Scotland

The Implications of Scottish Independence

The country that gave us David Hume and Adam Smith could once again be a beacon of liberty, a case study in free minds and free markets.

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The referendum polling stations are closed. By now, some three million Scots will have had their say on whether Scotland should be an independent country. There will be no exit polls and the votes will be counted by hand. But sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, we should have a result.

The outcome is genuinely too close to call. The latest poll, published this morning by The Times of London, has the "Better Together" campaign up by four points, 52–48 percent, with four percent still undecided. But that, like most opinion polls in recent days, is well within the margin for error. An upset is still very possible.

But why would Scotland vote for independence, when 307 years of union with England has served them—and the United Kingdom as a whole—so well? What are the practical implications of a "Yes" vote? And which side should libertarians be on? These questions bear some examination, so read on if you want to know more.

Why would Scotland vote for independence?

First and foremost, it is worth remembering that Scotland existed as a (mostly) independent country for more than 800 years before its union with the Kingdom of England in 1707. And while the English often use "English" and "British" interchangeably, there has always existed a separate, distinctly Scottish sense of national and cultural identity. As long as Britannia ruled the waves, this identity was subsumed into a larger imperial project: "wider still and wider, shall thy bounds be set." But as Empire crumbled and Continental threats faded, so too did that sense of shared national purpose. Scottishness reasserted itself.

Natural resources played a role. Scottish nationalists claim that the vast majority of the oil and gas in the North Sea rightfully belongs to Scotland; "It's Scotland's Oil," as the campaign slogan goes. And, indeed, were the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea's "median line" approach to dividing territorial waters adopted, around 80 percent of the U.K.'s hydrocarbon production would fall under Scottish jurisdiction. Wind turbines may be all the rage nowadays, but black gold still has a powerful allure.

A third factor is political estrangement: Scotland has, for many years, been drifting away from the rest of the U.K. The decline of heavy industry hit Scotland hard, and Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government took most of the blame. Today, Conservatives hold more than half of England's parliamentary seats, and the U.K. as a whole has a Conservative-led government. But Scotland sends just one Conservative (from a total of 59 constituencies) to Westminster. The establishment of a Scottish Parliament, responsible for most domestic policies and around 60 percent of public spending north of the border, has only hastened this political detachment.

But perhaps the biggest factor driving the campaign for independence is something that isn't unique to Scotland—or even the UK—at all. And that is deep distrust of a political elite that is seen as venal, distant, and uninterested in the concerns of ordinary people. Scottish nationalism is benefitting from the same political forces boosting UKIP in England, the far right in France, the far left in Greece, and the tea party in the United States.

Alex Salmond, Scotland's nationalist first minister, has managed to frame this referendum as one in which the people are facing up against the political machine. The three Westminster parties—Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Conservative—haven't helped matters by running a cynical, lackluster campaign in which continued Union has seemed about as inspirational as a high-school economics textbook. The nationalists are selling freedom, protest, and self-determination; the unionists have fear and funding formulas on their side.

What are the implications if Scotland does vote for independence?

Most commentary on the prospects for an independent Scotland have focused on the economic adjustment that Scotland will have to make if it decides to go it alone. Given that it would start life with one of the highest levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world, few doubt that Scotland could eventually thrive on its own. But there is equally little doubt that the transition would be a difficult one.

An independent Scotland's first challenge would be fiscal. The country's 2012-13 budget deficit would have been 8.3 percent of GDP, compared with 7.3 percent of GDP for the UK as a whole. And while British budget deficits are on a downward trajectory, and would be lower by the time Scotland officially became independent, there would still be an awkward fiscal hole to fill.

What's more, that 8.3 percent deficit figure depends on Scotland receiving significant North Sea oil and gas revenues. If such revenues are excluded, the deficit balloons to 14 percent of GDP. This matters, because the North Sea hydrocarbon industry has been in decline for some time, and such buoyant revenues may not last for long. When you consider that Alex Salmond has promised to use at least some of those revenues to create a sovereign wealth fund, and also accept that Scotland faces a more rapidly aging population (and correspondingly faster-rising welfare burdens) than the rest of the U.K., it is clear that things could get worse, fiscally speaking, before they get better.

