Despite a busy day at my office responding to the reaction in the markets, I kept NPR on and paid attention. Someone on NPR reporting from Brussels on the reaction of the hard-working bureaucrats of the EU, said many were "in shock" at the outcome of the UK vote. Every time I hear that phrase I think of Captain Renault of Hollywood's "Casablanca". He too was "shocked, shocked" to learn there was corruption at an establishment he frequented and yet was also a contributor to that corruption.
The bureaucrats of the EU contributed to the results of this vote. Many British citizens, aware of their history of dominating global trade and commerce for 250 years found it preposterous that Belgians, French, Germans, and the like were now passing regulations on the size and shape of bananas that Britons could consume while being paid with British tax money. One of the interviewees in Brussels had to use a choppy Skype connection to the UK-based NPR reporter because there was a transit strike going on in Brussels today. Transit strike? This is the smooth flowing EU where people and money move seamlessly across borders? I guess not if there are still 20th century transit unions who have a say in the matter.
So this is the big picture and my bigger point. In 2016, we are seeing the collapse of traditional ideas of union that date back many centuries. The principle reason is the change that technology has brought us. Information technology, and communication technology in particular are making unions of geographic proximity obsolete. When anyone can instantaneously text, email or call a trading partner, employee, contractor, regulator or boss anywhere in the world, or download the inventory, order information, latest regulations, or marketing statistics of any market, being close doesn't matter.
Technological advancements have improved both the speed and reliability of transportation. Goods are shipped to markets anywhere on the globe faster and more accurately than ever before. The UK will uniquely endure because of its long historical connections to the markets of its former Commonwealth. I think the majority of British voters realize these things. And I will not fail to mention the sacrifice of those aging Brits who fought a very bloody war so their homeland would not be governed by Germans, Russians, French or any cabal of Continentals. There will always be an England!
I'll share more on my thoughts about the predicted votes by Scotland and N. Ireland for independence in another post. Unions of all sorts are being redefined. The AFL-CIO is but a shadow of its mid-20th century self while the Tea Party rose in 2010 as one of the first "virtual unions" to have a real impact. You no longer have to be in the same village, same factory, same topographical neighborhood to form a union. Even the traditional idea of marriage as a union has been transformed.
In the NPR interview a young, British woman in her 20's, disillusioned by the Brexit outcome, said, "I believe strongly in one-person, one-vote, but I feel like we should have had more of a say, because you know, our turn-out was so low". Maybe without the burden of EU regulations and more discretion over how to invest her public fisc, our dear Mother England will be able to invest in better education for her youth. This was not a "looking inward" as the reporters of NPR wish to frame it, but rather a looking forward. Let us all.