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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Government "Childcare" Parasites Prevent Middle Classes Having Children and Impoverish Everybody

  Some time ago I suggested a number of ways in which government artificially pushed up the cost of living. The main ones were housing (75% parasitic) and electricity costs (93%). Here is an interesting comparison between costs of living in Britain and the US.
Gasolene prices: about $1.00/quart in Mariposa; about $2/quart in Sunderland. Groceries to feed two for a week: $138/Mariposa; $136 in Sunderland. Prices for comparable houses: $237,000 in Mariposa; $480,000 in Sunderland. Real estate tax: $2600/year in Mariposa; $1800/year (ave) in Sunderland Sales tax/VAT: 9.25% in Mariposa; 20% in Sunderland. State income tax: 10% for a middle class income in Mariposa; 0% in Sunderland Marginal income tax rate for a middle class income: 25% in Mariposa; 40% in Sunderland National insurance/social security: 15.3% in Mariposa; about 20% in Sunderland Medical costs: about 17% of GDP in Mariposa; included in the income tax/national insurance in Sunderland.
– Harry Erwin, PhD
  Higher personal taxes in the UK but they seem to not far above US Taxes + Health Care. He doesn't mention electricity but does petrol - overwhelmingly tax. The big unmatched difference is housing which is not due to tax so it must be regulation. If housing prices are 50% government parasitism in the US that makes 75|% here though I would not be surprised if it was higher there.

  When I did the article I also suggested childcare was another area of high government parasitism, but at the time had no figures. Now, following discussion on Mark Wadsworth I have. (p3) which shows childcare costs of as a % of family income:

Belgium 4%, Poland 5%; Portugal 4%; Greece 5%; Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary & Luxembourg 6% Finland 7%; Germany, Norway, Czech, Slovak, 8%; Korea 9%, Australia 10%; France 11%; Netherlands and EU average 12%, moving up through USA 19% finally to Britain 33%

This gives the first 10 an average of 5.5% or 17% of costs in Britain. I decline to believe the Swedes hate their children that much and so must assume that that leaves 83% of childcare costs in the UK being the regulatory costs government enforces.

In Britain you can get child support of up to £175 a week or £300 for more than 2 if you are poor. Indeed you can get this even if you are only in part time employment so that you can still get full time childcare.

This is government paying a selected part of the population compensation for an added cost government have created in the first palce, at considerable expense at both ends. Thus being a further example of how the state destroys at least 50% of our possible economy.

It also destroys affordable family formation, of which Steve Sailer has written, for the middle classes while encouraging it among the poor and single parents. As Steve has shown the correlation across the US states between voting for individual responsibility parties and welfarist parties is, not that surprisingly, very closely correlated with the cost of family formation. It is understandable why Labour pushes this government parasitism, less understandable why the Conservatives do too.

In my opinion even more importantly than voting patterns is that discouraging children is normally not in a country's long term interests. Discouraging it among families who are self sufficient and competent but not among those who are neither is storing up a multitude of disasters.

According to the BBC
Many parents in Britain are paying in excess of £8,000 a year for a full-time nursery place, a survey suggests.
The Daycare Trust found the yearly cost of a typical nursery place for a child under two was £8,684 in England, £8,216 in Scotland and £7,592 in Wales.
Which sounds like about £40 billion or 3% of GNP. The BBC being the corrupt fascists they are they spin the story as need for more government and subsidy, particularly for fakecharites like the Daycare Trust.

However the obvious and real answer is that getting government out of the way would allow costs to go down from £8,216 by 83% to £1400 and that would be good for the economy, for the individauls involved, for national growth and for a free and self confident society.

  At the time I estimated that government parasitism left us with about 24% of the money we could have without both taxation and parasitic regulation. Looking at child care being a higher proportion of HNP than I assumed and 83% parasitic rather than 75% it now comes out at 23% being left to us.
People should be allowed to afford that

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Continuing to Ask For a Single Climate Alarmist Scientist or Acrivist Not Paid by the State - Scotsman letter

climate record according to Hubert Lamb, founder of the CRU and a real scientist from before this became a political football

   The Scotsman published the first half of this letter today in response to Tom Ballantine's reply to my letter (actually though he named me the answer was mainly to what other writers had said). Unfortunately they edited out the 2nd half which I think a shame because I believe it makes good points well. They have now twice edited out to comparison with "astrology scientists" I was slightly surprised that they didn't want to make use of the reference I made to their microgeneration article but it may be the Scotsman want to wind down this particular discussion now.
Tom Ballantine has had the courtesy to respond to my letter (his letter Thurs) but unfortunately not to answer either of the main questions. The first, in response to his denial of making a living out of opposing global warming is whether he, or indeed any senior member of the "environmental" movement, makes their living without public money. The second was whether he can name a single scientist, anywhere in the world, who supports catastrophic warming and is not ultimately paid by public money. I trust he will not object if I take silence as a negative.

