You Want the Best for Your Kids. Therefore the Government Hates Them

 

Report on Fair Access to the Professions
Alan Milburn with Gordon Brown – now he’s working for David Cameron – image by Downing Street via Flickr

 

Alan Milburn, former Labour Government Minister and now the Coalition government’s “independent reviewer on social mobility” wants employers to discriminate against job applicants who went to private schools.

Why?

Because

You get bright people in independent and state schools but most people accept this commonsense point you are not getting apples and pears.

If you have been a child from a really good school in a disadvantaged area, from a family with no history of university education, [who] managed to get two As and a B, you have worked pretty hard for it.

I am not saying if you have gone to Eton and you get three A*s you have not had to work hard, but there is a difference. Therefore, in my view, it should be taken into account.

In other words, children in independent schools get good educations and children in State schools get poor educations. As in State comprehensive schools. You know, the ones that Alan Milburn and his mates in the Labour Party created.

We have become used to the Labour and Conservative governments mouthing the same nonsense about university entrance, with grade requirements dumbed down for children from State schools.

Now Mr Milburn wants to go further. He wants employers to take it into account too – so that when the private school pupils have fought their way through university, they get penalised again when they apply for a job.

Mr Milburn isn’t just a prejudiced Leftie with a chip on his shoulder, though. He is muddled as well.

I am really keen that employers collect data on the socio-economic background of their employees.

He added that workers should tell their employers if they claimed free meals in school.

“When we did that with race and gender, it shone a spotlight on discrimination, and forced changes in employer behaviour.

Mr Milburn in one breath says that employers should make allowances for the poor schooling provided by State schools – and in the next, suggests that if they don’t, it is discrimination akin to racism.

I guess you would expect such poisonous nonsense from a Labour man like Mr Milburn. And yet, even if you are a Socialist yourself, his comments are an outrage. If you believe in the State school system, then he has just insulted it by claiming that it generally provides a poor education.

If you are a middle class family scraping the money together to pay for a private school, you are going to be even more angry. The reason you are paying is that Mr Milburn and his chums have let you down, and there are no decent State schools available to you. Mr Milburn wants to punish your children for the sacrifices you are making for them.

Remember – it was Socialists like Mr Milburn who dismantled most of the old British grammar schools. The remaining 165 of those are still, to this day, the cream of the State education sector. The Conservatives have also turned their backs on grammar schools, and UKIP is now the only major party that supports the creation of new grammar schools.

Parents who pay for private schools pay twice – once for the private education and again through their taxes for the State schools they choose not to use. That isn’t enough for Mr Milburn. He wants to make sure their children don’t get any benefit from going to those private schools.

It would be “unfair” for your children to benefit from the sacrifices you make for them.

Socialists through the ages have hated “the bourgeoisie” – the middle classes – and treated them as the enemy. Unfortunately Alan Milburn is a typical example of those Socialists – and David Cameron, who gave him his job, isn’t a whole lot better.

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The Quiet Man is Turning Up the Squeak

 

Ed Miliband 11
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Squeak, squeak

Ed Miliband has been trying to shore up his faltering leadership of the Labour Party.

He told the BBC:

The next Labour government, if it’s elected in 2015, will be inherently different from the way in which we governed in 1997 to 2010, using the proceeds of growth to spend on public services and put money into tax credits.

That sort of world will not be open to us. The choices will be much harder and there will be much less money around.

That would be mostly because the last Labour government spent it all, of course. Well, to be fair, it would also be partly because the current Conservative-led government is continuing to spend as much as Labour did. But Labour blazed the trail of maxing out the national credit card.

The whole philosophy betrayed by those comments is absolutely true Labour. The government grabbing “the proceeds of growth”, which have been generated by the efforts of private companies and individuals. The government giving means tested benefits (tax credits) to people that it is also at the same time taking taxes away from, on the basis of a completely separate means test.

Above all, that phrase “there will be much less money around”. Because in Labour’s world, money is just there. Nobody has to earn it or create it, it is just there for the taking. Sure, we have a temporary problem right now because the proceeds of growth have been spent, but there will be more money just “there” in the future.

