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Why do the boffins get all the cash?
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Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #1
25-12-2007 11:47 AM

Interested to know opinions on the following idea...

What would you think of giving all 16 year olds a lump sum (say ?30,000) to use as they see fit, rather than the current system of giving school-leavers virtually nothing while the academically minded get a lot more financial assistance with several years of study.

Some people's talents don't lie in academic study. They may be better suited to starting their own business, or just simply learning through working for someone else. Why should these people have to pay for others to study? It seems somewhat unfair.

A fairer system might be to give all 16 year-olds a lump sum with which they could buy further education or training, start up a business, or simply invest for their future. The choice would be up to them to choose the path most beneficial to them.

Personally, I did A-levels and three years at university and I now think they were a colossal waste of time and money. I think I'd leared all I needed by the time I was 16. I hardly learned anything useful in those additional 5 years of study, and I would have been better off (and happier) going straight into work and learning on the job.

I realise that this is not the case for everyone. Obviously a doctor needs to train properly before being allowed to start slicing up patients, and if you want to be a research bioinformatician or something scientific like that, then you might need more than one degree to build up the necessary expertise.

However, I think there are an awful lot of people going to university to study utterly pointless subjects, who would not be studying them if they actually had to choose between paying for it with their own money, or using their money elsewhere. And there are a lot of talented young entrepreneurs who might take the world by storm if they just had a bit of capital to invest.

What do you think of this idea?

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Posts: 1,361
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
25-12-2007 04:29 PM

They are no longer given a large amount of money. They have to pay their own university tuition fees etc. out of a student loan (unless they live in Scotland or Wales).

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Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #3
25-12-2007 11:06 PM

Gadzooks! Okay...stuff this 'idea'. Perhaps I should stick to whinging about Jehova's Witnesses. Something tells me they're not going to disappear for a while!

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Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #4
26-12-2007 12:36 AM

Okay then, here's another idea, one I'm pretty sure hasn't been done already...

Why not apply a franchise business model to countries?

If you want to open a sandwich or burger shop, one way of doing so is as a franchise of Subway, Burger King, etc.

I've not opened such a shop, but as I understand it, it's effectively a trade-off between feeding some of your profits back to the parent company, in exchange for them letting you use all of their management systems and brand.

Obviously not everyone who opens such a shop chooses this route, but the fact that many do shows that it can be a good business deal to do so for some people.

Could the same sort of business deal work with regard to governing countries?

Since countries like the UK have extremely well developed, effective, efficient and fair systems of governance, law, education, policing, economic policy, etc, and there are countries in the world with hopelessly inadequate such systems, perhaps it would make better sense for them to adopt our systems.

How I see this working is the proposal would be put to the people of the country in the form of a referendum. If the people voted for the country to be run as a franchise of the UK, then a 'management team' would be sent from the UK to start running the country (according to pre-defined rules and objectives) and implementing change, introducing UK management systems over a period of a few years, and training up the locals to use them. After a few years, the country would start to run itself. Their economy would begin to boom. Foreign investment would be attracted. Life would be better and people happier and healthier.

I know what you're thinking...this sounds rather similar to the 'nation building' going on in Afganistan and Iraq. I guess you're right, but there's obviously a key difference - that the country itself chooses, of its free will, to become a 'UK franchise'.

And in contrast to how parent companies make profit from franchises, this could be a service provided to developing countries for free (as a form of aid).

If we're serious about helping people in developing countries then perhaps this sort of 'franchise model' would be quite a practical form of aid.

Do you think there's any merit in the idea? Or can you see problems with it?

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Posts: 335
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #5
26-12-2007 10:34 AM

Much as I hate to take the suggestion too seriously as, unless you happen to have a secret contract with the UN, this is purely for 'silly season' discussion, but you could argue that this is exactly what happened throughout history and the creation of the states we have today.

Just one example; Scotland

Scotland joined with England to "share" systems, but mainly to share access to trade and the colonies (having bankrupted ourselves trying to create our own one ... in Panama. Doh!). However, I don't think this was entirely a "free" vote as there was a great deal of inducement involved.

It is also the price you pay for getting any support from the World Bank or any other international body run by the 'First World' countries. 'Free advice' for poor countries - "... but if you don't run your country as we tell you, then we take the money away"

Could you please name a single country that you would willingly franchise yourself to? Alternatively, name one that is so well run that others could or should emulate it? I think you'll struggle.

I certainly would not wish to push the UK system onto any other country. We tried that in the past and that is why we are so loved all over the world!

