Thursday, 23 January 2014

Gloriously Shit Ideas Of The Day

From the BBC:

Parents who earn a combined income of more than £80,000 should have to pay if their children go to the most popular state schools, a report suggests.(1)

Private headmaster (2) Anthony Seldon raises the idea for left of centre think tank, the Social Market Foundation.

He said it would break "the middle-class stranglehold on top state schools" (3) and provide additional funds...

Dr Seldon said parents who were the top earners would pay the fee the state pays, which would be about £6,000.

Fees at the most oversubscribed state schools could be the same for the most affluent as those at independent day schools, about £15,000 a year for some primary schools, and £20,000 at secondary schools.(4)

He said a quarter of the money raised through charging should be retained by the school, with the rest redistributed among other state schools...

Speaking to BBC News, Dr Seldon said:

"There's a tremendously unjust system at the moment whereby the rich and the successful and those with strong elbows buy houses in catchment areas of successful schools; (5) they pay for tutoring, they elbow their way into top schools and this pamphlet is designed to enhance social justice."

...The proposal to offer poorer pupils places at independent schools says their fees should be paid by a government grant capped 50% above the cost of sending them to a state school.(6)

1) Dude WTF? Those self same people are paying more than their share of the cost of state education via the income tax system. This sort of means testing on speed just increases marginal tax rates even further.

2) Aha, now it makes sense. Want he wants is to increase the demand for private school places by reducing the cost differential between state and private sector. The money-grubbing shit.

3) How does he work that out? If, as he suggests further down, the state school concerned is allowed to keep some of the money raised, they'd have every incentive to accept as many pupils from higher income backgrounds as possible, so that would lead to increased segregation.

Unless he hopes to achieve this by driving children of better-off parents into private education - that's the only rational explanation

4) See 2).

5) Now he's getting down to the nitty gritty. What he is proposing is really a kind of twisted Land Value Tax or income tax surcharge which is only payable by the small sub-set of people who a) live in the area, b) earn a lot and c) send their children to the local state school. The only merit in his idea is that this would push down house prices in the catchment areas of good state schools.

The point of Land Value Tax is to reduce and replace other taxes and to apply to everybody. So we might end up with a situation where all the homes in the catchment area of a good state school are bought by higher earners - which is what happens anyway.

So what? They'd be paying the [land value] tax and they get the benefit, unlike Seldon's system where they pay the [income] tax for nothing in return and then pay again for the benefit.

6) Aha, yet more income for private schools, add that to 2) and 4). Except his maths is whack (he's only a fucking head teacher, after all, not somebody who knows anything), how on earth are parents of "poorer pupils" supposed to pay the difference between private school fees and the £9,000 grant?

He's got that one arse about face anyway. If we are going to have vouchers, give them to all children equally, that's the best system. If it's "social justice" he's after, that sorts itself out by definition because those vouchers are funded out of taxes paid by the "sharp-elbowed middle class".


Ben Jamin' said...

When trying to draw people's attention to the stupidity of our means tested benefits system, I sarcastically recommend we should do the same for the NHS and Schools.......

what else can we means test?

Roads? Police? Any other stupid ideas?

Mark Wadsworth said...

BJ, that's the weird thing.

I can understand why Lefties are in favour of means testing (jealousy) but why are Tories also so in favour? They ought to be in favour of universal benefits, or at least be opposing means-testing.

DP said...

Dear Mr Wadsworth

He has a point: those strong-elbowed rich and successful people elbow poor hard working families out of fancy restaurants, good hotels, exotic holidays, fashionable clothes, real jewelry, expensive new cars and, of course, the best jobs.

Is there no end to their elbowing?

Should strong elbows be banned?

Maybe that's the problem with all of society: strong elbows.


Kj said...

MW: I believe that would be the targeted benefits is cheaper - or "help those that need it the most" idea.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DP, the whole point of earning loads of money is to have nice stuff, conspicuous consumption and all that.

The key is to use their 'sharp elbows' as weapons against them.

As long as they are paying their LVT, then everybody is happy:
- the high earners can bleat about how much tax they pay (subtext: I earn loads and can afford it and my house is really nice)
- the low earners get their LVT-funded benefits.

Kj, yes, to the extent that they apply logic, that is the answer.

What is most infuriating are the people who support means-tested benefits and contributory benefits at the same time.

They are opposites!

JuliaM said...

"The money-grubbing shit."

I find, with so many 'bright ideas' trumpeted in the papers, it helps to think to yourself 'Right, how will this benefit you?'...

Bayard said...

"how on earth are parents of "poorer pupils" supposed to pay the difference between private school fees and the £9,000 grant?"

He didn't say they were poor, did he? He said they were poorer. Poorer than whom? The other pupils at the independent schools, some of whose parents will be very rich indeed. So we are not talking about the poor here, we are talking about the fairly-well-off-but-not-well-enough-off-to-be-able-to-send-their-kids-to-private-school.

I'm not in favour of means-testing, but education is one areas where it has appeared to work for centuries. Most of our top public schools were founded to provide free or cheap education to "poor scholars" and some still do, even educating your children free if you are poor enough.
If you applied this idea to all schools, made them all fee-paying, but had a means-tested system of vouchers, so the less you have the less you pay, it is not as if the middle classes would, in the long term, be paying any more. After all, where does all that excess value go that they are getting from sending their children to a good free school? Into local land prices, of course, whence it will return once the source of excess value is removed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, but means testing is still taxation and adds to marginal tax rates. And yes, of course it goes into land prices, but there's a far more elegant solution for that.