Friday, April 20, 2012

Quebec student protests and the big picture

Ten weeks in and the protests in Quebec are showing no sign they will diminish anytime soon. The common take that I have been reading is that the students are being completely unreasonable. Quebec afterall does have the lowest tuition in the country and even then compared to other countries (like the U.S.) our tuition requirements don't come anywhere close. That's a fine and valid point to make, they probably are over-reacting to the tuition hikes much like when someone who has bottling up their feelings bursts out over what may seem to be the most mundane event, but let's step back for a moment and look at the big picture.

Even before the Occupy movement began, I have been forecasting massive social unrest on a global scale. The Quebec protests are not an isolated event, rather they are the latest in a chain of flashpoints. Sure the $325 increase seems inconsequential, but combine that with the fact all of these youth have been just recently told they will not be retiring at 65. Add to this the ultra-low interest rates making saving for students impossible as money in the bank simply erodes against inflation, the fact most students don't have the reserve funds to invest in the market to make the difference further compounds the problem.

You're looking at a generation that is already priced out of the housing market, has fierce job competition with little job security, and is now being told that they're going to have to pay more for schooling which more and more is looking like a waste of money with youth graduating finding they're just ending up in jobs they would have had regardless. Think they're angry? You bet.

Further add the pent up anger from the bailouts of which the youths have simply been commited to paying off. The debt they're being told they will be on the hook for doesn't even consider any of the future spending and supports their generation might need. It's all about keeping our head above water now at the expense of the future.

These protests will end, but the anger will remain and another seemingly artbitrary flashpoint in the near future will cause ever increasing violence. It will get worse continually if the anger that is deep seeded within the generation is not addressed and in a fashion which shows the generation they are not simply a blank cheque.

Today's youth are not as clueless or "privilaged" as you might think, and if you think these ones are angry just wait for the next crop:

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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