Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Hypothecated bequests

Everybody is piling in with their opinions on this story. From an economics/accounting stand point, those schools are stupid for turning down the bequests, which were earmarked for paying for school places for "poor white boys".

Perhaps Bryan Thwaites did this for entirely benevolent and altruistic reasons; perhaps he was a downright racist - that is entirely irrelevant.

The point is that such schools usually award a few free places anyway to maintain the pretence that they are charitable institutions, which secures them a very modest corporation tax break and a very hefty Business Rates discount (which will be phased out in Scotland next year). Ultimately, the reason for this is to bump up their grade averages, thus attracting more fee-paying pupils, it's like a loss leader.

We would assume - or hope - that some of those free places would have gone to "poor white boys" anyway, so all the schools have to do is to match the income with the corresponding largely notional expense.

Let's say that in the absence of the bequest, they would have handed out ten free places, five to "poor white boys" and five to "poor non-white boys". The bequest pays for, say, two free places, they just earmark two of them as "Thwaites Scholarships" and reduce the number of other free places awarded to "poor white boys" from five to three; thus maintaining the intended five/five ratio (and banking the bequest for themselves).

If they want to be politically correct and pass on the benefit of the bequest, then in addition to the two "Thwaites Scholarships", they could also award the planned ten free places off their own bat, four to "poor white boys" and six to "poor non-white boys", meaning that instead of five/five it's six/six and everybody wins, including at least one "poor non-white boy".
To give another example, I vaguely remember a case where a non-white person was prepared to be an organ donor, but insisted that his organs could only go to a non-white person (or perhaps it was the other way round, doesn't matter). The NHS turned him down for being racist.

Equally stupid.

If you are white and on a waiting list for a new heart, the chances are there are some non-white people ahead of you on the list. You aren't going to get that non-white heart, but a non-white person above you on the list will, so at least you move up the list and benefit from the donation, however indirectly.


Bayard said...

In the case of Winchester College, the school was founded over 600 years ago to offer a free education to 70 "poor scholars", although that got diluted over the centuries. There are never going to be 70 black boys bright enough to gain entrance to the school (the school already discriminates on the basis of intelligence with its own entrance exam), so that, so long as the two Thwaites scholarships were awarded to two of the white successful scholarship candidates, there will be no racial disadvantage to anyone.
So, as you say, it's all virtue signalling.

Bayard said...

Also it's a bit much for a school that already practices sex discrimination to get all precious about racial discrimination.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B: "There are never going to be 70 black boys bright enough to gain entrance to the school"

That's a bit sweeping. Apparently black kids up to the age of 11 or so do better than white kids on average (no idea if it's true, but I read it often enough), and there are disproportionately more black kids in the catchment area of Dulwich (although Winchester appears to be in a "white" area, so maybe not in that case), so if Dulwich wanted to (which they don't and they shouldn't) find 70 black kids at least as clever as other kids who passed the entrance exam, I'm sure they could.

I wouldn't mind the sex discrimination, there are also very good girls only schools. If guilty of anything, these schools are guilty of "income of parents" discrimination.

Mark In Mayenne said...

If I understand it correctly, Cambridge Uni has a bursary scheme funded by a black rapper, to assist black musicians.

Mark Wadsworth said...

MIM, yes, that is the obvious counter example. Doesn't bother me either.

Bayard said...

Mark, Winchester College has the hardest entrance exam of any school in the country. Given the racial make-up of the sort of people who want to send their son to the school, it is very unlikely that the entire intake will be non-white, there being no special advantage in intelligence, as far as I know, for non-white boys. Yes, if there was positive discrimination, you could probably find enough to take non-whites to take the 14 places per year, but that would still be discrimination.

I would admit that using the term black was a bit misleading: it is far more likely for scholars to be of Indian or Chinese origin if they are not Caucasian. Indeed, Indians have attended the school for centuries.

Bayard said...

"If guilty of anything, these schools are guilty of "income of parents" discrimination."

That's the whole point of the scholarships, so that it only discriminates on the basis of intelligence (and sex), or at least for the the brainy few.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, when I say "black" I mean Afro-Caribbean and thought that was what you meant.

I'd love to discuss relative intelligence of different races which i have observed over the years as an entirely neutral observer, but that will get me into all sorts of trouble.