IT is puzzling that those who point - sometimes in faux horror - at the state of schools or hospitals in Scotland, are also often those who hyperventilate at the thought of tax rises for the well-off.

It would perhaps be a kindness to say that these people have trouble with basic maths, or the rudiments of economics. One would be hard pressed to find a five-year-old who didn't know that you need to spend money to have nice things.

As the Tories once taunted progressives: there is no magic money tree. And nor should there be. As the Sunday Herald has long argued, if we wish a decent society then we have to pay for it. And by a decent society we mean one in which the poor are given the chance to prosper, public services are invested in, and jobs and infrastructure are created.

The alternative is to keep your hand in your pocket, make taxes low and accept something lesser - a society that is unequal, unfair, more cruel.

With this in mind, the Sunday Herald supports the broad brush of the recent Scottish budget. It is a strong progressive step in the right direction and has much to commend it.

However, a government cannot increase taxes with progressive promises and then fail to deliver. The SNP must use increased tax revenues to improve the circumstances of ordinary people. Spend the money of citizens to better the lives of citizens and a government will be judged to have done well. Take our money and waste it, and the dustbin of history beckons.