Scotland and the end of centralization

Mark Leonard at Reuters has some interesting thoughts about how the Scottish independence vote could be “the canary in the independence coal mine,” a harbinger of both statehood movements and political trends in “many nations that do not face imminent break-up – from America to Zambia.” He specifies four of those trends as a desire for self-government that trumps economic interests, resurgent nationalism (which he stretches mightily to cast as part of the “progressive” quest for “income equality”), the loss of influence by national elites, and the death of nationhood.

Using nationalism to conceal dead-end flat-broke “progressive” policies and trick people into voting for a socialist utopia is a strategy that will have a short, unhappy life. It would be more accurate to say that the century-long push toward centralization is ending because it’s literally bankrupt. Turning Scotland from a welfare state funded by British taxpayers into a welfare state funded by German taxpayers of the European Union really isn’t much of a transformation. The welfare state is the problem, not who pays for it. Nobody can afford to keep “socialist utopias” floating.

The corrosive welfare state is a toxic byproduct of centralization. Relatively small groups of people don’t come up with lifelong “you work, I eat” systems, with 90 cents of every dollar disappearing into Big Government administrative overhead. One of the reasons private charities tend to be more efficient that government welfare programs is simply that they’re smaller, with local people using tight budgets to assist people they become personally familiar with. The soul-deadening, human-capital-degrading nightmare of anonymous people getting EBT-card refills from faceless bureaucrats who scarcely bother to verify their paperwork is something that only endures on a large scale.

That goes for the other side of the “socialist utopia” welfare system, too. Only huge governments develop billion-dollar slush funds the Ruling Class can use to pay off its favorite lobbyists and corporate partners. Only centralization creates the weapons of anti-competition that allow absurdly inefficient government-business hybrids to endure. If people have a choice, they tend to take their business elsewhere – something central planners find extremely frustrating. “Too Big to Fail” is the kind of problem that only money-is-no-object central government could cook up.

When government goes big, arrangements that look like outrageous corruption to voters in a smaller polity are inflated until they become standard operating …read more    

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