On economic realities in food service & “living wages”

The fallout continues to mount as the cumulative effects the Notley government’s anti-business policies come home to roost.

With minimum wage hikes, hikes in stat pay for people who never actually work on those stat holidays, carbon tax hikes and new regulations piling on monthly, even restaurants that have managed to succeed for decades are beginning to fail.

This week’s closure was the Bear’s Den restaurant that operated in Northwest Calgary for 14 years.

What infuriated the hysteric left and Notley apologists with this closure was that the owner dared speak openly on what pushed his formerly prosperous business into closure. Yes. Government policies on all levels are pushing places out of business. The only thing I can fault this man with is that he neglected to mention how federal and municipal governments have been piling on small businesses as well. The blame in these deaths by a thousand cuts lands on all levels of government as none of them have been doing small business any favors of late.

The ignorance being displayed by Notley’s social media fartcatchers on this closure has been both striking and predictable.

Armchair restaurant managers spring forth like weeds and begin to explain all the reasons that these businesses keep failing and they work to understate the damage that is caused when these places close.

This clown is a prime example. He went on with multiple tweets about how the prices were too high and that it only led to about 12 people losing their jobs anyway. He of course took that common assumption that the owner of the restaurant was filthy rich and would retire upon a pile of money.

In reality, 26 jobs were directly lost from that restaurant alone. This closure also reduces revenues for the companies that serviced and supplied the restaurant and likely added up to at least another job or two lost.

Odd how those who always claim to be standing up for the little guy are so quick to dismiss the impact of job losses for these little guys.

In their lack of understanding of economic realities, many lefties conflate high prices with high profits. They assume that if a restaurant is upscale, the profits must be as well. Alas, the margins remain the same for food service businesses whether in upscale eateries such as the Bear’s Den or in a food court stall in a mall. They are incredibly thin.

I saw one comment where the person exclaimed upon looking at the menu:  “$14 martinis? No thank you!” As if that statement alone explained why this restaurant failed.

Head to any bar. I know first hand as a pub owner that we don’t pay a hell of a lot less for liquor than retail customers do. We need to mark that booze up. If taxes didn’t account for nearly 50% of the cost of booze, I promise you that you would get better prices. The market is competitive.

Either way, martinis are cocktails that are doubles and usually use premium vodkas or gins. They take time to mix and present and have a garnish. They range at best from $12 to $16 in bars. $14 was average.

The Bank of Canada thinks that as many as 60,000 jobs will be lost due to minimum wage hikes alone. Shall we dismiss this? Is this a desirable outcome? Are we somehow winning here?

 

What people don’t seem to get is what a profit margin is and just how thin those margins are for restaurants and bars.

According to stats Canada, the average profit margin in restaurant and bar lands under 4%.

To put it more simply, for the average owner they may see $4 for every $100 of product sold.

Think of it this way. It takes a hell of a lot of work just to run a mid size establishment that grosses $100,000 per month. I assure you that in pretty much every place of that size there is an owner/operator. It would never be profitable at that scale without the owner working full time in it. That owner would gross roughly $48,000 per year.

Not exactly the “rich fat cats” that some folks are working so hard to demonize. It is a lot of work for a relatively meager income.

I don’t begrudge any business a profit or a good margin. The entire purpose of taking that gamble to invest time and money into a venture is to make a profit.

If indeed folks insist on playing the repugnant politics of envy and really want to drag down the successful (and many indeed do want to do that), they are way off base in who they are targeting.

I will put this in the form of charts that even a Notley supporter should understand.

Here is what the average restaurant profit margin looks like:

Pretty damn skinny and I rounded up.

Let’s compare that margin with the mining industry:

Guess how mines can afford to pay better than restaurants (leaving aside the reality that mining is a much more dangerous and skilled trade than a role in a restaurant).

Rail transport has some splendid profit margins. Being an oligopoly that is heavily protected by the state helps of course.

Speaking of oligopolies, how about banks. Well Royal Bank’s profit margin ranged from 25-32%. There is good money in lending. Just look at how much the Alberta government is spending on debt interest.

Securities and financial services in general enjoy solid average profit margins around 40%. Insurance companies are up there too.

Now I don’t want to see those high margin industries dragged down. I am just saying that the vitriolic and envious left is really flying over the wrong target these days in their quest to ensure that nobody dares make too much money.

