UKIP, EU exit, economic migrancy and entitlement
I had an interesting exchange on Twitter today, with a UKIPer, about work, entitlement and immigration. It went like this (I paraphrase) :
Me : “Open all the borders, kill all the benefits. Sorted.”
Him : “You can’t do that. I haven’t had a pay rise since whenever, and can’t find work.”
Me : “Why are you entitled to be paid the rate you desire?”
Him : “It’s not desire! Wages are depressed by economic migrancy!”
Me : “That’s merely the free market.”
Him : “You can’t flood the country with cheap foreign labour. That’s insane.”
Me : “Who would you have pay the difference between what you can earn, and what you think you should earn?”
Him : “Ha! you’re just trolling. You can’t possibly have just anyone over here taking our jobs, and no benefits. Ha ha.”
Me : [endex]
Anyway, this started me thinking about what UKIP may actually expect or want from an exit from the EU.
Personally, I’d rather melt my own teeth than stay in the hated EU a second longer than forced. The EU will destroy whole peoples for its own vanity; it will steal your money whilst refusing to be bound by any legal or moral accounting; it will prosecute and imprison you for mocking it. The list is endless.
So I object profoundly to the EU on grounds of its Statist and Stasi principles, its dehumanising, its enforcing of the State will upon the individual. Conversely, I expect myself to be able to act as an individual; I ask nothing of the State, I take what I can from it merely as slight recompense for the tax I am forced to pay. And this means living by my own wits, with no safety net – if someone does what I do better and/or cheaper, then I lose. And I may I go down, and I’m taking me and mine, only, with me. And that’s my look-out.
But it occurred to me, this morning, that perhaps UKIPers expect a different outcome from the EU exit they too desire. They, too hate the EU – for many reasons I expect – but, apparently, and possibly especially, with the reason to pull up the drawbridge to prevent “them” taking “our” jobs.
Why? Why this particular aspect of the EU? What is to be gained by exiting the EU and the state of UK independence that would follow? It would certainly stop this cheap foreign labour coming in (at least from the EU itself); perhaps my UKIP pal from this morning would then be able to find work.
But, what of the problem of his wages – the difference between what he can earn, and what he feels he should earn. What he feels entitled to, if I might speculate. I wonder if he feels that EU exit would not only provide work, but would drive wages up. And I wonder if this is a realistic expectation.
Why should an independent UK be able to support wages for, say, carpentry, at a rate higher than if still in the EU? The work has a value; there is a market; merely having fewer people immediately willing to take the work at a low wage, does not equate directly to there being more wealth to pay for the work to be done at a higher wage. For of course, an independent UK could not be expected to print money – and a free independent state will never be able to operate its economy by social engineering on the absurd “relative poverty” measure.
Nonetheless, my pal expects EU exit to help him out. Naturally, apparently, we, on our own, could somehow support the wages of our citizens, simply because of, and at the rate of, what they think they’re worth. This, though, would simply be the EU writ large in England – as per the French farmer filling his boots from the CAP, “because he’s worth it” – except the house of cards would fall faster, as there are no spare Germanys in England to foot the bill for a few decades. Three day weeks, I expect, the 70s have a lot to teach us.
So for me, the critical economic thing prevented by the EU is a truly free movement of labour. And the EU also prevents a pitch un-queered by benefit handouts to anyone and everyone who can duct-tape themselves to a Eurostar. (Remember, it’s critical also to cull all benefits for migrant workers. Personally I’d cull all benefits full-stop, but that’s a separate matter.) To achieve this, I believe we should leave the EU – it’s so impossibly Statist that there can be no freedom without leaving – and should open our borders to truly free international trade. We will flourish, for people will come and go freely, trading their labour independently and efficiently. Those who would not respond, will be obsoleted – tough luck for them.
But perhaps some UKIPers feel differently. (As an aside, they have form for big-Statism, in supporting the NHS – the EU would kill, possibly literally, for such a tool as the NHS to control free independent action in its citizens.) Perhaps they feel that EU exit is the solution to their current problem – having their wages and work undercut by [an aspect of] a free market. But my fellow this morning didn’t want a free market, by EU exit – he merely wanted, unwittingly, State dependence and managed economics – just like he has already in the EU.
So yes. “Let them all in”. But do so in a truly free market. And if you lose, then you lose. Such is the price of true freedom.