Eton? It’s inheritance tax, stupid

As a student many years ago, I wrote a Finals paper in what I hoped was the style of the political correspondent of the Spectator Alan Watkins, whose lightly worn authority I greatly admired. Much good it did me; I came nowhere near a First unlike David Cameron, whom Alan has been writing about today in one of his occasional pieces for the Independent. With his usual world-weary wisdom he points out that attempts to wage class war against Cameron are beside the point and a poor answer to the Conservative leader’s success. Cameron and his sidekick George Osborne began to score over Gordon Brown when they promised to more than double the threshold for inheritance tax “ to one million pounds” – and have never looked back since, despite Brown’s attempts to revive class war and the odd ripple in the polls. And yet – are echoes of the old Etonian Harold Macmillan to be found in cool Dave? It was Watkins who coined the term “ the old actor manager” for that grandest of Old Etonians Harold Macmillan. The “never had it so good” prime minister liked to portray himself as the great- great grandson of a “crofter” (actually a conventional farmer) on the isle of Arran in the shipping lanes of the Firth of Clyde. Mac’s great grand father became a bookseller in the town of Irvine in Ayrshire and eventually ( it’s a longish story) went on to found Macmillan’s the book publishers. Maurice Harold, already grand enough socially as a member of a big publishing family you might think, was nonetheless nudged by his pushy American mother to the top of the social scale by marrying into the super-aristocratic family the Cavendishes, the family name of the Dukes of Devonshire. It landed him with a life of misery as a public cuckold but that’s another story. With his aristo’s mein, first assumed to conceal his unhappiness, Macmillan as PM posed as the father of the nation until the sixties caught up with him and he was savagely debunked in the satire boom. (See beyond the Fringe book review)”

No one had ever heard an impersonation of the Prime Minister before of the kind that Peter Cook did in TV PM. When Harold Macmillan actually turned up to see Beyond the Fringe in the West End, Peter Cook did the impression while Macmillan sat through it with a (presumably forced) fixed smile, so Peter Cook threw in the line “When I’m at a bit of a loose end, there’s nothing I like better than to sit watching four vibrant young performers with a big grin plastered all over my silly old face”.

Although he left Eton under mysterious circumstances, ( a homosexual fumble is inevitably suspected) so infatuated was he with its ethos that nine of of his cabinet were old boys. He even rigged the succession for one of them, the totally unsuitable good egg Alec Douglas Home ( third class honours degree). Macmillan quit front line politics suddenly in 1963 after a prostate operstion he thought wrongly would kill him, but he leaves a vivid memory since his death in December 1986 at 92. In extreme old age, he had the satisfaction of becoming as good an act as his former tormentors. As PM, for traditionalists he softened the blows of Britain’s decline by sporting his super- toff’s mask to suggest that nothing was changing very much really. Cameron’s Conservatives on the contrary, try to cover up the fact that 14 out of 15 shadow ministers went to public (i.e. private) schools. Might Cameron’s good chap PR man’s image conceal an old fashioned Tory who when it comes down to it, believes that in hard times especially, you inherit your luck?

  • Only Asking.

    I hardly think a website is the basis for a class war. A bit inept, trying to cover up something that is a matter of record, anyone who knows the conservative party, know the people involved and where they were educated. I dunno, maybe a toff ruling us with ideas and policies cooked up at Eton would work out a little better than being ruled by an illumni from the University of Edinburgh, just a thought.

  • “Might Cameron’s good chap PR man’s image conceal an old fashioned Tory who when it comes down to it, believes that in hard times especially, you inherit your luck?”

    More likely it’s simply a result of their being the first generation to have suffered the full effects of Labour’s distastrous and disgraceful destruction of the old school system which – through the grammar schools – had created genuine social mobility throughout the UK. The current Labour cabinet is likewise ridden with ministers who were privately educated.

    Given the state of schooling in the UK, and considering that the last products of the old secondary modern/grammar system will be retiring within the next decade or two, we can expect the return of the “public schoolboys” to dominance throughout government, industry and the upper echolons of society as a whole thanks to Labour’s inability to move on from it’s greed, envy and hatred driven origins.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good piece from Watkins, though he seems to run out of steam and become a little inchoate towards the end.

    I had an interesting conversation earlier with a friend of the family, who noted that although he has no time for the Tories, Labour is currently a bit like an old dog who’s dragging their back leg. However fond you may be of them, it is not difficult to recognise they need putting out of their misery.

    Then he went on to suggest that we are at a strange pass when after thirteen years the super rich have been over indulged, had a good time, made shedloads of money, and just when you’d expect a party of the left to come in and hand out the reality pills, you discover that it was Labour who were in and the task of handing out the red cards now falls to an elite set of Old Etonians.

    It’s relatively easy to get caught up in the moment, minute by minute changes in the flow of the stream… But for my money, Chris Dillow is on to something when he notes that it is Brown’s phoney version of the class war that’s missing the real point of the ‘class war’:

    Class is not, primarily, about going to a posh school, and class conflict is not, fundamentally, a row going on down near Slough.

    Instead, class is about power. And it is the central fact about the economy and society.

    It is class differences – inequalities in power – that explain why bankers get huge bonuses, why banks get bailed out but steel works don’t, why inequality has increased, why bosses exploit workers and why benefit claimants get harassed and stigmatized.

  • Mick Fealty

    Costello,

    I’ve worked in schools in the public and private sector in Britain, Ireland and right across Europe, and only in Britain have I seen fantasies indulged that you can improve or disimprove society by tinkering with the way schools are run.

    I do like the Scandinavian approach. I don’t like the French approach. Yet, whatever I personally think they both work. Yet both contain a huge degree of inertia which simply has never existed in the British (actually mostly England and Wales, Scotland and NI seem to have mitigated the worst effects of those radical shake ups) systems.

    Ireland conducted fundamental educational reform in the 60s to establish a functional and universal post primary education system and once hit upon, it has by and large let be…

    Spain, Italy and France have persisted with the same system for most of the last 100 years… the Portuguese after some radical, but mostly managerial reforms (absorbing the return of colonial populations being the largest challenge) in the wake of the 1970s revolution still work much the same system as that was set by the dictator Salazar in the 20s and 30s…

    It is the settled understanding of the value of the outputs of these ‘conservative’ systems that build a common understanding of the value they create by parents and employers that avoid the chaos of the British system where ‘reinvention’ has been the craze from one post war generation to the next…

  • Doctor Who

    “Although he left Eton under mysterious circumstances, ( a homosexual fumble is inevitably suspected)”

    I thought that was compulsory at Eton and other public schools. Wasn´t it Peter Cook who stated his biggest problem at public school was trying to avoid buggery.

