05.29.2012 12:00 AM

In today’s Sun: long hot Summer ahead

The youth of Quebec doth protest too much, some say.

The protests have been going on in the streets of la belle province for more than 100 days. Thinkers and pundits have attempted to glean their significance, if any. Media from around the world have covered the demonstrations, which started out being about tuition and have now somehow morphed into something else.

Most of the older, conservative commentators don’t like what’s going on. It makes them grumpy. Columnist Andrew Coyne offered that the Quebecois students were interested in no less than “crippling democracy.” Said he: “(It’s) a crisis of democratic government, the most serious in a generation.” Over at the Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson dismissed all of the students’ concerns as “completely bogus.”

53 Comments

  1. Dan says:

    Hence the NDP’s appeal to me.

    And even then, I’m not sure that any party is able to go against the international drumbeat of austerity that’s making a crisis into a catastrophe.

  2. Pat says:

    The students actual claims, based on the conditions that students in the RoC have to deal with, are bogus. Being in Quebec should give you no right to considerably cheaper tuition. Cheap tuition has nothing to do with a distinct culture, and studies have show that it hasn’t even resulted in increased enrollment.

    But! It has become a messenger for the frustration of a generation. Quebec had cheap education all through the years the boomers were going to school, and now that the boomers aren’t in school, they want to make this generation pick up the tab. This isn’t a totally isolated case, either. We’re seeing many policies come in now, and many policies that were created in the last 15 years or so, that seem determined to screw Gen Y.

    Some would just say this is the voice of entitlement. Many accuse Gen Y of being the entitled generation. So I guess it’s called entitlement when you want an opportunity to succeed.

    You know who wasn’t entitled? Those hard working Baby Boomers who stepped right out of best-funded school system in Canadian history into well-paying jobs during the greatest period of economic growth in Canadian history. Then they just kept being not entitled by plunging themselves deeper and deeper into debt in order to live a lifestyle that they couldn’t afford. I doubt they thought they were entitled to their 2500 sq/foot houses, $60,000 SUVs and 50″ TVs, but through hard work and a child’s understanding of debt, they’ve earned the title of “Least Entitled Generation Ever!”

    • smelter rat says:

      Generalize much?

      • Pat says:

        About boomers? Are they generalizing about Gen Y? I wasn’t calling them an entitled generation until they started calling mine one.

        And yes, you can generalize when talking about when people came into the workforce, the cost and quality of education, and the massive personal debt. The only thing you could question is the debt part, but the evidence shows that is is a pretty accurate generalization. Sure, not everyone bought a house, or an SUV, but a hell of a lot have, and few have lived within their means.

        • Conservative Socialist says:

          I agree that the boomers were handed the world on a silver platter. You might like this caption:

          http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3pbwfr/

          The post-WW2 years that provided well-paying industrial and manufacturing jobs are no more. Wishing them back or voting for somebody promising to bring back the good old days won’t make it magically happen.

          With the internet, it’s impossible to even erect barriers against globalization. Perhaps technology might find a solution for the problem. To have an economically viable career one must provide something that is needed.

          Remember when a law degree was a guaranteed ticket to success? Well, a lot of people became lawyers and now they are peddling “Will lawyer you up for food!” signs. This is an interesting blog:

          http://unemployedlawyer.wordpress.com/

          With an aging population, medicine is one field of study that will pay huge dividends for years to come.

          • smelter rat says:

            Bullshit. I’m a boomer, and was handed nothing. I worked for what I achieved.

          • Pat says:

            That sounds like boomer talk smelter. I should ask though, are you a late boomer? That might explain it. Late boomers had less economic opportunity than early ones, but they still had better-funded education and currently have stupid levels of debt.

            Feel free to try to argue that your education was worse than mine – when Harris ripped the guts out of public education in Ontario.

            My parents, who are late boomers, walked into a factory every summer and were handed jobs. MANY boomers can say that. That doesn’t happen anymore.

            I agree, Con Soc, that manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back. I still think there are opportunities for the entrepreneurial, but there are far fewer opportunities for those who aren’t entrepreneurial.