As regards the alleged "97% of climate scientists" who support catastrophic warming - 100% of those who make their living by the practice of the "science of astrology" say it is true. If this is the best evidence the alarmists can produce it is no evidence whatsoever. In fact the largest expression of named scientist's opinion on the subject is the widely unreported 31,000 who have signed the Oregon Petition saying that CO2 rise is not only not catastrophic but likely to be beneficial (more CO2 means better growing crops).
When one bears in mind that those and such as those can sell intermittent and unreliable "renewable" electricity to the grid at 46.1p per kwh (Scotsman "new vistas for domestic power" 7th Sept) when French nuclear is produced at 1.4p a kwh (a 3,190% difference) and that the Prime Minister's father in law is making nearly £1,000 a day from "renewable" subsidies, it is clear that there are considerable incentives to keep the scare going despite the obvious lack of evidence, after 32 years, that the planet is suffering.
 Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the 750,000 Scottish homes in fuel poverty or our few remaining real industries expected to compete with economies where energy prices are under 1/4 of ours. Such government parasitism can explain why we are in recession while China and India are growing 10% annually.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the 750,000 Scottish homes in fuel poverty or our few remaining real industries expected to compete with economies where energy prices are under 1/4 of ours. Such government parasitism can explain why we are in recession while China and India are growing 10% annually.

Ref - 750,000 fuel poverty

Father in law's £1000 a day

Oregon Petition - all BBC mentions ever of Oregon Petition - - 2 out of the 3 are responses from members of the public.
PS The Scotsman article about microgeneration was in the energy supplement in the business sectio on Weds 7th Sept. It is not online but states that we are legally required to pay 43p per kwh for "renewable" electricity generated and used in the home and on top of that another 3.1 p to anybody who, not having a use for it at the time "sells" it to the grid, which, odds on, won't have a use for it at that time either. Nice non-work if you can get it.

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Scottish Conservative's Heir Apparent Murdo Fraser calls for New Party

  From Murdo Fraser's launch speech:

"the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party is failing.
It is failing as a vehicle for the promotion of the values we stand for.
And it will never succeed in its current form.
A clear contradiction undermines everything we say and do.
We are a party which believes in devolving power to people but we haven't devolved power to ourselves....
Of course, there will be a predictable reaction to these proposals from our political opponents.
They'll say that we are changing the sign on the office, but inside there are the same people, with the same policies.
Same old Tories. The people of Scotland will see through it, they'll say.
I say to them; this time, you're wrong.
This is not simply a re-branding exercise.
This is not PR or spin.
This will be a new party.
With a completely new approach.....
A winning party with new supporters from all walks of life."

  I am in a somewhat unusual position - I have been in the LibDems, my own 9% Growth Party and now UKIP and at one stage endorsed the SNP's support of cutting corporation tax as making them the most economically progressive party in Britain. I have changed my opinions little and my principles not at all so it is clear my loyalties lie with principles rather than party names. For many others party affiliations are much more important.

   So how do I feel about Murdo Fraser's proposal?

The most interesting thing about this is his call to reach out to people outside the party.

We will have to see how that goes. If it is going to have new people it will have to be organised from the bottom up rather than the centralised way all the other parties are and the Conservatives in particular.
When David Cameron decided to give up the party's "cast iron" commitment to a referendum on the Lisbon treaty he did not have to seek the opinion of party members or even MPs who would certainly have disapproved. Any party that expects to get new members, anywhere on the political spectrum, will have to accept the members influence on and discussion of what they are supposed to support.
However if the party really is new rather than the same old Tories under a different flag it should do well, perhaps astoundingly well.
There are currently 5 parties in Holyrood, 3 of which (Lab, SNP, Green) are officially "socialist", one in which economic liberalism has been made officially "incompatible with membership" (LibDems) and one which has been so scared of criticism that it has supported "Scotland's socialist consensus" of big government, regulation and anti-growth policies (Conservatives).

