Scotland vote due soon

scotlandOn the 18th, there’s kind of a big thing going on in Scotland.  If I were voting, I’d be voting “yes” — Yes for Scotland, Yes to Europe, Yes to Social Justice.

From all accounts, it’s clear that Independence is not going down to a yawning defeat as suggested mere weeks ago.

Certainly, Scottish independence is not without pitfalls. The most troublesome problems Scotland faces are economic — forced by British intransigence to choose between sharing a currency and travel area with Britain or with wider Europe.

Scotland must also decide the fate of revenues from its oil production — production that won’t go on forever, but money that perhaps can if properly managed.  Like Alberta and North Dakota, Scotland is a subnational entity buoyed by a valuable but ultimately unlasting resource.

Before the Canadian Alliance put an end to western alienation, Alberta once talked of secession. Heck, there’s been a loon or two promoting independence for North Dakota. What makes Scotland different is that it had, and never lost, a sense of nationality. To be a Scot is to be someone unique and recognizable in the world. The United Kingdom, even after hundreds of years, is still a union of crowns, unlike the vague and impersonal ties that bind other federations.

The values dissonance between England and Scotland was perhaps best expressed in the most recent elections, where the victorious Conservative Party won exactly zero seats. The government interacts with Scotland through the coalition participation of the centre-left-centre Liberal Democrats, who despite breakthrough success in the campaign ended up forced to lackey an agenda they barely tolerate.

David Cameron’s government has had the distinct privilege of making its own coalition partner irrelevant, and soon, perhaps, of breaking up the country itself. Getting the UK into yet another messy war is probably exactly the excuse Scotland needs to say “No thanks” to the status quo.

You might ask, why do I support Scottish Independence when I would hardly be euphoric about, say, independence for Québec?  The simple answer is Europe.  The European Union is a place where nations can pursue individual identity and still participate in economic federalism.  One need only look at the slow breakup of Belgium to see that the EU has made small unions of dissimilar peoples in Europe obsolete.  Yeah, Europe has problems too.  Bigger problems.  Bigger solutions.

By contrast, une République Québecoise would look almost exactly like the province of Québec looks today, but tangibly worse for individual freedom and welfare.  In a best case scenario, Québec would lose its equalization payments and freedom of movement, to say nothing of the effect on the rest of Canada (say, losing French-language radio in cities like Regina).  Plus you can’t wear poutine like a kilt.

Thorson’s sweet event had cookies and milk

District 43 Representative-to-be Kyle Thorson held a modest fundraiser Thursday night attended by a crowd of regular folks. No wine and brie here; the fare was cookies and Milk — the Sean Penn biopic.

Grand Forks institution Ojata Records played host to the event. The comics, records, and food stop shows great flexibility as an equal-opportunity venue in advance of its big move to greener pastures at University & Washington.

North Dakota TV stations sold

North Dakota loses 3 TV stationsThose TV stations have been sold again — KNDX Bismarck, KXND Minot, and KXJB Valley City have all been sold to two separate out-of-state interests.  In related news, CBS programming has been confirmed to be moving to KVLY, leaving the stations to start completely from scratch.

Banning taxes we do not levy?

Supporters of Measure 2, which would ban the levying of “transfer taxes” on real estate, say it would just make buying properties too expensive!  This of course, coming from an industry funded by its own private taxation of property sales. When 3 to 6 percent is taken by the realtor, what is the harm in communities taking a mill levy at the time the house is sold?

The really funny thing is, nobody in North Dakota levies this tax that realtors want to ban.  But if someone were to start, it does not have to affect your average house sale; Taxes have been known to be levied on only higher-valued property, you know.  The vast majority of residences are valued under $300,000 , to quote an arbitrary figure.  Taxing only property above that would not really dry up the trade in commercial property in North Dakota communities, many of which have huge infrastructure demands and are not getting the support from the state they need.

When North Dakota communities and school districts are being straitjacketed by an ongoing jihad on property tax levies, local option sales taxes are already maxed out, and no other means of replacement income is available, say a local income tax — how are communities to cope?  Bond issues?  And when the next oil crash comes, why do our local governments get to hold that bag, instead of the state, or the transients that created the demand for local services in the first place?