The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Monday, July 7, 2014

US to expand into Europe?

As Scotland prepares to vote on leaving the United Kingdom, long-range contingency planning is going on at high levels, both in London and in other capitals.  If the UK were to lose Scotland, it would reprsent a loss of both revenue and face for either a Labour or Tory government. Whither England? is then the question that is being asked in Parliament and, increasingly, in the US House and Senate.

"I have just two words for you," said US Secretary of State, John Kerry. "Fifty-first State. Whadaya think?"

Is it conceivable that 238 years after the beginning of the American Revolution, the Empire formally known as Great Britain could join the United States?  Consider the advantages:

Cost savings: by eliminating the British military establishment and turning the defense of the ex-realm over to the US Army and Navy, a huge and redundant expense would be eliminated. The added costs to the US would be minor; the Pentagon estimates that a brigade of infantry would be sufficient to secure the island's northern border, focusing primarily on ending Scots cattle raids. And one or two Coast Guard vessels would be able to adequately deter naval aggression from France and Ireland.

"The Scandinavians are another matter," said US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "If the Vikings start acting up again, we'll need another Littoral Combat Ship, at least."

Health Care: British citizens would be able to avoid the delays, deficiencies, and even deaths associated with Government-provided healthcare (with some exceptions among veterans, it's granted).  Doctors would be able to transition from the NHS to more efficiently-run private hospital systems, join a huge and powerful lobbying organization, and avoid (at least temporarily) the much-hated ICD-10 coding model.

Human Rights: Britain has a large population of poor and marginalized people, many of them from disadvantaged parts of the world. As citizens of the US, they would be able to come to North America, escaping marginalization, unemployment, and prejudice in England and experiencing those things here instead. Furthermore, the British people would finally enjoy constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of speech, choice, privacy, and firearms ownership and be able to vote for elected officials who promise to uphold them.  Experts assure us that there really is a difference, although it's too complicated to go into right now.

Economic Freedom: A Britain that left the European Union would escape a vast, stultifying government bureaucracy, striving to turn Europe's unique and proud traditions into a single, bland set of life ways.  As US citizens, they would find that our government never undertakes any such ruthless concentration of thought and action, preferring to outsource it to large corporations. And from our perspective, an influx of poor and easily-exploitable people would be of substantial advantage to the fast food, convenience store, and landscaping industries.

There are, obviously, downsides.  For one, it would probably be best to give the new state a new name. "Old England" has been suggested by several commentators, primarily to distinguish it from Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. This has complications, since it would also involve regional and civic renaming, including Old Hampshire, Old York, and Old Jersey.

Another area of difficulty would arise when US traffic standards were applied. It has been suggested that residents of the new state be allowed to continue driving on the wrong side of the road but that it be illegal. The revenue from traffic citations could offset most of the costs related to unification.

Finally, there is the vexed question of language. Some legislators from Arizona and California have said that they will put forward bills to make "American" the standard language of business and education (including the requirement to call soccer "Old Football").  This shouldn't be insurmountable, since American is not and has never been a single language. From the great south ("How y'all?") to the frozen north ("How's it goin', eh?"), from the west ("Dude!") to the east coast ("Hey, greet this, woodja?"), Americans are used to colorful regionalisms. Experts agree that even a term as unusual and outlandish as "Hello" will be accepted.

Will this be the future of Britain? Or will it opt to struggle (or "muddle" as they say) along on its own, abashed at its loss and forced to bolster its failing manhood with new Aircraft carriers named after a Queen? Or will it approach yet another North American superpower, and become just the most far-flung province of the Maritimes, doomed to a cod-based economy, and with the Pound tied to the value of Prince Edward Island mussels? Only time will tell.

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