A conversation between a student and a careworker


by Rumbold
10th November, 2010 at 8:39 pm    

Careworker: What’s happening here?

Student: We are protesting the Con-Dem’s proposal to charge students £9,000 a year.

C: That’s high. What’s the system at the moment?

S: Well, we pay some fees, and the government pays the rest (around £20-25,000 over the three years).

C: The government? You mean the taxpayer?

S: I suppose so.

C: I earn £14,000 a year, and pay income tax, which means that I am paying for you at present then?

S: Yes, but society as a whole benefits. I am in my final year studying philosophy, and have a job lined up on £25,000 working for an advertising agency.

C: How does that benefit me?

S: The degree taught me how to think, and society needs people like me around.

C: Same question. I can’t afford to take a holiday this year to visit my family, so why should I be paying for you to get a better job?

S:For example, if you need a lawyer, then you will benefit from someone who has studied law.

C: I don’t think degrees are useless, but surely the lawyer would benefit by getting paid. It seems to me that it is you students who benefit most from studying, so why shouldn’t you pay for those benefits?

S: You come from a poor background. These fees will stop people like any children you have from studying, as only the rich will be able to afford to go.

C: That’s true: I hadn’t thought of that. So will the fees paid every year, or when you graduate?

S: Not exactly. If you earn over £21,000, they will take a percentage of your income.

C: So if you earn a low wage you won’t pay anything. If you earn a good wage you will be taxed more. So my children would feel the impact of the fees if they got into high earning jobs after their degrees.

S: Exactly.

C: Isn’t that called progressive taxation?

S: Err…


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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : A conversation between a student and a careworker http://bit.ly/bltz8P


  2. Anna

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : A conversation between a student and a careworker http://bit.ly/bltz8P


  3. David Benge

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  8. James Douse

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  9. Emma

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  13. Old Holborn

    Bankruptcy for the slavemaster and freedom for the slaves. http://bit.ly/cSEQf9


  14. Matthew Taylor

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  16. Paul

    And now a lefty's view of why the protesting students are misguided http://j.mp/bysYRf (via @sunny_hundal)


  17. Noxi

    Whats £21 000 worth these days+in 4 yrs? RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : A conversation between a student and a careworker http://bit.ly/bltz8P


  18. Lisa Marriott

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  19. DrBarcode

    RT @OldHoborn: Bankruptcy for the slavemaster and freedom for the slaves. http://bit.ly/cSEQf9


  20. Gert

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : A conversation between a student and a careworker http://bit.ly/bltz8P


  21. Paul Newsham

    RT @OldHoborn: Bankruptcy for the slavemaster and freedom for the slaves. http://bit.ly/cSEQf9




  1. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 8:59 pm  

    So when the person who this care-worker cares for goes to see a graduate doctor for his chronic conditions I take it that that does not count as a benefit and that he should be charged in full? Because the graduates are the only people that benefit, right. That doctor has a right to maximise benefit – yes?

    So when the philosophy graduate pays tax that employs the careworker, that is not a benefit? When the Ad agency stimulates private wealth and the benefits that flow, that is all for the benefit of the graduate?

    I can’t afford a car/new computer/holiday this year – why should I subsidise this stroppy careworker. Because only I should benefit from time at university.

    Rumbold, this smug, quite hateful line of argument might make a bit more sense were there nationalised industries out there falling over themselves to take on 16 year old apprentices and offering them subsidised nightschool and day release.

    As it stands, university education is required for many jobs. I’m not saying its right, just that that chip on your shoulder about those who want a university education.

    For what it’s worth, your point about there being no upfront payments is one of the better ones (though you clearly have not thought the implication of that through). Why the need for the chip to speak?

  2. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:03 pm  

    S: Yes, but society as a whole benefits. I am in my final year studying philosophy…

    C: How does that benefit me?

    I’m embarrassed for you for writing that.

    C: Isn’t that called progressive taxation?

    Doesn’t deal with the question the student asked

    S: You come from a poor background. These fees will stop people like any children you have from studying, as only the rich will be able to afford to go.

    As the ‘progressive’ taxation doesn’t mean the living wage of the graduate will make a degree any more affordable. None of the students have denied the policy advocates taxation based on income, rather the point is the level of debt incurred and the rate of repayment, irrespective of the fact its ‘progressive’, will mean a substantial disadvantage for students decades after they’ve graduated.

    And it isn’t only the pooterishly despised media/arts/humanities students who will be hit

    A UCU analysis concludes that a graduate earning the national average salary of £31,916 would have a 19.3% higher tax bill than colleagues who had not been to university, for the duration of their student loan repayments.

    Teachers, police inspectors and doctors could see their bills rise by around a quarter, it claimed.

    The British Medical Association said medical students would be left with debts of nearly £70,000.

    Those who went to private school (scholarships aside) will be almost entirely unaffected as the fees more or less amount to the same at uni as they did at school. So not only will they retain the likelyhood of going to university but they’ll graduate with their debt written off by their parents (early payment penalties included) and a greater ability to afford buying a house.

    It will very much affect social mobility.

    Oh and most students also work whilst studying and as such are taxpayers.

  3. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:04 pm  

    Oh, and one other thing. The person who this careworker cares for – should he be forced to sell his house to fund the care? The one that he got for a handful of magic beans under the right to buy whilst the state employed him in nationalised industry.

    House sale sounds progressive to me? Or again, does piss-take houseprice inflation and the generational theft by piss-taking boomers not factor into this anywhere?

    Rumbold, remember – your posts are better if you are sobre.

  4. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:09 pm  

    Kulvinder – If anything it is worse. In reality, money from HEFCE for social sciences ends up, in many institutions, actively subsidising STEM. Social sciences students get a raw deal, or at least they do at the moment.

    On top of that, the interest on the loan is at commercial rates. Even the US universities only charge bond rates – a big difference.

    This whole shabby policy is an attempt to shift the cost of universities ‘off balance sheet.’ By treating these debts as assets the numbers can be massaged. But, hey – why comment on a policy so shabby when there are 17 year olds to mock and belittle – eh Rumbold?

  5. Old Holborn — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:13 pm  

    Not quite Sunny

    When the state promises education and takes taxes, the State shoud deliver education

    The State is now in breach of contract. It will not provide education, health, housing or benefits.

    Yet it still helps itself to our money in income tax, VAT, fuel duty, you name it, if it can tax it, it does.

    Even the most brutal of slavemasters looked after the health and welfare of the slaves that would provide income for the plantation. It would appear our slavemaster can’t even be bothered with that.

    I think we know where this story will end. Bankruptcy for the slavemaster and freedom for the slaves.

  6. Rumbold — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:19 pm  

    MaidMarian:

    I will leave the NHS out of the discussion for the moment, as that distorts things because it is a monopsony employer and thus distorts wages. Also, the careworker continues to pay the doctor’s salary through her taxes.

    So when the philosophy graduate pays tax that employs the careworker, that is not a benefit? When the Ad agency stimulates private wealth and the benefits that flow, that is all for the benefit of the graduate?

    The primary beneficiary is the student. The student would presumably have found another job had he not taken a degree, whilst the ad agency would have found someone else.

    I work at present. If I wanted, to, say, study for my accountancy exams at £12,000 (not that I want to do that) a year, should the taxpayer fund it? What about funding an MBA?

    I can’t afford a car/new computer/holiday this year – why should I subsidise this stroppy careworker. Because only I should benefit from time at university.

    She is not asking you to subsidise her. She wants to know why she is subsidising others.

    As it stands, university education is required for many jobs.

    I doubt it. Most jobs don’t require years of study (some do, like medicine). Does working in an ad agency or a sales role (for example)? No.

  7. Don — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:21 pm  

    Writing both sides of a didactic dialogue is generally a mistake. And having your invented interlocutor conclude with ‘err’ …

    Really, Rumbold.