In Labour’s world, the government’s duty is to spend any money there is. All of it. It’s called “fairness”.

In Ed Miliband’s childish socialist world, money grows on trees and the government can spend as much as the markets will allow. Taxpayers are all greedy rich people, and deserve to be pauperised so that the pure and holy, led by Mr Miliband, can spend their money on worthy purposes.

Mr Miliband will acknowledge that the lack of “money to spend” will be difficult and poses “a challenge for me”.

For a socialist, spending other people’s money – in other words, treating them as slave labour – comes as second nature. It is what they do, and not being able to do it is a challenge.

This interview came with what was billed as a major policy speech from Mr Miliband, setting out his vision for the future of Labour. He still believes he can win.

The race is not run. The race will be run over five years. I have a very strong inner belief that I will win the race.

This all reminds me irresistably of Iain Duncan Smith’s speech to the Tory conference, after he was criticised for being too quiet. He said:

The quiet man is here to stay, and he’s turning up the volume.

A year later he was gone.

In truth, once a party leader is forced openly to confront suggestions he is not up to the job, it can mean only one thing. He is not up to the job.

There is one caveat in Mr Miliband’s case. His party is not up to the job of governing either, so perhaps he is well suited to lead it.

Mr Miliband is certainly a quiet man. His squeaks of protest have made little impact on the rampant Flashman who is our Prime Minister. But now Mr Miliband is turning up the squeak. It will be drowned out by the sound of David Cameron laughing.

The Riots – Iain Duncan Smith Is Tackling the Causes

 

Discussing welfare reform with Sainsbury's staff
Image by the Prime Minister's Office via Flickr

Iain Duncan Smith Discusses Welfare Reform with Sainsbury’s Staff

The BBC today reports a study by the LSE for the Guardian newspaper into the summer riots.

The study interviewed 270 rioters to try and understand why they took part in the rioting.

Their conclusion is that it was above all “anger at the police” that drove the rioters.

Of the 270 people interviewed, 85% said policing was an “important” or “very important” factor in why the riots happened.

They repeatedly expressed frustrations about their daily interactions with the police, saying that they felt hassled, bullied and complaining that they were not treated as equals.

Seventy per cent of the rioters said they had been stopped and searched in the last year.

And time and again interviewees described the violence as a chance to get back at the police.

Well, if 70% of the sort of people who get involved in riots were stopped and searched during the previous year, it seems at least that the police stop and search is targetting the right people. Is it really surprising that the sort of people who are happy to smash shop windows and loot the contents have little respect for the police?

It is, I suppose, also not surprising that the Guardian would seek to blame rioting on the police. The BBC article duly drones on about “police tactics”.

The results of this survey actually go much deeper than that.

The police are a symbol of the society in which the rioters live. The rioters are, in fact, alienated from the whole of society, and not just from the police. At the time of the riots, well-meaning chattering class types spent a lot of time wondering why anyone would choose to smash up their own communities. I suspect the people involved actually do not think of those places as “their” communities, any more than they think of the police as “their” police – as people in more peaceful kinds of places normally do.

The reasons for the alienation are many, and go back ultimately to what the Prime Minister has described as our “broken society”.

The dynamic is one of broken homes, families without fathers, and a culture of welfare entitlement. The latter goes with the rest of it. In normal societies, people see a link between work, income and providing for your family and yourself. Never mind if you are “only” a shelf stacker at Tesco – if that job provides the money that feeds your kids, then your life has a worth and value, and you can derive a pride and a place in society from that.

Socialists will say that there are no jobs. The truth is different. Companies cannot get the employees they need, and sometimes prefer immigrants to local people. Why? Because the local people have the wrong attitude. They don’t really want those jobs. Why not? Because in their minds, there is no connection between the obtaining of possessions including necessities like food, and working. Food is a right; a job is just an alternative way of obtaining it.

If all material possessions come from State handouts by entitlement, then the connection between obtaining those things and working for them is broken, and one of the bonds that hold families together is broken.