  • willis

    Costello

    Given that the City of London is every bit as dominated by selective schools as ever, how do you explain their disasterous performance?

  • willis

    Jackie Ashley reminds us that the ‘class war’ is not just a Labour tctic.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/06/labour-conservatives-economic-policy-elections

    The Tory papers now expressing outrage at “class war” by the prime minister are the ones regularly sneering at Labour politicians for being Scots or even Glaswegian trade unionists. It’s true that children can’t choose their parents, or where they are sent to school. It’s equally true that they can’t choose where in the country they’re born.

  • kensei

    Mick

    I’ve worked in schools in the public and private sector in Britain, Ireland and right across Europe, and only in Britain have I seen fantasies indulged that you can improve or disimprove society by tinkering with the way schools are run.

    I think then you are not following th discourse in America very well.

    And I don’t know anything about society, but you can certianly impact individuals life chances in a somewhat dramatic way.

  • Mick Fealty

    Is that just for fun, or are you being serious? That’s a serious question btw.

  • kensei

    Mick

    I’m being serious. The state of public schooling in America is a fairly hot topic. Here’s Obama:

    “The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy and unacceptable for our children, and we cannot afford to let it continue,” he said.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/10/obama.education/

    What is that other than tying the state of the schools to the wider health of society? Particularly with regards to the state of inner city schools, the discourse in America is very much in that mould. It isn’t simply a UK thing.

    But that isn’t what gives arguments over education moral force. The moral force comes from comparing educational outcomes from different sectors. And those educational outcomes inevitabley impact really quite dramatically on life chances. That in part drives decline; lack of role models, poverty of ambition, poverty traps. If you want to find what really, really insenses people about educational problems, this is it. How can the figures Gerry gave on 11+ outcomes at the Ard Fheis be justified? Either morally on ground sof utility?

    The society argument springs up through the individual one, not the other way about.

  • Brian,

    I think this post touches on a number of very important issues. The first is the reality of – as Mick points out – class power within British society. The facts are that we just saw the state turn all its immense resources towards the task of saving the skins of the massive banks that dominate the richest and most influential institution in British life – the City of London. The scale of that intervention in and of itself gives the lie to the whole ideology of Thatcherism – that the state has little power when compared to the market, and that the market can be trusted to produce the best outcome for the maximum number of people.

    What we are seeing with the economic crisis (and to a lesser extent in the behaviour and comments of Tory MPs caught abusing the expenses system) is the true face of Cameron’s Tories emerge. We have seen Cameron and Osbourne rapidly jettison any talk of delivering improved public services, of being the best for the public sector. Instead we see them warm up to their beloved themes of slashing the public sector’s role in life and spending on it. Added of course to rhetoric aimed at those on the margin of society whom they portray as leeches, as opposed to their friends in the corporate world.

    I think it’s about time Labour mounted attacks on these fronts. Not in a crude way. But to point out the shallowness and falsehood of Cameron’s claims to understand the struggles faced by ordinary working families on lower and middle incomes. Cameron and his wife have wealth estimated at around £20m. Osbourne and Boris are also worth many millions, as are most of the shadow cabinet it would seem. This is the real significance. The reality of Cameron is the same as that of the Bush regime – based on a very narrow and plutocratic section of society, and seeking to place their interests first. As Bush himself put it – everyone else sees them as teh elite, but they were his base.

  • Greenflag

    garibaldi ,

    ‘The scale of that intervention in and of itself gives the lie to the whole ideology of Thatcherism – that the state has little power when compared to the market, and that the market can be trusted to produce the best outcome for the maximum number of people.’

    I would’nt be too sure of that take on the current crisis . I don’t think it would have mattered who was in power in either the USA or UK when Lehman was allowed to collapse but despite the calls of many mostly on the ‘right’ to allow the banks to fail the ‘State’ in both countries could not let that happen . Not because of ‘ideology’ or because of a new found enthusiasm for neo Keynesianism but simply for reasons of self preservation . Had the USA and UK not taken action to bail out the banks the outcome would have been most probably a mass wordlwide depression with hundreds of millions out of work and resultant political chaos .

    Neither the USA nor UK were prepared to tolerate an economic meltdown of the order that would have led to 40 million or more unemployed in the USA and 10 million plus unemployed in the UK !

    It was ‘fear’ that drove both Governments to do what they did to shore up their societies . Even the most ‘laissez faire’ or neo con monetarists of the USA’s republican party were scared to ‘implement ‘ the full measure of their political ideology’s economic convictions .

    To bring the ‘crisis’ into perspective re the ‘laissez faire ‘ ethical principle at work in the real world . Laissez ‘faire’ is ok as long as the victims are starving Irish or Indian peasants . But you can’t have 40 million Americans unemployed in a country with a bankrupt social safety net .

    Nor can you have a UK with 10 million out of work without risking a return to the political atmosphere of 1930’s Germany . And we all know where that led . If our ‘political ‘ and ‘economic ‘ experts whom we elect or appoint cannot deliver then why are they needed ?

    ‘The facts are that we just saw the state turn all its immense resources towards the task of saving the skins of the massive banks that dominate the richest and most influential institution in British life – the City of London.”

    We also saw the ‘State’ saving it’s own skin and we need to remember that when the time comes to impose effective regulation on the worldwide financial services sectors -and this can only be done by the G20 economies acting in concert . If they don’t the ‘international ‘financial services sector will hang each of these countries ‘separately’ with the UK looking like the juiciest target for the big boys because of it’s ‘monetary’ isolation and it not having the power of the USA Federal Reserve which can simply print more dollars to ‘save’ itself in the short term !

  • Greenflag,

    I’m not sure how the first part of your comment is supposed to contradict what I wrote. I’d be in agreement with it. We are both saying that the Thatcherite ideology was proven false by the fact of the state interventions.

    As for imposing effective regulation. The state is in a stronger position than it has been for years effectively having taken control of many of these banks. Time to flex that power.

  • Mick Fealty

    Much of the reason for those interventions has to do with the fact that people cannot live with the workings of what Hyakians like to call ‘the pure market’, whether they be state sanctioned monopolists like Mr Murdoch, speculators like George Soros or interventions central bankers acting on behalf of the state.