  8. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:26 pm  

    ‘I will leave the NHS out of the discussion for the moment, as that distorts things because it is a monopsony employer and thus distorts wages.’

    Cobblers. do you know how much private practice goes on? What you mean is that the NHS doesn’t fit your narrative.

    ‘She is not asking you to subsidise her. She wants to know why she is subsidising others’

    She may not be asking for a subsidy, but that is the net effect. Why should she get the benefit?

    MBAs are not funded by the taxpayer as I understand it. Accountancy is offered at undergraduate level by any number of universities. There is nothing to stop anyone going private if they so wish. Many are indeed subsidised by employers.

    ‘I doubt it. Most jobs don’t require years of study (some do, like medicine). Does working in an ad agency or a sales role (for example)? No.’

    You might be right Rumbold, but that is not what the job descriptions say. Why not take this up with employers instead of sneering at 17 year olds who have the gall to a bit of aspiration?

  9. Rumbold — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:27 pm  

    Kulvinder:

    As the ‘progressive’ taxation doesn’t mean the living wage of the graduate will make a degree any more affordable. None of the students have denied the policy advocates taxation based on income, rather the point is the level of debt incurred and the rate of repayment, irrespective of the fact its ‘progressive’, will mean a substantial disadvantage for students decades after they’ve graduated.

    But the alternative is for others to pay for those students surely? If there was a choice between no one paying or students paying then the former would be preferable. But there isn’t that choice. The whole point is that the repayment doesn’t kick in until you are earning a reasonable wage. Yes, there repayments will be reasonably high as a percentage, but why should someone reap all the benefits of a degree whilst someone who hasn’t got the degree pays for it?

    Oh and most students also work whilst studying and as such are taxpayers.

    Probably not. They don’t pay N.I. and most wouldn’t earn over £6,475 a year. Even if they did, so what?

    It will very much affect social mobility.

    By shifting the debt burden from students to higher-earning professionals. Agreed.

  10. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:28 pm  

    And another thing,

    ‘The primary beneficiary is the student.’

    So there are beneficiaries outside of the PRIMARY?

  11. Rumbold — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:28 pm  

    Don:

    Well, if I had you as my teacher maybe it would have been written better.

  12. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:32 pm  

    ‘By shifting the debt burden from students to higher-earning professionals. Agreed.’

    No dip-stick – by creating another mass generational transfer of wealth.

    ‘why should someone reap all the benefits of a degree whilst someone who hasn’t got the degree pays for it?’

    Assuming that there is a benefit (you tacitly seem to accept that graduates can be low paid?). As you have just said with primary, secondary and so on beneficiaries, no one reaps ALL the benefits.

  13. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:34 pm  

    Oh and Rumbold – you still don’t seem to have explained why I am subsidising this bloke’s care? Why should he reap all the benefits of care?

    Christ on a bike – this is making my blood boil like a no win no fee lawyer.

  14. Rumbold — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:34 pm  

    MaidMarian:

    The person who this careworker cares for – should he be forced to sell his house to fund the care?

    I don’t follow you. I think that the government should provide care for the elderly.

    So there are beneficiaries outside of the PRIMARY?

    The student is the main one, yes, which is why should pay the lion’s share of the fees.

    Cobblers. do you know how much private practice goes on? What you mean is that the NHS doesn’t fit your narrative.

    Because of the six year nature of the medical degree, coupled with the low initial wages caused by working for a monopsony, there is an argument for funding NHS medical staff. But I see them as an exception.

    She may not be asking for a subsidy, but that is the net effect. Why should she get the benefit?

    She isn’t being subsidised, she is being paid to do a job. That is very different from getting funding to train to improve your employment prospects.

    You might be right Rumbold, but that is not what the job descriptions say.

    The descriptions say this because we churn out so many graduates each year. And no, I don’t want a return to low student numbers paid for by the taxpayer- I don’t think that should happen either.

  15. Rumbold — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:41 pm  

    MaidMarian:

    No dip-stick – by creating another mass generational transfer of wealth.

    When people earn more they pay more of the fees back. Seems far to me. That why the low-paid aren’t penalised (which they are at the moment).

    Oh and Rumbold – you still don’t seem to have explained why I am subsidising this bloke’s care? Why should he reap all the benefits of care?

    I think that the state/taxpayer should provide basic things like healthcare. University education does not fall into that bracket, since it is not a necessity.

  16. Rumbold — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:42 pm  

    Anyway, I am off to bed. Thank you for an interesting discussion, which we will resume tomorrow.

  17. shamit — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:44 pm  

    I agree with Rumbold and the thrust of the post.

    Lets apply John Rawls here and is the new system fair – of course it is. Much more fairer than the graduate tax suggestion floated by some people.

    This applies across the board – and is based on your ability to pay. This policy also helps protect our ability to generate intellectual wealth. And intellectual capital is the only way this resource barren island can compete in a global economy.

    Lets see, in the top 10 – we have 2 universities. In the top 50 we have 11, in the top 100 we have a few more. The only country which has more than us in the US.

    We do need to protect our universities not only as sources of income but as intellectual wealth generators and while this may not be popular – the Russell group has got this one right.

    My US university never forgets to hit me up for donation and they keep in touch with me at all times. But in this country we do not do that. If all the alumni put in 200 quid each year to university endowment fund then we would be in a position to offer completely free places to poorer students. That’s how Harvard, MIT and other US universities are able to let poorest students go there.

    May be we all should take a bit more responsibility rather than just blaming it on the Government and universities,

  18. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:55 pm  

    Rumbold -

    Why should the government (sorry, let’s talk careworker) taxpayer – pay for elderly care? They get the lion’s share and reap all the benefits, right?

    Our careworker may not be getting a subsidy (leaving aside her tax credits) but her work and her employment represents a subsidy. What about that training course the local authority sent her on? Why should I pay for that?

    And quite frankly I don’t believe you about not wanting low numbers of graduates.

  19. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 9:58 pm  

    ‘I think that the state/taxpayer should provide basic things like healthcare. University education does not fall into that bracket, since it is not a necessity.’

    Define necessity. This bloke being cared for has air to breathe, what more does he need? What benefit will I get?

    Shamit – We can’t all go behind the veil of ignorance though. We do know and are encouraged to know the personal and social value of HE. I do see the point you get at, and as I say there are points here that Rumbold has totally missed, but the slash and burn that Gideon wants is not on.

  20. MaidMarian — on 10th November, 2010 at 10:04 pm  

    Rumbold – Another thing for when you rise

    ‘When people earn more they pay more of the fees back. Seems far to me. That why the low-paid aren’t penalised (which they are at the moment).’

    So you would be happy with a retrospective tax on house price hyperinflation?

  21. Toby — on 10th November, 2010 at 10:17 pm  

    The changes the coalition is proposing for the repayment of loans don’t concern me – they *are* fairer than Labour’s system, simple as that. Although starting to remove the loan – and therefore the debt – for students from households earning about £46k seems odd.

    What does concern me is the impact it will have on humanities and learning (at undergraduate level) for enjoyment. It’ll encourage students even more to see an undergraduate degree as an investment because they’ll be taking out such large loans. Therefore, they’ll want the guarantee of a high-paying job at the end, and universities will change to accommodate that. That makes sense from a purely economic perspective, but I don’t think it’s all undergraduate degrees should be about. I’m also skeptical of the ability of a 17-year-old to make an informed enough decision for a market to be efficient.

    (I wouldn’t support a fee cap in PG education, but at the moment it’s limited to those who can pay up front or take out commercial loans to pay for the course, which is a much bigger issue)

  22. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2010 at 10:39 pm  

    but why should someone reap all the benefits of a degree whilst someone who hasn’t got the degree pays for it?

