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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Ben Casselman points out how corporate consolidation can produce harmful results for consumers and workers alike. Guy Standing discusses how we’re all worse off for the spread of rentier capitalism. And Mariana Mazzucato reminds us that an entrepreneurial government is a must if we want to see general . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– Scott Sinclair and Stuart Trew applaud Wallonia’s principled stance against the CETA. And Joseph Stiglitz discusses the need to set up social and economic systems which actually serve the public good, rather than favouring corporate interests: Where the trade agreements failed, it was not because the US was . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

– Larry Elliott writes that the public is rightly frustrated with an economic model designed to shift money to those who already have the most – and that progressive parties in particular need to offer a meaningful alternative: The belief on the left was that 2008 sounded the death . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

– Christopher Ingraham points out that while many luxuries are getting cheaper with time, the necessities of life are becoming much more difficult to afford:

Many manufactured goods — like TVs and appliances — come from overseas, where labor costs are cheaper. “International, global competition lowers prices directly from lower-cost imported goods, and indirectly by forcing U.S. manufacturers to behave more competitively, with lower prices, higher quality, better service, et cetera,” Perry said.

On the flip side, things like education and medical care can’t be produced in a factory, so those pressures do not apply. Compounding it, many Americans are insulated from the full costs of these services. Private and public insurance companies pay most medical costs, so there tends to be little incentive for individuals to shop around for cheaper medical care.

In the case of higher education, the nation’s massive student loan industry bears much of the upfront burden of rising prices. To the typical 18-year-old, a $120,000 tuition bill may seem like an abstraction when you don’t have to start paying it off until your mid-20s or later. As a result, the nation’s college students and graduates now collectively owe upward of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.
“Prices rise when [health care and college] markets are not competitive and not exposed to global competition,” Perry said, “and prices rise when easy credit is available.”

Hence, our current predicament. We can afford the things we don’t need, but we need the things we can’t afford.

– Alex Usher notes how one of the same cost pressures applies in Canada, as universities losing public funding are squeezing students for massive tuition increases. And Lindsay Kines reports that the Clark government’s decision to make life less affordable for people with disabilities in British Columbia has led to 3,500 people giving up their transit passes.

– Natalia Khosla and Sean McElwee discuss the difficulty in addressing racism when many people live in denial of their continued privilege.

– Paul Wells comments on SNC Lavalin’s long track record of illegal corporate donations to the Libs and the Cons.

– Finally, Gerry Caplan points out how Justin Trudeau is dodging key human rights questions. And Mike Blanchfield reports that the Libs’ willingness to undermine a treaty prohibiting the use of cluster bombs represents just another area where they’re leaving the Cons’ most harmful policies untouched. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Robert Reich discusses how our economy is rigged so that the self-proclaimed risk-takers actually can’t lose:I don’t want to pick on Ms. Mayer or the managers of the funds that invest in Yahoo. They… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the contrast between a Saskatchewan Party platform (and government) dedicated to handing money to the people who need it least, and an NDP which plans to help where it’s most needed with what limited resources are left since Brad Wall wasted a… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Andrew Jackson argues that a federal infrastructure program can and should be oriented toward developing a skilled and diverse workforce, rather than rewarding free-riding contractors who don’t contribute to … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– Michael Hiltzik discusses how corporate apologists are trying (but failing) to minimize the existence and importance of income inequality. Lawrence Martin notes that the rest of Canada’s economic indicators are similarly signalling that Conservative dogma is of absolutely no use in the real world. And Michael Geist observes . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party’s choice to turn the graduate retention credit into a purely political goodie rather than a program which could conceivably retain Saskatchewan graduates, while at the same time devaluing the very concept of education for its own sake.

For further reading…– The province’s explanation (such as it is) can be found . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– For those looking for information about today’s day of action against C-51, Leadnow and Rabble both have details.

– Meanwhile, CBC reports that a professor merely taking pictures on public land near a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline site is already being harassed by the RCMP under current . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Our Gift to Nova Scotia #nlpoli

As of March 31, 2014,  Memorial University had an annual deficit of about $330 million.

In 2013-2014,  the annual cost of subsidising tuition for out-of-province students at Memorial was $112 million.

The provincial government operation subsidy to the university has doubled since 2004.

Those are a few of snippets from the Auditor General’s 2014 report.

