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Our dear government’s stalwart obsession with fossil fuel is again jeopardizing the economic well-being of the Province of Alberta.  Kenny is investing heavily in a project that may evaporate with the stroke of the Presidential pen.

The company said Alberta has agreed to invest approximately $1.1 billion US as equity in the project, which substantially covers planned construction costs through the end of 2020.

The remaining $6.9 billion US is expected to be funded through a combination of a $4.2-billion project-level credit facility to be fully guaranteed by the Alberta government and a $2.7-billion investment by TC Energy.

“TC Energy is essentially saying, ‘We don’t want to take that risk’ … Alberta is essentially saying, ‘OK, we’ll take that risk, we’ll put in $1.5 billion Canadian, and if it ends up that no one pulls the presidential permit, then we’re all going to work on getting the rest built over 2021 and ’22.”‘

We need jobs, we need economic advancement, but most importantly, we need to stop running hail-Mary plays based on the fossil fuel industry with public money.  The government of Alberta should represent all of its constituents and refocus on diversifying our economic contribution instead of playing this dreadfully expensive and foolish shell game with Alberta’s future.

Our tarsands oil just isn’t environmentally or economically sound anymore.

“He said what’s also worrisome for the industry is the political signal this sends internationally — especially on the heels of a major Norwegian investment fund blacklisting four Canadian oilsands producers.

“In terms of the bellwether of the political appetite for support for the oilsands south of the border, I think it’s obviously problematic,” Johnston said.”

I sincerely hope that we can elect the NDP as our government again in Alberta, as their dirty oil plan focused much more on economic diversification and benefits for the people of Alberta.  The Federal government of Canada is standing lukewarmly with Alberta for the moment, but with a Democratic win down south it looks like the Keystone pipeline will go back into limbo once again.

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room [of the White House] again as president and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”

A spokesperson for Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, responded by saying the Canadian government supports Keystone XL: “It is a good project that will create jobs for Canadians and it fits within our climate plan.”

Fossil fuels need to pave the way to Alberta’s new economic future, maintaining them and the industries that sway our government, cannot be the way.

Quoted news stores from cbc.ca.

It seems like William Greider was frighteningly correct with the thesis of his book from 1997. This snippet from Counterpunch has raised my curiousity enough to make it point to borrow or buy the book.

“Back in 1997, Greider wrote a book, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, which warned that competition from the developing world would put downward pressure on the wages of manufacturing workers and that large trade deficits could lead to serious shortfalls in aggregate demand, meaning weak growth and high unemployment. The book was widely trashed by economists, including the leading liberals of the day. In particular, they ridiculed the idea that trade deficits could lead to unemployment, after all, the Fed could just lower interest rates to make up any shortfall in demand.

Two decades later, most of the mainstream of the profession accepts the idea of “secular stagnation,” meaning a sustained shortfall in demand that leaves the economy operating well below its potential level of output. With interest rates having bottomed out at zero following the Great Recession, most economists would concede that the Fed does not have the ability to boost the economy back to full employment, or at least not with its traditional tool of lowering the federal funds rate.

While economists generally do not like to talk about the trade deficit as a cause of secular stagnation, fans of logic and arithmetic point out that if we had balanced trade rather than a deficit of 3.0 percent of GDP, it would provide the same boost to the economy as an increase in government spending of 3.0 percent of GDP or roughly $650 billion a year in today’s economy. There is little doubt that would be a huge boost to demand and would have gone far towards ending the problem of secular stagnation. (There is no magic to balanced trade. I only use it as a point of reference.)

There were certainly things that Greider got wrong in One World, Ready or Not, as he did in his other economic writings. He was a journalist not an economist. Still, as one great economist commented, it is better to be approximately right than exactly wrong, a position that described many of his economist critics.”

 

The book, read now, will probably read like a fairly large “I told you so”, but I think it would be interesting to see what evidence he used to make the assertion.

 

 

A thick meaty discussion of the western political economy and the checkered history that has led us to the current financial mess we happen to be in. Great viewing, get some popcorn!

    Sometimes, it seems, my fellow Albertans can be quite the confused lot.  Actually no, that is wrong; we are not confused, just bi-polar.  In Alberta have this curious duality the runs the course of our electoral politics.  We want to be rugged, independent, self-made individuals with no interference from any level of government – private industry and unchecked capitalism is how we roll.

In the boom times…

The other identity like we like to periodically break out (and inflict on the rest of Canada) is the simple, hardworking Albertan who just can’t make ends meet and if the Government only understood our hardship and not alienate us with its ivory tower elitist policies and just HELP us (‘help’ is usually bailing out Big Business at the bottom of the business cycle).   We also have to feel persecuted and neglected at this time as the response from the people we’ve just been telling to f*ck off and leave us alone (during the boom years) are not jumping up and saving us as quickly as we’d like.

