Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Economies in Education

I’m sorry the government has, as they put it, ‘ring fenced’ expenditure on schools, because there is a great deal of waste there. The waste is trying to teach bored and inattentive children, whose disruptive behaviour impedes the learning of others.

As a remedy I propose lowering the school leaving age to 13. By that age most children have learnt to read and write, and any who haven’t could be sent to special remedial literacy classes, with the incentive of being allowed to leave school only when they reach some minimum standard.

I do not believe many children would leave school at 13; the principal benefit of their departure would be an improvement in the achievements of those still at school.

Child benefit should not be paid for early leavers who would therefore need an occupation. I suggest domestic service. Food, clothes, accommodation and a little pocket money would be sufficient remuneration. To keep them out of mischief they could work long hours. I propose legislation to abolish the minimum wage and to set a maximum working week (for children) of 65 hours, which would allow a 10 hour day with one half day off per week. By the end of a day’s work they should be too tired to do much more than watch an hour of television before staggering off to bed.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Pricing a Duchess

The recent attempt by the Duchess of York to sell access to her former husband made me wish she’d left the Duke out of it and just sold herself.

True, the physical attributes that once captivated a young prince are no longer what they were, but I imagine she is still not entirely unattractive to those who like that sort of thing.

The considerably less youthful Patricia Hewitt recently put herself on the market at £3000 per day on the strength of being a Privy Councillor. A duchess should be able to beat that, even if her customers  only pay for the pleasure of boasting about it afterwards.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

A Public Spirited Proposal

A substantial proportion of Government expenditure consists in paying unfunded index linked pensions to retired employees of central and local government.

As a recipient of such a pension I sometimes feel just a little guilty.

I therefore propose a 10% cut in all such pensions, accompanied by a doubling of the pension contributions paid by all working in jobs that entitle them to such pensions.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A new way of making money.

I've just noticed a story about people being paid to give up smoking.

What are the chances of my being paid for not taking up smoking ?

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Electoral Statistics

The first General Election in my lifetime was in 1945. I was nearly seven years old at the time and so remember it well, though at the time I didn’t understand many of the details.

I remember being told that our bit of Leicester was part of the Melton constituency and that our MP was Anthony Nutting. I also remember that Winston Churchill, at the time considered that national saviour, was defeated as Prime Minister in favour of someone I‘d never heard of, but that Churchill was still a member of Parliament.

I later discovered that 1945 was a spectacular defeat for the Conservatives, who received only 39.7% of the total vote. A humiliation indeed !!

In the recent General Election the Conservatives won, or at least came nearer to winning than anyone else. They received 36.2 % of the total vote, so they’ve lost another 3.5% in the 65 years since 1945, yet they still seem to feel hard done by because they have no overall majority in the Commons. That is because they compare this election with the last, in which 35.3% of the vote gave Labour a working majority.

Funny things, British General Elections.

(I’ve taken percentages from the BBC web site. Wikipedia gives different figures but their percentages for 1945 don’t add up to 100. I wonder if they have a well paid vacancy for a statistical consultant ?)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Ugly Agitators

From time to time one comes upon groups of people waving placards in the street, shouting slogans, distributing leaflets, or manning little stalls selling propaganda. It has often struck me how ugly they are.

It's partly the expressions on their faces, angry scowls and staring eyes that look as if they could never twinkle, but it's more than that.

Their faces would be ugly whatever expression they assumed. If they tried to smile, all they'd be able to manage would be a rictus grin.

Perhaps evolutionary psychologists will offer an explanation one day, but whatever the explanation, the noisily self righteous are an ugly lot.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Still Bored by Dr. Who

I hoped this year's Dr. Who might be better than the last round, but not so

Instead of a mystery building up slowly and being unravelled step by step, we are told who the enemies are at the beginning, and most of the rest is fighting.

I may not watch any more.