Young people have a lot to say about Brexit

Young people have a lot to say about Brexit

We want answers and we want clarity, but sometimes it feels like everyone’s forgetting to listen

This week was supposed to be Brexit crunch time. The EU set the UK a deadline to get somewhere (anywhere) with talks by 14 December, so they could start focusing on the big stuff.

And it kind of worked. After months of feeling like there was no end in sight, last week there was a break in the deadlock (why does it feel like we’re describing a war here). There was a vague agreement over the big sticking points. Issues like how much money the UK owed, and how the UK’s border with Ireland was going to work, had until then felt too absolutely bloody mahoosive to ever be resolved. Suddenly it was like finally the whole thing was getting somewhere.

And then it all changed again. The UK prime minister lost a vote with MPs and it could apparently derail the whole thing, mainly because her authority is kind of undermined. MPs will now have a chance to vote on the deal that the UK eventually reaches with the EU.

The thing is, newspapers were so preoccupied by the politics of it all that they seemed to forget to mention quite an important plus side to the whole thing. Which is that if MPs have a voice again, and you're living in the UK, you have a voice again too. So if you've got some strong opinions about all this, or just want to feel slightly better represented in the negotiations process, now's your chance to tell them.

But – in case you hadn't realised – Brexit is confusing. (When we say our bread and butter is demystifying economics, people practically get on their knees begging us to make some sort of sense of what's going on.) So we thought we'd do our best to find out what matters most to young people about the whole thing, break it down as clearly as we can, and help equip us with the tools we need to talk to our MPs about what we want them to say on our behalf in the halls of Westminster.

How do young people feel about Brexit? We want some clarity...

We spoke to young people from all over the UK to find out how they feel about Brexit. Not if they voted, how they voted, or why, but what worries them now about the future.

Some were angry with politicians. Some were worried about what would happen if Brexit never goes through. Pretty much everyone wanted a bit more clarity about what’s going on (which doesn't sound too different from where people were when we asked them the same question the day after the referendum a year and a half ago, just FYI).

… some answers

With an issue as all-encompassing as Brexit, it's understandable that different groups and communities have different priorities on what we need clarity on first. Campaign group Undivided, which is trying to make sure young people’s voices and demands are being heard, have polled young people all over the country to find out what their top priorities are.

Even if you strongly believe Michael Gove was going to save the environment, the person coming after would have the same power to wreck the environment.

The environment came high up the list. A whopping 93 per cent of the people they spoke to said they want the UK to keep up the commitments to protecting the environment they’re bound by under EU law.

So is that possible? We asked two experts, and found that there is some stuff to be positive about. The current UK environment minister, Michael Gove, is really pro-green stuff. He wants the UK to have stronger environmental protections after it leaves the EU, not weaker ones. The problem, Dr Viviane Gravey, who researches how environmental policy is going to be affected by Brexit, is that by leaving the EU, the UK will be weakening its laws, and making them easier to cut if the next guy isn’t as convinced by the whole climate change thing. And given how much uncertainty there is about the extent to which foreign businesses will be keen to invest in the UK after Brexit, the UK won't necessarily be looking to make more long-haul, slightly riskier, more climate-friendly choices in the short-term: they'll be trying to keep things stable until we all get used to the new normal.

Read more about Brexit and the environment here

And then there’s the more straight-up jargon-y economics-y stuff, which you guys seem to be asking Google, cuz you're geeky like that. “What will Brexit do to interest rates?” is one of the most commonly asked questions on Google. And it’s easy to understand why. For a start, it feels like interest rates are never out of the newspapers. And then, even if you don’t have savings, or a mortgage, or any of the other things that mean you’re directly affected by interest rates, they can still make a difference to your life. Long story short: as long as people keep freaking out about what Brexit’s going to do to the economy, they’ll keep freaking out about interest rates. Find out why here.

 

What will Brexit do to interest rates

Lastly, there's the issue that's probably one of the most inflammatory of the whole Brexit debate: immigration.  A third of Leave voters said immigration was why they chose Brexit over Bremain. Many say it's out of economic reasoning: there aren't enough jobs to go round, and Britain should be giving British people jobs first. Yet most economists think immigration is good for an economy, and only really happens when an economy is doing well (otherwise people wouldn't have a reason to come.) The government says it wants to reduce net migration to 100,000. That's 235,000 less than we've got right now, so it's no easy feat: here's what we know so far about what will happen to Europeans in the UK and Brits in Europe for now, and any hints we've got about what the future looks like.