Clearly there is a political niche and probably a large one, for supporters of economic freedom and getting out of recession. And a niche for a party where the members actually have a say as well..

If Murdo is going to really form it as a new party he is going to have to give a serious invitation to UKIP, Brian Monteith, the Scottish Enterprise Party and others. In turn the libertarian "right" should be open to a united front and not follow the sort of silliness the of the SSP/Solidarity and the Judean People's Liberation Front.

On the other hand lets not roll over on the promise of getting our tummies tickled.
Here are 3 things I would be insist on a new party that wanted my active support:

  • New people - Lord Monckton and Brian Monteith should certainly be on winnable positions on regional seats if they want them (perhaps Monckton should not do so in Fife since that would be displacing Murdo). Both are clearly competent and innovative thinkers head and shoulders above most in Holyrood and if they were not included it would indeed just be the Tories in a new paint job.
  • New policies - every party including the Tories voted unanimously for Scotland's Climate Change Act, the world's most draconian and expensive - I cannot imagine any libertarian wishing to join a party that would expect them to campaign for that. This could embarrass the present lot since it will, correctly, look like a complete U-turn. I suggest some form of words like
    "Since the Act was passed the climategate email leak and IPCC's retraction of its promise that the Himalayan glaciers will all melt by 2035 have cast considerable doubt on the catastrophic warming predictions. This is the case whether there was fraud or merely accident, indeed, because accidents are accidental it would be impossible to be sure there weren't far more of them. Consequently we wish to see the Act suspended until such time as the global record is at least half way to matching the 0.5 C decadal rise, from 1979, originally predicted".
    Since it isn't a repeal it isn't a complete U-turn. Any honest alarmist should support it in the certainty that the predicted warming will happen soon and sceptics can do the same in the certainty that it won't. I would also say that a commitment to economic freedom. I would like that economic freedom to include allowing the free market to build as many nuclear power stations as there is a market for - anything less means we cannot get out of recession; EU membership is not an issue for Hollyrood but a Scottish party would have to have any MP's free to vote on EU matters according to conscience; and to have the party supporting an EU referendum..
  • 3rd but most important - members have to dominate policy and candidate choice rather than having them imposed at the leader's whim (e.g. the dropping of the "cast iron" pledge). Without that a party to which all can give loyalty is impossible - this is particularly so since the party's MSPs, for the term of this Parliament, are going to be the Conservatives. This will also mean a far greater freedom to disagree than we are used to in UK politics - much more along the lines of US politics. However, once everybody knows that the tweets of one member do not denote party policy the media will have to accept it. Personally I would like to see candidates chosen in full primaries, as the US has, but this is likely to be beyond the financial capacity of the party. It should be remembered that while the growth of the TEA party movement in America has revitalised the Republicans and makes them almost certain to win the next presidential race the refusal of the Conservatives to even contemplate a referendum on the EU caused them to split their vote with UKIP and lose enough seats to deprive them of a majority.
  So lets run a fun scenario:

Murdo becomes leader and a party is formed to which, for the first year, all Conservative, UKIP, Scottish Democratic Alliance and some other groups and individuals are automatically members.

It invites membership of "Anybody who believes free market economic liberalism has repeatedly been statistically more efficient and more conducive to progress and freedom than centralised state control; that economic progress and human freedom are good things; that the union of Great Britain has been greater than the parts, historically and culturally and that, without fully endorsing even the more moderate versions of the precautionary principle, separation should not be undertaken unless there were overwhelming evidence that it would now be beneficial in the long term; that the EU has, so far, not provided evidence of being greater than its parts; that economy;  that in modern times the main driver of economic growth has been, and continues to be, energy" - All of these are clearly true and not, individually, controversial but they would all prevent a successful party being infiltrated by big statists. so long as enforced.

It establishes a very democratic constitution in which policy is decided by the party at large.

With an online, members only policy discussion board; spokesmen drawn heavily from those who are not current Tory MSPs.

It calls itself the Scottish Progressive Unionists (Unionist being the historic party name and also appealing to UKIP) (Progressive being the name that Conservatives used to stand on in council elections, with considerable success; it has been kept since by people intent on establishing a more free market party than the current Conservatives so using it would require and show their approval; it is a term the "left" have tried to adopt but, by definition, progressives believe in progress, something completely incompatible with the Luddism of the "new left"; it is also a term which means almost the exact opposite of "conservative", a name which is clearly outdated and somewhat embarrassing to any radical libertarian.)

