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[personal profile] jamesq
Alberta goes to the polls in twelve hours. And unlike elections past, I am tentatively hopeful. It's looking like we might get a New Democrat government. Someone governing from the left is just what this province needs.

What it needs even more is a change. In the past, the Progressive Conservatives have managed to put a leader and a new coat of paint onto the party and claim it was change. And Alberta bought it time and again. In the end, the policies of the government remained the same.

What were those policies? Bluntly stated, provide a business-friendly location for the oil and gas industry.

That policy created fiscal mismanagement. Because we thought we were going to be rich forever, but we were just pissing away a windfall. Other oil-rich regions invested their windfall; Norway, notably, invested almost everything they made off of their oil reserves into a trust fund. That fund is now in the neighbourhood of a trillion dollars - the most recent downturn in the oil industry was easily weathered by the Norwegians through their dividends alone.

We should have done the same thing. Specifically, we should have charged the most we possibly could to sell that oil. Oh maybe not as much as Norway could (their oil is "sweeter" making it easier to extract and refine), but certainly more than we do now. A lot more.

But how would we pay for everything, if we're pumping all of that money into a trust fund? The same way all the non-oil rich provinces do - with a proper progressive tax scheme. If Ontario can pay for all of its programs without resorting to oil revenues, so can Alberta. Don't agree with me? Then you're admitting Ontario can do something we can't.

So where did all that money go, if we didn't take our rightful share? Corporations. They wanted cheaper tax rates and we gave it to them. They didn't want to pay what the oil was worth, and we gave it to them. I think it's long past time we corrected that.

They'll fight it, of course. There's been a lot of "Nice economy you've got here, shame if anything happens to it" talk recently. Corporations warning that if things don't stay the same, they just might have to stop giving to charities (that should be handled by proper taxes), or maybe even leave the province all together.

That's bully talk. And you don't acquiesce to bully. You stand your ground.

We'll have to, because I don't think those are idle threats. I think they really will try to "punish" this province if they vote New Democrat. They will shut in wells and try to wait us out. And in that regard we need to push back. Because they're bullies.

There will come a day when we wean ourselves off of oil. If we give the petroleum oligarchy exactly what it wants - carte blanche to extract as much oil as they can without paying what it's worth - what are they going to do for us when we have to shut off the taps? They're not going to do us any favours - we'll be stuck here, and they'll simply go somewhere else.

So fuck those guys. Charge what it's worth, stick it in a trust fund, and pay for government with progressive taxation that includes corporations. Maybe we'll have something to show for it in twenty years. It can't be any worse than the last thirty.

I think the current economy actually helps us here. The Saudis are basically engaged in an economic war with Russia, and have driven the price of oil below what Russia can economically extract it for. Coincidentally, that's less than what we can extract it for. The corporations are already shutting in wells and laying off people, and they started it long before the election was called. The Saudis probably can't keep it up for four years, so assuming we get an ND majority, we can weather this and the economy will improve all on it's own. The New Democrats can take credit for that, even though it was really the actions of oil players on the other side of the world. This is basically the opposite of what happened with the National Energy Policy back in the 80's. The economy collapsed, people lost their jobs, and they blamed the Federal Liberals, even though the NEP didn't cause it, oil players on the other side of the world did.

Not that that stopped the corporations and the PCs from blaming the Liberals. It's a story I've had to listen to for years, and I bought it until I did the research. But now the shoe is on the other foot. The economy is down and has nowhere to go but up (once the Saudis and the Russians make peace).

Anyway, I think the New Democrats are the way to go, and I'd think that even if we didn't have oil. Basically, I like the idea of progressive taxes being used to make a better province/country.

Of course, there's other options. You could vote Wild Rose. If you follow my blog, that's unlikely. To that I'll just say it's a common business practice to give the appearance of competition while there is none. Best Buy and Future Shop were the same company for years, for example. I don't think there will be a bit of difference between a PC government and a WR government in terms of economics. And WR is likely to be worse in terms of social issues. They've managed to keep their wing nuts silent this election, but there's a deep streak of reactionaryism in the WR party that isn't as bad as the PCs (because the PCs did have a small group of "Red Tories").

The Liberals and the Alberta party both exist. With the exception of a handful of candidates who wielded personal popularity, the Liberals haven't been able to grab many seats. And the Alberta party hasn't done anything to distinguish themselves from anyone else. Honestly, I have no idea where they even exist on the political spectrum.

Anyway, go vote. If you don't want to vote because you think it won't make a difference, well, now's your chance to make a difference - an honest chance to change a government that's been in power since I was three. If you think there's no difference in the parties, I think you're wrong. Politicians can't always deliver what they promise, but that's just the reality of living in a democracy. I know some people who don't vote because, when told to vote, their knee-jerk reaction is "you're not the boss of me" - I don't have a lot of patience for that sort of attitude. In the end, if you don't vote, you're saying you support the status quo. I don't support the status quo - I think we can do better.

Date: 2015-05-05 01:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mallt.livejournal.com
The Alberta Party is very close to the NDP on the spectrum, which surprised me, I thought they were way off to the right.

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