Then there's the issue of debt. Britain's National Institute of Economic and Social Research has suggested that Scotland's share of the U.K. national debt would amount to around 81 percent of GDP. That is bad, but by no means unmanageable. But the issue is compounded in Scotland by uncertainties about what currency the country will use after independence.

The "Yes" campaign says Scotland will get a currency union with the rest of the U.K. And while all three Westminster parties, along with the Bank of England, have ruled that out during the referendum campaign, it remains a practical possibility. Given that any currency union would have to come with a fiscal pact placing strict constraints on Scotland's ability to run a budget deficit, and a banking union ensuring that Scotland's banks were closely supervised by the U.K.'s financial regulators in return for liquidity support from the Bank of England, it is unlikely that Scotland's borrowing costs would rise significantly in such a scenario. The downside is that it may take the imposition of unpopular austerity policies to keep an independent Scotland within the boundaries of a fiscal pact with the U.K. Left-leaning "Yes" voters who have been promised independence from a more conservative England might be in for a nasty surprise.

And that assumes an independent Scotland would get the currency union it desires. But let's imagine the three Westminster parties are true to their word, and Scotland is forced to adopt some other currency arrangement. The events of the last few years have made the euro a non-starter, and an independent Scotland wouldn't immediately be part of the European Union anyway. As a result, the "Yes" campaign has said that, first, they would refuse to take any share of the U.K.'s public debt if denied a currency union; and second, they would continue to use the pound sterling unilaterally, just as Panama, El Salvador, and Ecuador use the US dollar.

There are a couple of problems with this. For starters, refusing to accept a share of the U.K.'s public debt could be viewed as an effective default by the bond markets. That would mean an independent Scotland would be forced to borrow money at very high rates, or not at all. And whether that was the case or not, Scotland would still be forced to accumulate significant foreign exchange reserves to make "sterlingization" viable. Either of these prospects would require an independent Scotland to make deep and rapid cuts to public spending, so that they ran a budget surplus, rather than a deficit. Once again, this is not the future that independence supporters are voting for.

One more problem: under the "sterlingization" scenario—the unilateral use of pound sterling as currency—Scotland wouldn't have a central bank to provide lender-of-last-resort facilities to its banks, or to print money in the event that these banks needed to be bailed out. This is hardly idle speculation: Scotland's two biggest banks—the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS)—almost collapsed in 2008; saving them required a £65bn bailout by the U.K. government. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: if you add in central bank liquidity support, government guarantees for wholesale borrowing, and promises to protect deposits, the government's total exposure ran to the hundreds of billions. The financial crisis would have sunk an independent Scotland—especially one with no control over its currency.

This point may be moot, of course, since Scotland's biggest banks would probably relocate their headquarters to London at the earliest opportunity if Scotland became independent and currency union with the U.K. did not come to pass. But this raises yet another unsavory possibility: bank deposits might follow the big banks south of the border, as people try to escape the financial uncertainty that independence could bring; this would force what remained of the banking sector in Scotland to rapidly shrink its balance sheet—that is, to scale back loans to businesses and households—sparking a severe credit crunch that would surely plunge Scotland into a painful recession. This doomsday scenario is by no means beyond the realm of possibility.

Do libertarians have anything to say on Scottish independence?

So far, this analysis has painted a pretty grim picture. And yet libertarians might read it and wonder whether a wealthy, independent country, which was forced to run a balanced budget, which couldn't print money, and which couldn't bail out its banks, would really be such a bad thing. In the long run, this may be quite astute: Most of the economic arguments against Scottish independence stem from the fact that they impose hard constraints on the size and scope of government, and from the libertarian perspective, that is no bad thing.

Indeed, independence may be the best thing that could possibly happen for the free market cause in Scotland. As things stand, any tax cuts, spending reductions, or market-oriented reforms to public services are seen as irredeemably foreign—something those dastardly Tories in England might force on Scotland, but never something the country would choose for itself. The existing, devolved Scottish administration spends money, but doesn't have responsibility for raising it. Every incentive it has points in the direction of more government, and those incentives matter.