On formation it registers 19% in opinion polls (5% up on the previous election).

In autumn 2012 following massive open discussion it adopts as policy - 3p income tax cut paid for by ending windmill subsidies; reduce electricity prices by building as many nuclear plants as the market wants; cut corporation tax to achieve Irish style growth; adding the right of Swiss/California style popular initiative referenda to the Scottish constitution; with an undertaking to press for referenda on separation from both the UK and EU; repeal the Climate Change Act which means to destroy 80% of our electricity supply over the next 8.4 years: Scottish Tunnel Project.

Polls put it at 29%, marginally ahead of both SNP (currently 31% and Labour (29%) who both lose some votes.

As the SNP continue towards blackouts, economic failure and more state parasitism, the Edinburgh trams passing the £1 bn barrier and the new Forth Bridge price rising faster the SNP vote collapses, largely going to SPU.

Meanwhile, with Cameron failing to seriously cut the deficit or end recession the UK Conservatives, seeing the example of both Scotland and the new Republican/Tea Party Presidency and seeing themselves sinking to 24% in the polls (& UKIP rising to 12%) ditch Cameron and form a similar arrangement with UKIP on similar policies.

All the good guys win all the elections.

The UK achieves China's 10% growth, Scotland achieves Guandong province's 15%

First British atomic spaceship reaches Saturn in 2021.

OK that all depends on everything going right, everybody getting on and the other parties continuing to make a pigs ear of things. Which part of that is impossible if we try or even unlikely?

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Challenge to Name Warming Alarmist Not Paid by the State - Scotsman letter

  This letter is in the Scotsman today. This is only the 2nd time a newspaper has been willing to publish a letter aski8ng this question - perhaps a sign of change. It deliberately challenges Ballantine, Harvie or indeed anybody else to name a single scientist who is not paid by government but still supports CAGW and it will be interesting to see if they, or anybody else in the movement, do. Online comments are strongly supportive and even opponents give no names.. Editing in bold
Tom Ballantine expresses his outage that anybody might think he financially benefits from denouncing catastrophic global warming aka global warming aka climate change aka climate chaos on the grounds that "I receive no remuneration from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland" (letter 6th Sept).
I would have been much more impressed if Mr Ballantine had been able to say who does pay him and is his position as head of SCCS career enhancing or not. I have looked for but not found any senior member of the "environmental" community who is not ultimately paid out of our taxes.
He gives, as his sole reason for supporting the claim that we are experiencing catastrophic warming (or whatever) the assertion that "97% of climate scientists" accept it. 100% of "astrology scientists" making their living from it say that astrology works but we will have to disagree on whether this is sufficient to prove it.
I challenge him to name a single one of those "scientists" or indeed a single scientist, anywhere in the world who supports catastrophe claims and is not paid by the state.
I have asked 10s of thousands of alarmists, worldwide (including Patrick Harvie on air), not one of whom has been able to present a single name, who did not turn out either not actually to be a supporter of alarmism or to actually be paid from taxes.
HL Mencken once said "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary".
The fact that nobody has been able to cite a single independent scientist who supports warming alarmism strongly suggests it is such a hobgoblin.

But perhaps Mr Ballantine will be able to provide a name.

 I regret the left out the reference to 100% of "astrology scientists" making a living from it saying it isn't a scam.

 The removal of "not actually" reverses the literal meaning of my point but I think it is made clear in the bulk of the letter. This is clearly simply an editing error and I am in no position to complain because they edited in "to cite" which was what I meant but had carelessly left out.

Otherwise editing tightens it up.

PS I got an email from Patrick Harvie MSP yesterday in reply to a bulk mailing of all MSPs about the Tunnel Project. He was opposed, as I expected, but only on ideological grounds. I will write of this later, when I am sure all the others have had the time to reply.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Cancel the Tram - Scotsman letter

  This letter from me appeared in the Scotsman last Tuesday along with a number of others mostly in the same vein.
With the refusal of Edinburgh councillors to stump up for the most expensive tram option and the Lib Dems insisting that what is left is the worst of all possible options, is it not time for them all to admit that the whole tram scheme never made any economic sense in the first place and just cancel the whole thing?
If you can't stop when you are ahead, perhaps it would be best to stop when you are only £600 million behind.
  To show the influence of myself and common sense on the Scottish political scene they immediately, under pressure from the SNP government which will come back to haunt them, voted to reinstate the full (well the full scheme after cutting it down to ending in St Andre's Square). They will thus spend at least £1 bn building 2/3rds of a project that could have been completed in full by now for £110 million, in the rest of the world, and wouldn't have made economic sense even then.

