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Op-Ed: Prentice and Nenshi show Albertans how government fails

Foolishly, Alberta depends on one industry, and one industry alone to fund the entire provincial budget. It does not take an economics expert to know how stupid it is to use one industry to provide jobs, tax income, cross border trade. Markets consistently fluctuate, technology takes away jobs and the public moves away from product or service. Jobs constantly increase, and then decrease; yet the Conservatives in Alberta refused to look ahead, and plan for the impending economic turmoil by basing the entire budget on oil, and now Albertans are getting punished.

History has shown want happens to cities, states, provinces or countries that depend on one industry for survival. Detroit was once a hotbed for jobs in the car industry. With 1.85 million people living in Detroit in 1950, the industry brought in people from all over America for work. Factories existed in the suburbs as well as neighboring states to ensure jobs would always be around. Then political corruption and mismanagement coupled with racial issues and technological advances made the jobs disappear. Job losses eviscerated the city, and residents fled in droves.
Now Detroit is in tatters with high unemployment, and poverty. With more environmentally conscious citizens driving fuel efficient vehicles, demand is not at a level where jobs are guaranteed. Yet, the Alberta government didn’t look to Detroit in planning the future. Like the politicians who ran Detroit, Jim Prentice and the premiers before him believed oil jobs would always be there. And now that lack of smart planning has caused Alberta’s idiotic leadership to punish Alberta.

According to Stats Canada
, employment numbers in mining, forestry, fishing, quarrying, oil and gas in Alberta declined 4.1 percent from January to February, while employment in finance and accommodation decreased by under 1 percent. From February 2014 to February 2015, mining, forestry, fishing, quarrying, oil and gas jobs decreased by 7.5 percent. So why should the Alberta government depend on oil and gas to provide income?
Agriculture jobs increased by more than 6 percent in the one month span, while numbers for the year show an increase of more than 9 percent. Jobs in educational services, health care and finance have increased, but Alberta still has deficit to pay off and Albertans who have trusted the provincial government to create a culture where jobs are always there, are now being punished because the Conservatives who have run the province for decades don’t know how to plan, or how to budget.

In order to “fix” the problem they created, the Conservative government raised taxes and fees on licenses, gas, cigarettes, and beer. Prentice did this after spending $75,000 on a press conference and before spending $13,000 on televisions. While Albertans will lose hundreds of dollars on new taxes, possibly causing more debt, or loss of family vacations, Prentice is using the Albertan people as an unlimited credit card.
Thousands have lost jobs; others who are still employed will not be seeing wage increases, so they will have to squeeze together pennies in order to provide for their families. Bills will go unpaid, people will stop driving their cars to work, forcing themselves to spend less time with their family to get up earlier to cramp themselves like sardines on public transit; unable to justify buying new TV’s, yet Prentice is not making any sort of sacrifice.

The premier claims the 5 percent decrease in legislature pay is a good faith practice that shows Alberta the government is willing to make sacrifices to help the economy recover, but that is a total crock. With the pay decrease MLA’s will make $127,000 a year, cabinet ministers $191,000 a year, and Prentice will make $207,000, the province will supposedly save $600,000, but those savings would be even more if those in power made a real sacrifice. Those decreases are still double the average wage of the Albertans who are being hit hard by the cost of the budget deficit.

Sadly however; the “sacrifices” made in Edmonton are tinged in the same crap that has infested Calgary City Hall.
Justifiably, Calgarians were upset when it was announced aldermen and the mayor would receive pay increases for failing to improve services and fix Calgary’s housing crisis by not approving more secondary housing suits. Two years ago council agreed to freeze their wage increase in a good faith measure to approve a pay increase for civic employees. The move was deemed respectable, however; civic employees are paid by Calgary taxpayers. When the “mandatory” pay increase was announced this year, the City did not extend the good faith practice to Calgarians who work for low wages if they are employed at all. City council also voted for property tax increases and raised transit fees among other hikes.

Like their provincial counterparts those who run the city government are infested with greed and incompetence. They don’t dare take significant pay decreases while those affected by their policies lose jobs or are forced to take pay cuts. While rig workers become pizza delivery drivers, Mayor Nenshi, and Jim Prentice live a life or comfort where they don’t have to worry about not being able to pay their bills.

This is a game politicians have played for decades. Without having the competence to look ahead and actually budget, those who voted for them face the wrath of poor economic planning.
Trusting the Conservatives has bit Alberta in the backside; supporting Nenshi is a showcase of ignorance. Neither leader knows how to budget, govern, or manage taxpayer dollars properly. Both leaders have shown how incompetence has reared its ugly head in Alberta governance.

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