Why higher student debt is a bad idea Richard Middleton writes: Re. "Skewed workforce and a tepid economy: lessons from the US on higher ed debt" (yesterday). How hard can it be? If people with degrees earn so much more per year, then they will pay more tax. This extra tax give a nice fat return, enough to satisfy even the likes of the Poodle. But here's a thought -- as training is a work related expense, as it is in most trades and professions, then should not the debt be carried forward to be deducted from any tax due?  What would be the implications of all this? All because of a nasty partisan policy which seeks to keep the proles in their place -- either with no higher education, or as indentured debt slaves. Rundle scare-mongering Margot Harker writes: "Advance of militants in Iraq means the end of the West as we know it" (Thursday). I had a bit of a "we're doomed!" moment while reading this, falling into that silly trap of thinking that Mr Rundle must know heaps about the subject and therefore his terrifying scenario must be right. Then the following day with his article on some eye-popping weirdnesses in the UK education system which included the line, "Why this bizarre tale should be of interest is that it is coming soon, to an Australian school system near you -- and those who believe in a viable state school system are utterly unprepared for the ideological onslaught", I've realised that Rundle surely must be a Chicken Little type, prone to drawing what a young friend might call weally scawy conclusions from the information he's gathered about subjects. Be afraid, be very afraid. Knowing somewhat more about British and Australian school systems and culture than I do about contemporary Iraq and Syria, I began to see how the land may lie in Mr Rundle's universe, and did two things as a result: 1. Resolved never to read Rundle again. 2. Put a reminder on the fridge door -- Just because it's in the paper doesn't mean it's true. Ok, Crikey isn't a paper as such, but I know what I mean. On Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts Jon Slack, Festival Director Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts writes: Re. "Aussie book fest expensive and disorganised" (Wednesday). I'm just following up on mention of the Aus & NZ Festival in your "Tips and Rumours" column. It's quite a bizarre mention and obviously not based on any facts. Can I ask what prompted the tone of this article? It does seem inexplicably nasty about a project that's trying to promote Aussie & Kiwi culture in the UK, and secured the majority of its funding from outside of Australia. Is there a reason why the journalist responsible has declined to be attributed? Have they made the effort to speak to any people who attended, or to anyone actually working in the festival team? I wonder if you'd be interested to know that we've received countless positive messages from participating writers and audiences since the festival finished. There's plenty we can improve for next year, but it has balanced the books, secured great coverage and a generated a lot of positive sentiment here in the UK and back home in Australia and New Zealand. 2015 should be a corker! It's a shame that my email to you about the festival has to be about a negative story. I rather wish we were discussing how we can work together on what our festival does next. Perhaps that's a pipe dream.