Saturday, 13 August 2011

It's All About Respect.

Worldwide, the media asks “Why ?”. From Antigua to Andorra, China to Chile, they ask why a localized event spread like a plague across a nation. Sadly Scotland is lumped in as part of “that nation”- for now. The BBC and mainstream media simply reported it as all “UK” and centered on London. They did so until corrected on day 3. By then the damage was done. Cameron did not try to spare the Scots either. And the subsequent response to the riots can be described as just about totalitarian.

In the end it’s all about Respect, Mr. Cameron.

Al-Jazeera in particular had the following quotes and analysis, largely in agreement with questions being asked in other nations of this anachronism, this dis-United Kingdom.
“In the scramble to comprehend the riots, every single [uk] commentator has opened with a ritual condemnation of the violence, as if it were in any doubt that arson, muggings and lootings are ugly occurrences. That much should be obvious to anyone who is watching Croydon burn down on the BBC right now. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, called the disorder "mindless, mindless". Nick Clegg denounced it as "needless, opportunistic theft and violence".
Speaking from his Tuscan holiday villa, Prime Minister David Cameron - who eventually decided to return home to take charge - declared simply that the social unrest searing through the poorest boroughs in the country was "utterly unacceptable". [note the socio-economic, not ethnic distinction here] The violence on the streets is being dismissed as "pure criminality", as the work of a "violent minority", as "opportunism".
This is madly insufficient. It is no way to talk about viral civil unrest. "Angry young people with nothing to do and little to lose are turning on their own communities, and they cannot be stopped, and they know it.”
The Seattle Times had the following remarks;We should not be shocked nor surprised at the current ongoing rampage of London riots. However, we continue to look away from the obvious root cause that has assaulted our young men and women and taken away their future”.
Bulatlat has an interesting perspective of the underlying root causes, an analysis sadly missing from much of the UK-MSM. The link is worth a read.
Contrast the opinions above of those looking in from outside, those possibly most able to see the situation clearly, for they are not “vested interests” and have nothing to save, hide or divert attention from.

The BBC and Sky followed the UK government line to a “T”

And that government line, directly from the UK premier was fundamentally that David Cameron did not promise to operate within the tenets of a democracy; he voiced instead only the noises of absolute power, of dictatorship.

Yes, there must be order, but there also must be engagement, dialogue and analysis for a nation to be described as a democracy. Simply voting twice a decade and putting up with the results is not democracy. It’s disenfranchisement. It is a prescription for “riot”. As the path to order is being forced the route to engagement must also be forged.
There was no reference to examining fundamental causes from Cameron or the mainstream UK media, to rectifying social injustice and shining a light at the roots of these repeated disturbances. What we got was:
• ‘Water cannon can be available within 24 hours’
'Some parts of society are not just broken, but frankly sick' [no inference about finding a cure].
'Phony concerns about human rights' will not stop hunt for criminals’ [human rights are never phony].
'We needed a fight back and a fight back is under way'
'Complete lack of responsibility in parts of society' [ignoring examples set in the halls of power]
Blames lack of 'proper upbringing and morals' [While MP’s are jailed and bankers pocket millions]

Until the government and authority act in such a way as to earn and command respect, not simply distrust and contempt, and that in time filters through society, these incessant periodical riots will continue. The rioters have more tools and better communication than in the past. Yet to deny them the tools and communication is to deny society and therefore, democracy.
In the final analysis it’s fundamentally about respect. Respect for others, respect for authority and rule of law, respect for property. Respect is both taught and earned. When both facets of the teaching and the earning are substantially absent, the potential for riot exists. Where respect exists, riots don’t. I would suggest that with Scotland's increasingly more consultative government, respect has a greater chance of existing.
It should also have been about respecting the constituent nations – as Alex Salmond put it, “Society is different in Scotland”. We even saw anti-riot chants at the Scotland – Denmark game.
David Cameron failed to respect the Nations of the Union, he could easily have corrected the tone of the situation and clarified that Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland were trouble free – it was in his power to prevent instances like this tweet;
“Visiting places in UK? Really? Only places in England there, my hotel [Scottish borders] has lost 56 Japanese visitors thanx to UK reports”. If they were staying a week at £100/night that small business just lost an amount nudging £40,000. A loss of this magnitude could terminate many small businesses. Business is too hard to find. Respect, Mr. Cameron.
Gray, Mundell and others of Unionist persuasion did not rally to protecting their constituents from the consequences of this reporting, instead they took a thoroughly sickening stance by trying to score political points from those attempting to protect the livelihood of fellow Scots. Westminster, and its northern poodles, by their own actions have lost respect. Internally and externally the UK government now commands little but ridicule and laughter after decades of scandal, fraud and corruption. Even the Libyan’s, Syrians, Iranians and Chinese are given opportunity for table turning and completely reversing the vitriol.  

