Energy price wars and global pandemics would be a challenge for any economy. Price wars, pandemics and Jason Kenney’s budget are a recipe for disaster.
Kenney has come out with a budget that would have been bad for Albertans even if there were a strong healthy econony -
ENERGY and the ECONOMY
We need to start investing in the future, not the past. Energy prices have plunged due to Russian and Saudi decisions about their production, making it very clear that Alberta, and Canada as a whole, are not major players and will never be able to control the price of the product. $100 a barrel oil turns out to be a temporary fluctuation, and Saudi Arabia alone could produce enough oil at $20 a barrel to supply the world until the internal combustion engine is history.
Subsidies, unpaid taxes and royalties rebates amount to some $1.6 billion to $2 billion a year just at the Alberta government level, while leaving us holding the bill for orphan wells estimated at some $260 Billion!
Instead of ever increasing subsidies, tax cuts, royalty holidays, and a free pass on polluting for oil and gas companies, we need to hold them accountable for unpaid taxes and for paying to clean up their own mess, up to and including nationalization. Enormous numbers of jobs could be generated by reducing the contamination in the oil patch, in accordance with the international legal principle of "polluter pay".
For decades governments in Alberta have done virtually nothing to make our economy more robust in the face of fluctuating energy prices, not even bothering to collect the rent. Norway’s oil fund reached the Trillion dollar US mark in 2017, amounting to
It is really time to divert the massive direct and indirect subsidies to the traditional energy sector into more job-
GLOBAL ECONOMY AND GLOBAL PANDEMICS
But it is also clear that in an interconnected world, cuts to health care are not a good idea -
Kenney has announced that he will delay firing nurses until the pandemic crisis is over. How about not firing them at all, so that we won't go into the next epidemic with a worse shortage of nurses?
Privatized services are not the answer. A two tiered system, where the wealthy can afford more prompt and better care, will not help the great majority of the population, and it won’t do the wealthy any good either, when the virus is invited to remain in circulation by abandoning the care of much of the population. In fact, an emergency situation like this makes it clearer than ever that health care is indivisible -
These are extraordinary times. News feeds and ordinary working people, not surprisingly, are focussed on the pandemic, the need to combat its spread by physical distancing, and the daily struggle to maintain life and supply the health system under these unusual conditions. We could be excused for thinking that the elected politicians would be similarly focussed -
And no right-
Nothing shows this more clearly than this past week’s major actions -
And it gets worse -
Well, I guess we could say that when you are blinded by rightwing ideology, and too busy bowing down to foreign owned monopolies to look into the distance, math is hard.
But the right-
If any more evidence were needed, the most recent government move -
The response of working people needs to be vigorous, united and swift. Think of the improved quality of life and the diversification of the economy that could be possible if we are prepared to put that 7 billion dollars into totally different forms of infrastructure and raising the standard of living of the unemployed and the vulnerable. Think of the freedom from insecurity that we could have if we break free of an economy dependent on fossile fuel price fluctuations.
No layoffs in the public sector -
Rent and mortgage suspension for all residents -
Close construction camps -
Clean drinking water and high quality housing for all indigenous communities, hiring local residents as much as possible
An end to private home care service agencies and seniors’ housing -
Guarantee emergency income for all at least at a "living wage" level, or at 90% of wages for previously employed
Plan major Green rebuilding of infrastructure to begin as soon as quarantine conditions can be lifted, to employ many more than 7,000
This pandemic emergency has shown that our society can rally round and take extraordinary measures for our common good. We don’t have to go back to business as usual afterwards -