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.