Brexit again

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For some reason when thinking of posts for this blog my mind continually drifts to Brexit and associated issues.

This post was prompted by a quote I read (source lost) that described the Brexit as a case study in what can can wrong when complex questions are distilled into binary referendum choices. In response, I wondered that if the referendum question had been (or was interpteted as) “Do you agree to radical changes to make British society fairer?” then I think you would have got much the same result, but with far less national trauma that may yet result in political/territorial amputations.

The danger for those posing that different question however is that they would have been faced with a result demanding, of them, an even less palatable course of action. I can’t imagine that political leadership in the UK wants to reinterpret the vote through that prism, even though doig so might, just might, be a way out of the near chaos into which the coutry is rapidly hurtling. This leads then to the ghastly probability that, if or when Brexit is “resolved”, the underlying political tensions that drove the vote may remain unaddressed.

And what happens then?

Brexit logic

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I thought I would take a moment to share my thoughts (for what they are worth) on the logic of Brexit.

I believe the UK will do it’s best to secure the best possible deal for itself. I don’t believe that is a contentious view. I also believe those who are negotiating with the UK will in turn do their very best to get the best possible outcome for themselves too. Again I don’t believe that to be a contentious view, although for reason I will come to in a moment some in the UK may be in a state of denial on this point.

Both sides have limits on what they can achieve, and after decades of fine tuning the arrangements both sides already have the best possible deal they could achieve for themselves within the parameters of possibility.

As a result, I imagine that in the years of intense negotiations ahead the parties will incremementally edge closer to an agreement largely identical to the status quo. The only difference of consequence that I can foresee is that in undertaking negotiations again while inserting non-negotiable elements simply ensures that both sides can only be worse off.

To my mind the only way around that logic is UK hubris in thinking they can somehow out-negotiate the other parties into accepting an inferior set of arrangements or, as mentioned above, a belief that other parties will not seek the best deal for themselves to start with.

Either of these positions would seem to be extraordinarily unlikely and unrealistic, meaning that today marks the start of a long, long journey back to where the UK is today but with detrimental impacts limited only by how little the UK seeks to change the status quo. In other words, the amount the UK seeks to change is a rough proxy for the amount they will lose.

I’d like to say the UK will act logically to ensure that losses are minimised by ensuring change is minimal, but perhaps I see and speak like a policy technician and I don’t see the world through the prism of politics.

I wonder which view will prevail?

Rule Brittania, indeed.

The Chinese presence in Australia

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I took the above picture recently in an Australian gym.

Yes, it is a pretty insipid effort as far as Chinese New Year decorations go, or perhaps they are simply ambitiously marketing gym membership to the significant number of Chinese students in the vicinity.

In any event, it struck me as deeply emblematic of the rise of Chinese culture, and more broadly Asian culture, in Australian life.

Where as a nation we once feared the Yellow Peril and were focused on going All the way with LBJ, the decorations here shared equal (and copious) wall space with the television sets spewing great volumes of west coast United States (US) cultural propaganda. I use the word “propaganda” deliberately, based around a deeper understanding that propaganda can also be product that squeezes out space any questioning and more politically challenging content.

But the Chinese and US products were different in at least one key way. The US presence was about shallow distraction and incidental mindlessness. The Chinese dragon was there for a purpose.

Trump’s Presidential term

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I have predicted both publicly and privately that I doubt/doubted that Donald Trump would make it to Christmas in the White House.

Occasionally my confidence wavers, but I still hold that belief.

As the fires of alleged connections with Russia singe his toes I point out that this is just the beginning of the examination that he and his alleged ties will be subjected to.

After a few more more months of revelations the bright light at the end of the tunnel may not be at all the sunlight that that he argues it will be.

Philosophy blogs

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Image from the Garden of Philosophy in Budapest, Hungary

For those who take an interest in argumentation and reasoning there are now many online sites exploring these issues.

Among the best I have encountered is the one here, which is generally both highly topical and highly readable. While it does have a US-centric view of the world, the focus of the posts involve, like economics, universally applicable principles.

Among the recent posts there that I found particularly interesting was the one here. I wanted to post on the topic and draw on that blogpost content on another of my blogs, but alas that will need to wait for another day.

The contours of a Trump Presidency

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Everyone else online seems busy sharing their opinion of US President Trump, so I thought I’d briefly join in with three quick points.

One is that, like Australia’s own political scrapper, Tony Abbott, Trump appears at his best engaged in perpetual conflict. I expect then, just like Abbott, a succcession of enemies to be located and permanently targeted just to maintain some sort of focus and direction (and we probably shouldn’t expect much more on the constructive policy front).

Secondly, to continue the Australian political parallels, Abbott, like Hanson, Palmer and others creating a political brand under their own surname, do pretty well at winning, but when handed the prize at the end which requires governing they very quickly start struggling. The clues were and are there in their difficulties administering their own teams, and the clock seems set to tick considerably faster with Trump.

Finally, I think the best line of Trump’s inauguration came from Nancy Sinatra here, who was asked her opinion on Trump using her late father Frank’s classic song My Way. As report makes clear, Nancy Sinatra responded “Just remember the first line of the song…“.

Of course like anything else reflecting poorly on Trump this is now an “alternative fact” bogged down in controversy, with Ms Sinatra now denying her tweet (see the story here). I’ll leave them all to it.