    There was also a rather good letter yesterday explaining the technical term "sunk costs" and why it is always vital to ignore them when making a decision. This is one of the differences between government and real life and why government is inherently less competent. In government it is better to spend a billion of other people's money and hope the chickens don't come home to roost before you retire, than admit failure now.
THE Edinburgh Tram Fiasco (ETF), its history and the biographies of all those involved. will provide as much material as is required to demonstrate the fallacy of Honouring Sunk Cost (HSC).

This fallacy is well known to every professional manager, accountant and auditor, but apparently is something of which politicians are comfortably oblivious.
Sunk cost is past expenditure that has no present value. "Honouring" sunk cost consists in having faith that if only more money was spent, somehow past expenditure would regain its value. Herein lies the fallacy.
The fact that money has been wasted in the past should not feature in any argument that proposes to waste it in the future. Sunk cost should be ignored and the benefit of future expenditure, if any, evaluated on its own merit.
The pathetic fact is that HSC and the enthusiasm for the further escalation of expenditure on what is an obviously failed project, is more directed to the creation and preservation of myths to pass on to future generations about the wisdom, foresight and acumen of the decision- makers than about achieving any viable outcome. This is especially true when the money involved is extracted by force from helpless taxpayers.

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Holyrood must see the light on tunnels - Scotsman article

  I was on holiday last week when, on Thursday, the Scotsman published my article on the Scottish Tunnel Project. It is essentially an abbreviated version of the article on Brian Monteith's ThinkScotland and here. I am very proud of this (and of my description as a "policy advisor to ThinkScotland").  Without Brian's pushing this would not have got into the MSM.

Comments on ThinkScotland have been uniformly supportive. Less so on The Scotsman where they were limited to 1 "environmentalist" assuring that building any roads was a no-no because we will have run out of oil before it is available - something which was clearly untrue even before the technological improvements that made shale oil competitive. A couple of other comments from Greens of the same nature showed a certain lack in reading comprehension. That they were limited to that proves they could come up with no serious objection.

The good thing is that there has been no dispute whatsoever that the programme is technically possible.

Alex Neil, the relevant minister, and Alex Salmond have contacted me promising an assessment from their officials. Though I am somewhat cynical of officialdom's Not Invented Here Syndrome I will write of it when it comes. 

Neil Craig: Holyrood must see the light on tunnels

By Neil Craig  

A major, mainly self-funding, programme to create new transport links could utterly transform huge tracts of Scotland

OVER the past two decades the Norwegians have revolutionised their transport infrastructure by cutting 900 tunnels with a total length of 750km. They have done these at the remarkable cost of under £4 million per km, which means the entire process has cost about the same as the new Forth crossing is promised at.
How is this possible, and why does it matter to Scotland? It is possible because tunnelling technology has improved and is still improving year on year.
Despite finance secretary John Swinney's assurance to Holyrood that a 2km Forth tunnel would cost £6.6 billion (half the cost of the proposed rebuilding of the Panama Canal and about 200 times what an equivalent Norwegian tunnel would be likely to cost), it is possible to build at these prices if we simply do it without spending years on paperwork and lawyers.
We have already done it with the Glendoe Hydro Scheme (£140m), which suggests that the 14km of tunnels must have been cut at about Norwegian prices.
What is needed is simply to hire a tunnel drilling company, possibly a Norwegian one on a fixed-price contract, with the act endorsing it giving the company total freedom to build, with a waiver of any further government or regulatory interference within, say, 500m of the tunnel heads. No involvement needed from Transport Scotland or other Holyrood bodies.
Would it improve Scotland's infrastructure as much as Norway's has been? No. We would gain far more.