I (unlike the anti-corporate left) understand where pension fund growth comes from so no, I would never celebrate the reduction of profits for corporations.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce established that the combination of higher property tax, carbon tax and minimum wages will cost the average restaurant $60,700 per year. That is more than the average restaurant owner makes.

Restaurant sales are indeed climbing in Alberta but unfortunately the increase in expenses is outpacing that sales growth. It doesn’t matter how high your sales are if your margins are in the negative.

This is simple math people. A restaurant can’t run at a loss for long. A restaurant owner in these situations has only two options when margins evaporate. Increased sales only mean increased losses.

We can raise prices and we can cut expenses.

Food service prices are terribly inelastic. That means we can’t raise prices very much before the associated drop in sales volume removes the benefit of the price raise. The industry is fickle and competitive. Consumers only have so much to spend and they will move on in the face of price increases that pass their budget. I guess if your goal is to drive consumers into eating at home more, this is a good route to go. Cold comfort for the unemployed workers however.

In cutting expenses we have limits as well. Many of our expenses such as utilities, taxes and lease payments are fixed. We can reduce food costs to a degree but most restaurants are already at peak efficiency in this regard. They have to be when dealing with 4% margins. Labor makes up over 33% of the expenses. While we can only cut that by so much while remaining in operation, it is our most flexible area to work with. Part time and lower paid staff may be shed while more work is placed on the remaining workers. Places may move more into a self-serve system which again costs jobs. As we saw with Tim Hortons, some prior benefits such as paid breaks or health benefits may be cut. We simply don’t have a hell of a lot to work with here.

Simply raising minimum wage is not enough for some of course. Many of the economically illiterate feel that every job whether in a starting position, unskilled position or part time position deserves what they determine to be a “living wage”.

What is a “living wage”? That all depends on how far out in left field the person proposing it is actually. It can range anywhere from $17 per hour up to $30 per hour.

This dingdong is a typical self-styled business expert.

“If your business model does not include paying employees a living wage, then you do not have a good business model.”

She indicates that anything less than this ambiguous “living wage” is “exploitive”.

Very nice comrade but of course utterly unrealistic.

Still, lets explore the viability of this “living wages” in the food service industry.

If this non-“exploitive”  business model does indeed exist it should be no problem finding all sorts of restaurants in the thousands across the nation who use it.

Look at this! There is even a Canadian site that works as something of a registry for businesses that pay a “living wage”. Excellent. Surely these establishments must number in the hundreds with it being such a great business model and all.

 

Hmm. I see a lot of charities. Government bodies such as the City of Vancouver. Some left wing activist groups and unions.

You know what is missing?

You guessed it. Restaurants. Not a single one among them.

How is this so? Did we not just hear that a living wage model is good business?

While this business model does appear to be quite popular among self-proclaimed business experts on the left, actual business people seem not to have embraced this stroke of genius yet.

Fear not. Perhaps this guide wasn’t comprehensive enough. Maybe all those living wage restaurants were so damned busy that they forgot to register.

In searching google I finally found some examples.

Here is a beauty. Bartertown Diner is a union shop and not only do they pay living wages, they have no management hierarchy. Every employee is equal in compensation and in decision making.

It just doesn’t get any more fair than this.

Let’s look ahead and see how this little socialist paradise worked out..

Aww shit.  Say it ain’t so! How could this collectivist Nirvana have possibly failed?

Oh yeah, the same way socialism always fails. Nobody wanted to work. Nobody paid the bills. Everybody lost their jobs.

OK OK. Maybe they were a little too idealistic. What if the outright Marxism was dropped and a restaurant simply adopted the “living wage” part.

Looks like Ritual in Vancouver did just this:

Groundbreaking! Brilliant! This is Vancouver too so there must be an abundant supply of folks who want to pay an extra 20% or so in order to patronize a place that pays “living wages”.

Let’s follow up and see how that all went…….

Aww shit…..

Their website is down and by all reports it appears that they went broke.

How is this possible with the brilliant model of “living wages”?

Maybe people really actually wanted to pay more but were constrained by the menu prices. The folks behind the Harvest Cafe realized this and set up a business where customers could choose what they pay. How could a place not  prosper and pay massive wages while tapping into all that natural altruism in society?

Hmm, their website seems to be down

Facebook site looks to be gone too.

Aww shit……

Somehow they went broke.

OK OK. Maybe it is a little too much to ask folks to pay what they can. Maybe if restaurants went without tipping, but raised the prices by the amount that would be tipped and claimed to use this new revenue to pay a fair living wage.

