School’s not even out and the silly season is well underway

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

The Queen, Alice in Wonderland

Ah, the lazy days of summer, when everyone has cleared off on their hols to spend precious time with their li’l darlings. Tumbleweed in the office, where usually there was an Ermine and a few other diehards to be found, ‘cos what person in their right mind would go on holiday when every other bastard is doing it, raising prices and infesting the joint with their squealing kids little angels and miscellaneous hounds. Mad dogs and Englishmen, indeed.

That’s when the news is slow and you get all those unbelievable stories of 50 pound cats and alien invasions. We seemed to have jumped the gun this year- school’s not out yet and all sorts of impossible things are coming down the pike for us to believe in. Je suis Alice.

Do or Die. That’ll be die then

So there was a clear, though not overwhelming vote in 2016, and the plutocracy has grabbed it by the balls to visit disaster capitalism on us.

Plutocrats, sussing out how to deliver disaster capitalism to get a bit of trickle-up going their way. This project’s bought and paid for, guys, now it needs to deliver a decent ROI

Funny old game, this democracy lark. I sure as hell don’t recall on the ballot paper the choice was Remain, or Leave, cursing Johnny Foreigner and the horse he rode in on. The impression was it would be a more polite affair, rather than the darkest desires in the demented craniums of the ERG ultras and the sort of people who wrote Britannia Unchained

Brexit MEPs cursing Johnny Foreigner with the eloquence of a bunch of toddlers. I guess their asses are their best features. BTW, Ode to Joy was commissioned by the Philharmonic Society of London in 1817 in a delicious piece of irony.

We have two candidates for Prime Minister who are selected by a tiny and unrepresentative minority some of which have multiple votes anyway.  The chief clown says he will shut down Parliament to stop it getting in the way of his Brexit do or die. Not sure what the other clown has to say but it doesn’t really matter, he’s an also-ran.

In the meantime Farage stooge Isabel Oakeshott suppresses some interesting leads that might cause him grief but suborns the unsurprising though perhaps for your eyes only observations of the British ambassador to the US. Farage fancies a pop at the job. Let’s hear it from the other clown on this subject, currently foreign sec.

We continue to think that under President Trump the US administration is not just highly effective but the best friend of Britain on the international stage.

Hmm. We are talking about a fellow who has only the faintest acquaintance with the history of powered flight. Maybe Clown 2 has a point though, Trump is highly effective.  His administration has been stacking the courts for so long he doesn’t need to win again to cast a long shadow. That’s highly effective. You’re not just a pretty face, eh, Mr Hunt, are you?

Facts are history in the Great Endarkening as the Western world yields to the slow decline of living standards for the many, it’s been going on for nearly half a century in the States. It’s only going to get worse. Oswald Spengler foretold1 the populism that would rise to give a pushback to the way the rich use money to control the political system. The trick, of course, is to draw your populists from your plutocrats, hello Trump, Farage, BoJo. The playbook is “Nothing is True and Anything is Possible” by Peter Pomerantsev.

The Donald tells his base what they want to hear. There’s nothing that’s going to Make America Great Again for the great mass of people, but as long as he can keep up the othering of out-groups then it’ll sell well enough.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, and stuck in the middle with…Boris Making Great Britain Great Again2? What the heck did we all do to deserve that, then?

What the hell are public schools there for, then?

Wikipedia summarises the historical benefits of public schools3

For three hundred years, the officers and senior administrators of the British Empire sent their sons back home to boarding schools for “education as gentlemen”. This was often for long uninterrupted periods of a year or more. The 19th-century public school ethos promoted ideas “of service to Crown and Empire”, familiar sentiments such as “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” and “the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton”.

Ah, but that was when Britain ruled the waves and the sun didn’t set on the Empire. Let’s see what this storied quest for excellence has given us now:

David Cameron, who was stupid enough to ask questions when he didn’t really want to hear half of the possible answer space. The lie is given to the much vaunted character-building claims of public schooling by this specimen who has never even fessed up to a mea culpa, how you play the game my ass, Dave. Boris play both sides against the middle Johnson- I rest my case. Public schools may say they build character, but you can’t detect it in the output.

