Policy alert


Michael Ignatieff promises student aid.

The Liberal leader’s proposed “learning passport” would provide tax-free grants of $4,000 — or $1,000 a year for four years — for students across Canada to attend college or university. Students from low-income families would qualify for as much as $6,500 over four years, or up to $1,500 a year. The money would be provided through existing registered education savings plans, or RESPs, but families would not be required to make contributions. The funds would be held until the student decides to go to school.


Policy alert

  1. Am I correct in understanding that this will replace the textbook and education tax credits? If so, this is going to significantly impact people who pursue continuing education. There are a whole crop of people in their 20s who did an undergrad and are now deciding to go back to school for college diplomas, graduate/professionals degrees or other undergraduate degrees. Not to mention the many people who take evening classes. I hope this flip side of the policy is examined more by the media.

  2. That's not a bad idea from Ignatieff. But he should limit this program to engineering, science, business, medicine and law.

    We dont want to pay for useless arts degrees.

    I would also make the money contingent on good grades.

  3. Well, this holds promise in the right direction. Anything to get our young people educated.

  4. Ignatieff does always repeat, "If you get the grades, you get to go."

  5. The Liberal website doesn't say that it's in replacement of the textbook tax credit. I agree, some clarification would be useful here.

    "Q: How does the Learning Passport operate alongside existing federal education programs?

    A: By using the RESP system, the Learning Passport will easily work alongside other federal education programs. The Learning Passport will be provided in addition to the Tuition Tax Credit, the Canada Student Loans Program and the Canada Student Grants Program.

    The Learning Passport replaces and provides significantly more funding than the Education and Textbook tax credits which do not provide funding to students up front, when many of the expenses that students incur – like tuition and textbooks – must be paid. Because these credits are non-refundable, most students cannot collect their refund for many years, if at all, as they have little taxable income while studying. The Learning Passport provides $1,000-$1,500 in direct upfront funding to post-secondary students."

  6. I hope this flip side of the policy is examined more by the media.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    Our media are busy people you know…budget cuts have forced them to do more with less. And lets face it, sometimes trivial stuff like critically examining policy has to take a back seat when important stuff is happening, like wondering whether Laurier was aware of the Winter Olympics before he died or not.

    You wouldn't want to send us back to the dark ages by having Canadians vote in this election without knowing whether Laurier knew about the Winter Olympics, would you?

  7. Healthy educated people are the backbone of a nation : a good step in the right direction from Mr. Ignatieff.

  8. Alfanerd, c'mon.

    English, History, Philosophy, and even Fine Arts are equally credible degrees, and are often taken as the first step toward Law, Medicine, Architecture, even Business.

  9. We need educated people in all subjects, not just a few traditional ones.

  10. You do love to poke people in the eye, don't you alfanerd? I think we can all point to examples within any discipline of useless students who received degrees.

    I assume you are making a bit of a sly joke in there. Especially since Political Science is an arts degree, and those "useless" grads are the ones drafting this policy.

    EDIT: I just realized I was completely baited into answering that. Well played, Alfanerd, well played. You sucked everyone in with that comment.

  11. I don't agree with your first point, but I wholeheartedly agree with your second point.

  12. I'm sorry, is there a shortage of young people getting educated in Canada?

    This will ease the debt burden on the young people getting educated, sure, but not by much. Will it allow someone who otherwise could not go to school for financial reasons to suddenly be able to go to school? I don't think anyone would claim that.

    That being said, it's a fine enough policy.

  13. fine. it's true that some people can contribute to society with these degrees. but in my university experience, the vast majority of arts students are idiots who just want to get a degree for the sake of getting a degree, and end up becoming a glorified paper-pusher at the government. this probably stems in large part from the low requirements for entering these programs. i helped to mark some papers from a criminology course once, half the students cannot write a proper English sentence.

    but my general point stands. im all in favour of funding university especially for those who have the smarts but not the money. but this could be quickly turned into abuse where we end up funding the university degree of thousands of people who should not have graduated from high school (to a certain extent, this is already the case).

  14. I'm curious how long it will take education institutions to capitalize this benefit by hiking tuition fees.

    While I like the policy idea, I can easily see tuition increasing by $500/semester across the board the first year this is implemented.

  15. you're right, and as i said above in response to jonatwitan, the real problem is not those programs per se, but that these programs have become the dumping ground for those who should not be in university in the first place. in that sense, i dont want to make university more accessible for those people. but someone who has excelled academically should have their education paid for.

  16. We need creative thinkers more than anything else

    And none of you thumb-monkeys have even had time to watch this….apparently you oppose creative thinking on principle.

  17. I can see your point, but I've taught 3rd-year business students who were paralyzed at the first sight of an algebra equation in an exam, and I've taught 3rd-year engineering students who couldn't talk their way out of a paper bag during a presentation.

    School should be about getting a well-rounded education, not shoe-horning specific types of students into convenient little cubbyholes.

  18. Yes.

    42 per cent of adults and 39 per cent of youth lack the literacy skills to get a good job and cope with the demands of today's knowledge society. StatsCan

  19. Why yes, lets keep lots of people out of education….that will do wonders for the country.

  20. In addition, jonatwitan, one can make the argument that the entire financial crisis was created by a group of brilliant young mathematicians with no background in history.

  21. So here is a general question. Why is the $1,000 RESP contribution available to all students, including ones who are in no need of financial aid at all?

    For information, in case you were wondering about "but families would not be required to make contributions", the government already provides RESP contributions in the form of Canada Eduction Savings Grants (CESG) which unlike, Ignatieff's proposal are matching grants (20% on the first $2,500 contributes with a small increase for poorer families).

  22. The Liberal website doesn't say that it's in replacement of the textbook tax credit.

    You might want to read the first sentence of the second paragraph of your quote again.

    And they're right, having the money up front is a lot better than getting it half a year later.

  23. i dont know if i baited you in, i just made a mildly provocative comment for people with arts degrees. again, there are good students in arts programs, but these programs are also the dumping grounds for illiterates who squeaked out of high school.

  24. Good point. Increasing demand for university spots without increasing the supply of those spots will simply cause the price to increase.

  25. Just to add, they're also right in that 6 months is also the best possible window. If you don't break the earnings threshold via your summer/part time job, the best you can do is bank it and then lose it all on your first real year of paychecks out of school, 'cause you can't spread it out, or hope your parents are willing to cash it in on their return and give you the money back for your education.

  26. OriginalEmily, I couldn't agree more. In my first year in Calgary, I took what I thought was going to be the most useless class ever, called General Studies 300. Without overstating the issue, the professor of that class changed my life.

  27. I obviously fail at reading comprehension. Thanks for the clarification dave.

    Apologies, everyone.

  28. i generally agree with you. i suppose my beef is with the educational system in general. honestly, half of university students would be better served by avoiding university altogether. and im not talking about the otherwise bright kid who cant stand algebra or the nerdy kid who cant speak publicly.

    im talking about the kid who cant read, cant write, cant do math, cant do anything, but was somehow never failed because that would hurt his "self-esteem", and is now sucking taxpayers money at a university. these people exist, in large numbers.

  29. i could make the argument that the entire financial crisis was created by a group of idiotic politicians with too much sensitivity training.

  30. Talk to your Provincial MP on that. They hold the keys.

  31. Hmmm… I plan to vote Liberal and I just used the textbook credit and education tax credit on my 2010 taxes. I took a couple of courses over 2010. I also work full-time.

    It's a good question: will this program be accessible to continuing students working full time? How will it be accessible? Will I have to apply for it in advance of signing up for a course?

