The UK declares its independence: what’s next?

by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, ME, LLM, EMT

I’m pleased to report that my prediction came true: the EU just lost a member and the UK is now a free and independent nation once again!  If you haven’t read what I wrote two days ago, I suggest you read that one first, about why Brexit came to be, to provide some context.  Read it here.

While most of the world is clamoring about how horrible Brexit is, and predicting that the British pound will never recover, blah blah, I continue to remind everyone that:

a) this was inevitable
b) this is good for the world
c) this is ultimately good for the UK, and
d) this is a harbinger of things to come, so if you didn’t like THIS, you may not like what comes next.

What comes next?  The UK regains its importance as world leader, side by side with the USA; a re-emergence of the pound as a world currency of great importance (being a part of the EU diminished its caché in the world); and yes, further erosion of the EU.

Granted, the UK has an easier time getting out of the EU simply because they don’t have to ‘recreate their currency’, but aside from that, there is no doubt that even countries within the eurozone are going to start having their own discussions about what is best for their unique PEOPLE, their unique LANGUAGES, their unique CULTURES, and their unique HISTORIES.  The EU just lost one of its two most powerful economies (the other, of course, being Germany, which is still a part of the EU and EMU… but for how long?).

Now, of course, there is a big difference between the UK and continental Europe.  I have, in fact, always believed that the UK has far more in common with the USA than it does with continental Europe.  The UK is an island.  The USA, while not an island, is only bordered on the northern and southern sides, and far away from all other continents to its east and west.  The UK and the USA share the same language and… in many ways, the same history too: former colonial relationship; major allies in World War II; and now, they have both declared independence from a great power.

Therefore, the EU will continue.  However, I believe its power has reached its zenith, unless the countries are willing to relinquish some political, military, and economic power in favor of a more traditional federal type of system.  As I mentioned in my earlier post however, this is highly unlikely to happen, due to the reasons of differing cultures, languages, and histories.  France has French pride in a way that New York does not have New York pride.  We New Yorkers are proud to be New Yorkers, but we are FAR more proud to be Americans, and again, therein lies the big difference.

Moving forward, the next question is: which country is going to start grumbling about the EU next?  Might it be one of the Scandinavian countries, so far north?  Might it be Germany itself, recognizing that the rest of the EU is dragging down their economy?  Or might it be one of the weaker economics of Spain, Portugal, Italy, or Greece, believing that their economic plight might actually improve if they could make their own decisions?

When the EU began, there was some merit to it, and it was a small bloc of countries.  Now, it seems every country and its cousin wants to join.  The very fact that the EU is even considering bringing Turkey into the EU is shocking.  It has nothing to do with the fact that Turkey is primarily a muslim nation.  It has to do with the fact that Turkey is not a part of Europe!  Sure, Istanbul is an amazingly beautiful city, and one that unlike any other in the world uniquely melds both the east and the west (and you NEED to go see it), but… Istanbul is but a sliver of the country.  It’s a gorgeous city on the FAR WESTERN EDGE of the country.  As soon as you leave Istanbul towards the east, you are most certainly in the middle east.  Guess what countries border Turkey to the east?  Maybe you’ve heard of them: Syria.  Iraq.  Um… Iran.  Take a look at a map.  If Turkey is admitted, what of those middle eastern countries is next?

Now, if Istanbul wanted to secede from Turkey (which is likely to never happen), that might be another story entirely, because there are indeed western influences in Istanbul that in many ways outweigh the eastern ones.  But to even consider bringing Turkey into the EU shows just how crazy things have gotten.

The original 1958 countries were: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.  Five countries.  How many members are there today?  28.  Oh, scratch that: 27 once we remove the UK.   TWENTY SEVEN.

And guess who is on deck to become a member: Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Former Macedonia, and yes, Turkey.  But that’s not all.  There’s also Bosnia and Herzegovina, plus Kosovo.  It’s a mad house of countries who want the benefit of a unified currency, but refuse to unify the politics, the military, the languages, or the cultures.  Yet they want to grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger (but in a super strange and off-kilter sort of way that makes no sense whatsoever).

