Editorial – Deja vu?

Jeff Burgar

We are wasteful little spendthrifts, we are. Maybe not quite you personally. But in the end, most of us are happy with big spending governments, one way or another.

That’s according to what is called the MacKinnon Report. The report is all about our wasteful Alberta habits. We aren’t just a little bit extravagant. We are big time, over the top spenders, they say.

In fact, if our government spending was in line with the other three big spending provinces in Canada, we would be saving $10.4 billion per year. That’s enough to wipe out Alberta’s deficit. Plus, we wouldn’t need the often talked about provincial sales tax.

So, fellow citizens, the word is, we all have to tighten our belts.

Again! As we all did in previous oil crashes. Remember the bumper stickers? “Oh please Lord. Let there be another oil boom. I promise next time not to pee it all away.”

Government forgot!

Honestly, many of us learned lessons. We tightened our belts, or had the collection agent do it for us. There were too many sleds and quads in the front and back yard. We didn’t really need that cruise-liner size fifth-wheel. But hey, at one point it was well within our “means.”

Times turned around. History repeated. Now young pups and puppettes are finding out the hard way, just like “oldtimers” did.

Who didn’t learn? Anybody connected to government, that’s who. Many people take real pride in “working for a living.” They look across the street at a 35-hour per week person, with a great pension plan, holidays, sick days and more. Then they look at their 12-hour days, living paycheque to paycheque. Trying to keep a business afloat or worrying about their children’s teeth. Sometimes it rankles. Should have stayed in school, eh?

Anyway, the word coming down is, “Tighten up, buddies.” The same words under then premier Ralph Klein 30 years ago. Then, nobody believed it was all serious business until heads started rolling in government. Will it be the same thing this time? Deja vu all over again?

Fact is, nobody will really believe until Edmonton and Calgary heads start rolling and there is real crying there.

Premier Jason Kenney is already trying to download expenses to rural Alberta. Policing is on the list. It’s an easy target. Mostly because it goes after municipal districts, counties and towns. Edmonton and Calgary have their own police. Teachers and nurses and doctors, and more importantly, the administration which manages health and education, are all much tougher nuts.

Yet, the MacKinnon Report says this is where there are real savings.

So yes, we will believe the belt-tightening when Edmonton and Calgary are screaming.

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