          • smelter rat says:

            Since you ask, Pat, I worked for a mining company each summer I was at university. Every dime went towards tuition, rent and food, but I came out of school pretty much debt free, unlike students today who often work several part time jobs year round just to survive. So, absolutely times have changed, and I’m glad I’m at the end of my career and not starting out. There are still lots of jobs out there for students, just not well paying ones. The unending drive to increase the bottom line has created a situation where industries that once paid well as an investment in future workers now feel free to offer unpaid internships instead.

  3. JamesHalifax says:

    Many of these students would have no problem getting jobs after graduation…..if they picked a MAJOR that was actually valued by potential employers.

    Anyone other than a University in a real pickle because they just can’t find that “women’s studies” major they desperately need to come up withy a business plan?

    Any employer’s out there not able to meet their profit quotient because they are desperately looking for a “sexology” major?

    I mean…c’mon. If you want a job…..learn something that is actually useful.

    • smelter rat says:

      Typical conservative mind set. Heaven forbid young people should learn how to think critically for themselves. That would be counter-productive to the worker bee mentality that you cherish.

      • JamesHalifax says:

        So…..tell me smelter rat.

        What kind of employment would a “sexology” degree get you…..other than the obvious.

        Face it…..people make their own choices, and they should live with those choices. It’s not up to the rest of us to subsidize students who pick a useless degree simply to avoid any education that actually requires thinking or study.

        You don’t need to go to University to learn to think critically, you just need to ask the right questions and weight the potential responses. In fact, I daresay that the current situation shows clearly that University students in Quebec have never been exposed to the concept. Their apparent idea of critical thinking seemingly conists of, “I want something…therefore YOU will give it to me”

        Not sure if this is the result of their University profs….or the fact they are Quebecers.

        As for worker bee mentality…..you mention the singular point of the argument, but fail to recognize it. The key term is “worker”……..and apparently, that is too much for those who are protesting. It’s more fun to break windows or bang on pots and pans.

        Sounds like fun for bored students without a real education…but admittedly, the pay isn’t as good.

        What these students fail to grasp is the concept of human rights. It’s not a RIGHT to have a post secondary education. Every time someone is given a new Human Right….it means someone else has to provide it to them. It becomes the public’s OBLIGATION to provide satisfaction whenever a new human right is invented.

        • Robert Jago says:

          A hypothetical degree in ‘sexology’ would be used in counselling for seniors and for people with developmental disabilities. Is that the ‘obvious’ you were referring to?

          I’ve been to a half dozen of these protests and I’ve seen two broken windows. That’s two in three months – and I didn’t see them break so I don’t even know if it was from a protestor. That is the full extent of the violence I’ve seen in Montreal. As for who these people are, I live in Outremont, this is not a poor area. And the people going into the streets here cover the age spectrum. The protests from the Plateau look similar, as do those from the West Island. The people coming out of their shops and banging pots and pans are workers too, as likely are the people coming out of synagogues, standing on their cargo trucks, and waving from restaurant patios. There’s a reason these protests start at 8pm, it’s so you have time to get home from work, eat dinner, and put your kids to bed.

          Talking of human rights, or more specifically civil rights – one of those is the right to assemble. If you have to beg the police, and if they can say no for whatever reason they want, then it’s not a right. If they can ban your assembly at any time and order you to scatter or face thousand dollar fines, it’s not a right. And if they can seal off part of the city and arrest everyone sanding on the sidewalk adjacent to a demonstration, then it’s not a right. But of course it is in fact a right, which is the point of the protests.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            Robert, what did horny seniors or disabled people do before they had a sexoligist for counselling? I’m pretty sure they figured it out well enough on their own. Now, please find me an employer looking to hire someone with that “specialty”. Check the want ads…I’d like to see it. Compare the number of employers looking for that specialty (if they exist, it will no doubt be a Government service) and compare it to the number of “sexologist” degree holders.

            As for the broken windows and fires…..I saw them on TV, and it was the protestors doing the smashing, and the lobbing of the molotov cocktails.

            As for the protests starting at 8pm….I don’t share your belief that it is strictly so one can work and look after the kiddies. I think it is more likely that it is harder to identify someone who breaks windows or becomes violent when night falls.

            As for the “law” passed in Quebec……I agree. That was a balls-up by a weak provincial Government that has run out of ideas. He needs to call an election. If people are with the protestors, they will vote accordingly, and vice versa.