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Our Gift to Nova Scotia #nlpoli

Political Eh-conomy: Means-test the rich, or another argument for eliminating tuition

Here’s an oversimplified choice for how to fund post-secondary education. Imagine you have two options for dealing with how people pay for post-secondary education:

Universal free tuition, means-testing to see if you are rich enough to pay Universal tuition fees, means-testing to see if you are poor enough to not pay

Either of these can . . . → Read More: Political Eh-conomy: Means-test the rich, or another argument for eliminating tuition

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

– Linda McQuaig discusses the radical difference between how Canadians want to see public resources used (based on the example set by governments elsewhere), and the determination of the Cons and their corporate allies to instead fritter away every dime of fiscal capacity the federal government manages to find: . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– Charlie Smith discusses – and then follows up on – Donald Gutstein’s work in tracing the connections between the Harper Cons and the shadowy, U.S.-based network of right-wing propaganda mills: In Harperism: How Stephen Har­per and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada (James Lorimer & Company Ltd.), . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Things Are Good: Germany Now Has Free Tuition

Germany has done something that the rest the developed world should copy: reducing post-secondary tuition fees to zero. Open and accessible education is key to making a richer and more prosperous country – Germany clearly gets this. In these modern times education is more important than ever so it’s really great to see

“We got . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Germany Now Has Free Tuition

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert write that an effective solution to wealth inequality shouldn’t be limited to redistributing individual income or assets, but should also include the development of a commonwealth which benefits everybody: Instead of just giving people more purchasing power, we should be taking basic . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

Source: CBC News: Saskatchewan Tuition Increase Highest in CanadaSource: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Paul Gingrich: After the Freeze: Restoring University Affordability in Saskatchewan Source: Macleans OnCampus: Sask. NDP Commit to Tuition FreezeSource: Macleans OnCampus: Saskatchewan Party Pledges Affordability Source: News Talk 650: Wall Reacts to NDP Post Secondary PlatformSource: Saskatoon Homepage: UofS Salaries Questioned . . . → Read More: Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

Source: CBC News: Saskatchewan Tuition Increase Highest in Canada
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Paul Gingrich: After the Freeze: Restoring University Affordability in Saskatchewan
Source: Macleans OnCampus: Sask. NDP Commit to Tuition Freeze
Source: Macleans OnCampus: Saskatchewan Party Pledges Affordability
Source: News Talk 650: Wall Reacts to NDP Post Secondary Platform
Source: Saskatoon Homepage: UofS Salaries Questioned Ahead of Projected Deficit 

In a continuing trend for the government of Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s tuition rates soared higher than a NASA based program for this academic year. Since removing the tuition freeze when first coming to power, the news of Saskatchewan’s higher learning facilities raising tuition rates has been as regular as morning breath.

It seems with each passing academic year, the universities find themselves in need of raising tuition levels. It feels a bit like the Weimar Republic; just keep printing money and devaluing the currency until we sort the mess out. Only instead of deflating, we’re inflating the cost of higher education.

But Saskatchewan’s increasing tuition rates were national news this time around, as our province  had the single largest increase of 4.7%. This even outpaces the standard increase levels of 3.4% noted by sociologist Paul Gingrich; you can read Paul’s full paper on the subject by checking out our sources at the top.

So, we’re outpacing ourselves it would seem on the race to the bottom.

We also managed to make programs for graduate students more expense (4.9% more expensive) and programs for international students more expense (6.7%). This has also taken Saskatchewan’s tuition for an undergraduate student to the SECOND HIGHEST in Canada; with an average of $6,394.

Let’s do the math on that.

So, a 4 year undergraduate degree for tuition costs: $25,576 in tuition alone. Add on to that the monumental cost of textbooks (Rarely do you find a textbook under $100, and some classes require you to purchase between 2 – 5 books, which you will sometimes rarely use), the cost of housing, the cost of food, recreational expenses (include alcohol for the party-hardy crowd), and we’re probably look at between $35,000 (on the low ball) and $50,000 (high ball) for a four year degree.

 And to date, what has the Wall Government done to help students out?

Let’s start with the good, as there’s only one thing to talk about there. The Wall Government expanded the Graduate Retention Program; by allowing students who stayed in Saskatchewan to receive up to $20,000 of their tuition back over a four year period.

