Natural intelligence, stimulated by knowledge, enhances productivity and increases society's collective wealth. Knowledge is a public asset that is passed from one generation to the next. It is part of the collective cultural inheritance that rightly belongs to us all. New ideas and inventions are rarely more than simple modifications or extensions to the existing history of thought and previous work of others. To claim the exclusive ownership of an "original" idea is to expropriate the influence of related ideas and conditions that it was dependent upon. Permitting knowledge to become a private possession was a costly mistake indeed.
Education is a social investment, not a social cost. If every person in society had the opportunity to develop and use their natural interests and abilities to the fullest extent possible then society's total productive capacity would be greater than if many are left idle or working below their full potential. Our human and natural resources are the true source of society's collective wealth. If we squander either we collectively forfeit productivity and potential wealth. If education increases wealth, it only makes sense to monetize that wealth as it is being created and pay students a normal income while they are developing their full potential. Learning is hard work and students deserve to be rewarded accordingly. If students are not paid the same as workers, getting an education would delay the start of their incomes and would be an economic disincentive.
Young people should be encouraged to follow their natural passions and interests in the pursuit of knowledge. By making the future income potential of all careers more equal, money will no longer direct the development of human talent. Students will be free to focus their lives on what really interests them the most.
Students should be given the same freedom and flexibility as workers to choose between full-time and part-time commitments. The hour credits paid for individual courses could be specified in the course descriptions. Higher weekly hour credits could be offered for professional degrees. A lifetime maximum of paid educational hours could be established if "perpetual learners" began to abuse the system.
In 2020, about 1.8 million Canadians were enrolled in university or college. If, for 30 weeks of the year, full-time students studied 40 hours per week, and part-time students studied 24 hours per week, total paid education hours would be 1.9 billion. Even with a 20% paid rest bonus added, the 2.3 billion paid education hours would be only 4.1% of the total paid hours in the economy. Paid education hours would have almost no effect on the incomes of everyone else in the economy.
All of the money that is needed to pay students is already being created now in society. It is simply being created as debt, not equity. No more money than is currently circulating would be required to free our children from a future of debt slavery.
Below is a summary of the total education hours in Canada for the year 2019/2020. For a more detailed look at how paid education hours would affect incomes, click here.