In defence of
J K Rowling
and other rich people
To be fair to J K Rowling, she has set up an MS research clinic with £10m of her fortune, and donates to 13 (lucky for some) charities. She may not be redistributing wealth in the ingenious way that David McGill describes
(9 May) but she isn't simply living the good life or hoarding it under the bed.
David McGill suggested that the 'rich' (whoever they are) be compelled to place 50% of their assets (or wealth, as he describes it) in compulsory investment schemes. Apart from the practical difficulty of realising theoretical wealth from variable assets, there seems to me an element of unfairness about the proposal. Surely if coercion is to be enforced it should, like death and taxes, be universal. Let us all be compelled to put 50% of our wealth (defined in this case as that amount that we possess which exceeds the average family income for the period of the investment) into compulsory investments.
'Wait,' you cry, 'I would have to sell my house and car'. So be it, but you are arguing now of practicality rather than principle. If we are all in this together, let us all share in the benefits that Mr McGill's proposal would bring.
Those who have should quite rightly be asked to contribute fairly and honestly to the well-being of others, but where is the cut-off point? David McGill's proposal seems to embody all the meanness and envy which typifies the opprobrium there is in Scotland towards those who have prospered and measure their success in monetary terms.
Further to Kenneth Roy's piece (9 May) on the URGENT emails from Mr Salmond's office, is there a grammatical imperative that means that the meaning of the word 'urgent' becomes even more 'URGENT' if capitalised? I think the SR should LOOK INTO this or at least have an URGENT investigation.
Following the exceptionally low turnout of voters for the council elections, Eileen Reid (10 May) wisely questions whether compulsory voting, coupled with the fear of punishment, is an appropriate spur to motivate the electorate.
Surely the problem is that we were asked to choose between marginally different bowls of cold porridge: none at all appetising. In the current economic climate I was not looking for empty promises of investment, but courage and leadership. Among the scant information provided by the candidates seeking my vote, not one proposed to cut the bureaucracy that is strangling businesses; they would have won my support. Not one offered to improve the efficiency of our council; they would have gained my respect. Not one volunteered to oppose profligate PFI projects; they would have received my approval. In the end I made my choices based on the only thing to differentiate those standing: their personality – or the lack of it.
In my ward of West Dunbartonshire we got leaflets through the door but not one candidate or their representatives came to the door to talk about what they had done, or were going to do for the area. Are they frightened that they will be asked a difficult question that they do not have an answer for? Are they frightened that they will be asked any question that they don't have an answer to? I think the fear is that they have not got the ability to hold a conversation never mind a debate. They will now sit on the council and enjoy the ride until the next election.
The answer to all these problems is to lobby the Boundary Commission to get rid of the multiple member wards and get back to the one member one ward system. Then we can hold that person accountable for the disgrace that is West Dunbartonshire.
As always at election time I feel the ghost of my late father hovering somewhere above my right shoulder and the idea of not voting becomes anathema. He was born and brought up in the coal-mining communities of the north-east of England between the wars, and his miner father was unemployed for many years. For my father, his only vestige of power was the freedom to put a cross in a box at an election. To him, the 'working class' had fought too long and too hard for the right to do so, that choosing not to was a disgrace, not being bothered was contemptible.
Whilst understanding the frustrations expressed by Kenneth Roy and others who decided not to exercise their franchise, I beg them to consider that those who have particular agendas are likely to vote and the result can be potentially disastrous for the body politic. Let's look to improve political participation rather than allow prejudice to destroy a freedom so hardly won.
Let me immediately say that I agree with Isabel McCue about the appalling behaviour of too many members of the Westminster Parliament, although she would surely be better occupied to point out how such 'bullying, name-calling, and shouting' is a sign of a lost, rational argument and a hollow sense of priorities, rather than just going on to name-call her fellow citizens.
Isabel McCue is just the latest in a long line of SNP apologists who insultingly assume that Scots are in some way 'scared' of independence, deliberately programmed (by the UK establishment, presumably) to think themselves incapable of running their own affairs. Hence her use of insulting terms like a 'race of underdogs'. Would she insist that a woman who deliberately chose to stay in a marriage going through a 'rough patch' lacked courage and confidence?
The unpalatable truth is that many Scots still believe in the union because they can see genuine benefits. They don't cling to the UK or Britain out of fear; quite the opposite, in fact, as you need self-confidence and self-belief to effectively work with others for a common goal.
Scottish nationalists do themselves and their goal no favours by dismissively insulting those who don't agree with them, or contemplating the possibility of other explanations for a genuine reluctance to draw a close on 300 years of history.
Paul F Cockburn
Kenneth Roy'a implication (at least I think it was that) in his article (8 May) that they never had to bother doping the dogs at the track, they just gave 'corrupt fish suppers' to the ones that they didn't want to win, was interesting. I don't think the budget at Powderhall ever ran to fish suppers, even three-day-old ones, for the dogs. They fed them big bowls of porridge instead. Just before the race.
If I remember correctly through the mists of time, the fish suppers were hurled onto the track by disgruntled punters when they belatedly discovered their favourites dragging their distended tummies round the track in last place. The result, of course, was chaos.
I'm not sure which of these pictures offers the best metaphor for what seems to have happened in Scotland’s recent civic elections.
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