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Palast writes: "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?"

Alex Salmond. (photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Alex Salmond. (photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)


Scotland Should Declare Its Independence From Alex Salmond

By Greg Palast, Reader Supported News

12 September 14

 

[Dear American reader: This is about Scotland, whose capital is not "Brigadoon," It is a country but not a nation, voting next week on whether to dis-unite from The United Kingdom, though it wishes to keep the King (or Queen as may be). Alex Salmond, First Minister of the not-a-nation, wants to unhook from Britain but keep British coinage—and keep Scotland in the European Union. So, I ask…]

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 the 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?

Greg Palast is a forensic economist and investigative reporter.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

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-12 # Maturus 2014-09-12 14:23
Hard to believe that you have and " friends north of Hadrian's wall" after this mixture of bilge and sense. The economics here are valid points but the politics is demented.

In a world where the US expects everybody to do as they're told, what independence is available to anyone? That aside, the vote is on independence, not the nature of government; the Queen is the head of many states, Scotland included, so your daughter's efforts are premature.

And a forensic detail: Hadrian's Wall is wholly in England, it is not the border with Scotland.
 
 
+36 # Radscal 2014-09-12 17:13
Thanks, Greg. I hadn't really been following the Scottish election, so didn't realize the plan kept them tied to the British pound, and the EU.

Why bother, indeed?
 
 
+1 # Buddha 2014-09-15 10:52
Actually, I think they are crazy like a fox. What happens if Scotland has its own currency, and it does end up becoming too "rich" from all that North Sea oil? That Scottish currency's value would rise, which would make its other more "job intensive" exports less competitive and end up being a net loser for the nation. But by tying an independent Scotland to the pound, to "the rusting realm to [their] south", it helps keep the currency they will use weaker than it normally should be. This is functionally the same currency manipulation that China gets away with when it pegs its currency to the dollar, its currency doesn't strengthen in value as the trade imbalance with the US increases, keeping its exports cheap. It is the same thing that has so benefited Germany by being in the EU, its export-driven economy loves having those Southern EU countries in economic trouble, it keeps the Euro weaker so their exports stay competitive, far more competitive than an independent Germany under a Mark would be.
 
 
+47 # fredboy 2014-09-12 17:14
Scotland is magnificent. I wish it to select the finest, safest and best path for its people and future.
 
 
+29 # WestWinds 2014-09-12 19:15
I'm with Greg. I think Scotland should make a clean break of it. Yes, there will be the initial collywobbles as Scotland steps away from all that is familiar (Stockholm Syndrome) but the Scots are a resourceful lot and will soon sort out their needs and get the job done. They need to stay chained to England about as much as we Americans need another government shutdown or no Net Neutrality.
Get on with it, Scotland. Do yourselves proud!
 
 
+26 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-09-12 20:36
Go Scotland!! I want California to join you and vote for secession from the United States. We don't want to be part of the New World Order of Corporate control. I want Californians to not have to pay for all these illegal wars all over the world. I want our money to stay here in the REPUBLIC of CALIFORNIA! (that is what is on our flag) We can get out of NAFTA to protect our industries from globalization, don't go to war against another Muslim nation, not taunt the Russian bear and mind our our business. We can fully fund our education and use all the money we send to the corrupt creatures in the District Of Criminals for things we need in California.

We can elect representatives who will really represent us, unlike those corrupt creatures in the District of Criminals. We can then have real democracy!
 
 
-2 # tomtom 2014-09-13 09:42
Quoting wantrealdemocracy:
Go Scotland!! I want California to join you and vote for secession from the United States. We don't want to be part of the New World Order of Corporate control. I want Californians to not have to pay for all these illegal wars all over the world. I want our money to stay here in the REPUBLIC of CALIFORNIA! (that is what is on our flag) We can get out of NAFTA to protect our industries from globalization, don't go to war against another Muslim nation, not taunt the Russian bear and mind our our business. We can fully fund our education and use all the money we send to the corrupt creatures in the District Of Criminals for things we need in California.

We can elect representatives who will really represent us, unlike those corrupt creatures in the District of Criminals. We can then have real democracy!


Right, With our over-crowded, prívate prisons, criminally dangerous nuclear power plants, excessive slave wage jobs, California would be like Bush's Iraqi invasion Coalition forces; El Salvador, the Marshall Islands, Bulgaria, and the other ass-kissing nations; tow the líne and March in step. California profits too much on wars to be independent and democratic.
 
