Scotland on Sunday readers' letters: SNP bringing Mark Twain’s comic economics up to date

Mark Twain was joking when he said that unemployment could be solved if each one of us did someone else's laundry and charged for it. Washing each other's clothes would give us all work, he said, and keep money circulating in the economy.

The Scottish Government has an international office based in the British Embassy in Washington DC.
The Scottish Government has an international office based in the British Embassy in Washington DC.

He assumed that everyone would realise that he was joking because such an economy would be useless as far as production of the things we really need is concerned: food, clothes, energy, transport, etc.

But now it seems that the SNP did not get the joke. The economy that they have created for Scotland is as frothy and insubstantial as the Mark Twain laundry system. Take, for example the pretend embassies in more than 100 countries around the world. The UK has a long-established system of embassies worldwide and Scotland is a part of the UK. But the SNP have decided to blow all that £350 million on unnecessary duplicates, just out of vanity.

It is the same story here in Scotland. There are more than 130 quangos, all funded from the public purse. Some of them do provide useful services, but many duplicate each other's activities. Back in 2018 the Fraser of Allander Institute warned that the proliferation of quangos, strategies and advisers was creating a fog of recycled information which was a drag on the economy. The Institute recommended a severe pruning. Clearly nothing of the sort happened, since another think-tank, Reform Scotland, has recently repeated the call. In fact the number of quangos has increased, not decreased, and the cost to the public purse has risen inexorably.

We need not look to the SNP to remedy the situation. Their leader, Nicola Sturgeon, keeps increasing her retinue of special advisers. There are now 17 of them, all paid for out of the public purse at a total cost of more than £1 million per year. They are like the flocks of courtiers that the old monarchs of Europe used to gather round them.

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So it seems that the SNP have brought Mark Twain up to date. Instead of exchanging laundry, the modern version has people sitting at computer screens all day exchanging worthless information. It looks like work, but it makes no real contribution to our economy. No doubt, if Mark Twain could see his joke brought to life, he would find it amusing. It is not so funny for us, though, since we shall have to live with the consequences when a sudden gust of reality brings down this whole house of cards.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Top spin

The Scottish Government's go-ahead for Judy Murray's sports centre and luxury housing project on green belt land at Park of Keir is regrettable, given the strength of local opposition to it (Scotland on Sunday, December 26).

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Her vision of a "bricks and mortar legacy" for her sons' sporting achievements is nothing but a mirage designed to conceal what is in reality an environmentally destructive property development, as well as a vanity project for Ms Murray herself. Clearly, top spin is a key element of her game both on and off the court. Those of us who see through it all will continue to call her out.

Roderick Dewar, Bridge of Allan

Family matter

Andrew Milligan makes a three part case for objecting to the assisted dying legislation being considered in Scotland (letters, December 19). The first part concerns better and more available palliative care. Nobody could seriously disagree with this.

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The second part is a repetition of the familiar 'slippy slope' argument;once the door is open a bit it will widen. This may be true but only if the public and the legislators support this, no different from the acceptance of the primary legislation.

To claim, without precision that some countries have 'expanded the lawsto include children' is a bizarre claim indeed. The claim that the line between assisted suicide and voluntary/involuntary euthanasia is 'fine' is equally unsubstantiated. Thirdly, the proposals clearly protect medical staff from doing anything to which they have a moral objection.

There are already instances where futile 'life prolonging treatment' can be withdrawn by the same medical staff who have 'an undivided commitment to the life and health of their patients'.

There is no scary 'sharp wedge' to be driven into the health services. Finally, I would say that fear of being a burden on family may indeed be an additional reason for someone considering assisted suicide. This could be resolved by improved support mechanisms reducing that 'pressure' Ultimately though it is a matter for the individual and their family.

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If my own end were to be long and painful, that is an emotional burden I would not easily impose on my partner; isn't that for me to judge? Like Mr Milligan's case, my opinion carries no more weight than an individual's view can and should.

David Mellor, Lochwinnoch

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