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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interesting Insight Into the Mood of Blog Readers?

So the Burning Question last week was about the mood of some readers of this blog.  This is not a scientific sampling and only a conversation starter.

We did not put a context on the question just what is your mood about so it is hard to be specific around context.  There were 41% who were on the optimistic side and 22% pessimistic.  Things are generally very good in Alberta but the future is uncertain for 34% of us.  For what it is worth the majority of those who responded are not in a particularly happy place.  Why is that with all the wealth we are told we have?

The economy is turning around, so we are told. So why only 41% of us are optimistic? There is a lingering concern that are we in for another energy sector induced Boom.  But is that a good thing in the minds of most of us.  I think not. We have seen the negative results of that last two Booms.  Is it time to print the third version of the iconic Alberta Bumper Sticker? Please God Give me One More Boom and I Promise Not to Piss it Away - AND THIS TIME I MIGHT ACTUALLY MEAN IT!

The Boom-Bust cycles are harmful for most of us. We make a bunch of money but the hours are long and it takes a toll on families.  The other sectors in our economy suffer staff shortages and we end up with social pressures of all kinds.

Can't we level out the booms and busts so we have steady predictable growth that enhances the well being and prosperity of more Albertans and not just the few at the top in the energy industry?  Is the Alberta destiny to be captives of destructive Booms and then devastating Busts?  There are billions of dollars of investment in oil sands already and billions more to come. How can we optimizing the full range of benefits of this investment now and for future generations?

What is our legacy going to be from the development of the oil sands?  I think it can be fabulous but only if we Albertans, as owners of the oil sands, get engaged in the politics and policy around the responsible and sustainable development of our resource.  With a world addicted to hydrocarbons and Alberta being the only place with significant reserves that is a functioning democracy, we citizen/owners have some serious obligations beyond getting as rich as possible as fast as possible from oil sands development.

What are your thoughts on Booms and Busts being the destiny of Alberta?  Do you like it of not?  What can we do to provide for a more rational integrated economic growth, with environmental protection and a society enhancing approach?  We Albertans are the owners of the oil sands.  We have the blessing and bear the burden of oil sands development as a result.  What do you think we should insist on from the industry as our tenants and the government as our property managers?

What would it take to make you proud as an Albertan and as an owner of the oil sands?  I think the announcement of the commercial upgrader/refinery in Fort Saskatchewan area yesterday is a good start. We Albertans will get more value from the bitumen royalty we take in-kind instead of cash and create the jobs and value here, including raising the bar on environmental concerns like carbon capture.    What do you think?