Fabian over at Mediocracy
is justifiably enraged by the Government proposal to raise the school leaving age to 18. Perhaps the reasons people are finding it hard to get too worked up over this
proposal are two fold. The first is that this is wholly typical of this Government: it's a bureaucratic response to a non-bureaucratic problem. The ne plus ultra
of this approach is the drive to expand take-up of higher education. The reasoning, more or less, was 'Graduates earn much more than non-graduates. Therefore, if everyone was a graduate, everyone would earn much more.' It looks lovely and neat on paper, and ignores the laws of supply and demand.
In this case the problem is that too many children leave school unable to read or to write to the requried standard. The solution is 'People who stay at school for A-levels read and write much better than those who leave at 16. If everyone stayed on then everyone would read and write better.' It is as though the Government were tinkering with the data inputs of a programme to achieve the 'correct' output, when the problem is that the programme itself is in need of reform.
The other reason most of us can't muster up the requisite outrage (and the proposal is outrageous - it's a massive infringement of liberty, will be entirely counter-productive and should be squashed at once) is that we don't believe it will happen. It's a consultation document at the moment, out of the office of one of the candidates for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Five will get you ten that this is just a case of running a policy up a flagpole to see who'll salute it.