Sunday, 3 October 2010

Graduate Tax and Guinness records.

With the finances of universities nationwide becoming ever-gloomier, UK business secretary, Vince Cable, is continuing to attract heavy fire for his proposed 'graduate-tax'. The scheme outlines a model in which financially successful graduates would pay higher rates of tax on their salaries, rather than students across the board facing the possibility of tuition fees doubling to an annual £7000.

Business group, The Institute of Directors (IOD), are the latest opponents to the tax, arguing that it will see the most successful students financially penalised for their endeavours, whilst also driving a 'brain drain' scenario in which Britain's brightest minds will graduate, only to seek employment overseas. The assertion is the latest in a long line from free-market, centre-right thinkers convinced that Britain is such an overwhelmingly diabolical place in which to live and do business that unless corporations, bankers, and graduates are given generous compensation for choosing to locate themselves on our island, they will all leave instantly and start more prosperous lives elsewhere.

Be that as it may... the IOD, right-wing media, Confederation of British Industry and a bunch of other doom harbingers will be pleased to read "Gifted Children are Failures", a Sunday Times article from September 26th. The article (which none of you can now read without paying Rupert Murdoch a subscription fee) posits that gifted children are likely to become misfits rather than Mozarts, and cites research showing that of children who demonstrate considerable ability and intelligence throughout their schooling, only a very small number go on to amount to anything conventionally 'successful'. All of which is good news for those in fear of Cable's graduate tax, suggesting as it does that society actually has a large and unused surplus of highly talented individuals who go-on to perform jobs that could be perceived as falling-short of their actual capabilities.

This consideration, alongside the notion of a graduate tax, raises questions about the philosophy of tax as a whole. Contrary to traditional thinking, we are here presented with the idea that the most financially successful in society do not attain their positions by virtue of merit and the necessity of their employment, but rather as part and parcel of a social model that requires and permits a certain number of better-remunerated individuals, if only to preserve nominal notions of success and merit. In a pure meritocracy the graduate tax might be seen as wrong-headed and downright abysmal, but in our quasi-fictitious social roleplay, corresponding as it does to all-but nothing rational and mutually-benefitial... then indeed why not tax those who have merely inherited the lucrative role of what a 'successful' person ought resemble?

Anyway... enough of that bullshit... I also write to inform you all happily that Guinness recently acknowledged and ratified my record for a circumnavigation by bicycle. Sincere and deepest thanks to all those who believed in me and supported me regardless... and sincere and deepest apologies to all those who would have rather seen Guinness throw me out as the mean-spirited cheat and grumbling fuckwit that I am. Of course I knew all along that I had done nothing outside the spirit of the record, and that therefore it was a moral and personal achievement regardless of a piece of paper from Guinness... however, I'm not a big enough person to have actually felt that way, even if I knew it to be true... and so I have to say that I do actually quite like my piece of paper from Guinness, which will be invaluable to the CV once I draw a line under this life as a socially-conscientious pauper and start scouting around for jobs in private-equity.

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