Friday, December 24, 2010

London Student (Entitlement) Protests

A large number of British students protested (and a minority rioting) against, university tuition hikes, enacted by the government as part of their efforts to address England's growing debt crisis. While I am sympathetic to the financial burden that some of these students will face, the protesters are riddled with ethical and philosophical problems. Fundamentally, a subsidy is the transference of wealth from tax payers to a a select group, that allows them to enjoy a set of goods and services, without bearing the full costs. In other words, the students are protesting the fact that they will now have to pay a larger portion of a program that will, in most cases, increase their future incomes. Some will argue that this is a worthwhile subsidy, a wise investment in the future, because educated citizens economically and socially benefit the public, a position that I largely agree with. However, no individual or group is entitled to the wealth of another; it is the right of the citizens to determine, via their elected representatives, how they should invest public funds. This is true in the best of times and even more so when a nation is mired in debt.

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