Sunday, 15 December 2013

Put Scotland first by voting Yes!

This entry is a little different from the majority that we write.
 
Normally we focus on the democratic, social, environmental or economic benefits following a Yes vote for Scotland and those beyond our borders, including those who the UK Government doesn't appear to have much concern for.  But this week, we're going to be a little selfish and say 'put the people of Scotland first'.


We know that the UK Government cannot put Scotland first because:
  1. Scotland directly elects just 4% of Westminster, and the number of MPs we will have is due to be reduced yet again, making our influence weaker than ever.
  2. Westminster's form of democracy disenfranchises us more than almost any other system imaginable.  Because Scotland has fewer 'marginal swing seats' between the only two parties who can form a government, the amount of effort and attention we are afforded is much lower, making our views up to 22 times less important.
  3. Much of the funding for Westminster's two main parties comes from the City of London.  Even though Labour receives large donations from Trade Unions, the lack of viable alternatives means that they just need to avoid appearing to be on the right of the Conservatives to be guaranteed these funds (and again, most trade union donations are generated outside Scotland, continuing the cycle above).
This isn't strictly true, we also store their WMDs and fight in their wars!
With Independence we will see a seismic shift in priorities.  The massive, pervasive influence of City financiers and war advocates will be greatly diminished.  No political party will ever be guaranteed to return to power, meaning that they will need to work much harder to get into, stay and return to office.  Greater choice will mean more positive campaigning in every part of Scotland and because every vote will matter, every voter becomes more significant and sought after.
 
In short, the people of Scotland will be the main priority of every party.
 
Having such a focus will undoubtedly help in a number of ways:
  1. Better transport connections will be advocated by all, with the people of Scotland deciding whether this primarily takes the form of more rail links, lower air-passenger fees, improved roads and/or better ports.
  2. Armed forces will be based in Scotland with Scotland's needs in mind.  Specialist desert equipment isn't needed in a wet country like ours, and aircraft carriers with no planes on them and nuclear weapons do nothing to keep us safe.  The people of Scotland will control the number of personnel, the type of equipment used, and where our troops are deployed.
  3. Scotland's interests in Europe will always be defended, with our farmers, fishing communities and exporters never being sacrificed for City greed and gain.
Message from our always impartial British State Broadcaster
I cannot say what the priorities of an independent Scotland will be, but I can guarantee that our money, which Westminster is wasting on nuclear weapons, HS2, stationing military personnel in over 80 countries, illegal wars and refurbishing the unelected House of Lords, will be used for the benefit of Scotland.
 
Only voting 'Yes' will put Scotland first.
Drew
 
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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Dome sweet dome

Those of us who have been in the ‘Yes’ campaign for a while will be familiar with this argument:
 
‘Spending in Scotland is higher than in the rest of the UK’.
  
This argument is an extension of ‘too poor’, as in ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’, and the conclusion we’re supposed to make is that Scots could not afford to look after themselves, or would be forced to accept poverty under any system other than Westminster’s.  It depends entirely upon the Barnett Formula, which allocates how much money Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receives as a consequence of expenditure in England.  Unfortunately for the no campaign, the conclusion they try to pedal is wrong.

Sign for Scotland
Before we get into the Barnett figures themselves, we need to look at expenditure versus affordability.  Affordability is easy.  Let’s say that there are two houses on a street.  House A has 10% higher income, and 5% higher expenses, than House B.  We can conclude, regardless of the actual figures, that the first house is better off, but just to highlight the point we'll add numbers:
 
House A
Income £11,000 Expenditure £11,550 Deficit £550
House B
Income £10,000 Expenditure £11,000 Deficit £1,000
 
House A has higher expenditure, but it more than makes up for this with greater income.  This is the case with Scotland.  We contribute a greater percentage of the UK’s income than we receive in UK expenditure. 
 
This affects other unionist arguments, including Scotland’s deficit.  An independent Scotland may have had a deficit if it had been run the same way as Westminster (including the numerous wars and Trident), but our deficit over the past 30 years would have been much, much smaller.  The conclusion we should make is that even if the Barnett figures were telling the whole story, we would still be in ‘House A’, and financially better off with independence.

Sign for Scotland
There is also the principle of Barnett.  At present, the first consideration is always ‘how much should we spend in England to meet England’s needs?’  Only after this has been decided does Westminster think ‘how much then do the Scots, Irish and Welsh receive?’  This isn’t how our government should operate.
 
A better solution would be for the money raised in Scotland to stay in Scotland, with our Government basing spending upon our needs and budget.  This is an option which Westminster will not allow, partly due to the vast income it receives from North Sea oil and gas, partly because they wouldn’t be able to neuter a free Scottish economy that could rival London’s hegemony, and partly because the people of Scotland would clearly see how much they are paying to be part of this union.  With our first set of accounts displaying vast sums of money heading south to bankroll wars we don’t want, the people of Scotland would quickly come to the conclusion that independence is the best option.

