Being a doctoral student in Canada is a sad, unrewarding enterprise. Well, being in Canada itself is a sad, unrewarding enterprise, but life is especially wretched for those driven to make as much of their lives as they possibly can. Note that I’m not saying that Canada discourages people from making money – if you’re an unscrupulous assbiscuit who wants to make money from mindlessly pulling shit out of the ground, you’re golden. I’m referring to personal improvement. When you attempt to improve yourself, know that Canada will pull you down.
Let’s start with education. The undergraduate degree in Canada is a defilement of the very concept of education. When people say that “you could get a job with just an undergraduate degree” they often think of credentialism as the problem. What often doesn’t get talked about is the absolute degeneration of the absolute value of an undergraduate degree. For one thing, undergraduates from times before were generally expected to be literate. Apparently that’s not the case in Canada today, where 27% of undergrads don’t pass basic literacy tests and 23% can’t do basic maths. Who wants to hire an illiterate for a complex job? I mean besides the federal government which frequently bridges people from a program called FSWEP. Come to think of it, that might explain a good deal as to why Ottawa runs as well as a tar-coated bag of rabid possums.
If you’re smart enough to actually manage to learn during (and perhaps despite) your undergraduate studies and masochistic enough to continue with your studies, get ready for a bad goddamn time. The act of learning is a valuable one and I know that even my feeble undergraduate degree made me a better and more knowledgeable person than I was before. But in Canada, working on bettering yourself means that you’re likely going to be broke. What a perverse fucking economy – it’s actually more valuable to not learn the fine arts than it is to do so. And heaven fucking help you if you’re interested enough in a topic to dare to learn more about it through a Masters/Ph.D. Doctorates may not even be worth the money here. Forget murdering academics – this is simply starving them out of existence. And this is assuming that these programs are run properly, which is in and of itself hardly a known quantity. Remind me how any of this is emblematic of a healthy society.
It isn’t just personal improvement through academic achievement that earns the scorn of the caker economy. Do you think that it would be cool to learn both English and French? Well, fuck you – despite Canada being ostensibly bi-lingual (which itself provides an ethical dilemma, what with all of the extinct and dying Indigenous languages that are dying precisely because Canada is ostensibly bi-lingual), English Canada sucks at teaching cakers French. Considering the myriad benefits to polylingualism this is a rather profound problem. From personal anecdotes French education was an absolute joke. We had worksheets and subtitled VHS tapes from grade 9 to grade 11 French. I’d have learned more from a cereal box.
Let’s be clear that not every avenue of self-improvement is perpetually sealed off from Canadians. This isn’t some overarching Illuminati shit. But there’s a lot discouraging the average person from pursuing knowledge which is socially valuable. We want more polyglots for the same reason that we want more critical evaluation of relevant topics. A more literate society is more prosperous (as a planet we would be $1.2 trillion USD more prosperous if we could all read and write) ; a more reflective society can undergo periods of meaningful social change. But social barriers and economic disincentivization prevent these benefits from coming to Canada. The basic university degree is a dummy prize, a purchased bauble that provides experience only in finding the path of least resistance for most disinterested students. Because really, fuck your success.
Of course, in the same country that has no time for academic success, there’s plenty of room for dodgy bullshit loan sharks, oligarchs, seedy middlemen guarding exploitative crap-work, and caker business of all stripes. Because priorities.