This might be a slightly controversial idea. It arose recently in conversation, so I thought I’d throw it out there.
In Canada, do university graduates–particularly those with higher level degrees–have an obligation to work in their field for a period of time? All post-secondary education is signficantly subsidized. Society at large has paid for our education.
If you spend, say, seven years in school to become a lawyer, do you have a moral obligation to practice law for a few years, even if you hate it? If, after seven years of school, you suddenly leave law to become a surfing instructor for the rest of your life (and surfing instructors have only my admiration), do you owe your fellow Canadians anything?
Here’s a better example: you get a PhD in quantum physics, then decide you want to be a landscaper. Not only did Canada pay for 8 or 10 years of school, but you took somebody else’s spot who would have stayed a physicist (at least for a while).
Of course, I spent five years in theatre and writing school, and I work in the high-tech sector. I’m probably paying more taxes than most of my classmates in the theatre world, so society probably wanted me to shift professions.
I guess it’s a bit like living an unhealthy lifestyle when alternatives exist (that is, one has the time and opportunity to excerise, eat better, not smoke, whatever). Because we have universal healthcare, such a person becomes a greater burden on the system. In a sense, they’re being inconsiderate to the rest of the tax-paying public.
I’m not suggesting we punish the lawyers-turned-surfers or physicists-turned-landscapers. I’m just wondering if they should feel guilty.