    Something to ask a Liberal candidate for sure.

  32. Literacy skills? Are we still talking about university education?

  33. Hint: Criminology is applied studies. As are the business degrees you laud.

    Get into academic circles and you'll learn the little secret that many of the applied studies courses are typically thought of as cash cows and regurgitory courses where the point isn't to teach you so much how to think critically or write, but how to memorize regulations or previous cases and be able to parrot back that information given the appropriate stimuli.

  34. Don't get me wrong, my brief two-semester stint in front of a class was enough to serious discourage me when it came to the calibre of the students in front of me. While I was trying to teach them third year material, many of them couldn't write, couldn't use math, and couldn't speak. And there's just no way to address that deficiency in the third year, since I wasn't teaching a writing, math, or speaking course.

    All I was allowed to do is mark them on the actual coursework. And I reiterate that this was not defined by specific student group boundaries; it's much more of a structural education deficiency, in my humble opinion.

  35. Because more money can never help you go to school if financial reasons prevented you? Is that what you're arguing?

    I think even you can see how that's nonsense.

  36. But they should have learnt those skills at high school (or possibly elementary school).

  37. You must live in a pretty monochrome world.

  38. I think the spots are there, because many universities had to deal with the student bulge a few years ago (when they cancelled grade 13 in Ontario) and built a number of new facilities.

    While I appreciate the economic justification, I don't think it'll be a pure market-driven supply/demand issue. It think it will simply be a matter of University administrators seeing the $1K/yr subsidy and bumping up their fees because they know that students will have the capacity to pay them.

  39. "Imagination is more important than knowledge"….Albert Einstein

    Thank you for that vid.

  40. But that's John Baird. Please don't make me talk to him. Please?

  41. That's only if one believes that the financial crisis was caused by subprime mortgages.

  42. We dont want to pay for useless arts degrees.

    True. The last thing we want is another self-styled economist.

    (By the by, law and medicine are post-grad programs. Those "useless" arts degrees tend to be the first step.)

  43. Tuition is regulated in many provinces. That said, if the provincial governments maintain current levels of funding, then I don't even mind if they allow the tuition to be raised by a similar amount. After all, we're just starting to enter a period where we will see a significant shortage of academics as older ones start to retire. Our post-secondary institutions are going to need more money if they're going to be able to compete internationally for the academics that remain.

  44. I doubt it, I don't think tuition fees increased after the introduction of RESPs*, also the connection between the grant and actually paying tuition is fairly tenuous since the passport funding could be received in an RESP when the student is as young as 14.

    *Obviously they did, but I don't think it was as a result of the RESPs …

  45. I wasn't pooh-poohing the policy; it seems to be a reasonable and politically expedient way to provide Universities with additional funding.

  46. Because you can only pull it out for educational purposes (and a few limited others) so by giving it to everyone, it encourages everyone to get some higher education.. even if they might not normally attempt to.

    Given that OECD reports have shown that every year of additional education a population has correlates with a 2% gain in GDP, I don't think this is a bad thing.

  47. You asked if we have a shortage of young people being educated, and the answer is yes.

    Of course that should be addressed at an earlier stage, but it isn't happening….all of education needs an overhaul.

  48. I understand it's a broad brush on policy until the end of the week…announcements.

    Then apparently we get the details and costing on everything, so you should get your answer then.

  49. From the Freep: "This is the kind of investment in education which is a game-changer for our country," Ignatieff said, standing before a dutiful-looking crop of college students from the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

    If you can call the $4K-$6K a "game-changer" in a system with huge transfers to the provinces for post-secondary education and a pretty generous Canada Education Savings Grant (up to $7,200) and the Additional CESG as well as the Canada Learning Bond (for lower income families) and a widespread loans and bursaries system…

  50. He means Bob Chiarelli

  51. I like the source of funding for this proposal. Businesses that profit from educated employees need to shoulder more of the burden of that education.

  52. it's much more of a structural education deficiency

    Absolutely it is. Which is why my only criticism of Iggy's policy is that throwing money at higher education is not going to fix that, and may in fact exacerbate this particular waste of resources.

    the problem starts as early as grade 1, imho. if a kid falls behind there, he may never catch up.

  53. and isnt that widely accepted?

  54. I noted some numbers that seemed crazy in the National Post about the very small cost of the corporate tax reduction because of the expansion of the corporate tax base. (I am not arguing the effect is absent, but I really don't think we are anywhere near the peak of the Laffer curve.)

    However, for this program the analysis is fairly straightforward. The increased earnings (by discipline) is a measured quantity, so the increased government revenue for encouraging students can be calculated. I am fairly certain, measured on a per-student basis this one-time (well 4-time) investment pays off nicely for the Canadian government.

  55. But that's not nothing, either. Universities free to charge a more fair price for the service offered also mean better universities. Or should, at least.

  56. I agree, I was simply answering the question about young people being educated.

  57. I don't think its a bad thing either, but equally I don't think the country can afford to give money to people who don't actually need it. I'd much rather we set up RESPs for low income families (whose kids are hoping to go to college or university).

    My guess (and it really is a guess) is that the number of students who can afford to go university but don't, and who would change their minds because of additional RESP funding is pretty small.

  58. interesting. in any event, the point was though that whether its criminology, psychology, women's studies, or what not, these students are there not because they have an interest in that subject, but because that subject gives them an easy 'in' to the university. they are dumping ground for failures.

    hence, iggy's proposal is alright, but i hope it doesnt help more failures to attend universities. it does them and society at large a disservice.

  59. The lack of people who can "write a proper English sentence" is surely what makes good arts students such a valuable commodity. If you're encountering students without basic language skills – a problem hardly uncommon in Engineering or Biochemistry, for example – maybe you should focus on blaming the high school system that produces those unqualified students, as opposed to blaming the faculties which are unlucky enough to be expected to admit them.


  60. yeah yeah, read my posts above for clarification.

  61. thanks Stewart.

  62. Your arguments against the value of a general arts degree would carry much more punch if only you were capable of some basic grammar and punctuation. In Canada, we start a sentence with capital letters.

  63. The collapse of the subprime mortgage market should have been nothing more than a small economic hiccup. The fact that it almost unravelled our entire financial system showed that there were far greater structural flaws than issues within one relatively small asset class.

    To get to the root cause, one has to delve quite deeply into how risk was (and continues to be) shared amongst financial institutions.

  64. Liberals love universality. Easier to administer, less squabbling over eligibility and means testing. Also, buys more votes, "binding the nation together with a common national program," etc.

    I don't agree with that approach at all, but for the first two reasons, I'll concede it is a legitimate attitude to take.

  65. OK, but as I've argued above I'd like to see it targeted just at those kids who couldn't otherwise afford to go to university or college. I don't think our finances are in good enough shape that we can continue to shovel (other people's) money at well off parents who don't need support.

  66. I think a lot of institutions in Ontario STILL haven't gotten over the double cohort yet. They built new buildings, sure, but 1) they didn't all have the funds to hire enough instructors and staff to deal with the students filling those new buildings, and 2) they didn't all really build enough new buildings either, the schools just got more crowded.

    Buildings are relatively easy to get funds for. You can slap a big "Government of Canada" or "Government of Ontario" sign on the side of a new building. As one can't (yet) slap a government ad on the forehead of a professor, or a custodial worker cleaning the new building, somehow getting money for more of THEM tends to be a bit more difficult.

    So, yeah, a fair number of new buildings, and most of them contain the largest lecture theatre on their campus, because the PREVIOUS largest lecture theatre on campus is no longer big enough for the size of class they need to run to get the most eyeballs in front of their limited teaching staff.