For more Brexit jargon-busting, take a look at our Instagram. We've also got a Brexit Gobbledygook dictionary we're updating as we go here, so check back whenever a new term boggles your mind and hopefully we'll have got there first!

...and a voice

Something sticks out from all our conversations with people: no matter how people actually voted, their worries and concerns are the same. It’s about feeling uncertain about what comes next, annoyed at all the rhetoric and mind-games in the communication of it all, and insecure as to whether governments will do justice to our concerns – whether that’s the environment, the economy, or immigration.

Though actually, it's not just that the politicians and economists doing the negotiating should be listening to us: we should probably be listening more to each other, too. The lines dividing Leave and Remain were pretty damning across age, class, race, education levels, geographical location... pretty much most factors. We clearly have lots to learn about each others' economic experiences, and would do well do talk about them more... perhaps before heading to the polls.

Brexitannia, the first feature length film about Brexit (called Brexitannia) shows, does a pretty incredible job at bringing together a group of people more diverse than most of our social circles will ever be. Here's our take on why it's an important watch.

Brexitannia
A still from the Brexitannia documentary

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  • Macrocompassion

    Look to who owns the land of Greece and why they are not using it properly!

    Discover how much the value of the land is being speculated in by holding it unused and the resulting lack of opportunity. Why can’t small scale farmers begin their own production of farm produce and the selling of it to local suppliers for domestic consumption?

    Adam Smith (“Wealth of Nations”,
    1776) says that land is one of the 3 factors of production (the other 2 being
    labor and durable capital goods). The usefulness of land is in the price that
    tenants pay as rent, for access rights to the particular site in question. Land
    is often considered as being a form of capital, since it is traded similarly to
    other durable capital goods items. However it is not actually man-made, so rightly
    it does not fall within this category. The land was originally a gift of nature
    (if not of God) for which all people should be free to share in its use. But its
    site-value greatly depends on location and is related to the community density
    in that region, as well as the natural resources such as rivers, minerals,
    animals or plants of specific use or beauty, when or after it is possible to reach them. Consequently,
    most of the land value is created by man within his society and therefore its
    advantage should logically and ethically be returned to the community for its
    general use, as explained by Martin Adams (in “LAND”, 2015).

    However, due to our existing laws, land is owned and formally registered and its
    value is traded, even though it can’t be moved to another place, like other
    kinds of capital goods. This right of ownership gives the landlord a big
    advantage over the rest of the community because he determines how it may be
    used, or if it is to be held out of use, until the city grows and the site
    becomes more valuable. Thus speculation in land values is encouraged by the law,
    in treating a site of land as personal or private property—as if it were an
    item of capital goods, although it is not (Mason Gaffney and Fred Harrison:
    “The Corruption of Economics”, 2005).

    Regarding taxation and local community spending, the municipal taxes we pay are
    partly used for improving the infrastructure. This means that the land becomes
    more useful and valuable without the landlord doing anything—he/she will always
    benefit from our present tax regime. This also applies when the status of unused
    land is upgraded and it becomes fit for community development. Then when this
    news is leaked, after landlords and banks corruptly pay for this information,
    speculation in land values is rife. There are many advantages if the land
    values were taxed instead of the many different kinds of production-based
    activities such as earnings, purchases, capital gains, home and foreign company
    investments, etc., (with all their regulations, complications and loop-holes).
    The only people due to lose from this are those who exploit the growing values
    of the land over the past years, when “mere” land ownership confers a financial
    benefit, without the owner doing a scrap of work. Consequently, for a truly
    socially just kind of taxation to apply there can only be one
    method–Land-Value Taxation.

    Consider how land becomes
    valuable. New settlers in a region begin to specialize and this improves their
    efficiency in producing specific goods. The central land is the most valuable
    due to easy availability and least transport needed. This distribution in land
    values is created by the community and (after an initial start), not by the
    natural resources. As the city expands, speculators in land values will
    deliberately hold potentially useful sites out of use, until planning and
    development have permitted their values to grow. Meanwhile there is fierce
    competition for access to the most suitable sites for housing, agriculture and
    manufacturing industries. The limited availability of useful land means that the
    high rents paid by tenants make their residence more costly and the provision
    of goods and services more expensive. It also creates unemployment, causing
    wages to be lowered by the monopolists, who control the big producing
    organizations, and whose land was already obtained when it was cheap. Consequently
    this basic structure of our current macroeconomics system, works to limit
    opportunity and to create poverty, see above reference.

