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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Scottish X-Prize - Any Reason This Wouldn't Work Other Than That Our Luddite Busybodies Won't Try it?

  Last night Channel 4 did an item on how the Isle of Man (pop 80,000) is a home to the growing private sector space industry. Naturally they veered between condescension about how such a small place (autonomous part of Britain but with its own tax laws) could have such pretensions and astonishment that it was achieving them. This says why. Basically they already had an aerospace infrastructure very large compared to national size, together with an internationally appealing low tax rate and were able to form a cluster of companies able to lobby the government to keep out of the way. The pre-existence of a cluster (like Silicon Valley) and a fertile atmosphere was enough:
"The Isle of Man is host to one of the most agile and dynamic clusters of aerospace and engineering companies in and around the UK region. Established in 2006, the Cluster is a joint initiative by the Isle of Man Department of Economic Development and the island's Chamber of Commerce. Working in collaboration with the North West Aerospace Alliance, it is directly linked to one of Europe's largest and most proactive Aerospace Clusters.
"The Isle of Man Aerospace Cluster will sustain an international market leading position within high technology and aerospace industries."
  Of course the British Space Minister used to proudly boast that our space industry is growing at 10% annually. That would be great if the potential was not so very much more.
   On a different subject the economically illiterate nanny statists of  the SNP have decided on the single most stupid, unfair, destructive and ineffective ways to stop Scots drinking imaginable. They intend to legally enforce a minimum sale price for alcohol, which incidentally will very probabnly be found to be illegal under EU competition rules. Unusual to find the EU more committed to free markets and individual freedom than a member government but that is the SNP for you.

  The effect of this will be to increase prices for the poor and young alone. None of the politicians, nosey parkers or medical mafia will see a penny on their expensive tipples but they will screw the poor "to protect" them.If they actually wanted to cut alcoholism let alone help anybody they would be in favour of job creation, a growing economy and providing some hope for the future - that is the best solution to despair.

  It is generally a bad thing to enforce rules on others without having to endure them yourselves, which is what we see here.

  It will, of course, have an economic effect encouraging people to shop across the border in Berwick and Carlisle and by mail. Incidentally this will presumably end any possibility of the people of Berwick agitating to become part of Scotland again.

  Here's a better alternative.
  Scots drink an average of  12.2 units weekly averaging men and women (p19) That is 3.2 billion. Put an extra tax of 10p on it which would raise £320 million, or slightly less if it succeeds in cutting consumption. We would have to get round such tax being a Westminster matter by making it part of the licencing fee.

  Then put all that into a Scots X-Prize foundation. Assuming it would be 5 years before all prizes were won that would be £1.6 billion ($2.5 bn) which could be offered initially. Remember that X-Prizes are 33-100 times more effective than the sort of grants NASA, ESA and all the government players get. If it were to be assumed that not the entirety of the world's space development were to move here and thus some of the achievements be made by foreigners the prizes offered could be increased proportionately.

  All in all, if such prizes work even fractionally as well as research shows they do then
Scoptland would be out of recession and fighting for world technological leadership. If they even appeared to work the people of Scotland would be able to find inspiration in something better than a bottle. Of course if they didn't then, by definition, prizes wouldn't be awarded so there would be no losers. None of the busybodies, nanny statists, government parasites and Luddites could possibly object. Well not unless they actually thought it would work and didn't want it to.

  Any bets whether most Scots politicos are honest nanny staters honestly interested in doing good, or Luddites totally interested in driving us back to the Middle Ages? I exclude the possibility of anybody in Holyrood actually being interested in freedom and progress.

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