Why should Westminster expect anything more of those it purports to govern.

David Cameron then compounded the issues in later remarks when he stated that rioting and looting were a “deep moral failure”, and laid most of the responsibility firmly into the laps of parents whose children participated. “Parents and children alike must be made to take greater responsibility for their actions”, Mr. Cameron said. “This is a time for the country to pull together,” continuing, “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate. 

What about Parliament and “The City” Mr. Cameron – you are proposing acceptance of dual standards. 

Mr. Cameron – had you listened to the live interviews you might realise many of these “louts” had the same thing to say. “If the banks and politicians can do what they want – why not us?” – it does not justify their actions but it is telling that there’s another house or two that needs putting in order. In many ways the parents must be held accountable, but David Cameron should acknowledge and realize that Westminster is the godfather of these English riots, and that it was arguably the first to break the social contract. Further rejecting claims that poverty fueled the disturbances, Mr. Cameron said the root causes of this week’s violence were cultural, not economic. “This is not about poverty, this is about culture.” FYI Mr. Cameron, poverty breeds sub-culture, and you yourself acknowledged it originated in the most disadvantaged areas. He also said that looting must be seen as nothing less than ordinary crime. “The young people stealing flat screen televisions and burning shops, that was not about politics or protest, it was about theft,” he said.
It is the disassociation of the root cause of events and the government stance above more than any other which has the likelihood of inciting the progress of riot. Scots have not [yet] been subject to the full savagery of Westminster “Austerity”, so some tinder was removed here. Unlike many in England we also appear to have an antipathy towards riot.
Expecting the riots to move from England to Scotland with the inherent differences in national outlook and government would be like anticipating riots in Sweden to spill into Norway – it’s the same land mass after all. Some aspects of society might make the attempt, but they would be - and were- quickly quashed. Note the teenagers appearing in court following the use of their Facebook pages to allegedly incite riots in Glasgow and Dundee.
When the Prime Minister first spoke on the riots, his speech reportedly had to be delayed to permit the announcement of yet more gloom by the Bank of England so that the economic situation within the UK could be better understood. The timing of these events is so ironic even a talented scriptwriter for a sitcom might have had a hard time dreaming it up.
As it continued Cameron’s speech included an ironic section; “There is a complete lack of responsibility in some parts of our society. People are allowed to feel the world owes them something and that their actions don't have consequences”. Mr. Cameron is at least fully correct here, the issue is perhaps the focus of his gaze. The first stop should be corruption in government, corruption in the City, the “Sovereignty” of parliament to the disenfranchisement of the people – these are areas where unrest will be created.
“We needed a fightback and a fightback is under way. We have seen the worst of Britain but also the best of Britain with millions of people who have signed up on Facebook to support the police and the people who volunteered for clean ups”. Pledge that fight-back to include the halls of power and privilege Mr. Cameron, perhaps then after your words are proven by your actions, or your successors, the people will begin to have respect for country and government.
Then you will have a chance to renew a social contract that has been so severely damaged within England between a substantial portion of the governed, and the governors.
The only significant question to still be answered, which will come first – full respect or outright rebellion.

Dump The Debt - Part 2.

In the first section of Dump the Debt - Dump the Union. we took a slightly more than cursory look at what should be Scotland’s share, if any, of UK debt. The answer to this question appeared to be she/we [Scotland] should not inherently assume any liability for Westminster’s fiscal and policy incompetence.
The subject appears to be producing ongoing heated debate. In attempting to define and solidify a position, as research continued it became self evident that Scotland’s perspective as a nation should simply be “So long, and don’t come knocking”. Other nations with Westminster ties have historically been “asked” – or the attempt has been made upon them to force these countries by treaty, to pay Westminster’s debts. This as they simply tried to leave the burden of London’s corrupt, scandal bound parliament behind.