    The most basic cause of our continuing poverty is the lack of properly paid
    work and the reason for this is the lack of opportunity of access to the land
    on which the work must be done. The useful land is monopolized by a landlord
    who either holds it out of use (for speculation in its rising value), or
    charges the tenant heavily for its right of access. In the case when the
    landlord is also the producer, he/she has a monopolistic control of the land
    and of the produce too, and can charge more for this access right than what an
    entrepreneur, who seeks greater opportunity, normally would be able to afford.

    A wise and sensible government would recognize that this problem derives from
    lack of opportunity to work and earn. It can be solved by the use of a tax
    system which encourages the proper use of land and which stops penalizing
    everything and everybody else. Such a tax system was proposed 136 years ago by
    Henry George, a (North) American economist, but somehow most macro-economists
    seem never to have heard of him, in common with a whole lot of other experts.
    (I would guess that they don’t want to know, which is worse!) In “Progress and
    Poverty” 1879, Henry George proposed a single tax on land values without other
    kinds of tax on produce, services, capital gains etc. This regime of land value
    tax (LVT) has 17 features which benefit almost everyone in the economy, except
    for landlords and banks, who/which do nothing productive and find that land
    dominance has its own reward.

    17 Aspects of LVT Affecting Government, Land Owners, Communities and
    Ethics

    Four Aspects for Government:

    1. LVT, adds to the national
    income as do other taxation systems, but it replaces them.

    2. The cost of collecting the LVT is less than for all of the production-related
    taxes–tax avoidance becomes impossible because the sites are visible to all.

    3. Consumers pay less for their
    purchases due to lower production costs (see below). This creates greater
    satisfaction with the management of national affairs.

    4. The national economy
    stabilizes—it no longer experiences the 18 year business boom/bust cycle, due
    to periodic speculation in land values (see below).

    Six Aspects Affecting Land Owners:

    5. LVT is progressive–owners of
    the most potentially productive sites pay the most tax.

    6. The land owner pays his LVT regardless of how his site is used. A large
    proportion of the ground-rent from tenants becomes the LVT, with the result
    that land has less sales-value but a significant “rental”-value (even
    when it is not used).

    7. LVT stops speculation in land prices and
    the withholding of land from proper use is not worthwhile.

    8. The introduction of LVT initially reduces the sales price of sites, even
    though their rental value can still grow over a longer term. As more sites
    become available, the competition for them is less fierce.

    9. With LVT, land owners are unable to pass the tax on to their tenants as rent
    hikes, due to the reduced competition for access to the additional sites that
    come into use.

    10. With LVT, land prices will
    initially drop. Speculators in land values will want to foreclose on their
    mortgages and withdraw their money for reinvestment. Therefore LVT should be
    introduced gradually, to allow these speculators sufficient time to transfer
    their money to company-shares etc., and simultaneously to meet the increased
    demand for produce (see below).

    Three Aspects Regarding Communities:

    11. With LVT, there is an
    incentive to use land for production or residence, rather than it being unused.

    12. With LVT, greater working opportunities exist due to cheaper land and a
    greater number of available sites. Consumer goods become cheaper too, because
    entrepreneurs have less difficulty in starting-up their businesses and because
    they pay less ground-rent–demand grows, unemployment decreases.

    13. Investment money is withdrawn from land and placed in durable capital
    goods. This means more advances in technology and cheaper goods too.

    Four Aspects About Ethics:

    14. The collection of taxes from
    productive effort and commerce is socially unjust. LVT replaces this extortion
    by gathering the surplus rental income, which comes without any exertion from
    the land owner or by the banks–LVT is a natural system of national income-gathering.

    15. Bribery and corruption on information
    about land cease. Before, this was due
    to the leaking of news of municipal plans for housing and industrial
    development, causing shock-waves in local land prices (and municipal workers’ and
    lawyers’ bank balances).

    16. The improved use of the more
    central land reduces the environmental damage due to a) unused sites
    being dumping-grounds, and b) the smaller amount of fossil-fuel use, when
    traveling between home and workplace.

    17. Because the LVT eliminates
    the advantage that landlords currently hold over our society, LVT provides a
    greater equality of opportunity to earn a living. Entrepreneurs can operate in
    a natural way– to provide more jobs. Then earnings will correspond to the
    value that the labor puts into the product or service. Consequently, after LVT
    has been properly introduced it will eliminate poverty and improve business
    ethics.