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Youth fighting back?



May 26, 2012 – Comments (13)

I have long looked at how lifestyle has been declining for youth and wondered at what point do they start to fight back.

I have been following the protesting and riots over raising tuition fees in Quebec.  Indeed, when I was in Montreal the smoke bombs let off in the subway led to an interesting experience for me.  The subway was delayed for the second time, it was about 8 pm and I still hadn't eaten dinner and decided to get off the subway and eat.

Well, I found the section of town where men like men and massive "GI Joe" posters of men in suggestive positions in their underwear.  That wasn't the side of Montreal that I was expecting to visit and being and being there alone felt a little uncomfortable. 

Anyway, I've been following the comments on the protesting for weeks now and there is little sympathy from baby boomers.  Quebec does have the lowest tuition in Canada, and quite possibly between Canada and the US, which is the main reason for the lack of support.  However, when I look at the cost and compare it to the cost when I was 19, it seems the cost is very comparable relative to the cost of everything else and wages from my youth.  They want to double the tuition.

My first year of university back in 1980 cost $540 in tuition.  My rents varied at the time from an absolute hole in the wall dump for $100/month for a bedroom to $290 for a one bedroom basement suite.  So, consider tuition to be about 3 times the cost of a month's worth of shared accomodations.  Food was costing me about $100/month, so say 6 months of food.  In Quebec tuition is around $1600-1700, which looks pretty darn close to the same relative costs that the non-supportive generation had when they went to school.

They started raising tuition and we hardly fought back at all, and that same tuition today is about $5000, which is more like 10 months of share accomodations and close to a couple years of food. 

I think young people deserve the opportunity for higher education that does not strangle them with debt for life, which is what baby boomer's parents and grandparents provided for them that they are totally stingy about returning.

13 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On May 26, 2012 at 11:02 PM, devoish (63.61) wrote:

It is easier to ask children to pay tuition than the wealthy to pay taxes.

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#2) On May 28, 2012 at 9:39 AM, outoffocus (22.87) wrote:

Its going to come back to bite the boomers when their children are laden down with too much debt to take care of their parents...

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#3) On May 28, 2012 at 11:01 AM, wolfman225 (46.57) wrote:

"Education" is free.  If they'd be willing to do the admittedly tough job of education themselves.  The totality of all the world's knowledge is accessible by computer from virtually anywhere.  No need to pay $50K/yr for the "college experience".  Sadly, these young people expect things to be provided, not necessarily earned.  It's the entitlement culture. While they expect things to be provided for little or no cost or effort on their part, they'd look at you like you had two heads if you were to suggest they provide a service to someone else, on demand, for no compensation.

 I don't know how long it's been since the last tuition hike, but on the surface this reminds me of the outrage in California in the late '90's and early 2000's over the "unprecedented" increase in electric rates, which were a direct result of the end of a period of artificially low rates mandated by a government-imposed rate cap.  When the rates were finally allowed to reset to market levels the resulting increases appeared larger and more dramatic than they really were.  If the rates had been allowed to ebb and flow with changes in the marketplace, the customers would have been able to more easily adjust.  By the same token, if tuition has been held artificially low by Canadian government programs for too long, the adjustment to more accurately reflect the marketplace will inevitably be seen as greedy and unreasonable.

Any time someone or group of people that have been conditioned to feel entitled to a certain good or service at little or no cost are confronted with the need to pay full price, there is going to be this kind of over-reaction.

Hell, it's not just in Quebec.  We had a large group of representatives of the product of higher education assemble on the grounds of Sallie Mae recently.  They weren't petitioning against the potential rise in the interest rates for college loans, not at all.  They were demanding that their loans be forgiven completely, chanting "Education should be FREE!"  THESE are representative of what passes for higher education?

You know, I actually hope they get their wish.  I just want to be there when the IRS informs them that the $100,000 in student loan debt they had forgiven is going to be treated as "income" and subject to income tax (and penalties and interest if not paid).  They'll have a much easier time persuading their lenders to forgive their loan than they will telling the IRS/Government that they refuse to pay "their fair share".

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#4) On May 28, 2012 at 1:07 PM, bcvz (< 20) wrote:

I`d like to know how many of these protesters have iphones, ipads, mac books, go to mexico for spring break etc.......  

