Blame Scotland's triumphant past for its 'dependency culture'

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Opinion digest: lazy Scots, Venezuela's election and the Nobel's silo mentality

LAST UPDATED AT 15:16 ON Tue 9 Oct 2012

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SCOTLAND IS A VICTIM OF PAST TRIUMPHS
ALLAN MASSIE ON LAZY SCOTS
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is exaggerating when she says that only 12 per cent of Scottish households make a net contribution to the economy and that Scotland is suffering from the "depression of dependency", says Allan Massie in The Daily Telegraph. But she has a point. Scotland was one of the places where the industrial revolution first took off. It became an economic powerhouse by the end of the Victorian era. But the rewards were unequally distributed and there was horrific poverty in places like Glasgow. "Social action was taken. The state set in to repair the damage that free enterprise had done." But Scotland went too far the other way. A dependency culture set in: "Individualism was suspect, communal action approved." For societies to thrive, a balance must be found between individual and social action. In Scotland, "the balance between individual and social action has been tilted away from the former".

CAN VENEZUELA SURVIVE ANOTHER CHAVEZ PRESIDENCY?
THE TIMES ON THE RE-ELECTION OF CHAVEZ
The re-election of President Hugo Chavez is bad news for the people of Venezuela, says The Times in a leader. Under Chavez's self-styled socialist revolution, "oil-rich Venezuela is a country cursed with power and water shortages, high unemployment, inflation of almost 20 per cent and falling real incomes". Corruption is common and the press and the judiciary have learnt not to challenge the president. Foreign investors have been scared away. However, the improving electoral fortunes of the opposition are a sign that Venezuelans are tiring of Chavez. The president won by only nine per cent this time – compared to 25 per cent in 2006. "Chávez has failed lamentably to harness the country's oil wealth to diversify the economy... If his health holds up there is every prospect of his seeing out his current term. There is less certainty that Venezuela's unravelling economy will."

NOBELS NEED TO CHANGE WITH THE TIMES
JIM AL-KHALILI ON NOBEL PRIZES
"The Nobel prizes are announced this week, with medicine and physics leading the pack," says Jim Al-Khalili in The Guardian. But the Nobel prize science categories are old-fashioned. For example, the exciting new discipline of quantum biology brings physicists together with molecular biologists to try and explain how living cells work. "If scientists are shedding their silo mentality and becoming ever more interdisciplinary, isn't it time the Nobel prizes followed suit and better reflected this trend?" New categories should be introduced by the Nobel committee and they should be varied annually, depending on where the breakthroughs have been made. One year astrobiology and geophysics might be picked, another year they might go to artificial intelligence or nanochemistry. "Boundaries between the sciences are blurring. Why not just reward the best research, rather than pigeonholing disciplines?" It's not a new idea... Didn't Crick (a physicist) and Watson (a biologist) work together? · 

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