A blog by Patrick Crozier

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May 18, 2003

Fisking Polly Toynbee – Part Three

Spell out what good the state does and how much more it can do.
What does she mean here? Notice, I am having to ask this with just about every line she writes. Is it because she is vague or I am being over-precise? Dunno. Anyway, I will continue on in this vein because that's the kind of guy I am.

She could mean that because the state, say, provides some schools which provide some education to some children it is therefore a good thing. But if she were saying this it would be terribly disingenuous. The real measure is how the state compares with the alternatives.

And then we get into a real problem. Because how do you make that comparison? Which is better, that ten children are educated to level 9 or that one child is educated to level 100 and the others not at all? Which is better quality or equality? This is assuming that you could ever come up with a linear scale of education - surely and impossibility.

And even then there is the whole question of whether education itself is so much better than its alternatives. Personally, I rather think that a vast number of 14-year olds would be far better off (and not just financially) by leaving school and entering the world of work.

I suppose what I am arguing is that you (and by extension government) simply cannot know what "good" is, let alone deliver it.

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Preferable to frisking Polly Toynbee.

Posted by Philip Chaston on May 27, 2003