Retail Gasoline Prices

Since peaking at $4.11 a gallon on July 17th, according to the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) in the AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the nationwide average price for regular unleaded gasoline has declined to $1.78 per gallon.

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Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Afterword: How the Scots Invented the Modern World

One last look back at Arthur Herman’s How the Scots Invented the Modern World:

“Canada and the United States should be more alike than they are. Once parts of the same British Empire, they share a common language, a common geography, and a common economic fate. Both are, in their own way, nations of immigrants – including, in both cases, sizable and influential numbers of Scots.

“Yet their histories run in very different directions. The development of Canada was largely a public enterprise, controlled and in many cases financed from the top down. The Hudson’s Bay Company started that tradition; the building of the Canadian Pacific epitomized it. Americans built their world around the principles of Adam Smith and Thomas Reid, of individual self-interest governed by common sense and a limited need for government. The US Constitution of 1787 enumerated the powers of the federal government, and left the rest to the individual states. The Canadian Confederation of 1867 explicitly gave the provinces certain powers, and kept the rest for itself. It reflected the political vision of Dugald Stewart: government as a resource for society’s progress, rather than hindrance to it.

“Despite these differences, the Scots themselves were almost as important to the development of the United States as to that of Canada. In Bernard Aspinwall’s phrase, they were ‘the shock troops of modernization,’ the first echelon of skilled immigrant labor to reach America’s shores and make it a productive nation. They transformed the new republic from an agricultural community of ‘agrarian yeomen’ into an industrial powerhouse, the quintessential modern nation.

“The Scots who came to the United States in the nineteenth century reveal once again why the Scottish diaspora was so different from other mass immigrations in history. Despite their relatively small numbers (less than three-quarters of a million, compared with 5 million Irish), the vast majority of Scottish immigrants could read and write English. Most knew some trade other than farming. Almost half of the Scottish males who came to America between 1815 and 1914 qualified as either skilled or semiskilled workers. In fact, while Canada tended to draw Scotsmen who wanted to own a farm and lead a rural life, the United States attracted those who were determined to succeed in a trade or in a factory job. Their work ethic and moral discipline were bywords. ‘Of all immigrants to our country, the Scotch are always the most welcome,’ wrote the entrepreneur and prohibitionist Neil Dow in 1880. ‘They bring us muscle and brain and tried skill and trustworthiness in many of our great industries, of which,’ he added pointedly, ‘they are managers of the most successful.’

“Of all American immigrant groups, probably only the Jews had more or comparable skills. But unlike the Jews, or the Irish for that matter, Protestant Scottish immigrants were not held back by religious discrimination. And unlike the English, they did not expect special or preferential treatment. They lived by Sir Walter Scott’s famous maxim, ‘I am a Scot and therefore I had to fight my way into the world.’ They anticipated hard work as a matter of course.

“Nor were they intimidated by their new environment. On the contrary, it had a certain familiar feel: an Anglo-Saxon privileged elite who dominated politics and government; an Anglicized urban middle class divided into competing Protestant sects; Irish immigrant workers crowded into growing industrial cities; an inaccessible interior governed by tribal warrior societies about to be displaced by the forces of progress – here was Scotland all over again.”

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment