It's shocking, I know. Katherine Kersten spent a week in a foreign country and came home from Scotland with a "fresh perspective" that nevertheless leaves all her beliefs intact:
- Unions, destructive
- Gas tax, horrific
- Welfare "spongers," bad
- Nanny state, to be resisted
- Government-run health care, oh, sure, people like it, but let me tell you about one case where...
- Personal responsibility, the source of all that's good and holy.
She neglected to get around to some of her other favorite themes, such as religion, sex and home schooling, but that's understandable, since having spent six weeks in Scotland myself on various occasions, I can't remember those topics coming up much.
Although 65% of Scots claim to be Christian, those Oliver Cromwell-burned cathedrals still standing work as a reminder to keep religion out of politics. Probably good for her to steer clear of sexual topics, too, since prostitution is legal there. But she missed the boat with home schooling. In the UK, parents have an obligation to educate their children, not to send them to school. Is Scotland a Nanny State or Heaven for Kerstenites?
She might've picked up a few other tidbits about her grand tour topics. Like why Scotland has longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates than the U.S., and why the people she talked to were satisfied with their care.
Kersten marvels at high European fuel prices like a farm kid rubber necking skyscrapers, pointing to the approximately $10/gallon price and the fact that the North Sea is a oil producing region... as if Scotland and the rest of Europe were just as car dependent and their lifestyle as oil-sucking as in the U.S. (I recall asking in a Dornoch pub for an estimate of how long it would take to drive to the next town and no one in the place had a clue, since they hadn't been there.)
Kersten says more than two-thirds of the pump price is tax, but doesn't note the price includes a 17.5% value added tax which is tacked on to the product price plus the per-liter excise tax. With fuel prices only heading upward from now to infinity, that would be something for all flat taxers to keep in mind.
Traveling in other countries presents an opportunity to challenge your assumptions about the world, to learn from other ways of approaching life and to deepen appreciation for what you have at home. Of course, it can also provide fresh fodder for a column flogging favorite themes and perpetual complaints.