The EU referendum

Sat 18 June 2016
For citizens used to representative democracy the belief we're voting for significant change can be intoxicating. We like to anchor our instinctive reaction for Remain or Leave, or Yes or No, with rational arguments. But instinct is a more powerful driver of thought than many of us can admit. Try …

Raising tax can raise GDP

Mon 13 June 2016
I've been improving my grounding in macroeconomics recently and have noticed something that isn't stated explicitly in textbooks, nor mentioned in public political debate, but I do think it's correct and liable to provoke some thought. The main point of this blog post is expressed in the title's 5 words …

Inchmaholme priory

Wed 25 May 2016
Inchmaholme priory is a ruin that sits on a small island within Scotland's only lake — the Lake of Menteith. It's called a lake rather than a loch due to a mistranslation of the Scots word laich which means lowlands. The island's air of tranquility is apparent as soon as you …

I've written a book

Wed 30 March 2016
I've written a book. It is called An Active Citizen's Guide to Scotland and in it I share my understanding of the information and data that describes Scotland's economy and society. You can visit its website activecitizen.scot or visit its facebook page. You can also read a sample of …

GERS revenue 2014-15 preview

Sun 06 March 2016
I was leafing through Scotland's National Accounts, as you do, when I noticed that some aspects of the much awaited 2014-15 GERS (General Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) report, which is due for release later this week, are in fact already released, albeit tucked away at the end of a spreadsheet …

A tale of two Dunbartonshires

Fri 04 March 2016
The issue of devolving powers more locally is a recurring theme in recent political debate and particularly the de-centralisation of income tax — the single biggest source of public revenue. This raises the question: How can taxes be set and collected locally to fund council expenditure when income, wealth and needs …

Scotland - full fiscal flows

Tue 23 February 2016
Scotland's fiscal flows are the monies related to tax and public spending that wend their way through all three levels of government — UK, Scottish and local — and sustain our public infrastructure and services. I created the diagram below to illustrate the flows, drawing on a number of sources. The figures …

Is raising the Scottish rate of income tax progressive?

Tue 02 February 2016
A progressive tax change is one that it benefits those on lower incomes more than higher incomes. Let's consider what raising the Scottish rate of income tax by 1p means. The bar below shows the income of someone who's on the minimum wage, earning about £14,000 (before tax) per …

Absolute poverty

Mon 07 December 2015
Absolute poverty has different meanings in different contexts. I thought it'd be interesting to compare the UK meaning with the international one and consider the extent to which they are comparable. First, here is the United Nations 1995 definition of absolute poverty: A condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic …

A wee bit more on electricity in Scotland

Fri 20 November 2015
This is a just a quick follow up to my last post to tighten up a few details on the estimates I made. The numbers and graphs presented in this post supersede the ones in the last one for a few reasons which I'll detail below. But, in short, the …

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