Independence would change this dramatically: Scotland would be forced to restructure its public sector, not just to reduce costs in the short term, but also to deal with the prospect of an aging population. It would have to adopt the most business-friendly policies available to it, both to encourage enterprise at home and to bring in investment from overseas. And it would have to put in place measures to ensure the stability and sustainability of its financial sector, eliminating moral hazard in the process. Sterlingization could even end up being a boon to an independent Scotland. As my former colleagues at the Adam Smith Institute have pointed out, it could usher in a new era of competitive free banking, one in which the market—and not the central bank—spontaneously adjusts the supply of money to ensure macroeconomic stability. This is the stuff libertarian policy seminars are made of.

The effects of such a political turnaround would be felt beyond Scotland. Their most immediate impact would be on the rest of the U.K., which would be forced to up its game, but the lessons learned in an independent Scotland could end up traveling far and wide. The country that gave us David Hume and Adam Smith could once again be a beacon of liberty, a case study in free minds and free markets. Is that the most likely scenario? Perhaps not—and let there be no doubt, if Scotland votes for independence tonight, there might be a very rocky road ahead. But maybe, just maybe, it's worth the risk.

NEXT: Polls Close in Scotland

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  1. Libertarians should be for independence, of course. And the results would be a net positive on many fronts. The British pound would be stronger, what with the Scottish dead weight cut loose and a slightly more conservative government in London, minus the Scots. The rump UK would be less powerful and hopefully less inclined to bomb the world. More and smaller countries means more freedom and more choices of places to live, with a greater variety of government styles. And if the Scots muck it up and bankrupt themselves, lesson learned.

    1. And if the Scots muck it up and bankrupt themselves, lesson learned more excuses for socialism made.

      FTFY

    2. I think I agree. The thought of an independent Scotland trying to become a Nordic-model socialist state is amusing, and I like the idea of British Labour taking the hit of losing those seats.

    3. I don’t think more countries automatically = more freedom, especially when we’re talking about a change of 1 country of 5 million people in a place where, despite all it’s problems, is still in the big picture pretty free by relative and historical standards. That said, I think the points you make are pretty good.

      1. Generally, more subsidiarity means more freedom.

        1. Generally, that may be true, but it’s far from a rule. It really depends on local norms and values. Not to start a civil war thread, but the confederacy becoming a country was not good for freedom, for example.

          1. No it really is a rule. Smaller and more decentralized states are more conducive to liberty for longer amounts of time than large aggregations. They simply lack the ability and incentive to impose the policies prone to larger states.

            1. “No it really is a rule.”

              No, it’s an assertion.

              “Smaller and more decentralized states are more conducive to liberty for longer amounts of time than large aggregations. They simply lack the ability and incentive to impose the policies prone to larger states.”

              This is assuming all else is equal. Which you cannot assume. It’s true that smaller states cannot enact policies that affect as many people, but they’re capable of enacting far worse policies. See North Korea vs. the US as an example, or the USA vs. CSA, as I mentioned above.

              1. That would be you assuming. The question is not “is all else equal” the question is whether a smaller, less taxable state is better or worse for prosperity generally. The answer is that smaller, more decentralized are better on wealth and liberty. It’s no mere assertion, it’s a sound and repeatedly validated theory.

                See North Korea vs. the US as an example, or the USA vs. CSA, as I mentioned above.

                That’s really a reductio ad absurdum. For one thing, North Korea would not continue to exist without China propping it up. Without the presence of that larger polity, it would have collapsed long ago. And contrary to what your 6th grade history teacher taught you, the CSA was not fighting a war of slavery and would have gladly forgone the issue if it would’ve brought about secession.

                1. “That would be you assuming. The question is not “is all else equal” the question is whether a smaller, less taxable state is better or worse for prosperity generally. The answer is that smaller, more decentralized are better on wealth and liberty. It’s no mere assertion, it’s a sound and repeatedly validated theory.”

