4+ years of conversation and discussion with Brexit supporters

The discussion with hardcore Brexit supporters generally goes down two routes:

  1. Discussion with football supporters
  2. Discussion with pseudo-economists

The football supporters dialogue goes like this:

We won!
What did you win?
#Brexit! Sovereignty!
Yeah, but how do you benefit?
Light bulbs! Vacuum cleaners! Bananas! Fishing! Sovereignty!
Yeah, I know, but what are the real benefits?
Told you…we won!
But what are the…benefits?
Woo hoo! We won!
What are the benefits?
We won! Get over it!
I repeat what are the benefits?
If you don’t like it, Leave!

This is the sum total of the dialogue. These supporters see Brexit as some sort of football game which Their Team won. So everybody needs to “get over it”. Strangely enough, they do not want to recognize that football teams play each other quite frequently, which gives the losing side an opportunity to win the next game. Brexit supporters like to pretend that the 2016 Referendum result was some irrevocable event.

The pseudo-economist discussion goes something like this:

We won!

Yeah OK. So what now?

We will get a great deal!

Yeah, you said that. What about those 753 free trade agreements the EU negotiated on our behalf over the last 45 years?

We will negotiate new ones!

Do you know how long it takes to negotiate 1 free trade agreement?

If they’re mean to us we will trade on WTO terms!

What countries trade on WTO terms? Why do all of these trade alignments like the EU, TPP and Mercosur exist if WTO terms are so great?

They need us more than we need them!

Um, the EU has 5 x the GDP of the UK. I think it might be the other way round.

The German car companies can’t do without the UK!

If they can’t they seem to be very quiet about it

The EU is being mean to us!

Um, we’re leaving the club. We don’t get to keep all of the membership benefits.

We signed a trade deal with the Faroe Islands!

Um, how large is the economy of the Faroe Islands?

We are going to get a trade deal with Australia!

How far is the EU from the UK compared to Australia?

Why are you so negative?

There is not one argument by the pseudo-economists that has any mathematical, legal or practical heft. Most of the people making the arguments above have no idea of the complexities of international trade. They are not tethered to reality in any way. However, the arguments are superficially plausible, and when accompanied by suitable cherry-picked data, can look reasonably compelling to the uninitiated.

The “sovereignty” appeal is to the abstract idea that a country in the modern world can be truly independent. No such country exists. The only independent peoples are those with no contact with the rest of the world. There might be 2 tribes in the world like that. The rest of the world has interdependent relationships.

The sovereignty mirage is similar to the imaginary world posited by old-style libertarians, who think that the USA is still a rural agrarian economy with unlimited space, where a man can go off to Be A Real Man. Such places exist only in people’s imaginations.

 

 

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Epsom Derby shock – Serpentine

The Epsom Derby has a habit of throwing up shock results from time to time.

Epsom racecourse is not a regular oval, flat race track. It is undulating, culminating in the downhill sweep around Tattenham Corner, which is angled and cambered, and which often sees fancied horses changing lead legs, and becoming, gait-wise, crossed up. This robs them of momentum at a critical phase of the race.

Every year, a lone horse and jockey will try to lead from the front from the top of the hill to the winning post. Usually, it is an outsider, a horse whose trainer is confident will stay 1.5 miles, but lacking in speed. And normally, the lone ranger is swallowed up by the pack about 2 furlongs out, as his staying ability is trumped by the acceleration of higher-quality horses.

Once in a while, however, the lone ranger horse does cross the line first. In 1974, Snow Knight, a colt with next to no racing record, and a suspect temperament, was discounted in pre-race analysis, starting as a rank outsider at 50/1. He further dismayed everybody by dumping jockey Brian Taylor within a short period of time of him mounting in the paddock. This was SOP for Snow Knight, who was a fractious animal. Taylor swiftly remounted, none the worse for wear, and Snow Knight went to the start line, albeit still arguing with his handlers as he was led into the stalls.

Taylor slipped the field over half a mile out and went for home, confident that Snow Knight would stay the distance. He had run well in the Lingfield Derby Trial, a race at the same distance on a circuit that resembles Epsom. Everybody sat and watched, expecting Snow Knight to be swallowed up by the field, but around 2 furlongs out, the terrible truth dawned, both among the brains of the pursuing jockeys, and the spectators, that Snow Knight was not coming back to the pack. He accelerated well, and held off the pursuers to win by 2 lengths. He actually pulled away from his closest pursuer in the last furlong. He had speed as well as stamina.

