Saturday, 30 August 2014

The foundation of nationalism is division

The department where I work is probably more international than most workplaces, but still the majority of us were born in Scotland.  We tone down the Doric if it’s obvious that someone from overseas is struggling, but we also try to teach them a few words.  People get together over coffee or at the pub after work and talk flows freely. Aberdonians tend to me more reserved than Scots from places like Glasgow, but people from all over the world have found a pretty warm welcome in the department.  However, on occasion someone from elsewhere has asked me about some aspects of the Scottish character that they find a bit baffling.

There was a sweepstake back in June about the World Cup. I didn’t take part as I have no interest in nor understanding of the game, but I remember when the draw was made. Someone was pleased at getting Spain, someone else delighted to get Brazil, someone laughed when they got Iran. Finally someone drew England. I don’t want it she said. Some people commiserated with her. She continued to complain about her misfortune. She’d rather have had any team but England. When the games began to be played, people who normally have no interest in football began complaining about how the commentators kept making excuses about England’s performance. They kept saying England were unlucky. In every game not involving England they kept referring matters back to England.  They kept mentioning how England had once won the World Cup in 1966. Eventually I had a conversation with someone who had recently arrived from England who was finding all this rather upsetting and someone from Germany who thought it all rather strange. The German woman asked me, but haven’t the Scottish just celebrated a battle fought in 1314, don’t you sing a song about it at every football match. In Germany we also remember the previous times we won the World Cup. There was even a popular film about how we won in 1954. Do they hate us so much asked the English woman that they’d prefer to have Iran in the sweepstake? I said that real hatred against English people was thankfully very rare in Scotland. But that many Scots feel the need to define our Scottishness against something and that something is England. It’s rather like how if you meet a Canadian, they tend to emphasise in the first few minutes that they are not Americans.

On another social occasion people were discussing relations who lived elsewhere in the UK. Someone mentioned having a brother in Oxford, whose children had been born and brought up there. She emphasised however that the children were Scottish even though they did have English accents. Whenever they go abroad they also make it clear that they are Scottish as some continentals have a rather negative view about the English. I was asked about this later too. But that must mean that you think that Scotishness is something that can only be passed down from parents. Do you think that someone can only be a Scot if they were born and bred in Scotland? I answered that I didn’t think this to be the case, but that many Scots unthinkingly did think in this way. The odd thing is that I also have a Scottish colleague whose sister moved to France after university. Her children were born and bred there, but they are unquestionably French, feel French, talk French. And yet when someone is born and bred in England their Scottish parentage somehow trumps everything.

My colleagues from places other than Scotland sometimes ask me about the referendum.  They wonder if the person who didn’t want England in the sweepstake is a nationalist. They wonder if the person who emphasised that her nephews and nieces were not English would vote Yes. I said I hardly knew anyone in the department who would vote Yes and that these people would unquestionably vote No. They looked at me in confusion.  I tried to explain.

Nearly everyone who is from Scotland will on occasion say something unkind about the English. I remember as a child mocking a little English boy because he couldn’t speak the Doric.  Which of us can hand on heart say we have never done such a thing? This is probably something to do with human nature and is not limited to Scotland.  People in England often say unkind things about the French.  Lots of us say unkind things about Americans.  These things can of course be hurtful to the recipients. I’ve heard Scots say things about the English that they would never dream of saying about someone from Pakistan. Even however when this banter is mild it is the foundation of nationalism and the fuel that keeps it alive. It is peculiarly self-defeating for people who love Britain to think negatively about any part of it.

I remember in the Soviet Union no one thought that there was much difference between Ukrainians and Russians. Everyone spoke the same language, though Ukrainians also had their own language which was rather difficult for Russians to understand unless you had a little practice. The difference was similar to that between Doric and English. There was always a bit of banter. Russians sometimes called Ukrainians names based on the haircuts they had centuries ago, Ukrainians sometimes called Russians names based on the beards they used to wear. This banter was mild enough, though it sometimes got out of hand as it had done for centuries. The trouble with this sort of raillery is that it emphasised the differences between people who were fundamentally the same.  Go back a thousand years and you'll find no difference between a Ukrainian and a Russian, go back two thousand years and you'll find no difference between a Celt living in what's now England and a Celt living in what's now Scotland. But look what happened when Ukraine became independent. The Ukrainian language was encouraged, the Russian language discouraged, divisive interpretations of history and culture were developed always emphasising and trying to increase the difference between the neighbours.  The result as so often with nationalism is now obvious for all to see. What started as mild banter has ended in poverty, chaos, hatred and war.