Sign for Scotland
"Give all our money to Westminster for pocket money?  I don't konw, Davey."
Finally, let’s look at the numbers that are missing from Barnett.  There are numerous examples of ‘UK’ expenditure which does not trigger Barnett (and thus are not considered by unionists).  The Millennium Dome is a good example.  It was deemed ‘UK expenditure’, and therefore there were no payments to the ‘regions’.  The £4,200,000,000 (£4,200 million) London sewerage project was an even more expensive use of this trick.  The Jubilee Line, which cost £3,500,000,000 (£3,500 million) and the £1,200,000,000 (£1,200 million) being spent at Cheltenham on new communications headquarters are the same. The London Olympics is yet another example, with expenditure being classed as ‘UK wide’, despite only 0.04% of public sector spending reaching Scotland.
 
Then there is the redirection of national lottery funding, the dramatically higher Ministry of Defence spending in the South of England, and the multitude of civil service jobs that are based in London.  These things don’t count towards Barnett.  This additional expenditure, coupled with vastly superior infrastructure, the ‘London allowance’ and strong Government focus, is the source of the south east’s economic strength.  If anywhere else in the UK had the same systemic advantages, they would doubtlessly have the same success.
 
So the next time someone says ‘Scotland can’t cope without subsidies’, just remember that beneath the surface, the figures tell a different story.  Scotland doesn’t receive subsidies; we’re just getting back some of our own money.
 
With independence, we wouldn’t give it away in the first place.
Drew

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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Nobody Wants You (so please stay with us!)

The phrase ‘too small, too poor, too stupid’ has been used to describe the principle arguments against Scottish Independence.  I feel that it this is too simple.  There is also ‘[name] is bad and supports independence, thus independence is bad’ (also known as ‘Salmond ate my hamster’), ‘Everyone is so jealous of Britain’ (also known as ‘Empire was a great thing’) and ‘there’s too much uncertainty’ (also known as ‘we don’t want to acknowledge anything positive about independence’).
 
But today we’re going to focus on perhaps the most dishonest and hurtful argument that the ‘no’ campaign has been using in its rainbow of scares so far: nobody wants you.  This is always international in scope and borrows aspects of all of the above.  To explain what I mean, let’s look at some examples.

"You'll be alone and poor and friendless if you vote Yes," cast of Rainbow (probably)
We’re told that NATO doesn’t want us if we’re nuclear free (the way Iceland, Denmark and Norway are).  We know from historical prcedence that this threat has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, so what is the underlying basis for this scare?
 
Well the conclusion we’re supposed to come to is that we aren’t wanted.  NATO won’t treat us fairly because we’re not important enough to deserve fair treatment and can't offer anything of value.  Let’s look at other examples.
 
We’re told that the EU doesn’t want us if we become independent and that membership will be awkward for us.  We know from actual comments (see here, here and here) that this threat has nothing to do with self determination, so what is the underlying basis for this scare?
 
We’re supposed to believe that we aren’t wanted.  The EU won’t treat us fairly because we’re not important enough to deserve fair treatment and can't offer anything of value.  Let’s continue.

Sign for Scotland
I know which vision I prefer
We’re told that we might not be able to use the Pound Sterling following independence.  We know from historical precedence (see here and here) that this threat has nothing to do with what money we use, so what is the underlying basis for this scare? 
 
No-one wants us.  The Bank of England won’t treat us fairly because we’re not important enough to deserve fair treatment and can't offer anything of value.
 
The truth is that we do have value, would be warmly welcomed to join the family of nations and that there are very few people who wish us ill.  NATO wants us because of our strategic location, historical alliances and highly regarded personnel.  The EU wants us because many people from EU nations call Scotland home and many European businesses have operations in Scotland.  The Bank of England want us to use the pound because we’re an exporting nation which adds to the value to the currency.

Sign for Scotland

The only people who talk us down are those who stand to lose their positions of unmerited privilege, and those in the ‘no’ campaign who claim that every little thing is a problem, and that others will put up obstacles against us.  We’re supposed to accept what we have instead of reaching for what we want.
 
I believe that Scotland can be a better place, and that leaving power at Westminster will bring nothing good, even if they claim to be the only ones who want us.
Drew
 
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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Should your opinion matter?

Yes Scotland is campaigning for a more democratic and representative government for Scotland.  They want your opinion to matter.  They want you to have a greater choice of political parties to choose from.  They want you to get involved in writing a constitution for Scotland.  They want you to be closer to the seat of power.


The no campaign doesn't have any enthusiasm for this kind of control.  Indeed, their campaign so far suggests that they don't want your opinion on a whole range of subjects.  Let's take a few examples...