So why go private? It’s simpler nowadays, parents pay for public schools to keep their precious darlings away from the chavs, urchins and general pond scum that infest the State system in droves. No, really they do. In Who Chooses Private Schooling in Britain, and Why? they asked them:

  Leading motives for parents to choose private schooling are the wish for their children to gain better academic results through smaller class sizes and better facilities, and to mix with a preferred peer group.

Perfidious Albion wasn’t always this way

Sure, the French didn’t trust us but at least we had a reputation for competence and level-headedness, even if it did come leavened with duplicity. All that seems to have gone by the wayside now. Now we fail so others don’t have to.

Oh well, we have a couple of examples of Britain’s finest public school education to sort this snafu out  – that’ll be BoJo (Eton) and Hunt (Charterhouse). Good to know that we’ll be in the hands of people who were educated in a system designed to run the British Empire. All we have to do is wind the clock back a hundred and fifty years and it’ll all be tickety-boo. I leave you with the cheery thought that some things in life have to get worse before they get better. We are all Alice now.

  1. In his magnum opus The Decline of the West published in 1918 
  2. Till it breaks up. Obvs the best way to make something greater is to make it smaller. 
  3. In Britain nothing is as it seems, British public schools are what any logical nation would call private, fee-paying schools 

28 thoughts on “School’s not even out and the silly season is well underway”

  1. In a great book by Oliver James with an even greater title of “how not to f*ck them up” ( it’s written that the cost of private education is high with little pay-off in terms of better educational outcomes.
    The fact that those who can afford £12k+ per kid for private schooling would rather pay that themselves when education is free in the UK tells you a lot about the class/caste system of the UK.
    Maybe they are right – accent and attitude gets you further ahead in the UK than ability and aptitude – certainly within the Tory party it seems.


    1. > little pay-off in terms of better educational outcomes.

      The evidence supports that part, but it is not enough. These parents want their progeny to have power over others, for the understandable reason that the master has a better life than the slave. Public schools teach their output other things, though I am sure that they are competent in educational terms. In particular, they teach command presence, how to lead people, some would say how to lord it over them. That is probably also a hangover from the imperial era.

      As a grammar-school oik over my career I learned and fumbled my way along to discovering how to lead people, because I had to. People from a public school background were taught how to do this, I have seen it in action – on conservation teams, on the farm we used to have.

      I am messing with amateur radio in my dotage, and this shows even on the air, I have to build an amplifier into the mic to be heard properly. On a training exercise with RAFAC those with a public school background were clearer and even at the 16-18 y.o. level that cadets are, they had more command presence. They got other stations to follow their instructions better than the hesitant cadets from the comps*.

      This hypothesis would explain the peculiar toxicity of public school alumni in Britain’s political class. There is probably some correlation of wealth and intelligence/smarts since intelligence is weakly heritable. But it’s not enough to achieve excellence. Public schools were designed to produce imperial leaders, and their output is taught to lead more than yer bog-standard comp. So we have people coming out that have more command presence and were taught that they are special and born to rule. They are therefore over-represented in the control structures of the country without any commensurate much greater ability. Running the complexity of Britain in the global world of the 2010s is probably a much tougher ask than running it in the 1960s.

      Running the country with only slightly above average people who have a sense of entitlement bred into them and a leadership edge more suited to the military than the diverse individualism of modern Britain is not a recipe for success. These people are also over-represented in the civil service and in the media.

      If we have to retain public schools, perhaps they should have more rigorous academic admission criteria. Bring back the eleven plus for the toffs, if we are going to be ruled by the rich, let’s at least screen out the rich but dim.

      * I infer this from their diction, I didn’t know these guys personally.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. great points – I think that the real reason people send their kids to private schools is for the company that they’ll keep and who’s shoulders they’ll rub with.
        When I was with the old company, it was a surprise to me that once I’d discovered LinkedIn that most of my peers were educated privately – especially once the recruitment process was narrowed to pre-selecting which Unis you could come from and even worse, who could afford to do a summer internship with little resettling support from the company. The result was the Cream were receuited – Rich and Thick! And since style beats substance and managing others can be easily taught without any technical expertise, the cream keeps on rising.

