The 12th Invest in ME Conference, Part 1
OverTheHills presents the first article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME international Conference (IIMEC12) in London.
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EU Referendum: what it means for ME (+ a poll)

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Cheesus, Jun 4, 2016.

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Should the UK leave or remain in the EU?

  1. The UK should remain in the EU

    29 vote(s)
    56.9%
  2. The UK should leave the EU

    17 vote(s)
    33.3%
  3. Don't know

    4 vote(s)
    7.8%
  4. Don't care

    1 vote(s)
    2.0%
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  1. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    Most of you in the UK are no doubt painfully aware of our impending referendum on EU membership - if not, then I'd quite like to join you beneath the rock you've been living under. In spite of the heavy referendum fatigue setting in (the PEM will be brutal), this is a huge decision and I would like to outline what I perceive to be the possible consequences of a UK exit on people with ME. In doing so I will make the case that the UK should remain in the EU.

    1. State funding
    The tide is turning in the long-fought battle for real scientific investigation into ME. We are finally beginning to accumulate enough solid evidence to make good applications to large research grants. The UK has some of the best universities in the world and the EU is a bountiful source of research funding. Leaving the EU would cut those universities off from that considerable stream of finance, and I sincerely doubt the current UK government would rush to fill the void. This is a critical concern for UK academia as a whole, and has been actively voiced by a large group of UK scientists headed by Professor Stephen Hawking. (I would like to hear the opinion of @Jonathan Edwards on this point).

    2. Charitable funding
    Economic organisations are falling over themselves to outline the risk of a UK exit. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicts the UK economy will shrink by nearly 1.5%, Ireland by 1.25% (sorry, Ireland), Europe by 1% and 0.5% worldwide. In times of economic recession, charities tend to take a hit, but right now we need every penny we can get. (State funding would also suffer here).

    3. Workplace rights
    Many of our workplace rights are enshrined in EU law. For those of us who are currently working (or hope to), there is a serious concern that the neoliberal puritanism of Boris et al - or even of George and Dave if they keep their jobs (ha) - could make the workplace a much less friendly place, particularly to those managing chronic illness. Four weeks guaranteed paid holiday is under threat, as is self-certification for short-term sickness. It may be the case that these rights remain intact, but it is a risk nonetheless.

    4. The NHS
    It has been a complete failure for ME so far, but the fact remains that the NHS is one of the best healthcare organisations in the world and free healthcare to all is a jewel in the crown of British society. The head of the NHS has outlined the considerable risk of a UK exit from the EU for the NHS, as tens of thousands of NHS staff are EU migrants. Some say EU migrants are a huge burden on the NHS, however "EU migrants are here to work" (a recent quote from Iain Duncan Smith, I kid you not) and are thus healthy taxpayers (broadly speaking). They are contributing to the NHS, not causing its demise.


    I am very severely sick and I have needed a carer to help me pull this together. As such, I probably won't be able to join a lively discussion. If this generates debate I simply ask that we acknowledge that there are valid arguments on both sides of this issue once you sift through all the misinformation, and I implore you all to retain a respectful air not seen in our nation's leaders.

    Registration for voting closes on June 7th and takes two minutes. Postal voting is already closed but the sicker amongst us can vote by proxy.

    The polls are on a knife-edge. Your vote matters.
     
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  2. A.B.

    A.B. Senior Member

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    It seems to me that ideologically the EU is far more inclined to help us patients in various ways than the UK establishment. Even if the EU hans't yet done anything for us. That could quickly change.

    I don't live in the UK so I won't take part in the poll in this thread.
     
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  3. Chrisb

    Chrisb Senior Member

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    It is probably best to take note of the advice not to discuss sex, politics or religion. Especially with those whose motivation is unclear.
     
  4. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards "Gibberish"

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    This looks like politics and might breach moderation rules but having been asked for my view I will give it.

    On funding: I do not see the EU as a major source of funding. We probably pay more into the EU research fund pot than we get out of it. I do not understand why academics have made a fuss about this. I can see no evidence for a problem. EU grants often go to 'fringe' countries because it looks like being fair. The only EU grant on ME I know of is the COST Action grant awarded (very deservedly) to Latvia. Moreover, these grants specifically include non-EU countries like Israel. I see no possibility of us being cut off from the small amount of EU funding available. EU funding is hugely bureaucratic and I strongly suspect the money would be better spent if we just doled it out here.

