do students have right to your money?

Student Protest
Student Protest

Student funding in the news. Student demonstrating everywhere. Demonstrations crossing the line from peaceful protest into violence. Broadly I’m in favour of subsidising the university fees of young people who may find it difficult to pay for themselves. I’m in favour of this as I think it’s good for our society as a whole and because I’m in favour of equality of opportunity.

However I am getting pretty pissed off with the violence of the demonstrations and the belligerent attitude of the students. I heard one this morning saying that she though that university education was her “right” and that it should be free. Well, I agree I think her education should be free. She should not have to pay for, neither should I and neither should you. Unfortunately this leaves the question: Who the hell is going to pay?

The truth is that nothing is free. Goods and services are either paid for directly by the user, paid for by everyone via state funding or paid for by combination of the two. This young woman thought that if they were paid for by the state then they would be free. Not so. What she meant when she said that education should be free is that EVERYONE should pay for her education and that means me. As I say, I’m broadly in favour of subsidized university education but when some little twit starts yelling that she has a “right” to my money I tend to become less sympathetic.

I’m also pissed off at the self riotousness of these bloody students. During the materialist bullshit Britain years of New Labour the students didn’t make a sound. We didn’t hear a peep out of them when Blair took us into an illegal war. We didn’t hear anything from them as New Labour eroded our civil liberties with ubiquitous CCTV and authoritarian terrorism laws. Traditionally students have been left leaning but that seems to have changed. The only way to get them to demonstrate these days is to threaten their wallets. Sure they have muttered about child benefit but they never got off their arses until it was their funding that was under fire. Now that they may have to pawn their iPhones to pay for education they’re up in arms condemning the Liberal Democrats and aligning themselves with Labour. Labour for God’s sake! The bastards that got us into this disaster. Economy down the drain, massive debt and fighting a war in a land locked country which we couldn’t suppress at the height of Britain’s power. Well done Blair!

And Labour have turned on a sixpence. They’ve reverted from the pro-business, pro war, pro-consultant, pro business-bullshit, profligate capitalists back to the whinging, protest party. Now they’re out of power they are free to pretend that they would not have cut any budgets at all. New Aircraft carriers? Of course we’ll have them. Free education? Why not. Child benefit for all? Of course. After wrecking the British economy Labour can now pretend that everything would have been fine if they were just left in power and the students can all pretend that the past 13 years have never happened and we’re back in the Thatcher years.

The protesters bang on about the Liberal Democrats “betraying” them. A party can’t betray you if you don’t vote for them. It would be interesting to know how may of the student protesters voted Liberal Democrat and if they really want to think about betrayal they might consider the whole New Labour project.

I will say one thing in praise of the student protests. They have stamina. It must be bloody freezing up there.


One comment

  1. This American correspondent is chuckling over your story.

    When I was in college I was an activist, but a selective activist. I took a train to NYC to protest nuclear energy and I recall travelling to Washington DC to protest something international. El Salvador, I think it was. But, I also drove to the state house in Boston to loudly protest the elimination of coed bathrooms in the dorm. God knows why I felt I had the right to coed bathrooms, much less why I would WANT men in my bathroom. I also recall that when I was 19, the drinking age was raised to 20. I protested that one mightily, to no avail. Yes, it’s true I was most vociferous about the policies that affected me personally.

    I spent my junior year in England and I recall my amazement when I learned how little British students had to pay for university. Next to nothing, really. It was unfathomable to me that the British government subsidized secondary education. That was 30 years ago, and how much more do students have to pay out of pocket now? Do they realize how expensive university is in other countries? I have two children of my own now and will need to save $200,000 cash to send them both to college. That’s 127,000 quid to you lot. Scholarships would reduce that a bit, but are usually only awarded to the brightest students.

    Most kids in the US come out of college with a $50,000 to $100,000 debt. And an undergraduate degree doesn’t get them very far any more, so they go into further debt by continuing on to graduate school. By the time they are 25 they are in a deep hole and better hope for a high paying job.

    Maybe the British students are worried what will happen if the door is opened slightly to the idea that university should be paid for by those who attend it. Because if that philosophy takes hold and the door is widened, they might find themselves in the same situation as their American counterparts. I can see why they might find that a harrowing thought.

    Yes, some combination of user fee and subsidy is probably best. Can you tell that to MY government?

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