            If the protestors elect someone who agrees with them……Quebec will again raise taxes, or demand more equalization.

          • Robert Jago says:

            James – 90% of developmentally disabled people are sexually abused. It’s not a debating point, it’s a serious problem. People in obscure disciplines – and we are talking about tiny numbers here – do valuable, and thankless work, in this case teaching others how to react appropriately so they don’t fall victim to predators.

            I have a corporation that manages work experience programs for universities. I’ve yet to find a ‘useless’ degree (private career colleges excepted – they’re pretty much useless across the board). That isn’t because there aren’t some useless majors, it’s because they aren’t typically offered at Canadian universities.

            As for seeing the ‘riots’ on TV, we’re talking about hundreds of different protests. How many were violent? 2? And how many violent people were in those protest? 20? 30? And both early on before Loi 78 changed everything. I’ve been caught in real riots, if you put every single act of violence and vandalism in these protests together into once place at one time, all the damage would be less than what you saw over half a block of the Vancouver riot. You understand how TV works, right? It’s sensationalist and distorting. I’ve been in so called riots, which actually may have involved Kinsella when he was working to help the BC Liberals raise tuition fees, that on TV looked all dramatic, but in reality was me talking to an old woman and waving a sign in front of a car.

            This is what the protests are like from start to finish (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQWtSGjekSs) – look at the crowds, they are not scary anarchists. They’re kids and old people and the middle class. What you see on TV is incorrect and a lie.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            Robert, if 90% of ANY portion of the population was being abuses…….I think it would have made the news before now. I question your statistics, though I’m sure they do serve your purpose. After all, if you inflate the problem and run a corporation to address that problem….that can be quite lucrative. Not say YOU do that….I’m just saying.

            As for the violent riots in Montreal…are you saying the images of molotov cocktails being thrown are my imagination? Hmm…better call the CBC and ask them about it. I have seen them breaking windows, fighting with the police..etc..etc….

            I never said it was the WORST riot or most violent protest I have seen, but there are definite issues with a violent group who have insinuated themselves into the crowds. And the protests aren’t over yet, so maybe you should hold off on your pronouncements for now.

            As for the useless degrees….there are many of them regardless of what you write. If you don’t think a Women’s studies degree is worthless…congrats. You hire her. But if after you hire her she doesn’t perform to a very high standard…you DARE NOT fire her. You’ll be hauled before the HRC before you even blink. Sexist, misogynist……etc..etc…

          • Robert Jago says:

            Standard estimates put the sexual abuse of developmentally delayed people at 90%. Here’s a link with a more conservative estimate, only (?!) 65%-85% http://goo.gl/JMB4X . There are lots of horrific problems that don’t make the news because people don’t care. And this isn’t what my company does, I just happen to know someone who did a PhD in that field in order to stop that abuse.

            To the point – there was 1 incident in 100+ days of protests of someone throwing a molotov. A few incidents of window breaking, all before huge numbers of the middle class joined the protests 2 weeks ago. You could hardly call these ‘riots’. Has there been a single instance of looting? Has there been any actual organized violence during a manifestation? No. In this whole 100 days, there’s been one thing that could arguably pass as a riot, outside of Montreal at a PLQ gathering. Here in the city, where all the people are, there’s nothing but peaceful marchers with the occasional idiot every couple weeks that the English-Canadian press fixates on and features in their reports.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            Robert, pehaps you missed the part about the pushing and shoving matches of kids who actually wanted to study….who were not able to because of the thugs blocking the doorways. Or perhaps you didn’t know of the protesting students who rampaged through a University and smashed things, spray painted walls, and threatened other students who DID want to learn something.

            As I wrote earlier, as far as violent protests go…this one isn’t up there as high as a Hockey riot in Vancouver, or the G20 in Toronto…..but there is still violence, intimidation, and criminal behaviour.

            Do we now only try and prevent crimes if they aren’t “too violent” or “Too criminal” in nature?

            Just because the protestors are largely composed of spoiled Quebecer’s doesn’t mean we have to use kid gloves. Charest was a weakling, and I”m sure he’ll eventually cave to their demands.

            What he should have done however, was this:

            1. Students who commit violent or destructive acts and are caught will pay for the damages.
            2. They will be expelled from school.
            3. They will be barred from EVER working for any level of Government in the Public Service.
            4. Immediately raise tuition the full amount, forget spreading it over 5 years.

