If we only had the powers over X we could solve these problems in Scotland, but because we're denied powers over X we cant actually solve Y, oh if only we had the powers.
We saw this with the introduction of SRIT. The SNP gave the impression that they wanted to have a more progressive taxation system in Scotland and to stop austerity - we know that to be very far from the truth - and when the time came the SNP remained "fiscal conservatives"
We heard the "if only" chorus when GERS 2016 was released. Rather than confront the problem of the loss of the fiscal transfer the SNP jumped to their favourite line: GERS wasn't about an independent Scotland. We would do things differently, if only we had the powers. With the full spectrum of powers provided for by independence then the SNP could grow the economy out of the loss of the fiscal transfer, or so the theory goes.
In the long run all are dead
With independence then, with the full spectrum of powers available to the SNP, we could simply grow the economy using "different economic levers" to make up for the loss of fiscal transfer. So good is this line that Nicola Sturgeon recently appointed Andrew Wilson (former MSP and centrist -for which read right winger in SNP terms) to head up a growth commission to actually come up with policies which will miraculously improve growth in Scotland.
But, back to GERS, there is a fundamental problem with this solution: growth to compensate for the loss of the fiscal transfer will take a VERY, VERY long time.
Taking the current fiscal transfer of £9bn and the Scottish Government's target of increasing growth levels by 2.2% to 2.4% then we can trace how long it would take an independent Scotland to catch up with a Scotland in the Union.
Now of course that time period could be shortened by a more heroic assumption about growth or public spending cuts or tax rises which wouldn't have any impact on the economy (but no one seems to be able to point to these). Furthermore the figures take no account to the deeply damaging and painful consequences of leaving the Union, of capital flight, or the higher costs of debt due to Scotland's higher interest rates.
On this basis 58 years is a really low estimate.
Now I'm sure some could make the case that this is all worth it, suffer now for the sake of our grandchildren, or perhaps their grandchildren, but it's not exactly tempting nor it is a practical solution to a real problem.
Furthermore the theory of growing out of the fiscal transfer suffers from one fundamental problem.
Fairy dust economics
What are these "different economic levers" that the SNP would pull to get the extra growth to bring our rates up to the levels of small EU nations? Especially as we're anything but small. When asked what these miraculous growth giving policies are most nationalists struggle to come up with anything of substance. There is vague talk of intervention (difficult within a free and open market) or targeted tax relief, all well and good if it works and pays for itself.
Before you know it you are into the realms of fairy dust economics that seems to believe that Scotland will grow because.... it will.
Given that higher growth for an independent Scotland is absolutely fundamental to a nationalist case you would think that they would have an answer to this? But it's all just sadly lacking and betrays that for many independence isn't actually about a better Scotland, it's more just about ideology.
Perhaps Wilson's Growth Commission will come up with something of substance, and I'm here to help!
Because ironically, there is a silver bullet for nationalists which can encourage more economic growth. The trouble is the SNP have backed themselves into such a corner over Brexit that they can't go near it.
People & places
Economic growth comes largely from people, productive people in an economy. Scotland has a lot of space and not enough people. The solution then is immigration, lots of it, far, far more than we have been used to in the past.
Furthermore the immigration needs to be directed.
It's no good having immigration into Scotland then for those people moving out of the Scottish economy to say an EU economy or to England. Nor is it any good if they move to the densely populated central belt, that just exacerbates the issues we have in providing uneconomic public services to our rural economies.
The solution then is to use our exit from the European Union and the requirement for the free movement of people to direct immigration to the places we need it. Think of the case of the Brains, were they living in the centre of Edinburgh then their visa expiring would not be particularly remarkable, the fact that they are living in a remote Highland community that needs all the people it can get makes it noteworthy and tragic.
But there is a solution to this, as Michael Gove proposed during the European Union referendum and Tom Harris outlined in his open letter to Nicola Sturgeon. Scotland could take control of immigration either within or outside the UK (provided it was outside the EU) and direct immigration to our rural communities that need skilled and unskilled labour to flourish, grow and generate revenue to pay for their services.
This is nothing unusual, the Australian visa system regularly directs immigrants to rural communities or specific areas of the country. Why can't it work for Scotland? It needs to, it's the silver bullet that deals with the problem of our size and universal provision of public services.
Why wont the SNP fire the gun?
So what's stopping the SNP from embracing and campaigning for this policy, a policy that would at a stroke solve the problem for the Brains? Well it's simple; the European Union. This policy is incompatible with free movement of labour which the SNP have no choice but to argue for.
In their opportunism over Brexit they've painted themselves into a corner. If the SNP had Scotland's interest at heart, rather than the SNP's, they would be embracing the opportunity that Brexit offers and arguing for a directed immigration policy to Scotland's rural communities.
A very, very, very different Scotland
Make no mistake about it, this is the method of transforming the Scottish economy, solving the loss of the fiscal transfer and enabling the additional growth that Scotland needs if it is to take its GDP above its level within the UK.
However at the same time we should not underestimate that transformation. This would represent a profound change to Scotland, its people and its landscape. All of this would change, radically, in a short space of time. To make this work Scotland would need immigrants in the millions over a small number of years, our rural landscape would need to be transformed with new housing and strong transport links.
This would no longer be the Scotland of the wide green open spaces but a landscape of New Towns and a multicultural, multiethnic Scotland closer to the populace of London rather than Livingston (I've nothing against Livingston, it was just nice alliteration).
This is nothing so simple as Scottish independence but a complete reinvention of what Scotland means in terms of people and place. It's radical, it's a huge change - nothing short of a revolution - and it's a case that works.
The question is do the nationalists have the courage of their convictions to argue for this, in the past they have dodged the silver bullet so my hopes aren't high, but perhaps Andrew Wilson will rise to the challenge.