Thursday, 3 March 2011

“Progressives” wrecked our economy - now for universities

“Progressivism” – the new name for equalitarianism (i.e. making the large mass of us equal in terms of income and assets no matter how stupid or lazy or feckless we are or how badly brought up or poorly educated) is the root cause of our current economic woes. It’s about to wreck our Higher Education system.

The foundations of the Credit Crunch were laid back in 1977 in the United States when Jimmy Carter’s calamitous socialist administration introduced the  Community Reinvestment Act. This ordered federal regulatory agencies to "encourage" banks and other lending institutions "to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions." That basically translates as “make more loans to poor people”. Up till then, making money out of mortgage lending had been a pretty simple matter, and, to be fair, nothing much changed until Clinton came to power fifteen years later.

Then federal agencies started prosecuting bankers for turning down a greater percentage of mortgage applications from “minorities” (i.e. blacks and Hispanics, some of whom might who might struggle to keep up repayments) than from white people (i.e. relatively prosperous people who’d find it easier to pay the money back). 

The Bush administration kept up the equalitarian pressure. (Remember sniggering at “caring Conservatism”? Well, I, for one, am no longer laughing.)

Before all this nonsense started, a substantial majority of applications from both blacks and whites were approved anyway – it’s just that that whites had a statistical advantage. So, in order to make believe that minorities were on a financial par with whites, the banks were forced to lower their standards. Which led to sub-prime mortgages. Which led the world economy to the brink of collapse.

Progressivism did that.

Britain suffered worse than any other European country (apart from Iceland and Ireland) because Gordon Brown had ramped up Britain’s debt by spending billion of pounds on “progressive measures” – i.e. transferring money from middle class people working in the private sector to members of his burgeoning  client state – “poor” people and the public sector workers charged with distributing taxpayers’ money to them. When the world economy went tits up, Gordie had borrowed massively to create a more equal society and our banks, like their American equivalents, had spent all the money we’d given them for safekeeping making themselves richer by lending it - with governmental approval - to people who hadn’t a hope in hell of repaying it.

So home-grown progressivism exacerbated the effects of the credit crunch here. And the very people who paid off their mortgages and saved money instead of borrowing too much are paying the price – interest rates have been kept artificially low to lessen the cost of government debt, favouring borrowers and penalising savers (i.e. punishing good behaviour, as Progressivists always do).

Having woken up to the extreme threat posed by this toxic philosophy, you’d imagine anyone with half a brain would have concluded that the best place for Progressivism was in a lead-lined container with a skull and crossbones and a “DO NOT OPEN!” sticker on it six miles under the ground (next to the boxes marked “Communism”, “Fascism”, “Prices & Incomes Policy” and “Loon Pants”).

Well, no – our politicians have decided to see if “progressivism” will have the same destructive impact on Higher Education as it did on the economy. There’s already a Labour-created quango in place to facilitate the disaster – the Office for Fair Access – a bunch of particularly malign progressivist left-wing politicians to push it all through (including Vince Cable and Simon Hughes – who, like many Liberal Democrats, professes a keen interest in young working-class people), and one or two Tory Quislings like David Willetts.

The plan is simple: just as banks were first “encouraged” (and then forced) to lower their standards to accommodate poorer mortgage applicants, from 2012 universities will be encouraged to lower their admission standards to allow in masses of students who wouldn’t normally qualify for a place, and, thanks to poor schooling, won’t be equipped to benefit in any way from the experience. The only twist compared to what happened with mortgages – and it’s a brilliantly levelling one – is that many middle-class students who would normally qualify for a place at a decent university and would make good use of the opportunity will be deliberately excluded.

But governments have been trying to make our best universities do this for years – and they’ve failed! That’s why we got tuition fees and allowed crappy polytechnics to pretend to be universities – so lots of uneducated “poor” children could get worthless fantasy degrees in non-academic subjects. The government is hardly going to take universities to court to force them to comply, as America did to make banks lend foolishly. No – they’re going to bribe them instead. Proper universities will be allowed to charge maximum tuition fees if they squeeze the money out of the families of rich and middle class students who deserve their place - and use the proceeds to pay for working class students who haven’t proved they deserve to be there. Any university wanting to charge more than £6000 per annum (i.e. every Russell Group institution) will have to promise the Fascistic-sounding OFFA that the extra £3000 is going to be spent on subsidising poor students or they’ll be told to piss offa.

So what happened to the “exceptional circumstances” we were told would have to prevail for a university to charge the maximum? Wasn’t that supposed to be about charging more for expensive courses such as Medicine and Astrophysics (snazzy labs, dead bodies, particle accelerators and suchlike)? 

Well, that was a straightforward, bald-faced lie

Allow in enough students called Wayne or Kiara and exclude a few Joshuas and Jessicas and you can fill yer boots, Vice-Chancellor!

But won’t teaching standards inevitably suffer as a result? Obviously not – why, for heaven’s sake, would you expect an increase in the proportion of students who haven’t demonstrated academic ability to impact on academic results? Next you’ll be suggesting that handing out mortgages to people who evidently won’t be able to pay them back would somehow destabilise the banking system! What are you – anti-progressive? 

