Sunday, October 01, 2006

Deception, Demagoguery and Scapegoating: The Klein Years

Rabble has what may be the definitive short history of the Klein years in Alberta politics. A taste:
In 1997, Kevin Taft wrote a slim book called Shredding the Public Interest, where he showed health care spending through the '80s had been stable. Other programs had already been cut by Premier Getty; spending was not out of control. But corporate subsidies demanded between $2 and $3 billion per year— an amount rivaling the Conservatives' yearly deficits. The justification for public sector cutbacks was built on a fabrication, retold with a terrifying mendacity by the province's news media for the next 13 years.

All this over a $25 billion debt piddly in retrospect. To put the figure into context: Alberta racked up $33 billion in surpluses over the last decade. This year, the surplus may top $10 billion almost half the debt bogeyman.

Real people live with the consequences. From the lowest rates of high school completion and university participation, to the highest rates of divorce, problem gambling, family violence and levels of greenhouse gas emissions, Alberta continues to distinguish itself as a place defined by social and environmental extremes.

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