I hope that my blogs provoke thought, sometimes a smile or chuckle and yes I hope sometimes they provoke complete and total disagreement. I have to say that the written word is not my strong suit. I am a listener and talker because there is so much more to be learned about people and issues that way however in this era I feel this is another way to communicate and I hope those of you who read this take the opportunity to communicate with me.
Issue #1 The budget came down today and the media response and much of the response I have read amuses me. "Alberta plunges into the red" is the headline in the Edmonton Journal. Really? This is not news, Alberta has been running an OPERATING DEFICIT now for a few years. I capitalized those words because I think they warrant the emphasis. Alberta is not borrowing the money to run the province (some say we are borrowing from our children and grand children but I will address that later). We are taking it from the sustainability fund which I like to think of as Albertan's savings account and using it to pay bills that will come due that exceed the money in our chequing account. This is not an endorsement of our current political situation but more of an on going frustration with a lack of clear understanding of the situation.
Fact 1 The money in the sustainability fund belongs to Albertans as does ALL money the government holds and allocates. It came from excess revenues over expenses, some in oil and gas revenue, some in land sales, some in excess income tax and fees to be used to SUSTAIN Alberta should the economy falter.
Surprise it did, like the rest of the world only not as bad. Good thing for us we live in Alberta. Why? because we had a fund for just such an occurrence. That we are using it to build infrastructure and keep the economy going should be a comfort to Albertans, no job cuts, no cuts in health care, education or social programs when we need these things most.
Albertans respond with "What a bunch of irresponsible people! Why are they not cutting? Why are they not slashing? Why do they spend money? Why are they not saving?"
Well my thoughts are if governments, business and consumers all stop spending, we cut people from the payrolls who pay taxes and we don't build now when labour is at a 50% discount we just might cause the economy to fall significantly further than it already has. Secondly when inflation was rising and we did not get any relief from taxes in the last boom we paid forward the opportunity to have this fund so may well as use it, damn it we earned it.
Albertan's also respond with "What about the children?" Well new schools and health care help children, after all if we don't have those things opportunities would be decreased. We are not spending all the savings there is still a fund of over $15 billion earning some interest. But maybe most importantly the generations before us never said lets ensure future generations don't have to find their own way, work hard and build their own future lets do it for them. Why do we feel the need to do that for generations to come in this fiscal way. Land use, water, air quality I get all those things but I don't understand the need to take being helicopter parents, hovering over the young at every turn, to a provincial level. Do we think they are not smart enough to find ways to succeed? Do they not have enough work ethic? Do they not care enough to find ways to take Alberta forward? If anyone thinks that they have not listened to or watched many of the young people today. I am not saying leave them with nothing but I think we short change them if we stop moving forward today so they can have the money so they don't have to innovate and work hard tomorrow. It is a hallow victory for the future if we sacrifice jobs, social programs, health care and education today.
A note: I always want people looking for wasteful spending and finding better uses for tax money. I do not think any government in the world is doing all they can to be efficient and effective. I endorse looking for new ways to do things and eliminating things that no longer make sense. I hate the term "because we have always done it that way" as much or more than the next person, I just think before people go off half cocked about job cuts, service cuts and saving money they realize that SOMEONE is on the other end of the result of those cuts.
One more note, not all or even most of my posts will be political in nature although the world of politics is certainly an area for huge study of the heuman condition. ;-)