More on “If a British Libertarian Party was to exist and it won an election, what ought it to do? (Part 2)


The “British Libertarian Party’s” defence and foreign policy so far seems to be not very well-thought out. I got fairly scragged (see below) but not I think in an unkind way, which is a start.

However these are early days as there’s no party yet. At least we are having the discussions the right way round – get the plans and ideas sorted first, then find whether enough people agree with them to form a useful and finctional party – unlike today’s Tories, or indeed anybody on the UK political party scene for that matter. I’d call ours a market-based approach to politics.

What about educasun educashun educashun? (What real people call education)? I’m sure most Libertarians would agree that as the State degrades everything it touches, there ought to be no compulsory State education as of now, let alone the perniciously Marxist thing called a “National Curriculum”.

I’ve just started to (try to) educate a young girl of 13 who’s been not just excluded but “expelled” (I didn’t know it was still allowed!) so that “no state school in the region will take her”. We’ve jointly torn up the NC, her mum, her and I, and she’s starting to look you in the eye and react to stuff she’s taught, for the first time for three years. She actually looks forward to the lessons now.

But what I’m interested in, for this blog, is ideas from all you thinkers out there about HOW TO GET PAST THE SOCIALIST RETORT that “you have to have compulsory education (centrally run, which is always implied if not said) otherwise nobody will go to school let alone pay for it”. It’s the same thing re the NHS as “what about the poor?”

Clearly, the entire existing educational state bureaucracy would have to be demolished. As not all state teachers are Marxists, however, there seems no reason to do anything other than formally sack them all wholesale (that is to say, cease sending them state salaries by bank transfer – easy since we will have stopped raising the requisite amounts by taxation anyway) leave the buildings in place, and tell them all to get students/fend for themselves/run the schools as best they can.

In the general panic they will suddenly discover what it is that parents have wanted their children taught all along, and will provide it pronto. The universities, already with the gubmint’s teeth in their ankles, will breathe a sigh of relief and be able to go back to admitting the best instead of the designated.

Over to you people………….?

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11 responses to “More on “If a British Libertarian Party was to exist and it won an election, what ought it to do? (Part 2)

  1. “However these are early days as there’s no party yet.”

    There almost certainly will be within the next month or so.

    DK

  2. While a complete end to compulsory education should be the goal, a radical use of school choice in state education (along Swedish lines) might be the best first move and initial policy: http://www.civitas.org.uk/education/choice.php.

    All you would ask is that state funded schools teach English as the primary language. Other than that, could courses would be generated by the market. It would also allow parents to get used to the idea of making important decisions about their children.

  3. Yes, the Swedish model is a good start – a form of voucher system. To me the issue is the breaking of the State monopoly on education and health. Once the monopoly is broken, the parents will rapidly abandon bad schools, some will reform and new schools will spring up. A surplus of good places in good schools should be our aim. The Socialists always talk of the “waste” of competition, but having spare capacity in education is, to me, essential, so people feel comfortable about moving house instead of spending 4 hours a day on the M25.

    If you enable the competition, good teachers will migrate to good schools (and get better pay) and bad teachers will end up in bad schools standing in front of (we hope) unfunded empty classes.

    The Swiss healthcare system is also a good model for providing a pluralistic, insurance-based system that does not leave behind the poor, the elderly or the chronically ill. I make suggestions on how to migrate to it here:
    http://neuearbeitmachtfrei.blogspot.com/2007/04/nhs-reform-time-to-lay-out-plan.html

    The migration of good people into good institutins should also occur and the sifting out of the bad apples.

  4. The Swedish model is a good start indeed, it was fought all the way down the line by the Teaching Unions and the Statists. Now everybody in Sweden is seeking to take the credit. This is an ideal policy to adopt as the Swedes have broken the back of this problem of acceptance already.

    Anybody who has any hope of turning this tide, should contemplate joining a Libertarian Party.

  5. We’re having an election in Ontario right now where the Tories are proposing funding of religious schools and not just the public and catholic systems. The problem with this is the complete loss of independence that would result from it for those religious schools for their curricula. This is worse. It seems like “choice” and it is, but it’s not real choice. It’s a take-over in my view. And this is also the problem with voucher proposals. The root of the problem is the tax system that forces us to fund the public or catholic school systems. Real choice means not having to pay the fee for the schools in the first place. I’m with the Ontario LP and LP of Canada and I’m very interested in your discussion about forming a British LP.

  6. I’m skeptical of voucher systems of any kind, I’ll be straight about that. It means government in bed with businesses which IMV is anathema to a free market ideology. I think it just makes matters worse.

