Monday, July 20, 2009

A fifth of the wealth of Scotland

Everyone knows about the Darien Scheme.
The Darien scheme was an unsuccessful attempt by the Kingdom of Scotland to establish a colony called "New Caledonia" on the Isthmus of Panama in the 1690s.
But did you know that it took a fifth of the wealth of Scotland to finance the thing and that the subsequent failure bankrupted the entire country?
Returning to Edinburgh, the Company raised 400,000 pounds sterling in a few weeks (equivalent to roughly £40 million in 2007), with investments from every level of society, and totalling roughly a fifth of the wealth of Scotland.
I didn't know that.

The Scots didn't even get any expensive lawn ornaments for owls to roost in.

Great Big Projects whose only purpose is to Enhance National Prestige are all well and good. Until they bankrupt your country. Then it's all 'Oops' and 'welp I guess it's the poor house for us!' and 'Oh, yes, Union with England is a swell idea - can they do something about those loans?'

Instead of mindlessly chanting 'On To Mars' and spending money on corporations 'too big to fail' and dinosaur tech like automobiles I suggest we invest in power generation in space and building a sustainable launch industry so we can get at the 98% of the resources in our solar system that are not terrestrial. Ya know - investing in the future.

Crazy idea, I know.

blog comments powered by Disqus