  67. You're right Thwim. So let's say someone can't afford dinner. They say to me, "hey man, I ain't gots no moneys for the eats" or something like that. And I say to them, No problem bud. Listen closely, I'm going to give you 40 cents toward your dinner. Now, that's 10 cents for dinner today, and 10 cents for dinner the next three days as well. Subways got a great deal on footlongs on right now.

    You're right, I have helped them to get their dinner, though I for some reason doubt I have enabled (best word I could think of) them to get dinner.

  68. You may have a point there.. but you have to consider the allure of "free" money. If they could afford to go to school before, the $1000 becomes basically unencumbered money. It means you can do everything you were going to do before *plus* get a free course.

    I do agree that I'd prefer it concentrated on the low income folks as well but I think opening it up is the way of ensuring that the holy grail of voters middle class sees it as something that can benefit them directly.

  69. That's an issue for the provinces to address. The federal government only addresses access to education, not its quality.

  70. From the Freep: The $1-billion figure is based on estimates that roughly one million students attend college or university each year; if each student gets $1,000, it works out to about $1 billion.

    Except that each student gets a grand per year over four years while in high school, and under current RESP/EAP rules can cash out up to a limit of five grand in the first 13 weeks of approved studies (and no limit after that 13th week in the same year).

    So whoopsie on the thousand per post-secondary student per year thing. All four grand could get blown in the very first year, whether the student completes the program or not.

  71. From the Freep: Senior Liberal officials say the program would be financed in part by increasing the business tax rate to 18 per cent, up from the current rate of 16.5 per cent.

    This is the 4.6 billion vs. 6 billion from an earlier discussion on these pages, correct? So (at least!) one billion is spoken for. What shall tomorrow bring, I wonder…

  72. First, I love Ted Talks and would encourage everybody to spend some time at their website on a regular basis. Thanks for posting that, Emily.

    Creative thinking is likely more important than everything else. Without creativity, if we just followed alfanerd's prescription for education, we'd still be running away from lions or huddling around a lightning-strike started fire. There is definite connection, almost a codependence, between the arts and the sciences. To promote one over the other harms both.

  73. So. Given your math, you're assuming that post-secondary courses cost about 35K each.

    Get realistic, and maybe we can talk.

  74. I'd say the majority of arts students can't write, either.

    I helped to edit a newspaper in high school. It shocked me, frankly. People in high school should be able to write. Most just can't manage it. I did some proofing for a rag in university and encountered the same problem. I'm a technical person, not someone who is particularly gifted in language studies. Why is it that I manage to be disappointed by the language skills of most university graduates, including and perhaps especially those from many of the less prestigious arts disciplines?

  75. I get that, but now we are back to politics interfering with policy (not that we ever left). I really feel at some point if we are going to get our finances in order we have to stop doing this sort of thing.

    Also, this kind of universal policy ultimately ends up transferring money from people who need it to people who don't. I believe this is wrong.

  76. Yup, Mr.Ignatieff will promise a lot.

    Here's my bet:

    Negotiations for how to line up the television debates must be in full swing,

    The so-called experts at the Globe and Mail, must be fighting tooth and nail to avoid a one-on-one debate between Harper and Ignatieff,. The G&M will fight all the way for having as many leaders participate within all of the debates as possible. Here's why:

    Moderator: "Leaders, you will each have two minutes to make your opening statements"

    Harper: "The Conservative party wants to complete its economic plan. A coalition government does not offer stability to Canadians and does not serve the well-being of Canada."

    Ignatieff: "We will promise you the full moon of new programs. Harper is a liar. Harper is evil. Look at his eyes. They are blue. Blue eyes cannot be trusted."

    Layton:"We will promise to go over the moon for you to find all the social programs necessary to win your vote. Harper is a liar. He is a thief. He is wrong, evil and not to be trusted."

    Ms.May: "Let me say first and foremost: Harper is the most evil man on this earth. Harper is so evil, the earth rejects him. Oh, and did I tell you that Harper is evil?"

    Duceppe: "My party speaks for Quebec and Quebeckers. Really, I am not lying. Harper is lying. Harper has always lied. Harper lies now and if he doesn't we will ask for another referendum to make sure he is lying. Harper cannot be trusted. (moderator wants to cut him off) Harper is a lier,……………….."

    The Canadian viewer has been deceived once more, but the G&M editorial is overly pleased with the outcome of the debates. The french version will run tomorrow night. Goodnight, Canada.

  77. Sigh. I should have known you would never let me get away with inaccurate numbers, and that it would cause you to miss my point altogether. I take full blame.

    Please change 10 cents to 60 cents, and 40 cents to 2 dollars and 40 cents. You're right, my friend with the weird way of talking is now much closer to getting his Cold Cut Trio on Parmesan Oregano, but I do believe that my point, which all along was the real point, still holds.

    Of course, you could have simply told me from the beginning that this funding is not meant to make it possible for people who can't go to school to suddenly be able to go to school, that that is what student loans are for.


  78. .
    Just make it FREE.

    Poor though they be, that's how Cuba did, and I don't think they have changed. At my university, $6000/4 years is becoming chicken-feed.

    China is now slated to be world leader in science output by 2013. They didn't get here by driving students into poverty.

    Back to Harvard. Stop visiting. Peddle your half-way drivel where they will appreciate it.

  79. I have TEDTALKs emailed to me every week….there are some duds, but there are many more brilliant ones and I love them.

    To use the old example of Star Trek….much of the tech on there has since come into existence….it was a TV show that 'imagined' the future, and others made it happen. Whether they would have thought of it on their own is questionable…..writers envisioned it first before others went searching for the means to do it.

  80. Out of university maybe. There are other educational avenues. I think a CEGEP style system of university style courses offered by less expensive faculty would work wonders. Intro to econ courses should probably be taught there, if not high school. Many people could get on quite well with a two year diploma from such an institution, and would probably be better educated.

  81. I think this would be better as a grant than through the RESP system, but I do like the fact that it's replacing tax credits. Tax credits are a horrible tool for this kind of policy.

  82. In order to stop doing this sort of thing we have to either A) Stop having elections where everybody is allowed a vote or B) get enough people educated so that they become critical thinkers.

    Yeah, this plan isn't ideal, but since we're not going to do A, at least it's a step toward B.

  83. Yes, my thoughts exactly.

  84. I agree that education should be free….why we punish the very people we need with massive debt, I don't know.

    I'm all for anything that helps get us to that stage.

  85. $1500 is close to one third to one half the tuition cost at many universities. This is not insignificant.

  86. I find it sad that everytime education is discussed there are always those who want to limit it for other people.

  87. Maybe universities should just get more selective in their admissions.

  88. Interesting point. Is it a bad thing? If students have no financial barriers to education, competition for students will focus even more on ability, won't it?

    (Oh, what's a Freep, btw?)

  89. Agreed.

    Warren Buffet said of it "You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out”

    For some reason, we only focussed on the 'naked', and not the fact the tide suddenly went out.

  90. Yes, while I'm sure you can see why I responded with Baird, I now see why he was referring to Chiarelli.

    My reading comprehension is really off today.

  91. We'll have to agree to disagree on this, but your comment made me chuckle :)

    Having said all of this, I don't think its a bad policy per se. Of course, I would rather we target money just where it is needed, and then give everyone an income tax cut (in general, not this election).

  92. It's the change in direction….

  93. (The Winnipeg Free Press)

  94. that's because subprime mortgages were a huge market, and subprime mortgages were a huge market because of policies which forced banks into taking large number of subprime mortgages.

