Every week there is some proposed change in the educational system. The fact that proposing alone, means that headmasters throughout the country are having to assess the effect on a budget, their teaching staff, and the conduct of the school, even if only to protest to the union, or the government itself, which induces unnecessary stress. Often before these propositions ever come to fruition, they are cancelled. These exercises, if only proposed, are detrimental. If they are proposed and acted upon, then this not only affects the headmasters, but the whole school is disrupted and at times may be very expensive. The one thing that young people require is a stable environment, not an ever-changing scene. The parents in many cases are equally affected. Sophie tells me that the basic problem with education is that the standard of enrolment in the profession is so much lower, in both academic and social skills, (which implies IQ,) that the standards will inevitably drop. It is time a straw poll is taken of the views of teachers in work or retired, who are over 40.
One of the cries of the young house-buyers is that it’s almost impossible to get onto the housing ladder. The government keeps making proposals for building houses, but up to now it would seem that they are little more than proposals. Now with the Northern Rock problem affecting the whole of the mortgage system, the down payment required to obtain a mortgage, has been increased to a level which will inhibit even more young people.
More causes of waste are the endless judicial enquiries that seem to be insolvable from the outset. We in Northern Ireland have had more than our fair share, and the price is in millions.
I take exception to the fact that when anything and especially fuel, is subject to market forces outside the control of the government, and evidently going to make the cost of living rise across the board, affecting everyone, that the government allows the VAT to rise proportionately, influencing the cost of living even more. Because of the reasons for the increase in costs, this is not only unfair, but is a hidden tax on everyone in the country, and prompts claims for salary increases, while the pensioners suffer.
2 million children are growing up without a parent in work, which means that they are on benefit, and now the government is either giving or proposes to give, problem families a bonus of a thousand a year for three years if they go back to work. I don’t know who thought the scheme up, but according to my calculations a thousand a year amounts to £20 a week, which doesn’t seem like much of an incentive to me, when they probably like the status quo. Just think of the costs of the implementation.
Yet another proposal, is to increase the tax on alcohol, to reduce the crime rate. Whether selectively or overall is not clear. Once again, if this is put through, alcohol tax throughout the country, together with VAT will be levied on all of us, by the misbehaviour of a very small percentage of the population. This is not using a hammer, but a hydraulic ram to crack a nut. If the parents and the alcohol vendors were severely fined, if it could be proven that the vendors had sold alcohol to the under-aged, and also the age at which people could consume alcohol outside their own homes was increased to 18, these might be the first steps in the solution, before the whole population is fined for the criminality of a few. The tax on alcohol, like on petrol is excessive.
Another government money-saving dodge, is to try and reduce the prison population by letting people out ahead of time. Most of us have always felt that people were incarcerated, especially the young, with custodial sentences, which might have been dealt with in an entirely different manner. I do not believe that this country has a greater criminal population, than any other, and I’m certain, less than some I could name. The problem stems from the sterile life of many of the teenagers in the poorer districts of our country, and to some extent interracial disparagement, as a result of social inequalities. I believe that is where attention is required.