Economic choices (Union)
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Neo-liberal with 'trickle down'
Neo-liberal economic thinking says that economic success is best achieved by energetic entrepreneurs acting within a loose legal framework (the "small state"). Those individuals get rich, but wealth trickles down, and the rising tide lifts all boats. Economic behaviour - the ways in which people manage money in their lives - should be determined only by market forces. Benefits are kept low so as to force people into work, taxes are low so as to incentivise entrepreneurs, and utilities are not nationalised.
This policy, pursued by Britain consistently since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, has enabled the UK to maintain its position as a dominant world power.
Socialist economic thinking says that economic success is best achieved by collective action on the part of the working population, expressed through state institutions. Through these institutions, which mitigate market forces, everybody gets a fair share of the national wealth. Benefits are high so as not to disadvantage those less capable of work, taxes are high so as to provide those benefits and to maintain state institutions, and utilities are nationalised.
In the decades when the Scottish economy was driven by large-scale industries - steel-making, car manufacture - this policy made Scotland prosperous within the UK, because the UK provided finance, and access to international markets. With the falling-away of those industries, and their replacement by a service economy, Scotland can no longer afford to be an independent country.
Social-democratic ('Rhine capitalism')
Rhine capitalist economic thinking says that economic success is best achieved by market forces acting under strong state regulation, expressed through a government that has the support of an informed electorate. Wealth is generated by entrepreneurs, who pay high taxes so that the state can deliver high benefits to the disadvantaged. The government makes pragmatic decisions on which utilities should be nationalised and which not. This is the policy currently pursued by the Scottish Government in those areas which have been devolved.
Rhine capitalism hampers economic growth because it penalises the high earners who generate it. Successful western economies do not use Rhine capitalism.