Commentary | Stop tuition hikes

Why we need to strike

We are all being deceived.  Our perspectives need drastic transformations.

Hold up, forceful accusations!  Let’s take a step back.

We build a community. In order to effectively ensure long, meaningful lives, we create systems of education.  These systems enable us to provide more services to ourselves and our community that maximize utility. These services include those provided by doctors, historians, engineers, chefs – experts in many fields!

As individuals who care for others and ourselves, we want to give everyone an equal opportunity to reach his or her potential through education, and to provide skills to the community.  We gather the resources needed to build this system – all community members brings a portion of their resources and we create a university!

But wait – a problem: within capitalism, some have more control over resources and some have less.  How will we collect resources evenly if some do not have enough to contribute?

A solution: a government collects resources unevenly – more from those with more control and less from those with less.  We equalize control by providing the services, such as the university, for all!

Well that was easy.  Who needs a complex tuition and bursary system when we have, well, a tuition and bursary system already – we call it taxes and government services.

So why all these problems?  Why tuition, and why financial “crises” that convince us that free education is impractical?  One reason could be that citizens request unrealistic services – there are not ample resources within society.  That’s hard for me to believe: as the wealthy drive Bentleys to million dollar homes, the Quebec government in 2001 and 2007 made tax cuts  favoring fortunate citizens, costing the government $2 billion in revenue.

A second reason seems more feasible: individuals influence government decisions.  Marx argues that the aspect of human nature that cares for the community is alienated into the government.  The individuals with influence, therefore, use the government as a tool for gaining more control over resources rather than using it for its intended communal purpose.

People (and businesses that they run) with strong influence over our government have obvious incentives to increase tuition. Tuition hikes decrease government expenditure, decreasing taxes that are disproportionately extracted from the wealthy, influential individuals, and businesses because of their unequal control over resources.

But I shouldn’t need to convince you that tuition hikes serve private interest or that tuition hikes are irrational in a government that equalizes through taxation and subsequent provision of services.

Our perspectives need drastic transformations – this article should not be necessary.

The burden of proof must be on the government.

We are deceived into thinking that the burden of proof is on fellow citizens; if we are not sufficiently convinced that tuition hikes are wrong and fiscally unnecessary, we must not oppose them.  We have become sheep and our shepherds must not be trusted.

When our government makes a decision that may contradict the goal of equalizing opportunity, we cannot trust subserviently.  We have exposed individuals’ incentives to sway government decisions away from purposes of equality and betterment of overall society. We have reason to be skeptical.  Oppose tuition hikes. Oppose any government decision that seems to decrease equality and social justice, until the government has proven it just or absolutely necessary.

Despite many protests, the government has not changed its opinion. The only way to oppose tuition hikes is through an unlimited strike.

Nadav Slovin is a U2 Philosophy student. He can be reached at nadavslovin@gmail.com


Comments posted on The McGill Daily's website must abide by our comments policy.
A change in our comments policy was enacted on January 23, 2017, closing the comments section of non-editorial posts. Find out more about this change here.