Sorta just re-branding a price increase and robbing the servers but lets see how that all went.

Earls in Calgary did just this. How could the managers who so brilliantly shit on Alberta beef while the bulk of their restaurants resided within Alberta possibly go wrong?

Aww shit…..

It didn’t even make it three months.

Damned customers clearly don’t know whats good for them.

The only models I could find that let customers pay what they want while the place claims to pay “living wages” are essentially charity soup kitchens.

They rely on donations and volunteers (people working for nothing?? How “exploitive”!).

Others rely on well heeled celebrity ownership for publicity along with donation and volunteer labor such as Jon Bon Jovi’s place

Sure helps if the owner has a few hundred million in the bank to backstop things if funds should run a little short.

 

Hey. I am sure Bon Jovi is a great guy and he doesn’t have to do a damn thing. This is a nice effort by him.

Let’s not pretend that this glorified soup kitchen is a viable business model that will change the face of the food service industry across North America.

We have to face it. Consumers want good product and service provided to them at the lowest prices possible. If the prices are too high, they simply won’t buy. It doesn’t matter how much they claim to want to support “living wages”.  That is why restaurants must manage with 4% margins. Not because they want to walk that razor thin line. They simply have to.

Yes restaurants will always come and go even if government leaves them alone. It is abhorrent seeing government intervention causing an inordinate number of establishments go out of business however.

Yes. Some of the most creative and the ones with the most capital behind them will survive and the weak will fall by the wayside. Mom & pop places will disappear and be replaced by large corporate chains and franchises who can utilize economies of scale in order to keep operating.

Fewer restaurants will exist, they will employ fewer people of course and the general cost of living will rise.

Is this winning? Is this a desirable outcome from piling taxes and regulations upon a struggling industry?

Some may think so.

Those finding themselves losing those ever so important entry level jobs, those servers who worked part time to supplement their income, those seniors who worked part time to supplement their retirement income and those students who worked part time to offset tuition costs may feel otherwise.

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If the shoe fits…

Parasites are a part of living in our world whether we like it or not.

There are many kinds of parasites out there from the literal such as the blood sucking mosquito above to the figurative such as the tax dollar consuming civil servants below.

Civil servants unsurprisingly chafe at being labelled as parasites but they fit pretty much every definition of the term. Civil servants are 100% reliant on the resources provided to them by their host (taxpayers) who have to give without consent.

At best, the relationship can be considered something of a symbiotic one as civil servants can provide tangible benefits to taxpayers at times. There is no doubt that civil servants provide some rather essential public services particularly in emergency service provision. One rarely feels that their tax dollars were poorly invested when they have received emergency services from an ambulance or had their property and well being protected by a police officer. Most people agree that a degree of regulation is required in society and that regulation will come with some degree of bureaucracy and enforcement in its administration. That still doesn’t change the parasitic nature of the relationship however.

What is critical in a parasitic, symbiotic relationship is balance.

If parasites overpopulate, the host can become irreparably damaged as more resources are drawn than commensurate services are provided.

The Notley government has caused a terrible imbalance between the parasites and hosts in our provincial society. In order to try to mask the effects of our recession, the NDP has been borrowing at an astounding rate in order to pad up the number of civil servants in Alberta. This helps for a short term at least in keeping the unemployment figures from truly reflecting how depressed our economy really is right now. This approach is totally unsustainable and we will be paying a very heavy price for it soon.

While the trend of mass civil servant hiring did indeed begin before the NDP took office, they expanded on it and continued the trend. The parasite sectors is growing swiftly while the host sector has dropped and remains flat lined.

The accidental Notley government will be replaced in the next general election. Unfortunately, the hard work to recover from the terrible economic management of the NDP will only be beginning at that point.

The spike in civil servant numbers and compensation will rise even more dramatically once the NDP accept that they will not be forming government again any time soon. The NDP will greatly expand the civil service and will bind the hosts to contracts that will be terribly difficult to get out of as they vacate their temporary home in government.

With out mounting public debt and our flat lined employment numbers among producers (private sector), the cuts that will come to the tax dollar consumers (civil servants) post-Notley will have to be deep and will have to come soon.

Parasites will always struggle with vigor when being removed even if it means further damaging their host and themselves. Just as a wood tick will dig in and possibly cause its own head to be torn off rather than be removed from its feeding spot on its host, civil servants will do anything in their desperate attempts to continue feeding on the taxpayers indefinitely.

