Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Perhaps we should consider a dictatorship

I was going to write a post about the morons who think taking away public holidays is a good thing, and I was looking for an online reference for the state's head moron saying that it is rare for a public holiday to fall on a Saturday (yeah, right - it will happen again next year for a start!). In wandering through Google's results, I found a link to the NSW Labor party's blog. I'm sure you'll be stunned to learn that it doesn't accept comments. I was trundling through the randomly ordered posts (I think it puts its favourites at the top, and then the chronological sorting starts below, but it is rather confusing when you are just skimming) and I found this gem. It's from today and the infinite stupidity of this government continues to stun me.

They are going to raise the minimum school leaving age to 17.
...if a student is under 17 and wants to leave school after Year 10, they will need to be in vocational training, an apprenticeship or paid employment for more than 25 hours per week.
This is justified by a bunch of statistics (described as "evidence")

  • Better wages over a lifetime -- On average early school leavers will earn lower wages over a lifetime and are more likely to be unemployed for periods of their lives (Source: Access Economics 2006);
  • A better chance of employment -- According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, early school leavers are two-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed;
  • A stronger economy – the NSW economy stands to gain an estimate of up to $2.7 billion if early school leaver numbers are halved by 2050 (Source: Applied
    Economics); and
  • A better trained workforce – those who complete school are more likely to pursue further study/training.
A whole series of correlations without even a pretence of causality. There is no evidence presented at all that forcing kids who currently leave school early to stay on will improve their outcomes in any of these areas.

The school system simply doesn't work for everyone. There will be some kids who would be better off elsewhere. I realise that they will still be allowed to leave if they have a job or apprenticeship, but sometimes life doesn't run that conveniently. If school is proving to be a Bad Thing for someone, they are better off getting out first, and then dealing with where to go next.

And just in case the philosophy doesn't convince you, think of the beauracracy! And the obvious rorts. You want to leave school, you go get a job at Maccas working 25 hours a week, sign the form, lodge it with... who? and then quit 6 weeks later. It costs the state a small fortune to implement and makes no difference to anyone, except possibly managing to add yet more stigma to the poor kids who don't thrive in our school system.

Which brings us to the next blood pressure raising statement in this delightful piece:
“We have a first-rate education system in NSW,” Mr Rees said.
Really? I'm thinking some kids at Miller, Rooty Hill and others may take issue with that. Personally, we are very lucky to have an awesome local public school, and I support our public system, but to describe it as first-rate state wide is to dismiss the atrocious experiences of a huge number of kids.

The rest is just "kids as future labour market fodder" bullshit that makes me angry every time I read it.

But ultimately, where does the state government get off telling people exactly how they must live their lives right up to the age of 17? If we want our teenagers to grow into responsible adults, we have to stop treating them as children. This is the time they are supposed to start making their own decisions and their own mistakes - when they still have time to learn and recover from those mistakes. If the state takes control of their lives, they'll be teenagers well into their late 20s. There's way too much of that already!

Given that the Liberal party in NSW still seem to missing in action, I think we should throw everyone's name into a hat, draw one out and name them Supreme Dictator of NSW. They can't possibly do a worse job.


  1. Surely the chance of a public holiday falling on a saturday is 1 in 7 once amortized, or am i missing something obvious ?

    The holidays in a given year are correlated, so it might take a number of years for this to average out, but a 14% chance amortized is hardly rare ...

  2. My immediate thought was "that sounds like a very effective way of raising the teen pregnancy rate".

  3. I nearly asked for you to do the maths, Robbie. I figure for any given holiday it's about 1 in 6, since there will always be at least one leap year. Boxing Day and ANZAC day are always on the same day of the week, as are Christmas Day and New Years day (of the next year). Australia Day is somewhat independent since it is on the other side of leap years. The correlations make it too hard for me to go much further, but I reckon 20% would be a conservative estimate, 35% would be closer. Not exactly rare...

    @Lauredhel: Ahhh, but I note being pregnant doesn't count as way of getting out of school! I wonder will they provide dedicated feeding rooms...

  4. Being pregnant and well might not constitute a reason for leave, but with a year of mat leave federally mandated for all jobs, they would surely have to allow leave for new teen mothers from school/study. (If not, then that's far worse.)