Monday, May 23, 2016

BREXIT: TTIP + EU = No NHS? Think about it

With the whole scaremongering about how TTIP and the EU would destroy the NHS, let's think about this for a sec.

1. Most countries (if not all?) in the EU have some form of state sponsored affordable healthcare system, because we're not the USA. If affordable healthcare was threatened in the entire EU, you can be sure the MEPs of the whole union would fight for every country's right to retain their respective systems. It's not just the NHS that's under fire, it's EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY'S HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS. It's a big deal for everyone, not just the UK.

2. If the UK left the EU the USA would bully the UK into accepting TTIP in its current form, as a "well if you want us to do business with you, you have to agree to our terms", in which case yes, the NHS would be screwed. The UK would be so desperate to get the prospective trade deals it would entail to accept whatever was offered, without caring so much about the consequences. TTIP is a big bargaining chip for the USA. "But we want to keep our NHS like it is!" "Well, tough, you do as we say, or we're leaving. You need us, we don't need you." "But but but ..."

There would be nothing to bargain with from the UK's side, because UK is small potatoes as far as the USA is concerned. They can do without striking a deal with the UK, a UK without the EU can't. EU is a massive market, and the USA has already said that they're not interested in the UK as a standalone market, because there's not enough selling/purchasing power in a small country like the UK.

3. In addition to #2, the current government are already trying to dismantle the NHS by running it into the ground so there will be no other option than to get rid of it. They've done a stellar job so far. They don't really care about us, the "common people", they care about money and earning more of it, and let's face it, the US healthcare system is in the business of making loads of it. That it's hurting a lot of people in the process seems to be beside the point.

Yes, the NHS is currently underfunded, overworked, badly managed, and increasingly unsustainable in its current form, but there are things that can be done to change that. Changes which should include actually checking people for if they're permanently residing in the UK or have an EHIC and charging the rest accordingly. (This is after all why it's important to take out travel insurance when you go abroad!)

Point being: the government want any excuse to get rid of the NHS, and leaving the EU and as a result being forced into accepting TTIP in order to trade with the US would be an excellent excuse as far as the government is concerned - because then it wouldn't be THEM who got rid of the NHS, it was a necessity for The Greater Good, a.k.a. trading with the USA, so it was clearly THEIR fault ... Meanwhilhe, staying in the EU (the cost of which is a tiny fraction of the total spend of this country - look it up) would mean we have allies who also wish to keep their healthcare systems intact and we can fight it together.

But what do I know? I'm just another one of those bloody EU immigrants, who had the nerve to come over here and pay taxes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

BREXIT: A little less emotive outbursts, a little more hard facts, please

The EU is far from perfect, I've been criticising it for years, but the official "Vote Leave, take control" document is an abject demonstration that the official Brexit campaign is a complete shambles run by people with no strategic plan whatever, who think that a garbled mess of fearmongering rhetoric, unsourced statistics, shocking opportunism, misleading claims, blatantly false dichotomies and outright lies is sufficient to convince anybody of anything.
- Another Angry Voice

Which is basically my opinion of it. To me, Vote Leave always come across as very emotive, so when someone argues why we should leave it's based on emotions, opinions and (frankly) make-believe. The Vote Stay campaign, on the other hand, have arguments based on actual facts and actual numbers.

Just the other day, we heard a radio phone in where some guy was complaining about petrol being much cheaper in Spain, and why should they have all the money and petrol subsidies and so on, and that's why he wanted out. Completely failing to take into account that every country have their own fuel taxes, and that it's that country's decision how much to tax it - nothing at all to do with the EU. So if you want to leave the EU (Britain can't "leave Europe" because Europe is a continent that we're part of no matter what) based on "them Spanish people pay much less to fill up their cars, boo" then you're not basing your opinion on any kind of facts, but misinformation and ignorance about how your country - let alone the EU - actually works.

And the same could be said for just about anything the Vote Leave people bring up as well.

Immigration and free borders? UK isn't part of the Schengen deal, which means you're required to show your passport on trying to enter the country - unlike travelling from France through Belgium and Netherlands to get to Germany. Half of all the immigrants coming to the UK are from outside the EU anyway, so that wouldn't change.

"Immigrants take all our money!" No, actual FACTS show that they pay in more to the system than they take out. Sure, getting child benefit when your child doesn't even live in the same country as you is messed up, but that's basically down to UK rules. Pretty sure you can't claim child benefit in Sweden (another EU country) if the child lives with a parent in the UK, for instance.

"We don't want none of that European Court thing!" The thing which is ENTIRELY SEPARATE from the EU and which the UK HELPED SET UP after WW2 to safeguard against similar atrocities happening again?

"We wouldn't have to pay the EU any money!" Yes, we would - Norway and Switzerland still pay membership fees to EEA in order to trade with the EU, but they have no say in policy because they're not in the EU, who set the rules, and they don't get any subsidies.

"But we'd save the NHS!" The EU is not what's caused problems with the NHS. That's all on our very own government trying to dismantle it + how badly run it is. I was pretty shocked to hear that if you need crutches (for instance), you're not forced to hand them back once you don't need them anymore. You know, handing them back so that someone else can use them. Instead, no one cares and the next person gets a new set instead. That's not how you save money. Or actually making sure only people who are entitled to free healthcare get it, i.e. UK residents and EU citizens. They don't seem to check entitlement at all. I read a story about an American tourist who had a family member having to go to the doctors in the UK and was surprised to hear he didn't have to pay anything for it. They weren't entitled to free UK healthcare but no one charged them for the visit, which they should have done? How many instances of this happens every day and how much money is lost this way? (There are more examples, but those are glaringly obvious ones.)

"They keep voting us down! We never get to have it our way!" If, say, 19 countries out of 20 (UK being the 20th) vote the same way, isn't that an indication that the UK perhaps has the WRONG opinion? Like the whole steel thing in Port Talbot. The EU wanted to up the fees on Chinese steel to help EU steel, the UK voted AGAINST it, and so on. Besides, majority rule is HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS.

But yeah. My problem is that the Brexit campaign doesn't deal with facts, but just emotive outbursts about how Britain was great back in the day and can be great again ... ignoring how society has changed in the meantime. But maybe people have some kind of romanticised notion about Victorian slums?

What I would say is that I believe that most of these politicians, businessmen and so on do not have the slightest interest in what would be best for the general public; they base their opinions solely on what would be best for them as individuals with a reckless and callous disregard for the rest of us.
- Comment on Another Angry Voice

Which is why you have two camps. There are the politicians who have interests in Europe and who therefore want to stay in because it would benefit them to stay. Then there are politicians who have non-European interests and therefore want to leave because it would benefit them to leave. Let's not pretend that's not the case.

For the general public, though, I'd much rather go with factual arguments than emotive argumentation, and if the Brexit campaign did more of the former and less of the latter, then there could have a balanced discussion, but as it is now, the Stay campaign are the ones who deal in facts and actual figures, while the Leave campaign always sound like someone's drunk and slightly racist uncle at a party - someone who can't be reasoned with using facts, and who keeps shouting about how Britain needs to be great again but has no actual idea of how that's supposed to be achieved aside from "leaving the EU", as if that's some sort of magic cure-all.