Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gaming Rivals Royalties in Alberta Coffers

Albertans own some of the greatest and largest collection of natural resources to generate wealth now and for future generations. Those include forestry, coal, oil, gas and oil sands in abundance.  But are we getting good value from our tenants?  Are we getting good management from our government?  How are they jointly providing for the proper stewardship?  Are they taking a comprehensive long-term integrated development approach that embraces the social, political, cultural, ecological and economic elements related to exploitation of our resources.

If so, why then do we only expect to collect revenues from those resources at about the same level as we garner from gambling in the province? What is wrong with this picture?  This is a perfect storm example of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.  Gambling revenues are apparently highly concentrated from a small and not very wealthy portion of the population and is a very socially expensive tax system.

Non renewable resources have only one time to generate royalty revenues from our natural capital. But we forgo them in exchange for subsidized jobs in the energy sector especially.  This is nothing short or selling out the birthright of future generations as we use these capital revenues to subsidize our about a third of current public service programs instead of taxing our selves properly to pay our way.

Instead we adhere to a narrow-minded Alberta Advantage mantra of low taxes at all costs.  Foolish and selfish are the only conclusions one can come to when gambling is as important a public revenue source as natural resources.

Any political party prepared to suggest to Albertans that we return to our self-reliant, self-respecting and resilient selves and actually pay our own way for health care, schools, seniors, safe communities and so forth.  that may mean a rise in taxes and a closer look at value for money as taxpayers.  It also beg the question of the proper role of government and the appropriate level of funding for government to do the jobs we ask of it.

Time to wake up and grow up Alberta.  We got serious about getting rid of debt and deficits in the early 90s in no small part so we would not leave that burden on our children and could look them in the eye.  Not so sure we can do that now.  This is especially true given how we are squandering such resource wealth and opportunity and at the same time stifling our capacity for caring, compassion and dignity for the young, vulnerable and marginalized in our society by under funded government programs because we will not pay our way as taxpayers.

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