Columns

Scotland v USA: A Tale of Two Tax Reforms - and Most Read Blogs of 2017.

At the end of 2017, my two home countries of the USA and Scotland are going in different directions in terms of tax reform. While the Scottish government is introducing more progressive taxes, the US is in the process of passing a controversial bill which cuts tax bigly for the rich.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Self-Driving Cars

 

Photo: Rob Bruce and William Bruce

This is a think piece about atonomous cars. it is written as a dialogue between three characters. Jim is visiting old friends Roy and Elspeth in their Boston apartment after a conference. Roy is a neoist, enthusiastic about new develoments. Elspeth is a Luddite. Jim is an environmentalist who loves trains.

In the corner apartment overlooking the city, Elspeth was unpacking a Whole Foods bag, in between flipping a clean towel onto the bathroom rail and kicking her gym shoes under the sofa. She greeted them at the door. “Jim! How lovely.”

After Jim had admired the view - two windowed walls overlooking the nexus of highways leading commuters out of the city, they sat at the breakfast bar and shared a bottle of wine, chewing over old times, while Roy and Elspeth produced dinner, chopping vegetables for a salad, frying fish.

After dinner, the argument began. Moving to the sitting area of the tiny living room area of the Webster’s apartment, set like an eyrie above the city’s nexus of highways, they surveyed the jammed outward-bound traffic across three lines of the interstate.

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From the battle for the White House to the pitch invasion at Hampden, ten most-read blogs of 2016.



Photo: Rob Bruce

I read somewhere that the character of a century is revealed half way through the second decade: - 1914 outbreak of WW1 and we know the rest, Versailles leading inexorably to the rise of Hitler; 1815 the Congress of Vienna brings a negotiated end to the Napoleonic wars and a decision to end the slave trade; 1713 Treaty of Utrecht establishes the Peace of Utrecht; 1618, beginning of the 30 Years War; 1517, Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to the door of a German church and the Reformation rolls out.

Read more: From the battle for the White House to the pitch invasion at Hampden, ten most-read blogs of 2016.

Stupid and hardworking is the most dangerous kind of leader.

A week has passed since the inauguration - a busy one indeed for President Trump, who has attempted to reverse the previous administration’s policy on health care, the environment, trade, immigration, national security and housing. It set me trying to remember the old Army saying about the different types of army officers

There are four characteristics, clever, stupid, hard-working,lazy. Every officer has two. “The clever and lazy you make Chief of Staff, because he will not try to do everybody else’s work, and will always have time to think. The clever and industrious you make his deputy. The stupid and lazy you put into a line battalion, and kick him into doing a job of work. The stupid and industrious you must get rid of at once, because he is a national danger.” From Hansard in 1942, reporting a debate in the House of Lords. According to a site called “Quote Investigator”, It’s based on an article quoting a German general in a British magazine, the Army, Navy & Air Force Gazette from 1933.

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The Boomers versus Generation X

Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the presidential election race in the USA, the next President will be pushing 70 - and a member of the post-war generation known as the “boomers”. It’s a generation that at least here in the US is still very much to the fore. People don’t seem to say here, as I have heard in the UK, that it’s about time they started to make way for the babies of the 60s and 70s, known as Generation X, famous for cynicism, Britpop and apathy.

Perhaps looking at the godawful mess that British politics is has been left in by its Generation X leaders is not much of an advert. For some, that slacker style, like a bad tattoo has stuck with age. Both David Cameron and Boris Johnson frequently gave the impression of having done their homework in the back of the ministerial limo and spent more time on the sardonic quip or a Smiths’ reference than on policy detail.

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