I said before, the trade agreements are one of the areas where everyone saw common ground long before the EU was around, and they are one of the areas where there is still a lot of common ground today. You're just fear-mongering, again.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 0) 396

It hasn't really worked out very well for anyone over the past few years. That's the point: closer integration between partners who aren't starting from a broadly similar position is often a lose-lose proposition. The visionary sees the potential for what might be a better future for everyone, but the pragmatist also asks how we're going to get there starting from where we all are today.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

Sorry, but that is just unfounded fear-mongering.

There is no reason that skilled and motivated immigrants should have to leave the UK, for the same reason that roughly half our immigrant population comes from outside the EU today. However, the UK could impose stricter controls on those with less to offer and/or who don't speak the local languages or share the local culture entering the country. Given widespread -- and at least somewhat justified -- popular concern about less productive immigrants taking advantage of the social security system in the UK and about isolated communities that never integrate significantly, that seems one of the most likely outcomes in the event of a UK/EU split.

Similarly, the average UK ex-pat retiree now living elsewhere within the EU probably isn't a benefits scrounger. With things like the cost of housing being so low in much of continental Europe compared to the UK, these people are probably sufficiently wealthy to look after themselves for as long as they need to, contributing to the local economy in the process, and simply enjoy the more laid back culture and local environment in their later years. Again, there would be little reason to force such people out just because of a UK/EU split.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 396

So you provide international development aid before you integrate, and you only allow the tighter integration when the weaker nations are ready for it. This story plays out on a global scale and with much wider gaps in current economic strength all the time, but the EU has spectacularly mismanaged it within Europe, unfortunately with all-too-predictable consequences.

Progress means replacing a theory that is wrong with one more subtly wrong.