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April in Review

Better late than never!

by Ken Clare

Congratulations, Local 42…but…

Halifax journalist Stephen Kimber’s commented on the near-strike at Capital Health: “…the settlement calls for an across-the-board wage increase, meaning those at the lowest end of the union’s 100 or so different job categories—those who need more, most—will get the least. How fair is that?” Smart question. And a problem union locals, especially those whose members have widely divergent salaries (in the case of Capital Health’s Local 42: from $33,000 a year to $108,000), need to figure out.

Definitely the last time I’m voting Conservative

The federal budget presented a new fisheries plan that would wrest licences from individual inshore operators, concentrating control in the hands of big capital, threatening the vitality of Nova Scotia’s coastal communities.

Wrong way, Graham…

Faint lights from Europe at the end of April, with the British Labour Party winning popular support for its opposition to massive government cuts, and anti-austerity parties winning the national elections in France, and forcing a developing situation in Greece.

Our own social democratic party, a victim of neo-liberal inertia (ironically partly imported from its European counterparts) is still steaming in the opposite direction. Thomas Mulcair, the most right wing of the major candidates, easily won the NDP national leadership, and in Nova Scotia we’ve been saddled with another conservative budget. Finance Minister Graham Steele promises to reduce the regressive GST by two percentage points over the next two years, but is doing so reluctantly.

Reading Occupy

Mid-April saw the announcement of the first major cycle of books arising from the Occupy experience. Though the economics of the publishing industry has made this first wave overwhelmingly American and British, it’s an exciting set of titles: Janet Byrne’s The Occupy Handbook; The Rich and the Rest of Us by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West; Paul Krugman’s End This Depression Now!; The New Few by Ferdinand Mount; and Richard Wolff’s Occupy the Economy (to be followed by Democracy at Work).

Do you buy your new books through Amazon.com? Underneath the convenience and low prices lies just one more crass business dedicated to inequality. On sales of £7.2 billion the last two years, the British subsidiary of Amazon managed to avoid paying a single shilling in tax. Occupy your local library.

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