Most independence supporters don’t hate the English, though some do. But they do want to emphasise the difference between Scots and those living in other parts of the UK.  They want to say we think this way. We have this culture. We are fundamentally different from those people south of the border. They would love it if we all spoke a language different from English. Perhaps after independence they would strive to make this dream come true.  Why do a significant number of Scots say I’m Scottish, not British if not because they can’t quite bear to have the Cross of St. George merged with the Cross of St. Andrew. They don’t want any red sullying the purity of the saltire; they can’t bear it if the Red arrows use red smoke.

To say I’m British is to say I’m a little bit English, a little bit Welsh, a little bit Northern Irish and a little bit Scottish. This should be the case wherever our parents came from. Britain is a welcoming place. It is hugely beneficial that people want to come and live here. Though there are challenges too. People from elsewhere tempted to vote for independence, should think twice, whatever promises may have been made to them. Nationalism at root is founded on difference.  It is not inclusive no matter what they may tell you. Many especially intellectual nationalists are indeed liberal civic nationalists. But this is not the fundament of their philosophy.

We are all equally guilty for the rise of nationalism in Scotland. I am guilty for mocking the little English boy. You are guilty for wanting anyone but England to win. Without this banter, nationalism would never have taken root in our country.  People who are British citizens, who don't think they are British, but rather only Scottish are clearly not founding their nationalism on something civic (citizenship), rather they are basing it on where they were born and who their parents are. This tragically is something only they can share.  No one else will ever be properly Scottish, no matter how long they have lived here.

There are signs that nationalism in Scotland is turning ugly. There is a win at all costs mentality that is dangerous to our democracy and much that we hold dear. I’ve seen what nationalism can do. It starts with banter and mild forms of prejudice. Don't let it go any further. If you love Britain don't think of our fellow citizens as the old enemy. Don't use unkind words about those we want to continue living with. Don't do the nationalists job for them.

If you like my writing, please follow the link to my book Scarlet on the Horizon. The first five chapters can be read as a preview.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Don't trust someone who would say anything to win independence

I'm honestly not sure who will win the independence referendum. I follow polling and the odds that bookmakers give, but it is perfectly possible that they have made some huge systematic error.  We’ve never had an election like this before. Therefore I will continue to have doubts about whether my side will win right up until the final count. It’s always best anyway to suppose that your opponent has a good chance of winning. Aesop showed us this in his tale of the Hare and the Tortoise. Nationalists keep telling me that their canvassing shows that they are leading. I suspect that such canvassing has a certain inherent bias, but perhaps they are right, perhaps they are going to win. Anyway it is best for us to continue to worry and campaign as if they might. What would happen if they did?

There are two competing visions of what would happen after a Yes vote. These visions are to a large extent governed by our political persuasions. The trouble with politics is that it is rather like two lawyers in a court case. Each lawyer is trying to persuade a jury. But the ability to persuade is not necessarily related to truth. The innocent are often convicted, the guilty often go free. In any political campaign one party attempts to point out that everything would be so much better if we won and so much worse if the other side won. Thus likewise in the independence referendum the Yes camp attempts to point out the advantages of independence versus the disadvantages of remaining in the UK, the No camp does the reverse. Both sides are equally positive and negative. Sometimes both sides tend to exaggerate. All politicians in the end are about as trustworthy as lawyers. Sensible voters try to see through the spin.

There’s a tendency among nationalists to portray Westminster [i.e. whisper it softly English] politicians as uniquely dishonest. Until the independence referendum I’d never heard of the McCrone report or Alec Douglas Home’s apparent cheating of Scotland in 1979. But I find that the nationalists have been “nursing their wrath to keep it warm” all these years. At the same time if I point out aspects of their history that they would rather forget, they ask what relevance does this have to the referendum today. We know that Mr Salmond spent a large sum of public money in order to keep secret non-existent legal advice on the EU and Mr Swinney misrepresented or rather made up non-existent negotiations with the Bank of England about a currency union. So let’s admit that both Scottish and English politicians sometimes lie and in their attempts to persuade, just like lawyers, sometimes depart from the truth. Sensible voters try to see through these people and reach the truth for themselves.

