UCP can’t tell others to get their fiscal house in order until they clean up their own.

You see those people pictured above?

They are NDP.

They are socialists. They have no concept of nor interest in balancing budgets. I expect little of them fiscally and they never fail to meet my expectations.

You see those people pictured above?

They are the Wildrose Party caucus (now UCP).

They are supposed to be conservatives. They are supposed to balance budgets. They are supposed to be efficient managers and capable stewards of the tax dollars entrusted to them by Albertans. I expect a great deal from these people. They have failed to meet my expectations.

UCP Caucus facing deficit.

Even with a newly merged conservative entity, we can’t assume that we will be able to displace the Notley Regime in the next general election.

I can almost guarantee you that we will not beat the NDP in an election if we can’t even keep a simple damned office budget balanced. How the hell are we supposed to tell people to tighten their belts when we make cuts when we wont tighten our own? How can we ask them to trust us when we wont lead by example?

Get your shit together guys.

We cant afford another term of the NDP.

Ranting further below.

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Government debt is nothing like a personal mortgage!

As the inept and increasingly corrupt Redford government marches Alberta back into debt, apologists are trying to say that government debt it a good thing and is like a mortgage. That statement is utter hogwash and it is tiring.

To begin with a mortgage is taken out by individuals (or families), to purchase what will likely be an appreciating asset. Equity (most likely) will build in the purchase that can be used to borrow against in the future in possible hard times or the home may simply be sold outright later. Barring either of the above, the home and it’s value will eventually be handed down to heirs.

Government capital projects while providing value are not typically transferable and only lead to future maintenance costs as opposed to appreciating in future value. Can we use a hospital as collateral in a future loan? Can we sell an overpass if we need extra cash? Increasing long-term value makes incurring debt for a home purchase a good idea. That growing value simply does not exist in government capital projects.

A mortgage is usually a once in a lifetime debt. People may move from home to home while building equity and transferring the mortgage but a person will generally only have one mortgage at any one time and the goal will be to pay it off. When government begins borrowing in good times as Redford plans to do now, it is akin to taking out a new mortgage every year. No appreciating asset is being purchased and debt simply keeps growing and growing. There is no equity offsetting the loan.

While a personal mortgage will eventually end, capital expenditures never will. There will always be more roads needed and hospitals demanded. Will future generations not need such expenditures too? They will have to pay for that infrastructure while paying debt off along with interest. Is this principled or fair?

We hear the dwindling Progressive Conservative supporters trying to paint things as if it is some sort of zero-sum game with idiotic questions such as: “Don’t you want schools, hospitals and roads?”. Of course we do and we will still have all of those damned things without borrowing to get them.

People keep speaking of an infrastructure deficit. By who’s measure is there a deficit? Is there ever enough hospitals? Will roads ever be wide enough? Will kids have enough schools close to home? Will there be enough libraries? The demand for spending is truly infinite. The capacity to spend is finite though and we have to draw a line somewhere.

If we need to borrow while the government is receiving record revenues as it is now, it is clear that there is no way that this administration will stop borrowing down the road no matter what energy prices do. We will borrow and borrow and borrow until an inevitable fiscal collapse that our children and grandchildren will have to endure.

All around the developed world we are seeing governments collapsing under their own debt. Most of Europe is in fiscal shambles and the USA is soon to either hit the wall or have some terribly heavy austerity measures come into place as their government debt overwhelms them. Why on earth do we want to continue to keep digging ourselves into that unsustainable hole when such clear examples of the futility of that path are in front of us?

We are lucky in Alberta to have the means for some of the best infrastructure and development in the entire world. For us to threaten this with such a gross addiction to spending and lazy government is almost obscene.

The excuses and rationalizations will be coming hard and heavy as the 2013 budget looms and Redford presents Albertans with a massive budgetary deficit. To be sure, the mortgage comparison with government borrowing is simply bunk. Be sure to remind Redford’s small social media army of that as they ramp up their unprincipled rhetoric in the next few months.

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Enabled by our apathy.

Much to pretty much nobody’s surprise, the Redford government is putting Alberta back into debt and reversing all the of belt-tightening and sacrifice of Albertans from back in the 90s when we paid off our provincial debt.

During last spring’s election campaign, many in opposition questioned the viability of Redford’s promise to balance the budget in light of the massive spending promises. The bottom line is; Redford knew then that she could not balance the budget at that time and she never intended or expected to. The Redford government promised the moon to Albertans and left it for a post-election exercise to deal with the consequences.

The “Dollars & Sense” roadshow was designed to build the excuses for promises broken during the last election. Through a carefully orchestrated but poorly promoted series of meetings around the province a couple months ago, the Redford government built themselves the excuse that “Albertans want us to go into debt”.