If a father (or indeed a mother) is not responsible for the material well-being of their children, because the State provides, then one of their key roles in the family is removed – indeed, one of the purposes of the family itself is removed. The State has then usurped the role of the family, but carries out that role without any love or personal involvement, according to bureaucratic processes and forms.

In turn, fathers especially become irrelevant – mothers supply love and the State supplies money. That’s fine – until the kids grow up and notice that the people who do work have more than they do.

If all that you have comes from a State handout, it is easy to believe that possessions and material wealth are an entitlement rather than something to be earned. If you then see other people who have much more than you, you will see that as unfair. You will not imagine that those other people’s material well-being came from working for it; you will believe it came from an unfair decision to award those other people extra that you don’t have.

And then the problem spreads out. Those from better backgrounds see “welfare scroungers” getting handouts from the State, while they, who work for a living, get none and pay high taxes to boot. They too get the message that society is unfair, that there is no connection between the work they do and the possessions they have or even their ability to obtain the necessities of life.

In turn, their commitment to the rules that bind us together as a society is weakened. They may even find themselves deciding that if those scroungers have big-screen televisions – whether through rioting or otherwise – well then, they who work should certainly have the same.

Finally, of course, one of the prime functions of the police is to protect property, and to protect society in general. If society is unfair, and the possession of property is allocated at random, then the police automatically become an agent perpetuating the unfairness.

This problem is not a policing problem. It goes much, much deeper. We have a very nasty underclass, especially in our inner cities, for whom society and community mean nothing. That is not their fault. They have grown up amidst the wreckage caused by the decline of morals, religion, the family and everything that holds our society together. But the root cause, the very root cause, is the welfare state itself. For too many people, it has destroyed the link between work and material possessions, destroyed the family and destroyed the bonds that hold communities together.

It is easy to be pessimistic, to give up and say that our society is in terminal decline, as many on the Right do. It is also easy, as the Guardian and many on the Left often do, to go for glib and quick answers like blaming police tactics.

Neither of those has much appeal for me. Let’s at least try and sort this mess out. We need to get the Left to understand that their welfare state has caused these problems. We also need to get the Right to understand that simply writing off the underclass, and using force to keep them under control, is a recipe for ultimate collapse.

I do not belong to his Party, or even support it, but listening to Iain Duncan Smith in many interviews, I believe he understands what needs to be done, and is trying to make a start doing it.

His welfare reforms will not tackle the hard core of disaffected youth who took part in those riots. But they will start to nibble away at the margin, at the edges of the problem, encouraging people on the edge of worklessness to get out and work – and ultimately it is the concept that people need to work for a living that will stop future riots.

It is a bit like “no tolerance” policing. If you always tackle minor crimes like vandalism, you end up with less murder and armed robbery. Similarly, if you can nudge a few people to get out and work who would otherwise be on the dole, the core problem will diminish. It is social pressure to work that gets people to work instead of scrounge; the more people are out at work, the greater that social pressure will be.

In future, the government (of whichever party) will need to build on Mr Duncan Smith’s plans and go much further. The Guardian will not like that, and they will rant against it, but it is the only way to put things back together again. “Making work pay” has been a slogan of both parties for years – but truly making work pay actually means making not working not pay. And that is the hard part.

We should therefore support those reforms. Sure, there is a much simpler way to do the means testing, via the tax system, and the civil service petty turf wars between the Deopartment for Work and Pensions and HMRC stop that even being considered. Sure, as a result of that, Mr Duncan Smith’s civil servants have told him they need a massive new IT system to implement the reforms. But the reforms are the first attempt since the War to do what needs to be done.

Mr Duncan Smith is in the front line, fighting against the greatest problem of our age – greater even than the government deficit. We should be in the trench beside him.

Adam Posen – the Bank of England’s Tame Socialist

American economist Adam Posen, member of the M...
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“Bank of England’s Adam Posen calls for credit boost,” says the BBC.

Mr Posen wants the Government to set up a new publically-funded bank to lend to businesses:

Mr Posen proposed two institutions: a public bank or authority for lending to small business and an organisation which would package loans made to small and medium-sized businesses.

Think about that for a minute. Basically, he wants the Government to set up a new public sector bank in competition with the private banks.