    This is just a variation on ‘why should we pay for primary/secondary education?’; more generally the social/economic arguments for education has been discussed to death from adam smith to karl marx, suffice it to say at a micro level the benefit of the state as opposed to the employer paying and teaching an individual to read and write is almost universally recognised (not least by the private sector which, as far as im aware, aren’t keen on increasing spending on CPD), the wider implications of whether a particular degree is of benefit is obviously harder to judge but the CBI itself is iffy on the matter and as they represent a large portion of the wealth creators in the country i think they’re possible worth listening to.

    Probably not. They don’t pay N.I. and most wouldn’t earn over £6,475 a year. Even if they did, so what?

    NI doesn’t pay for education; its a system for subsidising contributory benefits. Spending on education comes from the general tax pool, as such students who work and buy petrol for their car are contributing.

    By shifting the debt burden from students to higher-earning professionals. Agreed.

    You know thats not what i meant. Agreed.

  23. anon — on 10th November, 2010 at 11:07 pm  

    ‘Oh and Rumbold – you still don’t seem to have explained why I am subsidising this bloke’s care? Why should he reap all the benefits of care?’

    Surely the bloke paid for his own care by paying Income Tax throughout his working life.

  24. Sunny — on 11th November, 2010 at 12:45 am  

    If it’s called progressive taxation – then there’s no problems with it being paid out of progressive taxation is it?

    also – it’s very unlikely the careworker on 14,000 will be subsidising anyone… they’ll be paying less as a percentage of their income.

    Once the kid studies to become a lawyer – he’ll be subsidising someone to study and become a careworker.

    See Rumbold? Life doesn’t have to be that simplistic :P

  25. Jookymundo — on 11th November, 2010 at 1:34 am  

    This careworker must be African.

  26. Vikrant — on 11th November, 2010 at 1:47 am  

    Pray tell me how does paying for Philosophers and American Studies majors benefit us?

  27. Kulvinder — on 11th November, 2010 at 2:45 am  

    Pray tell me how does paying for Philosophers and American Studies majors benefit us?

    This is an incredibly irritating question to answer as the importance of philosophy in the development of society is so great that it’d really have been worth your while to research a little before asking.

    What exactly are you asking? the benefit to you in terms of freedoms (in which case look at the likes of locke etc) ethics? in which case it encompasses everything from kant and mill to foucalt, are you asking about the ‘benefit’ in dealing with the mind-body problem in which case it starts in the near modern era with descartes and goes on and on.

    The benefit to you is someone putting forward arguments that leads to more freedoms, or a more progressive and fairer society.

    As for American studies or the examination of any nation, the importance lies in gaining an understanding of why something has turned out the way it has; either to gain an appreciation of it, to encourage traits that are desirable or to serve as a warning.

  28. Vikrant — on 11th November, 2010 at 6:46 am  

    This is an incredibly irritating question to answer as the importance of philosophy in the development of society is so great that it’d really have been worth your while to research a little before asking.

    Really? Hope many of these Liverpool comprehensive twerps who major in Philosophy at Sussex go on to be the next Kants or Spinozas? I’m not arguing against having these concentrations at our Universities per se. Its just the sense of entitlement that pisses me off. We need to prioritise what we spend on. Britain needs more technologists, bankers, engineers and accountants. These are the people whose incomes are going to sustain our welfare state. If you want to study Philosophy, fine… do it at your own expense.

    I attend uni in America. And here an average american pays $20K in tuition fees even at State funded school, and thats only if you are a resident of the state where the school is located in. If you are out of state like me, you end up paying around $40 K and these are tax payer subsidised universities.

    American studies in particular gets my goat. The major is a load of bs. Every year my uni has a few dozen exchange students from Nottingham, and their tuition is entirely paid by their uni. It annoys me that these twerps are getting a fully paid for $40 K drinking vacation to America!

  29. Sarah AB — on 11th November, 2010 at 7:51 am  

    vikrant – I can’t believe that comment about ‘Liverpool comprehensive twerps’ – the likelihood of any individual being the next Kant is pretty small of course – but this kind of snobbishness seems to be a subtext in much discussion of HE. I follow the logic of Rumbold’s argument – though I don’t agree with it – but this isn’t just about confident middle class students who probably will be ok one way or another – it’s also about students who might be the first in their family to go to university but may now be put off by eg the cut in EMA and perhaps lack the social networks which would enable them to decide that university study is still a worthwhile investment – though, like Toby, I don’t think HE should be reduced to economics.

  30. Kryz — on 11th November, 2010 at 8:40 am  

    It strikes me that a working class family is perhaps more aware of the benefits a university education can bring and thus be more willing to invest in their own education.

  31. John Christopher — on 11th November, 2010 at 9:19 am  

    I’ve got to be careful here because when I went to university (Sheffield), I went with a full grant and came home debt free. This enabled me to 1st stay out of trouble with the law, which saved the taxpayer a truck load of money in legal fee’s etc. Without that full grant there would have been no way that my working class family would have been able to afford to give me a university education. Yet I am minded all the time that somebody on very low wages, people just like my parents paid via their taxes to do exactly that, to send ME to university. Just imagine us funding the national Health Service through a system of bursaries. You see, I can’t help thinking that we are asking the wrong question from the caretaker. If someone had asked my parents that their tax pounds would enable not only their children but the children of other working class families to go to university, my parents would have had no problem because they recognised the value of their children having a good education. This is the value of the collective over that of the individual. This is the value of society. This being the fact, I still think at the end of the day, the student HAS TO PAY SOMETHING BACK.

  32. platinum786 — on 11th November, 2010 at 10:00 am  

    I want to know how the economy benefits from this? If I am a graduate and I end up paying 20% more tax than my non graduate peers for a decade or so, what’s the inventive of going to university? The cost of living is already far too high, has anyone tried paying the bills on £21k and raising a family recently? It’s not easy. Unless you are studying a degree where you can be earning big money relatively quickly (Medicine, Pharmacy), I don’t see why you would take on all the debt.

    In the long term this will produce a deficit of British graduates, you’ll end up importing skilled workers from developing countries, especially engineers and IT people.

    Alternatively us peasants can go back to our traditional Tory defined roles of blue collar workers, we can get apprenticeships and learn manual skills. Then we can be priced out of work by our Polish and other eastern european counterparts who are in Britain earning money, living a basic life and sending their cash to families “back home”.

    I’ll tell you what, one thing I will never do again in my life, is vote for the liberal democrats. What a waste of a vote, what a spineless party, what spineless leaders.

  33. douglas clark — on 11th November, 2010 at 10:53 am  

    This piece could also have been written as a dialogue between a student and a merchant banker. If it had been our sympathies might have been dragged in a different direction.

    Still, at least it forced me to check out the sources of UK taxation, there is an ‘interesting’ pie chart in this link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_United_Kingdom

  34. Rumbold — on 11th November, 2010 at 11:17 am  

    Shamit and Vikrant:

    I am glad to find people who agree with me. I think we all recognise that those who benefit should pay, and wish to shift the burden away from the low paid.

    Platinum 786:

    The incentive is that you will still be earning more then if you hadn’t of gone to university.

    In the long term this will produce a deficit of British graduates, you’ll end up importing skilled workers from developing countries, especially engineers and IT people.

    So people will stop studying these subjects for fear that they will earn good wages and so be subjected to a higher tax rate?

    Sunny:

    Eh? I think the low paid shouldn’t be taxed to subsidise people to get higher paid jobs. You do, which is fine, but then you can’t complain about the low paid struggling, because taxation contributes to that. Are you a flat taxer perchance?

    On that logic, companies shouldn’t pay when they pollute, because they pay taxes anyway. Same principle.