  • kensei

    Just a little addendum on how extreme educational disparities can be. A US example to avoid beign side tracked into the 11+ again:

    The report found troubling data on the prospects of urban public high school students getting to college. In Detroit’s public schools, 24.9 percent of the students graduated from high school, while 30.5 percent graduated in Indianapolis Public Schools and 34.1 percent received diplomas in the Cleveland Municipal City School District.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,344190,00.html

    Interesting to note the US system never fully centralised and curriculums vary even within states.

  • Greenflag

    Garibaldi ,

    The point I was trying to get across was that Thatcher was in hindsight right re the power of any individual state to take on the market then and even less so now .

    What transpired under Thatcherism was the wholesale ‘financialisation ‘ of the British economy plus the death knell of the middle sized British engineering sector along with the pushing forward of the ‘services’ economy in which presumably Britain would excell? New Labour did’nt do a whole lot to reverse the Thatcherite policies but merely ‘softened’ it by a huge expansion of public sector employment particularly in the health sector . Not everybody in the UK can be a financial services whiz and work in the city 😉

    ‘ The state is in a stronger position than it has been for years effectively having taken control of many of these banks. Time to flex that power.’

    Well yes but not by the UK alone .That would be suicidal in a financial investment sense in the short to medium term .

    ‘and that the market can be trusted to produce the best outcome for the maximum number of people.’’

    The evidence seems to be that the ‘market’ is better at creating ‘real ‘ jobs but is also better at destroying that which it creates and in today’s world almost faster than it creates them . In his book ‘Collapse ‘ Jared Diamond is pushing the point of view that it is only public awareness allied to state power and changing individual behaviour and spending away from those seemingly hell bent on species extinction, that can lead to a ‘better ‘ world . Simple ideological ‘correctness’ of either the right or left wing brands is a sure path to destruction.

  • Greenflag

    mick ,

    ‘Much of the reason for those interventions has to do with the fact that people cannot live with the workings of what Hyakians like to call ‘the pure market’,’

    Yes and no . More of the reason for those interventions was the probable ‘collapse’ of western societies with the inevitable return to barbarity on a scale which hasn’t been seen in the world since the 1930’s .

    There is no pure market -never was and never will be and those who are pouting the benefits of ‘free trade ‘ as the cure all tend to be the economic elite of the most advanced nations or those who have a plentiful supply of scarce natural resources .

    Kensei ,

    ‘ Interesting to note the US system never fully centralised and curriculums vary even within states.’

    That’s why there is also a huge ‘achievment ‘ gap even within states . A rich county i.e one with a higher average income and tax base WILL have better schools and teachers than a poorer one .

    Meanwhile in the world of educational averages USA high school kids rank 21st in mathematics worldwide and 21st in science and yet this is the country which put ‘men ‘ on the moon and wins most Nobel Prizes for the sciences ? Reason being the USA has the capital to ‘purchase ‘ any shortfall of scientists and mathematicians from abroad that it can’t produce itself from within .

    Is there nothing NOT rotten in the State of Denamrk /USA :(?

  • Jimmy Sands

    “Ireland conducted fundamental educational reform in the 60s to establish a functional and universal post primary education system and once hit upon, it has by and large let be…”

    And yet perhaps uniquely we retain a two party system where the divide appears to be not so much ideology (or even the civil war) but whether you went to the priests or the brothers.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    greenflag: “Meanwhile in the world of educational averages USA high school kids rank 21st in mathematics worldwide and 21st in science and yet this is the country which put ‘men ’ on the moon and wins most Nobel Prizes for the sciences ? Reason being the USA has the capital to ‘purchase ’ any shortfall of scientists and mathematicians from abroad that it can’t produce itself from within .”

    Actually, the whole “man on the moon” thing arises more from an unprecedented number of college graduates following WW2, due to the GI Bill than “buying the best and the brightest” from around the world, although a certain number of refugees did figure into the equation at NASA.

    As for high-schools, there is some squish in those comparisons — the United States does not have a state-wide mechanism that diverts lesser lights to trade schools, lest they much up the count.

    As for local control of education, there are some issues there, although your argument on money loses some of its luster — if throwing money at the problem was the cure-all for academic performance problems, NYC and Washington DC public schools would be the best in the nation, based upon dollars spent per pupil. Sadly, for all the money flushed away, these schools continue to under-perform. There are some indications that there are “cultural problems” both in the schools and among the pupils in some of these schools — half of the Washington DC schools qualify under the local definition of “persistently dangerous,” which says something about the student body.

  • Greenflag

    DCthulhu,

    ‘although a certain number of refugees did figure into the equation at NASA.’

    So many was the certain number that German humourists (yes they exist )had a cartoon whereby American space scientists and their Russian colleagues are seen meeting on a moon base sometime in the future (then the late 1970’s ) and the leaders of both groups look furtively over each other’s shoulders and seeing they were alone say ‘

    ‘Endlich mal koennen wir in unserem eigenen sprache unterhalten

    ”There are some indications that there are “cultural problems” both in the schools and among the pupils in some of these schools—half of the Washington DC schools qualify under the local definition of “persistently dangerous,” which says something about the student body.’

    And so close to the seat of government too ? Do the Congressmen or Senators ever send their kids to the local DC public schools or are they sent to private schools . Pass a law demanding that senators and Congressmen must send their kids to local public schools in the area and you would soon see standards improve eh ?

    But you don’t have to focus on Washington DC to see the effect of ‘poverty’ on school standards . Go into the Appalachians or Missisippi or Louisiana or parts of Florida and you will see a wide variance in standards and curricula . I don’t believe you would get that range of difference in standards between any of the public school systems in any modern european country notwithstanding Britain’s atypical elite schools for it’s still extant aristocracy and economic elite .

    I’ll agree generally that simply throwing ‘money’ at the problem is not the answer . If you don’t live in the right kind of neighbourhood your chances of getting into college are remote to say the least. And recent news from the healthfront seems to show that if you don’t have private health insurance in the USA your chances of dying while hospitalized are 8 times greater than if you have private insurance .

    F**k the sick and f**k the poor and f**k the children (unless they’re rich ) seems to be the american gift to the world of the late 20th and early 21st centuries 🙁

    Money for wars -YES Money for the Banks and Insurance companies YES . But spending money on education of the poor or on their health -no way danno that’s ‘communism ‘ and not only unamerican but unchristian as well

    Quite 🙁 I guess that says it all about the american ‘ruling ‘ elite eh ?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “And so close to the seat of government too ? Do the Congressmen or Senators ever send their kids to the local DC public schools or are they sent to private schools . Pass a law demanding that senators and Congressmen must send their kids to local public schools in the area and you would soon see standards improve eh ?”

