Fair Scotland, Fair for Everyone

The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, has announced the Scotland will be fairer after independence. The gap will be closed between rich and poor. To me this suggests that taxes will be raised. Since the SNP have said they will lower business taxes to encourage more businesses to come to Scotland, therefore personal taxes must be raised. So the climate will be favourable to business but not to individuals.

Actually the SNP has also said Scotland has an aging population, and that lower business tax rates will encourage businesses to come north of the border. More business will create more jobs which will encourage Scottish people to remain in Scotland and return home. However, higher rates of personal taxation will not encourage skilled workers who demand higher wages.

Therefore, the most likely jobs to come to Scotland are call centre personnel. These jobs are not highly paid. Often workers require assistance via social security and tax credits. So Scotland does not grow the athluent population who support the aging members of society. The SNP has also said it will look again at the UK government’s decision to raise the pensionable age 67. It should be remembered a pension was originally an insurance against dying when too infirm to work. Our life expectancy is now higher thanks to better medical practices and life style (though this should not be taken for granted).

I believe, if Scotland becomes independent, it must recognise its thrifty past. People who can work must contribute to Scottish society, and supported to play their part. Those who can’t must be treated with dignity, but those who refused must face consequences. Benefits must be capped, to be used to support people becoming meaningful members of society, and not a way of life!

Health in the western world is becoming a disaster. Ten percent of the UK’s health bill goes on diabetes care. During the Second World War, food was rationed, but people were healthy. I would advocate a return to ration cards for those on benefits. Taxes should not pay for benefits to buy alcohol, tabaco, and high sugar, processed foods, which lead to health problems. Ration cards via system supported by supermarkets, etc would ensure people are fed and clothed properly. High sugar foods should be taxed at an appropriate rate.

Scotland must spend its money carefully, growing a skilled work force so education and training must be key government objectives. Building an environment for real businesses to flourish, and not the chosen few in the financial services and banking.

Businesses should be encouraged to pay a living wage rather than a minimum one. People on a minimum wage still often require benefits. This is fine, if it is a low profit business. High profit businesses should be penalised for such practices since they are profitting from other tax payers, who are subsidising them.

Scotland’s government needs to be lean and mean to deliver opportunities, not handouts, for all not just those at the top and bottom of society! Failure to deliver will result in a pensions and welfare time bomb from which Scotland will not recover.

I am an undecided voter, because I don’t feel as yet either side have given me the answers I desire.





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Salmond says Vote not about SNP

Salmond says the Vote is “not about the SNP” and “not about him”. Well he is wrong on both these counts. The Scottish National Party is defined by the Yes campaign, without the independence debate there would be no SNP! There would be no SNP without Alex Salmond.
Whenever I hear a SNP politician speak, they bang on that Scotland will be a fairer place. There will be better provision for the disadvantaged, better schools, free university education. A these real promises or politicians’ promises. All this points to a growing deficit and a poorer Scotland in the long term.
Spend now, pay later. Unfortunately we have recent experience of the UK Labour Government following this path to a massive deficit. Next we will see massaging of the education and other statistics to shut up the questioning few, usually those wallets have been most pilfered by the politicians.
The Yes campaign has been focused on why what you will get if you vote Yes, unless you actually a hard working, wage earning member of Scottish society. To quote John F. Kennedy “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” If the SNP followed this line, I would not be sitting on the fence, trying to figure out which devil to vote for!

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Mr Vladimir Putin – the Chess Grand Master

Mr Putin is the master planner. He thinks like a chess grand master. He thinks many moves ahead planning the long game often play multiple games at once or perhaps one game on many fronts. Initially I suspected he was playing a long game when he engineered the election of Dmitry Medvedev, his unknown prime minster as president of the Russian Federation. Then, Mr Putin became prime Minister of Russia, and changed rules on Russian presidential terms by increasing it from four to six years. It is safe to say he intends to be in power for at least twelve years.

So why do I come to this conclusion and to what is Mr Putin’s end game. I suggest, Mr Putin’s plan is regain Russia’s super power status. So what can we expect? First we can expect to see Russia annexing more and more of the old territories. He has annexed Abkhazia and South Ossetia orginally of Georgia, which conveniently had Russian ethnic populations.

Mr Putin has been offering bribes to encourage Ukraine not sign an associate agreement with the European Union. You can bet he has also been funding the Russian protests in Ukraine’s eastern regions. Using the population there like pawns in his broad strategy. It is clear once the Ukraine protests escalated to a point where the government of Ukraine could no longer control the situation, he switched to Plan B – the annexation of Crimea.

The referendum provide legitimacy to Russian claims, but it is clear the questions provide no choice but to accept Russian hospitality. It is pretty safe to say that this will not be the end of his activities in in Ukraine. There will be further protests by the Russian populations in the eastern regions. This will force a response from Ukrainian Nationalist. The Russian groups will the demand protection from Mother Russia. Just like the chess board, we start with the pawns before using the capital pieces.

