Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit

Well the news is here, and with all the hysteria going on, it seems that we'll have to wait and see what happens. But out of all the cries of wolf, there are a few that are legitimate. I'm no expert, but this is the age of the internets and I'll throw my two cents in (in that sense, it's very good to make observations and take screenshots, this is humanity playing out the same song all over again). Some of it backed by the experts. For example, all the cries about the pound falling seem overblown. It's not a big deal when the country has debt in its own currency.


First, I've usually tried to stay away from the issue with the generational divide and how a lot of older people seem to have lead-addled brains that make them seem out of touch with reality. No, I won't stoop to that level since I know plenty of older people who are level-headed, kind, and reasonable. But it appears that the same issue there is playing out here: in the end old people voted to leave and young people voted to remain. [1]

I know some people who are angry enough with the older generation here in the States as to swear that their legacy will be ashes. I'm not so harsh, but I do think that the more they fight change, the worse off they will leave this country. Again this is not a hard and fast rule, but rather a trend. I know of one person my age who thought the old were voting with wisdom and should be listened to. I, of course, disagree with that (and I cannot emphasize that this is a matter of majority, not all the older generation). 

That being said, there is also a chance that the UK will now break, being that Scotland voted for staying with the EU, why wouldn't they leave? Ah well, suppose that's what the older generation wanted all along. So it goes, but this all seems more a matter of symbolism (that matters, just not so horribly) to me. 

The xenophobia is what worries me. From stories I've heard, this has been going on for a while. Even nice Brits would get visibly annoyed at Polish people in their midst. Sad to see it all come to a head. Also sad to see that the UK was essentially taken in by lying grifters. Will we be next? Seems that lying and doubling down lends certain people actual credibility. [2] It could just be that older people, who are known not to have good gut instinct about this kind of thing—and my time at 911 shows that they are easily swindled—were simply misled. If so, we need to adjust democracy to make up for this, otherwise it's foolish to base the entire thing on complete lies [3].

Then, the fallout will have some people being blamed, and of course, the old lefty might get it pretty bad in the main presses. At least Cameron had the decency to resign. He'll be a moron vis a vis history, for certain. Funny to see what happens, though.

Update: Here's another good take. To simply mark off the result as something wrong with the those who voted against it would be unwise. I too think the technocratic elites should take much of the blame, being that they don't care for certain people, then act surprised when those people don't believe their words (boy who cried wolf and all):

"And the Northern areas that came in strongly for Leave have been left behind as London and environs prospered. It is simplistic, although it will nevertheless be a popular stance among the elites, to depict the Leave vote as yet another proof that technocrats should be in charge. In fact, the very reason that so many UK citizens rejected the dire warnings of what was in store for them if they dared press the red Leave button was that those experts devised and implemented the neoliberal policies that have increased inequality, reduced their economic stability and accelerated political and social change."
 

Update2: Just when I want to be magnanimous towards the older generation, they go and say things like this. Really? You're going to focus on memes you don't like? Then consider them beyond anything your generation ever did? If we even say that the older generation didn't care for taking pictures of themselves, how about all the other selfish (and brutal) things they did? So, please, spare us the sky is falling tripe. The kids are fine.

Update 3: And one more update: Rush Limbaugh speaks on the matter. Now I know a lot of people have a visceral and negative reaction to the man, but I believe it's important to listen to such voices. Here he points out to nationalism as the main reason. All right. Also he rails against the elites and those who are rich and elite. Impressive. Guess the right has changed. Days past it was Rush always mocking anyone claiming that the rich were anything but chosen ones (He mocked Buchanan's populism, if I remember correctly). How times have changed.

Update 4: Krugman has good points on the current consensus (and belittling and loud noises accompanying it) being not intellectual enough in it s analysis. He's right. If the elites turn out to be wrong, as they most likely will be, they will suffer more losses because who will trust them?

Update 5: And another article showing that the media's (read elite) reaction is very telling and not intellectually superior at all. In fact, I think this might be to blame for Bregret (when austerity is the main culprit).

[1]Of course, my question is with actuarial tables as they are, why not hold on for 5 years then do another vote?