But where would the Government get the money to fund the new State Bank?

Well, obviously, they would borrow it.

They would create gilts, and sell them. The buyers would obviously take the money from wherever else it previously was – maybe from their bank accounts, or out of alternative investments, or even by borrowing themselves in competition with the small businesses who want the loans from the new State Bank!

This is silly on so many fronts that it is hard to believe a member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee has suggested it.

First, if the Government borrows money, it will tend to push up interest rates. That will in turn hurt all the businesses who are borrowing.

Second, the banks are experts in their field. They lend to the businesses that are the best risks. By definition, Mr Posen’s plan would result in money being lent to businesses that otherwise would not be able to borrow – in other words, to less credit-worthy businesses. In short, his plan would divert resources from sound businesses to less sound ones.

Third, the Government borrowing yet more just might be seen as a tad risky, given that it is already borrowing more than a tenth of national output.

And fourth, the credit crunch was transmitted around the globe by systemic risk distributed all around the economy and indeed the world. Mr Posen actually wants the Government itself to get tied up into the whole system. You can’t get much more systemic than the Government. His idea would, in fact, increase the risk of a collapse of the banking system.

But fifth and most devastating of all, the Government already owns a big bank. Well, 84% of it, anyway. It is called Royal Bank of Scotland. And the last time I looked, it was indeed “lending to small businesses”. So why create a new public bank? Why not just pour even more taxpayers’ money into RBS and have them do the lending? That would actually be exactly the same as Mr Posen’s suggestion – except that RBS are, at least, banking professionals, and therefore might be expected to have some competence at least in lending the money.

Somehow I think that if George Osborne proposed lending RBS further billions of public money, his idea would be met with a huge raspberry by the public.

In fact, why even bother with a bank? Why not just lend direct to businesses? Why not just pick winners, create national champions, and nationalise the means of production? That worked so well with British Leyland, after all.

Coal Queen 1973

Mr Posen is a closet socialist, even though he may not even realise it himself.

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The Tax-Funded Extremists Who Want to Control What You Eat

TOO MANY RULES AND REGULATIONS TAKE AWAY OUR FREEDOMS
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The Lancet has been urging on the Nanny-Staters.

Actually the phrase “Nanny State” is not a good one. It has connotations of something nice and cuddly. It sounds like something that at the end of the day has your best interests at heart, even if its attentions may not always be welcome.

In reality, the State rarely has people’s best interests at heart. It has its own interests and motivations, which centre around increasing the power, status and material well-being of the people who are part of it, otherwise known as “the public sector”.

But I digress. The Lancet article says that governments worldwide need to take “tougher action” to tackle obesity. Or, as the BBC calls it without comment (presumably quoting from the Lancet) “the obesity crisis”.

They claim it is getting harder for people to live healthy lives. (It is important for them to say this, because it allows them to portray individuals as victims, who are in need of State “help”.)

They raise the spectre of huge amounts of money being spent – or so they think. Their predictions say that 40% of UK population will be “obese” by 2030, and that by then it will be costing the NHS £2 billion a year.

That will only be 2% of health spending, so doesn’t sound too bad really. Since the figure is completely made up anyway, they should have gone higher – say £20 billion. That would have had more impact.

Says the BBC:

The researchers accepted that the whole of society – from the individual to industry – had a role to play in tackling the problem.

Well, that’s nice of them to involve us. “The individual has a role to play.” How kind of them to accept that we do have a role in deciding how we should live.

But, according to them, we only have a role. We don’t have any autonomy or rights over our own lives. Because, as the article puts it:

Governments needed to take a lead by using legislation and direct intervention to create a better environment.

The BBC quotes one of the “lead researchers” thus:

Oxford University expert Professor Klim McPherson, who was one of the lead researchers, said: “It is about changing the environment in which people live so they can make healthier choices.”…

He said ministers were “enfeebled by their ideology” and too worried about accusations of the nanny state.

“They have this idea that government action in this sphere would not be a good idea,” he added.

Many of us would say to that, “I should bloody well think so too.”

The article gets yet more extreme.