    To clarify, paying taxpayers’ money to someone to do a job isn’t a subsidy, whatever you think of the job. Paying someone do train which improves their career prospects is, especially when it can result in a massive benefit.

  35. Rumbold — on 11th November, 2010 at 11:22 am  

    MaidMarian:

    I don’t have a problem with student numbers falling. I just don’t like the hypocrisy of people arguing that we should have a return to the days where the taxpayer paid for a small number of people going to university. Either the taxpayer should fund universities or not.

    Kulvinder:

    The benefit to you is someone putting forward arguments that leads to more freedoms, or a more progressive and fairer society.

    Evidence? Most of the advances in freedoms in this country have come from campaigners and/or politicians via practical measures. Nobody is saying that philosophy shouldn’t be studied, just that the benefit to wider society of someone discussing Nietzsche’s works is not immediately apparent.

    Douglas:

    Point taken.

  36. Wibble — on 11th November, 2010 at 11:37 am  

    “The benefit to wider society of someone discussing Nietzsche’s works is not immediately apparent.”

    Funny you say that because you had an earlier blog entry about Ed Balls making a similar comment about the Classics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/7898

    “It is a light-hearted rant in some senses, but Bella highlights the fact that it is dangerous to judge subjects solely on what some perceive to be their immediate utility to the world of work. The skills required to master a subject like Latin (or classics generally) are valuable. And before anyone asks, my Latin is virtually non-existent and I could never master the subject.”

  37. Rumbold — on 11th November, 2010 at 11:43 am  

    Wibble:

    I never said that people should or shouldn’t study either subject. They do benefit the person studying. But I don’t believe that either one should be subsidised by the taxpayer at degree level.

  38. douglas clark — on 11th November, 2010 at 12:20 pm  

    It also strikes me that, rather like some Oxford and Cambridge colleges, there ought to be some sort of positive incentives for endowing all tertiary educational providers. In other words they should be capitalised to the extent that they no longer rely on money from government. That seems to me to be a reasonable longer term objective.

  39. Shamit — on 11th November, 2010 at 12:26 pm  

    Bingo Douglas -

    And Alumni network is the key. Every university in the US has a huge endowmend fund mostly thanks to alumni.

    Why don’t we do that here? All those people who talk about people earning more should give back to society – I wonder how many have donated a single penny to their university.

  40. douglas clark — on 11th November, 2010 at 12:47 pm  

    Shamit,

    Well, for a start, rather than pay the tuiton fees back to the government, where it would not be hypothecated*, why not pay the money directly to the University that provided the tuiton? On the understanding that it would be an investment pool and not a revenue stream. And perhaps matching tax relief. So, you give say a million tax free to the University of Middlemarch and the government lets your next million off of, say inheritance tax.

    It would be a welcome move towards a smaller central state.

    * I know what non hypothecation is, but every dictionary I look up seems to have a very different idea from the way the UK government has traditionally used it. It is the arguement against comparing say, income from fuel duty and road tax on the one hand with road building and maintenance on the other.

  41. Wibble — on 11th November, 2010 at 12:53 pm  

    It’s not about quality. The Coalition have cut the teaching budget (no teaching budget for Humanities teaching) and just passed the cost onto students. So nobody is any better off, and students are a lot worse off.

  42. Kulvinder — on 11th November, 2010 at 2:34 pm  

    Hope many of these Liverpool comprehensive twerps who major in Philosophy at Sussex go on to be the next Kants or Spinozas?

    I have no idea, but was your choice of Sussex deliberate? – given the fact Anthony Leggett went from studying the classics to a nobel prize in physics via 15 odd years he spent there? Hes obviously been open about the fact he felt a foundation that wasn’t based on the sciences was helpful. I met him years ago btw and talked to him about Roger Blin-Stoyle, hes lovely.

    I’m not really sure what the relevance of your point is about the cost of US universities.

    Evidence? Most of the advances in freedoms in this country have come from campaigners and/or politicians via practical measures.

    Again this is such a broad question its impossible to answer in a paragraph; the ‘modern freedoms’ can be traced to locke and are obviously explicitly outlined as such in the US, the freedoms of the working classes and their desire for better rights came about from work of marx and engels, proto-feminism particularly wrt male academia taking the subject seriously came from mill etc

    You’re confusing the politicians making something legal with the work of philosophers and academics in the decades previous to that discussing and arguing about it.

  43. cim — on 11th November, 2010 at 2:39 pm  

    The interesting thing is, if Browne had suggested the following proposal, he would have been praised by much of the left and his plans would have been dropped by the Tory government entirely.

    – abolish tuition fees entirely.
    – universities may claim up to £9k per student (more for lab-based STEM courses) per year from the government for tuition, for as many students as they can attract, with minimal regulation.
    – students to be given financial support of £3750 a year unconditionally, means-tested up to £7000 a year.
    – an additional income tax of 9% of income over £21k to be introduced to help pay for this expansion of HE funding (the remainder coming from general taxation), with a lifetime payment cap through the tax of £55k, to be paid by graduates for 30 years after their graduation. (Both thresholds linked to inflation)

    It is, of course, pretty much exactly what the government is currently proposing, just with different names for the different bits of it, bar (very) minor differences in repayment thresholds.

    I think it’s mainly been done as an accounting trick. If you make students take out a “loan” for their education to some nominal value, then after it has been paid out the loan becomes a government asset, which can be offset against the loan the government takes out to pay for the education in the first place, and the government’s balance sheet is level. You can even sell the loan which is a government asset for real money.

    If you make students pay back exactly the same amount of money in extra taxation, then it’s only a debt on the government balance sheet, and the extra taxation will take a while to start flowing in, and DEBT! DEFICITS! DOOM!

    So thousands marching over an accounting trick, then. (Actually, the deregulation of student numbers is genuinely scary in its unpredictable effects on the HE sector, but that issue is mostly invisible on the placards and slogans: nice bit of misdirection)

  44. Shamit — on 11th November, 2010 at 3:11 pm  

    “If it’s called progressive taxation – then there’s no problems with it being paid out of progressive taxation is it?”

    The problem is the UK tax system is barely progressive and usually the middle classes who earn between 25 – 60K get penalised most.

    And its not me who is saying this – its the IFS. Recently, all the political blogs and commentators have defined the IFS as the “sane” voice of course that is after Joseph Siglitz (the ultimate Keynsian).

    But IFS review conducted by Mirless (1996 nobel prize winner) have failed to make any mark in blogs or commentary – those who are interested in a synopsis have a read here:

    http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/39391

  45. Rumbold — on 11th November, 2010 at 3:27 pm  

    An excellent summrary Shamit. I agree with most of that, however I do think we need a green tax on carbon. The best tax systems are the most simple ones.

    Cim:

    I actually think that your idea is an excellent one. It is simple. The only snag is the grant, as then the unviersities would have enough money to cover their costs. What they could do though is put the fees to £11,000 and award the same grants. However, all those students would still have marched against it, because they feel that other people should be paying for them.

    Kulvinder:

    Funny you should bring up Locke as an example: he studied medicine.

  46. Shamit — on 11th November, 2010 at 4:00 pm  

    Rumbold -

    Thank you – the credit goes to a new much younger content team member not myself and I will pass it on.

    On your point about the green taxes -IFS review does not suggest that green tax be abolished, however currently, the system is arbitrary and is not coherent. It should be based on a transparent measure.

  47. Kulvinder — on 11th November, 2010 at 7:07 pm  

    Funny you should bring up Locke as an example: he studied medicine.

    To pay the bills, his true talent lay elsewhere; the need for academia for the sake of academia is now more widely recognised.

  48. Rumbold — on 11th November, 2010 at 9:22 pm  
  49. Wibble — on 11th November, 2010 at 10:16 pm  

    LOL Rumbold, bet you seriously think you linked to a factual article :D

    The spoilt middle class kids are aspirational and want to be like the Bullingdon club toffs, but breaking things without wanting to pay for them (as their entitled to it).