“Here it’s a very partisan response to a specific government that western conservatives really, really don’t like.” Smith said.”

[…]

“Smith said the movement in Canada targets the federal Liberal party and its actions toward the oil industry.

“No matter what they do in that sector, the Liberals seem to be criticized for not doing enough,” he said.

“It’s a pretty big stretch to suggest that a government that just bought a pipeline and is now passing over a billion dollars in support for oil or the oil sector is somehow anti-oil, but that’s the rhetoric that comes out of the conservative protests in Canada.”

So, we have these rugged small government loving individualists protesting to get more government intervention into the economy, not on their own behalf, but on the behalf of the oil companies.  The very same oil comapanies that continue to make generous profits and pay substantial dividends to shareholders:

“Lead author Ian Hussey said Suncor, CNRL, Cenovus, Imperial and Husky have remained “incredibly profitable corporations,” banking and paying out to shareholders $13.5 billion last year.

“There’s no question that the price crash had a major impact on the industry in Alberta, most importantly on the almost 20,000 workers who lost their jobs in 2015, but the Big Five are doing just fine,” Hussey said.

“As highly integrated multinationals — all with significant assets in the U.S. — they’ve been able to shift their operations in response to market conditions to ensure they remain profitable despite the issues that have been dominating the headlines in recent months.”

So, as usual, false populism renews its roots in Western Canada.  As our ruggedly bold individualist trek eastward to demand more government intervention favourable to the business elite in our society.

Of course no false populist movement is complete without xenophobia and racism.

“People who attended the rally in Regina on Saturday said they were against Trudeau, the carbon tax and Canada’s plan to endorse the United Nations’ migration pact — which outlines objectives for treating global migrants humanely and efficiently.

Victor Teece, a self-identified nationalist against globalization, said the migration agreement is “destructive to Canada as a nation.” Teece said he believes Canada’s identity is centred around European, Judeo-Christian values.

Smith said there is a concerning, “very loud” and “very disturbing message around anti-immigration” emerging within the Canadian rallies.”

Yeah.  If you didn’t know it, Canada has a huge immigration problem.  According to these people, not enough of the ‘right’ types of people are moving to Canada.  Quite disgusted with the whole rhetorical judeo-christian bullshit narrative.  The cultural mosaic that is Canada thrives on the diversity that people bring with them from across the world.

We are a multicultural nation.  The embarrassment that is this ‘Convoy Movement’ is a gift that inspires the nativist-nationalist right to creep out from the woodwork.  Given the example of the untrammelled false populism down south, this is a direction Canada should definitely avoid.

 

 

If we have to live within a capitalist framework, the very least we can do is make sure everyone has a chance.

    The first rule of focus groups or research groups is quite simply this.  If you say yes to one, then you shall forever be on the call list of every research company that has ever existed.  And they do call quite often.  Extrapolating from the frequency that I receive offers, people who are willing to participate in studies and opinion groups are few and far between.

The call I received was from a company doing research on for the federal government of Canada.  I thought to myself, woo-whee, the Feds want to know my opinion?  How could I say no to that (well that and the included honourarium)?   We were not told the details of what the discussion was going to be about beforehand.  It turned out to be a rather mundane discussion on the tax system in Canada and what our opinions and thoughts were on it, along with other issues such as debt, sources of debt, and how well off we defined ourselves vis a vis other generations.

Fascinating (ish) stuff.  What tweaked my interest was my fellow attendee’s lack of knowledge about Canadian fiscal and tax policy.  Like the fact that Canada’s corporate tax rate is miserly 15%, among the lowest, if not the lowest in the G7.  People seemed genuinely surprised when I suggested that we should be raising that tax rate significantly and that in the past the tax rate had been significantly higher (around 40% in the 60’s) .

Similar experiences when mentioning terms like neo-liberal (a la Nafta and the TPP) economic policy and trickle-down economics.  None of the other people in my research cohort used terminology and concepts that named the economic features we were talking about.  There was a good deal of, “oh I agree with what he said,” but none articulated the theoretical features or aspects of the features we were talking about.

The notion of ‘progressive taxation’ seemed to throw a few of my peers for a slight loop, even thought the Canadian tax system is nominally progressive in nature.   I boggled inwardly at that, but we all got on the same page eventually when it came to nailing down the concept.

I’m worried though, I am by stretch of the imagination an economist or policy-wonk, but the amount of time spent getting people up to speed on basic economic features and concepts made me take pause.  I get the feeling that many people just don’t have the time or the inclination to get the basic facts necessary to have an informed opinion on key features of our tax system and economics in general.  Taxes affect everyone in society and not having a base level of knowledge about them and how government policy can change the way taxes work, seems like a glaring oversight in one’s life education.

Ignorance aside, 7 out of the 8 of us present agreed with the legalization of marijuana in Canada so the Feds will at least have positive affirmation that making pot legal makes most of us happy (representative samply-speaking).

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