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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
The morning after
Still here, just about.

So anyway, I wake up to Radio 2; the radio comes on at 7am, so I get to hear the news headlines at least twice before I actually drag myself out of bed. The news this morning was bizarre. Headlines I might have expected: "Government votes to raise tuition fees" (or even "Three MPs resign as government votes to raise tuition fees"); "Violent protests over tuition fees vote" (or, more likely, "Our boysPolice injured in protests over tuition fees vote" -- in all the bits of the rolling news that I did read/watch yesterday, the BBC never mentioned any injuries to protestors). But no: the lead on the news was "Camilla's car gets paint on it".[*]

Mind you, at least tuition fees got a tangential mention on the BBC. Nobody's reporting Cancún at all. Perhaps our children we won't have to worry about university fees after all because by then we'll all be desperately trying to build floating homes out of old tyres. Or shooting each other.

[*] ETA: Angry Mob suggests that this means the media succeeded in their hidden agenda.


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keirf From: keirf Date: December 10th, 2010 10:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Cancun? What's happened in Cancun?

Oh, climate talks.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: December 10th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Now is now, I know; but I guess, having been old enough to understand things, at 11, when National Guardsmen shot protesting students dead during protests at Kent State, in Ohio, the kettling and relatively low levels of violence seem to be almost civilised.

Today's question, for me, comes from a ... Unitarian? ministry blog: of what am I a commitment? You embody a lot of commitments, in my mind: green principles without being a monotone bore, for a start :-).

It's all hard and various votes in two countries depress me and make me angry, but I shall make a few political calls before dinner. We do what we can; all is not lost.
j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2010 12:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
the kettling and relatively low levels of violence seem to be almost civilised

I'm not convinced that detaining teenagers for 6 hours in sub-zero temperatures is all that civilised (though they certainly knew what they were getting into after the last couple of protests, & had presumably decided it was a sacrifice worth making -- it certainly makes better news than a bit of peaceful placard-waving), but yes, given the numbers of people involved (and given that a handful of them -- on both sides -- almost certainly were looking for a fight), it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

But I'm certainly not saying that the headlines should have been "Evil fascist pigs stamp on the face of the future" or anything like that (and Anton Vowl has a fairly reasoned argument for why the BBC reporting would inevitably seem biased). I'm just depressed that rather than giving us any kind of meaningful reporting of the political decision, let alone the protests surrounding it, the national news focused on two ageing celebrities in their big shiny car who were a bit put out by the whole thing.

of what am I a commitment?

Interesting question. I shall ponder it.

We do what we can; all is not lost.

I fear all is lost, long-term, but we only live in the medium-term at most -- which is part of the problem but it's also how we survive at all. And wishing it wasn't so doesn't seem to achieve very much.
pjc50 From: pjc50 Date: December 10th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hardly a media agenda, other than the usual Daily Mail, but it was certainly either very ingenious or very stupid of the royal drivers to go past the protest.

I find it dispiriting, because it highlights that there's a section of England who actually hate students per se, and who have a horrible I've-got-mine-fuck-you attitude to public services.
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j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2010 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
no matter who it had been in the car, attacking it with paint would still be unacceptable

Good point, well made.

I wouldn't have fancied mortgaging ninety times that away per year of studying before I'd earned a penny to pay it back

I realise this isn't the point, but (for the sake of anecdote) I think for me it worked the other way round -- £100 was more than I could ever imagine spending on anything, so any bigger amount than that was just ... made-up numbers. So £1600 a year (approx what I got in student loan) was just crazy money, and the thought of paying it back was something very far away in the future (and you didn't have to pay it back until you were earning over TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR and clearly only, like, brain surgeons could possibly earn that much). And, probably more importantly, Everybody Else Was Doing It (except addedentry who has virtuously avoided debt all his life until getting a mortgage) so it just seemed like another thing you have to do to go to university, like filling in forms and stuff.

