Friday, March 24, 2006

Saint Ralph, and the story of the little oil-based economy that could

Yay! Thanks to the Alberta Advantage(TM) and the totally coincidental fact that there are 180 million barrels of proven oil reserves beneath it's territory, Alberta is well on its way to another massive budget surprlus this year. The Globe and Mail has the details.

Already it is projecting a record surplus — $4.1-billion, but government officials admit that figure will likely climb as oil and gas royalties flood into provincial coffers. Last year's budget finished out with a surplus surpassing $10-billion.

Awesome! Wow, I guess if every province adopted Alberta's economic formula, they would enjoy equal success! What's that, you say? Manitoba has no oil? PEI is made of sand, clay and compressed layers of Anne of Green Gables figurines which contain little to no petroleum reserves? The Canadian Shield is three billion years old rock, and notably deficient in tar sands?

Quitters! Did Albertans quit when the price of oil shot up past $60 a barrel, imperilling the finance minister's life with a tidal wave of cash? No. Did they quit when Hurricane Katrina drove prices even higher, and exports from Canada to the United States were permanently increased as a result? No. Did they quit when Stockwell Day was their finance minister? No!

Even the National Energy Program couldn't make Albertans quit. It just turned them into constant whiners, who apparently believe they live in the only part of Canada that was ever fucked over financially by the federal government. That's right, Albertans launched their own Quiet Revolution, but unlike those small-thinking types in Quebec, they dispensed with the culture, the gay-friendly society and the excellent music scene. Who needs that when you have a western alienation-based party to start!

And now that party is in power. What can we expect from the federal government, now? More Alberta Advantage(TM)! So our best information about the future of the country will be found in the Alberta budget. What'll it be, Globe and Mail?

The bulk of the tax cuts in the budget are for business, with the province cutting the general corporate rate to 10 per cent, costing the provincial treasury $265-million this year and $300-million after that. Alberta currently has the lowest corporate tax rate in the country.

Personal tax cuts are minimal — $10 a person from an increase to basic personal deductions — although Alberta is raising the income threshold for health-care premiums, a break for low income earners.

Well, there you have it. You'll be $10 richer, and your boss will have a shiny new car. Maybe he'll let you wash it someday, and you can surreptitiously smell the fine leather interior through the sunroof. That's the Alberta Advantage(TM).

No comments: