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Quebec student protests

Phoenix

Quebec student protests
June 17, 2012, 09:12:31 PM
As some of you may know, there have been lots of protests in Quebec lately. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

The government gives various benefits to older people, such as Old Age Pension. Instead, why not phase out these benefits and provide free education instead? The difference is between investing in people when they're old and investing in people when they're young. I'm not just talking about lower tuition fees as the students are protesting against, I'm also talking about building many more schools so that almost everyone gets a free, high-quality education (this idea seems to be rather absent from the protest discourse). This isn't really a socialist idea, because it shifts responsibility away from the government and into the hands of the people; if you don't plan for your retirement then too bad, no one will bail you out.

The merits of investing in people when they're young are obvious. Education allows people to become not only more aware of the world around them but also to become more self-aware, and their career choices will accordingly be wiser, more in-line with what they'd ultimately like to do. Also higher education obviously provides a wider spectrum of career opportunities. Furthermore, a well-educated workforce pays tremendous economic dividends and considering the current 15% tax rate the Quebec government will benefit accordingly... assuming the politicians are willing to invest in the long-term beyond their time in office. As well, lack of education is at the root of all social problems, so things like drug abuse and violence would decrease with more education and less money will be needed for social services.

Thoughts?

Re: Quebec student protests
June 18, 2012, 12:31:14 AM
"Education allows people to become not only more aware of the world around them but also to become more self-aware..." <------------------ This is the issue that makes your proposition problematic. Does education really do this for people? It certainly does it for some, but the vast majority of people pass through it without undergoing any genuine intellectual growth. This is disappointing in and of itself, but what's worse is that these hordes of dull, uninterested, uninteresting people transform their environment more than they are transformed by it. They don't read or absorb the assigned readings, they cheat on tests, they do everything they can to avoid engaging with the content of their courses. The end result is implementation of policies that cater to this type of student. Everything gets dumbed down and gets easier. Additionally, the presence of so much chaff in a given classroom makes it difficult for others to learn. The miasma of disengaged apathy squelches all enthusiasm for and discussion of the course material.

The reality is that a lot of people should be brick-layers, but they've been deceived into thinking that they're all born engineers, lawyers, etc.

Phoenix

Re: Quebec student protests
June 18, 2012, 01:02:59 AM
I agree that education is far from perfect, but I think it's half-way decent here in Quebec. I was operating under this premise.

You raise a good point though. Part of it is attributable to lack of funding, so I would advocate for more funding as part of the solution I'm proposing.

Re: Quebec student protests
June 18, 2012, 04:15:52 AM
Instead, why not phase out these benefits and provide free education instead? The difference is between investing in people when they're old and investing in people when they're young.
The most obvious problem with this model is that young people can die, move away, or become drug addicts before the investment put into them pays off. Old people have put in their time, and the "investment" put into them is really more of a payment for work already performed.

Re: Quebec student protests
June 18, 2012, 11:16:21 PM
The most obvious problem with this model is that young people can die, move away, or become drug addicts before the investment put into them pays off. Old people have put in their time, and the "investment" put into them is really more of a payment for work already performed.

Other side of the coin - old people can die any moment, rendering the investment null. Too many old people creates an unbalanced burden on young people, such as what is happening in Greece or will soon happen in the USA. Young people have potential, old people's potential is mostly realized.

Payment for work already performed? Maybe, provided the person actually worked a great deal through their lives. No leeches who are retirement age should be allowed to benefit from it - send 'em back to work until they croak.

It's a complex issue. However, Canada should be warned that a gerontocracy would be highly impractical at this point in time. Age does not correlate to wisdom. I do very much agree with Iron's sentiment though - a lot of these people probably shouldn't even be in school to begin with.