Principle amongst these countries has been Canada, Ireland, Australia and New-Zealand. 

The premier example of concern to Scots amongst these is Ireland, the Republic. Ireland was an incorporated member of the London-centric Union by treaty in 1801, just as Scotland had become over ninety years earlier and in largely similar, highly dubious circumstances. It took two close votes for the Irish.
Effectively Ireland by 1820 was in an identical treaty situation as Scotland finds herself today. They had matched obligations and burdens, but with one major advantage over the Scots, twice the representation in Westminster. 
Before the main investigation and reasoning can be worked, there is a need to fundamentally understand just what is “Britain” – AKA to most of us, the UK. We discover they are not the same at all, and while one has been a constant the other is a political, fluid, amorphous political construct.
It is this fluid, political, amorphous construct that owes the debt. It is not Scotland’s debt in any shape, manner or form that is either legally deducible or even a moral obligation.
In fact, offsetting any debt demand potential from Westminster could be a demand for return of a potential overpayment to the Whitehall treasury amounting to anywhere between £100 billion and £4 trillion, through the life of the Union, but most likely is in the £250 billion range.

We should simply accept neither payment or repayment are on the cards.

What is “Britain” the “UK”? - legally
Is “Britain” a country – no, it isn’t.
Is “Britain” a state – no, it isn’t.
That lends the question of what exactly “Britain” is. It is, historically, a chunk of land or territory.
Free dictionary describes it as “The island of Great Britain during pre-Roman, Roman, and early Anglo-Saxon times before the reign of Alfred the Great (871-899). The name is derived from Brittania, which the Romans used for the portion of the island that they occupied”. Most of it we know today as England. Basically a little astute research informs that while for many Britain, Great Britain and the UK are synonymous, they are in fact largely different historically and legally.
Historically “Britain” appears the part of the largest island of the British Isles, nominally located south of Hadrian’s wall. Historically there was no Scotland as part of “Britain”.

Britain therefore can’t have debt – Britain doesn’t exist as a sovereign entity.

The “UK” is a different matter entirely. Most people other than avid historians are unaware that the UK is simply a fluid political construct of multiple treaties which have come and gone over the last three centuries.
The constant duality to the UK is “the crown” and Westminster. In practical effect it’s Westminster as parliament there is sovereign. The constant to obligations appears Westminster.
As Westminster is a “Sovereign Parliament” it can therefore accumulate “Sovereign debt” – things are reasonably straightforward. Westminster borrows and we (Scotland, England, N. Ireland and Wales) all have to share the repayments. 

That we’ll be making those payments either now, or after Independence is the fatally flawed Union argument.

We need to remind ourselves who “owns” the debt – it’s the UK parliament - Westminster.
Now we must look into who, or what, is the UK to determine if an independent Scotland “Owes” or not.
In 1707 under the Treaty of Union Article 1 states "That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN."
Article 1 did not state that the Scottish and English nations would cease to be – the individual countries continued under the auspices of a political invention through supposedly ‘mutual” agreement to create a single kingdom – one monarch. It was “Forever After”.
1707 then effectively saw, by contemporary accounts, a forced marriage of the Scots to the English. Certainly as Daniel Defoe’s own memoirs of the time recount, the Scots themselves did not want a Union with England.
The Scots and the English devolved their governments to Westminster. This new political construct was known as “Great Britain”.
1707 - The kingdom of Great Britain is “created” In time this Parliament assumes Sovereignty (and Debt).
Many of us don’t know the original 1707 Treaty was supplanted in 1801 with a new Treaty declaring these Islands and it’s monarchy to be “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. On January 1st 1801 the Kingdom created by the 1707 Treaty officially ceased to be. Effectively therefore, “forever after” lasted 93 and a bit years.  Ireland then became a principle incorporated participant in the Westminster parliament with more seats, and therefore more say, and better enfranchisement than Scotland.
It is Ireland therefore which lends itself to being as close to an ironclad test case as is feasible with which to examine Scotland’s position with regards to UK debt.
1800 – “The Kingdom of Great Britain” ceases to exist, on or about midnight of December 31st.
1801 – “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” comes into existence, on or around 12:01am on January 1st.  Part of the agreement was “that the Crown of Ireland is forever annexed to the imperial Crown of England” – They appeared fond of the “Forever” word in London.

