Ed Driscoll

"The Axis Of Extinction"

Orrin Judd links to an article in The Scotsman on the rapid growth of that nation’s public sector:

SCOTLAND’s private sector has entered outright decline in the face of the relentless expansion of the public sector, according to official data obtained by The Scotsman.

Businesses have shed 17,000 jobs over a period where the government and its various agencies have hired 24,000 more staff – the exact reverse of the trend promised by Jack McConnell, the First Minister.

The CBI has warned Mr McConnell that his avalanche of government spending is now hurting the economy by squeezing out companies.

An unpublished survey of Scotland’s labour market by the Office for National Statistics has found 707,000 people are now employed by the government – almost one in three jobs in Scotland. Such a ratio is rarely seen outside Scandinavia.

Meanwhile, Mark Steyn looks at the rapid decline of the Scottish population:

For example, consider the following headline from the Scotsman the other week: “Teaching jobs in doubt as pensioners set to outnumber pupils by 2009.”

This was a story by Peter MacMahon, the paper’s “Scottish Government Editor”, and it begins thus: “Scotland’s demographic time bomb will explode in three years, when the number of pensioners north of the Border overtakes the number of children in school, the Executive has been warned.”

Seems straightforward enough: the country’s demographic death spiral is accelerating faster than expected. And, as far as the Scotsman is concerned, the alarming thing about this development is that it could put cushy state teaching jobs “in doubt”.

For crying out loud, man, get a grip. It puts every job “in doubt”. It puts the continued existence of your country “in doubt”. And it means the Scottish National Party is going through the motions: nobody needs a Scottish nation if there are no more Scottish nationals. See you, Jimmeh? Not for much longer.

Indeed, the remarkable feature of contemporary Scottish nationalism is that it has achieved all the features of a failed nation state without achieving the status of a nation state. “Teaching jobs” are the least of it. And doubtless the unions will see to it that, even when there is only one wee scrawny bairn left in the whole of Scotland, platoons of teachers will still be manning abandoned elementary schools across the kingdom. The jobs-for-life public-sector employee stood on the burning deck whence all the boys had fled.

With half the annual births it had in the 1950s and a population on the brink of falling below five million, Scotland has become a minor member of the axis of extinction: Germany, Japan, Russia – once great nations now recording net population loss. In its general approach to economic reality, not to mention the physical health of its population, Scotland is closer to the Russian end of the picture than to the German-Japanese end.

“The Axis Of Extinction” is a typically brilliant turn of the phrase from Steyn, although it runs the risk of reducing his blockbuster essay on the topic into merely a soundbite.