Most nationalists want independence come what may. They are like the lawyer who wants to convict or acquit his client. There is nothing I can do to persuade a committed nationalist, because he would want independence even if it would make us poorer. But the task is to persuade the jury that Scotland would be richer. That’s what he would say even if he knew that it was not going to be the case. When someone is clearly desperate to persuade, it’s always worth remembering that he will try to come up with any apparently persuasive argument in order to win his case.

But would Scotland be richer? I honestly don’t know for sure. I believe that Scotland neither subsidises the other parts of the UK nor do we receive a subsidy. Of course this varies from year to year, but we come out of the arrangement about equal. How things would go with independence crucially depends on things we don’t know. In order to continue breaking even, we would need the arrangements that we have right now to continue much as they do. We would thus need a currency union, sterlingisation would leave us worse off, perhaps much worse off, we would need the UK single market not to be disrupted, we would need the EU single market not to be damaged and for us to have continued access to it and we would need negotiations with the UK after a Yes vote to be harmonious. If any one of these things did not happen independence would be liable to leave us worse off.  

Independence is clearly possible. If countries like Latvia can become independent Scotland obviously could also. But most Scots probably haven’t talked with Latvians about how independence went. If they did, they’d find out that independence was a bit of a struggle and that the struggle continues today. I’d have an awful lot more respect for Scottish nationalists if they were similarly honest and simply said independence would mean we’d have some difficult, uncertain times ahead, but in the end it would be worth it. I might not agree, but I’d respect the position.

So how would things go after a Yes vote? The SNP position with regard to the crucial issues of currency union and EU membership is that everyone else is lying but us. Again this is like in the trial; the lawyer is trying to persuade the jury that the defendant is lying, not because he necessarily thinks that he is lying, but because he needs to say this in order to persuade the jury. The biggest problem with this argument though, is that politicians depend on public opinion. It’s just about possible to maintain that the wicked English are attempting to con the Scottish public again, that after a Yes vote they would announce solemnly that they were kidding us. It’s just about possible that years later we’d find secret documents showing how they'd set out to trick the Scots. I can see the appeal of this to someone who is rather paranoid and who doesn’t much care for the English anyway. But English public opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to a currency union. They are not going to vote for a politician who suddenly changes his mind after a Yes vote and says we just said it to con the Scots.

I hope that if Scotland votes Yes that the UK and Scotland would remain on good terms. It’s in the interest of both sides to do so. But there is much uncertainty about how the negotiations would go. Threats have been made and it looks as if UK public opinion is minded to drive a hard bargain if we choose to leave the marriage. The problem for Scottish nationalists is that nationalism begets nationalism. The EU does not want to see a new wave of nationalism spreading from Scotland to the continent. Places like Spain have been democracies for a relatively short space of time and do not need secession movements to add to what is at present an economic catastrophe. Closer to home there are signs that Scottish independence might encourage English nationalism. If England became independent, Wales and Northern Ireland would have to cut public spending by around 35% in order to break even. That would be some legacy for all those supposedly left-wing independence supporters, who have no sense of solidarity with their fellow citizens of 300 years.

The future is uncertain. But we know that Mr Salmond’s independence plans depend crucially on the cooperation of others especially the UK and the EU. Failure to obtain that cooperation would for a number of years put Scotland in the position of facing a struggle, as is common when countries become independent. We’d probably have to tighten our belts and face some difficult years. It’s possible of course that everything after a Yes vote would turn out as Mr Salmond promises. Everyone else may be lying. But remember he is just like the lawyer. He doesn’t have to believe it himself, he just has to try to persuade the jury. i.e. us. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

It’s the SNP's attitude to democracy that worries me most

Back in 2011 something massively unexpected happened. The SNP won an overall majority in the Scottish parliament. This was unexpected not least because even Labour at the height of their popularity could not win an overall majority at Holyrood. They always had to govern in coalition. Indeed the Holyrood voting system was designed so that it would be nearly impossible for one party to rule on its own. But lots of Scots who would not normally vote SNP decided to give them a chance. Lots of Labour supporters were sick of Labour back then. The SNP campaigned well, Mr Salmond was popular and many Scots thought why not give them a chance. Independence wasn’t mentioned much during the campaign and anyway voting SNP seemed safe enough even for those of us who supported the union. They couldn’t possibly gain an overall majority could they? But they did.

