Good morning pups. On the student protests in Quebec, where I live. They are absolutely remarkable, and have taken the government and everyone else, including me, by surprise. To begin with, their public relations have been outstanding. They invented a small insignia — a little square red patch the carré rouge to identify themselves and the movement. In recent weeks, many adults, including myself have taken to wearing them. OWS could learn from this little trick. The second is mass demonstrations. They had between 100,000 and 200,000 students on the street last month. This is the largest demonstration in Quebec history (the local MSM virtually ignored this latter fact). Although there have been some windows broken by a handful of anarchists, the student’s discipline has been exceptional, and they have worked to stop the violence.
I was initially neutral in this dispute, which raises its head every couple of years when the government tries to raise fees, which have been effectively frozen since 1970, and are now the lowest in North America. The obvious case for raising them is to keep up with inflation. But about a month ago I was asked to participate in a public debate on the issue as a defender of the pro-student side. I did what you have to do in such circumstances: I went through all the arguments advanced by the government and those who support the increase and discovered that they were all wanting — that is to say, they could not be logically defended, either because they were utter economic nonsense, or because they reduced to a simple claim that income should be redistributed from the relatively poor to the relatively rich. For those who assert that better-off families are getting a free ride I suggested a simple method to handle that (doubtful) claim: keep the actual tuition that students pay at its actual level, set a notional ‘true’ tuition, and make the difference a taxable benefit and fold the whole thing into the income tax. It’s not that much different from what Universities do when they charge a high tuition, and then grant ‘scholarships’ to students based on income.
When you look through the case for throwing the burden on the current generation of students, it simply doesn’t hold up. The same point holds in spades for the American case.