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AFTERWARD: The Top Five Silver Linings of 2016

4. Brexit

Some believe that Britain’s vote to exit the European Union is devastating and illustrative of the kind of nationalism that ultimately leads to war, and others hold that it is a triumph for national self-determination in the face of unresponsive bureaucracy. They may both be right.

Some warned of dire economic ramifications of Great Britain’s move, but even short term effects were surprising. The stock market initially tanked, but then rebounded through the year, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average flirting with the 20,000 mark in the past few weeks. Predicting long term economic conditions is nearly impossible. Nobody knows exactly how Brexit will affect the economic future, or even if it will have much effect at all.

Brexit is important because it is a challenge to centralized power. Centralized power reduces liberty, and also reduces the ability to experiment with solutions to social problems. When efforts to solve problems are strangled by bureaucratic red tape, fewer solutions will be tried. Surely many solutions will fail, but small-scale failures are less damaging than large-scale failures.

Brexit is also a reminder that we have overreaching federal power in the US, power that dictates state and local policy, often using federal funding as both a carrot and a stick. When the federal government wants the states to toe the line on policy, it simply threatens to revoke funding. It’s not the way our governmental structure is supposed to work, and if the federal government doesn’t keep this in check, we may well be looking at a Texit, a Michigone or a Kansescape one of these days.

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