The parasites will begin lashing out with threats. I already saw that last night as a union member annoyed by my parasite characterization actually implied that civil servants may purposely meddle with my health care if I keep up with my critique as can be seen below.

Strikes will be threatened and possibly held as essential spending restraint looms.

This is not unprecedented at all as we went through all of this in the 1990s when Ralph Klein made the tough decisions that had to be made to bring the province back into balance. Those choices led to a period of unprecedented Albertan prosperity for over a decade until we slipped back into the trap of excess government spending yet again.

The looming cuts are inevitable. The clashes are inevitable too unfortunately as those with a sense of entitlement to the earnings of others never let go easily.

It will take courage to stand down the protests when the time comes. Understanding the parasitic and symbiotic relationship that we have with civil servants will help us remain strong when pressure to back down on cuts comes. We can’t be afraid to call the relationship what it is and act on that basis.

The relationship between taxpayers and civil servants is way out of balance and we will all suffer until that is rectified.

 

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Let this one go.

I get it. I know. Bill 24 is a crass action on the part of the Notley government to create a wedge issue and to distract from her horrific fiscal management in Alberta. I understand that Notley is using children as a tool to try and preserve her inept government’s power in Alberta. Bill 24 is a solution looking for a problem.   GSAs have been here for years now and there has been no crisis of children being “outed” by schools. Bill 24 is modeled to label even people who have rational concerns about the wording has being terrible bigots even when its terribly unfair.

I get it!

All the above being said, we have to let this one go. Bill 24 was created for purely political purposes for the advantage of the NDP party and its working like a charm!

Alberta’s unemployment rate remains mired in the shitter. Our deficits and growing debt are nothing less than appalling. We have become a pariah as far as international investment is concerned as we watch an increasing number of multinational companies divest themselves from this socialist run government that tried and failed to tax us into getting outward bound pipelines. It will take generations to fix the damned mess the NDP are creating.

Are we hearing anything about the above issues right now though?

No!

The news is dominated by what is really actually a minor social issue and policy. The legislature sits precious few days as it is and the debate is all focused on Bill 24 while so many other issues are withering away on the wayside and out of the public eye. This just isn’t worth it.

Tension is growing within the United Conservative Party caucus over this too. We are a newly created party and need to form solid bonds within the leadership, membership and caucus. This is pretty damned tough to do when the legislative session is immersed in this hornet’s nest of a bill.

I used the picture of Notley laughing because that is exactly what she is doing today. The NDP had been on the ropes for months. The reek of fear and desperation from them was palpable in every hysteric tweet and news release. The UCP was taking Alberta by storm and the future of the NDP looked pretty damned bleak. The only possible out for Notley was for the UCP to mire itself in a no-win social issue. Well, the UCP jumped right into that issue in the first week of the first session of the legislature that they came to as a new party and Notley is giggling herself to sleep over it.

We need to pick our battles and this hill simply isn’t worth dying on.

Attempted amendments came today and they were of course shot down. That effort showed at least a little cooperativeness and bending by the UCP. Better late than never.

We know that the NDP will not grant the UCP a victory so small as an amendment changing the placement of a comma within the legislation. Send out a few more good proposals and then let it go guys.

Vote for the damned bill and get on with important business.

I know that Notley will find some other social issue to dump in front of the legislature in the next session. This tactic won’t stop simply because the UCP capitulated on this one. That said, if Bill 24 is the toughest social legislation that Notley could find to toss in front of the nascent UCP, I don’t think we need to worry much. She will have to really stretch for the next one and the electorate will tire of her constant pulling of the social issue fire alarm.

The UCP needs to dominate the agenda in the next couple years and they will never be able to do so if they are constantly bogged down in these kinds of issues.

If (and this is a big if) Bill 24 somehow is found to cause damage in the next couple years, the UCP can address it when they have a majority government in a couple years. If they insist on jumping in neck deep every time Notley tosses a social issue at them though, we won’t see an end to the accidental Notley Regime and by the time the next general election rolls around the great grandchildren of our grandchildren will be in debt. Its just not worth it.

Let this one go.

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Conservative unity has Rachel Notley terrified, & it should.

