Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First Peek at Trudeau Policy

Justin Trudeau has written (or someone from his staff wrote for him while he dictated it, or something) an interesting, if overall general feel-good/bland op-ed for the Toronto Star (of course). It contains what some could label as the first hints of Trudeau Liberal policy, though it sounds very similar to what I heard during Trudeau's stop in Burlington awhile back. Middle class, unemployment, etc. The one difference being the mention of foreign investment, and I will say I agree with Justin 100% on that issue. Its worth a read.

But here's something specific from Globe and Mail Mike Moffatt, that I found very interesting:
A better educated work force is likely to be a more productive one, raising the overall standard of living. But does this help the middle class? By increasing the skilled labour pool, in the short run this will lower wages as firms have a larger pool of workers to select from.   Lowering overall tuition (and it is unclear Mr. Trudeau is proposing this) would lower costs for many young members of the middle class, along with lowering costs for students from higher income families as well.
Moffatt goes on to say that basically, the idea of putting more people on track for post-secondary education is... "counterproductive." While I'm not an economist or anything of the sort, I find the point he makes about having too large of a worker pool = lower wages, to be a bit shallow, if not downright awful - every person should be afforded the opportunity to achieve higher education, lower wages be damned. Maybe that is the sort of resettling of wages we need, anyways. Or maybe the concern should focus on making sure there are skilled jobs out there for these skilled workers in the first place.

I don't know, but Moffatt is wrong here, and Justin - and Ignatieff back in the day, I'll add - are right. We can't forgo making post-secondary education more affordable simply because of some abstract economic argument. I'm not saying we make it free, nor is Justinm but it should be there if someone wants to go down that path.


  1. And it is. Government already pumps huge sums into college education, funding the vast majority of costs-and this arguably has great social benefit, but there is a certain fetishization of college education that seems to detract from other professional education - form trades and so forth.

    I think what Moffatt is getting at is the returns to higher education. Higher education is enormously expensive, and we should not pump more funds into it if it is not yielding positive returns. If more education is not yielding at least an equivalent return in social and private benefits, there are plenty of other deserving public goods to be attended to. There is only so much tax revenue

    1. Fair points, and that may be true now that I think about it; it is all about what you can get out of that kind of investment, after all. But too many students who want to go into professions and studies that require post-secondary education simply don't get the chance to, or don't without going into debt most of the time. That right there is a problem, even if we limit what we put into it - the lack of opportunity for many still exists, and that is what we need to correct. I think Justin and I know Ignatieff referred to that idea more than what, say, Nadeau-Dubois and many others say.