Professor Boyd Swinburn, who is based in Australia and works (sic) for the World Health Organization, agreed governments had been too slow to act on the “obesity crisis”.

“There is more willingness to invest in drugs and surgery than dealing with the underlying causes.”

He also compared the tactics of the food industry – in terms of getting people addicted to their products and in blocking attempts to discourage consumption – to those of tobacco firms in previous decades.

Getting people addicted to their products. Note the tactics again. We are all victims. We cannot control our own lives. The wicked food producers are controlling us and we need the State to “help”.

The article quotes our own Public Health Minister, Anne Milton:

We have no current plans to impose a ‘fat tax’

Well, that’s so great of her. And so pathetically defensive. Why are they so scared of the lobbyists I wonder?

The self-righteous control freaks who produced these “reports” are on the public payroll. In other words, we are all paying their salaries through our taxes.

They need to be told in no uncertain terms that if they can’t or won’t mind their own businesses, their posts will be withdrawn. After all, reports like this serve no useful purpose – indeed, are positively sinister. If they were sacked, they could go and do something useful.

But of course, they won’t be told such things, because half our “leaders” are hapless and timid people like Anne Milton, and the other half are self-righteous control freaks themselves.

Huhne the Loon Strikes Again

Chris Huhne, environment spokesman of the Libe...
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Destroying the British Economy – all in a Day’s Work for Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne

Given Chris Huhne’s recent problems reported by the media, calling him a “loon” may be a touch too kind. But it rhymes, so I’m sticking with it.

The Telegraph reports that the government is set to introduce even tougher “legally binding” carbon reduction targets.

The new “carbon budget” will set targets to cut Britain’s emissions of carbon dioxide by half by 2025.

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Clown, apparently had to fight with Vince Cable and George Osborne to get the new targets agreed.

As the Telegraph reports:

The Climate Change Act has already put in place targets to ultimately cut carbon by 80 per cent by 2050 but it is up to each Government to agree ‘carbon budgets’ that set out the policy on how the cuts will be achieved in the short term.

All this is, of course, the continuation of Labour’s policy. The Climate Change Act was passed in 2008 by the then Labour government. It supposedly binds future governments to carbon reduction targets.

It is a fundamental principle of the British Constitution that no government can bind its successors, and therefore any future government could simply repeal the Act and ignore its provisions.

But that doesn’t stop the Tories and Liberal Democrats from wanting to go further, with even tougher targets.

Well, it’s all very nice that Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats are entirely agreed on the way forward on this vital issue. It saves that pesky annoyance of having to have debates, and convince the public.

Does anyone seriously still believe that the Tories and their Liberal Democrat chums are any different from Labour? Or that any of them care one jot what “the little people” think about any of this?

Make no mistake, a target of a 50% reduction by 2025 could not be achieved without destroying the British economy.

Mind you, of course, it may all be a smokescreen by that nice Mr Huhne to distract attention from his other little difficulty. Those Liberal Democrats are so nice and so moderate, aren’t they?

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Lecturing by Stealth

Mark Easton in his BBC Blog had a thoughtful piece on the nature of Right wing politics yesterday, in which he was kind enough to mention my post on Andrew Lansley.

Mr Easton was pointing out the fault line that has existed in Conservative politics since time immemorial – between the idea of individual liberty and social responsibility – both ideas dear to the Right. The Government’s whole “nudge” philosophy attempts to bridge the gap between these two. As he said:

The health secretary draws a distinction between the “nanny state” and the “nudging state”. Last summer he told doctors he is opposed to “lecturing people and telling them what to do” preferring to “harness behavioural science…nudging individuals in the right direction”.

Which really begs the question. Who decides what is the “right” direction? The answer, of course, is Mr Lansley and his mates in the Government. Or rather, in practice, it is the civil servants and officials who really run the country most of the time.

There is a moral point here that people like Mr Easton can understand – the question about whether those people actually have the right to decide for everybody else what is “right”.

But there’s a deeper point even than that, which the Chattering Classes who run the BBC absolutely do not understand. And that is that dispersion of decision making leads to more effective decisions.

