Well...we understand capitalism in Alberta. Our economy, fine-tuned after 44 years of "progressive" conservative rule, has led to a greatly unequal sharing of blessings.
|Jim Prentice's $71,000 T-Bird|
In a capitalist economy, it's expected that blessings will be unequally shared, and inequality in Alberta is the highest in Canada. In fact, it's higher than it is in the United States. According to Statistics Canada, the top 10% of Alberta's taxfilers make 50% of all the money. Statistics further show that the oil boom in Alberta has really only served to benefit the rich. Wealth has not trickled down to the average Albertan. 1 in 10 Albertan children live in poverty, and half of those have working parents. Food bank use rising, spectacularly. Minimum wage is still the lowest of any Canadian province.
We understand capitalism in this province. Socialism? Not so much. Our brand of socialism is unlike that described by Churchill, in which all share in the "miseries" by contributing equitably to public services that benefit all. Our political leaders do not quite grasp the idea that universal social programmes were set up so that some people can get further ahead by acting in their own self-interest, but no one will be left too far behind. A social safety net established through our desire for the collective good. Here in Alberta somehow we agreed to a kind of socialism that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor, rather than the other way around.
|Hope Mission, Edmonton|
Nor do we pay for these services equally. A provincial flat tax of 10% hits the working poor and middle class much harder than the extremely wealthy. Jim Prentice's announced "healthcare levy" will hurt the poor much more than it will the wealthy, and as Sandra Azocar of Friends of Medicare says, "Albertans do not need to be taxed, fined or punished for years of PC mismanagement." Low corporate taxes and low oil royalties mean that Albertans are essentially giving away their resources to multinational corporations, both foreign and Canadian owned.
The inherent vice of our political and economic system in Alberta today is that neither miseries nor blessings are equally shared.