And not just him. Thanks are also due to the burglars, muggers and fraudsters operating in your area.
After all, they greatly augment your income – by not depriving you of it. Isn’t a penny saved a penny earned? Well then, think of all those countless pennies you’ve saved and therefore earned due to those gentlemen’s magnanimous decision not to steal from you, for the time being.
Do you agree with this logic? No? Good. But then you must also dismiss similarly justified claims made by the state, especially its outer left reaches. Actually, this qualification is unnecessary: our whole state now resides in its outer left reaches, with but a tiny space separating parties and factions.
The on-going brouhaha about Brexit conceals this fact by serving up binary possibilities, in or out. That’s what it ultimately boils down to, with all the talk about various deals either just background noise or else subterfuge designed to skew the debate one way or the other.
Since Brexit is so polarising, one may get the impression that the two poles reflect the traditional right-left divide. They don’t. All our three major parties proceed from roughly similar presuppositions, with any differences being those of degree, not principle.
Hence the Marxist John McDonnell complains about fee-paying schools costing the Exchequer huge sums. In a sane world, which ours no longer is, this assertion would fly in the face of simple arithmetic.
For our independent schools are financed not by the Exchequer, but by the fees they charge and also by private endowments and investments.
That’s why they save the taxpayers an annual £3.5 billion that would otherwise have to be spent on state schools. Also, in spite of their charitable status and other tax breaks, independent schools contribute £4.1 billion in tax revenues – which number is further augmented by the 300,000 jobs they create.
Not even John McDonnell can be so bad at sums as to be unable to add up large numbers. If he is, I’d be happy to buy him an abacus or, to be upbeat and modern, a calculator.
Alas, neither device would do any good. For not only McDonnell but just about all our politicians, be they Tory, LibDem, New Labour, Old Labour or Trotskyist Labour operate according to the logic I outlined above.
Some 10 years ago, Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, unwittingly explained the logic in a few simple words. Extolling his next year’s budget, he uttered the words that should adorn the façade of every government building.
“The government,” said Brown, “will let you keep more of your money”. Now, a government can let someone keep only something that belongs to the government by right. In other words, your money isn’t yours. It belongs to the government that can decide how much to take out and how much to let you keep.
Just like those burglars, robbers and muggers, they claim to make you richer by not making you poorer. Unlike those gentlemen, the state operates within the law, but the logic is exactly the same.
Applying it to independent schools, you begin to understand what McDonnell means.
Yes, those schools contribute billions to the Exchequer. But they could contribute even more if the state ended their charitable status and exemption from business rates. And slapping a 20 per cent VAT on school fees (a policy already adopted by Labour) would work wonders too.
In other words, independent schools are costing the taxpayers in exactly the same sense as you are impoverishing thieves by selfishly holding on to your wallet, computer and jewellery.
Lest you might think this logic finds its champions only among the hard left, allow me to reassure you on that score. Here’s what the true blue Tory, former Education Secretary Michael Gove, wrote in 2017.
Poor Sarah Vine’s hubby-wubby argued that tax breaks for independent schools “provided egregious state support to the already wealthy so that they might buy advantage for their own children”. Egregious, dear me, the chap doesn’t pull his adjectives.
If anyone can discern a difference between Gove’s underlying philosophy and McDonnell’s – and not just in matters educational – I’d like to hear about it. They are soul brothers, which kinship starts with their definition of wealth.
The impression they like to convey is that only billionaires send their children to public schools, and those vipers must be soaked to the bone – that much goes without saying for the Tory and Trotskyist alike.
However, I know many people on middle-class incomes (some in my own family) who struggle to scrape pennies together to keep their children out of the dumbing-down laboratories of social engineering that go by the name of comprehensive schools.
And yes, they thereby “buy advantage for their own children”, although McDonnell’s grammar acquired at a fee-paying school, suggests that the advantage may remain elusive. That’s what parents do for their children; such is their duty.
Good parents go beyond school fees in that undertaking, and they still do their best for their children even if they can’t afford the exorbitant fees.
For example, they fill their houses with books, rather than crushed beer cans. They take their children to museums and galleries, rather than pop excretions. They tell them stories that encourage children to read, rather than play computer games. They teach their children discipline and work ethic, rather than how to get by without them.
Does Gove regard all those endeavours as egregious? Probably. They compromise equality at the starting blocks and also at the finish tape, and nothing is more egregious than that for our rulers. They think they can correct God’s oversight in making us all different.
As to the word ‘support’ used by Gove, it’s indeed egregious. The implication is that the state subsidises public schools. But the support Gove means is negative – it’s provided by not extorting, not by subsidising (see the opening paragraphs above).
If this lot are so upset with public schools, I can offer a free piece of advice on how to get rid of them – and to do so without resorting to criminal fiat or equally criminal extortion.
Go back to the system of grammar schools and secondary moderns, which used to make British education the envy of the world, rather than the laughingstock it is today.
Provide a good free alternative to make sure intelligent and capable children don’t have to impoverish their parents with astronomic school fees. Then also make sure that those less academically able would still learn how to fend for themselves in a modern economy without going on welfare.
That way you won’t have to bother about banning public schools or taxing them out of existence. Most of them, with the possible exception of such venerable institutions as Eton, Rugby or Harrow, will fade away of their own accord – who in his right mind will pay £30,000 a year in school fees if he could get the same education for free?
This advice will fall on deaf ears. For these chaps aren’t about getting good education for all. They aren’t even about equality, except as a slogan that plays well with a dumbed-down public. They are after naked power, which means increasing state control over every aspect of life – emphatically including education.
You know we are all in trouble when the state comfortably fits into the same sentence with robbers, muggers and burglars. Actually, those chaps are better: they do what they do just for the money.