Why has the EU grown so big in the last 50+ years?  Precisely because the countries don’t really have to give up much of anything.  It’s a chimera.  They think they can get something for nothing.  They want to have their cake and eat it too (which is an expression I have never understood because it is illogical.  If I have a cake, what’s wrong with me eating it, huh?  I guess the point is that after you eat it, you will no longer have it, but it’s still stupid.  And yet, I used it nonetheless, so I’m a hypocrite!)  My point is that if becoming a part of the EU required the abandoning of a national language, and abandoning certain traditions, and unifying behind the culture of EUROPE rather than the culture of your country… no one would join.  Think about that for a moment: none of these countries wants to become “European”; they want to join the “European Union”.  Therein lies a huge difference.

A better (but never going to happen) solution would be to create smaller unifications, i.e. Germany and Austria join together into one TRUE country.  France and Spain.  Italy and Switzerland.  Let’s call them Germanria; Frain; and Italiland.  Ha ha.  Sounds pretty horrible, and guess what: that’s exactly why what is happening in Europe is just ultimately unworkable on a greater scale than it already is.  There can and never will be a unification of Europe.  That is, until and unless they rally behind a single president, which again, will not happen except by some miracle.

So what does this mean?  It means the EU needs to stop accepting new members.  It needs to establish VERY strict economic guidelines and if you don’t meet them, you get kicked out.  There can be no bailouts.  It needs to start focusing on creating a European identity that is greater than the national identities.  All of this is extremely difficult… if not impossible.

There is only one certainty regarding the future of the EU: if it continues to grow simply as an economic union, with no measures to unify in other ways—while it may not be destined for failure, it will certainly never be destined for greatness.  And that’s good.  As I’ve mentioned before, the greatness of Europe is not in its unification, but rather, in the individual awesomeness of every distinct country, language, culture, and history.  THAT is Europe.  Not some arbitrary and largely fake collection of countries who claim they are unified but in fact are anything but.

When I go to Europe, I’m not going to Europe: I’m going to France.  I’m going to Germany.  I’m going to Norway.  I’m going to Spain.  I’m going to Italy.  That’s the way it’s always been, and in all great likelihood, the way it’s always going to remain.

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The Brief Science Behind Laughter Yoga

by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME, EMT

Guess what?  In 5 weeks, I am taking a two-day course teaching me how to lead laughter yoga sessions.

Laughter yoga?  What?!

You read it correctly.  I’m going to learn how to encourage people to laugh for 30 minutes, nonstop, for no reason whatsoever.

Why?

Because it works.

Works?  Works doing what?

It makes you happy.

For many years, psychologists have known that real happiness led to real laughter, but very few pursued the strange idea that fake laughter could magically transform into real laughter and that this real laughter would lead to real boosts in mood.

Well guess what: it does.  It works.

I used to live in China.  While there, I looked around for a training center, but couldn’t find one.  I decided I was going to head to Mumbai, India to train with the guy who started the whole movement.  Alas, I had more important things to do: study Chinese.

But now that I’m home, and now that I’m about to relaunch my new venture, Break Diving, I realized that becoming a laughter yoga teacher would fit right in with my new company’s mission, and allow me to integrate my PhD in psychology with this proven psychological tool.  So, I found a trainer in New Jersey (huh, there ARE some cool things in Jersey after all!) and come August 1, I am going to be starting to teach others how to laugh for no reason.

Basically, for the first 5 minutes, it’s totally awkward.  But suddenly, the switch flips, and the fake belly laughter starts to become real belly laughter, as you watch your fellow laughers doing the same crazy thing you are doing!  By the end of the session, you feel great!   You also are out of breath and feeling like you just did a crazy ab work out–and you did!

