Thursday, 20 January 2011

SUMMER SECONDS: Voucher schmoucher

This “Summer Seconds” series gives you a second chance to read classic posts from the NOT PC archives. This time, a piece from before the 2008 election questioning the wisdom of National’s promise to “introduce” school vouchers.

“HERALD: Key plans tertiary vouchers for teen school-leavers

Asks the blogger known as Write Ups about this Key plan:

_Quote Is John Key’s voucher plan for 16 & 17 year old school leavers nothing more than changing the nature of the handout slightly?
    No matter how you try to spin it, a voucher for polytechnic training is still a handout.
    What we really should be worrying about is how to wean people of the welfare cradle-to-grave expectations many New Zealanders have of the government.

Too true.  Weaning young NZers off their cradle-to-grave welfare expectations is infinitely more important than the dubious details of a new handout with a designed life-span of one electoral term.

Frankly, a partial redesign of the present handout system is far less important than cracking the culture of entitlement which young NZers imbibe in Nanny's indoctrination centres, and which any new handout will do nothing to cure.

And what’s with the promise to “introduce” vouchers. We already have them. Don't forget that it's the existing tertiary education funding system, a voucher system in all but name (a system introduced by the previous National Government), that delivered such delights as Rongo Wetere's exorbitant salary and tales of   profligacy, nepotism and waste at his Wananga; of first class air travel, million dollar contracts to family members, and  money wasted on failed IT projects and bribes to new students who enrolled at the Wananga but never showed up.

The idea of school vouchers is certainly popular (not least with the purveyors of twilight golf and the owners of Wananga o Aoteaora). Vouchers do purchase wider choice, it’s true, but this choice is purchased at a cost: it brings any remaining independent private schools even more under the Ministry’s boot (as a once relatively free early-childhood sector now understands), and it squanders the taxpayer’s hard-earned money on bullshit. 

About these outcomes Key's advisors (and supporters) neither know nor care. The “plan” will do nothing to wean anyone off NZ’s all-pervasive culture of entitlement, and will deliver the Ministry goons even more power over educationalists and young NZers.

Fact is, as long as state and school remain un-separated and youngsters consider themselves entitled to your cash, we may continue to enjoy the various educational dogs' breakfasts that we keep being served up, and continue to have inflicted upon us the smart-arse youngsters who think the taxpayer owes them a living. As long as it's assumed young people are the responsibility of the state, young people will keep thinking the whole world owes them a living—and they'll keep stamping their feet until they get it.  And now!

Face it. With the existing virtual voucher schme having been in operation for more than a decade, The number of tertiary providers in this country has never been greater, and the number of young NZers enrolled in tertiary courses has never been higher.  Yet the number of people who can actually think on their feet -- actually do things -- must surely be at an all-time low. The entitlement culture is growing, while basic thinking skills and the culture  of kiwi ingenuity is dying one box-ticking graduate at a time.

Already, more young NZers have gone to more tertiary institutions than perhaps at any time in this country's short history, yet fewer and fewer of these young NZers show any sign of being educated. This is not an accident. Like the Soviets producing tractors, there are lots of figures showing an awful lot of production, but none of the tractors work.

Such is the way that all government incentive schemes work.

The most important lesson for a sixteen- to seventeen-year old is not entitlement, but independence.  John Key's vouchers are not the lesson they need.

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