                  All you’re doing is simply asserting things without proof. It’s a theory that might hold true more often than not, but there are more than enough exceptions that it is not, by itself, a sufficient argument as to why a particular smaller state emerging is an inherently good thing.

                  North Korea is an extreme example, but there are many others I could pick with similar or fewer people.

                  The CSA’s entire motive to secede was to protect the institution of slavery. To suggest that they were willing to give up slavery to secede is downright laughable. You don’t believe me? Why don’t you read the declaration of the Causes of Secession of the four states that gave such declarations, or read Alexander Stephens’ (VP of the CSA) Cornerstone Speech.

                  http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html
                  http://www.fordham.edu/halsall…..ephens.asp

    4. Agree with your points, though as Cali stated I don’t a priori accept the conclusion that more states will automatically be more libertarian-friendly.

      1. The median state may very well become more socialist if the number of states increases – ethnic and cultural homogeneity tends to increase both trust in government and willingness to support cradle to grave welfare. But the most libertarian state is likely to be more free, simply because there will be more variability.

      2. Agree with your points, though as Cali stated I don’t a priori accept the conclusion that more states will automatically be more libertarian-friendly.

        To say ‘automatically’ makes it sound like your opponent is arguing an absolutist position. ‘Strong likelihood’ would be the position. The likelihood of increasing liberty is proportional to the tendency for smaller states to be less of an enemy to freedom than larger ones.

    5. Libertarians should be for independence, of course.

      I don’t think you’d want to live in an independent California or NYS.

      1. I would, however, be delighted to live in a U.S. that did not include CA or NY.

        Or better yet, where Texas (and every other state) was independent, and no federal government existed.

  2. Scotland’s two biggest banks?the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS)?almost collapsed in 2008; saving them required a ?65bn bailout by the U.K. government.

    Looks like it’s time to update the old joke…

    Jock McFee goes to the bank to deposit his paycheck, but he’s heard rumors about bank failures, so he asks the teller what will happen if the bank fails.
    “Not to worry,” says the teller. “All of the accounts are insured by the Ministry of Finance.”
    “But what if the Ministry of Finance is broke?”
    “Then the government will step in to prop it up.”
    “But what if the government falls?”
    “Then our neighbors in the UK will help us out.”
    “But what if the UK collapses?”
    “Isn’t that worth losing a single paycheck for?!”

  3. “And yet libertarians might read it and wonder whether a wealthy, independent country, which was forced to run a balanced budget, which couldn’t print money, and which couldn’t bail out its banks, would really be such a bad thing.”

    Yeah, and the unicorns are just icing on the cake!

    1. While nestled somewhere in my dark cynical heart is the hope that the country which gave us the virtue of thrift, the foundations of modern capitalism, and the revolutionary thinking of the Scottish Enlightenment may return to these principles that made it once great, I do believe I know better.

      Sterlingization seems unlikely. Refusing their share of UK sovereign debt seems unlikely (because they’ll want the ability to deficit spend), and instead, they’ll work their damnedest to get on the Euro. I predict default/sovereign debt crisis within a decade’s time.

      1. I’m not sure Germany is willing to start financing another dead-beat at this point.
        I’m guessing they’ll have to issue their own currency and claim it to be 1:1 convertible to either the pound or the Euro. Until the laughing starts.

        1. Have you ever traveled to Islay during the Feis Ile? The whole damn place is overrun with Germans.

          I think Germany will be fine financing them if they get access to Islay whiskies in perpetuity.

          1. I would finance them, if it meant access to Isaly whiskies in perpetuity!

    2. Sevo,

      That’ it. The unicorns. That’s what you need rammed up your asshole, a unicorn horn.

      You have a nice evening, asshole.

      I figured out that Sevo stands for: Serving Every Vaginal Orifice.

      1. IS THIS your last post ?

      2. Is THIS your last post ?

  4. Oh, and the SNP wants more immigration, and some large number of Scots (700,000) would consider moving south if they went independent.

    1. “large number of Scots (700,000) would consider moving south”

      Highland Charge!

  5. They won’t separate, but the referendum is a good thing. Maybe we should add a Constitutional Amendment that every so often each state would have to re-ratify membership in the US.