With the inclusion of Ireland, and a new uneasy amalgamation of states came to be.

The parliament in Westminster now acts on behalf the entire British Isles as a governing body and accrues sovereign debt. The debt is taken on by the UK-GB&I government under the auspices of Westminster parliamentary Sovereignty. This is because Westminster has effectively declared itself sovereign.
The creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain was the primary raison d’√™tre of the Union Treaty of 1707. Merging parliaments was somewhat secondary. As the Scots had no independent vote in this new construct, and the Kingdom specifically set up in article 1 of the 1707 Treaty now ceased to exist, that could lead to additional interesting constitutional anomalies that appear to have never been fully explored. After “The Kingdom of Great Britain” ceased to function on December 31st 1800, all of the obligations, treaties and debts were assumed by the new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, based in Westminster. It is recorded by history that Westminster as having been the driving force behind the Irish Union. Contemporary chronicles indicate it may have been forced into being to prevent Ireland becoming a French ally during the Napoleonic period.
It was remarkable however that Ireland entered “The Union” with nominally twice the representation delegated to Scotland – further substantially disenfranchising the Scots and disadvantaging the 1707 Treaty against the Scots.Ireland, the newbie, became a nation on better terms and standing within this Union than our own Scotland, enjoying all the terms and conditions Scotland now does, but with amplified representation and thereby amplified standing. The “Second Union Flag”, what’s referred to as the Union Jack was born of this Act of Union – for some reason it was never modified after Ireland left. This new flag celebrated the “new” umbrella of individual nations.
 Interestingly the Westminster parliament didn’t finally “undo” or repeal that 1800 legislation until 1983. By which time, the Irish Republic had long since said their farewells, none to fondly, to what was now the rump UK. At best the temporary Irish incorporation into Union would be described as even more uneasy than that of the Scots. Of interest to the Scots, in our present day are the terms of the Irish exit, and how it was accomplished. It should also be clear what the Irish exited from was a stronger position within the Union than Scotland now inhabits. Of particular note was Westminster’s success in enforcing alleged debt. 

Dissolution of “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”

The Irish Free State only came about after the proclamation by the Irish in 1919 of an Irish Republic and Westminster’s attempts to thereafter thwart the will of the Irish people. The Irish did not “break away” from a “mother country”, there has never been a “mother country” as such. The Irish, as the Scots, are/were party to a legislative/governmental construct from which they could withdraw. In the case of the Irish it took substantial violence, culminating in open war to create the break. Scotland and England remain after Ireland’s departure as anomalies on the world stage. They are nations without sovereign powers. Ireland remedied that situation between 1918 and 1937 starting with the Irish Free State, definite echoes of present day Scottish “devolution” took place. Basically Westminster backed off but refused to release.

Westminster, it has demonstrated, does not easily or willingly let go.

In 1922 the Irish converted from “Union” to “Dominion” status, it may appear a retrograde step but was obviously one that could be lived with [it did take a civil war]. It was basically a compromise Westminster could swallow.
 1922 – Effectively saw the dissolution of “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”
1922-1926 – Let’s describe it as “The period of Confusion”, no official descriptor, the old corporation was dead.
19226th December, N. Ireland opts out of the Irish Free State. “The period of Confusion” continues.
1927 – “The period of Confusion ends” “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” is born.

Our present state is, legally, only some 84 years old.

Almost immediately history informs that “the Irish Free State pushed the boundaries of its status as a Dominion. It 'accepted' credentials from international ambassadors to Ireland, something no other dominion up to then had done. It registered the Westminster treaty with the League of Nations as an international document, over the objections of the United Kingdom, which saw it as a mere internal document between a dominion and the United Kingdom”.
Scotland should perhaps investigate doing likewise with the UN in regards to the Scotland Acts and other items of significance that arise from interactions between Holyrood and Westminster. It would certainly create interesting base points for discussion. The acts could be registered with the protest that Scotland wished full autonomy but was denied such in 1952 and 1977. The precedent exists.