    Economic organisations are falling over themselves to claim risks of Brexit, but that is because these organisations are run by people who make money out of moving money around - bankers, financiers, etc. They have a horror of instability because they may lose their millions. Those of us who do not have millions do not need to worry in the same way. The UK would do well to reduce growth in the private sector because that growth will simply aggravate overpopulation (we have less water per person in south east England than Arabia) and worsen pollution. Growth is only of interest to people who get a rake off. What we need is shrinkage of consumption driven growth. If we want growth it is easy to arrange since GDP is the total amount paid for work and if we increase tax and pay for a proper NHS that would shoot growth up massively. The economic organisations do not say that because public sector growth does not give them a rake off.

    Workplace rights might suffer with Brexit and voting Conservative but people will at least be able to choose.

    As far as I can see the head of the NHS is a cynical capitalist crony who wants cheap labour. EU migrants are here because NHS working conditions are too bad for Brits to take the jobs. So if workplace rights matter then we shouldn't be relying on these underpaid people anyway. Again, the answer is to raise taxation, pay health care workers what they deserve and lots more of them and plenty of Brits will step up to do the jobs.

    I agree that people should vote. I am voting leave - I even got a postal vote to make sure I voted. Piling people into the UK to prop up a capitalist spiral in a world where capitalism is doomed seems to me to be a very bad idea. What I think might help people with chronic illness more is to reduce the population so that house prices collapse and they can have some chance of buying a home. Staying in Europe is staying in a system purely designed for the benefit of those who suck money out of other people's purses. Time to go!! Europe is going to collapse anyway. The lesson of the Eurozone crisis was never learnt.
     
  5. bertiedog

    bertiedog Senior Member

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    I am definitely voting to stay as I feel in a very uncertain world we are stronger together. At least we know what we get with being in the EU, brexetiers cannot say for sure what things will be like and the likelihood of crashing the economy is too much of a risk to take in my view.

    Pam
     
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  6. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    Prof. Edwards, I would be very surprised (given what you have said about other doctors on these forums) if you prescribed such radical interventions for your patients. It seems to me that there is a greater call for ´first, do no harm´ when your patients number in the millions (and taking the world economy into account as the OECD did recently, the billions). I think this is the whole problem with the referendum - it is not a choice between two well-defined futures, but rather a choice between the status quo and some other future. I think Cameron has been quite sly in this regard, giving his party what they want but loading the dice in his favour. Unfortunately for the rest of us, however, he has significantly increased the risks of having a referendum on this issue.

    With regards to ME, and disregarding the fact that many ME patients are already in a precarious financial position, I believe whichever result moves the UK towards a more European-style system of healthcare will be the better result.
     
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  7. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    Cheesus, the British healthcare system definitely isn´t one of the best healthcare systems in the world with regards to patient outcomes, but it is apparently one of the most cost-efficient (basically we spend less than you would expect for sub-par results).
     
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  8. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards "Gibberish"

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    I agree that it would be good to move to something closer to a Scandinavian form of health care. However, being in the EU is most likely to ensure the TTIP or whatever you call it goes through and gives us all an US style of healthcare - the worst value of the lot. As far as I can see the EU as it stands has no influence on health care structure in any of its countries. If it did it would probably go US-style. The Greek fiasco shows that the EU has no interest whatever in a social safety net.

    In my view the idea that we have to save 'the economy' is a myth put about by people who make money out of money. I prefer the Bhutan approach - the gross national happiness. The economy is a measure of how much movement of money there is, not of wealth or well being. At present we are trapped, not in a 'status quo' but in a time bomb of political fragmentation - already seen in Austria, Poland and France. Poland is close to becoming an Albanian style dictatorship. Staying in means accepting increased embroilment in this mess. The real status quo if there is one is quietly cutting the unnecessary economic ties and hoping that the British electorate will vote in some competent government. I see no likelihood of any real change in being able to trade if we are independent. The fact that we have such a runaway net immigration problem shows clearly that we are in a strong position - I think we should make use of it and go it alone.
     
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  9. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    I don´t think its possible in today´s world to ´go it alone´ in the manner you are suggesting without introducing repressive laws to stop economic migration. I think the most likely result of the reforms you are suggesting would be that, instead of the UK exploiting cheap labour from the EU, as you mentioned, the EU would start exploiting cheap labour from the UK. I think the kind of revolution you are suggesting would only work if it was a truly international movement, as I do not believe that repressive laws work in the long term.
     
  10. bertiedog

    bertiedog Senior Member

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    People confuse "controlling our borders" with migrants/refugees from war torn countries attempting to get into the UK by illegal methods. Coming out of Europe won't make one jot of difference to that situation.

    I am afraid that ignorance is playing a big part in people's response to this referendum.

    Pam
     
  11. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    It was clear to me that the EU really has only two choices for long term viability. Scrap a single currency, or turn nations into just states within a large nation. Since nationalism prevents the latter, that leaves scrapping a single currency. Many of the financial woes arise from an inability to adjust the value of local currency.

