Friday, April 25, 2008

Alberta govt says it's "ill-suited to think about investment strategies"

the Opposition Liberals continued to hammer on the fact that almost every other major oil jurisdiction has a long-term savings plan in place. Norway alone has saved more than $300 billion.
In the meantime, said Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, the Alberta government has spent more than $200 billion over the last three decades, and the balance of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund - about $16 billion - is lower when adjusted for inflation than it was 20 years ago.
"We are liquidating the enormous wealth of this province as quickly as is humanly possible. This is a dangerous, dangerous pattern and it's been going on for many years in this province," said Taft.
That drew snickers in the house from Energy Minister Mel Knight...

I'm extremely frustrated with the direction of my home province. I left Ottawa and returned to Alberta thinking that smaller government sold better out here and instead I find one of the biggest expansions in the size of government in the developed world well underway. It's left to a party called "Liberal" to call for fiscal discipline from a Finance Minister who describes herself on Facebook as "Very Conservative".

And an election merely reinforces what's going on.

From the Edmonton Journal:

The finance minister also reasoned in her speech that MLAs are ill-suited to think about investment strategies because they no longer read stock-market reports out of personal interest. ... "We're less likely to be current with financial nuance than you are," Evans told the breakfast crowd

Right. That's we why elect you. For what you don't know. The expert report from Jack Mintz is gathering dust on her desk while Evans says this. "Ah, but the Tories are listening because they are calling for public consultations on savings policy." Please. These consultations are the one of the most cynical exercises I have ever encountered. The Tories know full well that they will be able to use these consultations to argue that they have a mandate from "ordinary Albertans" to spend and to accordingly shelve Mintz' report, along the with expert advice of every other economist and financial professional out there.

When a government is utterly shameless with respect to the extend to which they are willing to pander to populism, it is extremely difficult to counter unless citizens are sufficiently engaged to see the pig behind the lipstick. In central Alberta the idea that "Ed Stelmach" is one of us sold like hot cakes on the doorsteps. The long run supply curve? No time and no interest for such abstruse matters. The Tories aren't interested either, which is why they are going through the charade of soliciting the opinion of the man in the street whose opinion this poll driven government is perfectly aware of already.

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