Government thru the eyes of the self-entitled. Just keep the money flowing, baby!
Last Friday while sitting on an airplane I had the opportunity to read our local newspaper, the Edmonton Journal from “cover to cover”. One of my favorite sections has always been “the letters to the editor” pages because they provide somewhat of an insight as to where the average individuals mindset is at any given time. At times it can be reassuring, occasionally as expected, and sometimes just downright frightening.
Is it an accurate reflection of public sentiments? Not even close, however I like to think of it as a gauge indicating just how much of the big picture the average Joe (not to be confused with “Frustrated Joe”) really has a grasp on. In this instance one particular letter caught my attention more than most, it was a well written piece submitted by a University of Alberta undergraduate student titled Alberta can well afford to give students a break on tuition. Before you read any further I suggest you follow the link and read the article, this will give you a far better understanding of my comments to follow
Now, although I have never met the author her writing appeared (at least to me) to prove three distinct things
- Our education system does work to some degree in providing an individual the skills required to step into the real world, as indicated somewhat by the quality of the authors writing.
- Further education does nothing to improve an individuals basic intelligence, or to quote another famous graduate of higher education, Forrest Gump. “Stupid is as stupid does”
- Self entitlement is further entrenched in our education system than any of us would like to believe.
Now before you judge me as being too harsh, read on my fellow hard working taxpayers (if any post secondary students have gotten this far I suggest you read on as well, maybe it’s not too late for you)
Most conversations about post secondary education and its costs tend to focus on two areas, first the annual tuition costs, and secondly the longer term “burden” of student loan debt.
So lets take them in that order and start with annual tuition costs, or to quote our UofA author “the average student in Alberta currently pays a whopping $5,662“. Now, lets put that in perspective, $5,662 equates to about $109 per week or $21.77 per day (on a five day week). So is $20 or so a day too much for an education? Apparently some feel it is. Again lets get some perspective, $20 will buy you a dozen beer, lunch for two at Subway, a week to 10 days of cell phone usage, or just maybe a movie and a pop, all things that students seem to have no problem finding funds for. Yet $20 a day is too much for a quality education.
Possibly part of the problem is that many don’t realize the actual cost of a post secondary education. The reality is that post secondary education (like all education) is already heavily funded by different levels of government (education is the second biggest line item in the Alberta Provincial budget after Healthcare). The immediate benefactor (the student) only partially covers the actual cost with their tuition, yet in the long term derives the bulk of the monetary benefits. In fact as a taxpayer I have witnessed instances of the taxpayer getting the short end of the stick when it comes to their investment in education. Case in point, the nurse, doctor, or engineer who moves out of country for work before the ink is even dry on their diploma.
Now lets tackle the second issue, the “burden” of student loan debt, again I will use the numbers provided by our undergraduate student. “The average student debt upon graduation in Alberta is $19,182 for undergraduate degrees and $35,655 for graduate degrees,” Interesting, what the author has just described from a monetary point of view is the price of a new mid range vehicle. So, just for fun lets compare the two, a university education and an automobile. A well chosen education can add substantially to your income and provide you with a career over a lifetime, an automobile depreciates almost immediately and has substantial ongoing operating costs over its limited life span. Yet, most of us (possibly even a few recently graduated post secondary students) have no problem at some point in our lives with the purchase of a vehicle or even financing the cost over 84 months! Go figure.
So the bottom line is that a post secondary education has a relatively reasonable up front cost that can be financed over time and generally will pay back dividends for decades (possibly for an entire working career). Unfortunately in today’s society of entitlement many feel that the initial investment should be made entirely by the government, and that the individual should reap the long term rewards. Speaking of self entitlement, lets get back to our undergraduate author whose reasoning for a lowering tuition in Alberta is simple, she feels the province (translation – taxpayer) can afford it. Based on this logic, maybe the province could pay my electricity bills, or possibly put gas in my car, after all they can afford it and both are a “hardship” for me.
At the risk of repeating myself “Stupid is as stupid does”.