1. Line of credit
Maine Governor Paul LePage is exploring a “legislative solution” to fulfil LePage’s offer of a $5 million line of credit for Nova Star operations, reports the Yarmouth Vanguard’s Tina Comeau:
“A legislative solution . . . is now on the Maine 127th legislature’s timeline and will need the full support of the legislature for a successful outcome,” says Adrienne Bennett, press secretary to the governor. “We are not yet prepared to discuss details of this legislation.”
This is a joke. There’s no way the Maine legislature will commit the money. Not in the face of recent layoffs at the Madison Paper Industries mill in Madison, Maine, which many Maine residents plausibly attribute to the Nova Scotia government’s extension of $125 million in subsidies to the Port Hawkesbury pulp mill. In the face of the Nova Scotian government subsidies for Port Hawkesbury, Madison simply can’t compete.
Turns out, the game of public subsidies has political consequences.
2. Pedestrian struck by vehicle
At 6:20 p.m [Thursday]., police responded to a vehicle/pedestrian collision at the intersection of Connaught Avenue and Chebucto Road. A 31-year-old man crossing Chebucto Road in a marked crosswalk was hit by a minivan turning left from Connaught Avenue onto Chebucto Road. He suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to hospital by EHS.
A 52-year-old man was issued a summary offence ticket under section 125(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. This ticket carries a fine of $693.95 and four points on a driver’s license upon conviction.
3. Rotating holiday
The Liberals have made good on their promise to bring us a February holiday. It’s called Nova Scotia Heritage Day, and falls on the third Monday of each February. But there’s something that doesn’t sit right about having the holiday rotate among various honourees, instead of simply calling it Viola Desmond Day (as it was on its inaugural year, this year) and leaving it at that forever. I mean, Joe Howe will be remembered no matter what, ya know? Anyway, here are the next seven honourees:
2016: Joseph Howe
2017: Mi’kmaq Heritage
2018: Mona Louise Parsons
2019: Maud Lewis
2021: Edward Francis Arab
2022: Grand Pré
The streets and sidewalks were a mess yesterday, maybe the worst this year. I took the ferry across to downtown, and was the only passenger, had the entire boat to myself. Later, I took the bus back to Dartmouth, and came across this unfortunate scene, an articulated bus having spun out and into a snow bank while navigating the curve around the south end of the Bridge Terminal. I assume no one was injured, as the driver was still behind the wheel, looking sad.
1. Heart-shaped box
Stephen Archibald continues his Valentine-inspired theme of all things of the heart, this time looking at objects around his house that are heart-shaped. Is there anything Archibald doesn’t have in his house? I’m imagining a giant gothic structure on a hill, each room filled to the rafters with boxes, knick-knacks, photo albums and newspaper clippings, a hoarder’s paradise.
Archibald also mentions almost in passing an NFB film from the 1970s called Encounter on Urban Environment; this feels like it might become the subject of a lengthy Examiner post. I’ll try to watch it this weekend.
2. Nova Star
“Too many things” related to the Nova Star subsidy, says Rachel Brighton, “are being done with a nod and a wink, and not enough ink.”
Brighton looked at the actual contract released with last week’s announcement of a further $13 million subsidy for ferry operations and found that:
[T]he published agreement between the department and the ferry operator makes no mention of how much money will be allocated in 2015. The agreement on the department’s website simply states the province will provide “additional funding” to Nova Star, based on monthly projections and reports. It also states a schedule of payments will be decided by the department, which will fund the ferry out of its year-to-year operating budget.
If the original funding deal for the Yarmouth ferry wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, this week’s agreement may not fare much better.
3. Carbon tax
Ralph Surette is in favour of a provincial carbon tax, which he says should be “modest one at first for a dry run that, for political reasons, should be mostly revenue-neutral.”
I think just the opposite: for political reasons, and more import, for reasons of social justice, the carbon tax should not be revenue neutral. In fact, it should sit outside the established tax regime entirely, and proceeds from the tax, every cent of it, should be used to fund a guaranteed wage. The money should be divvied up evenly, with each man, woman and child in the province getting a cheque of equal amount, regardless of their income, wealth, or status in life.
Humanity has two major challenges over the coming decades: climate change and the vast unprecedented unemployment levels that will come as human labour is replaced by computer technology. We all know about the threat of climate change, even if we avoid thinking about it, but the threat of the very impossibility of employment is entirely off the radar screen.
Machines have been replacing blue collar labourers for centuries, but what’s new is computers replacing white collar “knowledge” workers. Already, computers have displaced lawyers, the engineers who design computer chips, and much more. As Kevin Drum puts it:
Over the past few years, my guess about how soon truly useful AI will be available has gone down. Human level AI may still be quite a ways away (I don’t really know), but AI useful enough to create massive economic dislocations might well be no more than a decade away. Maybe two at the most.
There will always be some work for people to do, but very soon we won’t need the armies of paid workers that have defined the economy since they pyramids were built. This could very well result in an entire planet that has a Saudi Arabia-like labour scene, where the necessary work is done by machines (the imminent replacement for foreign transient workers), while most people remain unemployed.
Besides the social concerns of having an idle and potentially purposeless population, there’s the economic consequence. With no jobs, and therefore no pay cheques, there are no consumers; without consumers, what drives the consumer-driven economy?
We’re already facing unjust economic inequality, and concentrating wealth in increasingly fewer hands has its own worrisome effects. A carbon tax-funded guaranteed wage isn’t a perfect solution to all our problems, but it does eloquently address lots of different issues. Moreover, a carbon tax-based guaranteed wage is fair: fossil fuels are owned by all of us, part of the bounty of the earth that should be rightly shared by all of humanity. On the other side of the equation, the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels will also be shared by all of humanity. A carbon tax feeding a guaranteed wage gets at both sides of that equation.
In the short term, contrary to Surette’s judgment, once established it would be very popular politically — how could a monthly payment showing up in everyone’s bank account not be popular? In the medium run, a guaranteed wage would usher in new age of entrepreneurship, as the pitfalls of potential business failure aren’t so fearful when you know you’ll be able to cover your living expenses no matter what. More important, a guarantee wage would free people from the socially stifling effects of chasing the most secure, highest-paying job, and people could instead follow their hearts and social consciouses as they see fit, resulting in a flowering of arts and culture. In the long run, a carbon tax-based guaranteed wage could very well save the planet, and the social order along the way.
4. Darce’s dementia
Darce Fardy continues to chronicle his experiences with dementia.
I couldn’t find a corresponding map for North America, but my guess is that on a per capita basis, Halifax has more gingers than any other city in North America. I play a game when I get on the bus, counting the obviously natural redheads. I’ve gotten as high as nine. I don’t know what happens when I hit 10, but it will no doubt be spectacular.
No, this is not an obsession.
In the harbour
Zim San Francisco, container ship, New York to Pier 42.
Morning File doesn’t publish on Sundays. See you Monday.