The SNP knew full well that their victory was something of a fluke.  It surprised even them. They also knew that they had not won overall power because the majority of Scots wanted independence. But it immediately became clear that they were going to use their power to try to achieve that end. Well fair enough. Everyone knows that the SNP is the party of independence.  Why shouldn’t they try to achieve their long term goal? Why not indeed? There are however, ways of ruling that are an abuse of power and which go against the traditions of Scottish and UK democracy.

The fact that you win an overall majority does not mean that you can do just anything. It would clearly be an abuse of power to win an election and then abolish all other parties and all future elections. But it’s also an abuse of power not to take into account the views of the minority and to govern without consensus. It’s this above all that the SNP have done. As soon as they gained their majority in Holyrood, they began to abuse it. It would have been a gesture that they intended to govern with consensus, if the SNP government had picked a presiding officer from one of the other parties. But no she had to come from the SNP. It would have been a gesture towards consensus if the SNP had allowed their MSPs to sometimes vote with the opposition. This is a useful way in which a party with an overall majority can be held in check. But there has been no dissent, no rebellions and the SNP members vote as if they were members of the Supreme Soviet rather than the Scottish parliament.

The Scottish parliament lacks a revising chamber to act as a check and balance on the government. The intention was that committees would be the equivalent of a revising chamber, telling the government when it had made mistakes or when it needed to think again. But the SNP immediately started to undermine this system by establishing absolute majorities in each committee and ruling out any dissent. Again this is counter to the traditions of Scottish and UK democracy.

One of the most important features of democracy is to have an independent, impartial civil service. These are the people that provide continuity between governments and also act as a check and balance on governments, preventing abuses of power. There is a tradition in Scotland and the UK that there is a distinction between party and government. You cannot for instance use general taxation to fund party activities or election activities. The reason for this is that the state is much larger than any opposition party. In countries like Russia where the distinction between Mr Putin’s party Edinai︠a︡ Rossii︠a︡ [United Russia] and the state has been abolished, no other party has a chance for the whole civil service works in Mr Putin’s party’s interest. It is for this reason that a fully independent civil service is so vital for a functioning democracy.

But the SNP have used the Scottish civil service to produce propaganda and party political manifestos. Civil servants as well as state employees like academics have been threatened that it is not in their interests to say anything contrary to the SNP’s policies. The White Paper “Scotland’s future” does not even attempt to be objective. It is an election manifesto in all but name. State funds have been used to fund the SNP’s campaign for independence. Websites and other government literature is blatantly party political. When I mention this to SNP supporters, their response is always we won an overall majority so lump it. But Mr Putin also won an overall majority and now the Russians must lump him forever.

If the SNP win the independence referendum, they will be in charge of the divorce negotiations. No doubt others would be involved also, but we’ve seen by how they run Holyrood, that these others would not be able to outvote Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon.  It would be a Scottish parliament with an SNP overall majority right up until Independence Day that would vote on these negotiations and which would be able to put SNP policies into any Scottish constitution.  They could put in what they like. Who could stop them? They have an absolute majority and we’ve already seen how they use it.

What happens if the SNP lose the referendum? Here we really see their attitude to democracy. I don’t know a single No voter who would not accept the result of the referendum as decisive. If Yes wins, we all accept that Scotland will become independent. But I hardly know a single independence supporter who will cease to campaign for independence after a No vote. Some of them are planning to wait as little as five years.  Oddly they think it is democratic that if No loses the result is decisive, but if Yes loses it isn’t.