  95. you're right on that.

  96. You said, specifically, that you don't think this funding would allow someone who otherwise could not go to school for financial reasons to now go to school.

    Seeing as you like to play the semantic nits fairly often, I thought I'd throw one in your face, and then you come up with this hypothetical destitute person to illustrate your point, and do so with bad numbers.

    Now that we've adjusted your numbers to some degree, lets go after the main problem.

    I picture a someone who would like to go to school, but even with student loans, etc, finds that they're a thousand dollars short. Please justify your original comment with this someone in mind.

  97. Historical financial crises highlighted the need for firewalls to be put up between markets in order to contain emotional market contagions. However, being artificial barriers, these firewalls restricted total profit potential. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act removed these barriers in the hope that the result would reduce risk by spreading it around.

    In short, the old method was designed to contain cancer to a specific limb, so that the limb could be cut off and the body would continue functioning. The new rules were based on the assumption that we would never get cancer again.

  98. I agree, however, they're caught in a catch-22 as their government funding is in many ways dependent on how many students they have. Lots of university funding is tied up in per-student formulas. So, sometimes, the situation is that they don't have enough money to best deal with the students they currently have, but the easiest and fastest way to get more money is to let in more students. So, getting more selective in their admissions can actually make their financial situation much worse.

    ETA: In the case of the double cohort specifically, there was a large financial incentive provided to encourage universities to let in more students, and it was 1) extremely difficult to resist but, ironically, 2) probably not enough to actually account for all the increased costs.

  99. Emily, I'm all for education, but I want people to actually get something out of it. University should be for those that have demonstrated mastery of more basic and elementary education (ie, basic literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking skills) through high grade achievement. Those that haven't yet made that achievement should have other avenues available to them. If they can reach the grades, they should be able to go. Eventually we need to divert the remedial students out of the advanced algebra class. If you want, I'd settle for admitting everyone, but maintaining the grading scheme at a high objective level. You'd see very high attrition rates, certainly, but at least we'd avoid English BAs who can't write, and engineers and other BScs who are afraid of math.

    and I'm not saying that people who can't make this cut shouldn't have access to philosophy, fine art, language and science education. I'd just like people to get Commerce diplomas with lots of electives than see Biochemistry BScs in business roles. We have a training mismatch in this country, and forcing people to go through the motions of a degree that they don't care about and have no passion for to earn some letters to get a basic job is not a good state of affairs.

  100. Actually, I think doing it through the RESP system is kind of interesting, because it means parents and potential students will be told about when they go to talk to any sort of financial planning person. "You know there's $1000 available for you in an RESP if you start one, right?" Which can lead to the conversation of "What's an RESP, and how do I get this?" Whereas a grant will really only be found out about by someone already seriously looking at going into post-secondary.

  101. Out of university maybe. There are other educational avenues

    From what I've seen, employers prefer university graduates to those who have pursued other educational avenues. (Or, more accurately: human resources people, whose job it is to screen the hundreds of incoming resumes, use the university degree or lack of it as a preliminary screening tool.)

  102. Aaron Wherry might not be too eager to post this, so allow me:

    Would CEGEP students profit from Liberal grants?

    So, they announce a major policy plank, realize it doesn't apply properly in Quebec, change the details for that province, and admit that more changes could occur down the road.

    These people are ready to govern, are they?

  103. The full $6500 grant for low income students would have paid for about 80% of my 4th year at school, before taking books into account.

  104. It may be a great thing. Or it may not. Competition for students pretty much already focuses on ability. FOR SOME DISCIPLINES.

    "Hey look, free money to take a stab at underwater basket-weaving at the community college! Full-time. What am I gonna do anyways, look for a job? Sign me up! The babes will be fantastic! Did someone just say intramural co-ed water polo?"

    Student parties hard, spends entirety of this new taxpayer largesse over first semester. Hands in one of the seven required term papers, and thank heavens for MS Word's red and green squiggles or the beast would have been a complete disaster. The second semester, by mutual agreement of student and faculty (ah, euphemisms…), is not pursued.

    Bam! Four grand of public money "invested." The, um, "graduate" is eligible for the same jobs he was eligible before this glorious enhanced access to education.

  105. At the peak of the crisis, subprime mortgages were $1.3 trillion and had a delinquency rate of 25%. Even if you assume that all of those delinquencies would have had a 60% loan write-off, which isn't necessarily the case although some markets were terrible, we're talking a total hit to the subprime mortgage sector of $200 billion.

    That sounds like a lot, but the total mortgage market is about $10 trillion. Subprime only sounded big, but it should never have crippled the entire financial sector.

  106. that's exactly what i said in my other posts. i am blaming the high school system, even the elementary school system. but these programs who are "expected to admit them", they brought it on themselves. low enrollment led to lowered standards, which increased enrollment but created this current situation.

  107. and that is part of the problem.

  108. The most disturbing element in that analysis, Stewart, was the diminishing returns on investment for a University degree.

  109. One would have to ask why they are in programs they are totally unsuited for in the first place. Perhaps some guidance counselling would be in order.

    The biggest mismatch in this country is that we have thousands of unemployed people and also thousands of jobs we can't fill because we don't have people qualified to fill them

    Structural unemployment

  110. oh wow, that's amazing sandiegodave, capital letters. clearly, i did not know that, and i did not just type without capital letters because this is an informal forum.

    are you upset cause i insulted your general arts degree?

    im so sorry. actually no, im not.

  111. Yes, a degree is now entry level.

  112. As opposed to..what? Ignoring significant policy deficiencies and ramming them through regardless? I know that's how Harper has tended to operate, but some of us prefer a more nuanced approach.

  113. There is a real problem that to qualify for financial aid as a University student the government typically looks at the income of your parents as well as your income. So if your parents earn a lot of money then you will not qualify for most financial aid programs regardless of what your parents will contribute to your education. Note that most 19 year olds are not able to access their parents bank accounts.

    Also, many part-time jobs on campuses will be given preferentially to students receiving government financial aid. Wealthy parents don't always give their adult children a large allowance so that they can afford university.

  114. As opposed to knowing what the heck you're doing in the first place before forcing a $300 million election nobody else wants? lol

  115. ok, thanks, it's good to discuss this with someone who has knowledge and hard numbers.

    So, if I may, if subprime mortgages caused only 200 billion in losses, where did the other losses come from?

  116. As opposed to doing nothing I presume. But policies can always be tweaked.

    It is however the direction we need to go in.

  117. From the Nat-Post: It would also replace the textbook tax credit and the education tax credit, which are worth approximately $450 million.

    I see. So it's not so much of a game-changer as a game rules-changer. OK.

    And it STILL might be a good idea. Two silly little micro-credits out of the income tax annual ritual, dozens and dozens more to go…

  118. "Make it all free" is not a viable strategy for any program or service in the long term.

  119. Ok. So you've got a hypothetical anecdote. I rebut you with my own hypothetical anecdote of the girl who would be stuck between flipping burgers and unemployment, but because of these grants is able to get her first year of post-secondary, and because she's studied hard and done well at them, thereafter is able to qualify for scholarship funding to finish her education. Following which she starts up a successful small business that not only supports her, but also manages to employ a couple other people, one of which is your hypothetical anecdote case in a shipping job.

    Now, given that the average post-secondary graduate makes a million dollars more gross than their uneducated counterpart in their lifetime, even if we assume they pay, an absolutely ludicriously low 2% in taxes on that million dollars over their lifetime, they've paid 20K extra. That covers themselves and four others for this program.

    So even at the ludicrous total tax rate of 2%, we see we'd need a slacker ratio of 4:1 for this program to be a bad investment.

