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Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 222

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 1) 222

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) 222

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) 222

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.

Comment: Re:Overblown (Score 1) 222

Potentially, but the reports I've seen only disclosed the existence of a planning process, not the results, which don't seem to have been determined yet. Everyone who might be affected in the kind of way you described will have known or assumed that the relevant people would be making these kinds of plans anyway, so it seems no real harm has been done here.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1, Insightful) 222

Somebody has been attending UKP rallies, "...separate amicably..." that is has to be one of my favourite Nigel Farage quotes.

People have been talking about amicable separation from Europe since long before Farage had any significant influence in British politics.

In other words you want the UK to enjoy all the economic advantages of EU membership without any of the burdens and preferably outside the EU?

Yes. That's what we signed up for: economic and trade relations. Everything that has come after that has never been asked for or voted for here (or in many other EU member states, for that matter).

Why is this a problem? It worked fine for years, and good trade relations are mutually beneficial.

The Americans have a saying: "There is no such thing as free lunch".

So do a lot of other people. But the UK isn't asking for a free lunch. It's suggesting that if, say, Germany makes good bread and the UK farms good cows, they trade so everyone can enjoy a tasty burger-in-a-roll for lunch. Plenty of nations outside the EU have this kind of relationship with plenty of nations within the EU today. The UK has, and wants to develop, these kinds of relations with other global trading partners as well.

What motivation would the other EU nations have to give Britain all the economic advantages it used to enjoy once Britain leaves the EU without any of the perceived shortcomings such as political and economic integration?

The UK is a net importer with most of its major trading partners within the EU. Financially speaking, there is probably more benefit to those nations if they preserve good trade relations with the UK than the other way around, but both sides benefit greatly.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 222

The whole point of the EU is that the stronger members bring up the poorer members so that they don't dissolve into financial chaos which tends to have other inconvenient outputs.

The trouble with that argument is that it relies on the stronger members having enough economic power to actually do that. It is far from clear that this is currently the case, with the expansion of the EU in recent years to include many far less economically advanced member states, not to mention a few of the longer-standing ones habitually cooking the books. The likes of Germany can't make up for shortfalls across so many of their fellow EU nations indefinitely; it isn't politically viable, and even if it were, it probably isn't economically viable in the long term either.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 222

How this will turn out is anybody's guess.

Not really. I hear bookies are giving odds of 1/25 on "badly".

The trouble is, the Eurozone hasn't actually solved the underlying problems that caused or amplified most of the troubles in recent years. There is still wide disparity between the economic strengths of different EU member states, including those within the Eurozone. They still share a common currency but control their own taxation, government spending, and trade relations with partners outside the EU.

Measures like quantitative easing (as we seem to call "printing money" these days) might create some temporary breathing space that allows more time to address underlying problems. However, if the real problems aren't addressed then sooner or later they will just undermine the whole economy and cause everything to crash again. And next time, the rest of the world will be even less trusting of the Eurozone's future financial strength, making it even harder for its member states to recover.

Comment: The business situation isn't clear either way (Score 1) 222

And apparently your banks had it as well, they already warned that you exit EU, they move back to Hong Kong.

People keep posting this, but seem to be referring to only one bank, HSBC. It would be a loss economically if they went, but there is a lot of scare-mongering going on about what would happen to big business if we do/don't leave. No-one really knows how many, if any, of these big businesses would really follow through on their threats if they don't get the result they want.

There have also been leaders of big business arguing for leaving. The main argument is that it would make it easier for the UK to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with other rising economic powers around the world if it were not tied to the EU.

And there have certainly been plenty of small businesses criticising all the badly implemented rules from the EU recently on everything from VAT to consumer protection, which are creating an absurd burden particularly in the growing on-line sector. In theory we are supposed to benefit from more trade as a result, but some less charitable/more realistic commentators have pointed out that many nations in the EU are still in such a poor state financially that they generate almost no custom for things like new on-line businesses anyway.

The difficulty with all of these issues is that since no-one can see far into the future, none of us really know which agreements are more important to keep or develop and which are just getting in the way now. It's all just marginally-educated guesses.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 1) 222

The UK is part of Europe for precisely those strategic reasons and nothing else.

The UK is part of Europe because of geography.

The UK is part of the European Union because of history, and in particular because of trade agreements followed by dubious political manoeuvring to expand the resulting relationship far beyond their originally intended scope.

If you want a Europe of alliances, then the UK should be in. If you want a Europe of unity, then the UK can't be in.

That seems like a good summary of the current situation, yes.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 5, Interesting) 222

Most rational people recognize Britain should be part of the EU.