        For those who are not so lucky, there is a great book that I read – it was not about what I thought it was about but very pertinent.
        Private school can make you an insider and if you’re not… – but you can sometimes make being an outsider work to your advantage. It’s maybe relevant to FI – makes it easier to stop keeping up with the Joneses for a start.


      2. Interesting point, that, if I may, I can illustrate. A very good friend was one of those immensely competent guys, who always had a solution to every problem, the right tool in his toolbox , the physical ability, in every way capable, the perfect neighbour- I’m sure you get the picture. He was a turbine fiitter at a major engineering plant, an immensly skilled job.

        His son, who went to the local comprehensive, had a friend who went to public school.

        I remember him telling me how his sons friend came round for tea one evening and how he felt intimidated by a 14 year old boy!

        So I ask, is it public schools, or is it the working man’s/middle class’s attitude that needs to change?


  2. A pretty restrained piece, Ermine, although if my own feelings are any guide I guess anger and despair are in there somewhere. Three years chewed up during which Brexit has been a constant draining mental companion, yet things are currently looking blacker than at any point during that time.

    The role of the public schools in all this is interesting. Like many kids who passed their 11+ back in the day (mid ’60s in my case), I went to a pseudo-public school, a direct grant grammar, essentially modelled on the public schools, where the teachers wore gowns and there was a dispiriting amount of flogging and bullying. Even then, an ethos of empire prevailed, in the sense that we were broken in like wild horses and trained not to show emotion or crack under pressure and to respect authority, blah, blah, blah. We were in effect being prepared to administer an empire that no longer existed, an utterly futile and inappropriate waste of everyone’s time, as well as the system turning out emotionally crippled individuals. We no doubt had a sense of superiority and entitlement to boot. It must be the mixture of entitlement and its bizarre rooting in a past and extinct social order that has ceased to exist and has zero relevance to the modern world that is at the bottom of much of this mess. Setting sail using a compass that points to where magnetic north was 10,000 years ago will get you lost.

    The healthiest thing this country could do would be to raze to the ground every public school in the land and properly fund a truly meritocratic state education system where every child would be given the chance to realise their full potential.

    Yeah, I know…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not so much the despair I feel, it is the downright weirdness, the loss of national character, and the surfacing of some pretty vile trends in public discourse that is most troubling.

      At least your school was selection by ability. Although I comprehend the argument against selection in that it craps on the non-selected, I also went to a grammar school so my gut thinks selection is a good thing for the selected if academic achievement is the goal. It worked for me. My Dad was a fitter and I got enough to retire 8 years early than the company retirement age and 13 years younger than my Dad was when he punched the clock for the last time.

      Selection by parental wealth* seems to all to easily foster sociopaths who as blissfully unaware of their lack of ability, awareness of how the 93% of Britons who didn’t go to public school eke out a living in the post-industrial wasteland and grasp for solutions along the lines of “kill or cure”

      *to forestall the bursary argument. When 75% of a public school’s intake is non-fee paying, presumably from the endowments of alumni, then perhaps it is selection by ability more than income. Until then, the presence of bursaries is a fig-leaf to cover up the selection by wealth.


  3. “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Antonio Gramsci

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting rant. I’m all for remain now that exiting has turned out to be a disaster. However your rant sounds exceptionally bitter. You seem to assume we’re leaving 31 Oct. That’s very uncertain considering parliament is dead set against.

    Second private schools are a choice for people. I think they’re a waste personally. What do want to do, shut them down. What about parents pretending to be catholic to get into better state schools? Do you want communist state, level everyone down, seriously?


    1. I’m not so sure that the balance of power is with Parliament, but I do very much hope your prognosis is right. Whatever happens, the greatest fail was to have the ill-specified referendum in the first place, to try and alleviate the cat-fight in the Tory party. The legacy of antagonism, and yes, bitterness, will be with us for a long time, be we in or out. A referendum should be between actionable and specified choices, not between one thing and ‘anything but this’. Anything but this can take on any forms. At least now we could have a referendum between specified goals (remain, May’s WA, ERG’s curse Johnny Foreigner and the horse he rode in on no deal)

      Private schools – charge ’em VAT and taxes like any normal business. These ain’t charitable institutions, they are commercial organisations selling an experience by proxy. Job done. Selection appears to cause social problems for the non-selected, so subsidising seems irrational to me. If that applies to academic ability then it applies to social class too. These parents should pay their way IMO. The rest of it leave it be.