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Post: #6
26-12-2007 06:24 PM

In some ways it could be said that such a system has been adopted in relation to Puerto Rico. It is rather a complicated political setup but it seems to be rules by America with a free trade area but without voting rights for the people of Puerto Rico to elect president or congress.

It could be said that the European Union expansion also extends a franchise model of government to member states. They agree to abide by European Laws and in return they can become part of a massive free trade area. Recently many countries have chosen to join the EU and more would like to in the future, suggesting a successful franchise model (if this is what you choose to call it).

The EU have sent 'management teams' to other European countries, notably giving Paddy Ashdown Bosnia to run as the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But there is a significant difference between these situations and the situation where one country runs another without the consent of the people. I should also point out the monumental failures of the World Bank and IMF to manage economies in the developing world, providing them with 'experts' who despite the best of intentions, have ruined more economies than they have helped.

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Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #7
26-12-2007 08:57 PM

I had half forgotten about the World Bank and not really realised what it was there for. (Must remember to sack my secret UN connections forthwith.) Mind you, if michael is right about the World Bank's sucess rate...

Another example of a franchise system, or something pretty similar, was India/Pakistan/Bangladesh during the East India Company/British Raj era. The Brits didn't exactly colonise India (as it was at the time) in the conventional sense, rather they went in primarily to trade rather than to rule. While there, they took the country forward in leaps and bounds, developing the roads, railways and governing bureaurocracy necessary to help the ecomomy boom. When I was in India briefly a few years ago, I expected a lot more resentment toward the Brits, but in general most people seemed to think that the British Raj era had been a very good thing for the country (with the exception of the decision to split the country up to create Pakistan and Bangladesh, causing the upheaval of millions and death of many thousands).

I don't think it would be hard to find countries willing to sign up to a franchise model based on the UK, US, Japan, France, Germany, etc. There are dozens of countries in the world where the government is hardly fit to run a three-legged race, let alone a country with a solid economy and effective public services that make a country nice to live in.

I've argued about this with friends before, and one of the points that came up was that the people probably wouldn't want to lose their culture. Maybe not, but to what extent? If you were living in a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, would preserving your culture in aspic really be your primary concern, or would you rather put food on your family's table, have schools to send your kids to, sanitation, reduced corruption, etc?

I think the key point I'm trying to get at is to think of countries in the same way that we think of companies. Around the world, across all industries, small companies are constantly being bought up by larger ones. In many cases, this benefits the employees of the smaller company, not just the owners. Take, for example, the makers of satellite mapping software Keyhole, or online word processing software Writely. Most people won't have heard of these companies, and I suspect if they had not been bought by Google and rebranded as Google Earth and Google Documents, they employees would still be toiling away in relative obscurity today. Instead they work on services used by millions of people, probably get paid a fair amount more plus various benefits, and can impress potential employers just by mentioning Google on their CVs.

Such I believe it could be for the residents of countries. If the Zimbabwes of this world became UK franchises, they would also benefit in similar ways.

Obviously I'm only suggesting this for cases where the people of the country positively wanted to enter into such a business arrangement. I'm not in any way suggesting that we should go out to invade anyone. As michael points out, we do get involved in 'nation building' after wars, but why stop there? I'd think there's a much, much higher chance of success in an already peaceful country.

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Post: #8
26-12-2007 09:01 PM


Do you plan to offer a franchise of our financial system?

Which country do you think would like to have a duplicate bank like Northern Rock?

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Posts: 104
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #9
26-12-2007 09:24 PM

In a free market economy, banks will go bust from time to time like any other business, and although it can be inconvenient for people who work for or who have invested in the companies, it's a known risk and one that we can plan for and mitigate against, and in the grand scheme of things, such minor blips are surely pretty insignificant setbacks relative to the benefits of a generally strong economy.

In the UK, I think I'm right in saying that banks are backed by the Financial Standards Authority, so if one goes bust, customers are guaranteed to get 90% of their savings up to ?50k (up to ?48, effectively) back. So if you have more than that, just split your savings across several banks or investment funds and you're pretty safe. I imagine there are more than a few countries in the world where that would not happen, or where the government would be able to set in and temporarily support a bank like Nothern Rock in order to avoid a wider economic collapse.

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Post: #10
26-12-2007 10:35 PM

Clearly nothing worth watching on TV.....

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Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2007
Post: #11
29-12-2007 10:34 PM

Ooperlooper Wrote:
I think I'd leared all I needed by the time I was 16.

Honestly? I'm 38 and I still feel I've got a way to go before I complete all the leering I'd like to do.

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Posts: 653
Joined: Feb 2007
Post: #12
29-12-2007 11:28 PM

A leery new year to everyone Smile

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