Erm, slightly pessimistic I think Larry?

In the hundred years from 1914 to 2014, the century since the outbreak of the first world war, the UK will have declined from pre-eminent global superpower to developing country, or \”emerging market\”.

A tad of hyperbole there perhaps?

The symptoms of this vertiginous plunge in the world\’s rankings

Snigger.

Note the really important thing. In our \”plunge\” from relative number 1 to whatever it is today, number 6 or number 15, whatever, what has actually happened to the lifestyles of the citizenry?

Depends partly on who you believe but at the low end real incomes have increased by 8 times over that century and if we take account of hedonic improvements by anything from 20-100 times.

That\’s the sort of vertiginous plunge that sounds like a pretty good bargain to me actually.

Since the start of the crisis, the UK has borrowed more in seven years than in all its previous history.

What? Sirsly? An economics editor is using unadjusted nominal numbers to compare across time? Dear Lord, someone take away his economist\’s secret decoder ring.

\”and the annual allocation of places at state schools has disclosed such an enormous shortage that the authorities have resorted to lotteries and other forms of rationing,\”

Hang on a minute: this is becoming positively Pilgeresque. There is no shortage of places at state schools. The lottery is entirely to stop the middle classes colonising the desirable state schools. The system as a whole offers sufficient places for the number of children in the country. Lotteries are to stop people exercising a choice within the system, not to limit access to the system as a whole.

Barking, the whole thing.

18 thoughts on “Erm, slightly pessimistic I think Larry?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    The system as a whole offers sufficient places for the number of children in the country. Lotteries are to stop people exercising a choice within the system, not to limit access to the system as a whole.

    Yeah but he does have half a sensible opinion here. Lotteries are designed to make sure the children who want and could benefit from the good schools won’t get in. Deliberately crippling your economy by refusing to educate the best and brightest means you are well down the road to being Argentina.

    As the education system collapses, Britain is increasingly suffering from the Wimbledon effect – Britain provides the forum, but the rest of the world provides the players. We are a place for the rest of the world to do their banking. Not a country that has a lot of inherent strengths in itself. That means we are one stupid law away from the whole lot decamping to Dubai or back to New York or wherever.

    Then we will be facing Argentina’s fate as a newly emerged developing nation.

  2. In 1914 we ruled a chunk of the planet. Now we don’t – possibly a good thing that changed, possibly not, there are arguments either way. I for one am glad we are not the same as in 1914.

  3. SMFS

    You’re as barking as Larry. Lotteries do NOT prevent the “brightest and best” from getting in. They have as much chance as anyone else. What they DO prevent is well-off middle class families securing places at good schools by buying houses in the vicinity – whose prices inevitably are higher than house prices further away. That has nothing to do with the children being “brightest and best” and an awful lot to do with having more money. And it blocks bright children from poorer backgrounds from getting into good state schools.

    Having said that, I don’t think a lottery is the right approach. If we want the brightest and best to go to the best state schools we have to select them. We had a test that did that – and where I live we still do. Grammar schools select the brightest and best. Where they have been eliminated, the best comprehensive schools select those with the most money. I don’t regard this as an improvement.

    Of course, if all our schools were equally good we wouldn’t be having this debate. But that’s probably impossible.

  4. Frances (#6),

    I don’t know. What about an “old & knackered” market? Perhaps an “overtaken” market?

    Perhaps an E-type market? Great in its day, and still looks good, but now overtaken by even bog-standard more modern models.

    Is there some phrase that economic historians use for places like Brugge and Venice?

  5. Its perhaps a bit unfair to criticise Elliott for hyperbole: he is trying to sell his latest book (written with Dan Atkinson).Their last one was, I think called “The Gods that Failed”so they obviously believe overstatement sells.
    @d
    Elliot went to St Albans School a direct grant grammar (as also did Stephen Hawking).It was considered the kind of” good school” FC enthuses about which puts up house prices. (So all you then need is LVT to collect the increases in land values and you can improve the other crappier Council schools in the area.

  6. It was considered the kind of” good school” FC enthuses about which puts up house prices.

    Missing the point – DG Grammars were regional not local.

    So all you then need is LVT

    And now we understand why. A fanatic is …

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Martin Davies – “In 1914 we ruled a chunk of the planet. Now we don’t – possibly a good thing that changed, possibly not, there are arguments either way. I for one am glad we are not the same as in 1914.”

    I am curious, while there are benefits for the people who would otherwise have to rule the Empire in not ruling the Empire, what possible benefit is there to British people as a whole in not having said Empire?

    5Frances Coppola – “You’re as barking as Larry.”

    But I try harder!

    “Lotteries do NOT prevent the “brightest and best” from getting in. They have as much chance as anyone else. What they DO prevent is well-off middle class families securing places at good schools by buying houses in the vicinity – whose prices inevitably are higher than house prices further away.”