Unlike some Derby fields, this was not a weak race. Snow Knight was not the second coming of Airborne. High-quality horses such as Bustino (who had won the Lingfield Derby Trial) trailed him home in the race. Snow Knight, it turned out, was a far better race horse than anybody expected. His record in the UK was spotty, mainly because after the Derby he was mostly entered in races where he was competing against older horses, but sent to race in the USA at age 4, he did very well indeed,despite still being a pain in the ass temperament-wise. At the end of 1975 he was voted Champion American Turf Horse.

Yesterday at Epsom, we had a repeat of the 1974 race, when Serpentine, an unfancied outsider, was sent into the lead of the race a long way out. None of the other horses followed him, and kept tracking each other and running their own race. They suddenly found themselves with no chance, as Serpentine kept moving at the same speed, and they barely made a dent in his lead. He crossed the line 5+ lengths clear.

It remains to be seen whether Serpentine’s victory was a fluke, made possible by the introversion and collective observational failure of the rest of the jockeys, or whether he genuinely is a top-class racehorse. His breeding suggests that he may be the real deal. We will find out over time.

 

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Anatomy of a confrontation – St Louis MO

UPDATE – 3

A lengthy thread where Greg Doucette, aided by locals who have read zoning legislation and national historic place documentation, explains that while the houses in the subdivision and the subdivision is private, the roads and footpaths are not.

UPDATE – 2

  1. The McCloskeys have a record…of behaving litigiously and confrontationally.
  2. Local demonstrators held a demonstration against them outside the subdivision.
  3. A number of local people in the subdvision are not impressed by the McCloskeys’ behavior.

Conclusion – the principals of McCloskey Law have a track record of being bumptious asshats.

UPDATE – 1

  1. The gated community in question is, for many people in St Louis, a profound illustration of racial and economic divides in the city. It is less than 1 mile from some of the more deprived inner-city neighborhoods.
  2. The lawyer couple have given interviews to local media where they explain why they ended up waving guns all over the place on their front lawn. They have lawyered up already, expecting that they will be investigated by law enforcement, and they clearly intend to invoke the “castle doctrine” defense to any inquiries by law enforcement. (No surprise there). But you have to laugh at this quote from their lawyer’s prepared statement:

“My clients, as melanin-deficient human beings, are completely respectful of the message Black Lives Matter needs to get out, especially to whites,” said lawyer Albert Watkins.

ORIGINAL POSTING

Yesterday, during a street demonstration in St. Louis MO, a couple, who own an early 20th century mansion in central St. Louis, were videoed standing in front of the house waving firearms at demonstrators and shouting at them.

The identities of the house owners were very easy to determine. The house is one of a collection of turn of the century houses that are regarded as local museum pieces. Their house was actually built by a member of the Busch family.

The house owners, no matter which way you parse the video, looked ludicrous. They came steaming out of their house, barefoot, angrily shouting and waving a pistol (the woman) and what looked like an AR-15 (the man). Demonstrators shouted back at the couple. It all looked very edgy, with the potential for something dangerous and possibly fatal to occur.

This is how I initially responded to a snapshot on counter.social:

I was criticised for posting the slam on the couple without knowing all of the facts. So I went off to find out as many facts as I could about the dynamics that led to the confrontation.

The backstory to these events, as usual, is interesting. The demonstrators were in front of the couple’s house because they were trying to get to the house of the Mayor of St. Louis, Lyda Krewson, as part of an attempt to demonstrate against her. She published the names and addresses of citizens last week during a discussion about pushback on the local police. That was regarded by many people as an abuse of power, and a threat to the personal safety of those individuals.

The important fact is that the demonstrators were not interested in the couple’s house, or them personally. In fact, they probably had not even noticed the house, until the couple came charging out waving their firearms.

Missouri law allows for private streets as well as private gated subdivisions. Both the Mayor’s house and the house of the couple are part of the same gated subdivision, with private streets.

There are two gated entrances. As is normal, there are swing gates for motor vehicles, with a side gate for people walking in and out.