      The observation that the output of all this high-falutin’ character building is anything but stands. By the fruit shall you know the tree, and this one isn’t a good tree. Public schools seems to produce overconfident assholes these days. If we could work out a way to reduce their excessive presence near the levers of power that would probably be a good thing for the rest of us. It is notable the Imperial Britain tested the output of public schools for key roles. I hope Cameron would have been out on his ear on both pedestrian levels of talent and the inability to take responsibility for the results of his incompetence…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t disagree with this (albeit my daughter goes to private school and my son probably will too, when he’s old enough). In our case we send her because she’s autistic – we looked at (and were actually impressed by) State options, but the staff ratios are much less good and there is a lot more going on in the classrooms with bigger class sizes, more kids speaking English as a second language, etc. As for state funding for additional support for children with Special Needs … well, given there are so (relatively) few of us out there it was one of the first and heaviest cut budget items, and I don’t see it recovering any time soon (despite various High Court victories and hopefully more to come). It’s not unusual for kids with SEN to be out of school for a year or more while they wait for funding packages to be put together to meet their needs (or even parents giving up on the system altogether and home educating).

        I do feel guilty about it though (like you I went to a state Grammar school – but in the 80s so no gowns or corporal punishment!), and I’m determined that if my kids do stay in the private school sector we make sure they know something of the “real world”. I hope that maybe by the time they are in secondary we might be able to return to the state system (maybe by moving out of London): we’ll see. It would certainly do my retirement prospects good!

        However, in the meantime there is no way I can justify their charitable status. Maybe it’s mean to reflect the fact that parents have already paid for state education through their taxes, so it’s a bit of a discount on that? But a very random way of doing it if so – and in any case I would actually PREFER that the money were spent on the state system (from my selfish perspective, supporting kids with SEN properly would be a good place to start).

        I actually went to Oxbridge (and obviously I think my particular sub-set of Oxbridge friends are lovely and not entitled arseholes at all, though the vast majority of my group went to state schools and the rest chose to hung out with kids who went to state schools), but it was definitely an eye opener to see that even *within* Oxbridge there are smaller cliques of the Eton-types that even other Oxbridge students will rarely meet or hang out with, who already have their eyes on the prize of PM or CEO or Editor or Director or whatever, and are fully focused on that goal from the moment they set foot in that place. So even within this ivy-tower elite there is an elite-elite who the majority of state educated Oxbridgites (your occasional Gove aside) will never be part of.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I privately educate both my children. It’s not a ‘public school’ but an academically selective day-independent in the London area. From age 4-18 it will cost around £300k per child. In median/modal terms, it’s probably not good value for money. That, however, ignores the upside optionality that can be created by going private. The tailored academic tuition and contacts to help your child get you into Oxbridge but now also MIT, Harvard, Stanford etc. The superior facilities. The school recently was donated an AI and AR/VR lab by Google. I’m sure that is nothing to do with the fact one of the parents is high up in the Deep Mind project. The future network for the children and, equally important, the current network for the parents. The insane level of overconfidence that is instilled in the children. So in mean terms, I think it’s ok value. Plus £500k isn’t going to denude their inheritances. Is the school basically an ecosystem for the children of the 1%? Yes. Do I think such an school is good for society? Probably not. Will I deny my children this opportunity based on that view? No chance.

    I compare it to my own education at a northern inner city comp (ex secondary modern). The teachers themselves were abysmally educated and primarily focussed on crowd control. My maths teacher didn’t have a maths degree. My physics teacher didn’t have a physics degree. They only supported a maximum of three A levels. There was no option for Further Math A level so I had to teach myself. No support for STEP entrance exams to Cambridge, so again I was on my own. When I saw the careers adviser and told them I wanted to be a theoretical physicist, they recommended being a librarian (??). Oh save me from the ambition! They didn’t give a damn about those with academic ability. I came out of that school will a lack of self-confidence that still holds me back today. I have never believed in myself. I refuse to allow my children to suffer the same fate.


    1. > Yes. Do I think such an school is good for society? Probably not. Will I deny my children this opportunity based on that view? No chance.

