About Me

"Setting the world to rights"...one blog at a time! Plus anything else that comes to mind

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

11 Voting - less rant, more reason

I've been re-reading my last post and I realise the last part became more rant than reason.

The only thing I have to add about how we vote is that we should try and vote according to conscience, not strategically. Consider the following possibility - the current government, party A, does not please us but although we think party B is better we've heard via the opinion polls that party C is more likely to get in. We might then be tempted to vote C instead of B simply because we don't want to 'waste' out vote. To me, this seems a waste in itself - we haven't made our view known. If sufficient others act the same way there could be a totally different outcome than might otherwise have been.

The whole point of an election is to find the party favoured by the majority. If we vote according to what we THINK the majority will vote we are not getting a true reflection of the views of the country. To this end I think polling should stop as soon as an election is called. Publishing polls, independent or otherwise, influences the way people decide how to vote. Best we vote honestly and wait for the result, don't you think? Could I suggest to all parties that they trust in their policies to get them into government, not in manipulating the electorate according to the latest poll?

Having got that out of the way I'd better address the 'rant' part of my last post. I do feel rather strongly about voting in person. Firstly, it shows commitment. It's not as though we have to fear being gunned down in the streets because we've had the temerity to get out there and lend our voice to the electoral procedure. I still say the type of person who makes an effort to go and vote will also be more likely to be the sort of person who's thought it through and will give as informed a vote as they are able.

Secondly, I feel it's less open to abuse. I can more easily believe that electronic or postal voting systems can be tampered with than paper ballots submitted in person. It would be quicker and easier to register fraudulent votes by computer or post than it would by making multiple visits to a polling station. Computer systems break down and can be hacked into, postal systems can be intercepted. I'm not saying paper ballots in person can't be tampered with, just that it would be more difficult.

If anyone can prove my concerns are groundless then fine, otherwise I shall remain opposed to any method other than paper ballots.

Monday, 19 April 2010

10 Should we vote? How should we vote?

The first question is a daft one really; of course we should vote. Millions of people around the world have no say in the way they are governed. We do! It may not be perfect and we may feel that our little vote won't make any difference but all the little votes add up to the will of the people. Anyone who doesn't vote needs to keep their opinion of the country and the way it's governed to themselves until they do vote.

How should we vote? Well this isn't about whether we should vote Conservative, Labour, Liberal or anything else; this is about how we USE our vote.

When voting, if we feel the current government is doing a good job and there are no better alternatives then it seems sensible to vote for the current party in power.

If we feel the current government is not doing a good job and there is a clear, better alternative, then it make sense to vote for the alternative.

The problem seems to be, listening to current gossip, when the current government is not doing a good enough job but there is no appealing alternative. Some advocate not voting at all since it's a waste of time and we won't get anyone good anyway. Others prefer to spoil their ballot papers 'in protest'. I really can't see how either of those achieves anything. No, the better option seems to me to vote for the best of the alternatives. If the other party get into power and also do not do a good job, vote for one of the others. Do this enough times and eventually even our somewhat blinkered politicians will see that in order to stay 'in power' they'll have to do a good job or get thrown out. Leaving inadequates in power simply means they have no reason to do better.

While on the subject of voting, let's consider the voters themselves. Anyone who cares about the country and considered options will get off their backsides and go and vote. Anyone who doesn't make the effort is presumably not the sort of person who can make an informed and valid decision. Being allowed postal votes or internet voting means lazy people who have not considered the position are more likely to vote and perhaps we do not need to know what they think! Yes, I am aware there are people who cannot physically, for one reason or another, get to a voting booth - I don't include them in the last statement, it's the general principle I'm trying to convey. It should not be an easy option for those who can't be bothered.

Friday, 2 April 2010

9 Education

I’ll come back to health when I’ve thought it through a bit more but let’s consider education for a bit.

Current policy is geared to getting people into university. Once in university students are expected to pay towards aspects of their education and student loans are set up specifically for this purpose. This leaves graduates in the unenviable position of have hefty debts before they even get a job.

Education should be paid in full for the entire time a youngster is training for their role in life regardless of background. This is to ensure not only does everyone have the same opportunities but that society does not miss the benefit of talents that may otherwise go wasted. This covers nursery school, primary school, secondary school and any further education up to a specified age according to the requirements of the role they are to undertake in society. Individuals shouldn’t be expected to pay for books, equipment, premises, teachers or anything else; however – this should only apply where there is a need for such training.

Since society needs children to be educated and is responsible, in loco parentis, for those children while they are away from their parents it follows, that up to secondary school at least, society should be responsible for feeding and clothing them. At least one full uniform set every year and a good meal every lunchtime. If society is willing to pay for the meals, society gets to specify what the meals consist of. There is no reason a choice should be made available. Providing a set meal each day is cheaper than funding several alternatives, of which children tend to gravitate to the most unhealthy! Society says - if you want to take advantage of the free meals then your children eat what is given them. This way society can ensure children get one nutritious meal a day and this crosses over into maintaining overall public health.

We have a lot more people to cover a much wider variety of roles than a tribe and most of us should be able to fit in somewhere. However, the principle remains the same - we can't all be healers, someone has to be a hunter. For example, everyone does not have the right to go to university and indeed not everyone has the desire to go to university. Everyone should have the same opportunity via the education system but this is not the same thing at all. The education system needs to start off with general education and gradually become more specific, pupils branching out into areas suited to their abilities and desires – providing society has a need for them. If someone wants to move into an area they have no aptitude for and/or which has sufficient people already then they should only be able to do so if they pay for it and their tuition does not cause problems in the mainline system.

This is another area we, as a society, need to change our attitudes. For some reasons we see university as the highest level of achievement. So it is, for a certain number of professions. We need to understand that other types of education like apprenticeships, city and guilds and hands-on experience are just as valid and perhaps more appropriate.

People who are academically brilliant should have their tuition paid for but only in the field in which they are brilliant and where there would be an end benefit to society. By the same token, only those who show an aptitude for other types of work should have their tuition paid for - in that field.

That’s how I see society’s obligation but how does it affect individuals?

Take one child coming up through the system. Gradually he or she will move in a certain direction, it could be one the child is interested in, or one the teacher thinks they’re better suited for or, if he or she’s lucky, it’ll be the same thing. There are an awful lot of ways things can go wrong here because we are dealing with individual views and growing and ever changing children. Perhaps early education could include aptitude tests, following the general trend of the child as he or she grows and interests change. Once they decide which way they want to go it is up to them to prove to society that they, in preference to another should have their tuition paid for in a particular field. They compete for a certain number of places that are available only to the best in the field.

I can’t think of any other way than examination to decide who is better suited to a specific area. However, instead of pass and fail grades each student is allocated a percentage. If X number of students are needed for the next stage applicants are accepted starting at the top percentage and continue down the scale until all places are filled. The rest do not qualify for full state-funding. If, working down the percentages, there are too many people at e.g. 87% for the remaining places then other factors need to be assessed depending on the area they are competing in.

In order to ensure as many people as possible are directed according to their talents, education groups need to be smaller so everyone can be assessed and guided individually. What is this trend to ‘bigger is better’? Bigger primary schools, massive secondary schools and enormous educational centres provide environments where not only individuals can be overlooked but where large numbers can become mobs and gangs. Small groups can be reasoned with and directed; mobs cannot. Small groups more readily lend themselves to a feeling of community, belonging – things that society needs to instil in its children from an early age so they feel the need to contribute when they take their place in the world.