Anti-capitalists in UK universities need a refresher course in the perils of socialism

Berlin Wall

The great Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter, writing in the 1940s, predicted the eventual demise of capitalism. He did not want this to happen. But he envisaged that the “intellectual class” would eventually develop values which were hostile to free markets and private property. Schumpeter’s definition of “intellectuals” was very wide. He meant people in a […]

Incentivise predatory universities with a proportional grade-linked fee structure

Exam Tables

The A-level results have come and gone yet again. Underneath all the hype and excitement, we can see the reliable old friend of economists at work. Namely, the impact of incentives. Michael Gove, in his previous Cabinet incarnation as education secretary, decided to restore the meaning of grades in A-level and GCSE exams. Until the […]

Embarrassing academic reversals show expert opinions are often built on sand

Sand Castle

Last week we saw yet another major reversal of opinion by experts. For years we have all been lectured severely on the need to finish every single course of prescription drugs. But the latest wisdom is that this is not necessary. The announcement that petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040 only serves […]

Believe it or not, Britain is getting happier

Happiness

The dominant economic narrative in the UK is a pretty gloomy one just now. True, employment is at a record high. But, counter the whingers and whiners, zero hours contracts and low pay proliferate. The political discourse is full of the struggles of the JAMs – the Just About Managing The public sector moans about […]

Diane Abbott is rubbish at maths – but not compared to the rest of the country

Diane Abbott, 2016 Labour Party Conference

Diane Abbott’s car crash of an interview on LBC radio last week hit the headlines. Asked politely but firmly for the numbers and costings of Labour’s plans on the police, her answers varied wildly from sentence to sentence. Of course, being charitable, it was always open to Labour’s shadow home secretary to spend a few […]

Too many young people are wasting their time by doing worthless degrees

It’s an exciting time of the year for many young people, with some setting off to university for the first time and others starting to polish their applications for next year. Good news if you have been accepted to read economics at Cambridge, say, or business studies at Oxford. A survey by the Sunday Times […]

The blob is wrong: competition and independence raise school standards

The A-Level results released last week confirm the dominance of schools in London and the South East. Provisional league tables have only appeared so far for state schools, but these two regions have two-thirds of the top 100. South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, and Wales did not have a single school between them in the […]

A radical idea to revive the North

The Head of OFSTED, Sir Michael Wilshaw, warned last week that secondary schools in Liverpool and Manchester were ‘going into reverse’. Too many pupils in Northern towns and cities are simply not prepared for the next phase of their education, training or employment. In Liverpool, for example, four out of every ten schools are judged […]

A-levels, culture, and the great regional divide

Last week saw the ritual tears and joy of the announcement of the A level results.  An encouraging aspect was the increase, albeit small, in the percentage of entries in traditional academic subjects, now standing at 51.2 per cent.  This is yet another example of incentives at work.  The universities have been signalling that non-academic […]

Learn Maths, Young Person! The Secret of Success in the 21st Century

A currently fashionable pessimistic topic is the lifetime prospects of children born into the middle class. Graduate debt, lack of finance to buy homes and job insecurity after they graduate, the list goes on. Alan Milburn, the government’s ‘social mobility tsar’, put the seal of approval on this prevailing angst last month. His Social Mobility […]