For the first time since the late 1990s conservative minded Albertans are unified under one political banner. Jason Kenney was the prime orchestrator of the unity movement from its inception to its conclusion with 95% merger support from the memberships of both the Progressive Conservative Party & the Wildrose Party.  Kenney demonstrated the same drive and organizational strength as he solidly took the leadership of the nascent United Conservative Party. With such a solid and proven record as a formidable campaigner and strategist, the prospect of facing off against Jason Kenney in a general election is a discomforting one for any NDP strategist who maintains any basis in political reality.

All the above being said, it is not simply Jason Kenney’s leadership alone that has the NDP and their supporters in abject terror for their political lives today. Those who follow political movements recognize that a massive, well organized movement has developed that will be difficult to stop whether Jason Kenney leads it or not. Conservatives have truly united and will now be able to focus on forming the next government with pragmatic common sense goals and policies.

The leadership race for the UCP was hard fought and with no holds barred. While it is painful to endure such races, they are indeed prequels for what the general election will look like. Whoever was going to lead us against the Notley Regime in the next election had to prove themselves to be tough and exceedingly well organized in what will be a terribly rough campaign.

Due to the nature of these races they can be very dangerous for parties. Leadership races can turn into civil wars that create rifts that never heal within the party. Opponents and detractors of united conservatives poked as hard as they could from the sidelines in hopes of fostering division within the party.

To the disappointment of Notley and her supporters, the UCP came out of the race more unified than ever.

In this picture we see three very dedicated supporters for three different leadership candidates. Dean Leask on the left passionately supported Brian Jean’s leadership bid. In the middle and wearing my best wrinkled shirt, I supported Jason Kenney. On the right and looking much more presentable is my wife Jane Morgan who stepped down from the UCP leadership committee as she strongly felt she wanted to get involved and help Doug Schweitzer on his campaign. All of us serious and committed conservative supporters and all firmly in different camps.

Now that the race is over, we are unified in our support of the UCP under Jason Kenney. Dean will still drop by my pub, Jane still lets me come to bed with her (except after times when I have indulged in taco Tuesday) and we all will be working hard together to replace the NDP government with a UCP one.

The picture is indicative of the rest of the room that night. There are some sour grapes out there. There are some folks who need a little time to embrace the party under the new leadership. All in all though, the vast majority of the membership is united and looking ahead today. Hopes for an internal implosion by some have been dashed.

The picture above is even more striking and indicative of how and why the UCP is striking fear into the left.

Along with my wife and I we see Piotr and Christina Pilarski. Both very politically active and driven couples who have worked on a number of campaigns. Until recently though, we were always on different teams. As Wildrosers and PCs we all fought tooth and nail with each other for years. That was the kind of division that led to our accidental NDP government and that division is utterly gone today. We all will be working together to defeat the NDP now.

I have attended countless Wildrose gatherings over the last ten years. Last summer I attended my very first Progressive Conservative function when I went to the PC leadership gathering. Last Sunday I went to the UCP leadership race and was thrilled to see all the political movers and shakers from both parties all in one spot. It was not a tense gathering. It was not a forced marriage. We are all pumped and excited about being on the same team. The NDP has given us cause to unite in a way that no conservative leader ever could.

Think of the resources duplicated and wasted in the last few general elections as the Wildrose and PC parties battled with all they had. Strategists, campaign managers, donors and thousands of volunteers at every level all divided and working against each other. While a tiny minority of those have chosen not to join the UCP, clearly the vast majority have stayed on.

Now imagine the campaign machine that is in the works here. All of these people, the experience and the funds united with a common cause and under the leadership of a masterful campaigner.

That is what has the NDP in a true panic. Its not just Jason Kenney’s leadership. Its the huge and dedicated organization of people now focused together on ridding Alberta of its accidental, socialist government.

Rachel Notley usually shows composure. In a tweet this morning though, she clearly lost control and her petty and belligerent tweet this morning showed the abject terror that has infected her.

Yes, the tired old fear and smear drum is being beaten and it will be in an ever more shrill way until the NDP are finally tossed soundly from the legislature of Alberta in a general election.

I guess we can’t exactly expect the NDP to campaign on their sound fiscal management or on the “social license” that they never managed to buy us with the wretched carbon tax. Fear & smear is all they have.

Thank’s to Dave Rodney stepping aside, we will get to see a micro-preview of the next campaign as a by-election will be held in Calgary Lougheed. I sort of feel sorry for the residents of that constituency as they are about to be barraged by what will be one of the largest single constituency campaign teams that the province has ever seen. Volunteers from the new UCP are chomping at the bit to work on a campaign together against the NDP and they will be coming out in the hundreds if not the thousands as the by-election is fought. No door will go without being knocked multiple times nor phones without multiple calls. Hopefully Notley calls the election before Christmas so voters can get an assured non-political break right after the campaign.