However good Norway's roads, the distance from the capital, Oslo, to Tromsø will always be 700 miles, whereas the driving distance from Gourock to Dunoon can be reduced from more than 100 miles to less than two (they do have a ferry but, in another example of Scottish progress, on 30 June it was reduced to passengers only).
The history of human progress is closely related to the history of the reduction in travel times. One thousand years ago the most powerful parts of Scotland were the islands, and roads were little more than cattle tracks. The early Scots kingdom was built around the West Highland's islands and shores.
Thorfin the Mighty, Earl of Orkney, warred on more than equal terms with the King of Scots. Sutherland gained its name because it was to the south of the centre of power.
These small communities could be wealthy because the important lines of transport lay on sea lanes. The sea was a highway not a barrier.
The Highland Clearances happened because the Central Belt had better communications. Time and again development plans for the Highlands and Islands failed because of the expense introduced by poor or non-existent communications. The improvement in tunnelling technology means we can reverse that trend.
Map of Scotland showing possible tunnels
Islay (population 2,000) was once the seat of the Lord of the Isles, far more important than the slightly smaller Isle of Man (population 80,000).
Iona is perhaps the ultimate example of the importance of the change of transport patterns - the burial place of Scottish kings, as central as Westminster Abbey is to English history, it was chosen because it was in the midst of the sea highway of the Scots kingdom. Now it would hardly be more remote from most of us if it were in Australia. It could become a 120-mile, two-hour road trip from Glasgow.
Cutting these tunnels and building these roads would nearly double the accessible shoreline of Scotland. The economic effects are, by their nature, not really classifiable and would grow over the years in line with growing populations. People routinely live in Glasgow and work in Edinburgh, or vice-versa, a distance of 44 miles. Glasgow to Tarbert, Mull of Kintyre, could be the same and Islay only another 25 miles.
The thing to remember is that, despite Scottish Government projects routinely costing eight to 200 times their estimates, there is no question that this can be done at the costs given. If something has been done at a defined cost before then, by definition, it is possible to do it for that cost, when the political will is there.
Assuming that Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Orkney (which has an oil fund) would pay for 90 per cent of their connections to Scotland, which would be tunnels going from the south-west of our coast, that leaves us with about 120km, most of them dualled and about the same again in new connecting roads. At £4m per km of tunnel and assuming half that for traditional roads would require a budget of £1bn or less.
Working from formulae used by the Scottish Government to calculate the economic impact of roads being opened or closed, I estimate providing up to ten new routes would be likely to increase Gross National Product by £40bn.

While that estimate looks too good to be true, it is clearly as reliable as other estimates the government bases decisions on - but even if it were out fortyfold, it would still make economic sense.
There are, however, zero-cost options Holyrood could consider:
• The tunnels could be made toll roads, as the Norwegians have done. I think tolls are an inefficient system, though they have the advantage of being transparent. Possibly the civil disobedience of the people of Skye, in objecting to tolls on a bridge, may have scunnered any future use of tolls.
• Land capture tax could be applied, by charging, say, £10,000 on any new-build house beyond a tunnel that has risen in value after the tunnel is completed, and reserve it to the builders. The difference in value between agricultural land and building land is many times that £10,000 per plot.
• A temporary land tax on sales of land made accessible by these tunnels could be introduced. These would be considerably more valuable when they can be reached. A bond issue could then be made with this revenue allocated to paying it off.
• Companies cutting the tunnels and roads could be allowed, as payment, to purchase land beyond the tunnel either from government or compulsorily at fair value; with automatic full planning permission; a waiver on all possible government regulations; and the option on a permanent rates waiver so long as the owner provides all council services. I suggest 1sq km for each kilometre of tunnel cut. This costs us absolutely nothing and could kickstart the building of new communities.
The environmental effect would be minuscule. Possibly 300km built adding to 78,772km across Scotland. It would also produce areas that are effectively Enterprise Zones. Seeing tycoon Donald Trump has, so far, spent five years on his project with little to show for it, I suspect these ideas would get both transport infrastructure and new communities built quickly.

None of these ideas is set in stone, for ground conditions or traffic layout might mean a few should be moved along the coast a few miles.
The Iona link might well be better done by a causeway. I have taken the Arran crossing by the "back door" because it is the shortest way, but a link from Bute or even Ayrshire might, though costing more, provide a better cost-benefit ratio.
I have also made no suggestions for tunnels purely on land, because none of them would have nearly such a spectacular impact as island tunnels. Most Norwegian tunnels are, however, on land and the same potential exists in Scotland. The A90 is a less than straight route because the Grampians get in the way, but they need not be always be so impassable. Technology is progressing, particularly in the strength of materials, so longer, faster and cheaper tunnelling is coming. It is time we gave it full consideration.

• Neil Craig is a policy adviser to

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