Are the students who are ‘striking’ in Quebec right or wrong in demanding to not have to pay more for school? With everything that has happened, it is not really important who is right on that topic. What is important to understand is the actions of the students; what it does to individuals and how it infringes upon their freedoms.
If your interested in who is right when it comes to the tuition increases, There is a lot of information available on those ideas through the Austrian school of economics, and so I will not bring up those ideas here.
Regardless of whether or not the students or taxpayers should pay, their actions are wrong. The idea of a strike with today’s laws, goes against the freedom of individuals in society.
People will argue that strikes are necessary in order to put pressure on those in power, be it business owners or the government, so that they can get their fair share. Unfortunately most of these people fail to look at the whole picture. Yes, they can get more for themselves from their strike, but what about the harm it causes? What about the freedoms these strikes infringe upon?
I’ve followed a lot of the protests going on here in Montreal, and I feel sorry for all the innocent people suffering from what is happening. There are many violent things some of the extremists are doing and there is no need to discuss why this is wrong. I believe we can all agree that vandalism and physical violence is wrong without question, and that even most of the protesters are against this.
What is important to discuss is what many are doing that is not seen as violent by most people. The protesters non-destructive actions are still a form of violence, even if there is no physical harm involved. Some of the stories I read are about protesters blocking traffic in the streets, blocking access to buildings and businesses, and most important of all, blocking access to education through the strike itself.
It’s easy to understand why they are performing these acts, as they want to draw attention to themselves to get support from the general public. They want to put pressure on the government. However, this is unfair to those who just want to go about their daily lives. In the cases where they are blocking entry to buildings and businesses, they are stopping others from going to work and making a living. Even if they are right in deserving to pay less for school, how is it right to stop an innocent individual from working at his job? It is not. Maybe some of these people are barely making ends meet, and now will not be able to afford to feed their family. Even if they are only doing this to businesses for one day each, to infringe on another’s freedom to work for one day only is wrong, even if the effects are not as damaging as a prolonged infringement.
The same thing goes for tactics where they block traffic. Here they are again infringing on the rights of innocent individuals to go where they want to go, which can also include their jobs as discussed above. Maybe someone had an important interview that could have changed their lives, and now their opportunity is lost because of students not liking their situation.
Individuals have every right to protest and to gather peacefully, but it is important to look at what ‘peacefully’ means. To gather peacefully means to gather in such a manner that does not cause harm. When you deny an individual the freedom to live as he chooses, you are causing harm to this individual. If the students want to protest, it should be either on public property that does not stop individuals from being able to live their lives, or on private property with the permission of the properties owner. Without such permission, you are infringing on the owners rights to his property.
If students really want change, they need to stop coercing others to do something for them, and take control of the situation themselves; without causing harm to innocent individuals. If they are unhappy with the cost of public education, they can choose to not go to school. If the price is really too high, then the government will be forced to lower the price, or they will have a very uneducated population. Although public school is not even necessary for a successful life, as can be seen by looking at many of top leaders and business owners in the world who dropped out, schools are very important for people looking for jobs. For the government it is important that citizens are employed, or they will probably be voted out of office. Students can peacefully decide to not take part in a government’s high costing program, and get the costs lowered. This process works much better in private industries but still works with governments, even if on a less efficient level.
One of the biggest tragedies of the strikes is on the people who want an education, and can’t get one. There are many students who want to go to class, understanding that they need to complete their courses in order to get jobs in their field. These students who are stopped from learning their trade now have to spend even longer to get what they want and spend more money, due to other students being unhappy and not understanding the effects of their actions. How is it fair for one group of students who are happy to pay the cost, valid price or not, to not be allowed to move on with their life.
These students paid for their classes. Many students who paid these ‘high’ costs have now wasted all this money because they are being denied the education they paid for, in what way is this fair to them? Some students are on their last year, and have a job lined up when they graduate. These students will not be able to take these jobs because they are being denied the opportunity to graduate.
This strike is very different from employee union strikes. In a worker strike, the workers who still want to work at least have a possibility to find another job and continue working. In this case, the students have already paid their portion of the costs for the semester, and are being denied what they paid for. For them to go somewhere else to try and make up for it, they now have to pay for it again. This strike is destruction of property in a very true sense of the word. The education has been paid for, and so in sense is the property of the student paid for it. It may not be physical like someone burning down a house you just bought, but it is destroying the semester’s worth of education the student (and taxpayers) bought.