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When Scots head to the polls in two weeks to vote on independence, there will be plenty of kilts and bagpipes on hand to stoke the fires of nationalist pride.

Too bad there will be scant evidence of one of Scotland's most famous thinkers, Adam Smith.

Known as the father of modern economics, the 18th-century philosopher argued in favour of free markets and against too much government involvement in the affairs of commerce. But his laissez-faire approach is missing in the run-up to the Sept. 18 referendum.

Rather than pledging to keep their noses out of markets, those in favour of an independent Scotland are promising generous government spending on everything from free university tuition to cheap child care and affordable housing.

Especially in comparison to the budget-bashing austerity of David Cameron's Conservatives, the nationalists' promise to shower goodies on the little guy looks enticing to many voters. That is one reason for the surprising surge in nationalist support, which has put the independence camp within six percentage points of the lead heading into the final days of referendum politicking.

But the mundane, practical nature of many of the nationalist promises demonstrates the fragility of the support for independence. As the two sides argue back and forth, the case for an independent Scotland begins to appear less like the grand dream of an oppressed people, and more and more like a personal finance exercise.

The nationalists have announced, based on some rather optimistic calculations, that the typical Scot will be be ahead by £1,000 ($1,800) a year in an independent Scotland. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the 2013 Scottish Social Attitudes survey found that Scots' support for independence would wither if it meant a loss of more than £500 for the average person.

Given the high level of sensitivity to the financial implications of independence, the nationalists' focus on pocketbook issues is, as we Scots would say, a canny move. For all the rhetoric about Scottish pride, this isn't a referendum about Braveheart but about money.

The biggest ally of the independence movement in recent years has been the uninspiring state of the British economy. While British growth has picked up recently, many Scots like the notion of keeping more of the revenue generated by North Sea oil and cutting themselves free from an English economy that is increasingly centred on the financial-services industry in London.

But the outlook for an independent Scotland is murky. Nationalists argue that the nation of 5.3 million people has all the prerequisites for success, from natural resources to technological expertise. Unionists respond that an independent Scotland would face higher borrowing costs on government debt, rapidly diminishing reserves of oil and the burden of a population that is aging more rapidly than that of Britain as a whole.

The one thing that both sides agree on is that much would have to be negotiated in the event of a "yes" vote, from whether Scotland would continue to use the British pound to how its share of the national debt would be calculated.

In the face of such uncertainty, it might be wise to remember Adam Smith. "Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice," he wrote.

It's difficult for Scottish nationalists to argue that Scotland has been deprived of those advantages as part of Britain. Before being swayed by promises of more government spending, Scots should remember that in an independent Scotland, it's them who would be picking up the bill for the new programs.