Friday, November 21, 2008

Back in the USSR. You don't know how lucky you are... (Beatles. Sorry.)

The last time I made a post about the European Union, trying to find out a few basic facts, I mostly got comments, instead, about your irritation with the thing. Something about bent bananas and cucumbers. I took that to mean you felt the bureaucracy was a bit top-heavy. To say the least. And other things.

So this time I won't bother you with questions of its structure. Instead, tell me why it is a bad idea for the UK to be a part of the thing.

For example, you have to use Euros instead of pounds sterling now, right?

Just kidding. (But I did think you did a lot of business in Euros before I got set straight last time.) Only internationally on the Euros, right?

The system, like some other things in life, is one of those things that seems good on paper, on the surface, but isn't really that great in real life. Tell me what else besides bent bananas (and other misshapen fruit) that irritates you. Or that you like, for that matter.

Then I will tell you how much Americans love NAFTA. You've probably never heard of it. Not the same thing. But kind of.


  1. The United Kingdom (not 'Britain' as that usually means England - especially to the English. The UK is FOUR nations united in one. Scotland , Wales, Northern Ireland and England.) does not use 'Euros,' nor does it link its finance to a common European finance, the rest do for the most part.

    The bent bananas and cucumbers were intended to ensure everything was off a similar standard throughout Europe. last week this restriction was dropped. We now expect rotten fruit to be dumped on us!

    The EU is mostly misunderstood. This is because nobody, and I mean nobody, really knows how it works. Too many nations with too many ideas, and all after themselves first. However there is also an intention to work together which does show through.

    Some object because they reckon it costs too much of their taxes. These are usually conservative 'Daily mail' readers who worship mammon and would fit into the US quite easily, until you got sick of them. The UK does benefit from money coming back to us from Europe, but again little is said about this. How much goes out, and how much comes back in can be difficult to work out.

    I am all for Europe, and all others working together, as long as the individual nations keep certain things in their own power. Too much differences which run deep and have historical backgrounds for one controlling power over all. But working together can be a good thing.

    Lack of knowledge as to what the EU does, how it does it, and what we get from it, allied to a desire to keep all ones money to oneself does cause friction. There again many who object don't like a welfare state. Until they need it of course!

    NAFTA is not like the EU, and may work better now Bush and his cronies are leaving!

  2. Shall I be pedantic? Yes I shall. The UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But I accept that I'm splitting hairs. Great Britain is the big island off the east coast of Ireland.

    I find it's the French in particular, but probably most Europeans, who confuse English and British. I've done my best in their education but it's been slow progress. I can't really speak for the English.

  3. I love it when you ask these questions. I learn things that I consider very useful for my eventual visit to the UK (and in this state if you say UK, most people take you to mean the University of Kentucky - it's an uphill struggle).

  4. Shall I be pedantic? Yes I shall. The UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Er, yes indeed, I ought to have made that clear.