    C’mon — even a good number of public school teachers I’ve known have sent their kids to private schools, let along Congressmen. Hell, Obama and the Dems passed a law, demanded by the teachers unions, to end the voucher program that sent po’ kids to private schools in the greater DC area.

    Greenflag: “I’ll agree generally that simply throwing ‘money’ at the problem is not the answer . If you don’t live in the right kind of neighbourhood your chances of getting into college are remote to say the least.”

    But, demonstrated by NYC and DC, that isn’t a function of the dollars spent on education. As demonstrated by those two cities, children from poor neighborhoods are getting adequate funding, so its not a matter of denial of resources, so something else must be in play. Again, DC spends 12,000 per student per year — I paid about that per year (YEAR, not semester) for graduate school. Ergo, your suggestion that these students are denied access to the resources for a good education falls flat on its face.

    Your failing, I think, is that you’re trying to apply a single culprit to a problem that has several causes. Rural districts may lack the needed resources, but urban districts that have the resources would seem to be failing on an entirely different basis. The fact that half of the DC schools are “persistently dangerous” would suggest that they are gang-ridden and that the problem is the students, not the resources.

    You can make a kid go to school, but you can’t make them think.

  • kensei

    DC

    You can make a kid go to school, but you can’t make them think

    I disagree. the problem is not tackling the indiscipline and the crime, not the students.

    And not everyone in those places are in gangs. A lot want to do well, but they are caught up to. One of the reasons charter schools get much better results is they can attract those students.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “I disagree. the problem is not tackling the indiscipline and the crime, not the students.”

    And whom, pray tell, do you think is committing the “indiscipline and the crime,” Kensei? The faculty and administration?

  • Greenflag

    ‘ you’re trying to apply a single culprit to a problem that has several causes.

    I’m not denying the problem has several causes but if you look at every one of those ‘several causes ‘ you will find the root of it lies in poverty and I don’t just mean the poverty of no money but the social , familial and medical circumstances in which many of the USA underclass exist . A good read for you would be Maurice Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ which gives an insight into how ‘heredity’ ‘the luck of the draw’ and picking the right grandfather are of greater import than one might think.

    Let me know next time you see a poor Jewish housemaid wheel a rich African American baby through Central Park for it’s morning air 😉

  • To by-pass most of the (occasionally relevant) comments above — surely Greenflag @ 07:55 PM hit a new all-time low in that final sentence (and, yes, it is a wholly credible scenario, particularly if the Jewish girl is also east European or from Latin America) — can I return to the first two sentences of Brian Walker’s headpiece?

    Alan Watkins, into his fourth quarter-century by my count, remains a national treasure, be it on politics or rugby. He remains one of the few positive reasons for the [London] Sindy‘s existence.

    Cameron’s academic career is another matter. My youngest, the Pert Young Piece, remains affronted that Cameron got into Oxford on the basis of an A-level in Economics-and-Politics. As she points out, forcefully and with the occasional unlady-like oath, that hybrid subject conveniently leaves out the hard bits of both topics. It assuredly wasn’t reputable at her [State grammar] school.

    Yet, in the stupid party, where even Daniel Hannan can be regarded as a towering intellect, a third brain-cell is optional. Where they do proliferate, they are greatly distrusted.

  • willis

    Malcolm Gladwell.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    GF: “I’m not denying the problem has several causes but if you look at every one of those ‘several causes ’ you will find the root of it lies in poverty and I don’t just mean the poverty of no money but the social , familial and medical circumstances in which many of the USA underclass exist . ”

    Aw, bollocks. Changing the meaning of words as you go to support your arguments is a wee bit of bootstrap levitation. It isn’t a matter of poverty, but the aggregate impact of poor choices over some forty some odd years.

    The lack of fathers / destruction of the nuclear familial unit in the “underclass” has more to do with kack-handed attempts to ameliorate “poverty” under LBJ’s “War of Poverty” than it does with any real lack of resources. When you set welfare rates in excess of what a body can earn, you make a father more valuable in his absence than in his presence. The corrosive impact of welfare was seen almost immediately, but, due to the wants and desires of certain interest groups, nothing was done. The absence of fathers was an economic decision created by poorly placed incentives created by the welfare state in the early sixties.

    That said, it was a choice, not something forced on the underclass. Choices, especially poor choices, should have some impact, should they not?

    On top of that, somewhen in the eighties, the silly-arsed notion that “thug life” was “authentic African-American culture,” with predictable downside impacts upon their “social wealth.” You have a culture where men impregnating girls is deemed normal, you have a problem. You have a culture where “n***a moments” — their term, not mine — are an acknowledged phenomena — scuff someone’s “$150 landmines” and see what happens.

    The biggest problem with your thesis is that it doesn’t really work. Real immigrants, such as Africans or Caribbean blacks, have better social, economic and educational out-comes than African Americans, despite any language and cultural differences. One argument could be the lack of a welfare state in their home countries.

    As for Medicinal poverty, you really have got it backwards. Where I live, the local state insurance “safety net” subsidizes families making over twice the median income rate for the state. Anyone whose suffering “medical poverty” either lives well and truly out in the sticks or isn’t really trying.

    The last thing is that “poverty” is a rather elastic term, particularly in the States. Nowadays, families in “poverty” can have cars, color televisions, air conditioning, etc., and still be “in poverty.”

  • Greenflag

    ‘It isn’t a matter of poverty, but the aggregate impact of poor choices over some forty some odd years.’

    40 years ? IIRC it’s just about 40 years ago that African Americans were allowed to use a public bathroom or sit in the same restaurant as whites. The kids who are born to absentee fathers did’nt get to choose to be unborn and given the RC Church’s and other evangelical church’s opposition to abortion it seems that ‘white ‘Christian ‘ intelligentsia are all in favour of continuing the poverty trap for some african americans .

    ‘The lack of fathers / destruction of the nuclear familial unit in the “underclass” has more to do with kack-handed attempts to ameliorate “poverty” under LBJ’s “War of Poverty” ‘

    So what’s your suggestion for dealing with say the white underclass who are now taking on the same norms for broken families as the previous generation of african americans ? Abolish any remaining welfare programs ? remove food stamps or just put another 20 million african americans and white americans behind bars in the USA’s fastest growing new industry i.e private sector prison building – (a good investment I read with above average returns expected for the next generation at least ;()

    ‘Choices, especially poor choices, should have some impact, should they not?’

