Where is modern civilization heading?

As a society are we heading in the same direction as the ancient Romans? If so the question becomes.......

Are our leaders fiddling while civilization burns?

While we ponder the question I will post my personal thoughts on this blog. Often I will focus on current events that catch my interest, however I am not and do not pretend to be a news organization. I'm simply a guy with his own thoughts on issues that I believe affect our country and society.

Be forewarned, I have been accused of being a right wing thinker and if that is offensive please move on. Remember, this is my blog and my opinions, and unlike many facets of our already over-governed modern society they are not being forced on anyone.

However, please feel free to leave your comments, good, bad or indifferent, after all this is a free society we live in (at least for now).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Enough already, time to stop playing hookey and get back to class

As a Canadian I have been watching with interest (and horror) the ongoing protests by students in the Province of Quebec over a proposed hike in university tuition. The original cause given by student groups for all of this turmoil was a near doubling of tuition fees over the next five years. Now, on its surface that idea may seem unreasonable, however Quebec's average tuition is a little more than a third of the weighted average of tuition in Canada (without including Quebec), so needless to say most students in the other provinces view Quebec with great envy. Tuition in Quebec which currently sits at $2,168 (and has been frozen at that for some time) was scheduled to increase to $3,793 over a period of five years. 

The increase amounted to $325 per year, or an additional $27.00 dollars a month each year, or $0.89 per day. To put that in perspective, $27.00 will buy you a dozen beer, lunch for two, or a night out at a movie by yourself. However it seems that as far as Quebec students are concerned, any increase is too much. So their solution is to take to the streets and attempt to bring an entire province and its economy to a grinding halt.

Now at this point, it is important to remember that the Province of Quebec is carrying a debt load of close to $184 billion and a recent report by the Desjardins groups states Quebec’s gross public debt to GDP ratio is at a whopping 94% placing the province in a similar position to countries such as Greece and Italy. Recently, The Financial Post’s Jonathan Kay coined the term “souvlaki economics” to describe the current situation in Quebec. Unfortunately this is a situation that can not continue in the long run as it is simply unsustainable. In a rare show of agreement both the ruling party and the official opposition came to the mutual conclusion that the ongoing budget deficits and the overall debt must be priorities and brought under control for the sake of future generations.

However, at present they face a major obstacle in the form of protesting students. The protests have been ongoing for about three months now and have literally cost millions of dollars in economic damage to the city of Montreal. Students have already blocked bridges, disrupted shareholder meetings for Power Corp, the National Bank and entered workplaces where mining companies are located, lord only know what these businesses have to do with tuition fees. Add to this the additional police costs incurred . Montreal police have temporarily brought on 150 officers due to the protests with the police union stating that overtime costs were expected to be between $2 million and $3 million. The Quebec provincial police overtime bill was estimated at $1.5 million.

So where does it all end?

Well the provincial government has capitulated on a number of fronts, first they offered to spread the increase over 7 years rather than the 5 first proposed, the students responded with a statement calling the offer an "insult". Secondly after futile negotiations the Minister of Education resigned giving reason that she felt that negotiations were at an impasse and that she had become ineffectual in dealing with the students. Things have gotten so bad at this point that the Quebec government has passed emergency legislation to turn the tide, however it has had little effect other than to further anger the protesters. The emergency legislation passed on Friday restricted protests, and included a requirement that police be informed eight hours before and told the route of any demonstration that includes 50 or more people. So much for obedience of the law as over weekend police were forced to arrest over 125 protesters as things were getting out of control and violence escalating to the point of protesters throwing molotov cocktails. Ahhh, just imagine, some of these individuals could be future leaders in our country (I bet that thought will keep you awake at night). If those on strike are among the best and brightest minds that Quebec has to offer, then we can only imagine that unemployment will continue to be high in Quebec and that their economy will continue to limp along and require regular injections of cash from the Federal government.

Now while the students are adamant that there is no need to raise tuition, and they suggest that there are other sources of funding such as taxing the higher income earners (apparently this is viewed as an endless source of funds by some) the problem is much deeper than simply finding additional revenue. The underlying cause behind this is once again an overwhelming sense of self-entitlement in many members of our society. What we are witnessing here are the actions of a group of individual "adults" who up to this point have contributed very little if anything on a financial basis to our society, yet have been on the receiving end of many benefits.
Yes we must provide "children" with an education, however these are not children in a physical, legal, or moral sense. Yet by the same token, from a behavioral and societal viewpoint they are behaving like spoiled children throwing a tantrum at the supermarket because mommy won't buy them a chocolate bar. Post secondary education is an investment in ones future, providing the foundation for an individual to earn a living throughout their life. It strikes me that this "strike" is somewhat self defeating to put ones education on hold over an $0.89 per day increase, after all everyday they delay graduation is one more day before they are in the workforce drawing a paycheck and actually contributing to society. Yes, many incur a debt before they are finished their education, one they will be responsible to pay back.

News Flash! Welcome to the real world! Once you leave the comfort of mommies skirt you will find that you have to take on debt for many things you desire (i.e. house, car, vacations,etc) and some of these will not reap you future dividends like a good education will.

Naturally all of this is starting to attract attentions from the usual bottom feeders, with
filmmaker and Hollywood hypocrite Michael Moore stating his support for the students, featuring links about the issue on his website. Who knows, maybe he will make a "documentary" where he stretches and twists the truth(as he has done so well in the past) and these radical students are portrayed as freedom fighters, striking to improve the education conditions of future generations. Naturally there will be no mention of the public debt or the vandalism and other criminal act perpetrated by the students, after all these "minor details" simply detract from a good film script.

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