            Given that many of these students expect to work for the public service may cause them to reconsider.

            Too harsh? Too bad….they should have thought of that before they started lobbing bricks at the cops.

        • smelter rat says:

          I know as much about that degree as you do James, but unlike you I won’t comment on its usefulness until I learn more about it.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            smelter rat, clearly you know NOTHING about that degree. In a nutshell, you can describe it like this:

            “The Women’s studies program has strengths in areas such as women’s and gender history; gender, literature, and literary theory; gender, colonialism, and postcolonialism; gender and globalization; feminism, justice, and ethics; gender and health; and gender and international studies.”

            Now, please tell me what a graduate of this degree is actually capable of doing other than complaining about men? As I wrote earlier, it is a Degree in perceived victimhood. I have yet to meet a woman with this degree who actaully has a job in her field, other than being a University professor who teaches…you guessed it….Women’s studies.

            Not to beat up on women’s studies….but that seems to be the fall back degree for girls who don’t like math, science, physics, or basically any area of study that seems “hard”

          • smelter rat says:

            I rest my case.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            Resting on your case (weak as it may be) is your only option.

            You certainly can’t rest on your laurels.

    • Pat says:

      What, after being told by their parents and guidance counselors that ANY university education would basically guarantee employment? The fact of the matter is, when my dad got a History degree 30 years ago, he was able to get a job, when I got a history degree, I couldn’t. But, I was told all along that I could, until about two years into my degree.

      What the idiots that make stupid comments like yours are missing is that a “women’s studies” degree actually gives the student a whole host of incredibly useful skills. I guarantee a graduate of one of those programs can write very well, manage a project, conduct research, create and deliver presentations, etc. These skills are valued by many positions in many industries. The problem is that employers – people like you – would prefer a technical diploma/degree that omits teaching students any critical skills. It pisses me off endlessly when I’m passed over for a communications role for a college corp. comms diploma holder because they can write a news release. I’ve now learned how to write a release, it took me about 1/2 hour to lear, and I’ve got more critical skills and intangibles than that college student (generally) ever will, but I still can’t get a job.

      People have to stop degrading a university education – it bears important skills – but employers are too lazy or ignorant to understand that you can’t earn a “women’s studies” degree without developing some serious and useful skills.

      • JamesHalifax says:

        Pat, the whinging tone of your comment may have more to do with your inability to get a job than your History Degree. I actually took some History courses because I think History is very important….I just realized that having that degree would be limiting when it came to the higher paying job market. I made a choice to study economics, finance, and accounting. You made a choice to study history. Unlike you, I too studied history, but because I enjoyed the topic. I still study it on my own time. I just dont’ have much use for it at work.

        As for the Women’s studies degree and the incredible skills…..well, I guess that would depend on the student as an individual. Most students eventually become fairly proficient writers as it is required for most courses. But please, tell me what a person working at a profit-dependent business would want with a “women’s studies” degree? In most cases, companies are in the business of making money. That’s how they survive. A person with a women’s study degree does not have the expertise to run a business, nor the knowledge to perform well in the financial world. Frankly, whenever I see someone espouse the benefits of “women’s studies”….I simply replace it with the term, “Degree in Victimhood”….sorry. Not going to hire her.

        Not hiring a person with a degree is not a sign that the employer is lazy or ignorant. On the contrary, it shows that the employer has some basic common sense. You don’t place an ad for new employees with an understanding of a specific skill set…and then give interviews to those who do not meet your requirements.

        The same applies to students. If you want a job that pays well….pick the appropriate degree. You have no right to complain about not being hired….if you don’t work to get the skills people are looking for. University was not a place to simply drink, protest, or Hook-Up…..but that’s what it seems to have become for many. If they insist on getting a useless degree no one is looking for………..I’ll have a double latte please. If you can manage to make the right change, I’ll leave you 50 cents for your efforts. Use it to pay off your student loan.

        • Pat says:

          I guarantee that your economics, finance and accounting courses didn’t give you the expertise to run a business.

          AND

          You are just illustrating my argument. No understanding of the skills developed. You only care about the program.

        • JamesHalifax says:

          Glad to know you can guarantee something without knowing anything about it. You must have a crystal ball.

