It's in-fashion to bash the unions, which makes me somewhat reluctant to do it, but I really can't say anything positive about the November 30th strikes: they are simply a gratuitous power grab by the unions. And not against the government. They are a power grab against us, the taxpayer; we, who pay the gold-plated wages and pensions of public sector workers.
But isn't it illiberal to say that they can't strike? Surely the right to withdraw one's labour is reasonable? After all, it just levels the playing field, right?
No, actually, it really doesn't. In an equal relationship, the worker must have no right to which the employer cannot have an equal right. This would mean that if the worker can suspend his/her labour, or essentially suspend his/her half of the contract, then the employer should be able to do the same: to withdraw pay at any time that he/she feels the labour provided doesn't meet his/her standard.
What, in effect, this would mean is that contracts would be utterly pointless. We could simply refuse to pay taxes whilst the government failed to meet our standards, and the public sector workers could withdraw their labour all they wanted, but at least it would be an equal relationship.
I was reading Pip Borev's blog earlier (really recommend it, fascinating stuff) and trying to work out how the Travellers had ever come to align themselves with the left in the first place. Surely an enterprising peoples who sell goods and services to market and receive little or no support from the public sector are about as natural libertarians as can be.
One would assume that the old right's sometimes less than accommodating approach to their communities may have something to do with it, but it's the 21st century and about time that we extended the olive branch to a people who live quite independently of the state, run what can only be described as small, for profit, businesses, and are, for the most part, hardworking.
Yes, you hear the horror stories about some traveller camps being a nightmare, thieves or vandals etc, but there are many which go without comment for good reason. There are good and bad people in any race, any community and any culture, and we need to be able to separate the criminal minority from the peaceful and non-aggressive majority.
Often, when dealing with the left over student fees, they go back to the age-old argument that students 'should be judged on ability, and not wealth'. This is actually a tenet which I agree with, so I hope some left-wingers will be able to agree with the suggestion I'm about to put forward.
Before I proceed, I'd like to mention that I don't think this suggestion is the best thing we could do to restructure student finance, but I do think that it is a far better package than we have now.
Fundamentally, my package aims to encourage students who perform highly whilst penalizing those who really shouldn't be at university or who drop out.
We would start with a £12,000 a year tuition fee. This would be taken out on a student loan platform like now, and paid back at 10% of all earnings above the minimum wage (£12000 a year approx).
The fee would be written down as follows, based on performance:
- 1st class Hons degree: 100% write down (zero tuition fees)
- 2,1 Hons degree: 66% write down (£4000 a year tuition fees) and payment threshold raised to £21,000 a year (the student would pay nothing back until they earn £21,000 a year)
- 2,2 Hons degree: 33% write down (£8000 a year tuition fees) and payment threshold raised to £15,000 a year.
- 3 Hons degree: No write down and payment threshold raised to £15,000 a year.
- Drop out or fail: No write down, and no payment threshold rise.
This system allows the working class student with ability to work hard, achieve a first and get a gratis degree, but prevents people from going to university for the easy ride and never paying their debts back.
This way, we can return university to its original mandate: to educate the best students, not the majority.
(Numbers might be off, obviously the scheme would have to raise as much as the current one, but with tweaking I feel it would work)