A market works more effectively than a centrally-planned economy. In part that is because of incentives due to competition. However, it is also because many small decisions are made rather than a smaller number of big decisions.  In both cases, some of the decisions will be wrong. But overall, the many small decisions lead to better outcomes.

This principle applies to social matters as well. A smaller number of centrally-made decisions will lead to worse outcomes than a mass of small decisions made by individuals for themselves. Politicians like Andrew Lansley, and indeed David Cameron, completely fail to understand that, simply because they don’t even notice that those central decisions can be wrong.

I’ve mentioned before the baby deaths that were caused by poor advice from health professionals to lie babies on their fronts to sleep. That was a “nudge” from the State if you like – and it led to hundreds of preventable deaths. The advice was simply wrong. If that decision had been left to individual mothers, most would have put their babies on their backs. Sure, some would have got it wrong and put their babies at risk. But overall fewer would have died.

All of which means that the “nudge” ideas that Mr Cameron seems to favour so much are not just immoral, but likely to be harmful as well and lead to worse outcomes than if they minded their own business.

Mark Easton finishes his post thus:

Here are a few of the estimated annual health costs which, it is argued, a public health strategy might help reduce:

• smoking-related illness – £2.7 billion
• alcohol-related illness – £2.7 billion
• drug-fuelled crime – £13.9 billion
• noise – £5-8 billion
• poor air quality – £9-19 billion
• working days lost to sickness absence – £13 billion (2007)
• hip fractures – £1.4 billion
• poor mental health – £77.4 billion (2003).

Nudge or nanny? Faced with the bills for all of this, one can imagine why Mr Lansley is reluctant to let go of the apron strings completely.

Even this is wrong. A moment’s thought will tell you very clearly that these figures are completely made up nonsense. Let’s test them:

Smoking- and alcohol-related illnesses – well, it’s been pointed out before: if people don’t smoke or drink themselves to death, they still die of something eventually. So if you don’t treat them for lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, you end up treating them for something else. What’s more, if you stop them smoking or drinking, they live longer – which actually costs the NHS more. And that’s before you even start on the taxes they pay on their cigarettes and booze. Epic fail – reducing drinking and smoking might be “desirable” but it will cost money not save it.

Drug-fuelled crime – hey ho, that’s a good one! The fastest way to stop that is to legalise the drugs. (Which I don’t support, by the way, because like all good Conservatives I hold those two contradictory principles, of individual liberty and social responsibility, at the same time!) In fact, though, economically speaking, the figures are rubbish anyway. Most of that money that is supposedly “cost” by drugs, is made by criminals – who then spend the money on things that have nothing to do with drugs. When a car company sells a nice shiny new car to a drugs baron, the money goes back into the legitimate economy.

Noise – eh?! Not sure what he’s on about there. How on earth can noise cost £5-8 billion?

Poor air quality – the vagueness of those figures (£9-19 billion)  tells you all you need to know about how much you can rely on them.

Working days lost to sickness absence – that’s a good one. First, some of those were actually shirking and not real sickness. Second, some of the work not done was caught up when the person returned to work. Those figures are nonsense as well.

Hip fractures – assuming that is the cost of treating them on the NHS, how much would the government need to interfere in people’s lives to reduce that? And when do we, the people, get to choose whether to do whatever it is we’re doing that leads to the fractures, and pay the extra taxes to fix them, or whether not? Never of course. Mr Lansley will decide for us.

And poor mental health. £77 billion!! Good grief, that’s somewhere near the entire cost of the NHS. That figure too is complete rubbish.

Overall, then, Mr Easton’s figures of potential savings from “nudging” are not worth the paper they’re printed on (or the computer screen they’re displayed on). They are typical public sector “facts” – nonsense dressed up as fact by being uttered by supposed experts who often actually have no clue about anything much. Those people always – always – have their own agenda in producing the figures, just as people in the private sector do. And those are the people, remember, that Mr Lansley wants to make those decisions about what is good for us.

“Harness[ing] behavioural science…nudging individuals in the right direction” is actually the same as “lecturing people and telling them what to do” – except that it’s done secretly and not openly.

Basically, nudging is stealth lecturing. That is why it is both immoral and likely to damage our society.