I like engaging in intelligent thought-provoking debates in various online forums. Yahoo Message Boards are no such place. Yesterday I became involved in a debate about approved increase in college and university tuitions here in Ontario. I'm a supporter of the free market deciding what tuition colleges and universities may charge. Let the educational institutions decide what to charge, how much student funding they should provide and so on. Naturally, there are those who think that post-secondary education should at least be affordable if not free. If these people can make a good argument, I'm willing to at least listen to their point-of-view.
Unfortunately, the Yahoo Message Boards are littered with people who have an opinion on anything and everything. Ask them for the sources of any numbers they cite in their comments and they quickly change the topic or cite some mysterious friend, family member or co-worker who experienced the "bad" side of the free market. Interestingly enough, they usually know "quite a few" friends, family members and co-workers who have not seen the benefits of the free market. You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends and, to a point, what co-workers you interact with.
Back to the discussion about tuition increases. A few people commented about soaring student debt, about how only rich students will be able to afford post-secondary education, and so on. One person lamented about things are getting bad - rising house prices, high oil prices, rising utility prices, soaring inflation, fewer students going to college and university and so on. Naturally, I countered with factual evidence, mostly from StatsCan: adjusted for inflation, oil prices are nowhere near the peak in 1980; inflation has been in the 2 to 3% range for several years, unlike double-digit inflation in the mid 70s to early 80s; post-secondary enrollment is growing at a rate faster than the growth in population (even if you factor out the double cohort in Ontario). The person also mentioned something about a '35%' drop-out rate. It's a figure that is provided by the Ontario government in their justification of forcing students to stay in school.
The person responds to my reply by stating that StatsCan is a government agency and that they manipulate statistics to favour the government. I kid you not. So I reply back that he was the one who cited the 35% drop-out rate, a figure provided by the Ontario government. With their original argument destroyed by facts, he and a few others resort to name-calling and insults, a typical action in the message boards. I got called a "retard", "dipshit", "crazy", "idiot" and so on. Wow so much for an intelligent discussion. The insults kept flying. Next I was accused of having rich parents, of driving a BMW, of receiving a $50 daily allowance, of being given things on a golden platter and so on. I replied back saying that nothing could be farther from the truth. Another individual, who is well disliked in all the message board they comment in, replies that my comments were a "self serving soliquy". I had to laugh.
It's comical to watch these people spiral into name-calling and derogatory rants. You bombard them with facts and they bombard you with insults. I'm amazed these people can keep a job or a friend. Some people are just stupid.