The constant boom/bust cycle in Alberta allows the Tory government to evade the valid concerns of its citizenry and consistently mismanage the wealth of the province.  In a report by the Parkland Institute the failures of the current government are highlighted and summarized.  I’ll be commenting on the executive summary, but you can get it and the full report here.

“Alberta has been prone to booms and busts but overall has seen long-term growth in the size of the economy and a dramatic increase in wealth. However, along with this wealth has come disparity; inequality in both income and quality of life is creating problems across Alberta. Alberta’s economic growth has gone mostly to those in the higher incomes. Quality of life indicators such as income security, personal disposable income, social cohesion, food security, housing affordability, leisure and family time, and educational attainment show that middle and low-income Albertans are struggling to keep the status quo and many are being left behind.”

Funny how that works when you have a flat tax that absurdly favours the rich.  I’m not sure where we ditched the idea of progressive taxation, but it is a major coup for socialism for the wealthy.

“Research shows that the costs of this inequality cut across all of society. Some of the impacts visible in Alberta include: economic and social exclusion evidenced by increasing food bank usage and homelessness; Alberta has the highest rates of family violence in the country and leads the country in domestic assault, homicide-suicide and stalking; Alberta has record low voter turnout; Albertans rank the lowest in the nation for sense of belonging in their community; Alberta has low university participation; and Albertans have the lowest leisure time in the nation.”

Ah, the hardworking Albertan.  More likely to be abusive, poor and atomized within society.  Not exactly the cherished “Alberta Advantage” that was the talk of the town not so long ago.  Lets look at the inequalities the report mentions.

“• Aboriginal families, single parents, and newcomers in Alberta live in deeper and a more persistent state of poverty than in any other province in Canada. The unemployment rate for newcomers is double that of the general population. Women continue to earn 72 cents of the male dollar.”

Yep, a big thanks to the inherent Patriarchal and racist memes that are so prevalent in our culture.

“• Minimum wage does not pay enough to live and work at levels that allow people to realistically meet their costs.”

Is it really surprising that one cannot make it on 8.80/hr?

“• Middle income families have come under increasing pressure. Wages have barely kept up with inflation and in some cases fallen, they are working more hours, have less disposable income, higher debt loads and they pay amongst the highest out-of-pocket costs for services such as childcare, health care, education, utilities, recreation and vehicle insurance in the nation.”

Ah yes, enjoy all the benefits of the free market, you can in fact, pay more for less and be less well off as a result of your hard work.  Universal day-care, that is the ugly scourge of socialism that the people of Alberta will not stand for.

“• Albertans work 1,880 hours per year, the highest in Canada, and much higher than many other developed economies. Albertans work an additional 300 hours or about 7.5 weeks more than the OECD 15 average. This is because Alberta has a much longer work week and has less paid holidays and vacation entitlements (two weeks compared to six weeks for the EU).”

Because working harder not smarter is the paradigm that we have chosen for our little sweatshop of a province.

“• Social assistance rates are far below the poverty line and have not been keeping pace with inflation. Increasingly stringent asset and earnings exemption regulations make it difficult to escape from poverty. The current patchwork of different programs means people can fall between the cracks.”

I think we’ve channelled social-Darwinians to construct our social programs.  The delusional idea that helping people less makes for a better society remains proudly(?) emblazoned upon the Alberta boilerplate.

“• Alberta’s Aboriginal peoples experience the most extreme disparity: income disparities are severe (Aboriginal incomes at 2/3 the average income for men and ½ for women); levels of unemployment are triple the average; Aboriginal children are very over-represented in children in care; there is disproportionate representation of Aboriginal people at all stages of the justice system, both as victims and offenders; levels of educational attainment are much lower; health outcomes are much poorer; housing quality is lower; and food security is lower.”

It must be because they are lazy and just do not want to work.  It is almost like they have a victimhood complex and just want handouts from the government (insert anecdata about the lazy Indian you know about here).  Would they be in such a bind if they started out with the same privileges white males get in society?  It is about as fair as  running a 100 yard dash but some people have 50 pound sacks of potatoes strapped to their ankles.

So here are the problems, what are the causes?

“Key causes of Alberta’s disparity: The erosion of social infrastructure through the adoption of a flat-tax regime and 25 years of governments spending too little on social assistance programs have exacerbated inequalities as have labour market policies and offloading to community services agencies.”

It is almost like the rich are setting the agenda so that only they do well and a big hearty “frack-you” to the rest of us.  That gentle readers, is the political truth in Alberta.

The specifics of the mismanagement of Alberta will be covered on Tuesday as 900 words for a post is already well into TL;DR. territory.