Monday, September 15, 2014

Scottish independence vote—what's the point?

The Predator Classes are nothing if not cunning.  All over the world there are people who want to somehow escape the predations of neoliberalism and so far, all exits have been blocked.  Scottish independence has a bunch of issues—most of them sentimental.  But ultimately, this big effort is about who controls Scottish resources—especially their oil.

So guess what?  The "approved" leader of the independence movement has already promised not to abandon the Pound as their currency and wants to continue to stay in the EU—which pretty much means that this independence vote will be ONLY about those sentimental reasons.  So Scotland does not look like an escape from the neoliberal hegemony.

But the attempts at escape are getting more brazen.  In fact, there are serious thinkers who believe the irrational Putin / Russia bashing is being organized to keep him from organizing the jailbreak.  The neoliberal thugs have reason to believe that Putin may be their most dangerous opponent.  Not only did he stop the big neoliberal plunder of Yeltsin's Russia, he actually threw one of their superstars (Mikhail Khodorkovsky) in jail.  Personally, I am not sure the neoliberals have all that much to worry about.  If RT is any indication, there are plenty of neoliberals in Russia with big policy jobs.

So while a "Yes" victory in Scotland will not make much difference to the economy, is will be yet another notification that the neoliberal monopoly on power is opposed by ever greater numbers of citizens.  After all, the "No" vote was supposed to be a slam dunk.

Scotland Should Declare Its Independence From Alex Salmond

Greg Palast  September 14, 2014

I mean, what's the bloody point? Why pretend to declare your independence only to chain yourself to a coin with a British snout on it and simultaneously beg to become a colony of Angela Merkel's Fifth Reich, aka the European Union?

I realize that, as an American and an economist, I carry into this debate a double dollop of disrespect from Scottish readers. But, with thousands of miles of salt water separating me equally from London and Edinburgh, I think I can see clearly what you miss from having your head inside the fish bowl.

There are two overwhelming and undeniable advantages for Scotland to declare its sovereign independence: to end both Scotland's damaging enchainment to the British pound and the debilitating tyranny of European Union membership.

Yet, weirdly, inexplicably and inexcusably, Alex Salmond promises to throw away the two most valuable benefits of national self-determination.

First, the pound. In all the hoo-hah over whether Scotland can keep the coin with the Queen's schnozzola on it, no one seems to have asked, Why in the world would Scotland want this foreign coinage?

The Bank of England's singular task at this moment is to figure out how to counteract the disastrous macroeconomic consequences of George Osborne's austerity fixations and the bleating demands of City bankers. The only time when the Bank of England gives any consideration to Scotland's economy is when a BOE governor checks the little gauge which tells them how much of Scotland's oil they have left to spend.

Why should the interest rates, exchange rates and monetary supply of a resource nation like Scotland be subject to the needs and whimsies of the rusting realm to your south? According to the well-accepted theory of Optimum Currency Areas, Scotland would be best off adopting the Canadian dollar, also a damp, salmon-choked oil exporter or, better yet, the Vietnamese dong.

No nation controls its economic destiny until it controls its currency--a concept easier to understand if you read it in Greek.

And Scotland's own coin, backed by taxing power over its oil extractors, would undoubtedly be stronger than sterling and more flexible alone. Control over its own currency will enable Scotland to cut interest rates when local manufacturing falters while the Bank of England is raising rates to fight a speculative bubble in The City.

Second, why this pathological need to remain subjugated by the European Union? Is there some extraordinarily wise legislation crafted by the solons of the European Parliament? Does Scotland need the guiding hand of Angela Merkel, Marie LePen and the Italian premier du jour? Does Scotland fear a sudden shortage of Bulgarian plumbers?

The USA trades with Europe without giving Lithuania veto power over trade terms. And as Swiss nationals will tell you, a lack of an EU passport will not cause you to be strip-searched on your way to the Costa del Sol. Disadvantages of EU membership: loss of control over terms of trade, and policies of industrial regulation, immigration and environmental control. And sorry, Mr. Salmond, you will indeed have to join the euro, at which point, Germany's finance minister will draft your budgets.

So that is my question to my friends north of Hadrian's wall. Why demand your independence from Britain only to insist on keeping your shackles? If you too find attachment to your chains nonsensical, then shouldn't your first referendum be a vote to declare Scottish independence from Alex Salmond? more

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