    There are no silver bullets in this world.. but further education comes damn close to being one.

  120. Fair enough. But this is also an excellent lesson that provinces run post-secondary education, and maybe Ottawa should just butt out.

  121. Tweaked? We're talking about thousands of dollars per student here. How could they have missed this?

  122. The same editorial board who endorsed Harper in the last two elections?

    Get a grip.

  123. I'll readily admit to shaking my head when it comes to the Liberals wanting to go to an election. You won't find justification from me.

    But that does not change the fact that the Harper government has a history of blindly pushed through really dumb policies without accounting for the responses the get in 'consultations'. In fact, under the Harper government, the period for consultations is now frequently as short as a week or two, if there's any consultation at all.

  124. Sounds good to me. They're acknowledging that in a country as big as Canada, one size does not fit all. So during the election period, provide the broad strokes of their intentions, and then move on to more specific ones.

    Have to say, this beats the hell out of providing broad strokes of intentions, such as not appointing unelected senators, or not taxing income trusts, and then moving on to do the exact opposite within the first couple months.

  125. I tend to agree, but if there was one for which it is a viable strategy.. education might well be it. The payoff is simply so much greater than the investment — for the individual, for the society, and for the government.

  126. That's weird. Seems to have worked for elementary and secondary education in the last century and a half. Given the changing nature of our knowledge needs, expanding the programme is a desired outcome – at least if we made it targeted and got rid of the guidance counsellors that can only recommend university as opposed to trade training.

    Maybe it would be advisable to make having a trade a prereqisite for university entrance.

  127. I'm sorry, but what kind of argument is this? The Liberals basically blow a major part of the policy plank, and what do you do? You blast the Tories for policies you don't like. That's a non-sequitur. In other words, it's the lamest kind of argument.

  128. Works for elementary and secondary school….no reason why it can't work at the tertiary level.

  129. How could Cons have goofed on billions of dollars when dealing with fighter planes?

    No tweaking will fix that.

  130. Now, given that the average post-secondary graduate makes a million dollars more gross than their uneducated counterpart in their lifetime…

    You have provided a very important reason that repayable student loans are the way to go. Our enterprising young lady still gets to succeed, and our slacker gets quite rightly scared away.

    This is likely going to go over like a ton of bricks, but here's a secret: not everybody should go get a post-secondary education. And the tragedy of the commons applies here just as everywhere else. One should be able to read and write and balance a chequebook BEFORE grade 12. Throwing gobs of cash at nineteen year olds to keep slogging through college to make up for high school's inadequacies does NOT strike me as brilliant.

  131. The feds should handle education….nation-wide.

  132. Without getting into an extremely lengthy discussion, it can be summed up in a phrase: side-bets.

    I was simply referencing the raw cost of sub-prime mortgages. However, these mortgages were bundled up into various securities, most notoriously Collateralized Debt Obligations. These CDO's were frequently rolled into still further Special Investment Vehicles, such as CDO^2 and CDO^3, which were basically bets upon bets upon bets. Impossible to model potential losses, which quickly became a concern during the crisis as no one knew where they stood.

    CDO's, even when they were worth more than the entire sub-prime market, still probably wouldn't have taken down the financial system on their own, if it wasn't for Credit Default Swaps. These swaps basically linked all of the financial institutions together by betting on each other's financial health. Much like if I saw you smoking and took out a life insurance policy against you to benefit from your death.

    When the CDO market went belly up, the CDS market had a heart attack, and suddenly there were huge liquidity concerns as everyone tried to net out their exposure to damaged financial institutions.

    How's that for a short answer to a very complex question?

  133. So, your argument is that this money will go for "beer and popcorn"?

  134. lol, who are you trying to kid? If that was the case, they would have accommodated provincial differences before they developed a major campaign plank. Instead, they're being forced to change the details after it's been pointed out to them that it doesn't work.

    So, if they're getting basic details of their major policies wrong, how in the world are we to trust any of the costing claims, let alone handing them the keys to power?

  135. Liberal Nola ALREADY changes the channel, can't defend this goof by her party.

    Oh, we'll have plenty of time to discuss Liberal claims about the jets. Nice try. Next.

  136. "half the students cannot write a proper English sentence"

    That is even more true for engineering students, so I am not sure what you're getting at there.

    (Speaking from experience)

  137. But how many families receive neither CESG nor the CLB ($500?) because they don't have an RESP or contribute essentially nothing to it? My understanding is that it's a lot. So for them it's a difference between $0 and $4000, which is significant.

  138. Ah. I didn't see that in the Liberal press release. Is that part of their campaign? Or are they going to let Quebec continue to run its CEGEPs, and still try to federalize a one-size-fits-all program that cannot possibly fit all?

  139. Much of S/F really contributes to science. You're right, Star Trek is a good example.

    There are other examples though. If you look at photography from the very start it's been heavy on both science and art. It's where I really learned about chemistry and physics, very hands on. I've met several people who came from science into photography too.

    This whole 'puter thing is another example…lots of crossover going both ways.

    In the last decade or so I've noticed a lot of environmentalists learning hard science and scientists getting involved in environmentalism. Not just over global warming either, but the whole scope of it.

  140. No, I'm responding to your statement that "These people are ready to govern, are they" by showing that a government that responds to policy criticisms instead of hiding from them is preferable.

    It certainly would have been preferable to have identified this issue with CEGEP before the plank was announced, no question. But second best is adjusting that policy idea based on critical feedback.

  141. While I understand your comment, I would note that most of the "kids" in this case couldn't afford to go to university or college without parental support, but the kids are in reality young adults, not children. Many people do not feel a responsibility to support their adult children at least not to the degree required for a university education today.

  142. Yeah, that kind of editorial board who could never quite manage to say something positive about Harper during the last elections either without condemning him hard within the last and lasting piece of any editorial opinion.

    Now the G&M no longer winds any cloth around its hate towards Harper. Now they have decided to just be in the open about it. I admire 'm for that.

  143. Ahhh the paranoid Bolshie is with us again.

    Sorry…but you won't divert a discussion on education with your campaign and other fantasies.

    No one's interested.

  144. Oh, come on now. Liberal numbers are always exact. Nothing to hide, nothing to bring to committee after the facts.

    All is well with the wishy washy Liberals.

  145. Except the reality is that our enterprising young lady is the one who will look at the possible debt load racked up in student loans, and not knowing ahead of time if she has the ability to succeed, will wisely avoid going that route.

    Meanwhile, your slacker dude will take out the student loans anyway, because, let's face it, he isn't looking far enough into the future to get scared of anything.

    Student Loans are the *worst* method of publically funding post-secondary education. They provide the strongest disincentives to those who'd most benefit from the educational process. Not to mention that given the earning of a graduate, every successful student ends up paying the cost of their degree twice over in taxes alone, and yet we want them to pay for the privilege of doing that as well. Student Loans are a farce. Change them so that the first year is completely free low-income grants, and years 2-X are loans which are completely remission covered upon successful completion of that year and you've got a decent system. One that only leaves the student on the hook for failure, and not simply for the attempt.

  146. One potential solution would be for the Liberals to announce that that the implementation of policy announcements in this campaign be deferred for five years. This will ensure that there will lots of time to iron out any potential wrinkles/provincial differences.

  147. Noop, that's me. And a few others on here by the sound of it.

    And it wasn't a one-size-fits-all program to begin with.

    This is an announcement of policy…details and costing will be out at the end of the week.

  148. The ones who want to know the truth are interested. Didn't the LIberals demand, I say DEMAND hard numbers from the Conservatives on prison and planes, and everything else.