As I said in a posting yesterday, David Khan finds himself rather hooped here. He is a brand new party leader as well and he needs a seat. His hopes are slim to none in Lougheed but he will look terribly weak if he doesn’t contest it.

One possible out for Khan would be in Calgary Mountainview if David Swann steps aside. Swann has no plans to run again and leaving a year or so early won’t harm his ambitions much This would be a terrible gamble for the Alberta Liberals though as they very possibly could find themselves going from one seat in the legislature down to none if Khan can’t win in Mountainview.

If David Khan can’t win in Calgary Mountainview in a by-election though, I think it is safe to say that he can’t win anywhere. Mountainview is the closest thing that the Liberal Party has to a provincial stronghold in Alberta.

Personally, I think that Doug Schweitzer would be an ideal UCP candidate to run in Mountainview as well. What better place to send out a dynamic, young and moderate urban Calgarian UCP candidate? I am just spitballing here of course but I think it would be a great race and if he won he would be a great addition to caucus.

We are in for some exciting political times in the next few months no matter how you look at it. As a conservative I have never felt so optimistic as I am now with this new united movement. There is a mountain of work to be done before the next general election but with this giant and experienced group, I am confident that it will be well polished by the spring of 2019. Yes, Rachel has good reason to fear for her job.

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First conservative unity, next conservative policy.

This weekend, I hope and expect that the majority of conservative minded people in Alberta will find themselves united under one banner.

One thing that has fallen by the wayside in these singular times of unity battles has been any real specific policy directions. This had to happen as we really need to unite under general principles of conservatism such as small government and low taxes. If we get ourselves mired into specific policy items we could reignite internal divisions at a time when we really can’t afford to. Conservatives can unite under general principles, but we can nitpick ourselves to death over the individual policies.

Assuming that the forces of unity are successful this weekend, we will then enter a formal leadership race (it has already been clearly informally running for some time now).

There is no better time to hammer out policy specifics and commitments than during a leadership race and we dearly need to start spelling out what the plan is.

Yes, the vast majority of Albertans think that the NDP is harming our province. We do not have a specific plan laid out for how we will mitigate the damage caused by the NDP once we finally toss them to the electoral curb however.

Most candidates and supporters agree that the NDP carbon tax has to go. Notley has proven that legislative flagellation through tax hikes will never buy us that mythical “social license” required to get our products out of the province. The impact of the carbon tax on our environment is negligible at best and the impact on the economy is terrible.

In cutting taxes though, how do we balance the budget?

There is no getting around it. We need to cut spending and we need to cut it deeply. The longer the NDP is in power, the more painful the recovery will be but we simply can’t avoid it. Alberta spends $2,700 more annually per-capita than our neighbors in BC. We have plenty of room to cut.

One of the most effective ways that the left has undercut those calling for spending cuts so far has been for them simply to ask “where will you cut?”.  That is a perfectly valid question and it absolutely has to be answered.

Health care and education make up the vast majority of our spending. No matter how people feel that these areas are sacred, we simply must reduce how much we spend in those areas. We can’t afford a hospital on every street corner or a nurse’s visit to every household. While it will never feel like we spend enough in these core services, we have very real limits on what we can afford. We need to examine these areas and cut spending to a reasonable level.

Just proposing such cuts will take political courage. Following through on these cuts will take leadership and strength.

Klein was at his most popular while he cut Alberta’s spending by 20% across the board. Despite the howls of the unions and the left still harping about it today, it really wasn’t that bad when the cuts were happening. There clearly was a great deal of bloat within the civil service and we were all better for the trimming of it. “Infrastructure deficit” is a bullshit term that some use to try and knock the austerity of those times. Again it is trash and most Albertans see through it. There will never be enough schools, interchanges, fire stations etc. We can always use more. Tax dollars are finite though and we have to draw a line somewhere. Klein’s support began dropping significantly as soon as he began falling into the tired old PC pattern of spending our way out of problems. Albertans appreciate fiscal restraint when it is presented with good leadership.