 
+1 # Buddha 2014-09-15 10:40
If you have CA so much, then you don't need that surplus $60B/yr that CA sends as tax revenues to the Federal government over the amount we get back in Federal Spending, right? CA would be like the 8th largest economy in the world on its own, and would be even stronger without giving Red State "moochers" that $60B/yr and instead spending it on our own projects. I too support dissolution of America, let those Confederate and Fly-over states try to make it on their own without mooching from us "donor" states.
 
 
+17 # geraldom 2014-09-12 22:09
The people of Scotland will never ever have another chance of gaining their sovereignty and their independence from England if they vote it down now.

Things may be somewhat difficult at first in establishing their new nation, but giving birth to new life is never very easy. Given time, if they do vote for independence, in the end they will not regret it.

But, if they're stupid enough to vote it down, as I've stated before, they will never ever be given another chance by the UK government to vote for independence again, and they will be kicking themselves for not doing it when they had their chance.
 
 
+19 # jsluka 2014-09-13 00:00
Remember, the same dire warnings were made when Ireland gained its independence, and the sky did not fall on them when they left the UK.

Also, the opening quote to this article has its terms backwards because Scotland already IS a "nation" (a people) but it currently is not a "country" (an independent sovereign territory). If they vote for independence, then they will be both a nation and a country.
 
 
+13 # Dion Giles 2014-09-12 23:24
A world of independent nations consisting of autonomous individuals is a goal worth pursuing.

The UK has a party devoted to British independence of the EU but it is gerrymandered out of the House of Commons and is weakened by its failure to seek independence from the USA. So the UK, hog-tied to the EU and subservient to America, is shaking apart no matter how the referendum goes.

Speaking of independence, how much better would the USA have been, and be today, as a homeland for its people and a beacon of liberty and science to the world, if it had taken the Southern knuckledraggers at their word and just let them secede while opening its doors to fleeing slaves! It may not be too late.
 
 
+2 # moafu@yahoo.com 2014-09-13 08:09
THREE CHEERS FOR GREG PALAST.

Right on every point !
Print this essay and send it to every voter in Scotland !
 
 
+4 # Maturus 2014-09-13 14:49
Coming from you, moafu, confirms that the article was bilge. Scotland is an independent country with its own legal and education systems quite distinct from those in England. Scotland is in a union with England and the vote on Thursday is for a divorce. Hopefully the people of Scotland will vote 'Yes' and the work on determining the terms of the divorce can begin in earnest. As with all divorces, the comments of outsiders are rarely useful, helpful or informed.
 
 
+9 # Ed 2014-09-13 08:29
(Scotland Part 1)

Scotland has already in effect voted on independence from Alex Salmon. In our 2010 general election the SNP came first in Scotland on a platform of Scottish Independence. Salmond was victorious and so nothing hitherto is unforeseen other than the No Campaign’s sudden drop in the polls last week triggering an embarrassing flurry of last-minute activity from the ruling elite fat cats in Westminster and the City.

It may only be semantics, but Scotland is IN FACT both a country and a nation although it is NOT an independent state, a matter which it now seeks to redress. Pragmatism is key to the Yes Campaign. The ‘bloody point’, Mr Palast, is to make and carry out its own policies both domestic and foreign, to control fully its income and expenditure, to claim, promote and pursue its cultural identity without fear or prejudice, etc.

Ignore the pomp and lauding over royal spawn. Retention of a monarch is key for short-term constitutional reasons. An independent Scotland can of course vote to change this. British coinage is British and not English. The Scots have just as much right to it and will at least use it to get them underway.

Although Scotland’s cultural and legal legacies are closer to mainland Europe than to England, keeping Scotland in the EU is another short-term need. Trade barriers and the single market are powerful incentives but whether Scotland remains (or has to rejoin) is again up to the people of Scotland (and Brussels).
 
 
+7 # Ed 2014-09-13 08:40
(Scotland Part 2)

Furthermore, understand the distinction between EU membership and the single currency. Also, there is no EU law yet requiring new or existing EU member states to switch to the euro. They continue however to do so by their own volition so in spite of the Greek crisis they clearly are not dissuaded.