          I’m actually quite familiar with how to run a business, but thanks for your input.

          Now on to your other point.

          Skills developed. Pat, the basics are what you learn in University, but it is the experience that provides the actual know-how. That’s how it has always been. You receive the basics and the background, and you run with it from there. You have a degree in History. Great….tell me how that will help your future employer? If you want to work with a museum, or in education, etc…..you should have no problem I cast no dispersions on a History Degree, because it deals with facts. We learn from history. My issue was with your post complaining that you can’t find a job in a field that IS NOT about history, and you blame potential employers. Please explain to me how it is a potential employer’s fault that you don’t have the skills they are looking for? If someone is looking for a sales manager, or financial auditor, they are not going to put out a classified ad that reads,

          “Full time position as financial auditor for large multi-national accounting firm required immediately. Candidate must have extensive knowledge of financial statements of all varieties. Candidates must be willing to travel abroad and brief cross-cultural CEO’s on all financial matters. Candidate must have at least 10 years experience in the financial and Bond markets. Only those candidates with a degree in History will be interviewed”

          See….sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

      • Conservative Socialist says:

        In the old days of the post-WW2 years, those who lacked education could find a good paying job at a local manufacturing plant. The field was open for college and Univ. graduates after their post-secondary years because there was very high demand for them.

        I have a great uncle who obtained a two year technical school diploma sixty years ago and was able to find a very high-paying career in highway engineering. That same job today would have much competition from job applicants, so you basically need a Bachelor’s degree or better to land the same job, more or less.

        I don’t know what the solution is. The job market looked pretty bleak to me in the 1990s after I graduated from college. It looks like a nightmarish dystopia now for recent grads.

        • JamesHalifax says:

          A good point was made here. I don’t think the “TRADES” are given enough credit for the work they do. The last time I looked, everyone needs a house. That means someone has to build it……plumbers, electicians, stone masons, etc.

          All very essential skills, and they usually pay pretty well also.

          Too bad so many have been convinced that a Degree is the only way to reach your potential.

          • Conservative Socialist says:

            I’ve heard of anecdotes where plumbers can make close to six figures a year. But even if true, that just signals a labor shortage and more people will just become plumbers and wages still drop to a lower level.

            The dotcom years provided ridiculously high-paying jobs for anyone with rudimentary HTML skills. It wasn’t just a bubble, but a stupid bubble. The smug website designers who thought the good times would never end ate a lot of crow. I at least have a strong foundation in a Computer Science education. But perhaps higher education is experiencing it’s own bubble.

            Many are wondering what the point is in getting saddled with $100,000 of student loan debt only to have no job prospects afterwards.

            I’m looking at videos coming from Stanford and MIT on my iPad. I forgot how much fun it was listening to Comp. Sci lectures back in the day. We could lower the cost of post-secondary education by encouraging more courses online by this method.

            Of course, it might diminish the value of education if everyone has an online degree, but the macro effect to society as a whole would be beneficial.

          • smelter rat says:

            Good grief, james…did you just pop in from the ’70’s? You’re recycling all the arguments I heard then. No one is denigrating the trades here…no one has said a university degree is nirvana. Perhaps you’re just a troll?

          • Pat says:

            @Smelter – Exactly. I used to work for a Workforce Development organization, and the drum they have been beating for a decade is “DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE TRADES! UNIVERISTY IS GREAT AND ALL, BUT WE NEED SKILLED TRADES PEOPLE!”

        • JamesHalifax says:

          Trust me, after completing full renovations on 5 Victorian houses…..plumbers can easily make over $100K per year. They are still in demand, which is why the labour is so expensive, however, some people look down on the trades which is why there are not more plumbers.

          As for the $100,000 student loan….I suspect that much of the money for those folks was spent pub crawling or buying the latest gadgets along with rent and food. Given tuition in Canada, it would take quite a long time to rack up that amount if tuition was the only cost.

          $100K will only get you two years in Harvard. Kind of puts the whole “Quebec protest” in a different light doesn’t it.

    • Nic Coivert says:

      Right, maybe they could study that voodoo science Economics, then they’d know how to manipulate steal and lie. No sense anybody studying art, literature and ideas either I guess. I mean who is going to higher someone who can think and has some historical consciousness. In Harper’s Canada those are not assets. I totally see your point JamesHalifax. Everyone should study business, maybe some bright students could come up with some magic formulas to make money off of derivative loans.