The Irish negotiations 

The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 basically gave a form of recognition to the Irish Free State but the Irish were obligated to pay some of Westminster’s debts. This debt payment was primarily in the form of port fees from Irish facilities. With Crown troops on Irish soil it is best described in light of subsequent events as extortion.
In the 1931 Dominion Act Westminster basically gave many colonies, “the Dominions” the right to make and pass their own laws without recourse to Westminster. Westminster did not suddenly do this from an act of charity, it did so because it had its ability to hold the “Dominions” severely eroded during World War one. Westminster largely financed that war through sales of overseas holdings and borrowing.
By 1938 Ireland’s premier, De-Valera had renounced any crown oaths, removed Ireland from any such future onerous obligation and the Irish using the powers of the 1931 Dominion Act had basically performed a Unilateral Declaration of Independence [UDI] from the UK. The legality of this act was challenged by Irish Loyalists themselves. They lost the initial challenge and again on appeal.
In 1938 the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland finally negotiated an end to the simmering hostilities with the fledgling Republic of Ireland, on terms which were exceedingly favourable to the Irish, including voiding of all fiscal/territorial obligations under the “Port Tax”, with removal of the rump British presence from the “Treaty Ports”. It has been rumored that there was an unofficial agreement [understanding] that Ireland would maintain neutrality in any upcoming conflict [WW2]. 

The Scots situation parallels the Irish almost precisely.

The legal precedent is clear and would be remarkably difficult to dispute. The Irish with greater enfranchisement walked away from the United Kingdom and its onerous systems and obligations. The Scots with less enfranchisement should do likewise.
Having for the most part apparently clarified the legal position and obligation, clearly demonstrating that any course of debt acceptance from Westminster would be voluntary, other than as either moral obligation or conditioned acceptance of inherent propaganda, should Scotland accept any Westminster debt?

The moral obligation – does it exist or is it fantasy.

Scotland is approximately £1.5 billion in the black, this has potentially been a nominal average – that equates to around 1.2% in an economy  officially worth £132 billion. That’s a low surplus, as Westminster allocates much of Scotland’s income to the City of London and has Scots responsible for items we never independently use or would never purchase, such as Trident.
Better figures might be somewhere in the region of £155 billion GDP and £10 billion - £14 billion surplus. We will use the Whitehall numbers. £1.4 billion. This is from a nation consistently in surplus. Scotland was paid for assuming England’s debts at the time of Union, not the other way around. Scotland, the nation, effectively had no debt.
Taking the above low estimate, inflationary adjusted utilization of that number into today’s pounds as a surplus number (ie, a total overpayment to the Westminster treasury during the Union), it would appear that Westminster OWES Scotland somewhere in the region of £425 billion in today’s currency. It could be lower or much higher.
The moral argument from Westminster that Scots should assume any UK debt doesn’t wash. Scotland has partially financed UK wars, everything from the old Crystal Palace to the 2012 Olympics and the London. Westminster expects?
The only remaining argument for Scotland to assume any UK debt after the logic and precedent of reasonable investigation appears to be based in the acceptance of ongoing conditioning and propaganda by the individual Scot. This is a ludicrous situation. 
Utilizing historical precedent It appears what is on the horizon is the following:
2014/2015 – The Scots vote for Independence.
2015/2016  - Westminster baulks.
2016/2020 – The Scottish people declare UDI
2020 – Westminster reformulates itself once again, this time to become “The United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland. Where “Britain” is that part simply south of Hadrian’s wall, comprising England/Wales.
The debt, that Sovereign catastrophe – it will simply do what it has done in the past – it will remain in London, at the seat of the [again] newly re-named and re-geographically focused “United Kingdom”.

Dump The Uk Debt - Dump The Union.

These are taxing times – they really shouldn’t be. At least, they shouldn’t be this bad. Not in Scotland anyway.
By a reasonable estimation, if I walk away from this Union then I personally should immediately be over £900 a year better off through lowered taxes than I am today. On the other hand, if I choose to stay within this Union of Scotland and England, my tax payments from everything I generate need to increase by over £10,800 per year just to avoid imminent bankruptcy and still keep the services I have today. Therefore, by my estimation, if I’m to pay my debts to this society inside this Union, I need to work almost three full time jobs at an average £29,000 wage per job for the next five years, and basically give the income from two of these jobs to Westminster.
My annual societal debt to Scotland is around 1/3 of what I would have within the UK next year. This forces me to ask - can anyone supply a convincing factual argument for the continuation of the United Kingdom, one that does not involve either their own profit or some esoteric “feel good” propaganda?
In a fully autonomous Scotland while paying less tax than I do today, it would also appear I could have a better standard of services with potentially a better quality of life, and a free future. Free of outside interference, free of another's debts and free of imminent bankruptcy. Furthermore, an independent Scotland, absent the shackles of Union, the future appears to be bright. To all appearances I certainly have a defensible legal right and a moral obligation to my children to walk away from the Union and its debt load.

