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Sunday, January 22, 2017

An Albertan’s Message to Alberta


Stop whining. Things are still good here, there are still normal jobs, and things are starting to improve from a world-wide slump. We still have the highest average income and spending habits in the country.  

I've lived in Alberta for decades. While growing up in Cape Breton, employment was 30-40% on a good day. Unemployment here is between 7-10% after a huge crash and bust, the predictable and inevitable result of an overheated market boom creating a bubble of investment and production that drowned prices. The boom was the high point of a cycle we’ve seen many times and willing stood before to be run over every time thinking that if we just earn enough money quickly enough we can outrun it forever. Add more heat is always the answer.

This is the result of focusing almost 100% of political interest and effort on 8-10% of the actual provincial economy. This isn’t the Great NDP Alberta Depression. I would say it more like that our present troubles come from 40 years of inaction than one or two of action. You can’t depend of the commodities casino for a stable economy. Investors, like all gamblers, are just out to beat the house and take away as much loot as possible as quickly as possible.  This generates fast high profit and inevitable large, long-lasting losses. 

The idea here seems to be that if we have a limited resource and an industry that we need to gradually phase out, we should expand and exhaust it as quickly as possible. The east coast fishery didn’t die because of environmental regulations or taxation, but because of government inaction in the face of rapid expansion and over-fishing until there was no resource left, and the investors took their profits elsewhere. The little guys suffered, clinging on in the desperate hope that this would return to the good old days. That they wouldn’t have to change and transition into the new reality. Not the big companies whose factory trawlers did most of the damage as quickly as technically possible, they continue to trawl the waters and economies of prosperous areas until exhausted. 

Sound familiar. 

And fish reproduce.

Got to exploit that colony until it is wrung dry, and then abandon the colonized to fight each other for control of the scraps. Empires are now financial not national. Eight right men have colonized over 50% of the world. I’d rather pay taxes to my province and country than profits to the eight oligarchs of the multinational corporate plutocracy. 

We can’t boot them out.