The demonstrators can be seen, on video, walking into the sub-division through the side gate of one of the entrances. The side gate did not appear to be locked, and there was no sign of any security personnel to prevent them from entering.

Once inside the subdivision, they were on private property without permission, and therefore trespassing.

There has been a lot of nonsense talked about legal sanctions against the couple, who are personal injury lawyers.

Claims have been made that they can be disciplined by the Missouri bar association. Somehow I do not see that happening. Bar associations almost never discipline members, and expulsions are very rare. Generally, the only way you can be expelled from a bar association is for embezzling clients’ money. Anything else likely will earn you a reprimand or at worst a token suspension. “Behaving like a posturing dick” does not a bar expulsion make.

The next question is whether they could be charged with brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner. Well, yes, there is a statute that covers that. HOWEVER…it is almost certainly overridden (in this case) by Missouri Statute 563.031. This is a classic “stand your ground” statute, and, like most statutes of this type, it is very defendant-friendly. In order to be found guilty of violating the statute, the prosecution has to prove that the homeowner had no logical basis for feeling threatened. I think that is unlikely in this context. Although the demonstrators were not targeting the couple’s house, they were on private property, and there were a number of them. A sympathetic jury will not be convicting the couple on that basis.

Personally, my belief is that the couple can use the incident to actually bolster their marketing credentials. Many personal injury lawyers like to boast of being “tough”, “mean”, and “relentless”. They cultivate an image of bellicose aggression towards The Big Guys, acting on behalf of The Little Guy. What better way to demonstrate your bona fides than by aggressively defending your home against marauding savages…er, demonstrators? I can hear a voice-over now. “We defended our home relentlessly against marauding bands of thugs. We bring the same attitude when we Fight For You”.

I stand by my original reaction. The couple were waving firearms around in a way that tells me that they either never attended a firearm safety course, or if they did they forgot everything about it. The man, at one point, was pointing the AR-15 directly at his wife. The video looked like he was holding her hostage, threatening to shoot her. They looked both ludicrous and stupid at the same time.

I once spent time talking with an ex-military guy about firearms, and something he said stuck with me. He said “these are devices designed to kill people. If you don’t want to kill somebody, you should not point one of these devices at them. Ever”.

Personally, If I was them, I would be asking the management of the subdivision “where the hell was our security”? A group of demonstrators were clearly able to march into the subdivision with no impediment. Given that the demonstration was being publicised on social media, the management company of the subdivision should have been taking precautions.

At a time where the concept of white privilege is finally being discussed seriously, they also looked like exemplars. Their house, both outside and inside, looks like a mini-Versailles. It is huge – 13,900 square feet in size, with tacky and pretentious artwork all over the interior. They then proceeded to look and act every bit like over-privileged, scared people.

Now, thanks to the merging of the internet and the age of phone video, their actions are immortalized, for good bad or ugly.

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Briefs – Monday 30th June 2020

  1. Covid-19

Covid-19 is running up exponentially in Dallas County.

We need another lockdown IMMEDIATELY. We are staying locked down. I wish I could say the same for other people, but not only are a lot of people swanning about without a care in the world, some of them are still not wearing masks.

2. A week of UK government ineptitude in a Thread

Yes, it really is this bad. The government is incompetent, venal and corrupt. And way too many electors in the UK voted for it. Buckle up kiddos, it’s going to be a wild ride. Especially after 1st January 2021, when the full impact of the UK’s departure from the EU is felt for the first time.

The government’s decision to invest up to £500 million in a bankrupt satellite internet service provider looks more foolish the more you examine it. 

Tonight the deadline for the UK to request a Brexit extension passed. The UK is now on the clock and on the path to the original wet-dream outcome of many Brexiteers – a No Deal crash-out at the end of the year.

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Texas – how “opening the economy” has fuelled Covid

When Texas began to re-open the state, many experts said “this is too soon”. This made no impact on the government here, which is solid GOP, and for whom listening to experts is one of those activities that they despise. What, listen to dudes in white coats who use words with multiple syllables? No way.

