Last time I described how a small group of Ideologues used three slogan words Inclusion, Equality and Human Rights to oversimplify the very complex world of special educational needs and perpetuate the blunder for the last 40 years.
Inclusion didn’t respect diversity. Equality didn’t allow for fair play for other pupils and teachers and carers. Human Rights didn’t allow for their human rights. Here, and often elsewhere, rights are relative not absolute, sometimes without any benefit whatsoever. Fine for some, non-existent for others, bullied, deprived, and excluded even in an inclusive environment. Practicality ignored. Costing non-existent.
This time social mobility. Do any politicians really care?
All three political parties use slogan words to make it look as though they do. On the Right – One Nation and Britain works for everyone. On the Left –Equality of Opportunity. That mischief word Equality again, when what many need is simply Opportunity. And their oft-repeated concern for the Disadvantaged.
When do you think people have moved up in the world? What does social mobility mean in practice?
To move up in the world Income Equality is a total nonsense. Fair play is a legitimate request. Success will be of value but, realistically, the benefit will be marginal.
Some would have you believe – simplistically again – that a university degree is a passport for life. If that is the case the 50% who don’t go to Uni have no chance at all. Instead they are stigmatised in school, and later in life, as failures. More word abuse here; the quest for “parity of esteem” in the pursuit of Equality is another nonsense. What kids should be provided with is self-esteem.
Technical education in colleges and Polytechnics along with their diplomas ended because they did not rank. Special schools were not the only casualties of political dogma simplistically encapsulated in slogan words. It’s taken a long time for apprenticeships to become in vogue. In 2017, out of 500,000 apprenticeships, only 2,100 went to higher or degree apprenticeships.
Anyway, as you will shortly see, for many getting a degree may stop you moving up in the world.
In my book, what determines whether you have moved up in the world is this. Can you buy your own home not rent one? Can you put money into a pension and not be totally reliant on the State in your old age? Can you choose your Care Home if you should need one? Can you choose your own doctor and the time of your op? Can you choose the school for your kids? Yes, can you book into a world cruise, or buy a Merc or a Jag or even a Porche if that’s your fancy, not mine as it happens.
Selfish? Self-indulgent? Middle Class Tory?
Maybe, but these are the tests of your new-found opportunity to control your own destiny and not be beholden to your employer, the State, or in the private sector. This is the test for social mobility; you don’t need to go to Uni to achieve it; many have succeeded without that.
What prevents it?
Escalating property prices – especially in London – due to cheap money since 2008 and student loans with 6.1% interest compound from day 1. The latest figures I have seen from the Institute of Fiscal studies, report the average student debt is £50,000 – note the word average – and 83% of graduates will not clear them within 30 years. Okay for some, but not for all. A degree a passport for life? More like a lottery ticket.
Why RPI +3% interest? Student loans are a clever way for the Treasury to fund HE on the never-never when they can sell off unpaid loans that even bankruptcy cannot disown. Student loans come with ball & chain attached. How many involved? Well, student debt in UK is now about £1bn and in the USA $1.2 Trillion. This generation is stuck with them and with the people who will chase them if they don’t pay. What happens if inflation takes off again under a Corbyn Government? What about the next generation? I write for them more than for anyone else.
A recent English Housing Survey said that in 2005-06 24% of those aged 25-34 were privately renting. Today, 46%. Over the same period, in the same age group those buying a home with a mortgage plummeted from 53% to 35%.
And better behave in your job too.
If you are one of the ruling class or a State boss, working in central or local government or in a Quango, an Ombudsman maybe, debt, especially student debt, is a great way to control your staff, suppress dissent, get people to lie, and dissemble. It is one of the most persuasive tools of authoritarianism. You need your job.
The Milgram experiment https://goo.gl/8IpOsM showing that personal conscience loses out when faced with the commands of authority along with membership of the National Mutual Self-Protection Society that I mentioned in my last article suggests that these tools are almost surplus to requirement.
All of this, comrades, is social im-mobility.
Does the Left really care? Does Academia care? Student loans feed them. Does the Establishment of the Right care? The Government has recently announced another Review. In a year’s time, no doubt it will go into the long grass where you will find the 2006 Power Report and much else besides.
There is an answer. Bring back State Scholarships.
But the Left has queered the pitch.
They have smeared the pursuit of Excellence, open to all, with the pejorative word Elitism, the privilege of the few. They have made the word Selection dirty. It was okay for Charlie Darwin. German education has thrived on it. There they call their engineers Herr Doctor. But if everyone can’t have a State Scholarship, no one must have one.
Instead they talk constantly of their concern for the Disadvantaged. Beware that word too.
It masks the all-important distinction among the have-nots, between the never-haves and the would-haves, the aspirational, where fair play not Equality should be the guiding light. Without that distinction you accept mediocrity and totally undervalue excellence which, comrades, can be very unequal. This is 30-degree vision impairment not 360-degree vision empowerment.
Scholarships and bursaries for the gifted, talented, ambitious, and the pursuers of excellence should not be off-limits because they are unequal. They are fair. And very important for post-Brexit UK plc competing in the big wide world.
Instead Jeremy Corbyn talks ambiguously of their aim to write off £1bn of student debt amongst all their other spends – well, they could always print the money with QE to fund higher education, inflation and higher interest rates a necessary consequence. Anyway, when you press them, it’s not a priority!
Meanwhile the One Nation Tories HO!HO! say they want to build more houses. What good is that if your student loan prevents you getting a mortgage? They could bring back State Scholarships and increase the demand. They could. They could increase supply and bring down prices if they put a tax on land values that would make it uneconomic to sit on vacant land. LVT works well in Singapore. They could. For them too, not a priority. And click this and read about the “Goldfish Bowl”, the real barrier to social mobility.
Caveat Emptor doesn’t just apply to goods and services. It applies to promises made by political parties to get your votes, and the words they use to make them.
Next time Our NHS, Our Legal System, Our Parliament, “the envy of the world.” Are they?
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