      I would probably do the same. But it is still a pretty good example of the tragedy of the commons 😉

      It’s not totally clear to me why this is having such and adverse effect in Britian’s politics now. We’ve had public schools for centuries. Not so long ago we had a run of prime ministers who weren’t from public schools.

      I think having a decent eleven plus entry to public schools would be a decent win, I’d even look the other way on the tax breaks. The danger to the rest of us from public schools are particularly the average who have been taught the confidence to believe they are better than the rest of us. If we are going to be ruled by the rich, let’s weed out the dimwits at least.


      1. The problem is that inequality tends to rise and fall with economic growth. So the 1970s was a terrible period economically but much more equal. With respect to the political class the problem is not just there are from a narrow range of schools but also from a narrow range of unis (Oxbridge), doing a narrow range of subjects (PPE, History, Law) and operate in a narrow circle (say the Oxford Union). Most Oxbridge students never interact with these individuals. The media clique is pretty much as bad. You don’t get many scientific types going into politics or journalism. They are typically staying in academia or off to finance or tech sectors.

        One big change though is that these public schools are becoming ever more academically selective. They can charge what they want since demand massively outstrips supply. So they are taking in ever greater numbers of high calibre students from other countries (China, India, Brazil). As a result, my colleagues who went to Eton or Winchester are finding their children are going to Bedales or whereever. Effectively Eton is changing from being a school for the UK elite into a school for the global elite and there isn’t room for ‘Tim nice but Dim’.

        That is another reason for me to send my children private. I want my children to be what Teresa May termed ‘citizens of nowhere’ since what that really means is ‘citizens of anywhere they damn well like’. I don’t want my children feeling any loyalty to the UK since, as Brexit has shown clearly, the UK has no loyalty to them.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I think you are financially successful? Maybe going to a shit state school like me gave you the motivation to succeed?


  6. Thanks for the reply.

    Hsd a look at the bookies odds. Seems brexit is 50:50 it will happen this year and no deal brexit about 33% chance. Despite bojos promises. So hard to predict but wouldn’t suprise me if this mess continued. Were We’re becoming the sick man of Europe because of it.

    Re private schools I think you being uncharitable calling them “overconfident assholes”. People generally work very hard to send their children to these schools and kids can’t help what they are born into. It seems like transference of shortcomings or looking for someone to blame. I think a more healthy attitude, is to be pleased with the success of wealthy people. They pay more than their share of tax, funding public services and creating jobs and wealth.

    Fire is about gaining FI. But what is that? It is not jealously of those that have made it.

    It is moving from being in the professional middle class to being one of the capitalist class, where you live on dividends, rent and capital gains, not earned income. You are then living off passive income not earned income. I am honest about my aspiration to do that.


    1. I accept the charge, of course not all public school alumni are overconfident assholes. Politicial ambition seems to be the sieve that screens for assholeism. However, the results are bad for all of us, because the training towards leadership and command presence, without any great quality control regarding smarts or even basic integrity means we are putting overconfident people in charge of the ship of state who seem blissfully unaware of the limitations of their ability. The Dunning-Kruger effect is normally an individual tragedy but it is weaponised by this institutional training towards leadership and confidence without a process to weed out the rich but dim.

      Thirty years ago we used to park these rich but dim safely in old boy stockbroker firms and some branches of the military, these days they seem to end up in government. That kind of selection is Not A Good Thing in my view. I’m not a social justice warrior across the board, some people are brighter than others, some people are better at other aspects of life and in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world we can ill-afford to tolerate incompetence and pedestrian performance.

      People generally work very hard to send their children to these schools and kids can’t help what they are born into.

      True, but a non-sequitur to the question of the problems public schools are causing in British politics (and some other sectors like media, where they distort the lens we look at the world through). It doesn’t matter whether people work hard to pay the fees or they pick it up off the ground in the morning. I am not saying public schools are evil, not am I yet of the opinion they should be razed to the ground, though they shouldn’t have tax breaks IMO and because they are designed to reinforce dynastic privilege they aren’t charities by any stretch of the imagination. I am making the case that selection by wealth seems to have deleterious effects for society. As a secondary case, these schools fail to instil character to temper the arrogance when kids are taught they are leaders, and also some aspects of their education seems to assume a world of yesteryear.