What, you may well ask, about improving the quality of tuition? Isn’t that rather what universities are supposed to be about? What happened to all that “excellence” stuff? Dead for a ducat, sacrificed for a lunatic philosophy devised at the time of the French Revolution, and which, no matter how many lives it has destroyed and no matter how many societies it has fractured, seems destined to become the defining theme of our benighted age.

How Conservative MPs can look themselves in the mirror of a morning is beyond me – Progressivism in the antithesis of traditional Conservatism: it sums up everything we don’t believe in. I long ago gave up expecting anything approaching coherent policies from the Tory leadership, but the rank and file should be thoroughly ashamed of betraying their own beliefs and those of their supporters. 


  1. Excellent. Enjoyed reading this well- argued piece. I have one quibble. Some of your readers are getting on in years and it is important that their general harmony is not disturbed [anything that induces hypertension, gout attacks, that sort of thing].Therefore, publishing a photograph of Simon Hughes is probably not a good idea. The same goes for any Liberal Democrat MP [is Mark Oaten still an MP or has he gone off to N. Africa to get the "Brillo" transplant and engage in nefarious activities?].
    Sunday, March 6, 2011 - 05:54 PM

  2. A well-argued piece indeed and one that hardly appears in the UK media.
    Redlining,a bank term for defining an area by its ethnic minorities and its ability to pay loans,or in the case of the Financial Crisis,not to pay loans is more widely reported in the US and Steve Forbes for one would totally agree with the content.
    The same warped and blinkered thinking that loaned vast sums to NINJAS looks set to place education in the landed equivalent of a derelict,hopeless,crack-ridden,foreclosed neighbourhood.
    Monday, March 7, 2011 - 03:37 AM

  3. Who wrote: "... it has made the State more vulnerable to the charge that it is a powerful but incompetent ogre"?

    Answer, David Miliband, in an article in today's Times, 'The Left is losing across Europe: this is why', please see

    Younger readers may not recognise the name. Here is their David Miliband primer,, which will quickly disabuse them of the notion that Mr Miliband believes that the state is incompetent.

    Far from it, what he believes is that:

    (a) there should be more localism: "We shouldn’t be afraid of the Big Society; we should claim it for our own and show how we can build it better", and

    (b) there should be more internationalism: "The truth is, international institutions today are too weak, not too strong, and time is running out for the West to set a fresh agenda".

    Anyone who can reconcile these apparently opposing tenets of the Miliband faith is invited to attend his lecture tonight at the LSE on the subject 'Why is the European Left losing elections?'.

    He may or may not be able to answer that question. But he has one clear action point: "I support the Movement for Change, a new leadership academy for community organisers that aims to rebuild the labour movement ... It is starting small, but with a big idea — to give 10, 000 people before the next election the skills to find and use power locally".

    10,000 new gauleiters all trained by central government to take power locally and thereby strengthen internationalism.

    I suppose it makes some sort of sense to people who can't answer the question why left-wing governments are losing power. People who can't see that the answer is quite simple.

    These governments keep failing to deliver their promises. And they destrouy things. Like education. And the economy. And social mobility. That makes them unpopular. How difficult is that to understand?
    Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 11:36 AM

  4. Enjoyed your piece on David Milliband, DM. It’s a measure of brother Ed’s utter uselessness that we now consider his brother as a great “lost leader” when it wasn’t so long ago we were rolling about laughing at the prospect of this awkward, gurning, accident-prone dweeb as Prime Minister. Milliband, D. seems destined only to look good compared to truly abject alternatives (e.g. Gordon Brown).

    Interesting point about the utter incomprehensibility of the older brother’s position on localism and internationalism. Remember when we knew what political parties actually stood for? Or what they were talking about? Just what in the name of all that’s holy does Labour now stand for on any major issue? The same applies to the Coalition – Cameron pronounces Multiculturalism a failed experiment, only for Clegg to support it ten days’ later. I know successful executives have to learn to “live with ambiguity” – but a whole nation???

    I’m sure the reason Labour lost the last election was that they failed to get their message across to the public rather than that they were utterly, totally, irredeemably crap.

    SDG: Mark Oaten stood down at the last election, having, one assumes, finally realised that voters might be ever so slightly unwilling to vote for someone who asked boys to straddle him and… well, goodness, to be honest, the very mention of his name makes me wince. I love the quote he gave the Press Gazette: “Journalists... had my story for three years I think, but hung on to it and never did anything with it. They could have made that public interest argument at any point in the three years. I had always been a Member of Parliament, but they waited until it could sell most newspapers, at the point at which I became well-known and at my most famous."
    As if journalists trying to sell newspapers are somehow morally worse than a married man who pays rent boys to… no, I really can’t bring myself to write it down!
    Also, blaming his revolting behaviour on baldness must go down as one of the all-time great excuses.
    Talking about LibDems and pink oboists, I apologise for publishing a photograph of Simon Hughes. In retrospect I realise this was a mistake, and a lapse from the usual high standards we pride ourselves in observing on The Grønmark Blog - but I had just noticed that my hairline has receded ever so slightly in the past ten years, so, as I have a perfectly good excuse, I hope my readers can forgive me. It won’t happen again.
    Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 11:46 AM