So anyway, I just thought I’d let you guys know about that.  Pretty cool, eh?   As a comedian my hope was to make you laugh on purpose for a good reason.  Now my mission will be to make you laugh randomly for no reason at all.  In many ways, I sort think the latter is far more romantic and spiritual, doncha think?

Ommmmm…

Oh wait, I mean: HA HA HA HA HA BWU HA HA HA BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA OH MY GOSH IT HURTS HA HA HA HA

“Brexit” is just the beginning, and I predicted this over 15 years ago.

by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME, EMT

In 1997, two years before EMU (European Monetary Union), I was a Washington semester student at American University, in DC.

I was on the verge of transferring from Furman University in Greenville, SC to Franklin College, in Lugano, Switzerland (what is now Franklin University, a joint Swiss/American University).  I was an international economics major.

For my research paper during this Washington semester program, I decided to research the European Monetary Union on Maastricht’s terms and timetable.  For my research, and with the assistance of the various embassies I contacted, I met–in person–with the economic or political attachés of over ten European countries.  I recorded each 60+ minute interview and transcribed every word.  The primary question: what do you think of the EU, the EMU, and will it all work?

My survey results?  It ain’t gonna work.

And tomorrow, we have one of the most historical events in the history of the modern world: A UK referendum to determine if the entire UK will forever leave the EU.

Note that there’s a difference between the EU and the EMU.  The UK is part of the EU, but not the EMU.  What does this mean?  It means that the UK (and some other countries within Europe) are part of the POLITICAL union (the EU), but are not part of the MONETARY union (the EMU, i.e. the Eurozone).  The UK is not part of the eurozone.  If you’ve ever been to England, or read the news, you know that the British Pound is still very much a transactional currency.  You can also find the Swiss Franc (and note that Switzerland isn’t even part of the EU, but it’s citizens can work elsewhere in Europe–see, it’s so damn complicated).

Well, tomorrow, the UK is gonna let its people decide in a UK-wide vote: DO WE LEAVE THE EU ENTIRELY, AND TOTALLY BREAK FREE FROM ANY CONNECTION WHATSOEVER WITH CONTINENTAL EUROPE.

I am so excited for tomorrow!!!!!!

Have you heard of Boris Johnson?  Probably not.  He’s the leading dude pushing for the UK’s exit from the EU–the European Union.  He has an interesting way of framing the issue, using history as an example:

“Napoleon, Hitler, various other people tried this out, and it ends tragically.  The EU is an attempt to do this [unify Europe] by different methods.  But fundamentally what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe.  There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands.  That is causing this massive democratic void.”

I agree with Boris Johnson, and I knew this was the case back in 1997!

Why?

Europe is not the United States.  I remember so many people back in 1997 arguing that the reason for the EU was to follow the example of the United States.

But (and it’s a huge “but”), the individual countries of Europe are the exact opposite of the individual states here in the USA.  You see, the big issues that I knew Europe would NEVER overcome are fourfold:
a) the differing languages (over 20)–the USA had one, and maybe a few second languages
b) the differing cultures (and each FAR more different than we have here in the different states)
c) the differing histories (while some may argue our states have different histories, their histories are in no way as colorful as the varied histories of the different European states)
d) the lack of unity (unlike Europe, we have forever been unified by our hatred for the Crown and that’s what we find in our declaration and in our constitution; Europe is unified by… nothing.  Atheism maybe, haha).

While I was a student at Franklin College in Switzerland, I often debated these issues with my professors and fellow students.  Most of the Europeans argued that none of this mattered.  And yet, then, as now, whenever I meet a European tourist in New York City, and ask, “Where are you from?”, what is the first answer?

Is it Europe?  Nope.

Their first answer, with a huge smile on their face, and a twinkle in their eyes, is–ta da–THEIR COUNTRY.

Never (not once in over 17 years, and note too that I’m a licensed NYC tour guide) has even one of these tourists said, “I’m European” or “I’m from Europe”.

