Trying to track the real costs of election promises is a fool’s game.
For every spending promise made in this provincial election, there’s some hypothetical, unprovable financial justification.
Take Rachel Notley’s daycare promise: In return for the government’s social investment of $1.5 billion over five years in daycare subsidies, the daycare program will “add $6 billion to Alberta’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).”
Where the $6 billion figure comes from is anybody’s guess. Theoretically, a daycare worker with a bigger pay cheque tips his/her server an extra buck, who in turn buys a chocolate bar from a 7-Eleven clerk, who in turn gets a raise for selling more chocolate bars …
Then there’s reality.
When Notley and her party ran in 2015, they promised to balance the annual provincial government budget within five years.
Five years later, Finance Minister Joe Ceci boasts that the yearly budget deficit has been “reduced” to a mere $6.9 billion. You know how it is, once you’re in power …
We love the New Democrats for their social conscience. We loath them for their fiscal irresponsibility.
The social conscience – a chicken in every pot, free health care, free education, cheap daycare, fighting global warming, no-toll industrial roads – does not square with today’s financial realities of government.
Under Notley’s watch, government services – particularly health and education – will not be curtailed. The billions from the carbon tax will be spent on projects of dubious environmental value.
The spending kept happening, even though 25% of provincial revenues disappeared when oil and gas royalties fell off the cliff.
The spending kept happening as overall provincial debt grew from $12 billion in 2015, to an astonishing, horrible, mind-boggling $71 billion in four short years.
The New Democrats keep spending beyond what’s coming in, year after year after year.
Rachel Notley and her government are nice, well-meaning people.
But I am at a loss to understand their infatuation with spending for today, without regard for the future.
Don’t they understand the consequences of their actions? That a crushing financial crisis, caused by decades of overspending, will inevitably cascade down upon their kids, on Notley’s two teenagers, on cabinet minister Lori Sigurdson’s three sons?
No they don’t.
They keep spending for today, without worry for the future. We still have room on the credit card for our kids to keep borrowing! Let the grandchildren face the problem of insurmountable debt. Why worry about grandchildren? That’s too far off in the future.
They skirt the one obvious answer, a PST – provincial sales tax. No political party in Alberta has yet advanced this most basic of revenue-raisers. In Alberta, PST stands for Political Suicide Tax.
In 2015, the ND government said it would balance the budget by 2019.
Hey, it’s 2019! Now the NDs promise – scout’s honour – to balance the budget by 2024!
The New Democrats are blind to financial history.
As night follows day, national and global financial crises happen.
Governments weakened by decades of overspending rarely weather the storm, resulting in loan defaults, hyper-inflation, depreciating currency, sky-rocketing interest rates.
In case you have forgotten (and of course you have):
*The great oil price collapse of 2014
*The world-wide credit crisis of 2008-09
*The bursting of the 2001 dot.com bubble
*The 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.
*The Savings and Loan crisis of 1991, when a third of America’s credit unions went bankrupt.
*The 1987 global liquidity crisis.
*The Great Depression, from 1929 to the mid-1930s
*German hyper-inflation of the 1930s, leading to the Third Reich and World War Two.
The United Conservative Party is at least aware of the lurking debt crisis – and will impose spending restraints if elected. Leader Jason Kenny’s promises involve shuffling money within existing budgets, not taking on more debt.
Make all the noise you want about social Neanderthals, bleeding-heart liberalism, champagne socialism.
In my books this election is all about the consequences of the Alberta government taking on too much debt – weakening our future economy, eventually forcing our children and grandchildren to move elsewhere for economic opportunity.
It terrifies me. Eventually? It’s already happening.
I’ll vote for any party that will do whatever it takes to bring government spending back under control … and restores investor confidence in the future of this province.