    As to education itself. I think part of the problem is nobody really knows what it is for. It’s now a totem, a proof of something or other. The more of it you provide, in terms of years, the better you are, and that’s despite nobody really knowing any more what it is for, nor what it is meant to achieve. Most of what I learned in school is long forgotten (though I have a strange pride in having retained the quadratic equation formula, despite never having used it since in anger) and most of the knowledge I find useful I’ve learned informally. I’d say that’s true of most people.

    It’s become, in a sense, an introduction to the bureaucratised State. You get some certificates, you trade them for advancement. Perhaps the clearest example of this is with the modern approach to university degrees. Rather than a few people having them, to show they’re jolly clever geophysicists, nowadays you just have to have a degree in *something*, media studies or clairvoyance or whatever, that supposedly proves you’re fit to do a job even though the job has nothing to do with the degree’s subject. By having been longer in “education”, you’re a better person, even though the only deep knowledge you have is the history of mediaeval basketweaving.

    People used to leave school at 14. Now they leave at 16. The guvmint want to make that 18. There seems to be this assumption that volume of education, rather than its quality, is what matters. And yet already, the 16 age limit is causing social problems. Young men, legally still children, but in fact ready and eager to step onto the first rung of adult life (as they one could have done, in a junior job/apprenticeship), rebel against their forcible infantilisation by aping adulthood with drink, drugs, violence. They don’t want to be in education any more, but they’re not allowed to leave. The result? “Feral teenagers”. The solution? A longer enforced childhood! Madness.

    I appreciate I’ve been waflling like mad, but here’s a thought- at what point in our history was it decided that education, rather than being something which is *provided*, should be something which is *obligatory*?

  7. “I’m skeptical of voucher systems of any kind, I’ll be straight about that. It means government in bed with businesses which IMV is anathema to a free market ideology. I think it just makes matters worse.”

    That does represent a problem when it is local government districts that are selecting the school providers. Indeed, corruption is a significant issue in the American charter school system. But if you actually take the government’s decision making out of schools altogether and make the parents the only ‘chooser’, then you can cut down on the opportunity for corruption significantly. Indeed under the current system of central planning there would be a tremendous amount of opportunity for corruption in the education sector if private enterprise were allowed in.

    But the worst thing you can get under school choice is some parents making bad decisions on their children’s behalf. But at least they will have the chance to make good their mistakes.

  8. How do you decide who can accept the vouchers? “School” at first sight seems pretty well defined, but is it? Suppose some vouchers are given to “schools” which are cranky indoctrination centres- imagine them being given to Scientologists for instance. Or to a new wave of dame schools. Can I declare my living room a “school”, teach the children nothing, and share the voucher money with the other parents?

    If a system can be abused for personal gain it will be. So now you need the state to set a standard of what a school is, and that standard has to be decided by bureaucrats. This is “our” money being spent, remember. If parents spend their own money sending children to a lousy school, that’s ultimately their problem. If it’s somebody else’s money…

  9. “How do you decide who can accept the vouchers? “School” at first sight seems pretty well defined, but is it? Suppose some vouchers are given to “schools” which are cranky indoctrination centres- imagine them being given to Scientologists for instance. Or to a new wave of dame schools. Can I declare my living room a “school”, teach the children nothing, and share the voucher money with the other parents?”

    Well you could ask that schools are at least incorporated as charities and/or companies and say that parents of the children cannot have a financial interest in the school (otherwise the school could become primarily a method of laundering the voucher money).

    But there would certainly be cases of abuse. And at the margins there would certainly be a few crazy schools (although there would be some minimal requirements to prevent outright abuse of children), but the majority of society would receive a better education and become more cohesive. Just as in Sweden, religious schools present “a problem” (for the mainstream) but it is marginal compared to the endemic problems of corrupt ideology and poor standards in government managed schools.

  10. One basic problem I have with this is that it’s an attempt to solve a problem of statism with… more statism. It just creates a rent-seeking market, even drawing in schools which are currently independent.

    Does each voucher have a specific monetary value? If so, and if the government wants to pay for childrens’ schooling, why vouchers? Why not just give them the cash?

  11. They have a specific monetary value, although depending on the transparency of the system, that value can be clear to parents. The idea is that this reduces statism since there is no need for a central bureaucracy or a government to specify exactly what children will and won’t be taught (the major problem with the current system). But it is true that unless the system was properly framed, it could allow the state to retain too much power.

    A more obvious independent alternative is to offer a large tax break to families when they pay for private school fees. The mechanism is pretty much the same (although it won’t be available to the least well off), but the money is more obviously associated with the parents.

    I am not saying any of this is ideal, but imagine abolishing state education (93% of the education sector) as the first order of business. It would be chaos for years before private education was re-established. In which time, whole swathes of children have their education (minimal as it is under the present system) disrupted.