    But the Liberals themselves can make things up on the fly, to be corrected later.

    Who called whom in contempt???

  149. Hold the phone! There's more complication in the Liberal release: When the student starts post-secondary education, the Learning Passport contributions will be paid out at the start of each year of full-time study, up to a maximum of four years.

    So there will be some rules for some of the RESP, and some rules for the Learning Passport. Which means that the Learning Passport isn't an RESP at all, and administering it through the RESP will be an administrative blunder.

    Current RESP/EAP: Up to $5K for the first 13 weeks of approved studies; no limit after the 13th week as long as you are still in approved studies. The $5K limit kicks in again if you've been away from studies for a year. If expenses are really steep, call this 800-number to have your personal situation reviewed and we might allow more than $5K even in the first 13 weeks.

    Learning Passport: We "feed" your RESP $1K per year while you are in high school, but that's just a silly accounting trick. The money isn't really there. You get your $1K per year as you start each year of full-time studies.

    Now the CEGEP nuance discussion makes even more sense.

  150. No tweeking for the Cons, the committee said.

    Now it's open tweek season for the Liberals.

    Did you know that the home heating and the CPP demands by Jack could not be met because such are not strictly federal issues to be decided upon…………………………….lots of lessons to be learned, Emily!

  151. Not much beer or popcorn. See below, in which MYL learns that the four grand cannot in fact be collapsed into a single semester of drunken depravity. The Liberals want to run this like an RESP except it runs nothing like an RESP.

  152. So, a party that can't even properly design and cost it's own major campaign promises is somehow more ready to govern than a party that actually has governed for quite some time, and with the consent and approval of the Canadian people. You've got a very curious way of defending Liberal incompetence. I'm sorry. lol

  153. You can join your Bolshie buddy elsewhere.

    I'm not interested in Con nonsense.

  154. It was a policy announcement.

    Full details and costing at the end of the week.

    Not interested in Con campaigning….sorry.

  155. First off, I don't think he can spend the whole $4000 on one semester of one program at community college. Tuition at Sheridan College is $1210 a semester, and I'm pretty sure a scrawled note saying "partied hard" will not be accepted as a receipt for a legitimate educational expense eligible for him to use his $4000 towards.

    Besides, even if we assume that he could spend the $4000 on anything he wants, how is he "partying hard" on $4000 a term??? If the student gets $4000, spends $1210 in tuition (one term at Sheridan College), $500 a month in rent for some one bedroom dive in Toronto, and a measly $100 a month for electricity, heat, and the luxury of a telephone (don't even think about the internet!), by my calculations he's left with about $3.50 a day for food (and I think I was pretty conservative in my numbers!).

    If the student doesn't get a job, I'm not sure he DOES finish the semester eligible for the same jobs he was eligible for before. I think he's more likely to freeze to death or starve.

  156. You, sir, are rude.

    That being said, it was unnecessary for me to add the "In Canada, we start a sentence with capital letters". That was excessively snarky.

    I apologize for that.

  157. Here's a crazy idea:

    Perhaps, once proposed as a bill the idea would go to committee and the government would provide relevant background and financial implications and MP's could go over the proposed legislation line by line and suggest improvements. And, then perhaps it could be amended and voted on in the House of Commons before being sent to the Senate for further inspection. And since it would be the will of the House, the Senate would actually pass the now improved bill.

    I know it sounds way over the top, but this is the way that governments worked out legislative details in the olden days. Maybe we can try again some time.

  158. It's a huge problem. Sometimes it's appropriate, but other times it's just laziness. Do you need a degree to sell tractors? No, but if you want to work at a major dealership you have to have one. I talked to a man the other day who knew nothing about the product he was selling, but I know he beat an acquaintance of mine out for the job. A big criteria was post-secondary in business.

    The problem is that it's very difficult to quantify continued and self-learning. I know my acquaintance knows tractors…and especially that brand…inside and out. I know he's personable and can do sales. I know he's got a good head for business. It's hinted at in his resume…lots of night courses, lots of in-house stuff from a formal employer, but not much formal education. In his case he just couldn't afford it.

    What's an HR person to do though? I would guess there were likely over 100 applications for that job.

  159. Agreed, but the same wealthy parents who don't want to support their kids at university probably haven't set up an RESP for them …

  160. You're now at least the second person on here who's defending this Liberal gaffe by attacking Tories. I have to say, it's a rather curious method of making the case for governing: Don't hold us to standards, let's just bash Harper?

    My suggestion? You'll need more to justify this $300 million election. Just saying.

  161. Yes, there's a convergence now with all kinds of disciplines….and all amplified by the web. The most interesting era in our history.

  162. that's pretty good thanks. I was aware of CDOs, but not CDSs.

  163. Sure, but the instrument we are using here is an RESP, which is typically set up by parents who want to support their children at university.

    Regardless, my main point still holds, I don't think we can afford to give money to those that don't need it. There is a tendency to make programs like these very broad, partly so that they win more votes, and also because, it seems, the policy makers don't want to make the effort to target them more narrowly.

    The point I'm trying to make here is that I don't mind some people getting some funding they don't need but surely we can do a lot better than just making it available to everyone.

  164. No mention about the Harper being held in contempt huh? oh well…

  165. Credit Default Swaps are basically insurance policies without the nasty onerous capital reserve requirements. The main provider of CDS backing was AIG, but the company did not put up the capital necessary to fulfill their contractual obligations. This is the reason AIG was quickly taken over by the US government and required a $200 billion bailout.

  166. you dont need to apologize for being snarky. like you said, im rude. that entitles you to be snarky with me. i can handle it.

    i understand that my arguing style can rub some people the wrong way. if that's the case, i recommend ignoring me altogether. but my arguing style also promotes discussion (see the above 55+ comments on education compared to other threads).

    I would rather be rude and promote real discussion then try to make everybody happy with a nice comment.

  167. Alfanerd's gotta get with the times — english, arts and galas are no longer in his swami's crosshairs. They are de jour! Harper plays the piano and wants little tykes to learn the same thing while they wait for the income-splitting benefits of the distant future. With the $30 tax credit their parents will receive from Harper's boutique tax credits, they may be able to save up and attend an arts college program when they are 29, 30…

  168. That was really interesting. I'd delved into this before, but this was the first I've seen with the path going the other way. In other words, all other explanations START with Credit Default Swaps.

    I think your way is easier to follow

  169. most enlightening.

  170. Unfortunately as of day 4 of the campaign, if one is looking for policy announcements that are fully-costed, immediately applicable in a "one-size fits all" fashion to each province/territory and don't also depend on a particular party winning the next three elections before implementing, no one can make a case for governing.

    You win. I guess we should cancel this whole election thingy as it's obviously unjustifiable.

  171. "The most disturbing element in that analysis, Stewart, was the diminishing returns on investment for a University degree."

    It's like that line from the Incredibles: "And when i'm old and i've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so that 'everyone' can have powers. Everyone can be super! And when everyone's super — no one will be."

  172. Thanks, Jenn_! The easiest way to follow the path of destruction is to look at the order in which companies started collapsing. Bear Stearns collapsed because of their exposure to mortgage-backed securities, specifically CDO's, combined with their exposure to the short-term paper market that necessitated they roll over all of their debt on the overnight market (or at least a large portion). As soon as they started having problems, no one would participate in the debt market with them and they were dead within a week.

    Lehman Brothers collapsed for similar reasons, but had less exposure to CDO's but greater exposure to more generic sub-prime Mortgage-Backed Securities, and that's why it took longer. They also had more cash available and weren't leveraged as highly as Bear Stearns.

