Well, maybe not, but having just got back from a jaunt to Scotland I was struck by how little goes on up there compared to southeast England. Less people, more space. It's a salutary lesson, probably in economics and the lack of manufacturing industries, but anyway. It felt nice to me.
Oban is a small port town which seemed to be doing alright on tourism, but by far the largest taxpayer must be the local distillery. We went on the distillery tour, which was fascinating for many reasons, mostly how they make the stuff, but also to my mind how such a small (in physical size) business can make so much money, mostly for the government.
The Oban distillery covers about the same area as a medium sized supermarket, employs 7 (seven) people to shovel the malt and move the pipes around, and manages to produce around a million bottles (offsite) of whisky every year. Impressive. What's even more mind boggling is that at around £30 a bottle, and the tax on every bottle being around 70%, this one small factory in a small community miles from anywhere gives somewhere in the region of £21m annually to the Exchequer. Which is madness. But it's madness that's been in motion for centuries and you can't fight that sort of inertia. The Treasury is never going to give up on that sort of money; Oban is one of the smaller distilleries and the largest producers must pay many times that amount for their skill in boiling up some barley and water and adding yeast.
In these times where idiotic petrolheads complain about how much it costs to give children asthma and fuck up the planet, surely a word should be put in for this harmless eco-friendly industry (they use the leftover malt and hops for agricultural purposes, and recycle the casks, which were secondhand to begin with), which for me is one of the great pleasures in life made ridiculously expensive by our avaricious rulers. But barricading the gates of distilleries would be as stupid as barricading oil refineries. And twice as ineffective. So what are you going to do?!