    I agree especially if those choices are made by adults who are expected to have a modicum of intelligence backed up by a secure family background which is why if you look at the ‘consequences ‘ recently meted out to the elite of the USA’s financial services sector you should not note that not all consequences are equal . There’s a huge difference between golden ‘retirements’ for the looters of pension funds and mortgage broker gangsters and the lifetime behind bars for some african american teenager who has achieved his third strike and out target 🙁

    Bollocks yourself 😉

  • Greenflag

    willis ‘

    Congratulations on spelling Malcolm right right 😉
    I trust you have read his interesting tome and in particular the importance of having a local chinese grocer who’s child attended your auntie’s one teacher school in the boonies of Jamaica 😉

  • willis

    GF

    Not read ‘Outliers’ yet but ‘Tipping point’ was good.

  • kensei

    DC

    And whom, pray tell, do you think is committing the “indiscipline and the crime,” Kensei? The faculty and administration?

    Minors. And as such, not wholly responsible for their actions. The faculty, administration and government have a duty to provide some standards of discipline and deal effectively with crime. Parents obviously have duties they are failing too.

    I should be even more accurate. Some minors. Who will have a disproportionate impact on those who actually do have to work. There is a duty to those students too.

    There is an undercurrent of something to your comments. Not exactly sure what, but it’s unsavoury.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    kensei: “Minors. And as such, not wholly responsible for their actions.”

    Oh sure… society is to blame, so we’ll be chargin them, too…

    kensei: “The faculty, administration and government have a duty to provide some standards of discipline and deal effectively with crime.”

    Too bad the parents respond to any attempt to discipline their kiddie-poos with “why you picking on my kid.” You can’t fail the little blighters, else its “you’re picking on my kid,” regardless of how poorly they do or how little they work. Discipline? Feh. If the school tries to act in loco parentis, and the activist crowd is on them like white on rice, almost regardless of however egregious the act.

    Their parents can’t or don’t discipline them and refuse to allow anyone else to do so.

    kensei: “There is an undercurrent of something to your comments. Not exactly sure what, but it’s unsavoury. ”

    One of us has taught in a less an affluent American school, and then there is you… who should I believe, you or mine own eyes, ears and experiences?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “IIRC it’s just about 40 years ago that African Americans were allowed to use a public bathroom or sit in the same restaurant as whites. The kids who are born to absentee fathers did’nt get to choose to be unborn and given the RC Church’s and other evangelical church’s opposition to abortion it seems that ‘white ‘Christian ’ intelligentsia are all in favour of continuing the poverty trap for some african americans .”

    Actually, it had more to do with NOW and African American civil rights organizations liking the story-line that welfare created — NOW liked the PR image of the strong black mother “making it on their own” and the Civil Rights community didn’t like the notion of their community being “singled out” despite the disproportionate impact that these programs on their community..

    GF: “So what’s your suggestion for dealing with say the white underclass who are now taking on the same norms for broken families as the previous generation of african americans ? Abolish any remaining welfare programs ?”

    Abolish? No. Wind down / convert the programs to work-fare or apprenticeship programs, as a start? Yes. Abolishing those programs without some transition would be as cruel, although there are other, subtler dangers, starting with those apprenticeship programs should be relevant / in needed areas.

    The problem, currently, is that bad decisions are incentivized / subsidized while good decision, while not discouraged, are more painful, short-term, than bad ones. Eliminating the misplaced incentive and you *begin* to ameliorate the problem, but, for societal stability, you can’t do it all at once. Just as it took generations to create the problem, it will, sadly, take generations to eliminate them. Some of them will never be eliminated, because other aspects of society has changed too much.

    GF: “I agree especially if those choices are made by adults who are expected to have a modicum of intelligence backed up by a secure family background which is why if you look at the ‘consequences ’ recently meted out to the elite of the USA’s financial services sector you should not note that not all consequences are equal . There’s a huge difference between golden ‘retirements’ for the looters of pension funds and mortgage broker gangsters and the lifetime behind bars for some african american teenager who has achieved his third strike and out target :(”

    Frankly, GF, I think America lost its way when the tarring and feathering the crooked high and mighty went out of style. I was all for watching the fella who ran major corporations into the ground take the fall — auto industry, banking industry — let them all burn. Just as welfare has taught generations of folks that the government will pick up the tab for their bad behavior, so has government bail-outs to corporations done the same on a vaster level. Failed businesses should be allowed to fail.

    My biggest laugh in this whole mess has been leftie journalists and politicians calling it “a failure of capitalism” when it has nothing to do with capitalism, starting with the notion that, under capitalism, failing businesses are permitted to fail, rather than be bought out by the government.

    To get down to cases, I have limited sympathy for anyone in the mortgage mess, buyers, brokers or banks — the buyers bought more house than they could afford on the theory the price would never go down, the brokers made loans they shouldn’t have and the banks went along, with the Federal government greasing the skids through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Even now, with the full benefit of 20/20 hind-sight, the Obama administration is trying desperately to re-inflate the housing bubble with tax credits for new and “upgrading” buyers.

  • kensei

    DC

    Oh sure… society is to blame, so we’ll be chargin them, too…

    Don’t stick words into my mouth. I did not say that. Minors are not held to the same standrads as adults. Others have a duty of care to them – be it their parents, or their school or their state. That is a somewhat well established principle. If you are going to argue that then we are going nowhere.

    The children have some responsibility for their actions. The parents even more so. But not enforcing proper discipline is a failure of that duty of care.

    Too bad the parents respond to any attempt to discipline their kiddie-poos with “why you picking on my kid.” You can’t fail the little blighters, else its “you’re picking on my kid,” regardless of how poorly they do or how little they work. Discipline? Feh. If the school tries to act in loco parentis, and the activist crowd is on them like white on rice, almost regardless of however egregious the act.

    The school does not have to act as in loco parents, though I believe legally they are, at least here. They simply have to have a discipline code and enforce it. If a student breaks then they should face punishments as laid out. If they break it repeatedly then they should be kicked out. Some inner city schools have proper crime problems, both in the UK and the US. In that case, it is the police that should be enforcing it.

    I imagine litigation is a problem, but I imagine there are ways to mitigate it. Perhaps I was a bit flippant earlier. I don’t doubt fixing these things is extremely difficult. I don’t doubt it takes will from a variety of places. I just don’t believe it’s impossible.

    Their parents can’t or don’t discipline them and refuse to allow anyone else to do so.

    I’m not sure that should matter in every case. If a crime has been committed, then should what their parents think matter? If the rules have been broken then there should be set punishment and taht’s it. If they don’t like it, then they should be welcome to try elsewhere.

    I kow some of these things are easy to say and harder to implement. But if people are talking education reform, making that stuff easier should be part of it.

    One of us has taught in a less an affluent American school, and then there is you… who should I believe, you or mine own eyes, ears and experiences?

    I’m sorry if your experience has left you embittered and with a sense of powerlessness.

  • Greenflag

    ‘willis ,

    ‘Not read ‘Outliers’ yet but ‘Tipping point’ was good.’

    Read both and rate ‘Outliers’ better . There’s even an ‘irish ‘ connection in Gladwell’s background as well as the ‘english’ and jamaican connections via his mom and dad . It’s a good read and thought provoking particularly when measured against some of Dread Cthulhus worldviews above which btw I don’t disagree with in their entirety .

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Kensei: “Minors are not held to the same standrads as adults. ”

    Sadly, they have been known to commit decidedly adult crimes.

    Kensei: “The school does not have to act as in loco parents, though I believe legally they are, at least here. ”

    There is a wide divide between what their legal rights are and what they can make stick, sadly.

    Kensei: “They simply have to have a discipline code and enforce it. If a student breaks then they should face punishments as laid out. If they break it repeatedly then they should be kicked out.”

    Sure, and maybe you want that discipline code delivered by a winged unicorn pony? For starters, kicking the kid out of school isn’t a punishment for the kid, it is an opportunity to get into more trouble. As a side not, I don’t disagree, I merely point out you are arguing what should happen and, indeed, what the rules say will happen, while I am pointing out what actually happens in the real world. Guess which trumps which.

    kensei: “I imagine litigation is a problem, but I imagine there are ways to mitigate it.”

    Daydreaming again, eh? Kensei, the activist lawyers are like blow-flies on a turd. One instance that sticks in my head occurred at a school sporting even — five on one fight, all participants of the same ethnic group. The one was seriously injured — deliberately dumped on his head on the stadium concrete. The whole incident was caught on videotape.

    The activists, along with the parents of the five thugs were up in arms that they were disciplined and charged, despite being caught dead-bang. Denial, charges of racism, whining that the police and the administration were destroying one of the thugs lives (he had a scholarship — track, iirc) for holding him accountable for his actions (my words, obv. not theirs). Once you get lawyers and television cameras involved, it becomes a circus, the victims and the administration becomes the bad guys, the thugs are “poor misunderstood children” and victims, etc.

    Kensei: “I’m not sure that should matter in every case. If a crime has been committed, then should what their parents think matter?”

    See above. They call the activist organization of their choice, be it the local Baptist Church, the ACLU, et. al. and ad nauseum and the circus begins. If there is the slightest possibility of an accusation, it is tossed — personal attacks, accusations of racism, etc. “Activism,” in some quarters, is more of a cottage industry than anything else.

    Kensei: “I kow some of these things are easy to say and harder to implement. But if people are talking education reform, making that stuff easier should be part of it.”

    “Should” and “are” are two very different words, Kensei. As for the rest, until and unless you’ve actually “been there, done that,” you have no basis to judge or comment. I’m not “embittered, with a sense of powerlessness.” Cynical, maybe, but not embittered. As for powerlessness, that gets pushed early and often — my final straw was when it was “strongly recommended” that I not fail a student for cheating. I simply had that moment where I realized I didn’t have to do this — it was a temporary gig whilst in grad school, so no need to worry about sweating out my twenty for a pension. I had, as the AA member would say, a moment of clarity — I was brought on as “a cultural experience” and as a “junkling wrangler.” Anything the kidlets actually learned was gravy.

  • Greenflag

    Dread Cthulhu,

    ‘Wind down / convert the programs to work-fare or apprenticeship programs, as a start?’

    In theory I would’nt disagree . In practice I’d call this in the light of current economic circumstances in the USA the ‘Trevelyan’ approach, which was put into action in Ireland in famine times . This approach probably helped a few people in the building of roads to nowhere and walls for the sake of walls /workfare but could not prevent the mass exodus or die off . The ground for that tragedy had been dug a hundred years previous in the then fortuitous combination the adoption of the potato as staple food and the concurrent lack of economic development (industrialisation) alongside the dividing of land holdings into ever smaller units so that by 1840 the south west of Ireland had the highest population density in Europe outside of the largest cities .

    Given the present 15 million out of work in the USA where exactly would the apprenticeships be found ? With State Governments laying off workers would local workfare enable them to lay off even more ? At least you seem to agree that maintaining societal stability is a must given the risk of a ‘free fall’ into barbarism . Europeans have for historical reasons a bit more concern for this possibility than modern Americans who for a couple of centuries have not had to experience foreign armies marching through their hometowns and pillaging anybody in their way .

    ‘I was all for watching the fella who ran major corporations burn;etc

    In theory I can’t disagree . But again could any ‘responsible ‘ government sit back and do nothing and allow the 1930’s to repeat themselves in a nuclear armed world ? The buzz word now being marketed is ‘too big to fail ‘ should not be allowed to fail ? In retro was Lehman’s too big or not too big to fail ? Paulson obviously thought not . Several weeks later he was on his knees (after his initial arrogance of course ) pleading for politicians to bail out the remaining miscreants )

    ‘ Just as welfare has taught generations of folks that the government will pick up the tab etc’

    Here you are getting closer to the larger truth behind the current crisis and to the exact nature of both capitalism and socialism as ‘working ‘ ideologies in dealing with the human condition.

    Can ‘capitalism ‘ deliver full employment everywhere at income levels which would or could remove ‘poverty’ from the human condition ? We’ve seen ‘unemployment rates down to 4% (which is seen as full employment by economic policy makers) and some unemployment is seen as necessary to give any economy room to grow and change etc.

    Under extreme ‘socialism ‘ there is no unemployment but then there is also low productivity and enormous waste and such societies can only be maintained by an authoritarian police state of the one party variety .

    In the midst of the above opposite ideologies you have of course modern technology and a newly globalised world market which has effectively ‘buried ‘ old style communism but has at the same time ‘strengthened ‘ at least up to now ‘authoritarian ‘ capitalism e.g the Chinese and Singaporan examples to mention just two.

