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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why is Alberta Into Energy Sector Subsidies at $90 Oil?

This editorial in the Edmonton Journal today is a must read for every taxpaying, resource owning Albertan who prides themselves in paying their own way in the world.

I harp on the need for Albertans to start realizing we own the oil sands and the rest of the natural resources in our province.  We also have to take personal responsibility to ensure they are developed in an environmentally responsible way.  Further we need to ensure that we optimize the rents and revenues we receive from the economic development of those resources.  The overarching principle is that the economy is there to serve the needs of the society, not the other way around.  The society and economy together have to work in harmony within the realities of ecological limits and conservation, preservation, protection and reclamation have to be core and active values of we the owners of the resources.

The politically motivated fiscal conservatives in Alberta are too often attracted to short term economic results that perpetuate old and outdated models of wealth creation.  They are too quick to give away our resources to subsidize sunset industries like some 19th century victim of colonialism.  The result is we have revenue problems in the governing of the province induced but narrow, shallow and short-sighted thinking to buy votes and fritter away the resource birthrights of future generations.

Albertans are better than that but we have become complacent and compliant in our duties as owners and stewards of our natural resources.  It is hard to know who to trust in all the rhetoric and histrionics of power and positioning politics these days.  That is no excuse to not engage and become informed active citizens who take responsibility for the well being of themselves and their families as well being involved as the greater good of their community and province.  There are many reasons we have a budget deficit right now.  A a big factor is we do not pay our way for the very necessary public programs a civilized, caring and compassionate society should provide.  One of the reasons is we are giving our resources away and providing irresponsible subsidies that are only short term economic inducements and entice us to keep making the same mistakes.

The Edmonton Journal editorial is right.  A responsible government would stop unnecessary subsidies to sunset industries like deep drilling convention oil and gas.  That is marketplace interference of the worst kind.  It only holds us back from facing reality.  It stops us from facing the need to adapt to new and emerging wealth creating possibilities.  It stifles our thinking and diverts attention from the more vital task of finding new ways to be resourceful and resilient - and responsible in designing and learning our way forward to the next Alberta.