Scottish Independence | Cato @ Liberty

From David Boaz:

Some scholars argue that the Act of Union in 1707 made the Scots part of a larger and more advanced nation and opened the way to the Scottish Enlightenment of David Hume, Adam Smith, and other scholars. And perhaps those modern ideas and the connection with England made possible the achievements of the inventor James Watt, the architect Robert Adam, the road builder John MacAdam, the bridge builder Thomas Telford and later Scots such as Alexander Graham Bell and Andrew Carnegie.

But whatever the benefits of union might have been in 1707, surely they have been realized by now. And alas, the land of Adam Smith has become one of the poorest and most socialist parts of Great Britain…

Read more at Scottish Independence | Cato @ Liberty.

China: US Shutdown Exposes ‘Ugly Side of Partisan Politics’

Reuters Shanghai:

China on Wednesday said the U.S. government shutdown had exposed “the ugly side of partisan politics” in Washington and expressed concern about its effect on the world economy.

An editorial on the state-run Xinhua news service, considered a channel for Beijing’s official views, said: “The United States, the world’s sole superpower, has engaged in irresponsible spending for years.”

“In the view of the latest political failure, a replay of the 2011 summer drama seems likely, which is certainly a concern for U.S. foreign creditors,” it said.

“With no political unity to redress its policy mistake, a dysfunctional Washington is now overspending the confidence in its leadership,” the editorial said.

Chinese leaders must be both puzzled and perplexed by the current spat between Congress and the Senate. How can a government which considers itself a beacon of democracy — and which advocates democracy to emerging nations — exhibit such disfunctional behavior? Separation of duties between the President, Congress and the Senate — designed to safeguard the nation from excessive concentration of power — have evolved into a recurring political logjam. Both major parties are guilty of burdening future taxpayers with public debt, in order to buy off existing voters, and kicking the can down the road — avoiding unpopular political decisions that are in the long-term interests of the nation. Failure to address unsustainable welfare spending, for example, has allowed unfunded liabilities to balloon to more than $70 trillion by 2012.

Weak political coalitions have also led to unstable government and a short-term focus in many Western democracies. These issues are completely foreign to China’s Central Committee.

The Central Politburo Standing Committee (“PSC”) of the Communist Party of China is a committee of 7 members appointed by the Chinese Communist Party to run the country, with Li Jinping acting as General Secretary. No political group has the power to block decisions of the Committee, allowing them to focus on long-term goals rather than short-term considerations. Ascendancy of the PSC is one of the major contributing factors to China’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes of decades of political turmoil.

I am not advocating that we abandon democracy and revert to a one-party state, but we need to address the weaknesses in our current system and adopt some of the strengths of others. An outstanding example of this is the Swiss system where a similar central committee is democratically elected, based on proportional representation. All parties are represented on the 7-member Federal Council and decision-making is collective. Council members serve one year terms as the largely-ceremonial head of state. The strength of the system is its stability, with only one change to the composition of the 7-member Council over the last 50 years. This enables members to focus on long-term goals rather than on short-term political concerns — one of the reasons why the Swiss economy is one of the most stable and successful, ranked 8th in the world in terms of GDP per capita according to the IMF.

Powers of the central committee are restrained by a vibrant direct democracy where citizens regularly vote on national referendums. The power of voters to overturn their decisions maintains a strong check on the central committee throughout their elected term and would also curb the influence of special interest groups, another abscess on butt of many democracies.

While most recognize the need for change, a major obstacle is the power of vested interests that are likely to impede progress at every turn. Only a major ground-swell of popular support could sweep them aside. In a way we should welcome crises like the current impasse, as further cracks in the dam wall of public opinion. When the wall breaks, hopefully we can build a better system…..if we have learned from our past mistakes.

Read more at China: US Shutdown Exposes 'Ugly Side of Partisan Politics'.

Immigrants in Switzerland are far more likely to have their application for citizenship rejected if the decision is made using a referendum. | EUROPP

When immigrants in Switzerland apply for citizenship, the decision is made in the municipality where they reside. While in some parts of Switzerland these decisions are made by elected representatives, in other municipalities individual applications are subject to a public referendum. Dominik Hangartner and Jens Hainmueller assess the impact of direct democracy on citizenship applications, finding that far fewer applications are accepted when a referendum is used. The applicant’s country of origin is the most important factor in determining success, with applicants from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia over ten times more likely to be rejected than those from other countries, such as Italy.

Read more at Immigrants in Switzerland are far more likely to have their application for citizenship rejected if the decision is made using a referendum. | EUROPP.

The World from Berlin: ‘The Common Currency Endgame Has Begun’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“At the end of the eventful day, the redemptive message came: Papandreou would withdraw his referendum because conservative Greek opposition leader Antonis Samaras declared he was ready to vote for the aid package with the government and take part in an interim national unity government……”

“But the reasons behind this welcome development did not lie in Athens, but in Cannes. There, Merkel and Sarkozy bet the house when they took the Greek prime minister to task. They didn’t just say that payments to Greece would stop until the Greeks made it clear they would hold up their end of the bargain. They also insisted that the Greek referendum would essentially be a vote on Greece’s membership in the euro zone — the really big question. The politicians in Athens decided they’d rather not take the risk.”

via The World from Berlin: ‘The Common Currency Endgame Has Begun’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.

Papandreou’s Hold on Power Weakens –

ATHENS—-Embattled Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has called an emergency cabinet meeting later Tuesday amid an open revolt in his Socialist party that could topple his government.

“Papandreou is trying to control a growing revolt in the party after the defections and calls for him to resign. The future of the government may be decided at the cabinet meeting,” a senior party official told Dow Jones Newswires…….

The referendum is seen as a high-stakes gamble aimed at quelling a public backlash against controversial austerity policies but at the risk of derailing plans aimed at solving the euro zone’s debt crisis.

via Papandreou’s Hold on Power Weakens –

Europe falls on Greek referendum

Dow Jones Europe Index has fallen hard since Greece announced it will hold a referendum on the austerity measures it has to take in return for the EU/IMF bailout proposal. Bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term selling pressure. Breach of medium-term support at 230 would signal another test of primary support at 210. And failure of 210 would signal a decline to the 2009 low of 150*.

Dow Jones Europe Index

* Target calculation: 210 – ( 270 – 210 ) = 150