In support of the above statements we should first understand approximately what we individually owe Westminster’s treasury under our current oppressive arrangements?

We should also understand that fiscal devastation is apparently looming large on England’s horizon, all Scotland has to determine is if she will share in the pain, for by all appearances our land is powerless [this time] to prevent England’s imminent, Westminster engineered implosion.
What we owe is an interesting question I was asked as I walked up the Royal Mile from Holyrood recently.  What indeed do “I owe” Westminster, specifically “The Treasury”, aka 11 Downing St.  They do get my taxes after all, but is it enough, and if not, how much more do they need? Actually as the research continued the answer appeared to define itself, it would seem I owe Westminster and Whitehall nothing – if I choose.  It’s that or both personal and national bankruptcy, there really doesn’t appear to be much in the way of middle ground.  
Just “walk away”, is that really what I’m recommending? 
Yes. There doesn’t seem to be any other alternative intelligent choice.  Other justifiable numbers might change my opinion. This question of what I owe reared back to the forefront of thought with last week’s economic data basically showing UK stagnation.  No appreciable growth, Osborne declaring the “Laddie is not for turning” and Cameron still espousing that the deficit will be gone in 2015 – that’s only four years, and with the UK debt levels continuing to increase month on month. The answers to that “What do I owe” are different for each one of us, but looking closely into what’s allegedly “owed” against an average Scots income brought forth some interesting numbers.

In so far as possible here’s how the numbers obtained break down for Mr. or Ms. Average.

The first question is what’s my (Mr/Ms Average’s) tax burden – what’s my total taxes.  First we need to see where all our taxes are collected and add them up, we’ll be very conservative in estimations where possible. Let’s start by classifying taxes as any levy that can’t be avoided for items most people would consider a necessity. Our assessment of taxes therefore included everything from income tax to council tax, from VAT to the TV license fee.  Basically if there’s a law requiring collection, and most of us pay it, then we tried to cover it.
Then we figured the debt load as divided equally amongst taxpayers, as its taxpayers who generate the entirety of the wealth of this nation.  It is immaterial weather these taxpayers are self employed or corporate employees – all earnings and wealth generation are ultimately due to the individual. We did add in one extra tax – that’s inflation.  Inflation in its most fundamental form is simply a government policy to devalue debt – effectively just another hidden tax.

The first area to look into is just how much, on the average, we Scots earn, taxes like everything are relative.  If the total Westminster levy is less than 20% on average, and the total ongoing levy from all sources less than 30%, we’d consider that fair and reasonable for balanced books under the service set we enjoy. Salaries have been largely stagnant, if not somewhat
recessionary for many since 2008, therefore the BOS 2008 numbers seemed reasonable to use, rounding up to £29,000 as a median Scottish wage.

The average tax bill – that has two significant initial break points, income tax and national insurance.

