Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 6. April 13, 1950
The M.P. and the £ S D
The M.P. and the £ S D
To what extent should any service rendered to the community—however intangible it may be—have to account in balance sheet terms for its working? To what extent is the success of one of these services measured in terms of an excess (or otherwise) of receipt over expenditure?
The present Government appears to have little doubt that most everything can be assessed, ultimately, in terms of £ S D. This "practical," "commonsense," "businesslike" attitude is praiseworthy insofar as it makes for a close oversight of public finances. But there is a rather important question which emerges from the welter of party recrimination. If a service is unable to "justify its existence" in terms of a profit, then what? Is it to be liquidated? Or is it to be pruned "away until the resultant niggling has taken the inspiration and drive out of it?
It affects students very strongly, because we are in an institution which can't assess its contribution to the public welfare in profit and loss terms. The whole education system is unable to do so—more broadly, the things which are least able to justify their existence to a "businesslike" government are the values derived from learning, the more theoretical sciences, the arts generally. It appears that these are most likely to suffer. So far the university system hasn't come under fire, but there has been more than a broad hint that education expenditure will have to be held, if not cut. This with a shortage of 200 teachers, heaven knows how many classrooms, packed and antiquated university buildings, and the crying need for special facilities for special education from the spastic and backward child to the brilliant post graduate specalist!
There could be no worse example of materialism than a group of men applying the principles of running a grocery shop to the affairs of a civilised community. One does not usually try to estimate the warmth of a young man's love in British Thermal Units, but the Government attitude is shifting rapidly that way. As a "practical" suggestion to the Government on the high cost of the National Orchestra, as an example, perhaps a saving could be effected by charging the audiences the same amount but giving them less for their money—the four movement Eroica instead of the five movement Pastoral, to mention only Beethoven: or perhaps increasing the charge of the concert according to the total number of bars played?