    A hugely important step for the UK was retaining the pound. I think it improves things in the long run.

    I cannot vote - this is most properly a UK issue. My opinions on the economics of it all are similar to Jonathan's, but with a lot of caveats.

    The next big financial shock might take down the EU. Or the one after that. The US is also vulnerable due to high national debt. Individual nations have more scope to adapt if they are not tied up in overarching regulations like the EU. If the EU gets rid of the Euro it has a much better chance.

    What has happened in the world economy in the last three to four decades is the rise of the corporate state, where corporations tell governments what to do (and yes, that is documented, see Chomsky). We also have an increasing emphasis on efficiency, which is a big part of what is driving mega-corporation amalgamations. Yet with highly efficient scale comes two things. The first is a decline in corporate robustness, making them efficient but subject to collapse. The second is these corporations become "too big to fail". We are now into inter-generational corporate welfare, bailing out failed corporations with a huge impact on the public purse.

    Jonathan is right in that the emphasis on consumer based growth has to change, or change will be imposed on us by natural limits, but financial growth, with spirals of speculative value, is also a big issue.

    So another question becomes - will the UK be more financially stable in the long run if its inside or outside of the EU? I really don't know the answer to that. Either way its a big guess. What impact that will have on ME research is a big guess too. My advice would be to put some time into figuring out things for yourselves if you can vote on this issue. Look at the facts, do some independent reading, and don't just follow slogans ... but I do realize that most of us, most of the time, have a lot of trouble doing this.

    The point has been raised that cost savings will be made involving research funding but there is no guarantee that the money will actually go into research.

    This choice will have an impact all around the world. Its a big one. I can only say I hope it all works out for the best, whichever way this goes.
     
  12. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    ´The next big financial shock´ to the EU (and therefore the world economy) will be the UK leaving, if it does. As I said before, I think the analogy with medicine is an apt one: should a doctor prescribe a radical intervention for a patient without solid evidence of its potential effects?

    I think you are right that an intervention is required, but it has to be carefully calculated to make sure the patient doesn´t end up in a worse state, and nothing about this referendum is carefully calculated, except in terms of David Cameron´s political career.
     
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  13. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    There are some strong arguments here and I can particularly empathise with much of the leftist sentiment. I find myself at odds in supporting th EU commission. When the trade commissioner was asked how she could support TTIP with such widespread opposition, she responded that she does not take her mandate from the people of Europe.

    However the perfectly cogent critiques of the EU are often followed by an idealistic vision of how we should do things, and people ultimately conflate leaving the EU with achieving these ends. The Bhutanese model is incredibly unlikely to materialise as there is no political will for it. There is no social democracy on the horizon for the UK. A move to leave the EU would almost certainly push Scotland out of the UK when they get their next chance, and we would be left with a permanent Tory majority.

    I would love to live in a country that is on balance more progressive than the EU. Alas, I do not.

    And the risk of economic collapse to the average person is not a myth. It may be that the elite only have concern for themselves, but when bankers and fat cats lose money real people lose their jobs and their homes. The 2008 crisis is a case in point.

    Creative destruction is ultimately necessary to move away from a model of infinite growth with finite resources. Is the UK leaving the EU a necessary step in the right direction? The political landscape in the UK suggests to me it is not.
     
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  14. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    An excellent summary of the predicament we find ourselves in, Cheesus.
     
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  15. Cheesus

    Cheesus Senior Member

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    Is this hitting headlines often where you are? It's all consuming here but it is difficult to know if the rest of the world is paying much attention.
     
  16. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I don't follow enough regular media to notice even things this big. I do pay attention to various online sources, but only rarely delve into these things. I know about it because I talk with a few people in the UK.
     
  17. paul80

    paul80 Senior Member

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    Some good points made here.

    Has anyone else read or watched anything from Yanis Varoufakis on the issue of the EU? I've been watching a lot of videos of him on youtube lately. He seems very knowledgable about this issue and about economics, and is quite convincing.

    He thinks if the EU collapses it will bring down the UK with it whether we are in or out. And us leaving will make it much more likely it will collapse.

    I just really hope we aren't going to replay the 1930's again. Because the similarities are quite scary and the far right is getting very popular in Europe. I think the only hope against this is the left across europe uniting to try and provide an alternative.
     
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  18. Marco

    Marco Grrrrrrr!

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    What a pleasant surprise at my age to be genuinely surprised :)
     
  19. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards "Gibberish"

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    Cryptic, must be the Cognac.
     
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  20. Marco

    Marco Grrrrrrr!

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    Near Cognac, France
    Like the town - can't stand the product.
     
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