    1. You Know Who Else…

  6. That’s not the argument I take as a libertarian in Scotland. I think rent-seeking increases far more than linearly with population, maybe even exponentially. Not that there won’t be boondoggles but a population of 5 million does make it easier to keep an eye on what the government is up to.

    I’m not sure where the dead weight comments come from. Scotland has lower unemployment than the UK as a whole, and is more educated, though it has slightly higher social services spending. It’s somewhere in the middle of European countries in per capita income. Quality of life is good.

    I would prefer to stay in the UK zone rather than the Euro zone, but Scotland will do all right either way.

    1. I’m not sure where the dead weight comments come from.

      Voting habits.

      Even after the localization reforms of the 90s, the UK is still quite centralized in its governance, and this means that Scot voters affect English policies (and vice versa). Cutting Scotland loose means that Scottish policies will reflect the socialist preferences of its populace, and that England has a chance of moving towards a more libertarian-friendly type of politics.

    2. I hope to one day settle as your neighbour in County Argyle during retirement.

  7. my co-worker’s mother-in-law makes $67 every hour on the laptop . She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her pay check was $14046 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check out here……………..

    http://www.Jobsbat.com

    1. ~52 hours/week is “a few hours”?

  8. Attention all American Libertarians. Attention. Get ready to ship out to Scotland.

    1. No thanks. I prefer to stay somewhere that recognizes actual food.

  9. Jump! You fuckers!

  10. If the Scots go for the Eurozone, that will be like surrendering to the Germans 70 years too late.

    1. I guess it becomes one of the PIIGS(S) countries.

  11. I’m in favor of anything that makes any government smaller.

    1. Even splitting it into two governments?

  12. UGH, why is David Hume exalted as a champion of reason and freedom?

    It is true that Hume continues to be perhaps the most influential modern philosopher (or equal with Kant), but that is not a good thing. As the arch-skeptic of modern philosophy, Hume has been a destroyer of rationality and of man’s confidence in his own cognitive efficacy. His argumentation is transparently formulaic; over and over again, he starts by singling out some concept on which human knowledge and sanity depend, then he says, “I’ve never seen that before; therefore X is invalid, or a matter of arbitrary subjective whims.”

    Reason, logic, induction, science, causality, morality–all the cardinal values of human existence are undermined and negated in the works of this so-called great mind. His arguments are cheap and belligerent (the parts which are not transparently recycled Heracliteanism), often depending on a superficial understanding (or an outright straw man) of whatever concept he was attacking at the time.

    Those who accept him deserve the world they have inherited from he and his intellectual descendants.

    1. I’m not a Humean, but in fairness Hume is pretty much right on the money when he points out that various fields of human inquiry are built on unprovable assumptions. Personally, my take on this is that there is some necessary “leap of faith” in trusting one’s intuitions which can allow us to trust our own rationality and cognition, but it’s perfectly valid from a logical point of view to suppose that we are no different from any other animal and that our assumptions and preferences are a subset of aesthetic values.

      You and I would disagree with him, but I can’t honestly argue this rationally except to say that no one acts like a Humean, and that this would indicate a revealed preference for non-Humean value systems as the practical alternative.

      1. Personally, my take on this is that there is some necessary “leap of faith” in trusting one’s intuitions which can allow us to trust our own rationality and cognition

        Exactly. What Hume did was show that you can’t prove anything without assuming something. Unfortunately “rationalist” folks like Ayn Rand never got the message.

        1. I find Hume’s arguments wrt the problems of induction compelling. And I don’t think Rand was necessarily at odds with those as she, in Humean tradition, focused more exclusively on deductive reasoning and situations where the product of the prevailing assumptions is tautological.

          1. Hume’s “problem of induction” is actually his own failure to identify what causality is. Sure, if you sit there and stare at an event looking for a percept stamped CAUSALITY to appear in front of you, you’re not going to get very far.

            Objectivism dispenses with this made-up problem. You have to understand that causality is a corollary of identity; an entity can only act according to its nature, it’s identity. It’s not the event that matters (like Hume presumed), but the identity of the entities that act.

