Sunday, 3 July 2016

Belated reflections on Brexit…

…because writing on one adventure needed to take precedence, as thanks to committing my thoughts to the blog, I have gotten the story off my mind, at least temporarily… From time to time I wonder whether mere writing, without hitting the “publish” button would not suffice…

Some musings on the same topic, published on the same day, here on W-wa Jeziorki.

Those familiar with the theory of economics, surely know the concept of certainty equivalent. To put it simply, individuals prefer to be certain to receive a small amount / quantity of a good rather than take a risk to get a chance to receive larger amount / quantity of the good. This notion hinges upon preference of humans to eliminate uncertainty in life and hold on to what one can be sure of. In economic and social behaviours of individuals the theorem appears to hold true, but behaviours of masses (less often in terms of economics) more and more often call it into question. Notwithstanding, I am not wiping my eyes in astonishment. Back when I was a student, I was told by lecturers interest rates could not drop below zero. How short it takes to prove wrong notions that had lasted for decades…

There is no absolutely perfect thing in life. You cannot expect to have a perfect spouse, friends, children. There is no perfect job, no perfect house, no perfect holidays, no perfect vehicle. If you thought long enough you would find something to enhance in everything that surrounds you. Imperfection is an indispensable part of our lives, hence we ought to accept it and live with to the extent it is tolerable or strive to change it where it goes beyond acceptability. Having written this, I do not condemn striving for perfection, which in essence is praiseworthy, as long as pursuit of perfection does not make you lose your mind.

The Brexit referendum, or rather its result, is a spot-on example of rejecting an imperfect, yet decent and predictable solution. Membership in the EU has not been devoid of drawbacks, yet once you throw the baby out with the bathwater, you ought to have a clear and feasible idea how to fill the bath again.

This brings back a memory of a referendum held in Warsaw in October 2013 whether to oust the then-mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. The campaign of Mrs Gronkiewicz’s opponents focused on her presidency’s shortcomings, but did not go beyond kicking her out of office, i.e. shed no light on any plan how to improve the state of affairs in Warsaw once she is deposed. Inhabitants of Warsaw discerned this lack of constrictive alternative and voted their feet by not going to polling stations. Consequently, the referendum was deemed invalid due to turnout below validity threshold.

The Brexit referendum is astonishingly similar to Polish parliamentary and presidential elections in 2015 in Poland. Platforma Obywatelska and president Komorowski in early 2015 were akin to the EU: they offered stability and predictability, yet were self-focused, complacent and out of touch. Yet Poles and Brits have turned their back on stability and predictability and opted for a change. But watch out, in all three votes the winning side had a tiny majority. 51.89% of Brits voted to leave. 51.55% of Poles voted for Mr Duda in the run-off, PiS scored 51.09% of seats in the parliament. Mathematically such results tip the scales, yet just like a glass can be half-full or half-empty, they mean nearly half of voters who exercised their right are displeased… 

Similar tendencies are witness across the world. In Austria in the recent election, though the result has been overturned, an extreme-right candidate scored around half of votes. On the horizon looms an imminent threat of Donald Trump becoming the president of the United States, which given the country’s democratic tradition and civic awareness of its residents, is horrifying and gives lie to all fairy tales of what features a candidate for this office should exhibit.

What manifests itself on macro scale can be witnessed on the level of individuals. I have seen several people being so weary or dissatisfied with their jobs that they grabbed any opportunity to move over to a different company. Usually with hindsight they regretted their decisions and humbly admitted their previous workplaces were not that bad, but their inner desire to change was stronger than sound judgement… On the other hand, despite allegedly record-high number of divorces and informal relationship break-ups, among my friends, acquaintances and workmates aged 25 – 50, I do not see many people quitting their partners because of a crush / infatuation / fascination with someone else, or just seeking a fleeting romance to taste a change (I may have bad insight, since the latter is not something one should boast about and what is rather kept in secrecy).

A cool head tells me each decision akin to remain-or-leave question faced by Brits in June 2016, should be preceded by a substantiated cost and benefit analysis. Whatever is in question, I can bet neither of two solutions under consideration is perfect, yet if you dissect them, spot advantages and drawback of both and sensibly decide which prevail, you are more likely to make a reasonable decision, instead of letting yourself get carried away by emotions (a fodder for wicked populists) or herding instinct.

Unless ruling elites finally stop being busy looking after themselves and realise what causes masses to throw away stable and predictable schemea and dive into the unknown at any price, humanity will be on slippery slope. 

Besides, I would not simplify the matter and point at immigration (whose meaningful contribution is beyond all doubt) as main driver of voting in favour of Brexit. Europeans living in the golden age (which might be now drawing a close) for decades have not experienced war, deprivation and thanks to quite evenly distributed fruits of long-lasting high economic growth have had their needs and whims met. They have grown bored of peace and abundance and instead of appreciating what they have, keep seeking some new impulses, an undefined change, without taking heed whether it would bring more harm than good.

W dupach się poprzewracało, tyle w temacie :(

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