      • Nic Coivert says:

        umm, hire

      • JamesHalifax says:

        Actually Nic, there is a lot of voodoo economics out there. Usually found in the NDP playbook, but I digress.

        The arts degrees are not all useless, as long as someone requires the skill set involved. Museums, schools, entertainment all require those skill sets, and they actually hire a lot of folks and they make good money. Not all folks want to play with numbers all day, but not all businesses are about numbers most of the time. Even artists and the arts need to know basic book keeping, accounting, etc.

        My comment was directed to those who pick a degree and them complain that no one wants to hire them. I’m actually a pretty accomplished artist, but that is something I started when I was young. It has nothing to do with my education, and I don’t do it to get paid. I do it because i want to do it.

        As for derivatives……I’ve mentioned them before. Fools game….don’t mess with them. Oh…and they’re not really loans, they’re a little different than that. More like a lottery……..(with other peoples’ money for the most part….stay away)

    • SW says:

      “Many of these students would have no problem getting jobs after graduation…..if they picked a MAJOR that was actually valued by potential employers.”

      It’s not just the sexologists though. With a PhD in Genetics, I can honestly say that the job market is extremely tight. Is genetics useless too now? I hope not, because it represents the foundation of medicine for the next century…

      Private sector funding is down, industrial research is at quite a low ebb right now. Many companies are having difficulty in translating basic discovery to blockbuster drugs so they’re getting out of the business of discovery.

      Meanwhile public sector funding is flat or falling for operations (NSERC/CIHR), but expanding for salaries (new doctoral/post-doctoral funding) and equipment (CFI). This means that in academia (universities) the number of trainees and job seekers is climbing faster than ever, but there is no great expansion of academic positions for these scientists to fill in after completing their training. No academic positions, few industrial positions, so people completing degrees in the biomedical sciences have 3 options: leave the country, find a position well outside our fields or go unemployed.

      We have roughly 1/2 the GDP/capita spent on basic research as the USA, I think we could stand a little more. Resource extraction shouldn’t be the be all and end all of our economy. What do you think?

      • Nic Coivert says:

        Dutch disease. Thomas Friedman outlines it well in “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.”

        Or, as Canadian poet bill bissett wrote -“its happening, we blew it.”

      • JamesHalifax says:

        SW….geneticists are a tribe of their own. With the exception of David Suzuki, most are quite valuable in my opinion. They will find the cures for disease, produce better, more hardy crops…etc…etc…..endless potential.

        I think the job market for geneticists is probably difficult BECAUSE of the complexity of your profession. Most businesses do not deal in that field. I would suggest looking at large drug companies ( I know..I know…they’re all evil) or other health related fields.

        I think the difficulty finding jobs for the very qualified in specific fields has more to do with the economic recession than the lack of need.

        As for resource extraction………it is the revenue the Federal Government receives that will fund a lot of the work in your field. The two fields are not related technically, but doing well in the resource sector may potentially help in the research field. That is one of my main arguments in previous posts. Stop looking at where the current revenue is coming from…and start considering what benefits we may derive from them. If the country can balance the books and take care of the debt and deficits, just imagine the funds we’ll have freed up to do other important work…like genetic research.

        If we can stop paying the Billions on interest of the debt….it’s money we can use for other important things.

        • SW says:

          I was talking about large drug companies when I said private sector funding is down. Very few companies want anything to do with research these days, and those that do have gone elsewhere to do so.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            Well, it’s unfortunate the job market for geneticists isn’t what it should be, but with your qualifications I’m sure something will happen eventually. Hopefully, you can benefit from the increased research funding for Universities if you can find an opening.

            Also, if the drug companies have moved elsewhere, you may consider following them if it isn’t too disruptive to your family.

        • SW says:

          I feel like you’re not reading my posts carefully. University funding IS public funding.

          There is no increased research funding for universities. The budget is either flat or falling.