Income tax gives us a personal allowance of around £7,500, then we’re at 20%, so 20% of £29,000 - £7,500 is £4,300.
National insurance comes hard on the heels of income tax – as closely as can be
analysed it’s 12% above £102 per week, just for the employee share – that gives an annual NI take to Westminster of almost £2,850. I also have to generate the wealth to pay the company share – we’re not counting that.
Council Tax. The average is widely accepted as more than £1000 / year, better than in
England where many apparently remain perturbed over Scotland’s tax freeze.  Still it’s another tax bite from the basic wage earner.
It’s acknowledged that the full council tax doesn’t come from every paycheck, but this article is about estimating and guides rather than precise numbers. In the end it’s about a broad sweep of individual and national viability.
Transport taxes – the RAC used 20,000 miles per year in a recent
study, that was a little on the high side in our opinion. Other studies showed as few as 5,000 miles depending on the region, so low average seems reasonable.
At nominally 10,000 miles per year per taxpayer there appears justification for a “less than mean” number selection.  We all travel, and the taxes apply to all of us, irrespective of whether we use public or private transport.  Vehicles, buses and trains, roads and rails all need purchased and maintained.
Road Tax - A
middle band tax seems to come in around £150 for a small-average vehicle annually, and economy stretches to around 35 mpg.
Fuel Tax - With an average of about 235 gallons used per vehicle (conservatively we’re using a one vehicle per taxpayer family).  There’s in the area of 75p/litre of tax, with petrol hovering around £1.35 / litre we’ll back out the VAT of 20% to realize a Westminster tax shakedown of 48p / litre.  That’s amongst the world’s highest for one of the world’s biggest producers.  North Sea oil is cheaper in most of Europe than in Scotland.
Allowing nominally four litres per gallon that’s about £450 in duty every year, ignoring the transportation costs of almost every item we buy individually and the cumulative tax take there (as much as 60% with VAT, salary tax, NI for drivers / distributors / employees, vehicle taxes, rates, import taxes etc).
New vehicles tax – and irrespective of new or used it’s reflected in the price. There’s the
showroom tax averaging around £400. The new car buyer lays this out at an amortized rate of about £80 per year.
Value Added Tax, currently at 20% is a good example of another huge income bite – that’s what gets taken out of the little which remains.
To date our total median income wage earner has paid some £8330 in taxes, leaving £20,670 as a face value useable income.  With VAT running high, and only certain “essential items” exempt that means somewhere around 80% of what’s left is subject to tax at 20% - or another £3,307 a year each. Inflation operating around 4 percent, with a potential net loss to taxpayers of 2 percent gross, or 2 percent of £29,000 – an invisible £580 tax.

Just tag it on that Westminster mismanagement bill.  Fur coats, ermine especially would appear unaffordably expensive in our future.

Other miscellaneous taxes, congestion tax, excise tax, stamp duty, corporate tax, capital gains tax, airport taxes, parking taxes, hotel taxes, environmental taxes, power and utility taxes, telecommunications taxes, television license fees, death duties and inheritance taxes, pre-owned asset tax and taxable interest.  Figures for an average burden on these combined issues vary widely, but alcohol and tobacco alone account for about an extra £2,500 per affected individual, or about £500 each if we average the number out. The miscellaneous taxes in potentia are nominally £2,000 on an average year.

Our total present allocated taxes within the Union are therefore around £14,700 per year (rounding down).

As an income slice that’s over 50%.

That’s ridiculous.

The debt and deficit issue – how big a cheque do we need to write every year to cover it. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to look at Westminster government debt like a car loan or credit card – it's revolving debt after all.  It’s not Scottish debt – none of it has Scotland’s name on the note.  We weren’t asked about it and couldn’t impact it.  It’s all under the Westminster umbrella.  A five year repayment plan seems appropriate for this revolving debt, especially as that’s a year more than Cameron and Osborne are planning; at least it’s what they’re telling us.
The latest figures for the debt were bandied around [officially] at £2 trillion, the “City” estimating it may really be as high as £4 trillion after all “hidden liabilities” are factored in.  A reasonable medium might be considered £3 trillion.  Dividing that between just under 20 million paycheques, we have an apparent tax need of right at £150,000 per paycheque – amortized over a set time (Cameron says four years).
Using our (in comparison) generous five year repayment plan that’s nominally £150,000 principal plus £18,750 in interest (we’ll pay that interest, principal or not) for an approximate annual total of between £3,750 [interest only] to £33,750 principal and interest.
As principal and interest are more than our gross salary we’ll focus on retaining just the interest payment as a tax allocation or “need”.  We might have to pay it forever, but at least we might manage it.  If we try to pay the principal we’re already bankrupt before we start.  That fact alone tells us something rather significant about Westminster.
Meeting these interest payments is simply part of the UK structural deficit, so how big is that structural deficit, and how much more is needed from each of us just to stop the situation getting any worse.
Month over month the UK is running somewhere between £10 billion and £25 billion in the red.  That means an average of potentially around £18 billion.  Accurate data is very hard to obtain, the figure appears deliberately vague from the exchequer.  They tell what they borrowed, but not what the full tally of ongoing liabilities are.  The gross number could easily be double the official number.

We’ll go with the “official” number.

