|Fit for a European?|
That a border in Europe was changed and no army marched.
The discontents of the British are laughable: They complain that Brussels regulates the curvature of bananas. (Not really true) Or, on the pro-EU side, that they will have a hard time traveling to Italy. (Not really true)
The Leavers have short memories. England was famous for red tape (the phrase originated in Westminster) before ever a bureaucrat stamped an order in Brussels. (The historian Arthur Herman contends that the rise of England began when the Royal Navy was reorganized as a bureaucracy of 7 departments — in the reign of Henry VII. And it was an English historian of the Admiralty who enunciated Parkinson’s Law.)
The question of immigration is nothing new. The fear and distrust of strangers in Europe is nothing new — and, considering Europe’s past, nothing surprising. It applies to travelers as well as migrants, Hemingway noticed it while ski-trekking in Tyrol in 1921, for example. And Brecht used it memorably in the opening of “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”:
A traveler comes to a house in the mountains and asks shelter and food for the night. He blows on his hands to warm them and on his soup to cool it, so the people recognize him as a wizard and kill him.
The joke (if that is what we can call it) was not original with Brecht. It was an old one.
The problems of the EU are the problems of overwhelming success: On the day I was born, there were 12,000,000 homeless, destitute people in Europe, the factories were ruined, the cities in ruins, the farms in ruins. Europe could not feed itself. Well into the ‘50s, English people could not readily buy a chicken’s egg (although seagull eggs were readily available even during the war, if you liked the fishy tang).
Today, the complaint is that EU subsidies lead the farmers to produce too much food of too high a quality.
Today, American rightwingers complain that Europe’s armies are too small and weak. American rightwingers, too, have short memories.
Europe’ s malaise, if that’s what the vote represents, is merely an example of a wider phenomenon: that people want to bitch even if they have nothing really to bitch about. And if they have no real problems, then they are free to bitch in ridiculous, even self-harmful ways.
Consider America. Our great grandparents had real problems to deal with: votes for women, fair treatment of blacks (and Irish, Italians, Jews etc.), free coinage of silver, regulation of monopolies, tainted food and impure drugs, epidemics, hunger, limited education for most children.
The list of problems they solved is impressive.
What issue in the 2016 election is as great as any of those? The Trans Pacific Partnership?
The nasty, selfish, often fascist feelings revealed in the success of the Leave voters, the Tea Party, the Trump Republicans are real and dangerous and need to be opposed. But get a grip.
The fall of stock prices and the jump in gold (though still to only two-thirds its level of five years ago) makes no sense. Markets are often that way. They multiply nervousness until it turns into panic.
For myself, I follow about 20 American stocks closely. (They are not representative of anything in particular.) Of those, two that fell the most on Friday were Berkshire Hathaway and Praxair.
So I bought both, on the theory that the world is not going t want less acetylene, Geico car insurance, Burlington Northern freight cars or Coca-Cola because Britain voted to leave the EU.
I expect the prices of both to be back at Thursday levels by Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest.