Saturday, June 06, 2009
Scottish island, known as "The Queen of the Hebrides" (Banrìgh nan Eilean), is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. It lies in Argyll just to the west of Jura and around 25 miles (40 km) north of the Irish coast, which can be seen on a clear day.
Islay is the fifth largest Scottish island and the sixth largest island surrounding Britain.
Islay has just over three thousand inhabitants. It has a total area of just over 600 square kilometres (239 square miles).
Long long ago Islay was the capital of the Lordship of the Isles. It is 8% larger than the Isle of Man whose, prosperous, population is 76,000, so clearly there is wasted potential.
I have previously proposed the Scottish Tunnel Project similar to the Norwegian activity. This would mean cutting road tunnels to the larger of the Scottish islands & other needed links & if done at Norwegian costs should be far less expensive than the single new Forth bridge proposed. This would make it an 80 mile drive rather than a 200 mile ship voyage from Glasgow. One way to fund this would be by a levy on land sales in places where improved access means land prices rise.
I want to propose using this as an opportunity to do much more. Potentially at least not quite the Hong Kong (427 sq mi) of Europe but certainly a centre of human progress. Set up a Development Corporation as has been done successfully in Scotland before. Give it a charter like a normal commercial shareholding company owned 10% by the current population & 90% by government which shall sell off not more than 5% & not less than 2% on the open market annually. To stop it being simply a commercial company there should be a 10% dividend bonus & a 3 times voting share to residents up to 0.1% of the total. Government should be forbidden to use its voting share except to veto asset stripping or non-commercial decisions. Getting the first CEO right is vital - I suggest headhunting the youngest engineer on the board of Exxon, Richard Rogers, Disney or Singapore's government, with share options.
The corporation should also be responsible for maintaining local authority infrastructure & should have not only the right to create by-laws but to veto many central government regulations. It should also be given a 25 year holiday from corporation tax & capital gains/death duties. Though this would require Westminster as well as Holyrood legislation it would cost them nothing since corporation tax on Islay is not large currently. The corporation should be able to buy all agricultural & absentee owned land at the current market rate & on selling it include a requirement for continued payment of a Land Value Tax. The LVT requirement would also apply to non-agricultural land so long as the owners agree - any that don't would not have to pay LVT but would not receive shares in the corporation. This would also allow the ending of any council tax. Finally the corporation would have a duty to invest 10% of its profits, year on year, in scientific research & a University with 1/3rd of that research having to be for research attempting to break current scientific paradigms. It would also have to pay off the cost of the tunnel from the Kintyre peninsula.
Certainly not a libertarian society because the governing body has a lot of control. Nor a warm body democracy but a mixture of a corporation, a wealth creating concept that has worked since the Swedish King chartered the first one in 1347. & a Co-Operative in which electors can opt out of responsibility by selling their shares (or get more by buying more). This last element would weaken one great problem of democracies - that people have an incentive to use the government to take from the creators to provide circuses for the voters. I would not like this introduced now everywhere but think it is a useful social experiment that can be tried here, particularly since, if the community grows as I think it could, it would have a population which had voluntarily chosen to move to such a society.
If it worked we would see the speedy building of holiday communities, probably by prefabricated means & certainly without the 75% of UK housing cost that is regulatory. That would mean land values climbing which is what would get the Development Co-operative out of the red. The island's land area comes to 150,000 acres so land prices would only have to go up by £6,000 an acre to raise £1 billion. The lack of taxes & the extra voting power would encourage rich settlers. The money put into research & a university would encourage high tech start ups. While, even with the tunnel, it would be more isolated than most of Britain this also has the advantage that, combined with the power to create local by-laws, it could keep out the eco-terrorists who are making life hell for so many scientists. That plus the pure physical beauty of the place should make it very attractive to a significant number of the world's best & brightest.
I would like see this having similarities to Walt Disney's original concept of Epcot as a Community of Tomorrow. See also. After he died the suits turned it into just another roller coaster. Lets see it as a place where the likes of Peter Duesberg & the cold fusion scientists are be able to do the scientific testing which would prove or disprove their theories without interference from politicians - that is why I put in the bit about 1/3rd of scientific grants having to go to contrarian science - that is actually how all science is supposed to be done but rarely is. Probably more would be disproven than proven but "proving" originally meant testing (still used for "gun proving") & the name change shows the inevitable social movement from "testing" to "finding evidence to support". Such change is the death of science. Also if you want to build a world class scientific centre you have to do something nobody else is (& some of it has to work) & not having a reputation to lose may be an positive benefit.
Walt Disney's original EPCOT
You could have all gas tax revenue in Scotland go to Hollyrood to be used in Scotland for local road transit projects. The US interstate system and a lot of state freeways are financed by a combination of gas taxes amounting to about 50 cents a US gallon, or about 13 cents a liter. These taxes are actually kind high when you consider the amount of waste that Washington adds to the system.
2. The island could be governed by a board of property owners. My local irrigation district is governed by a board elected by property owners that are given one vote for every acre owned in the system, with a maximum limit on the number of votes allowed per landowner.
3. The Island could be used for nuclear reprocessing for Scottish reactors. Scotland could export electricity to England the way France does.
4. I wouldn't be surprised if the EU regulates tunnel construction, thereby driving up the cost for a Firth tunnel.
2 - The advantage of a literally share owning democracy is that people have complete control over how many votes they choose to get. The problem with land is that it isn't as easily tradeable as shares or any moveable goods & thus landowners are are always the established wealthy whereas I have more respect for self made men (self made persons?).
3 - There are smaller uninhabited islands further out which would be far better but it is an interesting idea.
4 - Wouldn't surprise me but nobody is saying so. Norway isn't in the EU which supports that idea.
On the other hand I am one of those humans who don't hate humanity.