Nobel Work if You Can Get It

The whole kerfuffle about the University of Waterloo’s Nobel-Prize-winning physicist, Dr. Donna Strickland, being “only” an Associate Professor is ridiculous. She has tenure at a fairly major Canadian university, can do her work, and has pay equity. Lots of academics don’t attempt to advance to Full Professorship, because the amount of administrivia, committee work, etc. one then gets stuck with is prodigious. The university’s President basically implied that it would be a walk in the park for her to get that, but she still might not want it.

A much more important issue is that 80-82% of Ph.D.s (e.g., in the humanities, in which alternative career paths barely exist) end up outside of full-time, tenure-stream academia. For example, tens of thousands of adjunct instructors do the same work as faculty-member professors for less than half the pay, usually with no benefits or conference travel grants, generally without unionization, sometimes without even having an office (or, say, having to share a photocopier room with dozens of others as an “office,” as I once did), and they also often do the paid part of their work only on a part-time basis. Some of us basically have to give up after years of that kind of abuse. Now THAT is an actual problem.

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Ontario’s Court Challenges

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It’s pretty clear that Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s months-old Conservative government is going to lose court cases repeatedly. It recently lost against Tesla Motors re leaving the company’s sales out of the gradual phase-out of electric-car rebates, the cessation of which was a bad enough idea already. This morning, it lost against the City of Toronto re attempting to drastically reduce the number of municipal election wards, given that campaigning was already under way and that rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be affected in various ways.

The right-wing government will probably also lose in the class-action lawsuit currently underway re the basic income pilot it recently cancelled, despite saying during the provincial election campaign that it would let it play out. I expect disability and welfare recipients and their case workers to create further, successful challenges, once the government rolls out its new, “sustainable” approach in November. The changes to come are likely to be devastating for the province’s most vulnerable citizens: those who can’t work and/or can’t find work.

The new, Conservative government is already turning out to be quite useless, which the 60% of us who voted for the other parties’ candidates knew it would be. Fortunately, the fact that it has a majority of seats at Queen’s Park may not even matter, if its attempted legislation keeps getting overturned in court.

Con Air: The 2018 Ontario Election

UPDATED on June 18th, 2018: Under the forthcoming “Progressive” Conservative majority government in Ontario, taxes will basically only be saved by corporations and rich people, the salaries of the CEO and board of directors of now-non-public Hydro One will somehow be magically adjusted (instead of returning the agency to public hands and actually fixing it), and Doug Ford’s first-promised measure as Premier–getting rid of the cap-and-trade environmental measures–pretty much guarantees that the province will end up instead having an actual carbon tax assessed upon it by the federal government. Those are just for starters.

It will not take very long for the Conservative government to find that, in order to save the money it vaguely has in mind, it will also have to make drastic cuts to health, education, infrastructure, other social services, and so on. No “little guy” will benefit from any of that. Research also shows that the PCs, despite their presumed status as financially prudent, seem to have had the worst fiscal/deficit projections from among the three main parties (NDP, Liberal, PC). In addition, Doug Ford is a millionaire businessman who took over a company from his father, did not run the business very well, is intolerant and inelegant, has said and done numerous stupid things, has associated with questionable people (most of whom support him), and has no political experience (at this level). Does that sound familiar? It should!

The PCs got 60% of the seats (76 of 124) with only 40% of the votes, which just provides yet another example that some kind of fairer, run-off or proportional, voting system needs to be implemented in this province and this country. The NDP will now form the official opposition (with 40 seats), and the incumbent Liberals have now lost official party status (with only seven seats). On the other hand, the Green Party of Ontario elected its party leader as its first MPP.