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September 08, 2014

John Fund: Don't Fear Scottish Independence

Interesting column.

I have a strong feeling Scotland won't vote for independence. Right now the UK government is offering Scotland stronger powers to control Scottish tax policies and the like (and I bet some subsidies, too), and I have a feeling Scotland will accept this deal.

But Fund lists all the reasons they shouldn't.

The new YouGov poll on Scotland’s September 18 vote on independence shows “yes” in the lead for the first time, by a narrow 51 percent to 49 percent. The reason British politicians are now scrambling to offer Scotland more powers is that until now YouGov had been the poll showing the least support for separation.

British treasury secretary George Osborne has quickly promised that within days Scottish voters will be offered "more tax powers, more spending powers, more power over the welfare state." He pledged that "Scotland will have the best of both worlds” by avoiding “the risks of separation” while acquiring “more control over their own destiny." For many Scots, the last-minute offer lacks credibility for its lateness. Moreover, the offer comes after several hundred thousand votes have already been cast by mail.


Fund recounts the Czech-Slovak divorce, which was much feared before it occurred but wound up being settled well enough within a few years, to the benefit of both new, separate states.

Fund locates the most important reason for the post-breakup success of both the Czech Republic, and the once laggard Slovak one:

There was also one other tangible benefit of separation to Slovakia, though it’s one many don’t want to discuss. "After we became independent, people couldn’t blame every problem on Prague anymore or look to it for subsidies,”"a former top minister in Slovakia’s government told me. "We had to drop some outmoded socialist thinking and scapegoating and stand on our own two feet."

This seems critical to me. Any people that feels dominated by an unresponsive majority tends to blame that majority for the bulk of its problems, when a look inward would have a far more salutary effect; and furthermore, the natural politics of a people aggrieved against a minority seems to be socialism and statism.

The politics becomes deformed towards extracting concessions from the dominant party rather than pursuing policies that are just generally good for growth and social uplift. Too much energy goes towards rent-seeking, and too little to wealth-creation.

Fund adds that were millions of anti-Tory, pro-Labour Scottish voters to no longer vote in UK elections, British politics would move strongly towards the Conservative Party.

Which makes it odd that Conservative PM Cameron is so determined to entice Scotland to remain in the UK -- but then Conservatives tend to be more worried about new arrangements like this, and more invested in conserving (as their name might exist) the current order. And British Conservatives care way too much about "preserving the Empire," or what's left of it.

Scotland isn't, or shouldn't be, a prestige-building thing.

The current order doesn't seem particularly beneficial to England or Scotland.

Why keep begging someone to stay who'd rather go?

This is not really a marriage. There aren't children to consider here.

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posted by Ace at 01:11 PM

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