Wednesday, September 5, 2007

How to get 'em while they're young…

Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton yesterday promised if elected to lower college and university tuition to where it stood before Premier Dalton McGuinty took office.
…and lose 'em when they start paying taxes.
Of course everybody knows that the real intended beneficiaries are not the people who go to post-secondary school to upgrade their earning potential; the purpose is to sustain the class of parasitic eighth-year undergrads and fifth-year Masters students who do so much of the grunt work for the NDP at campaign time …


Anonymous said...

Not fair! It's also intended to benefit the unionized teaching staff who teach the NDP party line at post-secondary schools.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe lower tuition = lower debt burden upon graduation = quicker entry into the productive market place, thus ensuring Canada keeps the competitive edge with other countries, and allows grads to actually buy things, thus spurring the economy. Sheesh, you think that you'd be behind this...

Mike said...

Lower tuition equals more subsidy, which equals more taxation, which equals less economic growth, which equals less opportunity for Canadians here in Canada once they finally do get out of the schools.

Lower tuition equals more attendance at universities by those who otherwise wouldn't have found it worthwhile, and the consequent dumbing down of university education owing to concentration on teaching subjects and teaching methods suitable for the new marginal customers from the left hand side of the bell curve.

Lower tuition equals more time and opportunity wasted by more people learning fourth-hand Marxism and other things that aren't so, instead of doing productive work.

I am sure that others here can come up with many more direct and indirect results of greater subsidization of university tuition.

TANSTAAFL. You can't spur the economy by taking money away from people to buy things they don't want. That does a lot of things, but "spurring" an economy unfortunately isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

This is where I have a major difference of opinion. You see it as a tax burden...I see it as an investment on the part of the government/people of Canada into the next generation. Unless we find a way to make post-secondary education affordable, we're going to have two problems: 1) Massive student debt delaying entry into the Canadian economy and 2) a loss of the intellectual competitive edge in the global market place.

I'm not sure which university you attended, but I don't recall learning "fourth hand Marxism" in any of my class. I did have to read the communist manifesto, but I also had to read one of those god awful Ayn Rand essays. There's nothing wrong with teaching ideas, as long as you leave it up to the students to figure out which works best.

And this productive work of which you speak...ever hear the phrase "Work smarter, not harder"?

Granted, the world needs ditch diggers, but let's make sure they're ditch diggers because of ability, not lack of options.

Mike said...

Everyone wants there to be inexpensive, easily accessible, high quality education, myself included. The question is how to approach that asymptote.

The benefit to the subsidized student of getting a cheaper tuition, is immediately visible. You can see the effects: one more person learning to be an engineer or a cactus rights activist or whatever. Cut that ribbon and let's cheer for ourselves.

The dispersed cost, however, is not visible; you don't see the industries and businesses and jobs and art and new technologies and stores and websites and ??? that that capital might otherwise have gone towards -- because the law made it go towards something visible and definite for which a politician can and will claim credit. But altogether, in the long and short runs, we are all poorer and don't know it.

Worse, increased subsidies do nothing to make schools more affordable. The subsidies just shift the costs onto Everybody Else, thus decreasing the incentive for the universities to do a good job at a reasonable cost.

You don't end up making education less expensive at all -- quite the opposite. The incentive for a university to economize and to provide services that are worth what they cost is removed to the degree that the end consumer doesn't bear the cost. Tuition subsidies are a sure way of untethering the total cost of a university education from reality. Why not spend that extra five million on the faculty lounge for the Department of Angry Studies? No customers will be scared off by the increased prices, since we can make that 70 IQ ditch digger and his family help pay for it. Best of all, they won't even know about it.

As usual with coercive programs sold on the premise that they will benefit the poor and luckless, the end result is that the poor and luckless are forced to pay to benefit the wealthy and successful.

That ditch digger also gets to help multi-million dollar corporations increase their profits. It is an open secret that businesses now generally require a bachelor's degree not for the content of the learning, but as an indicator that the applicant is capable of making long term commitments to projects. The 70 IQ ditch digger should not have to skimp on rental accommodations and take a worse job just to help make it easier for HR at FatCat Incorporated to pick winners.

Nor should people be force to subsidize the teaching of noxious ideas. Modern Political Philosophy? John Rawls? Richard Rorty? Please. Neither the student nor anyone around him is any better off for his having taken such courses. Stop Payment.

(That's just my opinion, yes, but I'm not proposing forcingstruggling ditch diggers to subsidize the propagation of my pet ideas with yet another one of these "investment in the future" pyramid.)

If attending school to learn about field X is a good investment, then people will invest. So let's keep it as inexpensive as possible. For the sake of keeping costs under control, keeping content relevant to the customers, and keeping man-years spent in those institutions a net benefit, let those who directly benefit be the ones to pay tuition.

Flying Squirrel said...

"man"-years? :)

Elaine said...

Mutiny on the Bounty!!!!

Above is exactly what you get with a subsidized university education. This is our hard worked for tax dollar in action

You get a bunch of pussies arguing over the defintion of freedom of speech. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is not a ditch digger in the world who doesn't already know that.

Mike said...


You are quite right to rap my knuckles over that flaw in an otherwise tight argument.

I was of course referring exclusively to non-disabled non-GLBTQ males of no colour. Who am I to speak for other communities? That's what Lisa is for.

But, you are right to point out that some readers might make the mistake of interpreting it as referring to the general case.

Mike said...


Yeah right -- I don't buy it. I'm sorry to derail this unrelated thread, but there is no way that anyone committed to compassion and social change could be so... Bush Doctrine... as the supposedly real comments on that post would suggest. You can't take it at face value. That triple-crossing meta-neo-con/John Bircher bastard McNaughton is pulling all the strings, mark my words.

At first I read that thread as a parody of the London Fog's ceaseless intolerance, bigotry, and narrow, black-and-white view of the world.

But then, it occurred to me that maybe they really weren't joking around.

The only other possible conclusion is that the whole thread is supposed to be a "real" intolerance-fest, entirely contrived for marketing and traffic building purposes. In Internet marketing terms this trick is called the "Pets.Com Double Fulcrum". McNaughton ahs realized that Londoners don't want to read about Oaxaca or strikes or how George Walker Bush anagrams to "HUGE WAR REKS GLOBE". They've seen our surveys. They know people read the London Fog, and the orders are to hook and steal our high proportion of readers who come here for the closed-mindedness and stay for the rigid dogma... and thus cementing the tolerance market on Londoncommons and the intolerance market on Indymedia.

As the upstart Pepsi made their drink sweeter than the reigning Coca-Cola, that thread and that whole controversy is part of a very calculated effort to undercut the London Fog and rip off our brand and our readers.

It must not stand!