      There appears to be no academic merit qualifications to get into public schools. If your parents can pay you’re in. At least with grammar schools they are testing some aspect of the child’s merit, rather than the size of the parents wallet. It shows. I am probably brighter than David Cameron. I’m not brighter than BoJo but I am sharper than he is in awareness that some things can be done but shouldn’t be. I also have values and try to live them, on the balance of evidence in BoJo it’s not so much he has bad character but he has no integrity whatsoever.

      It is bad that the privilege that parents pay for with public schooling is not at least screened against some test of basic ability, and the privilege makes the lack of self-awareness more dangerous to the rest of us than it is in the 93% who don’t go to public school.

      I think a more healthy attitude, is to be pleased with the success of wealthy people. They pay more than their share of tax, funding public services and creating jobs and wealth.

      Oh save me from the trickle-down quote. I’m with Peter Mandelson on this. What some wealthy people also do as well as all those good things is buy the levers of power, influence and control to make sure they get a larger piece of the pie and don’t pay their taxes. It’s called plutocracy. It’s perfectly understandable. But it’s the job of government to try and regulate this. The evidence seems to suggest we are getting worse at this with time rather than better. That evidence lies all around us – in food banks, in increasing homelessness, and increasing inequality. It may be that there are structural economic forces like globalisation that are amplifying these trends, but I suggest that trickle-down has had its day in the sun

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “There appears to be no academic merit qualifications to get into public schools. If your parents can pay you’re in.”

        Au contraire. The *right* private schools are fiercely selective. Unless their parents have their own private armies, children are often asked to leave private schools if its thought they will drag the exam averages down.


  7. At the risk of sounding a smug git, my sprogs went to a poorly performing state school. My eldest has just had her results: 1st from UCL. Middle 2.1, youngest yet to graduate but looking good. Private schools are not necessary if parents make the time for their children.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Some thoughts….

    I went to a non selective private school from start to finish. Thank goodness I did as the state schools were shocking where I live and have since sadly got worse. I am quite sure that I would have not obtained my current employment status without such schooling. There were none of the over confident entitled people as you mention. Mind you it was a ‘third tier’ private school and for a lot of people has not resulted in a better job I believe – if that’s the only measure of success (it is not of course!). Maybe I am an outlier – but an extremely grateful one to boot.

    My children now attend a non selective prep school. Class sizes are half those of state schools with children being pushed more than the local state school. As far as I can tell that’s the only main difference – and it’s a big one! The secondary private schools where we live are also highly highly selective – so I feel you are a bit off beam ermine in certain parts. Although there are also plenty of non selective secondary private schools – but these days I don’t believe that’s a help to getting into a top notch university. Is it a hindrance?

    If I was being provocative could I not say that I have chosen to pay for private school for my children in order to free up resources for others? So I am paying twice? Put another way if the fee paying schools closed in my area it’s not clear to me how the over subscribed state schools would cope. I am only gently teasing here a bit – I get a little where you are coming from. When I went to my current industry of work there were a number of over confident privately school educated individuals who were still like children.

    Education education education – it’s pretty obvious that’s the main route out of poverty and we are not investing enough as a society. It is exceptionally sad this is still the case where I grew up. The parents also have fairly limited ambition as a generalisation too.

    Moving on, I really hope boris becomes prime minister, I am not a major supporter mind you but I feel we need to lance this boil. If not I do believe you could see Nigel Farage in government in some shape or form. Maybe at the end of this mess, some good will come out of it (you can see I am being quite nebulous here!). ‘This too shall pass’ said an ancient philosopher!

    Oh and btw loved the earlier piece, the pound has fallen so much against the dollar that as a result I could remove the ‘seeking’ and add a ‘d’ to my nickname based on a sensible withdrawal rate- not sure that’s very sensible given what may be coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > I not say that I have chosen to pay for private school for my children in order to free up resources for others? So I am paying twice?

      Old as the hills, that one. The counter-argument is twofold. One is that you are rich enough to pay privately, taxation tends to tax the richer more, it’s the way the cookie crumbles. The other, perhaps more important part of the argument, is that by extracting your kids from the State system you remove your advocacy, intolerance of mediocrity and and general push to make things better from the 93%. That is not a social good. Imagine if 33% of people went to public school. The push to remove resources from the rabble would be strong – this is the whole tragedy of the commons angle.