  50. Wibble — on 11th November, 2010 at 10:18 pm  

    Damn my “comprehensive twerp” eduction: mixing up “their” and “they’re”.

  51. douglas clark — on 11th November, 2010 at 10:34 pm  

    Wibble,

    I was really, really hoping that ‘eduction’ was a word.

    Sadly, no :-(

    Tell you a secret. No-one would have noticed!

  52. Wibble — on 11th November, 2010 at 10:42 pm  

    Now, now, Dougie “Eduction” is a geological term :)

  53. cjcjc — on 12th November, 2010 at 3:19 pm  

    That mash piece has got the economics right – the bottom earning 30-40% of graduates will be better off.

    The richer ones will have a little less pocket money.
    Fucking diddums.

    It’s as if – and I can’t believe this is true(!!!) – they haven’t bothered to look at the detail…

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/neilobrien1/100063468/ignore-the-teenage-rampage-higher-tuition-fees-are-fair/

  54. MaidMarian — on 12th November, 2010 at 5:33 pm  

    OK -

    I do rather wish Rumbold that you had put something other than this snide, taunting article up. Leaving that aside…

    Strip out the snide, and as I understand it, the argument is that by funding HE via general taxation, those who aren’t directly benefiting in the labour market carry a disproportionate burden. and that that is ‘regressive.’ ‘Free’ higher education just means somebody else pays – as in Scotland. It is not clear to me how that is different to this care worker’s training, but also leave that aside.

    Rumbold, whilst arguments about ‘fairness’ are the meat of this issue, it is simply not how you are viewing it. It may well be that some of the protests are wrong-headed – but on a general level, the level of thought, the protests are correct.

    Firstly, when Rumbold you talk about those who are and are not benefiting, you are making a cosy assumption that the benefits accrue to the individual and so should be paid for by the individual. But that is not at all the case. The benefits accrue to society as a whole, in proportions which are impossible to assign to individuals. The fair (and goodness I hate that word) way to pay for this is not graduate tax, certainly, but income tax. Why is this different to times when 15% went to university, is something of a mystery. Not least because Browne proposed gargantuan upfront payments to universities. That Rumbold, not your hackneyed care worker, is what you should have written about.

    It’s important to be clear that these arguments could apply to almost any area of public spending – not just higher education. The logic of the argument in Browne would also mean that individuals should pay for schools, health etc to the extent that they use and benefit from schools, health etc. In short a pay and go society. Or perhaps libertarian?

    But that is a nonsense – as the case of the man being cared for amply demonstrates. Even leaving aside moral considerations, if I have no children, it is still in my interest that children are educated; even if I am healthy until the day I die it is still in my interest that my workmates, employees and family have healthcare. My sister has heavy asthma – should she be working off the bills now for the medical care that kept her alive between the ages of 5-10? It is the logic of Browne, of this vicious Coalition that it is worth protesting about. Rumbold, you appreciate the price of everything and the value of nothing – that is why you are having such trouble with these protests.

    The direction of travel of most public policy for the last 30 years at least has been towards the individual, but that is not good enough if we are to be a real society. Not even close. Indeed, it is the biggest irony of the politics we find ourselves with that, having so strongly emphasised the individual, we now decry ‘broken Britain’ and feel the need to manufacture a new ‘big Society’. What has ‘broken’ Britain was rampant individualism – the free houses, loadsamoney and the like.

    A real Big Society is represented in those things we collectively agree to pay for via a progressive taxation system because they are to our collective moral and practical benefit. I realised Rumbold that you will only ever sneer at the arts degree and will simply not accept that a university experience can being benefit. There you go.

    What has happened in Britain in the last 35 years is the worst of all worlds. On one side there has been the rhetoric and aspiration to a US style neo-liberalism. This however has been coupled with levels of taxation which are way too high to make such a model remotely viable; on the other hand we have had the rhetoric of a North-West European style of social democracy but with taxation levels which are not even close.

    It’s true that our politicians, and for that matter our media, have consistently failed to spell this out, but that is no excuse for our own failure to realize it, or for our tacit acceptance of its consequences. While many have settled for the impotent rage and the feel good rants the internet offers, these students said no to the nonsense of our current politics and the sheer vileness of this Coalition’s view of the world. I hope Nick Clegg has a long, hard think about this because he is the face of this wholly moronic janus-like politics.

    While the man being cared for, and the current Cabinet, got ample benefits, nationalised industry jobs, free care (often, latterly, by immigrants working for magic beans) and the right-to-buy. These students are seeing their future set out for them. Milch-cows for an ideological government. If you can’t understand why that wild unfairness might have some just that bit piqued Rumbold well you have your head in the libertarian sand to an alarming depth.

  55. MaidMarian — on 12th November, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

    cjcjc – Hazard a guess for me.

    How much did Neil O’Brien pay for his time at university?

    I often think that is an unfair point made – after all we would not expect other public sector services to seek retrospective payments.

    What that Telegraph link (and I appreciate that the DT is the house-journal for generation house-price) signaly skates over is any notion of what these protests stand for. It is about more than £9 a week post-study.

  56. Tom — on 13th November, 2010 at 1:28 am  

    An important, forgotten, point here. Is that any current student will not be charged any more, they are on the system as it is when they started their course. So students on these protests are not after anything for free, they just seem to be the ones that appreciate and understand higher education.

    Secondly. The current banding, as advertised, means that any degree that lacks the commercial viability will be funded by the taxpayer. So essentialy, this system charges those that go to university for medicine and all other inarguably useful degrees, and funds those that go for “useless” degrees and dont hit the threshold of a a full pay off.

    Thirdly, this will rip to shred social mobility. For a 3 year degree. You are talking, for anyone from a similar background to me (taking into account maintenance loan), 45k in debts for 3 years. For a 5 year medical degree, you are looking at more like 70k, and they will know this will be hanging round they’re necks (and with a 6% interest rate, probably for the rest of their lives). This will change decisions when applying to university’s, even if you know it won;t happen till later – I can’t see how anyone who has any understanding of the real world can’t see that.

  57. halima — on 13th November, 2010 at 1:56 am  

    Rumbold,

    Typical that you post a link up representing a hackneyed argument about a student and a care worker in a week when the rest of the country is heartened by our students. As Maid Marion says, you can apply your conversation to any public spending, and ultimately if every one thought like your character, why do I benefit from this in the short term without seeing any long term benefits to the country, Britain may as well be dead as a country. Dead politically and dead economically for sure.

    In any case, I’ve rarely seen low income workers and public sector workers complain about tuition fees being so generous – I doubt you are drawing on any real experience, just some abstract reasoning and logic. It’s the worst type of argument for me.

    Do you want a society where only the rich go to university? Growing inequalities hurts everyone, not just the poor. Everyone ends up paying back in some way or another. There hasn’t been much social mobility in Britain in the last 30 years at all.

    http://twitpic.com/35njg4

    A little reminder of the students that ruined it for the rest.

  58. Refresh — on 13th November, 2010 at 2:33 am  

    MaidMarian,

    An excellent response to what I believe is an illiterate and divisive conversation. No offence Rumbold.

    I would add there is a more productive conversation to be had between the careworker and the student about the ‘wealth creator’.

    The ‘wealth creator’ believes he has made it all through his own hard work and deserves to be able to opt out of the hardships the careworker or the student goes through; he believes he deserves to be able to negotiate around the tax system and define his own pension rights. And worse, have a bigger say in defining the rights of the careworker and the student.