They want cheaper education?????  Well it better not come at the expense of every other province in the form of transfer and equalization payments.  I'm sick of Quebec complaining all the time; they have the lowest tuition costs in Canada (North America aussi), subsidized day care, among other socialized programs at the expense of other Canadians who don't get to take advantage of these perks. They received 7B from other provinces this year so they can have cheaper education than that of Alberta, our richest province.  

Quebec has a provincial debt load of 250B!!!!!!!!!!!!  They have the highest debt per person for any province in Canada.  No kidding the government wants to raise tuition costs, I dont blame them. 

They want to seperate????  Go ahead, but we will keep the 7 billion dollars/year in transfer payments.  Good luck.

They want cheaper education?  Raise provincial taxes exponetially.  Then when they graudate with their free education, they can work for 25 cents on the dollar, since the rest will go to taxes for all their programs. I truly believe that most Quebecers think the Govt has a field of money trees.

They are quick to point to Sweden as some sort of socialistic utopia, but the difference is Sweden doesnt fund their programs with DEBT!!!!!!  They have an average personal income tax rate of well north of 50%!!!! Their government runs a surplus, not a deficit every year. As well, they are pro capitalism with corporate tax rates south of that of the USA.

That is my rant for the day.





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#5) On May 28, 2012 at 1:13 PM, wolfman225 (46.57) wrote:

^^Very well put.  +1

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#6) On May 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM, mtf00l (43.19) wrote:

Self education is grand no doubt.  How do you get the sheep skin for it?

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#7) On May 29, 2012 at 1:35 PM, wolfman225 (46.57) wrote:

^Many Universities have programs for credit for self-education and "life & work experience".  With some of these, they will certifiy educational competence upon examination and a relatively small fee.

The process of individuals educating themselves and then "testing out" used to be much more common, but while no longer widespread, it still exists in places.  You probably won't get ivy league institutions togo along with such a plan, but is it really worth the huge debt load to have their banner on your diploma?  I don't think so.

One advantage to being self-educated is that you will emerge with a much stronger grasp of the material, without the bias of the professors skewing your outlook.  This is especially valuable in the sciences and in the study of economics.

Finally, who is it that decided that you aren't competent unless you are certified by an "approved" source?  Such narrow parameters lead only to group-think and a mutual myopic view of what is possible.

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#8) On May 30, 2012 at 7:33 PM, rfaramir (28.65) wrote:

wolfman225 is so right!

And what is the cause of high education costs? Government subsidies.

As with any product (good or service), if you subsidize it, you get more demand and worse utilization. More people go to college for bad reasons because they aren't footing the full bill themselves. This is not only bad for them, but bad for those for whom college is a good choice, as teachers' attention is divided during school and employers after school see too many graduates "like you" who aren't worth the paper they 'earned', making your accomplishment look valueless.

And schools are tempted to offer bogus degrees that no one needs since they get paid (by the state) whether the market wants such degrees offered or not. The money is there whether the service is quality or not because it is not a free market product.

Restoring a free market in education will be worthwhile, if painful, and the quicker the better. Governments are already coming to the end of their ropes (those that can't print their own money, at least) financially, so cutting back on costly and damaging interventions into free markets should be among the first things they try. It won't be popular, since it looks like you'd be hurting the poor the hardest, but they actually benefit the least from an improper education. They need to be directed sooner (right out of high school, heck, during or instead of high school) into more productive careers.

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#9) On June 02, 2012 at 12:00 PM, dwot (28.86) wrote:

Agreed devoish and outoffocus

woflman, really interesting perspective, however, you are locked out of health, education and many fields with self-education.  The system right now is such that there is huge power to the educators in whether they will accept your education from other institutions.  Essentially, once you start, it is a system of limited competition and one that is exempt from standard business practices.  If your university treats you unjustly, there's very little recourse.  

I started a master's program that I quit the first semester for two reasons, the first was that I was playing the stock market and what I was learning about world finances was so little understood by me and so enormously important in my mind and then what I was "learning" in university was, in my mind, a lesson in smile, don't say anything, and jump through the hoops. 

I had two course and one was half decent, but the other did not have a right to exist in my mind and I couldn't bring myself to jump through that hoop, especially in the light that I felt that I really needed to understand what was happening in the economy.  I went on to get myself a 200% return on my investment over roughly the next year, and I made an exit at the top.  From an economic standpoint, in that one year on the market I made more then what the increased wage would bring for the rest of my working life and what I learned was enormously important to me.  I spent time learning about the market out of passion and I was doing the master's program for a piece of paper to increase my wage.  I wasn't finding passion for what I was learning and I'm not sure that I would find passion in learning where someone else is directing me as they do through a specific program.  