The independence referendum is the SNP’s policy from first to last. It is a direct consequence of Scots voting for them in 2011 and would not be happening otherwise. The best guide to how an independent Scotland would be is how the Scottish Independence Party behaves now. They complain about a non-existent democratic deficit. The real democratic deficit is how they rule Scotland. Lots of Scots must be wishing they hadn’t voted for them in 2011. Don’t make the same mistake in 2014. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Nationalist accusations of scaremongering are illogical

Until the debate on independence began, I rarely came across the word “Scaremongering.” I knew what it meant, but it was the sort of word that I read once or twice a year usually in some work of history. I doubt that I had ever actually used the word myself. But now this word seems rather popular. Nearly every time people, who are opposed to Scottish independence, put forward arguments for why we think it is not a good idea we are accused of scaremongering. Every time we suggest that Scotland’s future as an independent state might not be quite as the SNP suggest we are again described as scaremongers. But how is someone who supports the UK supposed to argue? To believe that Scotland is better off remaining in the UK is to suppose that there are advantages to the Union. But if there are advantages to remaining within the UK, then consequently there must be disadvantages to leaving. But if pointing out the disadvantages to leaving the UK amounts to scaremongering, then supporting the UK amounts to being a scaremonger. Q.E.D. I am a scaremonger. But is this really what our friends and neighbours in the SNP believe? Do they really want to shut down debate in this way?

One of the interesting things about political debate is the way in which we argue. We like to give the impression that we believe X for Y and Z reasons. This makes us all appear very rational and disinterested. But let’s look at some of these reasons. Imagine if Scotland were to be very slightly worse off economically if we achieved independence. If an SNP supporter knew this to be so, or if having achieved independence he realised that it was so, would this make him change his mind about independence? Of course it would not. People who support independence, who have supported independence for years and years do so because this desire for independence is fundamental to them. But they have to try to persuade the rest of us and therefore they come up with all sorts of reasons why independence will lead to this or that desirable outcome. But it is vital to remember that they are not voting for independence in order to achieve this or that, but because they desire it as an end in itself. It is for this reason that the desirable outcomes sometimes change. For instance, at one point Mr Salmond said that he desired independence in order that Scotland could join the Euro. At another point he said that he wanted independence in order to leave NATO. Now he no longer wants these things, but still wants independence. Really the only thing he wants is independence and he will find whatever reasons he can to persuade the rest of us. Mr Salmond therefore puts forward whatever optimistic scenario he can come up with for the future of Scotland in order to persuade those Scots who do not fundamentally believe in independence in the way that he does. He then accuses his opponents of scaremongering when they question this excess of optimism. But what is excess of optimism but the mirror image of scaremongering? What he is doing is exactly the same as he accuses his opponents of doing only from the opposite perspective.

Let’s look at the definition of what it is to be a scaremonger: According to the Oxford English Dictionary a scaremonger is:

One who occupies himself in spreading alarming reports; an alarmist. Hence as v. intr., to spread alarming reports;   scaremongering n. the action of a scaremonger; the spreading of alarming reports; also as adj.

But in order to be a scaremonger it clearly isn’t enough that someone should be simply spreading alarming reports. Imagine that I notice a fire in a building and I run around telling everyone that there is a fire and that they should leave. Would I be a scaremonger in this context? No of course not, because although my report might be alarming it would also be true. The fire would really be dangerous and therefore people would need to leave. What would make me a scaremonger in this context? I would be a scaremonger if and only if I had not noticed a fire, but told everyone that the building was about to burn down. Being a scaremonger then depends crucially on truth.

Now let’s look at an argument between an SNP supporter and someone who believes in the UK. The independence supporter might say that if Scotland becomes independent we will keep the pound, while the UK supporter might say if Scotland becomes independent we will lose the pound. The SNP supporter immediately says that you are scaremongering. But logically the UK supporter can only be scaremongering if what he says is false. But then we immediately see that the SNP supporter’s argument is circular. He is assuming what he is trying to prove. For how else can he immediately assert that his opponent's position is false? The point of course does not depend on an argument about currency. Whenever the SNP accuse us of scaremongering they are assuming that their argument is true and our argument is false. But to assume in this way is self-evidently a logical fallacy. Presenting circular arguments is not to debate, but to attempt to shut off debate.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Is there a democratic deficit in Scotland?

Independence supporters often argue that Scotland ought to vote for independence because there is a democratic deficit. What they mean by this is that Scotland usually votes Labour, but sometimes gets a UK Government that does not reflect this choice. Sometimes we are governed by a party that Scotland as a whole did not vote for. This is undoubtedly true. But is it a good argument for seeking independence?
One problem with the argument is that this situation is pretty much universal. In every democratic country there are parts that sometimes don’t get the government of their choice. Texas usually votes Republican, but sometimes ends up with the Democrats in power. Moreover, if Scotland became independent the same scenario would recur. Shetland and Orkney usually vote for the Lib Dems, but would most likely end up with a Labour or an SNP Government in Holyrood. These islanders could legitimately say that it hardly matters how they vote as the Central Belt will always decide who rules Scotland.