    Little does he realise that if it wasn’t for the rest of us paying our taxes and thus creating a society which is skilled and healthy enough to be able to do the work the ‘wealth creator’ needs doing he would not be able to hoard as much as he does. This is the most important link between the workforce (that’s the vast majority of us, despite some of the false class divisions) and the so-called ‘wealth creator’. The careworker doesn’t just pay tax so he can get to see a doctor when he needs one, or send his children to school, he is paying to help others train so that the ‘wealth creator’ can make more money. And the student will do the same in due course.

    The politics of the last 35 years has all been about low taxation (mostly at the top), and low (aka competitive) wages at the bottom. Blair and Brown failed miserably in taking on this argument, rather they attempted to go with the grain divined by Thatcher. It takes a definitive financial crisis for the tax argument to come to the fore, and even then we end up with Clegg siding with the ideologically driven Tories who see their big moment to finally kill off the fundamentals of the Big Society – solidarity.

    The careworker and the student will both pay the price, whilst the ‘wealth creator’ lobbies for more opt outs.

    The protests have to be now and not at the end – there will be no single rallying point this time, unlike the poll tax.

    Its a battle for the soul of Britain – again.

  59. Notfromroundhere — on 13th November, 2010 at 8:46 am  

    It’s the early 1980s all over again.

  60. Rumbold — on 13th November, 2010 at 11:57 am  

    MaidMarian:

    My view of the purpose of government is one in which the weakest (the disabled, asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence, etc.) are protected, and everyone else has the basics/essentials provided for them: health, up to GCSE education, law and order, defence, and some benefits if necessary. As you divined, I do not feel this includes advanced training with clearly is of primary benefit (in most subjects anyway) to the student. Yes, it is impossible to quantify exactly, but so is almost anything.

    Halima:

    Funnily enough, I have asked a few low-income, non-university educated workers about this in recent days, and none of them were supportive of the students. I won’t claim that this is representative- I can’t tell, since it is anecdotal and on such a small scale. But there are plenty of people who don’t like funding students, even if they dislike the coalition.

    Refresh:

    I have no time for businesses who lobby for tax breaks/exemptions. I want to see a clear and stable tax system- no favourites. The rules should be easy to understand and I despise corporatism- where big businesses have undue influence on government decisions.

  61. halima — on 13th November, 2010 at 12:29 pm  

    “Funnily enough, I have asked a few low-income, non-university educated workers about this in recent days..”

    Rumbold, I meant generally low income groups and non-university education workers aren’t the ones having this debate about student fees.

    Most of my friends and family, and networks are low-income folks and non-university education workers, and I can honestly say, most have been talking about cuts in income support and other public cuts.

    Whether you consider public education ( primary and above) to be a basic service is down to how much education you think people deserve – and how accessible you want university to be. If your objective is to make university accessible to all, and not just students who are middle class and richer, than you would draw the line at primary education. But historically, it was quite a popular view to argue that the working classes were incapable of learning much, and we can’t afford to extend public education anyhow.

  62. Refresh — on 13th November, 2010 at 3:29 pm  

    Rumbold,

    There is a really good book by George Monbiot talking about corporate welfare called I think Corporate Welfare.

    Should your re-organising of society be accepted, do you not think that it would be better to resolve the problems heaped on society by the well to do, before lashing out against those still trying to get on the ladder? Your hypothetical conversation is about us at the bottom fighting amongst ourselves, which is certainly how Cameron and Osborne like it. Less pressure on them.

    Pretty much in the same way as the invention of the ‘underclass’ helped Thatcher.

  63. Larry — on 13th November, 2010 at 4:04 pm  

    “There is a really good book by George Monbiot”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Very funny.

  64. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 2:54 am  

    Larry,

    It is a good book, it scrupulously uncovers how corporations not only pay as little tax as they can get away with, but they also claim as much as they can by way of handouts. And you are paying. These are the real benefit cheats.

    Go get it, if you don’t like the author, remove the dustcover.

  65. Larry — on 14th November, 2010 at 1:51 pm  

    I have a lot of sympathy for those companies/individuals who do whatever they can to avoid tax. I would if I could get away with it. We get taxed way too much.

  66. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 3:58 pm  

    ‘We get taxed way too much.’

    YOU get taxed more BECAUSE they get away with it!

    You come across as a patriotic sort, do you think its your patriotic duty to avoid tax?

  67. damon — on 14th November, 2010 at 4:39 pm  

    I worked it out that people on 30,000 a year would lose about 50p an hour out of their wages.
    As far as I’m aware this is what people will have to pay:

    it’s 9% of any amount *over* 21k, so it would be £15/month at 23k, £30/month at 25k, £67/month at 30k

    And on a money website I found this analysis.

    We asked data analyst Moneyfacts to calculate how long it would take a graduate to repay their debt.

    We assumed they start on a salary of £21,000 and get a pay rise of 3% every year. To calculate the rate of interest, we set RPI at 2%.

    Using these figures, Moneyfacts calculated that graduates with a debt of £43,500 would never repay all their loan. Instead they would repay £33,217, but much of this would be interest. And, as a result of further interest added to the loan, £73,659 would be wiped off after 30 years.

    If tuition fees were £7,000, then the same graduate may have a total debt of £37,500. Using the same calculation repayments would be the same, but the amount written off would be £56,199.

    My wages have been serverly suppressed in the last several years. Much more than 50p an hour.
    I work as a driver, vans and trucks, mostly through agencies, and the hourly rates haven’t risen in years, they’ve gone down, or the better paying jobs are harder to find. If I could get work paying 23,000 again I’d happily pay an extra 15 quid a month tax.

  68. Larry — on 14th November, 2010 at 6:22 pm  

    Refresh,

    How in any way, shape or form is patriotism linked to one’s willingness to pay tax?

    That is ludicrous.

    You’re more or less saying that if one is to be a true patriot, they should pay tax at whatever rate the government of the time sets it at and not complain.

    So how high are you willing to go? 90% tax? 95%?

    I think it’s crazy that, in rip-off Britain, if you earn more than 150K you have to pay 50% income tax. That’s a tax on aspiration. And I think it’s crazy, not to mention immoral, that the government taxes inheritance over £325,000 at 40%. That’s a death tax.

    I don’t want to pay money out of my wage for a National Health Service, let alone for the latest “climate change” quango. And don’t use the excuse that it’s tax dodgers who are making my tax go up, because even if there were no tax-dodgers I’d still be getting ripped off at the same rate. What about the EU? A useless, political elite with their snouts in the trough, taking MY money to pay for their expenses when they fly around the world lecturing people about fictitious apocalyptic “climate change” scenarios and yoooooman rights.

    But you love all that, because you are a commie, aren’t you.

  69. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 9:36 pm  

    Larry,

    This is the thing you don’t understand about patriotism – you have rights and responsibilities. And one of those is to pay your taxes. Show me a country where this is not the case.

    And you don’t go round breaking the law of your country because you don’t like paying taxes and you don’t go round encouraging others to break it.

    If you are not happy about specific levels of tax, you use the ballot box to seek a level you are happy with. Or you can be principled and set off on a march of civil disobedience. Refuse to pay your taxes or only pay for the services you are happy to subscribe to. Being sneaky about it doesn’t cut it.

    And being a patriot isn’t about being shouty about other people, cultures and races.

    And if you want to blame anyone about rip-off Britain, then look no further than those that are also dodging taxes. BTW dodging makes it sound like a game. Dodging is probably the gateway to criminality when it comes to evading taxes.

    Am I a commie?

    Well, not sure. I believe in egality fraternity and liberty.

  70. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:02 pm  

    Are you a Daily Mail reader?

  71. Larry — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:26 pm  

    Are you a Guardian reader?

    Did I say I didn’t want to pay any tax?

    No, I didn’t, so you’re putting words in my mouth because you have no argument.