          “Increased funding” from the Tories has meant increased earmarks or, put another way, a greater fraction of the pie being federally mandated to go towards specific narrow targets. But the pie itself has stayed the same. Same sized pie with more federally sponsored trainees (i.e., more forks and mouths to eat the pie). Effectively this is a CUT to all basic research and an increase to certain people in targeted research who were already well funded. Better jobs for fewer people and worse/no jobs for everyone else, this is not effective policy.

        • SW says:

          I feel like you’re not reading my posts carefully. University funding IS public funding.

          There is no increased research funding for universities. The budget is either flat or falling.

          “Increased funding” from the Tories has meant increased earmarks or, put another way, a greater fraction of the pie being federally mandated to go towards specific narrow targets. But the pie itself has stayed the same. Same sized pie with more federally sponsored trainees (i.e., more forks and mouths to eat the pie). Effectively this is a CUT to all basic research and an increase to certain people in targeted research who were already well funded. Better jobs for fewer people and worse/no jobs for everyone else, this is not effective policy.

          Drug companies moved to the US, so now after Canada has sponsored my education and training for close to a decade, it’s a good thing for the country for me to leave? :-/

        • JamesHalifax says:

          SW, I am reading your posts, I just don’t have a solution to offer. I know very little about your field other than the basics. I know Government funding for Universities makes up a large portion of the research funding, however, that can’t increase too dramatically until the Country gets a better handle on the books. That’s going to take a while, but resource revenue should help substantially.
          I know the Conservatives wanted to focus their research funding on areas of study where they believe the best return would be, but perhaps they need to be made more aware of the benefits of your research. I can’t do that…..it’s not a field I have much experience with, but I do recognize the potential. Now the job is to make the Government recognize it as well.

      • Conservative Socialist says:

        “No academic positions, few industrial positions, so people completing degrees in the biomedical sciences have 3 options: leave the country, find a position well outside our fields or go unemployed.

        We have roughly 1/2 the GDP/capita spent on basic research as the USA, I think we could stand a little more. Resource extraction shouldn’t be the be all and end all of our economy. What do you think?”

        Well, the United States has a trillion dollar yearly deficit. Could Canada sustain 100 billion dollars in deficit spending? What advances have medical sciences provided in recent years? Stuff I’m prescribed for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis seem to be just derivatives of drugs that were already invented fifty years ago. They change a molecule here and there, and find a new way to charge more money than for drugs whose patents expired years ago.

        Sorry for sounding cynical, but there seems to be diminishing returns for finding new cures ever since the polio vaccine came out (and the guy who invented it, gave it away for free). Just look at all the furor over MS Liberation Therapy. The Big Pharma industrial complex spread a bunch of FUD and pooh-poohed it.

        As Chris Rock says: “They will never find a cure for AIDS, there’s no profit in it!”. Better to have an indentured cash cow taking anti-retrovirals to provide a lifetime of steady revenue.

        I understand that a lot of money goes into getting an education in biomedical research, and it’s only fair that those who invested in such an education should get some returns.

        As you pointed out, job markets are tight because there aren’t enough jobs for the number of graduates that Universities produce.

        • JamesHalifax says:

          The “guy” you refer to was Jonas Salk, followed by the creation of the oral vaccine by Albert Sabin. Salk was the freebie guy…..Sabin licensed it in 1962.

          The diminishing returns is true to a degree, however, if you were someone afflicted with a non-curable disease, any progress would be promising. There are still a lot of discoveries yet to be made, and SOMEONE has to make them. Geneticists will be prominent in the discoveries, I’m sure.

          Aids is a terrible disease but is transmitted through behaviour…we have a degree of control over that. I’m more worried about diseases such as Parkinsons, alzheimers..etc…etc….

          Don’t give up yet….there are other Jonas Salks’ out there…and they don’t all work for big pharma.

        • SW says:

          It’s not so much diminishing returns as all the low hanging fruit have been picked. Does progress stop just because it gets harder? Are we content to have a fatalist attitude towards cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders?

          Biomedical sciences are transitioning from a stamp collecting profession into a quantitative science, now would be a foolish time to pull money.

          • Conservative Socialist says:

            “It’s not so much diminishing returns as all the low hanging fruit have been picked.”

            Well, that’s it. The diminishing returns are the result of the easy stuff to cure has been done long ago. Eating limes for survy being an obvious one.

            But at some point, if it would cripple entire economies to cure some of the more rare and exotic diseases, then it’s not really economically viable to do so.

