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March 31, 2006



[Perhaps, therefore, egalitarians should think less about improving the lot of the worst-off through education, and focus instead upon higher cash transfers to such people in later life.]

Why in later life? Why not increase the size of the Child Trust Fund to £100,000, and cut the education budget accordingly? Let's really go outside the box here.

The Pedant-General

"This paper (pdf) shows that, although there is a decent average return even to GCSEs, differences in men's qualifications and other observable characteristics account for only one-third of the variation in wages"

And how much is accounted for by sheer unadulterated hard graft?

How does one equalise for the fact that some are prepared to work harder than others?

And dsquared might just have a point: it might lead to a proper voucher system to pay for fully independent schools. Brilliant!


D2 - As Niels Bohr once said: I think your idea is crazy. But I'm not sure if it's crazy enough to be right.

Andrew Duffin

"cash grants...paid unconditionally to adults who had low birthweight or free school meals "

What, even if they become millionaires?

That's going to be a really popular policy.


[Most people think equal opportunity is more desirable or attainable than "fuller" conceptions of equality]

Well, maybe. But I think it'd be truer to say that a lot of people think equality of opportunity would be less disruptive to the status quo than measures aimed directly at equality of outcome - and that quite a lot of those people count its predictable failure to deliver equality of outcome under the 'less disruptive' heading, as a feature rather than a bug

Robert Schwartz

Unearned money creates underclasses. Do this in the UK and you will have suicide bombers like fido has fleas.

What will help the "the life-chances of people from poor backgrounds." Volatility and flexibility. The law of hacking is that any system with fixed rules can be hacked, and will be hacked. A social system will be gamed, and the people who figure out how to best game it will become powerful, and therefor rich. They will do their best to rig the system in favor of their children and there will be an inherited aristocracy.

The French hopping to creat a system open to talent regardless of backround created a very elaborate system that Enarques game in favor of their children.


The Soviet nomenklatura was further proof of this phenomenon.

The best system therefor is no system. If there is no system, it cannot be gamed. If all is fluid then all doors are open.

Leftists will hate this theory, it gives them no room to act as the Guardians and manipulate the levers of power. And it is just as well.


Could it just be that the kind of education systems used don't really respond to funding, and that it would be better to look at the content of curricula to find which ones allow children to do best?

This isn't just a question of cash, this is a question of changing social attitudes, and the attitudes of teachers. Possibly we need some kind of radical change, such as encouraging the successful to take occasional sabbaticals to spend a period as teachers, or involve them in pedagogy in some other way. Then these people might be able to help those who have trouble making the best use of education overcoming those problems, either by helping them study more effectively, or by helping them think about how to run their lives to make best use of any talents that they do have. I do rather worry that we consign our children to the care of people who are by far not the highest achievers, but often those couldn't find any direction in life, and were attracted by the government grant to take a not especially well-paid job.


To engage with wealth transfers: why is a grant to those who have the markers for low wealth better than a grant to everyone who is on a low income, or a grant to everyone (a social wage)?

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