Sunday, 8 May 2016
An idiot's guide to why we should leave the EU (Pt 2) - Trade
Trade. Yeah that's ever so much to do with government. All government - local, regional, national, supra-national, world - does is prevent trade. The rules and regulation, controls and restrictions, barriers and prohibitions - everything (bar geography) that prevents trade has been imposed by government. So when those fans of the EU tell you that being a member of this bureaucratic, unaccountable, undemocratic club is 'good for trade' they are lying. No government of any sort, anywhere has been 'good for trade'. It's not what governments do. Governments find reason to stop trade. And then negotiate so-called "trade agreements" to pretend that somehow government is promoting or encouraging trade.
Trade is essential and fundamental to our humanity. It's not some sort of capitalist invention but the way by which we share, by which we add to the sum of human happiness, how we add value. The idea of free exchange - I swap my surplus goat for your excess corn - is what has raised us to the condition we are in today. Absolutely nothing at all to do with government, let alone the EU.
So when the folk that like the EU tell us that it would affect Britain's trade what they're giving you is a threat. The EU - a powerful government - will stop ordinary people who make ornate left-handed widgets or provide the horoscopes of Wu from selling said goods and services in the EU. Why would that powerful government do that? Mostly because it wants to protect the interests of widget makers and horoscope vendors who've employed besuited lobbyists to buy those unaccountable EU decision-makers food and wine in expensive Brussels restaurants.
Who loses out here (assuming that there has been a fix to protect those widget-maker or horoscope-crafter interests)? The EU consumer - they're poorer for that fix, they don't have high quality English made widgets or Welsh horoscopes. Forget about the numbers that EU fans peddle - they're nonsense. Ask a sensible question - why on earth would people in France, Germany, Spain or Poland not want to carry on buying those lovely left-handed widgets and Wu-ist horoscopes? The idea that, if we left the EU, customers in Slovakia and Austria would stop buying our stuff is plainly nonsense. Yet that's what they're scaring you with.
British companies trade everywhere - America, Africa, India, China, Japan - without there being the need for an EU equivalent. Yes it's difficult (this is why the directors of international trading companies get paid so well) but that's as much about culture, language and local knowledge as it is about dealing with the endless barriers that stupid governments put in the way of doing business. These companies don't need permission from government to do that trading, they just get on with it.
Ignore the macro-economic projections - this is just sympathetic magic not real science - and look at the truth. Trade is about the exchange between individual people and their businesses not the so-called deals of governments. Those deals are about monopolies, control and power which is why the grandees of big business and the their paid servants in 'public affairs' companies spend so much of their marketing budgets on getting regulations changed.
Look instead at Singapore, at Hong Kong, at Taiwan and ask why these places - rejected places - are among the richest places in the world. Their success is down to trade - no deals, no fear-mongering about economic blocs, no fixes. Just doing good business, making and selling things that people the world over want to buy. Do you really believe that somewhere as enterprising, creative, original and intelligent as Britain can't do the same? That the only way we can succeed in trade is through a fix, through protection and through the special deal?
Trade made Britain rich. And it will maintain our riches. But only if we see it as something done between free people rather than some favour of government. The EU - just consider the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - sees trade as something negotiated between rulers not as you or I buying things that we want from wherever in the world they're from. This isn't 'trade' it's the antithesis of trade, it's deciding where the boundaries of special interest and protectionism are placed. It makes the world poorer and the rent-seeker richer.
So when EU fans tell you it's about trade they mislead. What they mean is that the EU will make European consumers poorer so as to protect the interests of businesses who've paid - through their besuited lobbyists - to have their interests placed above yours and mine. It's not about trade. It never was about trade. It's about stopping trade, controlling trade and, in doing so, making you and I just that little bit poorer.