The problem with the Retention Program, and as an habitually unemployed graduate I can speak with some authority here, is that it will rarely be used by the student to pay down their debt load. If a graduate is staying in Saskatchewan, but continually can’t find employment, that rebate money is going towards food in their belly and a roof over their head…Not paying down their student loan debt.

It’s sort of like the infamous ‘beer and popcorn’ complaint about the Child Tax Credit idea. Sure, we want our graduates to spend that money on getting out of debt, but there are other expenses that jump to the front of the queue, especially expenses that involve staying alive.

So, let’s move on to the bad.

In 2007, the epitome of Wall’s post-secondary education program was to give all high school graduates $2,000 over four years to knock $500 of their yearly tuition. So, looking at the average, Premier Wall gives new students an average tuition of $5,894 a year…And only if they’re coming directly from high school to university.

Though, Wall apparently does understand post-secondary education to a degree. After all, in 2011, when responding to the NDP’s platform of reinstating a tuition freeze, Wall had this to say:

“We’ve seen huge increases when freezes inevitably come off.”

Well, he’s certainly living up to that expected vision of what happens when a tuition freeze disappears. Wall also warned that tuition freezes place a university in trouble if a government doesn’t live up to it’s funding commitments under a freeze.

Were we not paying attention when he was making these comments? He basically laid out, par for the course, what was going to happen to post-secondary education. A untrustworthy government backing out of financial commitments to the universities, and huge increases to tuition in a post-freeze era.

Does this mean every time Wall rings a warning bell about something, we should be nailing down the hatches and waiting for when his government brings that exact scenario to fruition?

After all, Wall’s 2011 election platform talked about increased funding to post-secondary institutions; yet we’ve heard for the last two years, if not more, how the government is not providing adequate funding. After all, the UofS is currently looking for ways to shave 10% of its current budget to avoid a potential $40 million dollar shortfall by 2016; and they’re doing so by looking for people to layoff.

I need to have a side note here, just for a moment. Wall’s underfunding of post-secondary institutions is only part of the problem. The other part is the administration of these post-secondary institutions. Ilene Busch-Vishniac, President of the University of Saskatchewan, made waves when she announced that hers (and other key administrators) salaries, benefits, and bonuses were not on the chopping block.

In addition to her $400,000 a year salary, Busch-Vishniac also receives the following perks:

  • $12,000 per year allowance for a vehicle
  • $7,500 per year allowance on financial and tax assistance, 
  • 6 weeks of paid vacation a year
  • 1 Rent-free home (though, technically, it’s a mansion and it’s located on Campus)
  • $253.49 a month for health and dental insurance plan

Then there’s the other senior administrators who have similar perks. The UofS has defended this move by saying that top administrators amount to just 0.36% of the overall budget; and then tacks on the standard line about needing perks and top pay to ‘attract and retain’ professionals.

Am I the only who thinks that attracting and retaining professionals is good when that it tacks onto actual professors?  I think most people would be fine with recruiting and paying a world-class researcher or expert in their field to teach at the University; but we start to run into issues when we apply this designation to administrators behind the scenes.

Yes, we want competent people running the administration of the school; there’s no debate about that. But do we really need $400,000 + perks of competence? When Peter MacKinnon started his term as President, his yearly wage was $200,000. And over less than a decade, it has doubled for his predecessor.

And given the perks included, especially a rent-free house, there’s very little room to argue for ‘living expenses’ here. An administrator could survive EASILY on $200,000 a year. Hell, an administrator can survive COMFORTABLY on $100,000.

Ultimately, when students talk about where to go, they don’t discuss the Administration. They discuss the programs, the faculty, the atmosphere, and the tuition. The current administration at the UofS is putting the horse before the cart; you shouldn’t be talking about attracting and retaining exceptional administrators, but rather attracting exceptional students.

The point of education is to educate; not fatten the school’s purse and dole out the largesse to administrators. If that’s a university’s goal, here’s a suggestion to potential students, DON’T GO THERE.

Now that we’ve shared equal blame with the universities, let’s get back to Brad Wall.

His government has talked about funding post-secondary institutions, but consistently missed the mark on actually providing this funding. It’s a good soundbite during an election, of course, but quickly forgotten once in government. After all, there’s more important things, like banjo playing, to be done.

If Wall is going to continue to allow tuition raise to rise (Ontario is still ahead of us, maybe when he talks about Saskatchewan being number one, this was on his hit list of items), then he at least needs to follow through on funding promises to the universities that will allow them to reduce tuition.