        2. Though I’m likely casting pearls before swine, Objectivism is not rationalism. It is the objectivist approach which illuminates how bankrupt both rationalism and skepticism are.

          And if you seriously need a “leap of faith” in order to obtain your own muddy, compromised version of certainty, you are a pathetic worm that could have been a man. You still have a choice.

          Both of you guys (like Hume) are shallow thinkers. If you really thought about it, you would see that all of Hume’s conclusions are invalidated by his own premises and argumentation.

          If logic is no good, fine–but don’t turn around and attempt to use logic in order to allegedly disprove the validity of logic. If concepts are arbitrary linguistic creations that have nothing to do with reality, fine–so STFU and stop using concepts, since there’s nothing for you to talk about.

          1. I was voted “Most Likely To Become a Pathetic Worm That Could Have Been a Man” in high school, so you’re probably right about that one — but you still haven’t gone beyond the level of mere assertion. (You also have Hume wrong; it’s not “validity of logic” that’s the problem, it’s validity of logic as applies to inquiry about reality.)

            If you want to argue Hume’s point using Objectivist logic, feel free. If it’s anything like what I’ve seen before from Objectivists, it’ll be long on bluster and moral posturing, and short on an actual argument against Hume’s main point (which you’ve exaggerated for effect here).

            If not, I’ll simply say that I agree with you on Hume: he’s not a champion of reason or liberty, and epistemological skepticism hasn’t exactly taken the world in a more libertarian direction.

          2. “Libertarius|9.18.14 @ 8:02PM|#

            Though I’m likely casting pearls before swine,”

            Then would your highness allow me to be the first to bow before your greatness?

            There are some very smart and intelligent assholes here at Reason. I’m not one of them but it is what attracted me to this site.

            However, I am smart enough to know that when someone brags about their intellect, it means that they have very little and that they are very insecure about that.

            1. “Though I’m likely casting pearls before swine,”

              I noticed that too and laughed at him for it.

            2. How would you claim to derive that from my post? The cockiest bastard in the world is not necessarily wrong about it.

              It’s you who claims to possess some mystic insight into the psychology of others, not me.

    2. Don’t blame the messenger, dude. If Hume was able to destroy rationalism with a bunch of repetitive, cheap arguments, maybe rationalism wasn’t so great to begin with.

      1. Though unintentionally I’m sure, your post illuminates the tragically stunted view of cognition which historical philosophy has presented man: either you can knowledge by sitting inside your head making it up (rationalism), or you are free to form a concept once you see one (empiricism, which came to be synonymous with skepticism). So either you invent knowledge inside your head like a neurotic, or you wait for nature to directly tell you what is real and what to do.

        Both approaches are epistemic dead ends and atrocious failures whose time has long-since come and gone. The Objectivists are right.

        1. Math = neuroticism?

          1. Mathematical laws that are derived by inductive reference to experience are valid; mathematical formulations which allege to validate BBT or prove that time travel is possible, are laughably fantastic creations of rationalism.

            Though rationalists have always had a hard on for mathematics, it is they who have made a mockery of it.

            1. Mathematics doesn’t prove or depend on anything in the physical or experiential world, it’s a self-contained abstract system.

              1. Aha–the Platonist reveals his sorry self. Mathematics are not some abstraction floating in a supernatural dimension; I won’t repeat myself.

                1. Can you prove that statement? Because there are some gentlemen in Norway who would be delighted to give you 6 million kroner if you can.

          2. Careful. I wouldn’t argue with him if I were you. He’ll flay you alive. This guy has read up to one philosophy book. Well…maybe up to one book that has the word ‘philosophy’ in it. Well…maybe a book.

            …Maybe.

            1. You next?

              1. Oh, please do. Do me, big man, do me. Shove that big ‘ol Objectivist knowledgecock right up my assbrain.

                1. I just want you guys to call eachother insufficiently libertarian.

                  No true scotsman on this thread would be meta (and therefore greeted with great skepticism by Hume).