Image ht to Roy Doonanco

Brian Jean has chosen to avoid taking any strong stance on cuts and is pursuing the mushy middle. This is not my idea of strong leadership but I guess it is a strategy. I can’t help but remember Jean’s abysmal debate performance where he almost mindlessly answered every question by stating that he wont raise taxes. He literally sounded like some sort of broken record. I remember all too clearly sitting in a room full of volunteers on one of the campaigns. We had put up a projector screen and bought some beer and pizza to give our volunteers a night off. We hoped that they would be invigorated in watching the debates. We found ourselves dejected. That was the night that I truly began to realize that we were not going to win that election. Notley showed energy and vision, Prentice showed classic arrogance and Jean was inanimate. We are paying so dearly for the lack of principled leadership in that debate today.

Maybe Jean will show some more strength after the unity vote is finished with. Perhaps other candidates will spur some vigor out of him. Maybe Jean’s strategy of avoiding strong stands will actually pay off and he will win the leadership. I personally don’t think so.

Assuming a successful unity vote, the leadership race will very likely be determining who our next premier will be.

It will take vision, leadership and a true plan with policy specifics in order to win that leadership.

I do look forward to seeing who emerges from the pack with the above qualities as the race unfolds. We need some real policy discussion and we need it soon.

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BC citizens need a lesson in reality.

LET THE WESTERN IDIOTS FREEZE IN THE DARK!

Just as folks on the left suffer a mental deficit when it comes to understanding even the most simple of economic principles, they are utterly lost when it comes to the realities of energy generation.

The trend this last decade has been to demonize all forms of carbon based fuel (particularly that which comes from Alberta) despite there still being no realistic alternative to carbon based fuel at this time. A replacement for oil, gas and coal may indeed be right around the corner but we still need to survive as a society until that corner is breached.

The majority of myopic fools on BC’s lower mainland enjoy a standard of living among the highest on the entire planet. This standard of living would be utterly impossible without cheap and abundant sources of energy and it appears that citizens don’t get that. BC hipsters sip their gas heated lattes while bitching on social media through their smart phones (corporate made petroleum products) without thinking for even a second how they would live without carbon based fools.

Idiots keep vapidly going on about how electric vehicles will replace all cars any day now and will save us from a carbon dioxide created armageddon. Even if we assume that these vehicles are practical, affordable and readily available (they aren’t) and even if we overlook the heavy metal disaster that 10s of millions of battery laden vehicles would cause, we can’t overlook the reality that these vehicles still need an energy source. The electricity has to come from somewhere kiddies.

Vancouver’s hippy mayor is trying to ban natural gas from the city while the incoming provincial government (created from a hellish coalition of left wing extremists) is so fucking stupid that they are actually planning on cancelling a hydroelectric dam that is already well under construction.

Let me repeat that as it is almost unbelievable: the incoming provincial government (created from a hellish coalition of left wing extremists) is so fucking stupid that they are actually planning on cancelling a hydroelectric dam that is already well under construction. 

Yes. These left wing extremists are so damned ideologically driven that they are going to try to shut down renewable electricity generation while telling us that we all will be moving on to power based on renewable electricity.

Oh, did I mention that it will cost billions to get out of the dam due to all the contracts? I guess its only money.

What will power all these electric cars in this new green wonderland? I can assure you that unicorn farts and the laughter of children won’t cut it. We need generation capacity.

The left opposes, oil, gas, coal, hydro, and nuclear forms of electricity generation. That really doesn’t leave much but these idiots really aren’t looking that far ahead.

I think it truly is time to send a real message and give a dose of reality to BC.

ITS TIME TO SHUT OFF THE KINDER MORGAN PIPELINE FOR AWHILE.

Yes, we would have to compensate oil companies for that loss. The savings from teaching our moronic West coast neighbors a lesson would more than make up for the short shipping glut though.

Nearly 90% of Vancouver and the coastal area’s fuel comes through that pipeline. Despite that reality, those dolts are strongly opposing the expansion and upgrading of that line which has been safely serving them for over fifty years.

If BC hates the contents of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, then let’s indulge them. Give them a few weeks of $20 per liter fuel (if they can find it). Let their plants which use petroleum byproducts for manufacturing lay off 1000s of workers for awhile. Let their cost of consumer goods increase 10 fold as shipping comes to a standstill. Let the blackouts begin as a massive surge hits the electrical system as people try to find other means of energy with short notice.