You have to give them some credit in this political move, it gave them at least a sliver of credibility to claim we want this when they dropped the affront on Albertans last week that they would be putting our province back into debt. They can say they went out and listened and this is what they heard.

I went and attended the Calgary meeting for the “Dollar’s and Sense” thing. The first and most notable thing was that there were perhaps only 30 people in the room and at least a few of them were press and MLAs. Among those people, I didn’t see much indication of anybody who could be considered just an interested and atypical Albertan. The people there were representing particular groups and pet interests thus all spoke to and about how to get more money for their causes. Now if one was objectively listening to that small crowd and assumes that it represents Albertans, it has to be assumed that almost all Albertans want massive increases in government spending.

The graphs, numbers and exercises were all somewhat leading as well. We were asked to prioritize spending among pie-charts and speak to how we would re-arrange spending. The constant premise was that we could only shift priorities in spending while cutting spending in itself was not really an option. Are cuts really impossible? We are spending more per-capita in Alberta than any other province in Canada. Is it really impossible to cut some of that? The setup at the “Dollars and Sense” meeting sure made it appear that way.

The worst exercise of the bunch was one that asked where we should spend money should there be a hypothetical budget surplus down the road (rather moot right now). In all of the options for a surplus though, tax reduction was not even given as an option. It is debatable as to whether or not tax cuts are required in Alberta, but in their actually being debatable they should at least have been provided as an option in the exercise no?

Now to the credit of the PCs here: the exercises were good in that they helped demonstrate that it is difficult to pick and choose where funding should be added and where it is removed. Questions from the floor were tempered by that reality in that if you add to one spot, it must come from another and that is important to keep in mind. This was designed to help educate people in attendance as well as hear from them.

I found the attitudes of the presenters to be genuine and patient with the myriad of inquiries that came from that small but vocal crowd. The cookies were excellent too.

Doug Horner and Kyle Fawcett both came to me to ask what I thought of things while I was there. Whether they put much stock into my views or not, I was given a genuine one on one opportunity to share them with them. This is where I am getting to how we failed as politically active Albertans to take advantage of an opportunity to effect budgetary decisions.

In how many large jurisdictions do we get the chance to speak one on one with one of the top cabinet ministers? Keeping that in mind, it is terrible that only about 30 or so people in a city of over a million could take time to pop out on a Thursday night to take part in this.

I understand the cynicism as well as anybody in these forums. I do feel that the outcomes were essentially predetermined and that these meetings were simply held to give the premise of listening. In our refusing to participate though, we have given some higher ground to those who planned these things.

First, MLAs and cabinet ministers are indeed simply people. They can and will be influenced by the views and opinions of people in settings such as this even if that was not their intent. Many people in government do live in bubbles and rarely see the unvarnished opinions of the electorate between elections. Rational and well placed inquiries could have had at least a bit of effect on the planning of these officials.

Second and more important, had we as Albertans attended these meetings, presented our views and then indeed had them ignored we would be in much better standing when we question the government’s claims to have a mandate to mire us into debt. How can we question what they feel they learned from the forums when we wouldn’t even go to them?

We claim to want transparency, communication and accountability yet we can’t trouble ourselves to take part in functions that provide us at least a small amount of all of those things.

Being responsible and active Albertans means being active between elections too. It can mean giving up on a favorite TV episode to go to a townhall meeting at times and it can mean filling out those questionnaires that we periodically get.

When we let the government have a pass on these kinds of things, we give them the means to claim “Albertans want this” and we have little means to counter them on it.

I don’t believe that Albertans want to go back into debt and I do think that this will be the prime factor that gets the Redford government dethroned in the next election. We don’t need to make it any easier for them to hide from accountability.

Our apathy is the Redford government’s best friend.

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Budget time!!

Well, lets see. Courts across the country are indeed proving that there is not, never has been and never will be a Charter protected right to squat illegally in a city park under the guise of freedom of expression. Sadly court time had to be wasted in reaffirming this reality as common sense on the part of city officials should have ended all this squatting long ago.

Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton are all moving and will be getting rid of their illegal squatters soon. Regina, Saskatoon, Victoria, London and Halifax have all evicted the squatters from their park.

Despite all this, Nenshi’s Calgary is still intent on negotiating with what can now only be called extortionists. These guys are clearly breaking the law and are demanding that the city provide them with a long list of freebies in order for them to consider ending their illegal squatting.

The city’s last offer (way too generous as it was) was spit upon by the squatters who said they would like to light it on fire. That offer from the city would have provided the extortionists with the means to hold several public forums and to establish what could be a permanent information booth for them near the plaza.