So, the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor have been walking around making all of the right noises, while failing to make rules that can be enforced. So they try to face both ways on mask wearing, saying it is beneficial, but refusing to mandate it. Some counties (like my own Dallas County) have mandated wearing masks in public, but even that carries political risks, with the adolescent pseudo-libertarians up in arms (some might want to do that literally, judging by their online smack-talking).

The result was inevitable. The Covid-19 case count is exploding in key areas. Like in my own county, Dallas. When I went out at the weekend, the roads and stores were full. Everybody was marching around like it was a normal Summer saturday. Some people, despite the rules, were not wearing masks. (Jesus Christ on a pogo stick).

So this is what happens when you try to open a state too soon in a pandemic with insufficient focus on safety and social responsibility.

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Birthday Thoughts – 18th June 2020

  1. My birthday 

I officially became old UK pensionable age today at age 65. Nothing eventful. I have a slight creak (hernia, to be operated on once Mary is better), but other than that, my body seems to be in good shape. We live in interesting times, I am not so much worried about myself as I am worried about the robber baron fascist scumbags totally taking over the USA and the UK. The electorates in both countries have, in aggregate, been foolish enough to vote for authoritarian scumbags, and it may or may not be too late to turn that back.

2. Covid-19

The published number of new cases in Dallas County late yesterday is BAD. A new bad record.

3. The Pandemic Insurance market that never took off

This is an interesting article about an attempt, starting some time ago, to seed a general insurance market for Pandemic protection insurance. It never took off, because the potential buyers failed to take the impact of a pandemic seriously enough to be prepared to pay premiums up front. Today, it would be different, but because of the infrequent and huge payouts involved in this type of insurance, up-front payments for years are needed for insurers to have enough reserves to actually pay any resulting claims. It’s not motor insurance.

4. Pandemic mask wearing and logical fallacies

There are any number of people who are behaving like privileged asshats, laboring under the delusion that (a) not wearing a mask in public is a good idea, (b) that they somehow have this magical “freedom” to do whatever they like. This leads to all manner of expansive and bullshit claims being made when organizations mandate mask wearing. The Google School Of Law has never been busier.

“I refuse to wear a mask” justifiers are tying themselves into knots over the issue. This person hit a perfect twofer for logical fallacies in their attempt to argue that they should not have to wear a mask:

The CO2 poisoning would be news to all of the doctors and nurses who have been laboring for hours at a time for decades in hospitals wearing face masks. So I definitely detect the fragrant odor of caca on that excuse.

But notice how he tries logical fallacy #1 – Moving The Goalposts, by swiftly shifting to complaining that masks are never 100% effective anyway.

He walks right into logical fallacy #2 –  Fallacy of Binary Thinking instead. No, you fool, a mask is not 100% effective. but then nobody with any pretence to smarts claimed that it is 100% effective.

To use an analogy, seatbelts are not 100% effective at stopping people from being killed or injured in road accidents. but they are mandatory, and most people accept that they are not 100% effective. However, you will notice that there is a small subset of the population who are hostile to wearing them, on the same damn grounds that people are trying to refuse to wear masks – they are not always effective, and Mah Freedoms.

However, the analogy, while useful, is not a match. The difference between a person who refuses to wear a seatbelt and who dies or is injured in a road accident is that they only harmed themselves. Not wearing a mask not only increases a person’s chances of contracting Covid, it also increases the chance that they will aerosolize the air around them with virus, which may increase the chance of others contracting the virus.

Unfortunately, pseudo-libertarians and retarded adolescents (who are often the same group) keep trying these “mah freedoms!” arguments. They are never cogent or useful, but they keep trying.

 

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Brexit Saga – 16th June 2020

The fundamental underlying issue with Brexit is that in almost every respect it is a backward-looking strategy. The absurd reliance on World War II metaphors and memories (very selectively slanted in favour of the UK and against other foreign contributors) tells me that the Golden Age Fallacy is underpinning a lot of attitudes in the UK towards Brexit. It is as though the entire memory of World War II is derived from watching episodes of Dad’s Army, intercut with footage from Pathe News of great wartime feats of valour by plucky little Britain.

As this article explains, what the UK really needs is not freedom from Europe, but to be liberated from its own delusions.

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COVID stuffs – 16th June 2020

  1. Ask the people who actually know

An expert actually, you know, went off and talked with experts today. This is his summary. It’s not good reading.