So what will be next? I would expect his next areas of agitation will be the Baltic states. Further east, parts of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan will also be targeted, encouraging ethnic Russian’s to demonstrate the elegance to the Russian Federation.

The Arctic annexation has already started. In 2007, the Russian’s used a submarine to place a titanium rust proof Russian flag 4,200m below the ice at the North Pole.  This is more of Knight’s move, and we can expect more of them as Mr Putin, probes and pushes, Western Governments.

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I’m with stupid or am I? But who?

Westminster politicians don’t have a clue. They stupidly adopt a bullying tone assuming the Shots will cow tow to their greater knowledge and wisdom. The reverse will be true the more English politicians tell the Scots what to do the less likely they are to do.

Alex Salmond is doing his best to bait the UK politicians. Alex is cunning fox. He has to portray himself who has all the answers for Scotland. He is the champion of the Scots; a new Robert the Bruce or William Wallace! Everyone will be better off! He is promising Scots independence. He may win the vote. Scotland’s resolute response!

So what’s the problem? Alex Salmond makes independence sound like fact. Everything will be great? Scotland will keep the pound, European Union will come begging, Scots will be better off, better pensions, better child care, better everything!  If I make a promise, I keep it. Alex makes loads of promises. Will he keep them? Arrogant!

Scotland will keep the pound. Alex has promised this. A majority of the Scottish people want to keep the pound, but only 25% of the rest of the UK believes that Scotland should keep the pound. Alex says no pound, no debt! So Scotland does not take it’s share of the debt. What will be the value of the Scottish currency? Junk bond status! The UK government say it will not let Scotland keep the pound, then back down, the markets will down grade the pound! Junk bond status!

I believe, an independent Scotland will become a member of the European Union, but I think the EU will want concessions;  number one take the Euro as the currency, then there will be concessions on fishing, agriculture, budgets. Alex will keep his European promise but at what cost to Scotland? Better off?

I was appalled when a younger colleague was describing a fifteen year old girl at his school, who deliberately became pregnant because she knew she would get a council flat. This is an example of spending that has to stop. Unless they can afford to pay their own way, kids should live with their families until they are twenty one. Scotland must carefully guard and invest its wealth for future generations rather than spend it now on the selfish few.

So what is the alternative? I noticed a few politicians of other parties are supporting independence. These guy’s need to start producing an alternative message, a real Plan B. Ignore the bullying and stupidity south of the border.

So Scots need to rise up and give a realistic message of what an independent Scotland will be. What I want is a low spending, business friendly, family focused country, based on Scottish values of spending only what you can afford, keeping something in the bank for tomorrow!

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Scottish Independence – Using the Pound

Scottish Independence – Using the Pound

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Scottish Referendum – Questions and Answers

Scottish Referendum – Questions and Answers

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My Problem with Scottish Independence

What is is my problem with Scottish Independence? Actually my problem isn’t independence. It’s politicians! My faith and trust in politicians is limited. Specifically I suspect both sides of the political debate are going to make promise they can’t deliver. One side, will basically trade on the fear of the unknown. The other will, go for heart rending idealism, and targeted promises of good fortune.

In essence, I don’t really know what I am signing up for. Do I close my eyes and put a tick in the Yes box?
Well actually that is in my nature? If there is a question to be asked I will ask it even of myself. My questions:
What is the cost of Independence?
What is the cost for Scotland of staying in the UK? Is this tangible?
What will the level of taxation be?
Will there be a law to state that Scotland must set a balanced budget rather than leaving the mess for the next generation?
How can Scotland guarantee that it will gain EU membership?
How will Scotland guarantee that to gain EU membership it will not have to use the Euro?
How much of the UK’s debt will Scotland inherit?
How will Scotland’s oil wealth be invested?
Scotland’s oil will eventually run out, how will it support itself afterwards?
How will Scotland maintain low level’s of inflation and unemployment?
How far will Scotland go to maintain it independence? As an English born Scottish citizen, will I be interned if state of war occurs with England?
Like the rest of the World, Scotland will be facing an ageing population, how will this be supported?
How will Scotland maintain a positive balance of payments?
How the large minority of the population who disagree with the out come of this referendum be encouraged into the fold?
How will people be discouraged from becoming welfare dependent?
Scotland will be a small economy, how will that be encouraged to grow?
How will the balance of power be divided between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary?
How will Scotland maintain a positive food and natural resource balance?
How will Scotland support industry and grow it’s exports?
How Scotland encourage inward investment?
How will Scotland support workers right?
Will Scotland have a written constitution?

I guess some of the these questions will be answered when I start reading the documents and understand better the two sides of the argument. I hope so!!!

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Scottish Independance

I was born in England and grew up in Wales, lived in France, recently moved to Scotland, and I am entitled to vote in the Scottish Independence referendum. I should add, I am libertarian in the sense that I believe people have the right to self determination. So following that line of reasoning I should vote for independence but Scotland will be fiscally tied to the remainder of the UK because the Scottish government wants to keep the pound, so if I vote Yes I am not voting for fiscal independence.

So if I vote yes, what am I voting for?

Scotland keeping it’s oil wealth. What to do with that? Spend it on free childcare for all. Personally I disagree with this on two levels. If you can afford to pay for childcare you should pay. Secondly if you are not working you should not receive free childcare. It should be there not facilitate bringing people into the work place not to give parents an afternoon off. Costs of creating Scottish government infrastructure; Foreign Office including embassies and intelligence agency, Ministry of Defence including NATO membership, Home Office, HMRC, DVLA, BBC etc etc. Scotland is a country of 5.3 million people, which benefits directly from the scalability of 63 million people of the UK. Then there is the issue of how much UK debt Scotland would inherit and what rate that would be paid at. All this will have to be negotiated with the UK government, who will, having lost the vote, drive a very hard bargain on the details because they have very little to loose. It is inconceivable that the Faslane Naval base will continue, since it is primarily a nuclear submarine base, and since the Scottish National Party have said an independent Scotland will not hold nuclear weapons, this will be a huge lose of jobs and expertise to Scotland.

The Scottish Government has said to wants European Union membership. This still has to be negotiated. This is not a forgone conclusion. I believe Scotland will become a member of the EU if there is a yes vote, but Scotland will have to make a lot of concessions to make that happen. They will not get the same terms the remainder of the UK enjoys. So what could Scotland loose? The Pound, fishing rights in Scottish waters, right of veto. If Scotland wants EU membership, it will have play a very good game of poker. A better question perhaps, is should Scotland  remain in the EU?

So what are my fears? My number one is Scotland needs to start with a balanced budget. I keep hearing a lot of what the individual monetary benefits of an independent Scotland; free childcare, pensions, free University places. What Scotland needs is vibrant low tax economy that encourages investments particularly in new technologies; spending on research and encouraging spin-off companies. The real debate is not what Scotland can do for you, but what you can do for Scotland!

Finally the politicians; I am not a fan of politicians. My main problem with 98% of politicians is they lust for power. I don’t understand what sort of checks and balances will be built into new government institutions; the executive, legislative and judiciary, but you can bet the new Scottish constitution will be loaded in favour of the politicians, who having finally got their hands on power are not going to let go in a hurry! 

Basically I have a lot of questions and very few answers, but I suspect it will eventually come down to a simple question of do I vote with my head or my heart?

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Musings on farming and food, in the light of recent weather-related disasters in the UK

Musings on farming and food, in the light of recent weather-related disasters in the UK.

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My Patent Ten Commandments

Patents are so supposed to protect inventors, allow them to innovate and earn a living from their inventions. However they are been assimilated into the corporate arms arsenal, used to bombard corporate rivals, and annihilate start-ups before they have a chance to blossom.

Any large corporation who takes a liking to a inventor or start-up’s patented idea will in most cases just take, borrow or steal it, ignoring the threat of legal actions knowing their deep pockets will hire the best lawyers and exhaust the bank accounts of any new comers and interlopers.

Intellectual Property, especially the Patent,  is a natural resource like Coal, Iron Ore, Rare Earth Metals or Wheat, which should be managed and maintain for the good of the country, not just the individual inventor. We need to become experts in exploiting this recourse, in the same way that we create a new gold mine or manage and nurture a forest.

We need to encourage the individual, SMBs and large corporations to develop and exploit this wonderful resource. We need to prevent encourage innovation and prevent large companies in particular from stifling new comers, let the market decide a products fate not the courts. Encourage entrepreneurs take the risk with a new idea, to think big and benefit from the rewards if it starts laying golden eggs.

This is my Patent Ten Commandments for changing the broken patent system.

  1. All patents registered are the property of the country in which the are first registered, like the financial reserves, a countries intellectual reserves should be recognised.
  2. The country patent office’s act as agents for all patent registered in that country, managing licencing agreements, and paying royalties to the inventor.
  3. The patent offices will challenge infringement of their patent portfolios both at home and abroad. The World Trade Organisation would act as the final arbitrator between country patent offices.
  4. The individual or company registering a patent may request a breathing space in which to attempt to bring their invention to market, with possible extensions based on periodic review by the patent office, based on proof of effort and clear time scales (no dogs in the manager). Once the product is on the market the patent should be licensed to others, allowing the country to benefit further from the patent.
  5. Companies of a certain size may register patents; thus identifying prior art, thus establishing a defensive position, prevent others from the claiming the same patent. However the patent immediately becomes available to be licensed.
  6.  Small companies, individuals and start-ups should be able to license patents at beneficial rates
  7. Companies may not create small subsidiaries and holding companies to register or use   individual patents, and will be penalised for doing so.
  8. Individuals or companies may register their first 10 patents for free, with an increasing scale of fees based on the number of patents registered.
  9. Patents should have a tightly defined purpose, and rather than a blunderbuss approach.       If a patent is used outside its defined scope it should be considered innovation.
  10. Monopolies in particular industries or industry sectors should be discouraged at all cost, Licenses should be provided at preferential rates to encourage competition and hence further innovation.
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