Currency
The Scottish National Party want to continue the Sterling Zone which is currently in place for at least 10 years after independence, with the only exception being that Scotland has a representative on the Bank of England board.  The Scottish Green Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Democratic Alliance want Scotland to have it's own currency which would be controlled by our parliament.  We're certain that the Labour Party, Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats will produce their own policy options after a 'Yes' vote, allowing the people of Scotland to choose the path that follows closest to their values.

The 'no' campaign suggest that 'creating' a Sterling Zone would be risky, difficult and might not happen at all (although they don't explain why).  Neither of the parties who can form the UK government offer any alternatives to the current set-up.

Better Together strategist
Trident
The main parties who make up Yes Scotland want to follow the wishes of the majority of Scots and have nuclear weapons removed from Scotland as soon as it is safe to do so.  People who disagree with this stance would still be able to vote Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem, who may advocate for the weapons to stay.

The 'no' campaign claim that an independent Scotland would not be able to remove Trident as:
a) The bill for moving and re-homing these weapons would, for reasons that have yet to be explained that would go against the historical precedence set by Russia following the end of the USSR, fall on Scotland.
b) Faslane, where the weapons are currently stored, would, against international law, be annexed by England.
c) NATO, which is primarily composed of non-nuclear states, would, for reasons that defy logic, insist that Scotland must host these weapons or be refused membership, thus leaving us in the same situation as stable non-Nato states as Sweden and Ireland.

Once again, your opinion doesn't matter with 'no'.

"You, run your own country without us?  Don't be silly old chap!" Bullingdon Club Statement (probably)

Defence
The SNP want to increase overall military spending in Scotland to match those of stable, independent Denmark.  This would be funded by having the tax revenue raised in Scotland staying in Scotland.  The defence underspend that we have suffered runs into the billions which would result in more military personnel for less money.  The Scottish Green Party wish to have military spending cut further, to levels enjoyed by stable, independent Ireland.  The size of our military and the scope of its operations would be dependent upon who the people of Scotland elected, allowing us to tailor our armed forces to match our needs and to react to changes around the world.

The 'no' campaign states that only Westminster should decide military policy.  They claim that a Scottish Defence Force would be incapable of operating as well as that which Denmark or Ireland enjoy (despite having equal or superior funding) for reasons which they have yet to explain.  The UK's position as 4th largest military spender in the world is unlikely to change as both of the parties who can form the government are in complete agreement.


Pensions
Yes Scotland want to introduce a triple-lock to pensions, ensuring that the purchasing power of the state pension remains the same.  Pensions are more affordable in Scotland however there are advocates for reform to guarantee a fairer, sustainable system.  But on the first day following independence, most pensions schemes will remain exactly the same as many are already administered in Scotland.

The 'no' campaign have no vision for how to improve the pension system, only vague threats which ignore Scotland's superior economic position.  They state that the EU (which they simultaneously claim will not accept an Independent Scotland as a member) will demand that the black hole in certain pension schemes will need to be filled instantly following independence.  This goes against historical precedence as other nations have managed to negotiate delays in the full application of this legislation.  It is important to note that the pension shortfalls were under Westminster guidance.

For more on pensions, see this comprehensive piece from Wings over Scotland.

These are just four of the areas where Yes Scotland want you to be a stakeholder in your country, but the no campaign don't.  So if you feel that your opinion should matter, if you want choice, if you want debate and if you want your children to be guaranteed to always have the governments they elect, then you need to vote Yes.

Otherwise, you're letting others decide.
Drew

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

50 and not out!

We wanted to take a little break from writing to pass on our thanks for the help and support we have received and to keep you all up-to-date on how Sign for Scotland is getting on.


The group officially came to life in January 2013 with a video from founding member John being uploaded onto YouTube.  Ever since then we have continued to grow, with our channel now containing a total of 15 videos that anyone can watch (including kind contributions from Yvonne Veitch and Peter Curran - TA of Moridura).  We have a few special videos due to be uploaded soon so keep watching!
 
You can find our channel here - Sign for Scotland YouTube
 
Facebook is probably the main way we communicate to the wider world, so it’s great to be able to announce that our group has received its 635th like.
 
We’re only supposed to be a small group within the wider Yes Scotland community, but we’re punching above our weight by having so many people supporting us.  And we want this to continue.  The more people we bring on board, the more we can do to secure that all important ‘Yes’ vote.
  
If you are on Facebook but haven’t yet given us a like, please consider doing so.  We can be found here: Sign for Scotland Facebook.
 
With Twitter being such an effective form of communication, it really makes us proud to have amassed over 930 followers.  We’re really grateful for each and every one and we hope the messages and links that we send are enjoyable and informative.
 
If you are reading this and would like to follow our Twitter account, then you can use the link here: Sign for Scotland Twitter.
 
We're also proud to say that this is our 50th blog and we have plenty more in the pipeline to come.  We have also had over 12,500 hits with October being our best month so far.

