The (summarized and paraphrased) Case for, from Andrew Rousseau, writing in the Huffington Post:
-the issue isn't just raising tuition fees, it's whether or not the only solution to economic challenges is to cut public services and raise user fees, such as tuition.
-viable alternatives to raising tuition have been kept out of the conversation:
Alternative 1: Tax the Super rich.
-in Quebec's current tax scheme someone earning $85 000 a year pays the same rate as someone who earns $850 000 a year.
-people who earn $40 000 a year pay a lower percentage - why not apply the same progressive bracketing to the other end of the spectrum?
-in Ontario, the 2% surtax on income greater than $500 000 is expected to generate $500 000 000 annually for public coffers. A similar measure in Quebec could pay off the province's structural university deficit, estimated at $500 000 000.
Alternative 2: Raise Corporate Taxes
-In 2011, Quebec eliminated the corporate tax on paid-up capital, denying itself hundreds of millions in annual revenue.
-Quebec's general corporate tax rate is one of the lowest in North America - lower than those of California, Florida and Texas.
-US subsidiaries in Quebec have to remit the difference in corporate tax to the IRS anyway. Why not keep that money in Quebec?
-Corporations benefit from a skilled, educated workforce. It's in their interest to fund public education.
Alternative 3: Mining royalties
-Quebec has vast mineral and natural resources, but ranks near the bottom in terms of collecting mining royalties: only $114 million was paid in taxes from an annual revenue of $5.6 billion.
-Premier Jean Charest was touring the province selling off Quebec's northern riches only a few months before the student protests started.
-the automatic, one-sided, pro-rich, pro-corporate logic is what the protests are really about.
-the students aren't refusing to "pay their fair share" and let the province sink into debt.
-a progressive tax system would have the students pay for their education as members of the workforce.
-In many European countries, university education costs nothing, or close to nothing.
-we should be thankful for the students and other protestors for bringing this subject into the conversation.
The Case Against, by Andrew Coyne, writing in the National Post:
-the protests are not about the issues anymore, they're about the thrill of defying the law in the name of a higher purpose
-read: the students are intoxicated by a sense of self-importance
-the striking students can't claim to be the victims of injustice.
-Raised fees would bring tuition up to the equivalent level they were at forty-four years ago. What's the big deal?
-this isn't about poverty - these changes wouldn't affect any student with a family income less than $100 000 a year.
-the conflation of the Charest government's Bill 78 with the War Measures Act is a gross exaggeration. It imposes two obligations:
-don't prevent dissenting students from attending classes
-if you're going to block streets with a protest, let the police know (you don't need to get their permission, just tell them when and where you're going to do it)
-the strikers' original aim, and those of their union backers, to roll back tuition, has been superseded by the goal to cripple the Charest government and prevent it from "trimming the size and scope of government in the continent's most heavily taxed, heavily indebted jurisdiction."
-if they succeed, these are the precedents they'll set:
-a democratically elected government can be prevented by force and intimidation from enacting laws in the public interest
-the law can be defied or broken, openly and at length, without consequence
-the beneficiaries of public spending are entitled to veto legislation that would reduce it.
The case for, the case against.
Which argument seems stronger to you?
Are there any valid points in the side you agree with less?
What's been left out of this brief summary?
What's your take on the subject?
Update I: Chris
Good friend of Beams, Ian MacKenzie, passed along this video, titled Generation Wise, on his FB profile. It's a short film interviewing a number of those participating in the Quebec protests (with English subtitles). A number of folks respond to the kinds of criticisms mentioned above. It also provides a great window into the feel on the street, including the casserole protests that Trevor took part in and discussed last week. Check it out.