  5. Me, I'm english. And I'm a Yorkshireman. But my mother is Welsh... And some of my forebears were scots... And I'll bet there were Irish too, but I don't know in detail.
    Nationality is a complex matter, but if someone from another country asks, my answer would be that I'm English, not British, nor United Kingdom-ish. English.
    If a British (or U.K. citizen) asks, I'm a Yorkshireman. There have been times when I could have passed for being from elsewhere, but I've been back long enough that my speech would instantly give me away.
    The European Union. No. I'm not for it. It may do some good, but on the whole it's too unwieldy and interfering. We in this country see ourselves as a sovereign state, we do not want our laws set, or over-ruled by people who speak a different language and live in a different country.
    One effect of the EU, or 'Common Market' was to set rules on who we could trade with, and who not. Or rather, it introduced restrictions based on europe's rules, not our own, which caused much of our preferred trade agreements with the Commonwealth to be declared illegal. So trade with the countries which formerly were part of the British Empire suffered, close trade ties with India, Australia, New-Zealand, various african and caribbean countries were restricted and other ties, cultural and social were severely damaged.
    We like trading with our neighbours, we have strong trade links, but we see no need to become a vassal state of greater europe. We do not wish to be ruled by the germans and the french. nor the italians and the spaniards.
    Adullamite misreads the bent banana business. Fruit and vegetables on sale in europe are graded as to quality, classes one to three. Class one is the best, unblemished, quality, sizes are set as 'normatives'. Below a certain size could not be sold, and must be destroyed or used as animal feed, as was irregularly shaped produce. The EU overdid it, and stated that a good banana would be of size 'x', plus or minus however much and its curvature would be no more than'x', however, banana variants differ greatly in size and curvature, which meant that the european market was closed to many producers, many of those being from small caribbean islands that had for the previous hundred years sold almost all their crop to britain.
    In the case of, say, apples, some british varieties are naturally small on the tree. So they could not complete with the bigger, blander faster growing fruits from overseas. So tracts of ancient orchards were grubbed up and destroyed, no longer economically viable, as they could not be sold as class 'a' fruit.
    I don't expect the looser standars to result in the 'dumping of rotten fruit' on us, instead, I expect it to result in far less wastage of perfectly good but irregularly shaped fruit.
    The EU cannot decide very well on anything, it is government by committee of the worst kind. I do not expect the Wensleydale cheesemakers from my corner of Europe to dictate to Greek cheesemakers how they carry out their trade. Why then should I expect the reverse to be acceptable?
    And then of course, there is the extent to which the countries of Europe actually do what their Euro representatives agree to.
    Take fishing quotas.
    Go look at the fishing boats in british ports whose crews are all spanish and deliver all their catch to Spain. Yet they operate out of a british port and are under british registry. Therefore they are fishing the british quota, in british waters. It's corrupt.
    No doubt british crews are flouting the rules elsewhere. That's the way the european union works. Dysfunctionally.

  6. Well, okay, then. To those Americans who think about it, at least the ones this blogger has spoken with, most seem to see the EU as pretty much a cartel, designed to keep out Americans, designed to unfairly compete with Americans, regulate and micro-manage Microsoft and its ilk. If Microsoft has any brother ilk.

    If America wants to trade with, say, France, it can't. At least it can't trade directly with France and bargain with France. Or so it seems. Ok, bad example; the USA doesn't really trade with France much anymore, I don't think. Maybe wine and cheese. Say the UK then.

    And I don't think you can trade with us either, not without your union's permission, and not without going by your union's rules.

    Obviously I am in the same corner with Soubriquet. I believe in the free marketplace and in the marketplace setting the true price of goods, and of the acceptability of goods. If I want to buy small apples because they taste better to me, then I should have the right to bid on or bargain for those small apples. I don't believe in "common markets" and I don't like NAFTA, although I am told that I should. Some would say that the USA is a common market unto itself, and sometimes even use that as an excuse for the creation of the EU. Not so. You will not find any foreign governments inside the boundaries of the USA, and the individual states are constitutionally bound to allow the merchandise of other states, subject to reasonable regulation and taxation. So, if I live in Texas, I have the right to sell my products in California, as long as they are up to California's standards, and as long as I pay California's taxes. They can't keep me out. You can, I think.

    What DO I believe in? Countries. Native cultures and traditions and languages and money. Sovereignty of individual nations.

    Unions are good for protection, if you feel you need to be protected from something. Cartels are good at bullying people into paying a false premium for your goods. Neither promotes friendship between countries that used to exist. My opinion, of course.

    I don't believe in a world totally without Socialism in any degree, because pure Capitalism or laissez-faire trade is too cold and harsh - and I do support certain necessary international agreements. I do. But the rise of these trading blocs are contributing to the demise of the concept of independent nations, and the advancement of the "one-worlders" which I despise.

    I am probably overlooking something important. It is not likely anyone will listen to me anyway. The wheels of progress, you know.



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