Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Strike

Meanwhile, in Tobie's world, the strike continues. I must confess, I really don't get the strike. The person in charge of my school's student organization sent around an e-mail trying to explain it and it just seemed like an odd mixture of "secretly, we are making great strides" and "we aren't making any promises- who knows what will be tomorrow?"

Background: All the university students in this beautiful country are on strike. It's been three weeks now- I haven't had class since before Pesach. And Heavens only know when I will next. We're striking because the government wants to cut the subsidies that it gives to college education, thus raising our tuition, and also because the committee to discuss the whole thing is headed by people we don't like or have already said they don't like us or something like that.

Now, I have yet to talk to a single person who thinks that the strike is a good idea. I mean, for starters, we're the customers. Customers don't strike, and they certainly don't continue to pay for a product while refusing to actually use it. For seconders, you don't stop going to university to protest the government. Governments are fought with rallies and- crazy but it just might work- voting. I just somehow can't see ministers and officials crumbling to their knees sobbing, "please, please don't continue to refuse to become educated! I can't bear it any longer! Noooooooooooooo....." and so forth. I mean, the only real threat that we have in our arsenal is that we will all fail out of university and ten years down the road the country won't have an educated workforce and oh, boy, won't you all be sorry then.

Not that we're even turning to that doomsday weapon just yet. We won't go to classes, but tests, assignments, and projects are all still go. Because a strike is a strike, but we wouldn't actually want to jeopardize anything.

Which leaves aside the whole question of whether I even think the goal is worthy. Now, granted I don't pay my own tuition- it's one of those new immigrant perks- but maybe that makes me objective enough to see that maybe university students are not on the top ten list of people who most need to be subsidized. Most countries have something called student loans, under which you internalize all the costs of your education, thus enabling you to decide whether or not it's really worthwhile for you to get a college diploma, instead of simply earning one because it's cheap for you. The student leaders talk about how lack of subsidies will lead to everyone deciding not to go to school and so on and so forth, but it seems as if most countries seem to work things out decently well, and it's not like Israel has too few citizens looking only for high-educated, white-collar work.

Which is still not the main objection to the strike. The fact is, I'm bored out of my brains, not getting the education I came to this place for, not able to do anything actually fun since nobody knows when the strike will end, and probably about to get stuck with an extra week or two of classes or a frenzied month of make-up classes crammed into every hole in the schedule. Got to love socialism.


Halfnutcase said...

isreal sounds like a crazy country, you must fit in very well there. ;-)

Mike said...

Tobie that strike saved your bacon
And hnc Tobie is crazy but the opposite crazy.

Halfnutcase said...

mike: Aren't we all?

Irina Tsukerman said...

OK, this may sound like a stupid question: But who decided that everyone should strike and why are people who are actually against the strike striking?

Tobie said...

Irina- well, it's sort of all of the student organizations in all the universities in the country. Theoretically, I could refuse to strike but a) I hate to be a scab and b) I don't think that the professors would actually teach anything- they're pretty sympathetic to the students and anyway they went on their own strike at some point during the whole mess for their own little reasons.