Wednesday, April 8, 2009

That's the cash you could have been saving if....

So you're probably looking at this post and wondering "what is that?". Well that's the money stack from those infectious little Geico commercials accompanied by a remix of Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me. I love those little clips, and a current event in my birth province (and soon to be home, again), brought it to mind.
I recently returned from a business trip out in Alberta, and as I was waiting in the airport; I decided to grab a complimentary news paper. Front page was the headline "Alberta budget forecasts deficit". This was shocking to me, and for those of you not understanding, I'll explain. Alberta has long been one of and now is the richest province in Canada. This wealth is due mainly to our biggest resource, the oil sands. The province has enjoyed a lot of economic growth and major budget surpluses due to the oil patch projects. We also were led until a few years ago by a great Premier "King" Ralph Klein, who got the province financially responsible. Under his leadership, the province flourished like never before, and we saw some of our best years under "King" Ralph. Sadly enough, those years seem to be behind us. There is new leadership in the province in the form of (termed loosely) "Honest" Ed Stelmach and his cronies. These bunglers have been a joke since they got into power. First they angered the Oil Barrons by raising province royalties on their projects. (I guess $9 billion provincial budget surpluses weren't good enough) This angered many of the oil companies who cut their projects down and moved a chunk of their business out to Saskatchewan. Now with an economic recession well in play, they announce a projected provincial deficit of $4.5 billion dollars for the next 2 years! with many new cuts and tax hikes to come. Why is this so infuriating to me? Well to start off with, once "King" Ralph got the provinces finances under control, he put in a law that the Government was no longer allowed to have deficits. This would keep the politicians responsible to make sure the incredible wealth the province had would be used wisely and appropriately. Well "Special" Ed (as I like to call him), and his merry band of loonies, put forth a bill to change the law so that they could put forth their deficit budget. This means that over the last few years of bloated surpluses in our budget, our provincial bean counters squandered the funds on who knows what, instead of putting some away for a rainy day. I mean, do they think we the people are not going to wonder how we went from untold wealth last year to being in the proverbial crapper? Do they suppose us to be that daft? Or is it that they simply don't care, they screwed up and want to just move on? I'm flabbergasted, that a province with no real economic issues over spent itself to the point where we now, when it's too late; have to sharpen the pencils. What do the great powers that be have to say to all the people that will lose jobs this year? What are they going to tell all the people in health care, education, and subsidized income, who are going to feel major cuts? Listen to me, I'm starting to sound like the lousy opposition parties! But it's the truth! What are they going to say? " We never thought a day like this would come, so we decided to take a page out of Michael Jackson's financial book; and see how fast we could spend it!" Unbelievable to me folks. Really, really, sad. So what are they going to do now to try and right the ship before the crew runs them off faster than Elton John at a Republican convention. Are they going to go back to the Oil giants, with their tails between their legs, and offer to do away with the royalty increase, in the hopes they bring more projects back into Alberta? That wouldn't work for 2 reasons. First off, the biggest hurt in our budget is the drop in oil prices, so their not producing a lot right now anyways, until things pick back up. So it's not going to make a huge difference right now. Secondly, they'll probably tell Ed to stuff it and want a bigger reduction out of spite! So what are the other options? Anyone? I'm like you, I'm drawing a blank at the moment. looks like we have to try and make hard cuts, tighten the belt, and try to get back into financial stability again. Hopefully by then we learn our lesson, and when the recession passes, and we start making money again, we put some away each year. But it still makes me angrier than a starving Ethiopian with no legs trying to chase a doughnut down a hill. That's just my opinion.
Special Ed: Hey Geoff, what's that?
Geoff: Well Ed, he's been following you for a while now.
Special Ed: He's creeping me out.
Geoff: That's the money you could have saved had you had a brain. Poor little guy looks tired.
*Cue song*


Anonymous said...

great post!