Imagine the impact on Iowa if any of the following headlines were true:
Ag Secretary Vilsack orders farmers to provide playthings for pigs
USDA issues rules on shape of bananas, cucumbers
Congress increases pensions of all federal employees; sends bill to Iowa
Report: Deportees sent to Iowa accused in terror attack
But all of those things have already happened.
But not here.
They all happened in Europe, home of the “Brexit” – the British Exit from the European Union.
From Des Moines to Toronto to Sidney, newspapers have been lamenting the shocking decision of the British to tear themselves from the other 26 countries that make up the E.U.
The theory from most pundits in non-UK countries (including ours) is that the Brits, in a moment of fear, Islamophobia and general pinky-pointing, tea-sipping snobbishness, decided that Brexiting is the best way to keep people who can’t properly say “Blimey, I am gobsmacked at how those bloody blinkered, gormless blokes have cocked up our country” far, far away from Westminster Abbey.
In other words, Americans and other westerners say that the Brexit is simply the result of fear and racism.
The vote has caused “panic and regret,” wrote the DM Register Editorial Board, adding that the vote illustrates “the dangers posed by an uninformed electorate.”
“Hate wins if Brexit prevails; the debate has descended into fear and demonisation of people on the basis of race and even political belief,” warned Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald
“If the sentiment expressed in Britain’s anti-EU vote spreads further, the world will be a meaner and more suspicious place. This is a very loud wake-up call for those opposed to such a future,” moaned the Toronto Star.
But like the fans in the bleachers behind the left field wall yelling at the home plate umpire, there may be reason for us to believe that those pundits do not see, from across the ocean, the issues that led up to the Brexit as well as they think they do.
I don’t have an opinion on the Brexit; the English have been governing themselves for a millennium, and the Brits together have ruled the islands of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales for over 200 years – the EU, in comparison, has been around about 25 years. So the decision to join, or unjoin, any other group, coalition or alliance is their business.
But it’s surprising that so many of the pundits – people whose job it is to find out about things like this before writing opinions – have overlooked so many of the reasons for the Brexit.
All of those things in the first few lines of this column are headlines from the EU, and Britain.
Yes, the EU government really has issued guidelines for the shape of bananas, and cucumbers. Oh, you can still buy those produce items regardless of their shape, but to be labeled as top grade, bananas have to have a certain shape. Brits refer to this law as the “bendy banana rule.”
And yes, the EU Commission rejected objections from all 27 of its member country members when it increased (yet again) the pension of EU employees.
One British newspaper, the Telegraph, offered the following pension summary:
According to the last set of figures in 2012, the average annual pension pocketed by retired EU officials benefiting from the scheme was over £40,000.The highest ranking officials can expect pensions of £85,000. The average retirement age of all officials who retired in 2013 was 61. In stark contrast, the average income of a British pensioner was £11,600 in 2012.
Imagine the uproar in our state if we received a bill from the U.S Treasury, telling us to pony up a few million dollars so that we could continue to pay government retirees four to eight times what the average Iowan receives.
But that’s exactly what happened to Britain – several times.
“British taxpayers will be ordered to pay an extra £350 million to fund the European Union next year after a behind-the-scenes deal in Brussels which left the UK powerless to resist the increase,” reports the Telegraph.
And the playthings for pigs – I have been writing about that for 15 years. Look it up. The EU really does require farmers – among many other things – to present their hogs with recreational opportunities.
The Brits have said for years that EU regulations are meddlesome, costly, unnecessary and harmful.
And just a few weeks ago, a leading EU official agreed.
“We must convince Europe the era of meddlesome EU rules is over,” said EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans – before going on to defend the latest meddlesome EU rules regarding toasters and tea kettles. The EU delayed publicizing those rules until after the Brexit vote, hoping to not completely miff the islanders.
Like a lonely ex trying to make promises as his love walks out the door, Timmermans tried to promise a better life for GB if she changed her mind about breaking up.
“It will take some time to regain trust in the way we create legislation and regulation because they have become frustrated with the way that’s been done. That will take some time and we have to be realistic about that.”
But yet, like an ex who fails to learn anything from a break-up, 1VP Timmermans continues making excuses.
“It’s a challenge for the institutions to work in a different way, especially politicians who think whenever there is a problem we can get rid of it with new legislation,” he said, in pleading for one last chance with Great Britain, just before she dumped him and his union.
Meddlesome rules; a ruling group that ignores, at times, every one of its members; politicians who get rich off the taxpayers… those are just a few of the reasons that Brits have been threatening to Brexit for years.
And we can’t overlook the terrorism issue either.
Think about this fact, reported by NBC this week: Countries like Turkey and Egypt have deported terrorists to Europe.
Let that sink in. Turkey – which is not being allowed to join the EU because its government is not a “mature democracy” – arrests terrorists, while France and Belgium accepts them when Turkey and Egypt deport them. (Read about that HERE.)
Yeah, there are racists hates in Europe. And yeah, they voted for the Brexit. But there are millions of other Brits who welcome foreigners but also believe that European citizens deserve a policy that doesn’t lead to so many known terrorists being sent to their homelands.
And the issue of security has been troubling EU countries for years — long before the recent series of terror attacks. In 2004, the then-new EU anti-terror coordinator Gijs De Vries warned the EU of the danger posed by several EU members refusing to get tough on terrorism.
It’s purely coincidence that the Brexit vote came a few days before the 240 July 4th since America’s exit from Britain. But the words that Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and John Adams wrote in expressing our Founding Fathers quest for freedom still echo across England today.
Many of the complaints that King George III read in 1776 are now happening in his country, thanks to rulers from another distant land. The “repeated injuries and usurpations” by the EU against Brits include (among other things): imposing taxes without consent, sending “swarms of officers” to deal with bendy bananas (and even more officers to offer excuses), for “transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses” (look up the British reaction and opposition to the EUextradition law) and establishing an “arbitrary government.”
Many of the same reasons for the American Declaration of Independence are among many grievances cited by Brits who shocked the world last month and voted to Brexit. Maybe, in some future year, as Americans prepare for their July 4 Independence Day celebration, our friends across the sea will be planning their Independence Day on June 23: Brexit Day.