I should look into what you are saying about credit for self-education as I have done a ton of self-learning on top of my 8 years of university.  I have virtually no recognition for any understanding of econimics, yet I think of that as a personal strength.

bcvc, excellent points, but I still applaud the students for fighting for what the generation before them got and I don't think they are responsible for the deficit.

I believe we are top heavy in social programs for older people at a gross expense to younger people.  We haven't put everything on the table at evaluated everything for how fair it is relative to EVERYONE and I think if we did, the student's perspective is reasonable.

rfaramir, in Vancouver we have BCIT (BC institute of technology.)  It is overrun with students who did degrees that did not lead to employment and have returned to learn what business wants.  We should have more focus like this, but it should still be affordable.

And I teach high school.  It doesn't matter what you say about students should be directed towards careers sooner.  We start trying in grade 9, but the majority aren't ready or interested in it until much later.  Just yesterday I spent 15-20 minutes talking individually to two of my students who will be in grade 11 next year and in that time I did not get a single piece of feedback about how I might better steer either of them, and it is like that for many of them. 

It would be great if we could have summer job shadow programs for students starting when they are about 15.  Actually, that's something that business needs to step up to the plate to provide.  This week I also spoke to a representative from one of the local businesses who was talking about wanting to implement a "legacy" program and we were talking about having summer jobs for students the year before or the year they graduate and by legacy, they'd try and provide that opportunity annually for say 2-5 students.  This is the kind of thing we need.

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#10) On June 02, 2012 at 4:11 PM, wolfman225 (46.57) wrote:

"woflman, really interesting perspective, however, you are locked out of health, education and many fields with self-education.  The system right now is such that there is huge power to the educators in whether they will accept your education from other institutions."

Thanks for the feedback dwot. I do agree that there are some professions that are, of necessity, of limited access to the self-educated.  Limitation doesn't mean exclusion.  In the medical field, for example, you can't (and shouldn't be allowed to) practice medicine without a license.  This is a common sense protection against charlatans.  However, there is nothing stopping you from taking the required foundation courses through local community colleges.  As long as they are accredited,  medical schools will accept transfer credits from these other universities (although some will require that you take, and pass, entrance exams).  This alone will save thousands. 

As for the educational establishment, for centuries America was well served by a system of apprenticeships to the various trades, where students who had shown interest or aptitude were trained by people who were already successful in their particular field, as opposed to being "taught" a bunch of theory by an academic.  Just try getting any public school to "allow" a business executive or trade professional to teach a class or course without first conforming to their notions of what constitutes being "qualified" as a teacher.  Check out the confrontations between Rodney Dangerfield and his business professor in "Back to School" for a comical illustration of the actual conflict between academia and the real world.

In other fields there is always the avenue of setting yourself up in private practice in whatever trade you have become expert in.  Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, to name just two, did quite well as college dropouts, without benefit of the validation of any college's sheepskin.  If you have truly achieved a mastery of any subject, there is a way to become a success.

As for "the system" being resistant to self-education, of course it is.  There are 100's of billions of dollars at stake, not to mention the heady potential of re-creating society by "molding young minds".  The only way the system can retain it's hold is to attempt to prevent innovation and competition.  We see this almost daily in the battles between the entrenched interests of the education bureacracy and public teachers' unions vs charter schools and the demand by parents for school choice and a "voucher system" for education, where education resources are directed by the choice of parents evaluation of the best interests of their children, not simply alloted by government irrespective of results obtained.

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#11) On June 04, 2012 at 1:48 PM, rfaramir (28.65) wrote:

"It would be great if we could have summer job shadow programs for students starting when they are about 15.  Actually, that's something that business needs to step up to the plate to provide."

This would be great if it were allowed by the state. Special interests (unions) agitate for age discrimination against young employees (to 'protect' them from exploitation by keeping them legally unemployable). By reducing low wage competition they think to increase their wages.

If you want serious, out-of-the-mainstream, valuable and correct history and economics instruction, try Liberty Classroom by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (

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#12) On June 20, 2012 at 11:50 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote: 

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#13) On June 21, 2012 at 12:18 AM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

dwot, I am disgusted with the protests in Montreal.  Instead of me sending a link and you think I am biased- just google it.

What I see are youth of privilege bitcthing and moaning about stuff. 

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