We usually like to think of people holding positions of responsibility in places like the United States and Europe as rational actors who make reasoned decisions based on the evidence presented them. Apparently this is not the case if the New York Times is to be believed.

According to the NYT, the leading figures in the European Union are prepared to act like spurned lovers if the people of the United Kingdom vote this week to leave the European Union. One might think that a rational course of action might be recognizing the decision of the people in the UK and then trying to negotiate terms for their future relationship that are mutually advantageous. Instead, the leaders of the EU are apparently planning punishment.

The article begins by telling readers:

"The rest of the European Union nations are looking at the possibility of a British departure from the bloc with disbelief, trepidation and anguish. But they are also preparing to retaliate."

It goes on to give more details of the plans for punishment. Apparently a friendly divorce is out of the question for the EU honchos.

Rational people in the EU might also ask why people in one of the EU's largest member states would think they are better off outside of the European Union. After all, the benefits of the federal government are evident to most people living in the United States, why is that not the case in much of Europe.

Somehow the leaders of the EU are apparently incapable of asking whether maybe they are doing something wrong. For example, perhaps the austerity that has cost the continent a decade of growth and needlessly subjected millions of people to unemployment and underemployment is not a good way to go. Given the competence and integrity of the folks running the EU it is certainly understandable that many in the UK would want to leave.