[2] I dare say this is a bug of human evolution. Even I have faced off with people who claim something I know to be false, but if they don't back down, there's a moment when you wonder, really?

[3] I know I go on about national myths and all, and those are horrendous. But this seems to be a thing now. Note our conservative, "Thanks Obama" talking heads also make sure to sell things like gold to older people (and not honestly).

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4 comments:

  1. Regarding your 1st footnote... I actually had similar thoughts. I even wonder if they had a re-vote tomorrow whether Remain would take it, since there have been reports of people who expressed regret for voting to leave (although that may have been overblown).

    Kind of an interesting dynamic that a 16 year old isn't able to vote (but can legally work), but a 90 year old is able. Clearly this decision impacts the 16 year old much more, and even if you make an argument that the kid isn't old enough to understand the ramifications, it's hard to say the 90 year old's cognitive abilities are sharper?

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    1. I agree. Though I think if it's mainly older people there could be a delay, then a revote a few years down the line (at risk of Scotland leaving or something) and it could come out different.

      That's a great comparison, and even within those two age groups there is plenty of range (different trajectories, though). Yet choosing who can vote or not is a slippery slope (and with much dark history). Perhaps there can be a way to circumvent that, though again it gets tricky. [1] Voter beware sounds good, but it's a system that's easily hacked through emotion, lies etc.



      [1] Paradoxically, I think that making everyone vote might help, since no one group would be over represented via fear (not sure how that would have changed this specific vote). Also, there might be a way to force all official statements on politics to come under scrutiny... but again, risky.

      Thoughts on how to combat such effects? Especially when politics and the public sphere are so intertwined?

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    2. Regarding age, a cutoff of 18 is arbitrary, so lowering it would arguably be equally arbitrary. The cutoff for being able to legally work and pay taxes would seem like a natural cutoff for voting too, however.

      As a 35 year old I have to admit I don't think I'd trust a kid (i.e. a 16 year old) to be informed enough to make an informed choice at the ballot box, so I understand why in general they're not given that right. But when thinking about it wouldn't trust the very old much more either... but of course you can't take away their right b/c they're past their "expiration date"!

      I wouldn't force people to vote either, because I'd assume those choosing not to are less informed. I'm not sure it would be fair to expect results would better if all were forced to vote.

      Populist rhetoric, probably by definition, is easier to dispense and get people to latch on to than harder, level headed policies. That's the real problem. A lot of people are pretty stupid.

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    3. Thanks for replying. Good points in all. Agreed that 18 is essentially arbitrary. I'd think the 16 year old age would be too young (especially for young males) as well, but it might be my own bias. One point would be those with fully developed frontal lobes should be allowed. Science has made some progress in this regard. We would then see younger ages for women and older for men. Bu then, with voting and politics as also a release valve for political anger, it might not be so smart to cut their voices off.

      And yes, the whole expiration date sounds dangerous, and yet if someone has completely lost their faculties I imagine they can't vote (not sure what the law says about this). A basic test like driving, then? We'll see.

      As for making everyone vote, I'd like to see more studies, tbh, because we're assuming that right now the most informed are voting, and the uninformed aren't voting. I'm guessing that's not the case. I know some people who spend a lot of time studying politics, then getting fed up and not wishing to vote for the 2 parties end up not voting (USA). Same with those who religiously vote: usually basing it on what they hear in their bubble, tribal reasons, etc.

      Yes, these are merely singular cases, but I'm guessing there's not so neat a divide and making everyone do it would give society an incentive to inform people [1]. Should be an easy poll: simply asking those who vote and those who don't some basic civil questions.

      Voting as it is, is not an entirely rational act (no one is examining policy as wonks. Maybe they look to some expert in their tribe to say yes this looks good, but that doesn't require much, and goes into why are they in this tribe?), even if we may want it to be. And even if it isn't, we are dealing with humans who are not rational, so we can't expect much more.

      The question is how to we stop all out conmen from taking over (assuming we don't have enough of a dark view of history to say that conmen have always led us)?




      [1] Yeah, I know, it won't be so easy, still, I'm of the mind that allowing more people to do so would make it less of an elitist endevour.

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