Friday, September 19, 2014

What does Scotland have in common with Quebec?

They both wised up and voted not to secede.  In case you missed it, French Quebec had been agitating to secede from largely British Canada since Rene Leveque and Parti Quebecois came to power in Quebec in the 1960s.  By the 90's they worked up to a province wide referendum on secession.  It lost, by a very narrow margin.  And, surprise, surprise, they never tried it again.  At the time I expected the French to gather their strength and try it again in a year.  Didn't happen.  Far as I can tell from south of the border, the French decided that the pain in secession outweighed the emotional benefits.  They had done some lobbying on Wall St to see if an independent Quebec could borrow money from American banks.  Apparently the Americans poured cold water on the idea and let the  Quebeckers know that there would be no bank loans, no investment, and no favors done to their new currency.  I think some of this sank in, and a lot of Quebeckers who had liked the idea of secession decided that the economic pain out weighed the fun of being independent.    
   Despite last minute polls showing Scottish secession running neck and neck, secession got voted down in Scotland last night by a 10% margin.  That's a solid win.  And I wonder why the polls got it wrong. 
   An independent Scotland would be fun, but terribly small, only 5 million people, little industry, short cold growing season, harsh winters, and few natural resources.  They would have some North Sea oil but those fields have been exploited for 40 years and the wells don't flow like they used to.   I don't think you can keep a country solvent merely on export of Scotch whiskey.   Tasty as it may be.  And, a country of only 5 million people would be a doormat to the rest of the world, like Luxembourg or Grand Fenwick.  Whereas the United Kingdom has been an international heavy weight since Queen Elizabeth the First.  You are better off as a section of an international heavyweight than you are as an independent sub sized doormat.   

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