Ms. Riddell

Most amusing. Three points:

One of the most welcome parts of Balls\’s children\’s plan is the renewed commitment to abolish child poverty by 2020. If that happens, and it will take some investment, then many ogres of childhood may melt away.

Could we please get this straight? This wll not be investment. It will be current spending. We\’re not going to be able to spend billions up to 2020 and then stop, considering the problem solved. We\’re going to have to go on spending those billions forever, until the end of time. For each new generation of children will require exactly the same corrective taxation and benefits handouts to alter the market incomes outcome to the desired one.

Health, fitness and weight are all class issues. Obesity and heart disease are plagues of the poor. It is no accident that far more children are overweight in the UK, with its sclerotic social mobility, than in the fairer Nordic societies.

OK, we\’re on the page where the education system does or does not lead to social mobility. So can we please actually have a look at what those fairer Nordic societies actually do in their education systems please? Sweden has a pure voucher system for education financing. Finland has a modification of vouchers (and, to what will most assuredly be a fit of the fainting vapours from educationalists, divides children at 15 into academic and vocational streams, at different schools: this is Grammars and Sec Mods, just at a later age). Denmark has a private school system both larger than the UK\’s and also funded considerably by the State:

The private independent schools (frie grundskoler) play an important role in Danish education. There are around 430 private schools situated all over the country, and approx. 11% of a cohort go to private schools for primary and lower secondary education.

Primary and lower secondary education is free of charge at municipal public schools. The private schools charge a fee, and the average for non-boarding schools is DKK 13,000 per year. Both the government and the municipality contribute considerably to the cost of operating the recognised private schools. 

Primary and lower secondary education is governed at municipal level, and it is the obligation of the municipality to ensure that all children receive education. 

Both private schools and continuation schools receive a substantial state subsidy.

Oh, and note that it is organised locally, not nationally. So if we\’re going to try and change the UK education system to get to that fairer outcome, can we please start adopting some of the policies which lead to that fairer outcome? Like, umm, vouchers, subsidy of private schools, sorting the academic from the vocational? Or is real world evidence not acceptable these days?

Critics say it\’s not in the gift or remit of the state to confer happiness. Why not? When it has proved so adept at making children unhappy – by piling on too many jail sentences, Asbos, exams, dead-end schools and unreal expectations – it also bears a duty to be an agent of a better life.

Err, if the State is making people uinhappy then surely we don\’t want it to potter off and try and make them happy in other ways: what we\’d actually like it to do is stop making people unhappy, isn\’t it?

9 comments on “Ms. Riddell

  1. “Could we please get this straight? This wll not be investment. It will be current spending. We’re not going to be able to spend billions up to 2020 and then stop, considering the problem solved. We’re going to have to go on spending those billions forever, until the end of time. For each new generation of children will require exactly the same corrective taxation and benefits handouts to alter the market incomes outcome to the desired one.”

    This is not necessarily the case, certainly not worthy of the tone you take. One of the major problems of extreme child poverty is that much of it transfers to the next generation. Thus in a real sense it could be investment – much like education can be seen.

  2. Subsidy lowers quality. I would expect more chavs, and less middle class children (as their parents will be footing the bill)

  3. “One of the major problems of extreme child poverty is that much of it transfers to the next generation.”

    Sterilise them then…

    Seriously, if you can’t afford kids, don’t have them.

    Is that clear enough?

  4. “Sterilise them then…

    Seriously, if you can’t afford kids, don’t have them.

    Is that clear enough?”

    Its not clear to me. Are you advocating to people that can’t afford to have kids, not to have them (fair enough) OR are you advocating to the state that it should step in and forcibly sterilise people that can’t afford to have children. Because that is just about one of the most extreme violation of property rights (an individuals right to their own body) I have heard suggested. I trust you don’t mean this.

  5. The first comment was actually a joke, I’d prefer the latter.

    But, now that I’ve started thinking about it…. 😉

  6. “Health, fitness and weight are all class issues.”

    Bollocks.

    I spend some time every weekend at my local ice rink. It’s patronised almost exclusively by the young working-class denizens of one of Scotland’s grottier new towns.

    These kids are fit. Fit, keen, athletic, and in some cases very expert.

    Of course, they are the ones who can afford the entrance fee… £3.10. Perhaps it’s less if you’re under sixteen, I wouldn’t know.

    Health, fitness and weight are attitude issues.

  7. AntiCitizenOne is right. And, unfortunately, that’s the complete opposite of what we want to happen if we really want to eliminate child poverty.

    From an economist’s perspective, we should be taxing the poor so they are incentivised to have fewer children and giving that money to the rich so that they are incentivised to have more.

    We certainly shouldn’t be subsidising the poor to have more kids.

  8. So say those with less money ignore your advice, Julia, and have children anyway, what is your suggested policy?

  9. Well, stop giving them even more money. That’d be a start, eh…?

    No doubt you will then be taking out an onion for ‘the poor innocent children’, and telling us ‘it isn’t their fault, why should they suffer’.

    Because it’s always for the children with your type, isn’t it?

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