    ‘My biggest laugh in this whole mess has been leftie journalists and politicians calling it “a failure of capitalism” when it has nothing to do with capitalism, starting with the notion that, under capitalism, failing businesses are permitted to fail, rather than be bought out by the government.’

    Your definition of capitalism may need revisiting . In the real world ‘capitalism ‘ has never been allowed to operate in it’s ‘purist ‘ form . Even during the mercantilist era the State in the form of British and French ‘nation ‘ states interfered in commercial enterprises for strategic political and economic reasons . And it’s no different today .

  • Greenflag

    continued from above,

    I’ll agree however that certainly some of the leftie ‘journalists’ have gone a bridge too far . But there are many people in western europe who have more than a sneaking feeling that ‘capitalism ‘ behaved ‘ with a lot more societal responsibility when the Russian Bear alternative of communism was half an hour away .

    ‘Failed businesses should be allowed to fail.’

    Yes I agree, with the proviso that they should not be allowed to drag an entire civilisation down with them into the abyss . We saw what happened in Germany with the destruction of the German lower middle and middle classes and working class in the 1930’s . To say that similar could not happen again given sufficient economic and societal chaos is to rate ‘human nature’ to be on a level that I would not share . When the Roman legions left Britain to it’s own devices in the 5th century they left behind a formerly fat and happy civilisation which did not regain it’s then ‘living standard’ for another 13 centuries . I don’t think a similar outcome awaits the current USA /UK/EU empires but I for one do not see how the USA at least in the short term can create the jobs needed to employ 15 million Americans when they are fighting ruinously expensive foreign wars without end and seeing their economic infrastructure outsourced to half the world while half the number of dollars in world circulation (950 billion dollars) are held by foreigners while the Federal Reserve alone of all monetary authorities in the world retians the power to print ever more IOUs (dollars) with nothing to back them bar a constrained military force and an economy that is depending on an emisserated middle and working class to ‘spend’ the economy back into ‘full employment

  • Dread Cthulhu

    GF: “In practice I’d call this in the light of current economic circumstances in the USA the ‘Trevelyan’ approach, which was put into action in Ireland in famine times . This approach probably helped a few people in the building of roads to nowhere and walls for the sake of walls /workfare but could not prevent the mass exodus or die off .”

    Comparing Apples and Oranges, GF. Societal values, religious dogma and the like aren’t nearly the same as they were then. State aid should be no more than what someone actually working would make — if you make it greater than that, the economic incentive is to sit on your arse and do nothing.

    GF: “But again could any ‘responsible ’ government sit back and do nothing and allow the 1930’s to repeat themselves in a nuclear armed world ? The buzz word now being marketed is ‘too big to fail ’ should not be allowed to fail ?”

    Which is malarky, frankly. The politics of the thirties is already up and running in Russia, btw… Don’t confuse the politics with the economics. You can have one without the other, sad to say.

    Besides, it was governmental intrusion into the marketplace that helped create the mess in the first place.

    GF: “Can ‘capitalism ’ deliver full employment everywhere at income levels which would or could remove ‘poverty’ from the human condition ?”

    Maybe, with exceptions, if and only if “poverty” is given a fixed, rather than a mutable, readily re-defined concept. We both know that, just as there political interests aligned with businesses, there are political interests with a vested interest in convincing people that they’re not getting their “fair share,” regardless of whether or not they’ve made any sort of effort to do so. Like I said, “poverty” in the United States is not “poverty,” say, in Zimbabwe. Hell, “poverty” in the US is probably better than “working poor” and “middle class” in Zimbabwe. We’ll need a few definitions set in at least damp concrete to seriously discuss this one.

    GF: “But there are many people in western europe who have more than a sneaking feeling that ‘capitalism ’ behaved ’ with a lot more societal responsibility when the Russian Bear alternative of communism was half an hour away .”

    I think I agree with your words, although I think we probably don’t mean the same thing.

    GF: “We saw what happened in Germany with the destruction of the German lower middle and middle classes and working class in the 1930’s . To say that similar could not happen again given sufficient economic and societal chaos is to rate ‘human nature’ to be on a level that I would not share .”

    Apples and oranges — the great economic problems of the thirties had as much to do with protectionist policies that killed international trade, combined with an incessant fiddling with the economy by the governments. Additionally, there was the added incentive of a humiliating peace forced upon one of the powers, complete with confiscatory economic reparations. You’re at least a bridge too far, GF.

  • Greenflag

    Dread Cthulhu,

    ‘State aid should be no more than what someone actually working would make—if you make it greater than that, the economic incentive is to sit on your arse and do nothing.’

    Again you reach for ‘theory ‘. In the real economic world of the USA those in the the category that only Americans appear to use i.e ‘the working poor’ are forced to work at two or three jobs 80 to 90 hours a week to keep a roof over their head and a minimal standard of living . The reason that many do so is because they have to and the so called social safety net in the USA is threadbare . Those further down the scale the ‘non working ‘ poor or those who have seen their ‘benefits ‘ run out are now living on waste ground outside large cities or living in their vehicles as there are not enough public housing projects to house them all .

    The incentive trap you refer to is as much a consequence of the ‘capitalist’ system failing to create jobs at a livable wage as the problem of government provided welfare . As both you and I seem to be on the same page regarding ‘capitalism’s ‘inability to provide full employment for all at a wage level that would put an end to poverty then State intervention has to be a must . Left to it’s own devices ‘capitalism ‘ would pay a non living ‘wage’ to even more of the workforce if it were not for earlier State intervention .

    ‘Apples and oranges’

    No not apples and oranges but 55 million dead instead of 55 million living .

    ‘the great economic problems of the thirties had as much to do with protectionist policies that killed international trade, combined with an incessant fiddling with the economy by the governments.’

    The collapse of Wall St in the 1920’s while different in some degree from the current crisis ultimately brought about the economic slowdown and mass unemployment in the USA and Germany which led to war . Other particular factors had a role but ‘economics’ has been more often than not the driving force for war between competing nations and societies /ideologies . So why did the USA economy collapse in the 1920’s /30’s and why did the New Deal become necessary for recovery ?

    Have a read of Kenneth Galbraith’s ‘Great Crash ‘ 1929 and if you don’t get a sense of deja vu with today’s financial services sector chaos I’ll be surprised .

    ‘Societal values, religious dogma and the like aren’t nearly the same as they were then. ‘

    That may be but human nature hasn’t changed .

    As for the Versailles Treaty being a causus belli for WW2 ? Like ‘religion’ in NI it was tangential . And the economic ‘penalties’ were never effected in total and the French ‘occupation’ of the Ruhr cost them more than they got in the end .