I am sure that many charities and lobby groups would love to have free hosted public forums and free permanent information booths downtown. Alas, legitimate groups have been playing by acceptable rules of society. Clearly the way to get things is to break the law. Nenshi and the rest of the cowardly officials will then heap offers upon your cause in hopes that you consider becoming law-abiding again.

Now the squatters have been emboldened further (who can blame them?) by the craven attempts of capitulation from the city and they are drafting new demands. Since it is budget time, I would like to itemize these demands so that Nenshi can add them to the budget deliberations as he clearly is not afraid of throwing city tax money at our illegal squatters (on top of the estimated $40,000 in damage that the squatters have already done to our park).

From the mouths of squatters themselves:

1) That the city find a place agreeable to OC where we can hold General Assemblies in safety and warmth.

2) That the city will cover rent for said place.

I guess it should go without saying that the squatters expect us to pay for everything but they made sure to make a specific demand for that to be sure.

Now they hold their GAs daily and have been known to hold them twice per day. Turnout is extremely variable but lets be generous and assume that they will need daily space for as many as 60 people. The Epcor center is right next to the squatters so would be an ideal new warm spot for their general assemblies. Lets be kind on the costs though and just assume that they will hold one meeting per day in that room.

Daily meetings for 60 in meeting room next to Olympic Plaza: $277,400
Of course with regular scheduling that could even be knocked down to a cool $250,000

4) That the city pay to hold sixteen GAs as stated above with time/date/location/format of our choosing. (Maybe even twenty to get us through our winter of discontent with weekly GAs).

Again they wanted to ensure that the taxpayers would cover everything. Now when I went down to Olympic Plaza, they advertised a General Assembly every day at 1:00pm and 6:00pm if I recall. Perhaps it has now moved to sporadic or maybe there are different categories. Some are general General Assemblies while others are Uber Big General Assemblies. It really does not need to make sense or have consistency. Nothing else from the squatters has so far.

Due to the above ambiguity, I will raise the Epcor room cost back to the initial estimate that I had reduced for what I thought would be regular scheduling of the room.

5) That the city permit one tent at the plaza, or at a mutually agreed location, as an info booth to disseminate information to the public and to operate during normal park hours.

OK so they want permanent prime space downtown. Well, for a 10×10 vending tent on Steven Avenue it is $520 per month plus GST so that comes to about $6552 per year.

6) That the city provide electricity during normal park hours to ensure adequate lighting in and around the information tent referred to in 5) and provide assistance (CFD, Bylaw) in setting up an adequate and compliant heating system for the information tent referred to in 5). Also, that the city provide security for the information tent during off hours.

Hmm. So they want the tent to remain 24/7, with electric, heat and security. That is essentially a small free-standing business in downtown Calgary. Lets give that a cost of around $200,000 and forgo the earlier vending tent estimate.

7) That the city pay for three evenings rental of the largest rooms at every Community Hall in Calgary for the purpose of holding public forums.

This one is cute. I am afraid that at three days each, they would not be able to get through all of the meetings in one year as there are too many halls in Calgary. Lets just assume one every day all year then. My community hall charges $500 for it’s largest room for a night. It is about an average sized hall. There will be a meeting held at a hall in somewhere in Calgary every day of the year.

Demand for hall rentals: $182,500

8) That the city pay for the rental of all equipment necessary to hold such forums. For example: mic’s, amp’s, speakers, tables, chairs etc. Including internet access for live steaming.

Tables and chairs are usually included with most halls. Sound systems and internet are extra though. Lets just be generous and add $100 per night.

Extras: $36,500

9) That the city pay to advertise all public forums. Including TV, radio, newspapers, community newsletters, etc.

Hmm, I am afraid that gets really pricey. Lets just assume that you get good deals on advertising in all of those mediums for 365 meetings per year with a total being about $2,000 per day.

Advertising on all forms of media: $730,000

10) That the city pay for a CPS presence at each public forum for the duration of the meeting.

Afraid I can’t find a pricing guide for genuine armed police officers. I assure you it will be at least $500 per meeting.

Personal police presence: $182,500

Well at the moment that is all they have come up with so far. Rest assured their greedy little entitled minds will come up with more things that they feel hardworking taxpayers owe them.

Nenshi has made it clear that he is OK with squatters being in our park ad infinitum so this had best be added into Calgary’s city budget.

The cost annually to keep up with he latest extortion demands being made by “occupy” Calgary squatters totals:

$1,608,900!!!

Please include this in the budget deliberations Mayor Nenshi.

Of course you could also grow a set, do your job and kick the damn illegal squatters from our park too.

The above pricing does not account for leap years nor further illegal occupations of parks that will be sure to follow upon capitulation to extortion by the city of Calgary.

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