Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Alberta Votes Day 9: Ralphbucks Returns


On Sunday, the Wildrose Party released an April Fools press release, proposing to merge Alberta and Saskatchewan. On Monday, they took the silliness up a level:

Wildrose promises cash rebates to Albertans if oil money creates budget surplus

CREMONA, Alta. - Alberta's Wildrose party is promising free oil money for all if it win's the April 23 provincial election.

Leader Danielle Smith announced Monday a Wildrose government would pay directly to citizens 20 per cent of all future budget surpluses generated by oil and natural gas revenues.

"Instead of squandering surplus funds on pet projects and more government waste, the Alberta Energy Dividend will ensure Albertans benefit directly from the wealth our energy sector generates," Smith said in a news release.

"Wildrose believes that Albertans can spend their own money better than government. That is precisely why we've got a plan to put more money back in their pockets instead of government coffers."

The Alberta government is predicting oil will average out at US$108 a barrel by 2015. Smith said if that happens, her team would cut a $300 cheque to every man, woman, and child.


So if you think the Progressive Conservatives have grown tired after 40 years in power and have little long term economic vision, the Wildrose alternative is to recycle one of the most visionless policies ever adopted in Alberta - Ralph Bucks.

It's not even worth wasting virtual ink over the merits of this policy, because there are none. Cash giveaways of this nature are the surest way for a leader to signal he or she has no intention of even pretending they have a plan to govern. I'd call it lazy policy making, but "policy making" is too charitable a term for it.

So let's look at the politics.

As the PC MLAs on the "money for nothing committee" showed, human beings have a difficult time saying no to free money. I know voters rarely study election platforms in detail, but Danielle Smith's platform continues to drift further and further into fantasyland. To recap:
  • A billion for Danielle Dollars.
  • A $2000 child tax credit, which will cost the province $130 to $175 million a year depending who you ask.
  • A $500 children's activity tax credit and the elimination of school fees.
  • Growing the Heritage Fund to 200 billion over the next 20 years.
  • Prohibit deficits - which shouldn't be a problem given they project a $2 billion surplus in 2013, increasing to $8 billion in 2017

Now, there are three ways the Wildrose Party could pay for this laundry list of electoral treats (which will continue grow by the time the campaign is done):

1. Cuts: The thing is, the cuts Smith is promising are mostly symbolic gestures - cut Cabinet Minister salaries and buy cheaper paper clips. She is promising to scrap $2 billion worth of carbon capture and sequestration projects - the rub is, some of that funding has already been spent, and the rest is spread out over 15 years. On a yearly basis, that barely covers her child tax credit.

2. Taxes and royalties: The Alberta Liberals have promised an ambitious platform including free tuition, and are paying for it through tax increases on the richest Albertans and businesses. The Wildrosers? They've signed a no-tax pledge. If anything, they'd rather see less royalty revenue.

3. Magic: At this point, this is he most plausible explanation. That or winning the lottery a few times each year.

Whether or not the other leaders make this point in a compelling enough manner remains to be seen. As Jack Layton showed last spring, platform costing usually takes a back seat when a charismatic leader is able to capture the imagination of the electorate.

But while Smith attacks Redford on a daily basis over the "money for nothing" committee, all she's offered voters is a "money for nothing" platform.

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20 Comments:

  • I hated Ralph bucks.

    Alberta's resource wealth is already being given to the people - in the form of government services.

    However, the bulk of the government services is still funded through taxation.

    So if there's a surplus, and the government doesn't want to save nor spend it, it should be given to those who have been paying the bulk of it.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:38 AM  

  • Government surpluses are really nothing more than profits. If some of that gravy finds its way back into my pocket rather than some government program that benefits nobody but a select few elites or special interest groups, I'm all for it. Beer and popcorn for everyone!

    By Blogger GladdBag, at 11:38 AM  

  • Government surplus is money not spent, but collected - a form of over taxation. I'll take the rebate, thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:07 PM  

  • Hey, Aberhart was going to pay everybody $25/month, which works out to $300/year, so I think Danielle is being pretty chintzy.

    Aberhart never paid it either.

    By Blogger Holly Stick, at 3:09 PM  

  • Why do they keep showing Danni out in a barren field?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:57 PM  

  • WRP is nothing but a provincial version of the Bloc. A political party who's members betrayed the people of Alberta. Unethically formed when its members committed high treason keeping there seats after crossing the floor, refusing to give up there seats to a by-election and turning there backs on the people who voted for them. It is hard enough to trust or put faith in a politician and or a party. With that said, a party that is formed with such a disregard for ethics and morals has no place in a democratic society. It took federalist conservatives a long time to realize an old adage...United we stand, Divided we fall. WRP may win, but all of Alberta will lose.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:44 PM  

  • I found myself walking across Edm during the winter after working in a freezer. Longer C-train hours and another line that slashed the other way would've enabled me to work two FT jobs unless productivity triumphs turnover. Cgy enabled this as bus route that did a circle (through industrial parks). Was commuting from Bonnie Doon to way busless NW and also shifts were ending outside dead C-train stop at 2:30am. I caught the flu walking home from the one 3 day a weeker I had lined up temporarily...
    Ralph Bucks aren't bad if it is an unexpected surplus and you don't want to apply it to debt. Robert, the one caveat with giving it back to rich people is their lobby might be the reason gov ROI sucks for a given jurisdiction (USA healthcare).
    The Liberal plan seems fine as richest are likely uncarbontaxed emittors; might want to make free tuition contingent on working in AB for first 1-3 yrs.

