October 25th, 2012

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A Missing Pound Puzzle

According to the Higher Education Policy Unit, the new system of student loans, which has roughly tripled student fees as of this year, was thought out so badly, using such unrealistic assumptions about likely fee levels, future student income and the rate of inflation, that it may well cost the Government more money to run than the old system. More details here.

"It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world", Bolt's Thomas More points out to Richard Rich, recently appointed Attorney General for Wales as a reward for perjury, "but for Wales,?" When I think of Nick Clegg I'm tempted to substitute "Deputy Prime Minister" for "Attorney General" - but at least the Church of England was a successful project from the point of view of those involved in setting it up. It seems that Clegg donned the scarlet mantle of hypocrisy to no purpose at all.

But I'm still confused. Where has that money gone, exactly? The students are having pay massively more than before - an extra £18,000 each over the course of their degree. The Government, apparently, is also going to have to pay more than before. The extra money certainly isn't going into more funding for universities, which have seen their Government grants cut, while university staff have been receiving real-terms pay cuts for years. Presumably someone is getting rich - but who?

Could it be our old friends the bankers?
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Runaway Successors

Thomas Hobbes is said (by Aubrey, I think) to have attributed his physical cowardice to his pregnant mother's shock on hearing of the approach of the Spanish Armada. Perhaps I can claim the same excuse, with reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis? It was fifty years ago this month, and although I didn't know much about it at the time, being dug in for the duration in my uterine private shelter, who knows what amniotic alarm bells were being rung?