            I saw the movie “Desperate Measures” where a father frantically searches for a cure before his children die. A treatment is eventually found by millions of dollars being spent by a large pharmeceutical company and patients will spend tens of thousands of dollars a year being treated with the drug that was discovered. There’s a telling scene where the father (who also happens to work for the company) makes a business case for the new drug by saying that a patient’s lifetime use of the drug would pay off handsomely.

            Is that really a cure–to be tethered to prescription drugs for the rest of one’s life that costs an ungodly amount of money?

            Suffering with at times debilitating psoriatic arthritis, I’m constantly on the look out for any exotic vitamins that might just get rid of the cause that’s ailing me. My weekly methotrexate injections often cause me nausea to the point of wanting to vomit.

            I understand that drug testing is expensive, and that running a whole host of trials with lab technicians doesn’t come cheap.

            Perhaps if I live long enough to 2045, I might just see the day that Ray Kurzweil’s proverbial cure for old age (hence cure for everything) is finally discovered.

        • SW says:

          >But at some point, if it would cripple entire economies to cure some of the more rare and exotic diseases, then it’s not really economically viable to do so.

          So Cancer and Diabetes = Rare and exotic now?

          >Suffering with at times debilitating psoriatic arthritis, I’m constantly on the look out for any exotic vitamins that might just get rid of the cause that’s ailing me. My weekly methotrexate injections often cause me nausea to the point of wanting to vomit. I understand that drug testing is expensive, and that running a whole host of trials with lab technicians doesn’t come cheap.

          Exactly,which is why a lot of drug companies are withdrawing from research and letting academics come up with the pre-competitive molecules/targets. This is BAD because it means that the jobs that used to be private sector are now public sector. The public sector has not expanded to compensate. Moreover, the public sector has MORE trainees for fewer positions because of the Conservative emphasis on producing more doctoral/post-doctoral trainees (expansion of funding for them), but the SAME amount of total operating budgets.

          R&D produces a gigantic multiplier in terms of jobs and benefits for the economy, this isn’t something that we should look at as a waste of time and money. I’m sorry about your arthritis, but you realize that the invention of NMR/MRI came from looking at emission spectra of Hydrogen? Something ostensibly useless revolutionized medicine. There will be no Kurzweil cure for old age if we don’t invest in finding it.

  4. Lib observer says:

    Warren, the unemployment rate amongst university grads usually runs around 5%…so this is all nonsense about “can’t find a job when they graduate”…and as most economists will tell you , that is in effect, full employment!!!. So, put a little research into your column before making such bold statements.It makes for nice print, but it is false!!

    As Casey Stengle used to say” You can look it up”.

  5. Michael S says:

    Anyone that shuts up both Jean Charest and Jaggi Singh is not to be underestimated. Leo Bureau-Blouin is going to win this one.

  6. JamesHalifax says:

    Well, the current mindset of Quebecer’s is actually feeding into the ideas of Parizeau (I think it was Parizeau?) when he said his goal was to make Quebec such a burden on the rest of the country….we’d kick them out before they voted to seperate.

    If you read some Canadian blogs or news sites, you can see that the behaviour and entitlement attitude of Quebec is starting to achieve just that.

    What Parizeau may not have realized though, was that once we rid ourselves of Quebec……who’s going to pay for everything they currently enjoy? And when things get too difficult….there’s no guarantee we’ll want them back.

    Welcome to Greece North.

  7. Bil Huk says:

    yes, yes, left leaning students are to blame, right leaning capitalists and baby boomers are to blame blah blah.

    all of this (protests, occupy, ect) are symptoms of the greater problem, the declining economic and political power of western nations relative to higher growth and populated eastern nations.

    looks like we’re going to have to beat the snot out of our political spectrum rivals for the better part of a decade before we all decide that the problem isn’t left wing or right wing fellow citizens.

    It’s alot more macro than any of us realize, and we’ll need to bloody each other before we see the light.

    • JamesHalifax says:

      Left leaning students aren’t to blame……they haven’t DONE anything to get blamed for. They are the ones screaming bloody murder that the world isn’t giving them what they expected. As for the right-leaning capitalists….the crooked ones share a lot of the blame.

      And I’m not a baby-boomer….I graduated in 2005.

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