Education is the Responsibility of Civil Society

It does not take a Nobel Prize laureate in economics to observe that a country which borrows over a £100 billion a year to fund its budget deficit is going to sooner or later go bust. At the moment, the UK debt is equivalent to 90% of its GDP and it continues to grow. The Tories’ attempt to minimise the borrowing has been insignificant and our debt is still growing considerably every year.

The reason why things have turned out this way is simple: Socialism. The state now provides free education, free healthcare, superfluous welfare and regulates the market. As admirable as these things sound, they have come with heavy costs: Firstly, this nanny-state keeps on growing because people become increasingly dependent and lose the incentive to take care of themselves. As a result, the burden on the state continues to grow and hence we have to borrow hundreds of billions of pounds to be able to fund the expenditures. Secondly, the increase in taxation necessary for funding the nanny-state has slowed down our economic growth since it has taken huge amounts of wealth from the private sphere and shoved it in the inefficient bureaucratic public sphere.

So what should be done? Again, there is a simple answer: go back to our liberal roots and let individuals stand on their own feet and pursue their own interests. If today we were to take just one radical libertarian step and privatise education we would almost completely eliminate the deficit and thus would no longer need to borrow any more money. But this proposal is unrealistic in socialist Britain today because the fear-mongering of socialists has convinced us that if we do take a step like this most people will be illiterate, poor people will not have access to any sort of education and they will remain poor forever as they cannot use education to better their living standards. Of course all of this is nonsense.

The wonderful thing about liberty is that it strengthens civil society. When you privatise education parents take on more responsibility for their children (rather than abdicating them to the state), schools do more to meet the demands of pupils and parents (both in terms of price and organization) and new innovative ways of education begin to surface. For example free online teaching accessible to all could replace the vacuum left by the state since many (like the real example of Salman Khan) could make a considerable amount of money from teaching for free, and since there would be demand for online providers to compete with each other to provide the best education in order to attract customers.

Having been educated in one of the worst schools in London, I can assure you many people (especially those in poorer areas) would benefit from home schooling whilst gaining some work experience in their spare time rather than studying food technology, textiles, DT or PE in schools provided by the state (those are actually subjects I studied in my secondary school). Apart from home schooling, companies would also have the incentive to offer apprenticeships in order to secure employee availability for the future. This is all notwithstanding the fact that you do not need education to be successful. This whole way of thinking was created by the state. If someone decides not to educate themselves but to spend all of their time working instead, should we look down on them? Why should we? Just because the state has made it compulsory to study? No, people have the right to decide what type of life they want to lead and we should not interfere with that.

© Duncan Holmes

© Duncan Holmes

Moreover, free state education is not all dandy. Many people go into education because it is relatively stress-free, and leads to at least 3 years of subsidised partying and drinking where the only cost is enduring several ‘last nighters’. These types of students might officially come out with a degree but can it really be said that they have gained the same kind of skill and knowledge they would have gained if they had opted to work for those three years instead? Certainly not. And it could also be that people will opt to work for several years, save up some money, find an interest and embark on education at a later stage; unlike the situation today where many do not know what they want to study so they pick a subject most convenient at that time and realize it was a mistake down the line which causes much confusion and complexities.

And all of that is just on education. If we shrink the state to what is absolutely necessary (to deal with national security, justice, infrastructure and a minimal safety-net welfare), and consequently lower taxation so that people keep their money and spend and invest it as they will, not only will we not need to borrow any longer, but we will experience tremendous amounts of economic growth. And who benefits from economic growth and competition? The poor do. There might be increasing inequalities but that is irrelevant. Margaret Thatcher hit the nail on the head on this issue when she said that Socialists “would rather have the poor poorer, provided that rich were less rich”. In other words, despite the increasing inequalities, the poor will be better off than they were before due to the opportunities brought about by economic growth.

What happens if we carry on the path we are in at the moment? The state will have to stop giving things out for free anyway because it will incur so much debt that it will not be able to borrow any more money to fund its budget deficit. When that happens we will go into a deep depression because civil society has not developed enough to survive without the state. Surely it is better to open society now so that down the line- when we would have our depression if we continue in the way we are going at the moment- we would have instead not only stopped borrowing but would have paid much of the debt off and civil society would have developed enough to take care of itself; not to mention the continuing support it would receive from economic growth and the prosperity that comes along with it

We Need a State Monopoly of Education…

It would seem Mr Gove’s speech at Brighton College yesterday has riled our good friend Mr Monbiot into a bit of a rage

Michael Gove is of course quite right: the “stratification and segregation” of British society are “morally indefensible”. He is also right to observe that “it is remarkable how many of the positions of wealth, influence, celebrity and power in our society are held by individuals who were privately educated”. Among other beneficiaries of this unearned privilege, he names some “of our most prominent contemporary radical and activist writers”. As I came top of his list, I feel I should respond.

The first thing to say is that he has one heck of a brass neck. He talks of “those of us who believe in social justice”. I’m sure he does believe in it, much as he might also believe in the existence of the Higgs boson. What he does not believe in is making it a reality. Or if he does, he finds himself in some very strange company.

So what is Mr Monbiot’s answer to the scourge of the Left-Wing, Privately Educated Toff? The abolition of private education…

The Conservatives cannot tell us how the land really lies, which is why Gove must make stirring speeches about social justice. If he really believed in it, in the sense of being an adherent to the cause, he would implement a simple policy, which lies within his department’s reach: shutting down private schools. This would produce the following beneficial effects:

Basically what Mr Monbiot is arguing for is a State Monopoly of Education. Now, correct me if I am wrong but aren’t monopolies a bad thing..? Don’t they lead to higher prices, poor service and exploitation..? Surely, on this basis, an education monopoly cannot possibly drive up standards for all..?

Who knows..? Maybe I’m wrong. Thinking about it I am just an ignorant comp boy, so how would I know..? Probably best I just wait for our friend Mr Monbiot to enlighten me. After all, he was privately educated…