    There is sensible tax and then there is crippling tax. Someone on £12,000 a year pays 20% income tax, with NI contributions on top of that; then you’ve got council tax at between £80 and £100 a month; then you’ve got VAT; then you’ve got tax on fuel; then you’ve got tax on CO2 because it causes global warming (doesn’t really but let’s tax it anyway); then you’ve got inheritance tax.

    And they’re just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. There are sure to be others.

    And how is voting at the ballot box of any use when all 3 major parties sing from the same hymn sheet? LibLabCon – mix the yellow, red and blue and you get a right shitty colour.

    Our only hope is UKIP. That is how bad things are.

  72. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:28 pm  

    Larry,

    Just spotted this, a timely piece on tax avoidance:

    ‘Poll: protests against Vodafone dent its image’

    Excerpt:

    ‘More importantly, a massive 76% of respondents said they believed tax avoidance was fraudulent, and 63% agreed that all businesses had a duty to be socially responsible.’

    Rest of it is here:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/11/14/polls-protests-against-vodafone-dent-its-image/

    You cannot complain about rip-off Britain, and yet have nothing to say about those ripping-off Britain.

  73. Larry — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:39 pm  

    But I also realise, with just a basic understanding of the free market, that if the tax is too high the wealth generators (i.e. BUSINESSES) will flee Blighty for India or wherever else is more business friendly.

    There is tax and then there is extortion.

    If you earned £150,000, would you honestly be quite happy to give at least £75,000 straight to the man with the red briefcase, who, judging by recent history, doesn’t know his arse from his elbow (yes, I’m talking about that one-eyed ugly Scottish twat) and gets the country into serious financial how water?

  74. Larry — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:43 pm  

    Are you a EUrophile?

    Because if you are, you’re well aware of the billions we pour into such a useless bureaucracy for the privilege of getting dictated to on how to run our country.

    Seems strange to be so annoyed at businesses (yes, organisations which actually generate wealth and not just push paper all day long) and be perfectly happy about champagne socialists sucking the trough dry at our expense.

  75. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:51 pm  

    ‘Did I say I didn’t want to pay any tax?’

    No, but you admire those that get away with it.

    Was I stuffing words in your mouth? Yes I was, it appeared to me you couldn’t be trusted with your own.

    Finally you make a point about something we might agree on:

    ‘There is sensible tax and then there is crippling tax. Someone on £12,000 a year pays 20% income tax, with NI contributions on top of that; then you’ve got council tax at between £80 and £100 a month; then you’ve got VAT; then you’ve got tax on fuel; then you’ve got tax on CO2 because it causes global warming (doesn’t really but let’s tax it anyway); then you’ve got inheritance tax.’

    The tax system is wrongly skewed against the low to median paid, whilst the well off seem to do quite nicely. In principle I am not opposed to CO2 or fuel tax, we have to tackle climate change somehow. Not quite sure why you object to inheritance tax, if its the level, where would you set it?

  76. Larry — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:58 pm  

    There shouldn’t be an inheritance tax at all. Am I the only one who sees this death tax as completely immoral?

    Global warming is a theory. Prove man is warming the climate, then come back to me. (In the 70s it we were headed for an Ice Age, so excuse me if I don’t automatically trust these sagacious academics.)

    And why should someone who’s studied hard, worked hard, had initiative, etc., went on to earn £150,000, be taxed at a higher rate than someone who’s not as driven and happy to sit back on, say, £35,000?

    We both agree, I think, that the threshold before you start paying tax needs to be set far higher than it is at present (the cost of living is ridiculous nowadays). I think the majority of people would agree with us on that. However, once you get above that threshold there should be a flat tax for everyone; otherwise it’s a tax on ambition.

  77. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 10:59 pm  

    ‘Seems strange to be so annoyed at businesses (yes, organisations which actually generate wealth and not just push paper all day long) and be perfectly happy about champagne socialists sucking the trough dry at our expense.’

    Larry, we lost a significant portion of the wealth generators a long time ago. How is Vodafone or RBS a wealth generator? How is you and me talking on a phone or putting our cash into a bank account generating wealth?

    We are fast becoming an economy running on subscription, aka a service economy. I’ve yet to understand how a service economy generates wealth.

    You could say we maintain ourselves by having companies which make their profit overseas or we generate intellectual capital (IPR) through research and development which we license to others.

    People who flee Blighty are not your friends.

  78. Larry — on 14th November, 2010 at 11:03 pm  

    And let me make it clear – I’m poor.

    So it’s not like I’m biased.

    I just wish people would put the jealousy away. It’s the private sector that generates wealth; the public sector creates no wealth.

  79. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 11:11 pm  

    ‘And why should someone who’s studied hard, worked hard, had initiative, etc., went on to earn £150,000, be taxed at a higher rate than someone who’s not as driven and happy to sit back on, say, £35,000?’

    Believe me I know far more people who have studied hard, worked hard, had initiative etc, and are on say £35,000 or less, than I do those on £150,000 say. You are running away with a myth.

    One thing you should acknowledge, those on £150,000 rely on those at £35,000 and they in turn on someone on £12,000 to sustain them in their lifestyle.

    By the way, I recall a street balloon seller who never had it so good, and he actually said what you said. Until the balloon market burst – a corporation more organised started selling them in all their stores at half his prices. And I don’t doubt the person who did that powerpoint on balloons is probably now on £150,000.

    In that real example, where was the wealth created?

  80. Refresh — on 14th November, 2010 at 11:22 pm  

    ‘So it’s not like I’m biased.’

    Hey, we all have our opinions and experiences. You are entitled to yours.

    I’ve worked for large and small companies where initiative and hard work made it more enjoyable. However in most jobs that scope isn’t there.

  81. earwicga — on 14th November, 2010 at 11:56 pm  

    I’ve changed my mind Larry, please don’t ‘toddle off’ as I asked you to do on another thread. You are very amusing :)

  82. douglas clark — on 15th November, 2010 at 12:45 am  

    Larry @ 77,

    Most states claim the rights to their oil. Like, they are the public sector, aren’t they? So, it would be wrong to say that the state has no assets, wouldn’t it?

  83. Larry — on 15th November, 2010 at 3:10 am  

    Douglas,

    It didn’t invent the oil though, did it? No, the oil was just there.

    It’s private companies that drill for the oil though.

    Silly billy.

  84. douglas clark — on 15th November, 2010 at 9:23 am  

    Larry,

    ‘course it didn’t. But it claims the rights to exploration and subcontracts that to the private sector for a price. There are auctions of these rights you know.

  85. MaidMarian — on 15th November, 2010 at 10:01 am  

    Larry -

    ‘Seems strange to be so annoyed at businesses (yes, organisations which actually generate wealth and not just push paper all day long)’

    How do the banks in which the state now holds an equity stake fit in with your world-view.

    Refresh – On your £35k example. I saw a figure which I sadly can’t find now which is perhaps more telling than anything in the debate about public v private. 30 years ago, the chief exec at Barclay’s Bank was paid £80k plus pension. I don’t know what he gets paid now, but conservatively we can put three zeros onto that and likely add any number of other benefits.

    Now I certainly am open to the argument that the reumuneration committees and shareholders in banks are at fault.

    But this political world-view, not university students or public sector workers is what broke Britain. For three decades we have had a housing market and inequality where the economy should have been. The crass blame the victim mentality that is the very leitmotif of this Coalition suggests that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

  86. Larry — on 15th November, 2010 at 11:12 am  

    Maybe not blame the victim, but certainly blame the “victim mentality”.

    I just can’t get over what a nation of demanding scroungers we have become, when grown adults are rioting in the streets because (SHOCK HORROR) the State isn’t giving them a free handout where further education is concerned.

