As small drops of rainwater eventually rot the toughest granite, so the continual drip drip drip of financial rationality eventually penetrates the defenses of even the most committed reality avoided. The reality of the observation was illustrated by a remarkable post that made an appearance on Scottish Nationalist fan-site Wings Over Scotland yesterday. For those who might not know, Wings Over Scotland is run by (fake Reverend) Stuart Campbell who, with scant respect for economic accuracy, bangs the drum for the reason for Scottish Independence. The style is that of a shock-jock aiming a blunderbuss packed with arbitrary snippets from Google at a web page and allowing ripping.
It serves a purpose for the Nationalist cause, nourishing those so starving for grievance that they don’t question a source that tells them what they would like to listen to. Stu doesn’t like me quite definitely. I had made a decision I’d written enough about Wings – if people remain willing to be studied in by his schtick then so be it. But he put up a post (authored by someone else) which addresses me and my blog straight. Of course it doesn’t even try to address the mistakes that I’ve highlighted and indulges in the most blatant “playing the person not the ball” ad hominem assault you might see.
So much so normal for Wings – nothing worth responding to. But as I scanned through the ranting and grievance seeking rhetoric I realized something quite amazing was happening; the underlying narrative was changing. Let’s look at the post in question. It’s authored with a Lindsay Bruce but is written in the tone of voice of Wings (the author is “we”) and reeks of Stu’s advertisement hominem style, so I’ll make reference to the author as Wings and “he” for simpleness. Wings don’t name me directly or connect to this blog, and (hilariously) even blurs out my twitter deal with and picture.
It’s almost as though he’s scared that if his readers were to come in contact with a rational discussion they might start to look out of him. The Limitations of GERS. Let me dash though the detail of this post and see if we can decode it. He refers to me as “amateur Unionist blogger”.
- 3D Printing Shop
- Searching for investment property
- Category 3 expenses total $28,000
- Whether the transactions of the firm are performed with personal interest or not
- Tax profits in the 39.6 percent taxes bracket can pay 20 percent in capital gains taxes
- “Brought to you by…” Section
I hate myself for being dragged down to his level, but if he’s looking to trash my reputation Personally I think I have to react. I’m an novice unionist blogger who – as a result to be a moderately successful plan consultant, businessman, and business owner – understands how to handle imperfect data, manage doubt and make a business case. I also understand how to present data clearly, reconcile figures, and construct a robust analytical audit-trail.
Stu on the other hands is someone who wouldn’t learn how to create an audit trail if – well – if the electoral commission rate asked him to provide one to describe his referendum marketing campaign expenses. He illustrates the mention of me with a photo of your pet Shop Boys. We’re based in Livingston and utilize many individuals; he’s located in Bath and doesn’t. I’ve other significant business interests in Scotland but it’s irrelevant really – he can call me pet shop son if it helps him get through your day. Maybe I’m always on his mind? Oh, he’s so near to understanding the numbers it almost hurts.
Let’s take this really slowly: the gap between Scotland’s open public spending and it’s really total revenue is what’s called our deficit. In the newest GERS figures (2013-14 when essential oil profits were still as high as £4bn) that deficit was £12.4bn. What I show is that the amount where our deficit (excluding oil) exceeds that of all of those other UK is £9.1bn.
The obvious point I’m making is that if you strip out the essential oil (as the marketplace is however doing for us) that underlying gap is actually very consistent over the last 15 years. Its the deficit distance which becomes open as oil income decline. I lay it out in careful detail completely Fiscal Autonomy for Dummies, which is summarized rather neatly (if you read what the axes show) in the graph below.
It shows that the deficit space is described more by our higher spend per capita (the red series) than our lower onshore tax revenue produced per capita (the green series). I’m really gob-smacked that he still shows up struggling to follow this really simple analysis. Now all it had taken to create this analysis was indeed the easy spreadsheet manipulation of GERS figures plus some graphing as he describes.