We know that our group isn't the biggest within the Yes Scotland family, and that is why the support we receive, through likes, page visits, shares and views, mean so much to us.  Thank you all, once again, for helping us over these 10 and a bit months.
 
Just 10 and a bit more to go before the referendum.  Let's get out there and win!
Drew
 
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Sunday, 10 November 2013

Why conservatives in Scotland should back 'Yes'!

This blog has already looked at why Green, Labour and Lib Dem voters should support Yes, yet there is a compelling argument for those on the right of the political spectrum to want independence too.  I’m going to break these down into three categories: the present, the future under ‘no’, and the ‘yes’ future.
 
The present
Depending upon who you ask, the Conservative Party has too much or too little representation in Scotland.  Let’s look at the numbers.
 
The last four Westminster elections (1997 to 2010) had the Conservative Party securing an average of 16.4% of the vote in Scotland.  Their average percentage of the seats over that time is 1.15%.  That isn’t a typo that really is how poor Westminster has been at reflecting the views of Conservative voters in Scotland.

Is this really the type of 'democracy' you want to defend?
Because Scotland has so few Tory MPs, they have very little influence over the UK party.  They can’t shape policy and they can’t promote Scotland’s interests.
 
The Scottish Parliament, by contrast, has been much kinder to conservatives.  As we noted in our blog, 'Why Democracy will be stronger in an Independent Scotland', the share of the votes more accurately reflects the share of the seats.  Conservatives have had steady representation after every Holyrood election whilst they have been all but wiped out at Westminster.
 
The future under ‘no’
We saw above that the Scottish Parliament offers much more to conservative minded voters in Scotland than Westminster, but what if there were a ‘no’ vote in September?  Some things would change, and others would stay the same, but the fortunes of the Conservative Party in Scotland would not improve.
 
Scottish members of the Conservative party will continue to be an insignificant part of a party which is either too weak to influence any policies (when Labour have an overwhelming majority) or so powerful that support from Scotland is unnecessary (when the Tories have an overwhelming majority).  In both instances, Conservative voters in Scotland are left feeble.
 
Because of Westminster’s ‘first past the post’ system, there is no real competition of ideas.  The least bad side from the Labour/Tory duopoly always wins, and this makes both sides afraid to offer anything of substance.  They attack one another, they smear each other’s names, and ultimately their policies in most regards begin to mirror one another.  Only the brand remains the same, and the members and activists are marginalised.

Stop agreeing and start debating!
If you want conservative values to have an influence in decisions in Scotland, or members’ values to influence party policy, then the ‘no’ future offers very little to you.  If you want a chance to end the perception that the Tories are 'London's party in Scotland', then ‘no’ offers nothing for you.  If you want representation which reflects the actual support of your party, every time, then ‘no’ offers nothing for you.
 
The ‘Yes’ future
A ‘Yes’ vote will change Scottish politics and offers the only realistic chance of a widespread conservative revival.  Without outside interference, the Scottish Conservatives can no longer be accused of being ‘London’s Party in Scotland’.  The notion that only the SNP or Labour represents Scotland’s interests will end, creating more floating voters who will be open to persuasion.
 
People will no longer vote against a party, as they do at Westminster, but solely for one.  The near identical approaches which the South East centric Labour Party and the South East centric Conservative Party will not work.  If you want elected, you need to offer something different from the rest.

There will be more competition of ideas too.  If those who lead the party drift away from the values of its members, then its members will have alternatives to choose from.  On the right, the Scottish Democratic Alliance, which is active and offering policy ideas right now, is the most obvious choice yet others will appear following a Yes vote.
 
Voting ‘Yes’ isn’t a vote against Britain, just a vote for more decisions to be made in Scotland.  It is a rejection of Westminster style politics in favour of more representative parliaments.  There is nothing there which goes against conservative values and there is nothing to be gained by trying to protect a system which is actively working against conservatives in Scotland.
 
Conclusion
If you want you and your constituency branch to have influence over policy, if you believe that 16.4% of the population deserve more than 1.15% of the representation, if you want any hope of your beliefs and values having popular support in Scotland, then, as a conservative, you should vote ‘Yes’!  A 'no' future has no future.
 
Drew
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Friday, 8 November 2013

To Hell With War! (Part 5 of 5)

"I am not a fool as to believe that war is a thing of the past. I know the people do not want war, but there is no use in saying we cannot be pushed into another war.


Looking back, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected president in 1916 on a platform that he had "kept us out of war" and on the implied promise that he would "keep us out of war." Yet, five months later he asked Congress to declare war on Germany.

In that five-month interval the people had not been asked whether they had changed their minds. The 4,000,000 young men who put on uniforms and marched or sailed away were not asked whether they wanted to go forth to suffer and die.

Then what caused our government to change its mind so suddenly?

Money.