                  1. I feel like it’s 1994 and I stepped into the center of the Sokal Parody.

        2. I hate to be the one to break it to you but Objectivism is a form of rationalism.

          1. You aren’t breaking anything; you don’t know what you’re talking about.

            Rationalism draws its scholastic roots to Plato, who separated concepts from reality (his mystical world of forms). Every strain of rationalism has held to the Platonic tradition of separating ideas from experience.

            Both sides of the false dichotomy of rationalism vs. skepticism feed off of each other’s errors. The skeptics say we cannot derive knowledge from experience; the rationalists heartily agree, then go on to tell us that we don’t need percepts in order to acquire knowledge of reality anyway.

            Objectivism, in its fundamentally Aristotelian (and correct) view, identifies the fundamental principle of metaphysics which redounds through the rest of (valid) human experience and knowledge: the primacy of existence. But Objectivism is not deductive, as you imply; it does not begin with one precept and deduce everything else from that. Objectivism is inductive, and its principles are derived from experience–which is the antithesis of rationalism. Stop before you embarrass yourself some more.

            1. I said something similar in response to another of your posts, but it bears repeating: every system for describing the world is at best an approximation. Even our experience of the world is essentially a useful metaphor. We perceive a Newtonian universe, but we don’t live in one. Mixing red and blue pigments does not produce a substance that radiates in the purple range (400nm). The emissions spectra of that substance simply react with the pigments in the retina to send a signal down the optic nerve identical to the one generated by 400nm wavelength light. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

              So when our observations disagree with the theory, usually the theory is wrong, but sometimes it is our observation which is flawed, and we can never be 100% sure which. We keep chipping away at the discrepancies and refining our understanding, but it is a process with no end point. What we have – what we will always have – is a theory allows us to make useful predictions, that explains all of the observable facts, so far as we are able to determine, and in which we have not yet found any major logical inconsistencies.

    3. Effectively, you’re arguing that Hume cannot be correct because he devalues reason, science, morality, etc., which you believe to be self-evidently true and worthy. This is fine as far as it goes – our observation and experience is the basis for any practical philosophy, but it fundamentally misunderstands Hume and his contribution to our understanding of the world.

      Hume did not devalue reason, science, and morality, any more than Godel devalued formal mathematics. Rather, each defined the constraints under which those systems operate. Hume (with an assist from Bacon) laid the foundations for the scientific method itself.

      Any description of reality is by definition either incomplete or unprovable, usually both. All we can do is use the best available approximation, and then we pick away at the inconsistencies and incorrect predictions until we find a better version. It’s an idea that pleases no one and benefits everyone.

  13. There will be no exit polls and the votes will be counted by hand.

    So whoever is “counting” the votes wins. Like Chicago.

      1. Greatly cynical minds, at least…

  14. Why no exit polls? Who is running the show there, a bunch of Obama’s jackbooted punks from Philly?

    1. YouGov exit poll shows the Nos prevailing 54/46

  15. I don’t get something. On one end, it’s explained Scots lean left and then the author claims that somehow they’ll go libertarian once independent?

    That’s some unicorn juice.

    Is this another ‘vote Obama because he’s good for libertarians’ moment?

    1. Well, he does show his work to be fair. It’s sort of the Thatcherite concept that “the problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

      The idea is that if Scotland were to break with he UK, there are a number of situations where reality, being the cruel and inescapable cunt she is, would eventually force the Scots with no other option than to abandon their welfarism. An inability to deficit finance and the lack of a central bank to debase the currency would force balanced budgets. And the only way to achieve those balanced budgets is some combination of restraining the state spending and attracting capital via accomodationist tax policies.

      1. What’s to stop them from breaking from the Sterling, though? People will go all kinds of lengths to cheat Reality. I don’t think the world needs a cold Venezuela.

        1. The Scots, to their credit, have a cultural heritage of thrift and economic dynamism that was always lacking in the context of a Venezuela or Greece. That cultural heritage may be a distant memory at this point, but it does offer some glimmer of hope that it could return at some point.

          1. That cultural heritage may be a distant memory at this point, but it does offer some glimmer of hope that it could return at some point.