Also, Palast’s mischievous replacement of France’s President Hollande with right-wing politician Marie le Pen is inappropriate here. France's cultural and political turmoil has nothing to do with the either the EU or the Scottish Referendum.

It is disappointing that the Scots are being bullied and terrorised into rejecting independence. They need to be brave and square up to the Nay Sayers.
 
 
+3 # Maturus 2014-09-13 14:51
Well said, Ed. As I said to moafu, this is a divorce and outsiders need to keep their ill-informed noses out of it.
 
 
+1 # WestWinds 2014-09-14 14:59
But it's okay to cheer Scotland on, if we so choose to do so. (We're rooting for the home team!)
 
 
+1 # tomtom 2014-09-13 10:07
Talk about a hornet's nest, the next thing you know, those uppity Irish might get a notion to; naw, forget it.
 
 
0 # WestWinds 2014-09-14 15:01
Yes, heaven forbid the Irish should want recover the last six counties of THEIR country and regain themselves after eight hundred years of occupation.
 
 
+6 # Edwina 2014-09-13 10:07
Talk about secession (Texas, California, Ukraine) seems to be a sign that the current world order is not working for the average citizen. Globalization has failed, except to enrich and empower a small class of people. It may also be that people recognize that in the future we will need smaller, more responsive government.
 
 
+2 # WestWinds 2014-09-14 15:06
Quoting Edwina:
"... It may also be that people recognize that in the future we will need smaller, more responsive government.


--- I don't agree. I think you are saying what all Right-wingers say about reducing the size of government; shrinking it small enough to drown in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

I like big government. It's less easy to buy off and you have lots more social programs that benefit the lower classes (who need the help most of all.)
 
 
-8 # Archie1954 2014-09-13 11:34
Extremely irreverent and disrespectful article. Perhaps a little time spent learning manners might be useful Mr. Palast!
 
 
+6 # CAMUS1111 2014-09-13 12:26
I have 2 admittedly less than relevant questions: First, will the vote in any way mean cable will stop running the factually inaccurate Braveheart over and over? Second, what, if anything, will happen to the price of Macallan?
 
 
-3 # stannadel 2014-09-14 05:19
"Angela Merkel's Fifth Reich, aka the European Union?" Callint the EU a 5th Reich is over the top and obscene. RSN should be ashamed to circulate such garbage and I'll have to reconsider my monthly contributions should it continue to do so.
 
 
0 # stannadel 2014-09-14 05:21
To clarify, what I wrote, calling the EU a 5th Reich either obscenely overstates the EUs numerous shortcomings or it trivializes the crimes of the 3rd Reich--or both.
 
 
+2 # Dr Peter Sloane 2014-09-14 12:49
@tomtom. I do hope that there's irony in there and that your statement is not based on what you may think is fact. 'Ireland' (Eire) gained independence in 1920 after a bloody 300 yr. conflict with the dear English. If you're referring to the six counties of Northern Ireland (A different country altogether) Half of the population want to join 'Ireland' the rest still want to be 'English' a very, very raw situation even now. From where I sit - here in England, I wish I was Scottish' I'd vote to get as far away from England as they can. London will milk them dry as they are doing to all areas of England outside their orbital motorway (beltway?)
 
 
+2 # WestWinds 2014-09-14 15:12
The northern six is where all the manufacturing (business) has traditionally gone on. This is why England doesn't want to take her talons out of Ireland. Besides, England wouldn't want all of those English who speak with Irish accents flooding into England tainting the motherland. And I believe it's been a good 800 years that the Irish have been resisting English encroachment into the Emerald Isle. English invasions of Ireland began in the 12th century, but it wasn't until the 1500's that large scale movement to establish colonization in Ireland was begun. It wasn't until 1801 that England technically gained full political control of state affairs in Ireland.
 
 
+1 # Dr Peter Sloane 2014-09-15 01:43
Pushed the 3 instead of the 8. Thanks for your correction. Oliver Cromwell is a hero in England yet hated in Ireland. Perhaps another example of history being written by the winning side. Thanks again.
 
 
-2 # bingers 2014-09-14 14:05
Is Scotland the new Quebec? I have a good friend who lives there. I guess I should contact him for his opinion.
 
 
+3 # Buddha 2014-09-15 10:41
Does Quebec have billions of dollars annually in oil revenue being pumped from its shores? Thought not.
 

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