A foreigner’s view on Scottish independence

Not that anyone in Scotland should give a damn about it…

I’m not British so in theory there is no reason why I should be bothering giving an opinion on whether a foreign country splits into two or not. To my benefit, I am completely unbiased and ambivalent about the matter, not least because my own country (Mexico) thankfully does not have a simmering secessionist movement. On one hand, I sympathize with the desire of many Scots to see their country independent; they are, after all a distinct ethnicity and some of them (particularly the Glaswegian sort) speak in a language that at least to these Mexican ears sounds completely unlike English. On the other hand, I truly wonder whether the differences between Scots and Englishmen are truly irreconcilable, and that separation is the only solution to this 300 year Union which, to be fair, has mostly worked out quite well for both sides: England has benefited enormously from Scottish ingenuity and industriousness while Scotland has profited from its attachment to a former imperial power, which to this day remains one of the world’s largest, richest and most sophisticated economies.

I don’t have a particularly structured idea of how to proceed with this piece so I’ll just dish out some of my thoughts on the matter at random.

Passport checks at Hadrian's Wall?

Passport checks at Hadrian’s Wall?

The economic argument is pure fearmongering. The No campaign is fundamentally based on the economic arguments and these in turn, are based on fear. Fear that a newly independent Scotland will collapse like a deck of cards amid all the unanswered questions over its economic viability. What currency will it adopt? Will it turn into a fiscal disaster? How ill oil revenues be shared? How many companies will end up relocating? These are not questions to be taken lightly. But although Scotland’s economic problems are real, they are not at all insurmountable. Certainly the economic argument has not stopped any other recently independent country from taking the plunge, despite most of these countries having a fraction of the government efficiency and institutional strength that Scotland would boast. I mean seriously, if East Timor and Kosovo can pull it off, it is absolutely ludicrous to think that Scotland can’t, especially considering that this is a country with no shortage of capable economists, bureaucrats and thinkers. These people invented modern economics, for fuck’s sake. Continue reading

The Internet is for whining

Behold the new breed of professional whiners ruining common sense

I have come to the conclusion that the internet is for three things: porn, cat videos, and whining. The first two are not the subject of this piece though. It’s not hard to see how whining has turned to the cybersport of choice: since dawn of the World Wide Web, whiners have been able to expand their audience beyond mere family and friends (assuming they have any of the latter left), in the process assuming a self-importance that transcends normal human egotistical limits. Now, there are various types of whiners, from the semi-literate morons which turn any YouTube video into the inevitable anti-US/pro-US political troll-fest to the more educated ones, some of which actually write for major publications. These generally take the form of condescending, holier-than-thou liberals/leftists, making mountains out of molehills out of any perceived offense or indignity (disclaimer, I’m a liberal/lefty myself). Recently, they’ve been on a roll.

The Ice Bucket whiners

Do not disturb (sensibilities)

Do not disturb (sensibilities)

Until the past month or so, a lot of people had never heard of ALS. It is an awful disease, not just for the way it turns a healthy body into a muscle-less pulp of skin and bone in a matter of just a few years, but for the fact that it is incurable, untreatable, and unpreventable. It is a randomized death sentence for all but a minuscule and statistically insignificant few (astrophysicist Stephen Hawking being the most famous case). That has not stopped a legion of internet whiners from finding reasons to gripe about the Ice Bucket Challenge. That it’s slacktivism. That it wastes water. That ALS is rare and there are other diseases that kill many more people. That we must prioritize our charity to the most needed.

Ok, first argument to be debunked: that it wastes water. Well yes, it does. You’re pouring a bucket of water that could probably be more useful to a starving, thirsty African family. Problem is, you’re not in Africa, and pouring or not pouring that water is therefore irrelevant to that African family’s well-being. Are you actually going to export it to another continent so that they don’t starve? Of course not. Wasting a bucket of water will not make people on other continents less thirsty because there’s no way of sending them that water. In other words, water is a resource that has very limited transportation potential because you need so much of it that it’s logistically impossible (or prohibitively expensive). It’s a regional resource, not a global one. Continue reading