    Goldman Sachs actually bet against the CDO/MBS market, which would have put them ahead, but had so much exposure to Credit Default Swaps that no one knew if they were going to benefit or lose.

    AIG collapsed because of Lehman and the capital necessary to put up against their CDS losses. The government had no choice but to bail out AIG, or the entire system would have collapsed overnight. Even with the bailout, it was touch and go for a while.

    I'm still over-simplifying here; one of the best summaries I've read is Andrew Ross Sorkin's overview of the whole time period.

  173. Will be interesting to see the impact of this. While younger Canadians are much less likely to vote than those older, they can be an important demographic when they're clustered on University campuses. However, most will be back in their home ridings by May 2nd. Not necessarily thinking about how this impacts big schools, but it would be interesting too see the impact in places like Peterborough.

  174. Without a doubt, one of my favourite movies of all time. :)

  175. It seems to be an actual, touchable policy promise, unlike the costly, pretty futurama bauble bounced by the PM yesterday. But you know which ones the guys who write the headlines in the newspapers covet, don't you?

  176. Earlier Em
    "Of course that should be addressed at an earlier stage, but it isn't happening….all of education needs an overhaul. "

  177. The RESP is an investment savings plan, with a government top up, that shelters the growth from taxes. The top up was, if my recollection is correct, instead of making the whole plan like an RRSP which shelters the actual contribution from income tax and not just the growth which would have cost the government way way way more.

    Second, the top-up contribution is capped each year and doesn't roll over to the next if not used so it is an incentive to contribute early, regularly and fully. That is smart planning and likely costs the government less than trying to help out later on.

    Third, it is a longterm investment plan. The matching top-up contribution is made now, not at the time your kid goes off to school. So who knows what kind of financial shape you'll be in 15-20 years from now. You may be moderately wealthy, but what if you lose your job? get sick or die? or the economy tanks?

    Fourth, the government is actually not giving you the taxpayer money. It is giving the money to your child and only for education. You can withdraw your own funds at any time but you don't get that money.

  178. At work, one of my co-workers is an eighteen year old girl who wants to go on to SAIT after highschool.

    But she was telling me the other day, that during social classes, and when learning about the Canadian political system, the teachers/instructors would sometimes openly declare Harper's Conservatives to be bad for this country.

    I found that unbelievable. But I don't find my co-worker to be a lier. In fact, I told her the other day that for her age she is a very competent worker and if I were to run my own business I would have no problem hiring her.

    And so, if anything, I found her remark about teaching techniques a bit disheartening.

  179. It's a game changer if $100 child subsidy ($50 after taxes) is a game changer.

    It's certainly a political game changer.

  180. You're right. It is a crazy idea to suggest a party that can't even get its own campaign promises in order will get a chance at power, table legislation, and have it amended and such.

  181. I agree with most of what you said (and I know roughly how RESPs work since I have them for my children), but it still doesn't address my main point. I'm not sure where you are going with this:

    Fourth, the government is actually not giving you the taxpayer money. It is giving the money to your child and only for education. You can withdraw your own funds at any time but you don't get that money.

    Obviously, but my point is (very) simply that we shouldn't be giving money to people who don't need it, frankly I'm surprised how much resistance there seems to be to this idea.

  182. In other words, the Liberals don't have to take any responsibility for developing extensive policy planks that don't hold water even after the first day they're announced? They had months to develop these. Should we apply that same standard to their entire campaign platform? Never mind the details. We'll get it right after you give us power. Some of you have mighty fine ways of justifying a chance to govern. Might fine.

  183. Education needs an overhaul….the method of payment doesn't.

  184. Interesting, though presumably the Learning Passport funds are still pooled in the rest of the RESP funds so will generate income.

  185. Where I'm going with that is that you can't administer what you are proposing and even if you could it wouldn't work the way you want.

    The person getting the funding is the child. They have almost no income so are, by definition, poor. It's obviously not the full context because lots, perhaps even most, have support from their parents. But not all. So how do you measure? With OSAP, there is a greater concern because you don't want someone pocketing the money if they don't need the money. With the RESP, there is no pocketing since the money can only be used for education.

    And you are forgetting that the grant is taxed as income when it is drawn. So you have a built in progressive taxation of the income which is means tested.

  186. More importantly than the above, you just cannot effectively means test for this.

    With OSAP or other similar loan programs you can measure at the time the government gives out the money. You can apply a needs-based test before giving the money away.

    But you can't do that effectively with an RESP. I might be well enough off right now but poor when my son goes to university, so are you going to prejudice me? I might be poor now and scrounge and save and contribute but be wealthy when my kid goes to school; are you going to clawback? What about the family who goes up and down over 15 years, are you going to test every year or go back and get an average? What about split families?

    It is not the resistance to the idea so much as it is impractical and could only be unfair to those in need. Since it is a longterm investment and people go through ups and downs.

    It also misses the primary purpose of the top-up which is to encourage everyone to invest as much as possible. You can argue that governments shouldn't be making those kind of lifestyle calls, but that is why they are doing it.

  187. How did you end up marking Criminology papers? Do tell.

  188. Private sector corporations fund (or partially fund) employees to take additional training and continuing education all the time.

  189. It seems to me that the Cons have been tweeking alright, but not in the policy sense.

  190. Except that they are means testing it – the policy gives more money to families with a lower income <edit> as does the current RESP top-up </edit>.

    Also, all you are arguing is that any formula we can come up with is imperfect. I agree, but don't see that as a reason not to means-test. While all your examples are valid you are really making the argument that if we can't implement a policy (means-testing in this case) perfectly then we just shouldn't bother trying. I think excluding some deserving people is a price I'm willing to pay to avoid profligacy.

  191. 1. Are you sure they means test the top-up? I am pretty sure they don't. And if they already do, then I've completely lost your point on this.

    2. No. I'm not saying don't do it because it can't be perfect. I'm saying it is impossible to do it fairly. We don't do "lifelong" means testing for a reason. People's incomes go up and down over this investment time period. There is no way to measure this except to do it every single year and means test every single year, which they don't do because it would be prohibitively expensive and cost more than the money paid out.

  192. In the community college programs in which I taught for over two decades, we always had a handful of university grads in any given class. They came to college after getting their arts degree in order to get applied skills in their chosen field.

    They were typically the strongest students academically (in terms of generic knowledge and literacy), for which I give university education the credit, although relative maturity was undoubtedly a factor.

    IMO, undergraduate university education, properly undertaken, prepares one for living, not necessarily for working in a specific vocation. Traditionally, I believe that was always the case. I don't think university was originally intended to make its graduates "employable" in the narrow sense that such an expectation occurs today.

  193. What's most disturbing is that the TARP program (and similar government bailouts) got such a rough ride in the media, but those loans were all repaid by financial institutions. The AIG Bailout, however, was a $182 billion non-repayable cash infusion into the firms that directly caused the crisis, and the media hardly raised a wimper.

    I argued pretty vociferously at the time that the government should have paid out less than 50 cents on the dollar to really cause those companies pain instead of paying out 100% like they did. Or, conversely, the government should have taken over all of those financial firms and wiped out the bondholders.

    As it stands, we're now at the point of moral hazard writ large in the financial community. This is why the financial crisis is far from over, but simply dormant.

  194. Good one. I didn't make that connection.

  195. To add to that observation, a significant percentage of post-secondary students (about a third, based on my teaching experience) are so-called "mature" students (a term I dislike because it implies the rest aren't) in their 30s, 40s, or older, who are re-training, seeking a second career, or getting the education they'd forsaken in their youth.