    I am perfectly willing to agree with that. So what they do is ensure that instead of 100% children from upper middle class families, instead you have some random selection. Which simply works to reduce the number of upper middle class children. Those parents will probably choose private education instead thus further reducing the pool of upper middle class children. Saying they have as much chance as anyone else is agreeing with me given they are a minority of students.

    ” That has nothing to do with the children being “brightest and best” and an awful lot to do with having more money. And it blocks bright children from poorer backgrounds from getting into good state schools.”

    Well yes but there is a strong correlation between being smart, or at least well suited to education, and having upper middle class parents. It may have been the case in the 1950s that there were a lot of working class children who benefited from selective education. In fact it is obvious that there were. It is not obvious now that there are many left. That may be due to genetics – we selected all the bright children from their parents and grandparents generation and raised them middle class. I hope it is more to do with aspirations and culture – Grammars gave all those families who wanted an education a chance to get an education. The result being that those children with an aptitude for school are now from middle class families and hence rich while those with an aptitude for prison and drug dealing remain in the underclass. Selecting children by lottery only gives the latter a chance to beat up their classmates. Fueling middle class flight from said schools.

    It is simply impossible to maintain that there is not a strong link between academic success and parental wealth in the UK these days. As the children of new immigrants show by way of contrast.

    “If we want the brightest and best to go to the best state schools we have to select them. We had a test that did that – and where I live we still do. Grammar schools select the brightest and best. Where they have been eliminated, the best comprehensive schools select those with the most money. I don’t regard this as an improvement.”

    I agree completely. The 11 Plus or something like it would be a much better system. Although I note that this does not prevent middle class parents buying their way in either. Housing in somewhere like Buckinghamshire, where the Grammars were not abolished, is expensive these days. But as we don’t have that system most places, what we do have is upper middle class parents buying houses. Which is a crude first order approximation to the same system. Which the lottery system promises to destroy. Thus making sure we produce no well educated children in the State system at all.

    “Of course, if all our schools were equally good we wouldn’t be having this debate. But that’s probably impossible.”

    Is it even worthwhile? I no longer see that as a particularly worthy policy goal. All children should have a chance, but children differ in their interests and talents. It will always make sense to concentrate the best teachers on the best children. At least until we reach the limits of what is possible for them to absorb.

  8. What was Great Britiain has now become ‘a people parking lot’ in the spasm of a eugenic politics.
    Hence thousands of the original inhabitants have fled.
    A self satisifaction group could have been found in the USSR and many other such countries. The wish of the ruling elite is always followed for a while.

  9. @SE
    Never heard the one that DG grammar schools were regional not local.This mean in case of St Albans School that people travelled as day pupils from practically anywhere in Hertfordshire?Or that the school took boarders? If they took boarders ,the catchment area would be much bigger than regional:national or possibly international.
    I fail to see how a house down by the lake near St Michaels Church would not attract a premium by allowing pupils to walk to school-though modern fees of £15,000 p.a might counteract that.That’s capitalism for you!

  10. SMFS

    We have grammars in Medway, where housing is cheaper than almost anywhere else in the South East – except Crawley, I think (and who’d want to live there?)

    What is your evidence for your belief that ability now correlates with wealth? And why do you believe that only the brightest and “best” children should benefit from good teaching? Seems a terrible waste of human capital to me. Educate the top 10% to the very best of their ability and sod the rest. Wonderful.

    I might point out that the 11+ test is at best a blunt instrument: it weeds out children who do actually have ability but have suffered from duff teaching in primary schools, and lets through quite a lot that don’t have much ability but whose parents have the money to provide private coaching. Inequality doesn’t start in secondary schools.

  11. Indeed. An 11+ system is the last thing that England needs: we’re already good at educating the academic elite, and a very slight redistribution of backgrounds among the people who end up at Russell Group universities isn’t going to make much odds to man nor beast.

    On the other hand, we’re very bad compared to most European and Asian countries at providing people in the bottom half of the academic distribution with anything loosely resembling a decent education.

    Substantially better than in grammar school days when secondary moderns were basically zoos (while GCSEs /are/ substantially easier than O-levels, they’re now taken by everyone rather than 20% of the population), but still pretty dreadful.

  12. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find reliable stats for this, but anecdotally, both from a maths/science teacher friend in his 70s who is still tutoring so knows current standards, and from the Barmaid Test*, I think Secondary Moderns actually did a far better job with basic literacy and numeracy than do today’s comprehensives. One reason was they were disciplinarian in a way that’s impossible now, but is most valuable for the less fortunate pupils.

    * The Barmaid Test – whether or not a Barmaid can add up the drinks bill in her head depends on her age, not the level of schooling she got to. If she’s 50+ she can probably do mental arithmetic.

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