    We all know that not everyone is cut out for university, yet it is un-PC to say it like it is. There needs to be move to boosting the image of apprenticeships and creating more apprenticeships in electricals, plumbing, etc. Also, why do management trainee schemes ALWAYS insist on graduates? It’s silly. I know people who have upper-second and first-class degrees in mickey mouse subjects like media studies and criminology but they can’t write properly. I am not joking. For some reason, I have a better grasp of the English language than these graduates, even though I’ve only got qualifications up to A-level standard.

    It frustrates me that the Left are always banging on about the Right being old-fashioned and reactionary. Couldn’t I say the same thing about them? Any time a Tory tries to be fiscally responsible, and tries to put more onus on the individual to take more responsibility for his/her own life, all the left-wing thugs come out of the shadows.

    Besides, it was Labour which introduced tuition fees; the Tories are just making it fairer.

    Higher education is unsustainable, similar to the NHS timebomb. New Labour have to take responsibility for this – they were the ones who obsessed over education, education, education. Now everyone feels like they have to go to university. The market has become so saturated with graduates that, in many cases, a BA/BSc is insufficient, and to stand out many employers are looking for postgraduate degrees and even PhDs for jobs that pay not much more than the national average wage.

    The student riots were about one thing only – a sense of entitlement that’s been instilled in them from an early age. We need to foster a sense of personal responsibility in kids, because the touchy-feely approach is not working.

  87. MaidMarian — on 15th November, 2010 at 11:57 am  

    Larry – So you aren’t going to share your thoughts on the private-sector banks then?

    Whenever anyone uses the terms, ‘mickey mouse degree,’ and, ‘it’s un-PC to say it,’ it is difficult to shake the opinion that the comment is more chip on shoulder than anything else. But perhaps this part is the most telling.

    ‘There needs to be move to boosting the image of apprenticeships and creating more apprenticeships in electricals, plumbing, etc. Also, why do management trainee schemes ALWAYS insist on graduates?’

    So, to summarise – the private sector is wonderful, the private sector is our saviour. Just it would be nice if the private sector changed its recruitment policies to fit your dogmas.

    Don’t get me wrong, if you know a part of the country where they are falling over each other to take on 16 year old school-leavers and give apprenticeships, generous day-release and night-school subsidy then please can you let us know where this is?

    What is bizarre about your argument, of course, is that it was the Conservative governments of the early 1960s who oversaw the first university expansion, it was Thatcher who expanded university in the 1980s (admittedly to massage the unemployment numbers more than anything else) and it was the Major government who ended the binary divide and expanded the university sector. All of it done with the argument that university allows people to take more responsibility for their life.

    But hey, why bother with things like balance or facts when you can beat your chest on a talkboard about left-wing thugs?

    Out of interest, are you a member of generation house-price?

  88. Larry — on 15th November, 2010 at 1:20 pm  

    Hey, I might think Labour are MORE to blame, but I’m far from being a member of the Conservative party. As I see it, they’ve all made serious errors of judgement; however, I just happen to feel that Conservatives are more fiscally responsible.

    You criticise me for using the expressions “mickey mouse degree” and “un-pc”; I’d criticise you for being obsessed with social mobility, “racism”, “islamophobia”, and using the term “climate change denier”.

    We obviously don’t like each other’s lexicons.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the “generation house price” comment. I’m in my late twenties.

    I’m not saying the private sector is wonderful (there are things that need to be changed) but I hardly think relying on the public sector is sensible. Apparently our public sector is now at around 53% of our GDP, whereas Britain was at its peak economically the public sector was only 10% of GDP. There are too many disincentives for businesses to train staff. Did you know that to be a barman you now have to go and do a course (which cost something like £80-£100)? How is that helping the economy? Successive governments (but Labour were particularly bad) are regulating the wrong things. YES, they SHOULD have been more vigilant when it came to the banks, I’m not denying that.

  89. MaidMarian — on 15th November, 2010 at 2:04 pm  

    Larry –

    ‘You criticise me for using the expressions “mickey mouse degree” and “un-pc”; I’d criticise you for being obsessed with social mobility, “racism”, “islamophobia”, and using the term “climate change denier”.’

    Sorry – can you please point out which of my posts contain those terms? Presumably your much-vaunted grasp of the English language extends to reading? It’s not your lexicon I dislike. It’s your attitude.

    For the record, I usually get flayed alive on here for saying that climate change is a load of cobblers (it is). But that’t the problem with coming onto talkboards with chips on shoulders isn’t it? You’d already made your mind up what I thought and just wanted to put words into my mouth.

    It is would be like me assuming that mummy and daddy have comfortably inflated assets to cushion your lifestyle. But of course I would never make such an assumption about you, nor give voice to it on a talkboard.

    And now – for a third time – please will you share your thoughts on the conduct of private sector banks in which the state was obliged to take an equity stake? You do understand the question I assume?

  90. Refresh — on 15th November, 2010 at 2:29 pm  

    ‘The crass blame the victim mentality that is the very leitmotif of this Coalition suggests that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.’

    Absolutely.

    With regards the unemployment numbers, in addition to extending higher education, it was the Thatcher government which pushed people onto incapacity to reduce the unemployment numbers. And we then blame the recipients for being on it.

  91. Larry — on 15th November, 2010 at 6:42 pm  

    Maidmarian,

    The banks weren’t regulated properly – it’s as simple as that.

    It was the credit culture encouraged by NuLabour that did it, giving loans to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back. And Bill Clinton’s administration was at the root of it, too.

  92. MaidMarian — on 15th November, 2010 at 7:45 pm  

    Larry –

    ‘The banks weren’t regulated properly – it’s as simple as that.’

    Ah, the right and the, ‘always someone to blame,’ culture.

    ‘It was the credit culture encouraged by NuLabour that did it, giving loans to people who couldn’t afford to pay them back.’

    So it wasn’t the Conservative government encouraging mortgage-holding? This is what I just love about the right – the workless, the disabled, the aspirational, the poor, no sympathy – it’s all their fault. Those who took out reckless debt? Well that’s all NuLabour’s fault, blame the government. Because, of course, the right just love, ‘regulation,’ yes?

    Tell you what. If you bring me the minutes of a Northern Rock board meeting where Blair or Brown say, ‘yes, you know what. I think it would be a really good idea to operate on a gearing ratio of 1:7 and give 125% mortgages,’ I might be inclined to give your level of thought some credibility. You do understand the idea of a private business decision I take it?

    You would fit into US politics brilliantly. Socialism for the rich, free-enterprise for everyone else.

    Seriously – are you trying to be funny?

  93. Larry — on 15th November, 2010 at 9:27 pm  

    Funny, any self-professed socialist I’ve met loves talking about how socialism is wonderful. They all own their houses and have two nice cars in their driveways.

  94. MaidMarian — on 15th November, 2010 at 9:44 pm  

    Larry – Who has said that they are a socialist?

    And to be honest I’d be quite surprised if someone who identifies as a socialist said anything other than that socialism is wonderful. Unless you know someone who thinks that their political views are rubbish.

    Funny how all those people I have met who pulled themselves up by the bootstraps all were given right-to-buy houses and jobs in nationalised industry.

    And, incidentally, you have not told me in which post I used the terms social mobility, “racism”, “islamophobia”, and “climate change denier”.

    Maybe standards are slipping?

  95. Shamit — on 15th November, 2010 at 9:48 pm  

    what is wrong with social mobility?

    Social mobility defines the success of a society ultimately – a meritocratic society (which we should aspire for) must have a strong element of social mobility.

    Why is it suddenly such a bad phrase?

  96. Arif — on 18th November, 2010 at 2:53 pm  

    The logic of Rumbold’s argument seems to me that instead of tuition fees and bigger student loans, it would be simpler and fairer to use the progressive tax system and increase income taxes for hing income earners.

    Yet I somehow don’t think that’s the conclusion you wanted me to draw, or is it, Rumbold?

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