Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Can't we skip the stupid in this referendum?

Everyone knows that the truth is stretched during political campaigns, but it seems that EU referenda really bring out the most outrageous lies and distortions. I was driving through Dublin on Sunday evening and saw signs advocating for a No vote, claiming that the minimum wage could be lowered to €1.84 if we vote Yes.

As any of you who've been coming here for a while know full well, I'm hardly a big fan of the EU. I voted No to Lisbon last June. I'm open to reasonable arguments - from both sides. This is one is simply stupid.

There is ZERO possibility that the minimum wage will be forced down to that level (or anywhere) by any EU Court. Now it may be true that subcontractors from poorer member states may earn less while working here, but that's not the same as what is implied in their ridiculous signs.

Nor can any moves by the government in the current economic circumstances to reduce the minimum wage - and I don't remember hearing anything other than suggestions from outside the government - be anything other than a national response to a national crisis. The EU won't force it down (although if we default the ECB may well do so. That won't be due to Lisbon, but Maastricht, which is not on the ballot.)

This referendum is way more important than the one last June. Last June the issue may have been the same - whether to ratify Lisbon or not - but the situation has changed dramatically. Now the question is: will Lisbon be a good or bad thing with regards to our current crisis and the recovery period. I'm not sure yet, but I'd like to think we can consider the matter with at least a minimum of rationality.