    The province is hooked on tar revenue and tar is very carbon-intensive. The province should tax tar and build wind turbines and R+D power banking.
    I'm going to refocus my attacks on oil. Exxon is owned by financial actors, not so much oil execs. And China would need alternative jobs for their state oil; there oil really does create jobs like wind does in 1st world. So it is rich people is USA who have captured just enough Senators. I want to know what income levels or net worths they have and what occupations. Then weed out low ROI and attack.
    I'd be worried about Romney sending people door-to-door in an evolved pandemic. He'd be an okay leader of USA in 1700s. Mormons accused me of four counts of sexual harassment before letting me go. 3 mulligans before confrontation? I did leave a free receiving msg trying to find some basic S/R training...

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 12:11 AM  

  • One of the two China state biggies had revenues of $160000 employees. About Vestas. Canadian oil sands is $400000 employee. Fluctuates though, maybe trailing indicator or market cap better? So here, good gov could easily create more jobs...I'd guess the wind jobs are $5-10/hr less...but if is enough to rent and raise a kid...
    The whole point is what, 46% of their revenues are from tar and still in red, raiding Rainy Day fund rather than Norway-adding to it? COS shareholders are cdn finance. So instead of Crowns or rebates, you get bank dividends. A transfer of wealth from teachers and nurses to rich pensioners I'd guess. If you raise carbon taxes you get less bank dividends. Oh no! Country got really stupid around the time P.Martin left office.

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 12:23 AM  

  • ..growing the fund about $10B/yr sounds about right. What is AB economy, $100B/yr? If you fund this with provincial debt, is risky. at a 4/1.6 ratio of jobs created in wind vs tar per dollar...I'd put half a carbon tax in a temporary Petro Canada wind-Crown, and the rest applied to debt or rainy day fund. Doesn't have to be wind but USA just got stuck with oil tax breaks instead of WTTP (wind generation rebate), and Canada hasn't had a WTTP since CPC in power. Ripe field.

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 12:32 AM  

  • Wow, this piece is so vacuous as to hardly warrant comment. At the very least do your research instead of marching out old liberal platitudes dressed up to look like intelligence. The Wildrose plan is so far removed from the Ralph bucks stunt it's laughable. Unlike the PCs this is actually a well thought out plan and one that has a track record with other contemporary governments. Yes Virginia you can have an energy rebate and it does work. Don't believe in Santa call anyone from Alaska they will set you straight.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:09 AM  

  • With the federal dumb as dogshit future holocaust enablers in charge, limited petro spill liabilities to $30M, shouldn't AB up this figure provincially before an inevitable tailings pond spill?

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 12:19 PM  

  • Yes, Alaska has an energy rebate. They also have the shittiest roads, hospitals and schools in the 50 states.

    By Anonymous Ezra Levant's shiny forehead, at 12:55 PM  

  • I want to hear more about the guy who says the federal government are Holocaust enablers - he obviously has a great deal of credibility.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 2:43 PM  

  • Anon - you interested in moving to Alaska?

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:32 PM  

  • China's growth changed IPCC's 2100 temperature projections from +2 to +7C up in 2001, to +5C to +7C. End of most grain harvests. End of our blogging fun. We eat insects and Western civilization fails. Nothing more to it than that. Without food we stop working. This is science, not what a bunch of humans in 300AD cobbled together to bolster human rights.
    It there is a god I don't think he would want me to be a theist as that devalues the world we have control over. I don't think he'd like politicians that attend fundamental churches. I know with 100% certainty he does not want AGW or he wouldn't have populated the damn Earth in the first place.

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 9:57 PM  

  • It isn't intentionally a Holocaust like Hitler's. It is more like Stalin's forced starvations. Except billions of people and no North America and Anzec bright light to bail out Europe. Call it what you want; when Izzy gets around to suggest a museum curriculum (why not just a bunch of Human Rights thinktanks in existing universities or office space) and explaining why an expensive facade instead of cheap architecture in the murder/arson/violence/child-poverty capital of Canada...we'll have the terminology of what to call what CPCers do to future crop harvests and Himalayan fresh water. The made in China stuff needs fresh water (manufacturing processes not listed in Bible) BTW.

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 10:05 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:16 PM  

  • I was worried you had a bit of a chip on your shoulder, but you just meant they're more like Stalin than Hitler, and their Holocaust won't be intentional.

    And yes, I wish Harper, Flaherty, Mackay etc would stop talking about God all the time. I must have heard it two-three times in the past ten years. Enough already, you crazy fundamentalists!

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:16 PM  

  • Sorry, I'm just a little testy now. I don't really respect money in this country anymore and that means I don't really respect the women either. My carbon sequester research won't be fun or payoff in this country, and I really think it should be the job of federal governments to prevent known human extinction threats. How can I get researchers to analyze logs I bury in peat without a carbon tax?

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 11:28 PM  

  • Why has no one questioned that we maybe giving more taxes to Ottawa with this plan. When Ralph Bucks were done, the feds said they would not tax to receipiants on the dividend. I would not be too sure in todays environment that CRA would not tax us on this money. That being said, why would we want to give Ottawa about $300 million more each year. I would rather see that money used for infrastructure.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:49 PM  

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