In the wake of the Brexit vote, here are my thoughts. I view the issue primarily from a libertarian perspective, which means a bias in favor of free trade and free movement and a bias against centralized bureaucracy.
1. The actual Brexit vote, as I interpret it (and I make no claim to expertise at reading voters’ minds) seemed to rest mostly on hostility to free trade and free movement, with some hostility toward centralized bureaucracy. And if you have not already followed my recommendation and read Martin Gurri’s The Revolt of the Public, the Brexit vote is another reason you should.
2. I think that a common currency is a good thing. As readers of my new book will realize, I don’t subscribe to the sort of monetarist macroeconomics that would lead one to say otherwise.
3. I think that freedom of movement is a good thing. Border checkpoints are a bad thing.
4. However, you have to think about how to reconcile freedom of movement with welfare-state benefits. The libertarian approach is to get rid of the welfare-state benefits. A less radical approach is to clarify which benefits are limited to citizens and specify the qualifications for becoming a citizen.
5. As for terrorism coming from immigrants, it seems that we can choose two of the following three: privacy, open borders, and security. I am willing to toss out privacy, as long as the government actors providing security are not themselves able to hide what they are doing. Few card-carrying libertarians would agree with this view. Before you blast away at it, read or re-read David Brin’s Transparent Society Revisited. In any case, I interpret the voters as saying that we should toss out open borders.
6. Some people equate a strong EU with technocrats being able to solve/avert the sovereign debt crisis that threatens several countries. I do not.
7. Some people see the EU as a force for free trade. I see it as a force for trade that is managed, regulated, and harmonized. Is this more or less free than what we would see if trade policies were left up to individual governments? I would guess it is somewhat less free, particularly as we move through time, and the bureaucratic tentacles of the EU tend to spread.
8. Of all the reasons for selling stocks, I think this was the least compelling. I wonder if the stock market was simply poised for a decline, anyway, but it needed some sort of focal point to get the selling going.
On net, I would have voted “Leave.” But I don’t like the anti-immigrant, anti-trade rationale.