Why? I haven't made up my mind yet, but I'm erring on the side of leaving for entirely rational reasons.

In short, I think the UK and much of continental Europe have different long term goals. The Eurozone nations have opted for a degree of financial integration that the UK doesn't want or need. Obviously that hasn't worked out very well recently, at least for the economically stronger EU nations, so there is little reason for the UK to join in the foreseeable future. I think the wider EU is also heading for a more centralised, federalised system of legislation and broader government, which again the UK does not generally want to join. I suspect that in the long term these two fundamental types of integration will prove to be inseparable, and those who want to be part of the EU will increasingly lose sovereignty over things like taxation, weakening national governments in favour of ever-more-powerful central EU authorities. That's OK if it really is what they want, but I don't think it is what the UK is looking for in its relationship with its European neighbours.

On the other hand, the UK and many other EU nations are valuable trading partners for each other, so maintaining a liberal trading environment is in everyone's interests. This was what our previous generation actually signed up for by joining the predecessors of the current EU, of course. I think many in the UK also value things like the the European Convention on Human Rights (even if our current administration do not like it) and would be happy to remain a signatory, but that is a different European system, not part of the EU. Similarly I think those from the UK who often travel to Europe or vice versa would see merit in the UK joining the Schengen Area (even though again our current administration are probably strongly against it).

As things stand, it may be that the best way of everybody getting as close as possible to achieving their own goals is for the UK and EU to separate amicably, and then for the UK to establish alternative agreements for mutual benefit with the EU and/or individual member states in those areas where everyone's interests do align. It would no doubt be painful for everyone in the short term, but this might be a having to break eggs to make omelettes situation.

Comment: Re:Overblown (Score 3, Insightful) 222

I bet they also had all sorts of contingency plans, and meetings if Scotland voted to leave the UK too.

They did. In fact, none of this is really a surprise to anyone involved, because this kind of contingency planning is part of the Bank's official responsibilities.

As far as I can see, the only problem here is the premature release of information that could be politically/diplomatically sensitive via an inappropriate channel and at an awkward time for the government. It doesn't look like this exposed any wrong-doing, and it's not like the other EU leaders our Prime Minister is starting to negotiate with wouldn't have expected it, even if it's not great PR given the delicacy of those negotiations.

Comment: Re:Publicly Funded Research (Score 1) 33

by ultranova (#49757503) Attached to: New Class of "Non-Joulian" Magnets Change Volume In Magnetic Field

What I don't get is why I, as one of the millions of taxpayers that funded this research, don't have free access to the paper.

Costs are public, profits are private.

That's a compromise reached after raw capitalism's "costs are someone else's problem" resulted in near-collapse of the entire system. The problem is, it's impossible to calculate the ultimate costs of any action (install automation? That causes layoffs, which causes poverty, which causes crime, which caused the hit-and-run that killed your cousin) so we maintain a public fund - state budget - which pays for them, and which everyone is forced to pay to according to their ability, which we call taxes.

This system has obvious problems with incentivizing destructive behaviour. It's also opposed by many people who apparently think communism and fascism can't happen again, should enough people fare badly enough for long enough. We're currently seeing a crisis caused by these twin factors: financial geniuses had little reason to care if their actions destabilized the entire world economy, and austerity hawks concentrate on cutting support for the poorest, which is screwing over both those poor and everyone who sells consumer goods. Time will tell if what emerges on the other side is still some form of capitalism, or if all the accumulating changes have finally reached the point of phase transition, similar to what caused capitalism to emerge from feudalism in the first place.

Comment: Re:How could you protect against this? (Score 1) 167

The search results thing is not the right to be forgotten. Some stupid journalists got confused and called it that

Those "stupid journalists" appear to be in good company, starting with official press releases from both the European Commission and indeed the European Court of Justice itself about the 2010 Spanish newspaper case.

I would be the first to agree that moves towards a more powerful right to be forgotten such as you describe would be a good idea, but as of today, these are mostly just proposals. For example, while there is already a right under some limited circumstances to request deletion of personal data, the UK's data protection regulator has written guidance for data controllers that makes clear that the right is quite tightly constrained for the time being.

Comment: Re:Yes & the sheer amount of existing code/fra (Score 1) 405

In this case, "filter" means select only those items that match the criteria, i.e., where the given predicate is true.

This usage is about as consistent as anything you'll find in the programming world: languages using it this way include Python, PHP, JavaScript, Java, D, and many well-known functional programming languages including Haskell, several of the ML family, Erlang, Scala and Clojure. Some other well-known languages have related algorithms under other name, but I know of no counter-examples that use "filter" in the opposite sense.

He who has but four and spends five has no need for a wallet.