    Like the "kids", they too find the costs exorbitant, especially if they're raising a family themselves.

  196. I think you can do it fairly, you just can't do it perfectly fairly, that is I think that means testing in the year of contribution is a reasonably fair way of doing it.

    And yes both the current scheme and the Liberal proposal already do means-testing. From the proposal:

    The Learning Passport will be $1,000 in every RESP account in each of the four years leading up to the typical start of post-secondary education, when the recipient is 14 to 17 years of age. For low-income families, the amount will be $1,500 in each of those four years.

    And the current CESG system (the "top-up" to the RESP) includes an additional grant for low-income:

    Additional CESG is a payment (over and above the Basic CESG amount) of either 10% or 20% on the first $500 or less of annual RESP contributions made on or after January 1, 2005, in respect of an eligible beneficiary, up until the end of the calendar year in which the beneficiary turns 17.

    So, while your arguments about fairness do hold merit neither the LPC nor the current government seem to agree with them.

    My point, to make it clear, is that I don't want any funding for parents who don't need it (and yes I am aware that that would be very poor politics).

  197. It is obvious from your ramblings you think Harper is in trouble.

  198. Geezus I thought you were already at the bottom of the barrel.

  199. but in my university experience, the vast majority of arts students are idiots who just want to get a degree for the sake of getting a degree, and end up becoming a glorified paper-pusher at the government.

    And in my experience most business and engineering majors are sociopaths.

    Wheeeee! That was fun! Plus I got to use my education by placing capital letters at the beginnings of my sentences.

  200. I find your theories intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter on eugenics.

  201. The difference being that you would be wronger.

  202. There are good students in management and the sciences, but mostly they are full of emotionally-stunted dollar-chasers without the imagination or skills to deal with life in its entirety and who prefer to hide in their little self-important niches pretending to contribute something non-ephemeral.

    I could do this all day! Such fun.

  203. I could go to a nice restaurant during the dinner rush, find a table in the center of the room, and climb up and take a dump on it. I guarantee people will be talking about that for weeks.

    I could call it performance art, I suppose. All part of the infection of a liberal education.

  204. "We have a training mismatch in this country, and forcing people to go through the motions of a degree that they don't care about and have no passion for to earn some letters to get a basic job is not a good state of affairs."


  205. go ahead and do that buddy. you're free to ignore me.

  206. yeah its not clear that lessons which needed to be learned got learned.

    but it remains that unless banks are pushed into marketing a product of dubious value like sub-prime mortgages, they wont do it, and even based on your explanation, the very root of the collapse was the subprime mortgages – it did not need to be as big a collapse as it was, but ultimately that is what caused it.

    im sure you've heard of NINJA mortgages. these would never be approved if there was not a legislative incentive to do so and the ability for a financial institution to hide the risk associated with it and pass it on to somebody else.

  207. Have you thought about the idea that perhaps her teachers/instructors, who are experts in the field of the Canadian political system, might be aware of something you aren't?

    Or in short.. that they might simply be correct?

  208. eugenics? You might want to go ask your hero Tommy Douglas about that. He was big on eugenics. So was Hitler, and most of the Progressive movement in Europe and the states, including Woodrow Wilson.

    that's right! I went there. Tommy Douglas -> eugenics -> Hitler. Ouch. suck on it.

    That you would equate restricting public university education to those with academic abilities with the state's management of the gene pool is disgusting and just goes how much kool-aid you've been drinking.

    but i would love to discuss with you how eugenics's disgusting history is very much tied up with lefty icons like the aforementioned Douglas and Hitler.

  209. I actually agree with your assessment of the majority of management and science students.

    But it does not matter, unlike those other arts grad, these emotionally stunted dollar chasers contribute to society.

  210. But that's a feature, not a bug.

    My objection with prior versions of this policy was that students need incentive as well, to pay attention and not consider their education a fancy way of saying Paaarrty! When they still need to save for it, they'd be less likely to take it for granted. But now, saving for it has become a realistic goal–not an impossible dream.

  211. And in my experience most business and engineering majors are sociopaths.

    Yes, sociopaths who not only design and produce all the goods and services you consume, but also sociopaths who pay the taxes to fund your dumb musician friend on welfare.

  212. I have a hard time pointing at a specific cause, and I hope you're not getting the impression that I'm happy with the sub-prime fiasco. Far from it; it was an absolute abomination of lending standards. While various political decisions did come into play, I'd probably put a huge portion of blame on Alan Greenspan and his crazy manoeuvres with interest rates after 9/11.

    By slamming down interest rates for such a long period he basically forced the banks to find a mechanism to shift some of their loans (which everyone wanted because of low interest rates) into assets, which they could then lend against. Banks, of course, have a capital requirement that they have to maintain, so if there is low savings rate and high demand for loans they can quickly get to the position where they aren't able to lend out money because they don't have the assets to back it. So they came up with fancy ways of selling off a package of loans to a buyer so they could put that down as an asset, and then use that to generate more loans.

    In short, the banks used a very old financial tool–securitization–and totally abused it in the desire to increase the amount of money they could lend. Sub-prime occurred near the end of this for the simple reason that banks were running out of things to originate and lend against. And I do blame that mostly on Alan Greenspan's actions between 2000-2001.

  213. And colleges funded by personal income taxes often provide those programs to students on a subsidized basis.

  214. I am actually intrigued by this idea, even though I am currently benefitting from the education & textbook tax credit. However, I am very skeptical about how many NEW university/college students this would produce. I expect it would mostly just make things easier for those that would have gone anyway. So not really that much of a gain for the Gov't or Corporate Canada.

  215. Sure they have to take responsibility. But remember that an election is a comparison. What they've presented so far, and that once it's had a chance to be critiqued they actually adjust based on the content of those critiques, is a good thing.

    Certainly far better than the "ignore, obfuscate, deny & full steam ahead" approach we've seen from the CPC.

  216. It's one thing to get feedback on policy, it's another not having done basic homework. Amazing how so many of you are quick to dismiss incompetence simply because your side is doing it. Meanwhile, look at all the vicious accusations you make at Harper. This makes for good approach to governing, does it? We can do anything we want, the other guys are complete idiots. This is what passes for political dialogue around these parts, I guess.

  217. Most of my dumb musician friends have dayjobs, but I'll tell them you said hi.

  218. Your anger has blinded you, young padawan, into missing the patently obvious fact that I was stealth-Godwinning you for humorous effect. I honestly thought you'd get it, since you seem like a person who's read a couple of books (even if none of them come from any of the Arts faculties).

    Frankly, if you want to get into Operation Paperclip and IBM and all that jazz, A) you'll have to find another dance partner, and B) better not to unpack it on a thread about Canadian education policy. But do go on if it makes you feel less enraged.

  219. I suppose you could be right, given that there are many different and subjective, and sometimes dangerously myopic, ways to define "society".

    I wonder what kind of post-secondary educational faculty one would have to enroll in to research and discuss those different definitions? No matter, there's probably not much cash in it.

  220. I would, but watching you work out your barely-contained aggression is more enjoyable. I had trouble getting dates with the Sociology girls in university, so I'm living vicariously through you (since all that liberal education has smothered my id with a blanket of manners).

  221. fact that I was stealth-Godwinning you for humorous effect.


  222. Nope. Not according to the report on The National Tuesday night. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about the Learning Passport that makes it real money during the accumulation & growth phase of the RESP. It's all fake until the first tuition bill is paid.

  223. Thanks, in that case it does seem somewhat pointless associating it with RESPs at all.

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