Why?

Because “Europe” doesn’t exist.  It’s a geographical descriptor: there is no unifying language, culture, history, or beliefs.  To this very day, Germans are Germans, Italians are Italians, Norwegians are Norwegians, and French are French.  And none of them would consider themselves “Europeans” first.  Never.  Never.  I’ll say it again: Never.

And why?

Because each of these country’s citizens is proud (and rightly so) of their language, culture, heritage, history, and beliefs.  Let’s leave the holocaust and the Nazis out of this for a moment.  Actually, let’s not: many Germans like the EU.  Why?  It’s a check and balance on what happened under Hitler and the 3rd Reich.  But hey, it’s been more than 70 years since then, and Germans too (just like the Japanese in Asia) are itching to regain control of their countries.  I don’t blame them.

Here’s the bottom line: Yes, my belief is that tomorrow, the UK will no longer be a part of the EU.  I believe that that tomorrow will mark the beginning of the further disintegration of the EU, with a return to individual sovereignty.  Heck, it’s already begun with the near disintegration of the Schengen zone: the passport free zone created by the EU.  Well, since the Syrian and Iraqi crisis of refugee overrun, those borders have gone BACK UP.  The Europe today looks in so many ways like the Europe of not only 17 years ago, but 700 years ago.  It’s a mess.

Back in 1997, I knew (as did most of the embassy attachés with whom I spoke) that only if the Europeans were willing to unify under one true federal banner (like the United States did) would there ever be a lasting success in Europe.  That was never the case because Europeans were and are (and rightly so) too proud of their national heritage.  So there exists a strange quasi political banner waving in Brussels (the head of the EU) that really has no power whatsoever over the different countries.  It’s like another United Nations, where everyone assembles to complain and protest, but nothing ever gets done.

However–and this is the key: by refusing to unifying under one military; by refusing to unify under one president; and ultimately, by the sheer variety of languages, cultures, and histories… true European unity is likely to never ever happen.

But what about China?

China’s a whole different story.  Many say, “But look at China: they have over 100 different Chinese languages and so many varied cultural traditions, and yet, they have come together successfully!”  Wrong: China has one ‘president’.  China teaches all students in school one language (Mandarin).  China has one solitary and unified foreign policy.  And one single military.  And one set of laws.  And therein lies the big difference.

So yeah, I think tomorrow is the day continental Europe bids farewell to the EU.  If I’m wrong (and it’s possible, because the polls have been fluctuating around 50 % for / 50% against for weeks), it doesn’t mean I’m wrong: the very fact that this referendum has come this far shows that the EU is in biiiiig trouble.

Do you realize how absolutely wild tomorrow’s referendum is?  Consider an American simile: it would sort of be like if the citizens of my state of New York joined together to vote on whether to leave the United States and return to their colonial state, albeit without British rule.  Granted, it’s not an exact match, but I’m just trying to help you understand the seriousness of what is about to happen tomorrow.  IT IS HUGE.  The UK may soon be totally and completely separate from the EU!  Her Majesty’s Navy may soon be simply that!  HER MAJESTY’S!  

Mark my words: if the UK leaves, I guarantee before the year is over, there will be other referendums in the works.  And if the UK stays, it will be by the slimmest of margins, and I guarantee it won’t be the last country to vote whether the EU is worth the hassle.

Up above, I quoted Boris Johnson, and his comparison of what is happening to Napoleon and Hitler.  Don’t misunderstand: he’s not talking about world domination.  He’s simply noting that both Napolean and Hitler tried to unite Europe and great a European superstate.  They both failed.  The EU is round three.  Maybe round four, since the Roman Empire tried to do the same thing.

But what happens when an empire grows too big?  It collapses, because it can’t control the outskirt towns and villages.  It just becomes too unwieldy.