            I’m married into a European family of what must be the only libertarian-ish Dutch household. The Netherlands is a more left leaning country than most but I do sense in that most of the population there is a latent potential for respecting property rights, markets and decentralized authority.

            I think respect for those things is a sort of vestigial organ of European society, for now it’s goes unused and forgotten, but it’s there waiting for the right sort of environmental factors to necessitate it’s use again.

        2. I should provide my addenda: I’m not particularly sanguine about the Scots rediscovering the virtues of markets. I think they’re running headlong into a sovereign debt crisis within a decade of taking over their own affairs. And most of them know that (I asked damn near every Scot I met while there last year about that).

          But there are a number of events where they’d at least be presented with an option to move in a more libertarian direction, and they have a longer cultural tradition that might indicate some openness to such, albeit mostly atrophied courtesy of nanny social welfare policies.

      2. Sudden|9.18.14 @ 8:23PM|#
        “Well, he does show his work to be fair. It’s sort of the Thatcherite concept that “the problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.””

        True enough, but that hasn’t stopped, oh, Greece.
        You have 5M folks used to free shit to the extent that they are willing to tell the sugar daddy to take a hike when the sugar daddy suggests cutting back a bit.
        I don’t think that sort of fantasy-land thinking is going to yield to reality under the spur of interest payments.

        1. And that’s precisely why the English told them they could toss off if they thought they’d be able to maintain a currency union.

      3. The idea is that if Scotland were to break with he UK, there are a number of situations where reality, being the cruel and inescapable cunt she is, would eventually force the Scots with no other option than to abandon their welfarism

        Which has been demonstrated to be 180 degrees wrong wrong wrong on dozens of occasions.

        If there were a pan-socialist ‘a-ha’ moment when they failed, Paul Krugman would be washing dishes at PF Changs.

    2. That’s more or less what I’m getting out of it too. The argument that Scotland won’t be able to fuck up its economy because it won’t control its currency seems pretty laughable given the EU experience. And the SNP’s argument for Yes seems to be more or less so that they can turn Scotland into Soviet Norway.

  16. So one “council” is reporting 54/46 ‘stay’, but there is nothing suggesting that is valid beyond the bounds of that “council”.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by council? Is that a group or an area?

      1. It’s a political unit, ~36,000 voters in this case:
        http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/18/…..index.html
        Now two, 57/43
        Sudden referred to YouGov, so I’m not sure.

    2. Is that the same thing that Sudden was referring to here:
      https://reason.com/blog/2014/09…..nt_4779061

  17. I’m surprised there has been no “Scotland should stay” article. I suppose arguing that Scotland should wait until the UK becomes libertarian is not exactly more realistic than independent Scotland realizing that it can’t pay for all of its free shit.

  18. I wouldn’t be surprised if independence loses. The possibility that the free shit may run out is quite a motivator (See Quebec).

    1. Agreed.
      It’s one thing to threaten your nose, but when the knife comes out, the face may have something to say.

  19. This reminds of how in 1933 Western Australia voted to secede yet voted out their secessionist government on the same day.

  20. Edinburgh = Benghazi?

    1. We might end up with an embassy there…

  21. my best friend’s half-sister makes $65 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her income was $20237 just working on the laptop for a few hours. read the full info here….

    ???????? http://www.netjob70.com

  22. my best friend’s mother-in-law makes $84 an hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her check was $12556 just working on the internet for a few hours. have a peek at this site….

    ???????? http://www.netjob70.com

  23. This really was the SNPs leftwing supporters best shot. They will never get such a chance again: they got to write the question on the ballot, they lowered the voting age to 16 for this vote and they excluded from voting all the Scots who were, for whatever reason, studying, working or living in other parts of Britain (ie, an estimated 800,000 potential voters). They did this beause the majority of the disenfranchised Scots would have joined their countrymen in voting NO as well.

    Contrary to what the writer of this article seemed to believe, the result was not really in that much doubt in the minds of the British public. The behaviour of the stock and currency markets yesterday – the entire time that the polls were still open – shows that clearly.

    Whatever the result, it is a triumph of peaceful democratic engagement.

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