An allied commission, it may be recalled, came over shortly before the war declaration and called on the President. The President summoned a group of advisers. The head of the commission spoke. Stripped of its diplomatic language, this is what he told the President and his group:
"There is no use kidding ourselves any longer.  The cause of the allies is lost.  we now owe you (American bankers, American munitions makers, American manufacturers, American speculators, American exporters) five or six billion dollars.  If we lose (and without the help of the United States we must lost) we, England, France and Italy, cannot pay back this money ... and Germany won't.  So..."
Had secrecy been outlawed as far as war negotiations were concerned, and had the press been invited to be present at that conference, or had radio been available to broadcast the proceedings, America never would have entered the World War. But this conference, like all war discussions, was shrouded in utmost secrecy. When our boys were sent off to war they were told it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy" and a "war to end all wars."

Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy.
And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.

Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?

The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

The chief aim of any power at any of these conferences has not been to achieve disarmament to prevent war but rather to get more armament for itself and less for any potential foe.

There is only one way to disarm with any semblance of practicability. That is for all nations to get together and scrap every ship, every gun, every rifle, every tank, every war plane. Even this, if it were possible, would not be enough.

Secretly each nation is studying and perfecting newer and ghastlier means of annihilating its foes wholesale. Yes, ships will continue to be built, for the shipbuilders must make their profits. And guns still will be manufactured and powder and rifles will be made, for the munitions makers must make their huge profits. And the soldiers, of course, must wear uniforms, for the manufacturer must make their war profits too.

But victory or defeat will be determined by the skill and ingenuity of our scientists.

If we put them to work making poison gas and more and more fiendish mechanical and explosive instruments of destruction, they will have no time for the constructive job of building greater prosperity for all peoples. By putting them to this useful job, we can all make more money out of peace than we can out of war -- even the munitions makers.

So...I say,

TO HELL WITH WAR!"

Smedley Butler died in June 1940.  The 'War to end all Wars" was, as he had predicted, a lie.  The Second World War didn't have the widespread use of chemical weapons which he had feared, yet even more terrifying arsenals were devised.  The nuclear age, where entire cities could be destroyed and irradiated with a single bomb, would be the next great threat to humanity.

Today, the use of depleted uranium, anthrax and other biological weapons are as prevalent as ever, and the profits are just as great.  The war racket continues and won't stop under the current political set-up.  Only more representation for the people and greater awareness of the subject will see this change.

We hope that you have enjoyed reading these excerpts over this last week.  The book, War is a Racket, is available in many book stores and from online retailers.  It is definitely worth a read.  It is our hope that one day this book will be in every school and studied within history classes to offer students a different perspective on the world they will inherit.  I know I wish I had read this work when I was at school.

Part 1 - War is a racket
Part 2 - Who makes the profits?
Part 3 - Who pays the bills?
Part 4 - How to smash this racket!
Part 5 - To hell with war!

Drew
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Thursday, 7 November 2013

How To Smash This Racket! (Part 4 of 5)

We know that war is a racket, we know who profits from the racket and we know the victims and how they are suffering.  This section looks at how to break this cycle, and to safeguard against war profiteering in the future.


"WELL, it's a racket, all right.

A few profit -- and the many pay.  But there is a way to stop it.  You can't end it by disarmament conferences.  You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva.  Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions.  It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.  The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted.  One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation -- it must conscript capital and industry and labor.  Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted -- to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages -- all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers -- yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders -- everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay risk insurance and by Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn't they?

They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered.  They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches.  They aren't hungry.  The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war.  That will smash the war racket -- that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic.  Capital still has some say.  So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people -- those who do the suffering and still pay the price -- make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared.  A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying.  There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant -- all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war -- voting on whether the nation should go to war or not.  They never would be called upon to shoulder arms -- to sleep in a trench and to be shot.  Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected.  Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote.  In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote.  In some, you must own property.  It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically.  Those who could pass and who therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite.  They should be the ones to have the power to decide -- and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in the physical condition to bear arms.  Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.

A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up.  The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists.  And they are smart.  They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation."  Oh no.  First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power.  Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people.  Just like that.  Then they begin to cry for a larger navy.  For what?  To fight the enemy?  Oh my, no.  Oh, no.  For defense purposes only.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.
  1. We must take the profit out of war.
  2. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.
  3. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes."
How many conflicts would have been avoided if we had followed those three steps?  Step one alone would have been enough to prevent the worst excesses of Westminster.  The final chapter, to hell with war!, offers General Butler's final plea to all of us to smash to war racket.

Part 1 - War is a racket
Part 2 - Who makes the profits?
Part 3 - Who pays the bills?
Part 4 - How to smash this racket!
Part 5 - To hell with war!

Drew
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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Who Pays The Bills? (Part 3 of 5)

War generates a fantastic profit for a privileged few, but their gain has to come at the expense of others.  Read below to find out who.


