Scotland’s constitution is not the problem

To hear First Minister Alex Salmond tell it, gaining independence from the U.K. is the most pressing issue facing Scots. But a look at the state of the Scottish economy, with public spending totaling more than 55% of GDP, reveals an unsustainably large public sector. This not only drags on the private economy. It also makes it hard to imagine how the Scottish state could ever survive if sundered from subsidies from other U.K. taxpayers.

Today, a quarter of people in Scotland are directly employed in public service. This compares to 20% in England, though it’s still well under Northern Ireland’s near-Greek 29%. But that’s before we count Scotland’s large, effective secondary public-sector market, made up of everything from public-relations firms to construction companies.

Read the rest of the article in the Wall Street Journal.

Communications Director

Ruth Porter is Communications Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs. She has worked in public policy and communications for nearly a decade. During this time she has represented UK businesses working in areas including software, energy and electronics. She studied politics and philosophy at the University of Warwick before moving to New Zealand, where she worked for the independent think tank, Maxim Institute. Ruth worked on the research team looking at a wide range of issues from social policy to tax reform. She co-authored a series of reports on education that won the Innovative Projects category of the Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards and edited the book Pursuing social justice in New Zealand, which was launched by New Zealand's Governor-General. She has written for various publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Sunday Times, she also writes regularly for the Daily Telegraph website and is a frequent commentator in the British media on programmes such as Newsnight and Sky’s Boulton & Co.

1 thought on “Scotland’s constitution is not the problem”

  1. Posted 16/02/2012 at 21:01 | Permalink

    I sometimes remark, only partially in jest, that the Barnett formula’s funding allocation in the UK is terribly unfair – how unjust of us to force an even larger burden of Government than our own on those north of the border, one that could never organically arise due to limitations in the tax base. The weak economy in Scotland is hardly a surprise when one considers that 25% of the workforce are directly prohibited from participating in wealth creation by being employees of the government. Not to mention the large number of unemployed (and the many underemployed people, which government conveniently leaves out of its figures) people who are kept from the workforce by the combination of benefits only available to those not in work, creating a disincentive to work, and in the case of many lowskilled workers, particularly young people, a minimum wage that rids them of any chance to work and gain new skills on the job by forbidding them from entering into any employment that does not pay more than their labour is worth.

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