Herb Prooy: Hands off our education

Cutback-happy politicians should steer clear of education, says Herb Prooy. It’s the only way left open to kids to get out of the mess.

I never knew the Netherlands had the most levelled-off income distribution in the world but there it is, in the Journal of Economic Literature. In spite of SP and PvdA rhetoric, the total income share of the 1% of Dutch top earners went from 12% to 5.4% in the last 50 years, the Journal says.
In the United States the figures tell a different stories. The same 1% of top earners increased their share by 11% to 17,4% over the same period. The UK and Norway did not see any levelling off but the rest of Europe did, with the Netherlands in pole position. A recent Unicef study confirms the trend: in two thirds of all countries in the world income inequality has been decreasing.
The driving force behind a fairer distribution of wealth is education. Training is the best guarantee for underprivileged children to make a future for themselves and expand the wealth pyramid.
Investment in education alone is not enough. The United States spends more on education than the Netherlands. Accessibility to good quality education for all is another matter and is not a given, especially for children from very poor backgrounds. Only the children of the super rich can afford the best schools and universities in the US, and this gives them the opportunity to increase their already disproportionate share of the national income. It’s the elite’s way of looking after its own.
Not fair
That is why it’s so very worrying to see the cabinet cut back on education and the grant system. Guaranteeing accessibility to good schooling for all children and taking care that as many as possible stay the course will provide the labour market with well trained individuals ready to continue the 60 year trend of shared prosperity and a more than averagely happy population. We jeopardise this at our peril.
We have lumbered the youngest generation with a growing burden of state debt and crippling pension payments. And now the cabinet is about to ruin their only chance at future prosperity. It’s not really fair, is it?
Herb Prooy is an entrepreneur in the field of ‘software as a service’

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