The head in the sand approach

A new Alberta budget has been launched and we will be getting a bigger budget deficit. While I am all for deficits to fund long-term projects and to kick a struggling economy into gear this isn’t really the type of budget that Keynes would’ve been talking about. This is a head in the sand budget.

In classic Alberta fashion our plan is to wait for the oil price to recover, because surely it must recover. No sense in having a conversation about a future where oil remains below $50/barrel or what comes next for our province. No let’s sit here and wait because the price will go up and that is all.

I find Albertans frustrating for this reason. This is clearly a different situation than many of our recessions. The recovery is leaner and the future of oil is uncertain — if human beings have any sense the future of oil will be a steady decline for the foreseeable future, not that we do. There is no promise that the good times will reign again or that the easy money we’ve grown accustomed to will ever return.

In the future we might just be a plain old average Canadian province with plain old revenue sources like what everybody else has. But we’re not talking about that. We’re not being brave or practical or in any way in touch with reality. Why not raise taxes across the board to those of the next lowest province? Would that really be so bad? If we don’t our public sector will collapse. We can’t just swipe the credit card endlessly while waiting for something that we have no reason to believe will happen to happen. This province is in deep trouble and we plan to do nothing about it.

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