We the general public are like sheep, our wool unceremoniously shorn year after year for use by others.

Not for the greater good – not for those truly needing help, but for groups and individuals who don’t need our money.

It’s not the government, but government as conduit. Governments pass along your tax money to others in the form of grants (or tax credits, which are grants by another name).

But the people getting those grants - in businesses, not-for-profit organizations, or individuals – don’t need your money any more than you do.

They’re just smarter! They figure out where the money is, and they go get it!

They research government programs, figure out how to apply for whatever grants are on offer, pay a professional grant-writer to write the application, and bingo, wind up with a $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, $10,000,000 grant!

There are literally hundreds of government-sponsored, grant-giving agencies - Emissions Reduction Alberta, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Alberta Sport Connector, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Alberta Heritage etc. etc. etc.

Every grant or tax credit has rationale: An incentive for entrepreneurs to take on bigger risk and encourage “innovation, collaboration, acceleration.”

Save the planet by applying for a grant – as in consumer incentives to reduce energy consumption/emissions.

Edmonton seniors get an Edmonton annual bus pass for $132, no matter their income, because … well, they’re seniors!

Some grants are mind-boggling: The federal SR&ED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) tax costs the government $3 billion to $4 billion every year in foregone taxes.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Don’t be shorn, shear.

The New Democrats’ Climate Leadership Plan is all about grants and tax incentives funded out of the just-implemented carbon tax and fines paid by industrial emitters. Go get’em!

On the mega-scale, Emission Reduction Alberta and its predecessor the Climate Change Emission Management Corporation had doled out $360 million by the 2014/15 fiscal year in grants to companies for all-things environmental. There’s $40 million in the kitty for this year. Any energy company would be foolish not to apply.

Energy Efficiency Alberta has $64.5 million for grants to homeowners and small businesses to install energy-saving or conservation devices. Yahoo – free money!

But we don’t NEED such grants! Energy-efficient appliances pay for themselves in lower energy costs. But if Rachel Notley is giving me $300 towards a $1,300 washer/dryer set, I’d be a fool not to take it! And if I don’t, you will.

To the knowledgeable go the spoils. A smart grant-getter has contacts within the grant-giving organization, to tell her/him what’s really going on. How much money is left in a particular program? How many applicants are there? Is the program fully subscribed, or is money being pushed out the door to meet quota?

The entire Canadian system of government grants/rebates/tax credits is a form of legitimized corruption.

Unbeknownst to the middle-class Albertan paying $8,000 to $10,000 a year in income taxes, a portion of their money is going to those with inside knowledge, to those who can afford to hire consultants to go after every money-dispensing government program possible.

It’s about working the system, in ways the average tax-payer knows nothing about. It’s about a network of funding agencies as interested in self-perpetuation as helping their clients.

It’s taking money from the taxpayer and giving it to smarter taxpayers.

I resent having to hire an accountant to make sense of the complexity that has become the Canadian tax system. I resent still needing an accountant, even though, being semi-retired, I earn less than before.

I’d love to see governments – provincial and federal – do away with this system, and get back to basics. Help business by simplifying and minimizing taxes, and then get out of the way.

But that isn’t going to happen. So rather than being shorn, I might as well shear.

Let’s see. What travel, education, new energy-efficient furnace and solar panel grants are out there for newly-minted seniors? Anybody know of a consultant I can hire for $1,000, to find me $10,000 worth of grants?