Dept. of Be Careful What You Wish For

In which connection we find the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reporting that Scotland is going to have a referendum about independence.

Guys, this is a country in which 90% of the population is, on a benefits-net-of-taxes basis, living off the government in some respect.  Nine of every ten Scots is drawing on the public teat.  Where, precisely, is the money to come from if Scotland can’t tap into whatever wealth is left south of the border?  The national government in Westminster and the national parliament in Edinburgh have agreed to a referendum in roughly two years’ time, which will be open to all Scots ages . . . 16 and older.  Yep.  Children of 16, who except in the rarest (and most unfortunate of circumstances) have not even had the chance to understand what it means to pay one’s own bills from one’s own means — and among whom the “independence” movement seems to be particularly popular — will have the chance to over-ride their elders.  Isn’t that reassuring?

In the unlikely event that the referendum passes (only something like 30% support it at the moment), Scotland might turn into a test case of what happens when everyone wishes to live off of everyone else.  Oh sure, we’re seeing something like it in Greece, but then that’s just Greece, whose unfortunate population really hasn’t had much of a good day since the 1820s, if then.  Scotland has been at the forefront of society before (once upon a time if you wanted to be taken seriously as a doctor, you studied in Scotland; Scottish engineers worked all over and were highly prized; you don’t have to get quite as misty-eyed as How the Scots Invented the Modern World to accept that for a time Scotland could show its face anywhere without shame).  Perhaps they’ll be at the forefront of society again.

Maybe what is happening is that we’re are going to be afforded what navigators describe as a three-point fix.  You see, if you have a single celestial or visual line of bearing from an object of a known location, all you know is that you are somewhere along that line.  Get a second, intersecting line of bearing and there is geometrically speaking only one spot on the face of the globe which can simultaneously satisfy the conditions “I am somewhere along Line A and somewhere along Line B.”  Now if you get a third line of bearing from an independent fixed object, and if that line of bearing intersects at the same spot as the other two, the chances that you are not at that point become vanishingly small.  You are there; you have fixed your position; you have a “fix.”

You see, we have one line of bearing from Greece, a Mediterranean country that has embraced the notion that the government can provide all for everyone at no cost to anyone.  Greece has no industrial tradition (save for shipping), no traditions in the last several centuries (as in within the last millennium-plus) of educational attainment, cultural attainment, or refinement of any sort.  As was said of the United States in the early 1800s, who now reads a Greek novel, or performs a Greek play, or sings a Greek song?  Who looks to Greece for guidance in how to do anything right?  Anything at all?  Its politics since the Turks were run off nearly 200 years ago have been a devil’s cauldron of blood and back-stabbing, banditry, and comic-opera farce.  So that’s one line of bearing, taken from a country that’s been bitched up in one or more respects for centuries.

We have a second line of bearing from California, in which we see how socialism can take a nation’s most blessed region, from natural, demographic, and climatological perspectives, which has rich and vibrant traditions of cutting edge standard-bearing in industry, in husbandry, in learning, and (yes) in culture as well, and within two generations turn it into the kind of place Victor David Hanson portrays with sorrow over at his blog.  California is not a place that has to worry about paying for its own defense, or for controlling its own border, or for maintaining a foreign exchange, or for embassies, or for any of the other tasks that the modern nation-state must reckon its cross to bear.  California is sovereign, but within a federal system in which it is firmly embedded.  So that’s a second line of bearing.

And Scotland is set to provide us, perhaps, with that third line of bearing, from a nation and people who for centuries have been a by-word for vigor, for vision, for frugality, for self-reliance, stoicism, and courage.  There’s a reason that the 42nd Highland have since their organization in the 1740s been among the king’s most feared soldiers.  For three centuries Scotland has been a culturally distinct place within a larger kingdom, but not itself sovereign, either on its own (like Greece) or within a true federal system (like California).  Let’s be honest, folks: what Scotland will look like with 90% of the population net takers from the system ain’t exactly the stuff from which “Scots Wha’ Hae wi’ Wallace Bled” is written.  Welcome to your gory bed, or to victory the hand-out line down at the local ministry office indeed.

If Scotland is so cock-eyed raving mad as to think she’ll go it alone under these circumstances, we’ll have that third line of bearing, and when it intersects perfectly with the two from Greece and California, I think we can take it as settled that irrespective of culture, political structure, or history, if you pursue socialism you will drive yourself and your state squarely on the damned rocks.  Socialsim is therefore a course to be avoided.  The U.S. finds itself on a lee shore with the wind rising and the glass falling; it is high time to tack into the wind.

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