Best columns: Europe
Scotland still needs money from London
The Daily Telegraph
Scotland can’t afford independence, said The Daily Telegraph. In the wake of Britain’s Brexit vote—in which Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, but were outnumbered by English and Welsh voters who wanted out—the Scottish National Party (SNP) is “muttering” about holding a new independence referendum. The idea is “utterly fanciful.” If Scotland were, in fact, on its own this minute, it would have a budget deficit of about 10 percent of GDP, “among the highest in the world.” It only makes ends meet now because of wealth transfers from London. To get its public finances into line with EU membership requirements would mean “austerity measures that the nationalists would never contemplate.” Scotland’s revenue stream relies on oil money, and oil prices have been low for years. Yet the SNP, which has governed Scotland for nine years, continues to spend freely on public services. That’s fine; there are “reasons for spending much more per head than in England.” Scotland, for example, leads the U.K. in both illegal drug use and unemployment. But the Scots can’t pretend that they can pay for these handouts alone. If they want independence, “nationalists must accept that Scotland’s problems are their creation, and fixing them is their responsibility.”
Hoarding supplies like hamsters
Don’t worry, we’re not bringing back duck-andcover drills, said Dieter Hoss. The middle-aged among us remember the Cold War days of basement bunkers and air raid sirens, and we thought they were long gone. But now the German government has released its proposed amendments to the civilian defense protocols, calling on citizens to be prepared for an emergency with flashlights, canned goods, and a week’s worth of stored drinking water. Cue the hysteria. Immediately, some commentators started freaking out about an imminent Russian invasion, while others accused the government of trying to frighten the people into a war mentality. Most Germans, though, simply mocked the idea of storing up goods as a “hamster” mentality. The hashtag #Hamsterkaeufe, the German word for panic buying, shot to No. 1 on German Twitter. But the truth is, an overhaul of our civil defense recommendations was long overdue. So much has changed since the Cold War ended: We now face “cybercrime, cyberwar, a significantly greater terrorist threat, and extreme weather events due to climate change.” Sure, if you want, go ahead and view the government’s advice as “scaremongering or even warmongering.” But not to prepare yourself to survive a few days without running water and electricity is simply “irresponsible.” And no self-respecting German wants that label.