Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stelmach's PCs dare Albertans to stop them.

EDMONTON — Economic storm clouds are forming over Alberta, forcing one of Canada’s wealthiest provinces to look at trimming spending and possibly cutting jobs.

“You cannot just blindly go on spending if your revenue streams continue to drop,” Treasury Board President Lloyd Snelgrove said in an interview. “Our only other realistic opportunity is to cut spending.”

Snelgrove says once Albertans signal that they’ve had enough of spending cuts, then tax increases may be considered.

“We have to get to the point where Albertans will say to us, `We want this level of service and we are prepared to pay more,”’ said the minister.

The ideologues of the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta know better. Forget that we've all just watched the free market absolutism of Movement Conservatism burn the world financial system to the ground and we can all see the chickens of Reaganism coming home to roost.

Forget that Finance Ministers, CEOs and Nobel laureate economists are arguing that the old conservative one note monetarism stops working when interest rates are already zero and people are too scared to do anything with tax cuts but hide them under their mattresses.

Alberta has a severe infrastructure deficit, crying need for lower income housing for its cities, increased support for the rural poor and yes, more funding for a healthcare system that hasn't even come close to keeping up with the surging population that has been driving Alberta's wealth.

Deficits are bad and to be avoided when possible. Worrying about deficits in the current economic environment is like worrying about a sprained ankle when you have a pumping head wound. Conservative economics got us into this mess, and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

We can spend the kind of stimulus necessary to keep our economy afloat and yes build a deficit - essentially at zero percent interest - or we can go into a self induced death spiral because Stelmach and the PCs have the vapors when anyone says the 'D' word.

They've just told us that a massive negative response from Albertans is the only thing that will stop them from throwing Alberta's economy and citizens under the bus to save their campaign slogans.

Still have your Friends of Medicare signs in storage folks? You had to know you were going to need them again.

UPDATE: Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason calls out Premier Stelmach for 'Hooverism'.

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