Many argue that the USA is on the brink of following in the footsteps of the Roman Empire.  I agree it’s possible: the reach of the federal government has grown so much farther than the founders ever intended thanks to the damn interstate commerce clause: I blame the commerce clause for the downfall of states’ rights and the rise of the federal superstate that we now have in America.  Yeah, you heard me commerce clause: SCREW YOU!

In fact, if the UK leaves the EU, I wouldn’t be surprised if it rekindles the states’ right movement here in the US.  If the UK can kick out their big brother EU, then so can we back here in the US.  We can learn a lot from our former colonizers, just as it seems they have learned from the 1776 lesson we gave them: FIGHT BACK AND DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE.

So on Thursday, June 23, 2016, WATCH THE NEWS.  It’s one of the world’s most exciting events in a really long time, and the result will shape the political face of the planet for years to come.

And don’t listen to the naysayers.  The UK’s leaving the EU will not destroy the British economy, or the world economy.  It might shake it up a bit for a while, but the world will stabilize once it realizes that a strong and independent UK is perhaps exactly what this world needs right now.  We need a strong and independent ally to help us destroy radical islamic terrorism.  Right now, it’s the wild west, and no one is willing to do anything about it.

And don’t worry: the EU was forever doomed to fail.  It may not happen today, or tomorrow, but I believe its zenith has come and gone.  Truly, I look SO forward to the return of independent countries in Europe.  The euro destroyed so much of Europe’s charm: traveling around with money from six different countries in your pocket.  Many called it cumbersome; I called it… adventure.

Oh, since we’re on the subject of independence, on the 24th (Friday) go check out Independence Day 2 in theaters!  I’m so excited!  (though I’m not looking forward to the Hillary Clinton doppelganger who looks and sounds just like her as president.  Clearly, the director and producer are making a statement that Hillary can take on aliens.  Let’s be honest: she can’t even take on terrorists; there’s no way I’d trust her trying to take on aliens.  As usual, she’d try the failed diplomatic approach and we’d all end up dead.  Just like with terrorists, Hillary thinks they are here to be our friend.  THEY ARE NOT HILLARY!  THEY ARE EVIL ALIENS AND THEY WANT TO KILL US!  DIDN’T YOU WATCH THE FIRST INDEPENDENCE DAY!  ALIENS ARE NOT OUR FRIEND!

How did we go from the economics of Brexit to talking about Hillary Clinton taking on aliens?  I have no idea.  I think I’m going to stop typing now.

 

Why a National Minimum Wage is Stupid

by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME, EMT

Quick and dirty economics lesson.  Ready?

FIRST, A MINIMUM WAGE IN GENERAL:
a) The government cannot force private companies to hire employees.
b) A private company will not hire employees if it does not have the money.
c) The higher the minimum wage, the less employees a company will hire.
[Are you with me?  This is simple logic.]
d) The vast majority of companies in the USA are small businesses with less than 50 employees and NOT huge multinationals like McDonald’s.
e) The vast majority of these companies do not have hugely overpaid executives, so any minimum wage hikes necessarily will result in the letting go of current employees and the reduction in future hires.

If anyone would like to dispute this with economic logic, I’m all ears.

SECOND, A NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE:
a) Different states have different economics, i.e. it’s more expensive to live in metropolitan New York City than in rural Idaho.
b) Therefore, to have a $15 national minimum wage is absurd, because it means those living in Idaho will essentially be receiving more dollar purchasing power per hour than those in Manhattan.
c) Therefore, a national minimum wage, contrary to creating income equality, effectively serves to further it.
d) Those people who use a national minimum wage in other countries as an example often use small countries with tiny populations and tiny economies as compared with the USA.  However, a national minimum wage ANYWHERE is foolish, for precisely the reasons I stated in (b).
e) The solution is to allow states to continue creating their own minimum wages, so that there is competition between the states to draw talent.

Again, if anyone would like to dispute this with economic logic, I’m all ears.

Thanks for reading.  I’m going to go to bed now.