OTOH, my parents had more to do with the decision than I did (& they said "take the loan, it's a good deal, you'll never get a loan at this good a rate again") -- at 18 I didn't really have any finances to speak of. I mean, I was getting an allowance (sounded more grown-up than pocket money) which had to cover non-essentials -- books/music/clothes/etc -- but my parents paid for my food, things I needed for school, etc., and I didn't have to pay rent. I gather most 18yos would think this amount of parental mollycoddling was like being back in kindergarten.
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j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
£9000 is a seriously different level of made-up numbers from £1000 (and I'm not saying you were asserting the opposite, of course)

I dunno, I really think that at age 18 they would have both seemed like made-up numbers that I couldn't possibly comprehend. And the idea of £9000 that you have to pay back when you're grown up would have seemed just... I dunno, not real.

FWIW it's not that I was the sort of rich kid who never had to think about money so it was all just meaningless, if anything more like the opposite -- never really having had much money or debt (but not having grown up with the idea that debt was sinful - I just don't think I was really aware it was an option) it all just seemed some kind of mythical grown-up universe.

I am not saying this is a responsible attitude, of course! -- but I really don't think it would have put me off going to university, because I don't think I'd've grasped the scale of it at all. My parents presumably would have done, though, and I don't know how they'd have reacted (but will ask them, because I'm interested).

After university I spent years paying money every single month towards it

Whereas I just kept deferring it until I was earning enough that I had to start paying it back. Again, not saying this is the responsible thing to do. But once I started paying it back, I found I could easily afford the repayments, because by then I was earning enough (ie I think they got the threshold more or less right for the point where you can pay it back if you're basically living within your means). I'm now in a position where I could pay the remainder off in one go, but I'd be doing it from my savings, & last time I checked the comparative interest rates for my ISA and the student loan, it was not quite worth taking it out of the former to pay off the latter.

In the interests of full disclosure: our parents did contribute towards the deposit for our house. If they hadn't been able to do that, we'd still be renting, which to be honest was what I was expecting to do for many more years yet.

BTW I am frankly amazed that you've managed to save up for a house in 2 years -- either you earn a lot more than I would've guessed, or you literally never spend any money! Either way, very impressed. :-} I'm also impressed that you understood all this at the age of 18 -- but then I was a very young 18 (if you see what I mean), e.g. I'd never had a proper job or a credit card or a mobile phone, I didn't have a car, I wouldn't've been able to tell you what an average salary looked like or how much an average house cost, etc.

I think it's far worse to hand over part of your financial potential for decades.

I hear where you're coming from, but surely that's what you're doing when you pay taxes, too? I know there are ways in which it's different from a tax, but it doesn't seem enormously different to me.
htfb From: htfb Date: December 10th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the other hand would the 18-year-old-you have really been bothered by a commitment to a 29% income-tax band starting at £17.5k?

I'm amazed that in between all his work at exciting new forms of convertible mezzanine debt for banks and countries and everybody, St Vince hasn't taken the time to redefine the up-front fee as a, um, Repayable Income-Contingent Higher Education Surcharge.

There are arguments against a pure graduate tax---you don't want people just to leave the country---but they could easily have said "it's a payment obligation, not a tax, but it comes out of PAYE and with income tax and NI your payment bands look like this: also, your maximum obligation is capped after which you go back to the ordinary bands, and unless you have earnings abroad or otherwise dodge the system it doesn't crystallise as a debt on your credit record."

Apart from the status of the debt for individuals' credit-check that's exactly the effect of the current scheme; but since 2008 there is much less point in trying to hide a government obligation off its balance sheet by pretending that student loans are ordinary debts incurred by the student. That just imposes costs on the individual without really benefiting anyone.

As I say, it boggles me that they have gone the other way.
celestialweasel From: celestialweasel Date: December 10th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
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htfb From: htfb Date: December 10th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
We crossed in the posting, so I hadn't seen your thoughts on tax when I was writing.

I don't like your analogy with the cancer treatment. There's a difference between the things the state provides as insurance, and the services it provides which people elect to take up: you don't object to paying for council parking charges.

The pass was sold long ago on the idea that a HE student is the beneficiary of extraordinary inputs and, if they realise that benefit in a higher income, should expect to pay back somehow.

Calling something a "tax" implies that it's gathered coercively and of course you're right that the coercive powers of the state should be applied even-handedly. My scheme handles this by crystallising the obligation as an ordinary debt if you renege on the agreement, which can then be enforced using the ordinary processes. I have all the answers, me.
htfb From: htfb Date: December 10th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cancun was on the business pages of the BBC this morning but has dropped off again, it seems...
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