      > not sure that’s very sensible given what may be coming

      Clint would like a word in your shell-like 😉 Winter is coming, there be the straws in the wind though people say this is a localised problem that is contained to the specifics of that business. Yup. Got that…


      1. You make a fair point. I don’t mind paying twice, I don’t mind making the point if someone critiques.

        I would just reiterate some of the comments above. The public schools at secondary level around London area are fiercely selective for marketing purposes – they don’t want average ability. You can send your child to an average non selective public school. Whether the opportunity cost is worth it is debatable. For me it was undeniably worth it.

        I am not sending my children to one to avoid the masses ( far from it, we actually avoid the richer parents there and our friends are state school parents by and large) nor for them to rub shoulders with others. It’s about smaller class sizes and therefore more tailored teaching. If I couldn’t afford it, I would be pretty frustrated at those who can. I also agree sitting with your child and helping them is equally as importantly. I am not sure it helps get into a better university at the moment as they are now actively selective against such independent schools. So much so that as it stands we would move our children to a good state six form probably to game the system. All in all our system isn’t as good as it could be. Some friends from Germany always are strangely intrigued by the whole thing not having these issues from primary through to university.

        We used to say that people in my line of work who were self entitled as you have said were suffering from Etonitis! And several of them went there.

        Also re your point on DB, I work in the same industry, I really don’t think this is a pointer of the near future, the bank is suffering from the financial crisis still and just can’t make money for a myriad of reasons be it technology, regulation or shrinking margins. For straws in the wind, It’s more of an issue that ten year German bonds are now negative 0.5 per cent. Something eventually will have to give and I guess asset prices will be it. Maybe this is where money dies as the book goes. If you are looking to buy uk assets though, they look pretty cheap as an overseas buyer at the moment.


  9. Brexit boxset, season 4 (2019) review. And so it rolls on like The Handmaid’s Tale, ratcheting up the pain and misery, while leaving just enough of a flickering pilotlight-in-the-boiler’s hope, to keep you watching out of morbid fascination alone.

    The awful Clarendon kleptocracy rolls on, somehow getting even worse when it seemed the bar was already on the floor, the scriptwriters now having a Trump mini-me heading for clown prince, with Nigel Faraging-right the compass on his shoulder to keep the direction cliff-edge bound. The only thing left until recently was that the US had something worse, but that has now been sorted out, we have a pet for him to play fetch with and ruffle the fluffy head of, with puppy eyes filled with unconditional love. Billionaire takes all and no country to be a serf in, we live in a place that estate agents might describe as ‘vibrant’.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I was sent to a private school by my parents because the state schools in the catchment area in the area of London I grew up in were bloody dangerous! Thank goodness they had the money to afford it. I suppose the other option would have been to move to a different area with good state schools. My school was not a posh school at all. It was selective and very academic. The pupils were from middle class families – the sons of builders to judges. The ethos was strongly liberal and there was no culture of punishment and sadism and none of the rest of the public school nonsense. However it is worth pointing out that the background of the pupils has changed since the 80s when I attended. The job titles of the parents have not changed but those jobs now pay astronomical amounts that make the parents wealthy as opposed to merely comfortably off. In my day it was unusual to see a parent driving a BMW or Jag. Now it normal and a Ford or Renault would stand out.

    I would say the problem is not so much public schools themselves but the type of person who goes to them and who then goes on to populate the elite organisations in the UK. The Camerons, Osbornes and Johnsons of the world are rich and come from rich families. They live in a self satisfied bubble and simply do not care one little bit about the welfare of the mass of British people or even about the future of the UK itself. All they care about is maintaining their own wealth and power. They will sacrifice the rest of us if need be to achieve that goal without a qualm. If you have ever crossed path with these types you will know what I mean. They are almost impossibly obnoxious. Really nasty pieces of work. Somehow modern Britain seems to have lost the mechanisms that used to limit the damage they could cause. Maybe as the UK centre of gravity has become ever more concentrated in London and particularly the City and other poles have atrophied they have become more able to run riot.


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