There’s a lot more I could say about this issue, but I’ll wrap it up with this thought.

Education is not a privilege, it is a right. The fact that we educate our children up to grade twelve on the taxpayer dollar (another education sector this government is currently failing) supports this argument. Education doesn’t just enrich the person who undergoes it, but their entire community by creating skilled individuals who can contribute their knowledge back.

When you make education impossible to access, you are condemning a generation. Not just economically, but personally. Education enriches, its one of the few things in life that rarely does harm to a person. Denying education creates problems; while providing education creates solutions.

And that’s a message we can all support.

. . . → Read More: Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Impact of the Tuition Freeze #nlpoli

As students head back to Memorial University, you can see the impact the ongoing tuition freeze is having on the university’s budget.

You can see it in the policy to pass credit card handling fees on to students.  In the official university organ – the Gazette – the university claimed it eliminated the fee.  That’s . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Impact of the Tuition Freeze #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Learn Now. Pay Later. #nlpoli

A college or university education has an undeniable value both to the student and to the society as a whole.

But should either party bear a disproportionate share of the cost of the education? 

Of course not.  The challenge for policy makers in the provincial government and at the university and the colleges in . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Learn Now. Pay Later. #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Some inconvenient truths: goring some educational sacred cows #nlpoli

Friday turned out to be Post-Secondary Education Day with a post here on the impact of the freeze on tuition fees and a fascinating Telegram article on the Conservatives’ 2011 campaign pledge to replace student loans with needs-based grants.

Tuition was a bit of an issue in the 2001 provincial general election.  The Tory pledge . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Some inconvenient truths: goring some educational sacred cows #nlpoli

From Orangutan: Mainstream headlines demonize Quebec student protesters (again!)

(video – 5 mars 2013, Montréal. Ostie d’grosse manif de soir contre la hausse éternelle from Mario Jean on Vimeo.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013, marked the rebirth of Montreal nocturnal protests against the commodification of university education. Below are a few of the sensationalist headlines (linked) that appeared in some of the city’s mainstream news outlets the next day. These headlines demonize the protesters as violent criminals and sadly continue a shabby tradition of “news” coverage from last year’s Maple Spring.

English-language Media
Free tuition protest ends with smashed windows, arrests (CTV Montreal)
62 detained as protests resume (The Gazette)
Quebec student protest turns violent (Global Montreal)

French-language Media
Manifs: des commerçants veulent une police plus réactive (La Presse)
Droits de scolarité : comparution de six manifestants   (Radio Canada)
Violences et arrestations (TVA)

Sure, a MINORITY of protesters got out of control, but they do not represent the inspiring collective spirit of the MAJORITY of people walking peacefully through the streets of downtown Montreal, side by side, English- and French-speaking (among others), and with the common goal of universal accessibility to higher education.

On the encouraging side, the prize for most objective headline goes to CBC Montreal for
Students rekindle nighttime protest against tuition hikes (CBC Montreal). Et voilà. It can be done.

. . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Mainstream headlines demonize Quebec student protesters (again!)

From Orangutan: Mainstream headlines demonize Quebec student protesters (again!)

(video – 5 mars 2013, Montréal. Ostie d’grosse manif de soir contre la hausse éternelle from Mario Jean on Vimeo.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013, marked the rebirth of Montreal nocturnal protests against the commodification of university education. Below are a few of the sensationalist headlines (linked) that appeared in some of the city’s mainstream news . . . → Read More: From Orangutan: Mainstream headlines demonize Quebec student protesters (again!)

The Liberal Scarf: Hudak would end support for students from low income families with attack on 30% tuition rebate

Tim Hudak rolled out his latest double down on right-wing policy, announcing he would end the 30% tuition rebate for Ontario post-secondary students.

Hudak and his post-secondary education critic, Rob Leone framed the tuition cut as not helping mature students or single parents (ironic, given the not so high regard single mothers have been held . . . → Read More: The Liberal Scarf: Hudak would end support for students from low income families with attack on 30% tuition rebate

The Progressive Economics Forum: Globe and Mail on higher education in Canada

The Globe and Mail has just launched an in-depth feature on higher education in Canada, an installment of their Our Time to Lead series. For a couple of weeks, you can expect to see increased coverage of the issues facing our post-secondary education system in print but especially online.

The editors deserve credit for seeking . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Globe and Mail on higher education in Canada