    Protectionism was a factor mainly in Asia where Japan’s access to oil supplies was controlled by Anglo American interests which I believe was the ultimate Japanese ‘rationale’ for the Pearl Harbour attack which iirc the anniversary was yesterday .

    Like it or not in a world with 7 billion people and resources becoming scarcer the necessity for strong and effective government intervention will become more necessary as time goes on . More international cooperation will be needed not less . Does this mean an end to capitalism ? No. But it does mean that corporations may ‘behave ‘ with greater responsibility beyond their selfish interest.

  • kensei

    DC

    Sadly, they have been known to commit decidedly adult crimes.

    And if they are tried for them, they are accepted to have diminished responsibility. Are your ready to concede this yet?

    There is a wide divide between what their legal rights are and what they can make stick, sadly.

    Then start enforcing the law.

    Sure, and maybe you want that discipline code delivered by a winged unicorn pony? For starters, kicking the kid out of school isn’t a punishment for the kid, it is an opportunity to get into more trouble. As a side not, I don’t disagree, I merely point out you are arguing what should happen and, indeed, what the rules say will happen, while I am pointing out what actually happens in the real world. Guess which trumps which.

    I’m not sure being kicked out of school isn’t a punishment, but if it isn’t, then direct them toward the military or soemthing else that will sort them out.

    Daydreaming again, eh?

    Nope. The circus is beside the point. The accusation of racism, mitigating circumstances and the rest — that’s what the courts are for. I’d guess you could frame some laws that would restrict media outlet’s at schools in these cases that would pass the first amendment. I imagine openness would help. Make the disciplinary code open and make everyone sign up to it. The charter schools seem to enforce discipline.

    My examples are probably shit. But I’m simply musing and I don’t buy the idea there is nothing to do. This can’t, can’t, oh god lawyers, powerlessness is just unAmerican, DC.

    See above. They call the activist organization of their choice, be it the local Baptist Church, the ACLU, et. al. and ad nauseum and the circus begins. If there is the slightest possibility of an accusation, it is tossed—personal attacks, accusations of racism, etc. “Activism,” in some quarters, is more of a cottage industry than anything else.

    And I’m sure in many cases it serves a useful purpose, unless you are telling me racism and unfairness have disappeared in America. But just because it exists and has lawyers doesn’t mean it can’t be taken on and beaten where it’s wrong. It’s not like there hasn’t been cases. Smack down a few of the most outrageous cases and people will start to choose their battles more carefully.

    “Should” and “are” are two very different words, Kensei. As for the rest, until and unless you’ve actually “been there, done that,” you have no basis to judge or comment.

    This is always and everywhere a crap argument.

    I’m not “embittered, with a sense of powerlessness.” Cynical, maybe, but not embittered. As for powerlessness, that gets pushed early and often—my final straw was when it was “strongly recommended” that I not fail a student for cheating. I simply had that moment where I realized I didn’t have to do this—it was a temporary gig whilst in grad school, so no need to worry about sweating out my twenty for a pension. I had, as the AA member would say, a moment of clarity— I was brought on as “a cultural experience” and as a “junkling wrangler.” Anything the kidlets actually learned was gravy.

    In which case you have the balls to stick to your ideals and fail the student. If you don’t care enough to stand for it then you are part of the problem as well. Perhaps that’s my youthful idealism, but there you go.

    There have been some successes with regards to inner city education in the US. The problem is how to scale those up more widely. It’ll take time and require political will to fix. But it certainly isn’t impossible.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Kensei: “And I’m sure in many cases it serves a useful purpose, unless you are telling me racism and unfairness have disappeared in America. But just because it exists and has lawyers doesn’t mean it can’t be taken on and beaten where it’s wrong. It’s not like there hasn’t been cases. Smack down a few of the most outrageous cases and people will start to choose their battles more carefully.”

    Like I said, you want that delivered by a winged pony? School systems find it cheaper and easier to settle cases on the cheap than to fight for what is right. Like I said, there is how it should be and how it really is, your youthful optimism and ignorance notwithstanding.

    Kensei: “There have been some successes with regards to inner city education in the US. The problem is how to scale those up more widely. It’ll take time and require political will to fix. But it certainly isn’t impossible. ”

    Sure it is — a great many of those “successes” come from a shallow pool where A) the parents are actually involved in their children’s education and B) the children are not your average crumb-crunchers, but a selected (albeit self-selected) group of children who want a better education.

    Additionally, some of these successes arise from charter schools and voucher programs, which are being actively opposed by the teachers’ union. The Union doesn’t merely not want this upscaling of solutions, they want to kill the successful programs that currently exist.

  • kensei

    DC

    Like I said, you want that delivered by a winged pony? School systems find it cheaper and easier to settle cases on the cheap than to fight for what is right. Like I said, there is how it should be and how it really is, your youthful optimism and ignorance notwithstanding.

    I’m sure they do.

    Sure it is—a great many of those “successes” come from a shallow pool where A) the parents are actually involved in their children’s education and B) the children are not your average crumb-crunchers, but a selected (albeit self-selected) group of children who want a better education.

    True to an extent. But some of the more successful schools extend beyond that, and it is important to note that even if your points held true in every case, they’d still be helping a lot of children that would otherwise be slipping through the cracks.

    Additionally, some of these successes arise from charter schools and voucher programs, which are being actively opposed by the teachers’ union. The Union doesn’t merely not want this upscaling of solutions, they want to kill the successful programs that currently exist.

    And? Unions have been broken before, DC. While generally supportive of the concept the US teacher’s Unions support some crazy practices. It doesn’t even require the government. Green dot, one of the bigger charter school organisations, have already undermined them a few times. Obama appointed a reformer to the education sectrary that loooves charter schools, but his current precarious popularity position probably makes it more difficult to take them on.

    As a general point, when did US Conservatives become such whiny fuckers? It’s the liberals! It’s the lawyers! It’s the civil rights activists! It’s the Unions! Waaaaaaaaaaaa! It’s worse than the wettest of liberals. How about you know, coming up with ideas and picking fights instead of moaning?

  • Greenflag

    ‘when did US Conservatives become such whiny fuckers? It’s the liberals! It’s the lawyers! It’s the civil rights activists! It’s the Unions!’

    You omitted the ‘real ‘ bastards 😉 but this wise oul Dub knew the score even if it was 20 years ago . Deja vu time again .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5y_gE1Rb1Y