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Reckless spending will cost us dearly

It’s difficult to tell what’s being conserved in Alberta these days. Certainly one thing isn’t – our money.

It’s difficult to tell what’s being conserved in Alberta these days. Certainly one thing isn’t – our money.

The current premier might well describe herself as a libertarian at heart, but that definition isn’t usually expanded to include taking liberties with taxpayers’ cash. But hey, when the moolah rolls into provincial coffers at the rate of more than a billion dollars a week, it’s near impossible for any politician to keep their hands in their own pockets.

The only saving grace is if the other lot had got in at the last election, we’d be adding another 10 per cent to every spending pledge Danielle Smith and her UCP cohort has so far come up with.

Still, arguing things could be even worse is weak gruel when judging the latest lunacy that masquerades as sound fiscal policy.

Despite the fact people from overseas and the rest of Canada are flowing into Alberta at the rate of about 3,000 every week, the provincial government is planning to hand out $1,200 a person to future incomers from the other provinces who take up jobs deemed highly necessary.

This is completely daft. We’re already struggling to provide enough housing and schools across Alberta, while the stresses on our health care system grow more severe every day. If we desperately feel the need to spend yet more money, then shouldn’t we do it on the people already here rather than trying to entice even more folk to pick up sticks and travel to Wild Rose land?

And it’s not as though these would-be Albertans are looking for such a crass bribe. Newcomers are flooding here already, so why is $1,200 going to make or break anyone’s plans? Sure, it’s a nice little gift but people come here for opportunity, jobs and a better way of life, not for a sum that will make zero difference to their future life here on the high northern plain.

But it was promised during the election campaign, along with myriad other spending initiatives, so the cash will get doled out regardless. Hey, we can afford it because of high energy prices, so let’s give those drunken sailors a run for their money when it comes to blatant profligacy.

We could save more of course, but when did that ever attract a single vote? No, let’s live high on the hog until the beast inevitably keels over and goes trotters up.

Such is the role of governments these days. (To be fair, compared to the way Ottawa spends money, the province is almost Scrooge-like.)

Once there was a time when we didn’t expect government to solve every inconvenience in our lives, but instead concentrate on the major stuff: providing basic services in health and education, enforcing societal laws while ensuring our nation’s borders were both safe and respected by other countries.

Those days are long gone.

Today, government is everywhere and everything to everyone: no business will expand unless it gets some tax break or grant, no pressure group will be formed unless it is promised an annual stipend from the state, no sports team will survive on ticket receipts unless it receives financial largesse from some bunch of politicians.

To do this we inevitably run up more debt or, as is the case today in Alberta, spend windfall revenues as though such sums are guaranteed to flow forever more, though bitter experience tells us they’re not.

So let’s cut cheques for $1,200 for people who obviously didn’t contribute a dime in Alberta taxes and who’d be arriving regardless of any such inducement. Maybe it’s our new Alberta Advantage: free stuff for everybody.


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