I am reading with fascination the tales of the protests by students in Montreal today. There is a Formula One race going on there, and people from around the world show up. (I hope that Austin, Texas is ready for them come November. F1 fans are really quite something. I’m still laughing about the culture shock when they tried Formula One here in Phoenix twenty years ago. To say that almost nothing went right is an understatement.)
The students are protesting tuition hikes at their universities, and capitalism in general. Their hope was to create such a disturbance that the race would be shut down. That worked in Bahrain last year, but I would venture to say that the average Canadian student has it a bit better than the average impoverished goat-herder in a Middle Eastern country with limited liberties and no economic opportunity. So protest seemed unlikely to find success in the land of poutine.
As an aside, what is it with Canadians hating capitalism? When Pamela Anderson appeared on Dancing With The Stars, she tweeted that she hated capitalism because it was “terrible.” I simply fail to see how a woman, from Canada or anywhere else, who made her fortune as one of the pairs of bouncing breasts on Baywatch, the most widely syndicated television show in the history of the medium, could possibly hate capitalism. I also don’t understand how a capitalism-hater justifies not paying her taxes, to the tune of owing California more than half a million dollars. I’ll chalk the dissonance up to Pammy being blonde.
Back to Montreal. The police heard of a plan to disrupt the subway service to Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, the race venue. Normally, one would not ride a subway to a Formula One race. However, Gilles-Villeneuve is on an island. Actually, it kind of IS the island. The subway is a good choice in this case. Doesn’t seem like so hot of a deal, though, when students with hair colors that don’t exist in nature and a bit of a personal hygiene problem decide to infest the subways like bedbugs in a cheap drunk flop hotel.
The message on the protest website read: “We’re all going to the Grand Prix … AT THE SAME TIME! Just to see how many people can enter the subway? Upon arriving on the island you can turn around and start again. Just for fun. Don’t get aboard the trains until you receive the signal.”
The police took care of that. No one without a race ticket was allowed to board the subway. Heavy-handed? I guess. But the F1 race is the number one tourist event in Canada every year. The jazz festival or Beaver Festival or whatever don’t even come close. All those Beautiful People pump about $100 million into the Canadian economy. Formula One does not take kindly to social unrest disrupting its races. Just ask Prince What’s-His-Face in Bahrain. If the race goes away, it is a large blow to a smaller country’s economy.
That leads me to a couple of questions. The first is, how would losing a $100 million shot in the dupa benefit these protesting students? The universities they attend are subsidized by taxes. The spending done by the F1 tourists is a massive boon to the tax base. Without that, tuition goes even higher. Not getting what they are crying about. Matter of fact, do they realize they are driving up their tuition by straining public resources with their protests?
The next question is, what the hell are these people studying that they have whole days to ride the subway just for fun? Don’t they have homework to do? We had a tuition increase protest at Carnegie-Mellon back in the 80s. We assembled outside the building that housed the university president’s office. He sent a platter of cookies, and a written statement about the value of a best-in-class education. We ate most of the cookies, and threw the rest at the building. We all helped clean up the smushed cookies, and then went back to our dorms to continue contemplating thermodynamics or equivalent circuits or oxidation and reduction.
The whole protest took about 30 minutes. I would envy day-long protesters if I didn’t think the idea of wasting a day, a week, or a month protesting something was really really stupid. The return on investment is awfully poor. I just filled out the paperwork to be a Precinct Committeeman for the republican party. With a few strokes of a pen, I have more power in the process than every last one of those “say much without saying anything at all” protesters.
Meanwhile, back in the Poconos, they are having a NASCAR race. Nobody protests NASCAR races. Where are the Occupy people? NASCAR drivers make a ton of money, and the teams are sponsored by Evil Corporate America. Oh, wait, and the Military-Industrial complex, because the various branches of the service are sponsors as well. Teams even recruit lousy drivers because they bring in sponsorship dollars. (Yes, I am talking about you, Junior and Danica). THAT should set them off.
NASCAR is also not particularly “green.” They may use a debatably cleaner fuel, but they sure use a lot of it. And when it rains, watch out. They dry the tracks with flippin’ JET FUEL. Everything gets particularly messy when Juan Pablo Montoya rams the jet dryer and it bursts into flames. Oops. Yeah, that happened.
Pocono Raceway is less than two hours from New York City. Why aren’t there a whole gaggle of Occupy protesters making their voices heard? Are you guys just that lazy? Or do you realize that the NASCAR fans would take one look at you, shake their heads, mumble “That boy just ain’t right,” and go about their business? The Formula One fans were amused as well. Many of them will be taking back to their countries pictures posed in front of you as you were being pepper sprayed and arrested. I wonder if they thought your protests demanding that someone else pick up the tab for your education were rather trivial in the grand scheme of things.
Okay, I’ll stop mocking all the navel-gazing protesters for the moment. I have to go drive a vintage muscle car now, and remember why I’m glad I am me and not them.