"Who provides the profits -- these nice little profits of 20, 100, 300, 1,500 and 1,800 per cent?  We all pay them -- in taxation.  We paid the bankers their profits when we bought Liberty Bonds at $100.00 and sold them back at $84 or $86 to the bankers.  These bankers collected $100 plus.  It was a simple manipulation.  The bankers control the security marts.  It was easy for them to depress the price of these bonds.  Then all of us -- the people -- got frightened and sold the bonds at $84 or $86.  The bankers bought them.  Then these same bankers stimulated a boom and government bonds went to par -- and above.  Then the bankers collected their profits.

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.

If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad.  Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States.  On a tour of the country, in the midst of which I am at the time of this writing, I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans.  In them are a total of about 50,000 destroyed men -- men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago.  The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital; at Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed at home.

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks.  There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day.  They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed.  We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face"!  This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans [without] mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda.  We didn't need them any more.  So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades.  Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.

In the government hospital in Marion, Indiana, 1,800 of these boys are in pens!  Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around outside the buildings and on the porches.  These already have been mentally destroyed.  These boys don't even look like human beings.  Oh, the looks on their faces!  Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.

There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time.  The tremendous excitement of war, the sudden cutting off of that excitement -- the young boys couldn't stand it.

That's a part of the bill.  So much for the dead -- they have paid their part of the war profits.  So much for the mentally and physically wounded -- they are paying now their share of the war profits.  But the others paid, too -- they paid with heartbreaks when they tore themselves away from their fire sides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam -- on which the profit had been made.  They paid another part in the training camps where they were regimented and drilled while others took their jobs and their places in the lives of their communities.  They paid for it in the trenches where they shot and were shot; where they were hungry for days at a time; where they slept in the mud and the cold and in the rain -- with the moans and shrieks of the dying for a horrible lullaby.

But don't forget -- the soldier paid part of the dollars and cents bill too.

His family pays too.  They pay it in the same heart-break that he does.  As he suffers, they suffer.  As nights, as he lay in the trenches and watched shrapnel burst about him, they lay home in their beds and tossed sleeplessly -- his father, his mother, his wife, his sisters, his brothers, his sons, and his daughters.

When he returned home minus an eye, or minus a leg or with his mind broken, they suffered too -- as much as and even sometimes more than he.  Yes, and they, too, contributed their dollars to the profits of the munitions makers and bankers and shipbuilders and the manufacturers and the speculators made.  They, too, bought Liberty Bonds and contributed to the profit of the bankers after the Armistice in the hocus-pocus of manipulated Liberty Bond prices.

And even now the families of the wounded men and of the mentally broken and those who never were able to readjust themselves are still suffering and still paying."

This section really emphasises the sacrifices made in both the war and home fronts.  This story, of destroyed men and exploited families, should be consigned to the pages of history yet the never ending wars show no signs of ending without radical change.  In Part 4, how to smash this racket, we look at how to end war profiteering, and with it, the vast majority of conflicts.

Part 1 - War is a racket
Part 2 - Who makes the profits?
Part 3 - Who pays the bills?
Part 4 - How to smash this racket!
Part 5 - To hell with war!

Drew
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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Who Makes The Profits? (Part 2 of 5)

In Part 1 we saw that war is a racket.  Here, we learn who makes money from war and how.

"The World War, rather our brief participation in it, has cost the United States some $52,000,000,000.  Figure it out.  That means $400 to every American man, woman, and child.  And we haven't paid the debt yet.  We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost of that war.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent.  But war-time profits -- ah! that is another matter -- twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent -- the sky is the limit.  All that traffic will bear.  Uncle Sam has the money.  Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time.  It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket -- and are safely pocketed.  Let's just take a few examples:

Take our friends the du Ponts, the powder people -- didn't one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war?  Or saved the world for democracy?  Or something?  How did they do in the war?  They were a patriotic corporation.  Well, the average earnings of the du Ponts for the period 1910 to 1914 were $6,000,000 a year.  It wasn't much, but the du Ponts managed to get along on it.  Now let's look at their average yearly profit during the war years, 1914 to 1918.  Fifty-eight million dollars a year profit we find!  Nearly ten times that of normal times, and the profits of normal times were pretty good.  An increase in profits of more than 950 per cent.

Take one of our little steel companies that patriotically shunted aside the making of rails and girders and bridges to manufacture war materials.  Well, their 1910-1914 yearly earnings averaged $6,000,000.  Then came the war.  And, like loyal citizens, Bethlehem Steel promptly turned to munitions making.  Did their profits jump -- or did they let Uncle Sam in for a bargain?  Well, their 1914-1918 average was $49,000,000 a year!

