L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

19 July 2007 Blog Home : July 2007 : Permalink

Ban The Rich & The Degreeless

In the ongoing battle of Boris vs Polly Pot we have an excellent example today of why Boris is better by looking at their respective columns today. We shall ignore the tone (Polly miserable puritan, Boris jovial) and look at the content. Polly sez (and I summarise) "Rich people shouldn't gove money to charity, they should all pay higher taxes instead". Boris on the other hand shows that the government appears to be run by a bunch of clueless imbeciles who prefer mindless form filling and box ticking to commn sense.

Polly's column is a little incoherent. Firstly she bemoans the idea that rich people don't give as much to charity (proportionately) as poorer people, although there is a bizarre statistic lodged in this bit:

[I]n Britain, the rich give a lower proportion of their wealth than others, with more donors in the north east than the south east, and more women than men. The total value stays pretty steady at 0.9% of GDP.

0.9% of GDP by region, over time? or what? GDP seems an odd measure for charitable giving by individuals. But I'm allowing myself to get trapped in irrelevant ratholes.

The main thrust of Polly's prattle is that the rich need incentives to give to charity (as opposed to being filled with pure altruistic satisfaction) and that because of tax breaks the government gets less dosh because the charity gets the tax on the donation that the government would have otherwise received. Oh and this applies no matter whether the donor picks a "Cruelty To Dogs In Japan" (Rathole2 - Korea is usually the country associated with cruelty to dogs) or some more worthy cause that Polly approves of.

It seems that the gospel according to Polly is that only the government can spend money wisely and everyone should
give money to the government and not to charity. You see charities often waste money:

So long as they fulfil the very basic requirements of probity, registered charities may cover a multitude of crankiness and inefficiency: cut-throat wasteful competition between near-identical tin-rattlers, advertising campaigns that distort important social issues; or empire building charity managers with little genuine assessment of their outcomes. Of course many are excellent, but, good or bad, the taxpayer has to pony up that 28% extra for every pound put in a tin.

Donors with their hefty cheques can cause serious trouble for good charities doing difficult, skilled work. Masters of the Universe are used to running the show themselves in their own companies, and they think they know best how to run any organisation. Sometimes they do, but sometimes the cash comes at a high price. Once they've got all the "toys", the danger is that using their money to run poor folk, their schools, their estates or their children is just the most fun toy of all.

I'll hand over to Boris for a second to point out that governments are not exactly paragons of efficiency:

Take the case of poor Olive Rack, 56, who has 20 years experience as a nursery teacher, and who last year saw one of her charges - a two-year-old - whacking a baby over the head with a large wooden brick. The toddler was about to have a second crack when Olive intervened and took her by the hand to the naughty chair.

Alas, her actions were spotted, through a window, by the emanations of the state. Two early learning advisers from Northampton County Council happened to be doing an inspection, and grimly noted the event.

Five weeks later, to Olive's utter amazement, the police turned up on her doorstep and charged her with common assault. The case went to court, and only collapsed when the toddler's mum said the whole thing was bonkers, and that Olive was a good nursery teacher.

Anyone want to guess how many thousands of pounds were wasted by that attempted prosecution? But there is more. Boris points out that HMG is planning to require nursery / pre-school teachers to become accredited with something called "Early Years Professional Status". Boris notes that if you take a look at the pre-requisites for obtaining one of these piece of paper you need some other pieces of paper:

Before you start the training you must have:

[...]Before undertaking the validation process you must:

[ Rathole3 - how come possession of a grade C GCSE in English is not evidence that "you can read effectively and are able to communicate clearly and accurately in spoken and written standard English"? Could it be that GCSEs are in fact utterly worthless and that GCSE English does not teach reading and writing? ]
If yu can manage to keep your eyes from glazing over, the EYP National Standards (as produced by the Children’s Workforce Development Council - whatever that is) mentions all sorts of things you have to do such as show understanding of including:

The main provisions of the national and local statutory and non-statutory frameworks within which children’s services work and their implications for early years settings


The current legal requirements, national policies and guidance on health and safety, safeguarding and promoting the well being of children and their implications for early years settings

as well as all sorts of other box ticking. None of which appears to require a university degree or mathematical ability. Indeed I can't help but note that I would apparently meet the requirements (A grades in GCE O Level English and O, AO and A level Maths, BA (Hons) ) but it would seem unlikely that the sort of person that ZANU Labour would like to get into the labour market and who would be suited for this (viz. a teenage single mother) would. Said person would need to atend 3 years of university in order to run a child-care facility.

Read all this and tell me the government is spending your money wisely. And tell me the government needs more of it.