Teens face £50 fines for not attending class

The [UK] government wants to introduce “education Asbos” and fixed penalty fines for teenagers who refuse to stay in education or training until the age of 18, the education secretary, Alan Johnson, announced today.

Sometimes I think there are two fundamental attitudes towards human nature: 1 says, humans are basically weak and evil and need to be whipped or otherwise forced to do what is right; the other says humans are basically good and need to be allowed to act in accordance with their own integrity and inner clocks. I’m more or less a believer in the latter philosophy, thought sometimes I think it would make life simpler if I just forced people to do what I think to be right.

Those who believe people need to be herded and forced tend to be in favour of policies and behaviours that control others. My big problem with this is that not with the philosophy per se but rather with its vulnerability to subversion. What’s the difference between insisting that those in your charge meet the goals you have set for them, and putting surveillance cameras everywhere so you can “catch the bastards”?

Which side of the line is this new British government policy? Is it really for the young people’s own good? Or is it to ensure that government pays its dues to industry and guarantee a certain number of trained potential employees?

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