Tuesday, December 10, 2002
"Universities may be funded in future on the basis of how many students they admit whose parents never went to college, it emerged last night.
Margaret Hodge, higher education minister, told leaders of the private school sector she was scrapping the benchmarks based on whether a student went to a state or independent school.
The old system involved universities being judged on the basis of the social class of their intake and the postcodes of parents.
But Mrs Hodge told representatives of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Girls Schools Association she was considering three new indexes, including parental income and the exam results of the applicant compared with their school's average."
I'm amused by this idea. I suppose going forward, it may start to make more and more sense, but I'm talking a while down the road. But for quite a lot of families, this is a nonsense. On a "did your parents go to university" criterion, I'm a "good" choice for a university to pick - neither did, but the kinds of things that the government has previously looked at (schools, homes, etc) all put me on the other side of that line. I'm sure that there are a fair number of people around with children of or near to university age who didn't go to university but have done very well for themselves and their families. The universities will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of getting hold of them...
"The SPD and Greens are facing a potential rift over the possible use of Nato Awacs military reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft, which could be requested by the US in the event of an Iraqi conflict. The 17 Nato aircraft are based in Germany. Moreover, German servicemen are by far the single biggest national group in the 11-nation Awacs squadron - accounting for about one third of the total manpower.
Under dogged questioning government officials yesterday made clear that the participation of these essential German troops would be virtually impossible in an Iraq conflict given the government's current position. That could prompt a renewed flare-up of tensions with Washington."
Monday, December 09, 2002
"At the base of this would be meetings at each workplace every week. Every week we could replace our reps if we wanted, at every level. Of course some people don't work. Retired people could elect reps at clubs, and so could children at school.
All these meetings would make decisions about what to do with our work. In capitalism every company must compete, and profit is the criterion. In our new world we could make decisions based on what we need, not on profit. There would be endless debates in those meetings.
Some people will want to put a lot more work into looking after old people. Others will want a lot more musicians and artists. Some will want to work only four days, and abolish Monday straight off. Others will want to keep working hard to bring the poor countries of the world up to the level of the rich. Some will want to put all our energy into the environment.
There will be endless debates, and we will settle them by consensus when we can, by votes when we must. There will be compromises, mixes and matches. Some of our decisions will turn out wrong. The key is that they will be really democratic. One of the glories of our movement, and one of the surprising things, is that we all seem to be agreed on the central importance of democracy.
I don't know exactly what those meetings will decide. I think we'll want equality, with everyone earning the same. I think we'll want to share out jobs, so everyone spends part of every week or every year doing the really good jobs, and everyone takes a turn at the boring, hard, difficult jobs.
It wouldn't be a perfect world. People would still die, or feel unloved. There would still be problems. But it would be a far, far better world. And in time we would create new people."
Let's keep it simple on the objections front: it's democratically decided that everyone has to follow the rota of what to do. What happens if you don't want to follow the rota? What happens to you? How are you made to "contribute"?
NB: this seems (without checking dates) to have been preemptively parodied by the Onion - Marxists' Apartment A Microcosm Of Why Marxism Doesn't Work:
"Upon moving in together at the beginning of the fall 2001 semester, Dorff, Josh Foyle, and Tom Eaves sat down and devised an egalitarian system for harmonious living. Each individual roommate would be assigned a task, which he would be required to carry out on a predetermined day of the week. A bulletin board in the kitchen was chosen as the spot for household announcements, and to track reimbursements for common goods like toothpaste and toilet paper.
"We were creating an exciting new model for living," said Dorff, stubbing his cigarette into an ashtray that had not been emptied in six days. "It was like we were dismantling the apparatus of the state right within our own living space."
Despite the roommates' optimism, the system began to break down soon after its establishment. To settle disputes, the roommates held weekly meetings of the "Committee of Three."
"I brought up that I thought it was total bullshit that I'm, like, the only one who ever cooks around here, yet I have to do the dishes, too," said Foyle, unaware of just how much the apartment underscores the infeasibility of scientific socialism as outlined in Das Kapital. "So we decided that if I cook, someone else has to do the dishes. We were going to rotate bathroom-cleaning duty, but then Kirk kept skipping his week, so we had to give him the duty of taking out the garbage instead. But now he has a class on Tuesday nights, so we switched that with the mopping."
After weeks of complaining that he was the only one who knew how to clean "halfway decent," Foyle began scaling back his efforts, mirroring the sort of production problems experienced in the USSR and other Soviet bloc nations.
At an Oct. 7 meeting of the Committee of Three, more duties and a point system were added. Two months later, however, the duty chart is all but forgotten and the shopping list is several pages long."
Sad. Very sad.
"Which leads me to this weird thing I've noticed lately - the Germans are scared of us. Two generations ago, they allowed themselves to let racist pride, paranoia and greed force them into appalling crimes on a worldwide scale. Now they're looking at the UK and the US and recognising all the symptoms of the same disease. "
Arrange the words "Bush, Nazi, 'good Americans', silent majority, first they came for the mass murderers, lapdog, Blair, Chomsky, Berkley, few brave 'Resisters', stupid, Repulifascists, WTO, oil" into a well known piece of hyperbolic nonsense...