When nationalists say that there is a democratic deficit do they mean that there is always a democratic deficit? Well there was no democratic deficit when Scottish voters voted for the Labour Government in 1997, 2005 and 2010 and got just that. The SNP did not cease campaigning for independence during those years.  So what would satisfy them with regard to this democratic deficit? Would they be satisfied if the other parts of the UK always voted the same way as Scotland? Does anyone seriously think that nationalists would give up their goal of independence under these circumstances? Of course they would not. The SNP want independence not because of a democratic deficit. That’s just an argument the SNP use to try to persuade gullible Labour voters to vote for a party and policies that are contrary to the traditions and ethos of the Labour party.

What’s the best way to deal with the fact that parts of a country don’t always get the government that they want? Secession isn’t the answer for this would lead logically to endless fragmentation. Every constituency that doesn’t win could declare itself an independent country. If you go back far enough many of them once were. The best way to deal with the fact that central government does not always reflect local wishes is devolution. If central government controls only macroeconomic policy, foreign affairs and those issues that the whole population has in common, the wishes of the parts of the country, like Scotland, that did not vote for it can still be reflected in devolved parliaments.

The democratic deficit in Scotland is therefore alleviated by the fact that we have our own parliament. We may sometimes lose an election in Westminster, but this is compensated for by Holyrood controlling the issues that affect only Scotland.  Our views are represented in Westminster at the UK level, so we have a say in issues that affect everyone. We would, of course, lose this say if we voted for independence and have no influence over economic that would still affect us.

Frequently the Westminster Government is exactly the one we voted for. But we have influence even when it isn’t. Without Scottish MPs, David Cameron would have won an absolute majority and would not have needed to form a coalition with the Lib Dems. But the most important thing to realise is that even if the Government in Westminster does not reflect Scotland’s wishes, it hardly matters. Devolution means that the UK government does not decide the issues that only affect Scotland, Holyrood does. There are whole swathes of Scottish life on which MPs from other parts of the UK have no say whatsoever. At the moment these include, health, education, law and order, agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Moreover, the powers of the Scottish Parliament are going to massively increased.

This situation means that while English representatives have no say in vast areas of Scottish life, the reverse situation does not obtain.  Scottish representatives influence not only Scottish matters in Holyrood, but also English matters at Westminster. Far then from Scotland having a democratic deficit, we actually have a democratic surplus. Imagine if England narrowly voted for the Conservatives, but because of Welsh and Scottish MPs got a Labour Government. That Government would in effect rule England for they don’t have their own parliament. But the reverse situation does not obtain precisely because we have our own parliament. It’s not therefore Scotland that has a democratic deficit, but England.

The major democratic deficit that exists in the UK at present is the lack of devolution in England. We can vote on their issues, but they can’t vote on ours. A further democratic deficit is that devolution doesn’t extend far enough. Someone from Shetland is still ruled by a distant power that will always outvote him, whether Scotland is independent or not. What Shetland needs is local democracy that brings real power to local communities. The same can be said for everywhere in the UK, whether it is Aberdeenshire, Hampshire, Gwent or Antrim. Of course, none of this will persuade nationalists. They are not interested in local power, but in creating a new nation state. But for people, like me, who live far from Edinburgh and Glasgow being outnumbered by the Central Belt is no different from being outnumbered by England. The solution to the democratic deficit in the UK is to devolve power to all four parts of Britain then to devolve it still further to all of the parts of those parts.   

Democracy is neither about always getting the government that I voted for, nor about always getting the government which the place where I live voted for.  Democracy is just as much about losing as it is about winning and accepting graciously that sometimes my views are not the views of the majority.  The most important ability an electorate has is the ability to kick out a government.  Imagine if Scotland had always got the Westminster Government of our choice in recent times. That would have meant permanent Labour Government. There would have been no change. We would be living in something like a one party state. Whichever party you usually support be very grateful that sometimes it loses and gets kicked out. If this did not happen we really would have a democratic deficit.