Or, let's take United States Steel.  The normal earnings during the five-year period prior to the war were $105,000,000 a year.  Not bad.  Then along came the war and up went the profits.  The average yearly profit for the period 1914-1918 was $240,000,000.  Not bad.

The War Department suddenly decides it has a wonderful plan to spring.  The Administration names a committee -- with the War and Navy Departments ably represented under the chairmanship of a Wall Street speculator -- to limit profits in war time.  To what extent isn't suggested.  Hmmm.  Possibly the profits of 300 and 600 and 1,600 per cent of those who turned blood into gold in the World War would be limited to some smaller figure.

Apparently, however, the plan does not call for any limitations of losses -- that is, the losses of those who fight the war.  As far as I have been able to ascertain there is nothing in the scheme to limit a soldier to the loss of but one eye, or one arm, or to limit his wounds to one or two or three.  Or to limit the loss of life.

There is nothing in this scheme, apparently, that says not more than 12 per cent of a regiment shall be wounded in battle, or that not more than 7 per cent in a division shall be killed.

Of course, the committee cannot be bothered with such trifling matters."

In part 1 we learned that war is a racket.  In this part, we learned who profits from war.  Part 3, who pays the bills?, looks at the victims of the racket in more detail.

Part 1 - War is a racket
Part 2 - Who makes the profits?
Part 3 - Who pays the bills?
Part 4 - How to smash this racket!
Part 5 - To hell with war!

Drew
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Monday, 4 November 2013

War is a Racket (Part 1 of 5)

"WAR is a racket.  It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.  It is the only one international in scope.  It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.


A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people.  Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about.  It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.  Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict.  At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War.  That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns.  How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle?  How many of them dug a trench?  How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out?  How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets?  How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy?  How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious.  They just take it.  This newly acquired territory is exploited by the few - the self same few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war.  The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting.  Newly placed gravestones.  Mangled bodies.  Shattered minds.  Broken hearts and homes.  Economic instability.  Depression and all its attendant miseries.  Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations."

Although General Butler was referencing early 20th century America, the same truths that he wrote about apply to the world today.  In part 2 we will see who makes the profit from war.

Part 1 - War is a racket
Part 2 - Who makes the profits?
Part 3 - Who pays the bills?
Part 4 - How to smash this racket!
Part 5 - To hell with war!

Drew
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Sunday, 3 November 2013

There are only two things we should fight for

In 1935, a 51 page book entitled ‘War is a Racket’ was published by Round Table Press.  Written by Major General Smedley D Butler, who was one of the most decorated soldiers in American history and twice recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, it instantly became one of the most significant anti-war works of the 20th century.  It described the mechanisms of war, identified those who profit from conflicts, and possible means to bring the racket to an end.

"Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents," Smedley D Butler
In the lead up to Remembrance Day, we intend to upload extracts from each of the five chapters from ‘War is a Racket’.
 
We at Sign for Scotland believe that this book should be in every school and library in Scotland and we hope that this series of blogs will, in some small way, increase awareness of the issues General Butler raised and the possible solutions he proposed.
“I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers.  There are only two things we should fight for.  One is the defence of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.  War for any other reason is simply a racket.”  Smedley D Butler
Part 1 - War is a racket
Part 2 - Who makes the profits?
Part 3 - Who pays the bills?
Part 4 - How to smash this racket!
Part 5 - To hell with war!

Drew
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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The have nots and the have yachts

Many ask if independence would lead to a wealthier Scotland.

This can be a difficult question to answer.  No independent nation in history has discovered oil in quantities similar to what Scotland possesses and become poorer, yet this alone can’t be used as a guarantee.  Also, Scotland has been a net contributor to the UK since the 1980’s, that is, putting much more in than we take out, so it stands to reason that investing this lost wealth each year within our borders would yield a stronger economy.  Yet this fact can’t guarantee prosperity either.


So let us assume that Scotland, despite becoming energy stronger in an energy weak world, and despite having representatives who are wholly elected by the Scottish people, and despite having a stronger focus on the issues that we face, and despite losing the need to maintain wasteful expenditure such as foreign military bases, wars and weapons of mass destruction, does produce lower GDP.  Would independence still be beneficial?
 
The answer is ‘Yes’.  The reason is simple; if a hundred people share £1,000 equally, then each of them is generally wealthier than the group who have £1,010 but with the majority concentrated in a few hands.  The UK is the forth most unequal society in the developed world, and is advancing quickly towards number one.  Does it make sense, then, to vote against independence so that the privileged few maintain their larger share?
 
We are rapidly developing a two tier society; the ‘have nots’ and the ‘have yachts’.  The ‘have yachts’ are clear that they do not want independence.  They are the ones who fund Westminster’s parties and most of the media.  They are the ones who do not want a more equal society or the potential for competition.
 
An independent Scotland would more accurately reflect the wishes of its people.