2.The Dallas County Graph is still bad.

3.  Florida and Arizona

Bars and Restaurants in Florida are finding out the hard way that re-opening when a pandemic is in full swing is…not a good idea.

In Arizona, restaurants are making the same unfortunate discovery.

4. Deaths – South Korea vs. the USA

Currently, the official death toll in South Korea from Covid-19 is…278

The US total just passed 200,000.

If you pro-rate the South Korea death rate upwards by the difference in popuations between the USA and South Korea (320 million vs. 52 million), the death toll in the US for the same death rate would be…

1,732

The US death rate is 115 times higher.

It’s not a population density thing. South Korea has a much higher population density than the USA. It’s a competence of government difference, and a population attitude difference. You don’t hear about South Koreans rampaging in the streets without masks, ratchet-jawing about “my rights”.

 

 

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Thoughts – Saturday 13th June 2020

As the clock ticks towards my 65th birthday (eek), and I work to get Mary mobile and well again so I can schedule my overdue hernia surgery, the Western world teeters on the brink of a massive recession and social unrest is bubbling.

  1. London 

Black Lives Matter was planning a demonstration in London today, but decided to call it off. This may have been a very smart move, since all of the fascists who were planning to show up to fight them did show up. However, having nobody to fi…er, demonstrate against,they were left to take out their drunken anger on whoever from the media happened to be too close, or the police. 

It is rather obvious that these people are not fans of democracy, inclusion and the equitable treatment of minorities. They are, however, for many people outside of the UK, the face of modern England.

2. The irrelevance of Nigel Farage

Poor Nigel Farage. A 7 time (count them) failed parliamentary candidate in the UK, a long-term mostly-absentee MEP (get Nigel to tell you how many EU Fishery Committee meetings he attended while he was a member of that committee), and now he has been released from his LBC contract.

The problem with leading a single-issue pressure group is that if the issue is resolved, you have no rationale for public existence. I suspect that Nigel’s backers no longer need him, so he is old hat, yesterday’s man. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

3. Brexit fiascos, continued

The UK seems determined to ignore most of the normal rules about negotiation, as it tries to look tough. The problem with these normal rules is that they exist for a very good reason: they are smart.

One fundamental rule of negotiations is: keep your options open. If you are ever faced with a scenario where you have only one option, you have no leverage, and your opponents will squeeze you.

The UK just violated that rule (yet again) by announcing that it does not want an extension to the EU departure transition period.This means that at midnight on 31st December this year, all agreements that currently exist with the EU will disappear, unless they are replaced by new ones. If they are not superseded by new agreements, the UK will become a totally outsider country, with no trading,customs, aerospace, travel,fishing agreements…the list goes on. This will not end well. The UK’s current behavior is going to result in it becoming an international pariah.

The delusion that the UK is going to magically obtain a “good deal” on fishing rights and quotas is another area where the UK has violated fundamental rules of negotiation. The government and its supporters keep insisting that fishing is an important subject, and that the UK will get a good deal. (This persistently ignores that the fishing industry in the UK is less than 0.5% of GDP, and it is declining).

When you publicly put yourself in a box like this, there are going to be one of two likely outcomes, both of which will be bad for the UK:

  1. The UK, desperate to obtain some useful concessions on fishing that it can sell as a victory to its supporters, will end up making big and damaging concessions on other issues, which will end up severely damaging the UK economy in the medium term
  2. The UK will fail to get a good deal on fishing (because the other concessions would be way too damaging), and the fishing industry in the UK will be left to twist in the wind, amid allegations of betrayal and sellout

The right answer would have been to adopt a calm and measured approach to negotiations, not making bellicose statements in advance in an attempt to negotiate in public. But the bunch of unqualified juveniles currently running the UK government cannot manage something that simple.

4.  COVID-19 in Texas

The graph of new cases shows a worsening trend. The economy was opened way too soon here in Texas. This is not just true for new cases. The overall death chart is also worsening.

The idea that you could re-open the economy in states like Texas, Florida or Arizona is going to be seen, before long, as the naive and deluded actions of free-market idiots.

6. The NFL continues with virtue signals but…

…until they apologize to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, and ensure that they are signed to teams, the gestures are deficient, defective and hollow.

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