25 March 2007

The choice is: school or prison

Extracts from ‘Fines or prison may be used to keep pupils in class to 18’ (Daily Mail 23 March 2007) with some comments by me in italics.
Under Alan Johnson's plan children starting secondary school next year will be the first generation expected to stay in education or training until they reach 18. Teenagers face £50 on-the-spot fines and even jail if they refuse to stay in education until they are 18, it has been revealed ...

[Alan Johnson’s] proposals will have massive implications for employers, particularly small firms which rely on low-wage teenagers. Bosses face criminal sanctions if they refuse to release teenagers for training and so do parents who put children aged 16 to 18 to work in the family business without sending them off for training ...

In a green paper titled Raising Expectations, Mr Johnson outlined four options for over-16s - school, college, apprenticeships or work-based learning. [No mention, of course, of correspondence courses which do not expose a person to direct social hostility. The Open University is not open to those under the age of 18.]

Youngsters employed for at least 20 hours a week would need to do part-time study totalling 280 hours a year. ... Schools, colleges and employers providing training would be placed under a duty to report youngsters if they drop out.

Those persistently refusing offers of education and training would be handed 'attendance orders' setting out where, when and how often they should turn up. Like anti-social behaviour orders they would bring criminal sanctions if breached. ... Mr Johnson insisted: 'No youngster would be in the criminal area of the law unless they are very hardcore and we have gone through a very very fulsome process, including counselling.' ["Counselling" — deprivation of liberty so as to have one’s mind exposed to brainwashing.]
My comments

Terrible things are going on. The appalling proposals for accelerating the breakdown of civilisation pour out faster than I can put even a few comments about them on my inconspicuous and widely ignored blog. Now they propose to deprive everyone of their freedom of action until they are 18. If people had any awareness of the importance of liberty as an abstract principle there would be rioting in the streets.

There seems to be even less outrage at this idea than there was when the school-leaving age was raised from 15 to 16. But at that time most journalists had themselves been educated before the inception of the Welfare State in 1945; nowadays most journalists have themselves been brought up within it.

I believe that when income tax came in at a penny in the pound someone is supposed to have commented, ‘This is the end of civilisation’. For a long time this was quoted as a funny old-fashioned attitude, because everything seemed, in most people’s eyes, to be proceeding in an acceptable way. But I must admit that by now it seems blatantly obvious that if someone said that, he was right, and even if no one said it, it is true. The idea of any supposed benefit being provided by the state, and financed by the reduction of liberty of individuals, can only lead to ever-increasing oppression and persecution.

If you can get a supposed or real benefit only if you can afford to pay for it yourself, you are at least protected from being placed at the mercy of what other people with to impose upon your life instead of what you might, if you could, choose to pay for.

People brought up in the modern world scarcely ever question the unexamined assumptions which are universally made, and which it is taboo to question. It is assumed that education is ‘a good’, so anything that goes under that name is unquestionably ‘a good’, and more of ‘a good’ must be ‘better’ than less of it.

Compulsory education came in at the end of the 19th century, adding to the writing on the wall that resulted from the inception of income tax; then there was female suffrage, then the Welfare State in 1945. Now, sixty years later, we are reaping the whirlwind that has resulted from those events.