"We need to protect the big fish from the little ones," Westminster policy at all times
By having a greater number of political parties to choose from, it becomes more difficult for self interest groups such as the ‘have yachts’ to dominate our parliament.  Reforms, designed to reduce state corruption and increase the participation of citizens in our democracy, are almost certain to pass following independence.  The ‘have yachts’ don’t want this.
 
I firmly believe that independence would be a better option for Scotland as a whole in an economic sense.  I also believe that the majority of us will personally benefit by having governments that don’t actively concentrate wealth into the hands of the few.  A vote ‘Yes’ is a vote for the ‘have nots’.  No is backed by the ‘have yachts’.
Drew

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Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Unionist Cake is a Lie

How Scotland will be governed will change following the referendum.


If we vote Yes, then we will have full control over our destiny.  We’ll elect the governments we want, we’ll have a written constitution which will safeguard our rights, and we, the people who call Scotland home, will have ultimate sovereignty.  I don’t know what path we will take, but it is one which we will decide as a society and nation.

If we vote no, then we won’t have control.  The limited powers of the Scottish Parliament are not enough to protect us from Westminster's policies.  We don’t know whether the Scottish budget will be cut (Tories demand a re-think on Barnett and blame the Scots and Scrap formula giving Scots extra cash say Tory MPs), what policies will be imposed on us (bedroom tax is causing misery for 80000 of our most vulnerable families in Scotland) or what wars we are going to be dragged into (http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/03/20/294564/deception/).

"At the end of the referendum, you will be baked, and then there will be cake," Better Together pledge (probably)
The promises that the Yes Scotland campaign are making are those which they can keep – we can have a codified, written constitution, our proportional system means more choice and influence for voters, and, if we elect parties with such a policy, we can scrap Trident with minimal fuss.

Later this year we’re going to see the Scottish Government produce a white paper which will detail the vision of an SNP led independent Scotland.  The Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party will do the same, and the Jimmy Reid Foundation will be producing policy papers too.  But none of the things that these groups and others aspire to achieve can be done with a ‘no’, only Yes gives us options.

But what about ‘no’, what would that give us?  We know that Westminster could have passed legislation authorizing new powers to the Scottish Parliament well before the referendum, but instead decided to await the outcome of the vote.  The only logical reason for this is so they can hint at anything and deliver nothing, and we know from bitter experience what that is like.

Sign for Scotland
What chance have we got of getting a good deal if we go to the negotiating table having given up the one advantage we held over Westminster?  We’ll have no means to defend ourselves from Cameron’s judgement, and we’ll be in no position to maintain what we have, let alone achieve the reforms we desperately need.

"Have I lied to you?...I mean in this sentence?"
An independent Scotland will end some of Westminster’s wasteful expenditure, see the civil service jobs we are paying for return to our nation, and have the wealth generated within our borders used for our benefit.  The ‘no’ campaign will try to offer sweeteners to tempt people into believing that Westminster can change.

Don’t be fooled.  The Unionist cake is a lie.
Drew
 
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Friday, 18 October 2013

Is competition a sin?

I suspect I’ll receive one of four answers to this question:
Of course it is you heartless Tory! – (Most on the left)
Of course not you hippy communist! – (Most on the right)
Of course it is you hippy communist! – (Those in the 1%)
Oh, so you think you know the answer you smug [expletive]! – (Everyone else)


The reason why I raise this issue is because it has skirted around the independence debate for quite some time.  There have been numerous warnings from those in the ‘no’ campaign that an independent Scotland would need to compete with the rest of the UK and, with our government selfishly acting in our interests, this will result in a race to the bottom that will hurt everyone, but is there any truth to this?

The short answer is, no.  Businesses are always competing, both domestically and internationally.  This won’t be changed by having decisions affecting Scotland being made in Scotland.  What will change is the increase in attention that Scottish brands will receive through our own consulates and trade missions, but that would only be a benefit to our economy (it’s a privilege which some of our companies are currently having to pay for).

Competition under the UK's current rules
Independence allows us to move away from the false choices of Westminster.  Business tax rates don’t need to be raised or lowered in ungainly blocks; they can be adjusted in various ways.  For example, we can set lower taxes for smaller businesses, look at the cost of water and electricity, change national insurance rates so that those companies who employ people in Scotland benefit the most, set tax rates and reliefs by industry and much, much more.  A ‘race to the bottom’ is simply not necessary.

Westminster can’t put Scotland first because most of the funding for its parties and the votes for its parliament are concentrated in the South of England.  They will not bring in the legislation or policies which Scotland requires if it will hurt their main interests.

Scotland's prospects if we were to vote 'no'
Independence means that we can bring in the laws that benefit us, whilst the rest of the UK can have what suits them.  No racing is required and there will be more opportunities for our businesses to shine abroad.  That is the best of both worlds (and it doesn’t require any more sin!)
Drew

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