Separatism loses in SCT, CA

Separatism loses in SCT, CA

William WallaceComing shortly after entrepreneur Tim Draper’s Six Californias initiative failed to qualify for the 2016 ballot, Scotland’s voters decided not to secede from the United Kingdom — yet. So it would seem separatist movements are not doing well.

But pushing such revolts as far as they did shows a tidal shift in how people look at government. Scots voted 45 percent in favor of leaving the UK, a large number. And a lot of the 55 percent “No” votes came from people receiving the large welfare payments sent from London, and promised by PM David Cameron and other UK leaders to get even larger.

According to the BBC, average “public spending per head” — welfare — is a generous £12,300 ($20,650) in Scotland, higher than the £11,000 ($17,944) in the UK as a whole. So if Scotland split, it would lose £1,300 ($2,706) per head in subsidies from the UK. Many people currently on the dole at home watching “The Benny Hill Show” reruns would have to go out, get jobs and work.

The UK also is not in a recession, although growth is not strong. But should a recession strike, or the UK economy fall into severe debt and depression like Greece, sentiments for secession might become overwhelming.


Separatist fever also is catching on in many other areas. The Washington Post identified eight that could be “next”: Venice, Catalonia, Faroe Islands, Corsica, South Tyrol, Basque, Flanders and Bavaria.

Even the New York Times noted a “Global Crisis of Elites.” Wrote Neil Irwin:

It is a crisis of the elites. Scotland’s push for independence is driven by a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time.

The rise of Catalan would-be secessionists in Spain, the rise of parties of the far right in European countries as diverse as Greece and Sweden, and the Tea Party in the United States are all rooted in a sense that, having been granted vast control over the levers of power, the political elite across the advanced world have made a mess of things.

The details of Scotland’s grievances are almost the diametrical opposite of those of, say, the Tea Party or Swedish right-wingers. They want more social welfare spending rather than less, and have a strongly pro-green, antinuclear environmental streak….

What distinguishes the current moment is that discontent with the way things have been going is so high as to test many people’s tolerance for the governing institutions as they currently exist.

The details are, of course, different in each country.

Private popularity

The Scottish vote came a day before the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with throngs of fans lining up early before Apple stores.

The contrast is striking: People voluntarily discomfit themselves to buy a privately produced product. Meanwhile, coercive governments everywhere are loathed for incompetence, repression, bureaucratic snafus and high expense.

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election slogan is, “California is back!” Yet much of the state, including Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, barely has recovered from the Great Recession, if that. And the governor continues to pursue his Quixotic, $68 billion, 19th-century toy, high-speed rail.

And although Six Californias failed, almost every election brings new reform initiatives — Top  Two, term limits, redistricting — in which the people themselves have to take things into their own hands because their elected representatives and unelected functionaries  have botched things so badly.

Crisis of elites, indeed. Crisis of government, too.

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