An average £18 billion a month is £10,800 per year, per taxpayer.  That’s the deficit after the taxes already being paid.  We know it doesn’t all come from the individual, but as its individuals who fundamentally create national wealth, it is reasonable to assess it against the individual.  In the end, the individual pays. UK PLC requires the current taxes collected from each Scots taxpayer’s generated wealth, currently around £14,700 to increase by an additional £10,800 per taxpayer, per annum, just to cover the operational deficit. Naturally some of that £10,800 extra Mr Osborne needs from me personally includes the £3,750 to pay the existing interest on the outstanding debt - remembering it’s only that low a number if we were are not actually paying down the principal.

Right away, in an independent Scotland, I’m going to see I’ll be better off by £10,800 every year.  
No interest payments, no structural deficit.  In the meantime the UK is largely ignoring that £10,800.  For the UK that number is compounding rapidly. The way these numbers read is that UK PLC is bankrupt.  David Cameron and George Osborne are apparently two of the biggest con-men to ever actually walk these shores.   I will of course apologize if the debt is gone by 2014 without my average taxes being increased in any way.  But somehow I don't see myself having to do so.
Acknowledging an average salary of £29,000 (chance would be a fine thing) already sees over £14,700 go to George Osborne’s folks.  I now fully understand that Osborne, to balance the books, needs an equivalent of £10,800 more from me, on top of what his department already gets, ditto for everyone like me.  It’s either I pay, he gets it somewhere else, indirectly from the wealth I generate, or my children pay and their children after them. If I’m to continue to live in UK PLC then I must pay £25,500 - my current £14,700 tax bite and that £10,800 operational deficit a year from my £29,000 salary.  And that’s not touching the principal, that’s just to balance the books.  I’ve only got £4,500 left.  Trident?  Not in any sane world. And as that deficit is increasing – the tax take from my generated wealth must increase. What I get to keep must reduce even more. That absolutely doesn’t include paying off any debt – it simply stops more being accumulated.
Anyone getting “benefits” in this Scotland of ours, no matter how genuine the need, had better have a “plan B” - it is very likely they will need it as the suffering is spread through all levels of society.  Cameron and Osborne may not even want to do this – they will simply have no choice.  They have shown a preference for hitting the weakest amongst us at Westminster though. To eliminate Westminster’s debt it looks like my “take home” has to be reduced by another £30,000 [on a longer repayment schedule than Westminster says we’re on] this from my remaining salary of £4,500.

There’s a wee bit of a problem here.

At day’s end the £4,500 I had left becomes -£25,500 I still owe to the treasury. Removing what little salary I had remaining it means for UK PLC to become solvent in the next electoral cycle they require my entire paycheck plus £25,500. To pay off the equivalent of my share of UK debt in the Cameron/Osborne timeframe, and still have a reasonable standard of living I need to work almost twice as many hours as I currently do simply to pay Westminster, then I need to work more again to feed my family.

In an independent Scotland, in the immediate future, I can expect to pay less taxes for the same level of services and benefits I currently enjoy, know my children will be free, not just of another nations influence, but potentially of debt as well.
Scotland’s nominally £1.5 billion declared surplus means an immediate potential tax reduction of over £900 / year (spread over 1.6 million taxpayers).  If we contributed strongly to Westminster’s debt I would advocate that we take our share.  We didn’t.  And I don’t.  As a net contributor to UK throughout the majority of its existence, certainly during this debt cycle, and being democratically deficit in any decision making (¬600 votes to 50 against), Scotland should categorically follow the path of nations such as Ireland, Australia and Canada, after independence.  When UK PLC demanded they pay a share of UK debt, they simply said “No”.  It should not follow the punitive previously unheard of restrictions placed upon Newfoundland in the 1930’s.
Voiding the 1707 treaty in advance, or at least showing its flaws strengthens that argument, giving us the potential of unequivocally making it Scotland’s choice.  It would effectively remove the Westminster argument that the “Union is voluntary”. There was nothing whatsoever Whitehall, Westminster, or the Crown could do about these independent nations refusing Westminster debt.  These nations still retained many “joint” assets.  
Scotland, as a net contributor would be entitled to an asset claim in line with her contributions – watch out for a tussle there.

Through the combination of our democratic deficit and fiscal surplus, Scotland’s course should be identical to Ireland's Canada’s, Australia’s.  We should take no share of UK debt.

My purse tells me where my vote must go.