I hate to break it to you, but free education is a brainless idea
And shouting ‘tax the rich’ just makes you sound like a mug
It’s election time. Posters and flyers are thrown all over the place like there’s been a printer orgy.
Empty promises are bandied about and people drag themselves to a polling station to vote on who they think would be best to fill an empty position.
And in among the election furore, the most prominent battle-cry, the things most students complain about and rail against, is fees. They want “free education”.
You’ll probably have seen the budget, furious posters. “FREE EDUCATION! TAX THE RICH!” they decry, an idea which isn’t only completely unrealistic, but also totally stupid – sorry lefties.
Firstly, education already is free. We in the UK are very fortunate to receive free education up until the age of 18, an education considered to be among the best in the world. South Korea is considered to be the pinnacle of global education, but the UK consistently finishes comfortably in the top 10.
As a result of this, it’s arrogant for students to demand free higher education. I’m not suggesting £9000 a year is reasonable, and I’m definitely not suggesting it’s good value for money, but, when only half of young people in the UK go to university, it’s unfair to demand the other half fund university through their taxes for the entirety of their lives. There are far too many people at university in the UK for this to be a realistic goal.
Also, the student loan system is decent. Yes, £9000 is a lot of money – too much probably, but it doesn’t mean you can turn on student loans as a system.
As a concept, a loan is a perfectly reasonable solution and the rewards will be reaped when you leave university and benefit from higher lifetime income.
And then there’s the other side of the paper thin argument for free education. Taxing the rich is a terrible, terrible idea which I take great issue with.
As a slogan “Tax the rich” is incredibly loaded. It makes it seem like the rich aren’t currently being taxed, when in fact, anyone earning over £150,000 a year already pays 45% tax.
If elected, Labour will revert the rate to 50%.
It’s easy to imagine someone making such a huge amount of money sitting in a marble mansion sipping on Dom P and tutting at the postman.
But the truth is someone making so much money is very often working incredibly hard every day – as many other (less well paid) people do – and spending their money on private school fees for their children and private healthcare for their family – missing out on many of the benefits which their 45% tax goes towards anyway.
The top 3000 earners in the UK pay more in tax than the bottom 9 million – it’s a fact.
Yes, tax avoidance is a huge issue, and the “tax the rich” idea is obviously directed at people who make obscene amounts and stow them away in off-shore accounts.
But the sad truth is these people are the same people who are at the top of successful businesses which generate tax revenue, create jobs and push our country in a positive direction.
These are people who spend their money here and contribute towards the nation’s economy in so many positive ways. If you start charging them 50% tax or even more, then how long before they leave the country and move somewhere like Switzerland, taking their spending money, jobs and economic contributions with them? Will they not just put more energy in to more tax avoidance schemes to legally protect their income, perhaps resulting in even less tax revenue for HMRC?
Do yourself a favour and forget free education.
Reduce it yes, but don’t make it free. Fund it with higher stamp duty on foreigners buying up the London housing market and squeezing locals out of the city, fund it with the closing of tax avoidance loop holes, fund it through charging people to throw eggs at David Cameron, but do not fund it through taxing the rich.
It’s foolish, and ignorance of the consequences spells trouble for the entire country.