While BC has utterly no constitutional authority to block Alberta’s pipelines, Alberta does have the authority to block outward shipments of energy products. This would require the will of the government which in Alberta right now is unfortunately a bunch of leftist ideologues who accidentally got elected. I don’t expect the Notley Regime to act in such a manner against her leftist bretheren in BC but we can dream can’t we?

If Notley continues to provide only flaccid, verbal opposition to the BC blockade of our resources, we will still need such action in 2019 (or 2020) when Albertans finally kick the socialist NDP to the electoral curb. I surely hope that the next government has the guts to cut BC off for awhile.

Teaching BC what a carbon free world would feel like would be one of the best inter-provincial lessons we have seen in the history of Canada. It would set back the lobbying of eco-kooks by generations as an entire generation learns just how life would be if they listened to the advice of the Greens in full.

Its worth it. Let’s do it for BC.

Let the BC bastards freeze in the dark.

It isn’t from spite guys.

Its inter-provincial tough love.

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Government managed economic diversification? Been there, done that.

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As Alberta’s economy continues to swirl down the fiscal toilet bowl, the increasingly ideologically driven Notley NDP is still insisting on proven socialism inspired failures. Notley’s insane insistence on trying to rip up PPA contracts is building an investment chill that even Naheed Nenshi is calling out.

A government study on the economic impact of the carbon tax was so damning, Notley’s administration refused to release it. Notley wont even share or acknowledge the outcomes of her own studies funded by the taxpayer.

The last faint hope that the Notley regime has in mitigating widespread economic damage from the carbon tax is that through massive corporate welfare programs they will be able to force economic diversification upon Alberta.

THE PROBLEM WITH THIS STRATEGY IS THAT IT HAS ALREADY BEEN TRIED AND IT FAILED TERRIBLY! 

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While self styled “progressives” in the Progressive Conservative Party like to wistfully look back on the glory days of old, they conveniently overlook the fact that Don Getty and Peter Lougheed led fiscally liberal governments that created the massive deficits and debt that forced us all into austerity in the 1990s under Ralph Klein. Much of that debt was due to the foolish pursuit of government guided economic diversity.

Billions of dollars were lost as loan guarantees and outright grants were given to dozens of failed ventures. When one considers how small Alberta’s population was at the time and what a dollar was worth, these were some very significant blows to the taxpayer.

In the usual progressive fashion, the progressives borrowed money to cover the losses and let the next generation take care of the bill in the 1990s.

Sound familiar?

Notley apparently is no student of recent history as she is bound and determined to repeat it.

A great piece on past diversification efforts was recently done by the UofC School of Public Policy with Ted Morton and Merideth MacDonald. It is well worth a read in its entirety. 

I will summarize below some of the brutal investments that the progressives of the time made in the name of economic diversity.

I have to start with MagCan as I passed by the site of that crumbling plant yesterday and had to get a picture taken with it where I could show my thoughts on that waste of dollars that has polluted the landscape for over 20 years.

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1988 Magnesium Company of Canada (MagCan) Loss covered by taxpayers: $164 million

1984 Swan Hills Waste Treatment Plant Loss covered by taxpayers: $440 million

1989 NovaTel Loss covered by taxpayers: $544 million to $614 million (they screwed it so badly that the auditor general couldnt even figure out the total loss)

1987 Millar Western Pulp Loss covered by taxpayers: $272 million

1986 Gainers Loss covered by taxpayers: $209 million

1982 Ridley Grain Ltd. Loss covered by taxpayers: $161 million (though still considered an outstanding loan)

1991 Al-Pac Loss covered by taxpayers: $155 million

1977 Chembiomed Loss covered by taxpayers: $44 million

1981 Canadian Commercial Bank Loss covered by taxpayers: $56 million

1973 Northern Lite Canola Loss covered by taxpayers: $50 million

1983 General Systems Research Loss covered by taxpayers: $30 million

Ironically it was during the period of cuts and austerity led by Ralph Klein when Alberta moved closer to a diversified economy. Innovative ventures started and blossomed under a regime that was welcoming to business and investment. The lack of government interference in the market and lack of tax hikes attracted record numbers of new head offices to Alberta while existing businesses expanded and broadened their scope of products and services.

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It has been proven that economic diversification through government trying to pick winners and losers in business is an utter failure.

It has also been proven that if left alone, business will expand and diversify all on it’s own.

Unfortunately this stark historical lesson is lost on Notley and those who call themselves the “progressive” element in the PC Party of Alberta.

We will cut back and our economy will rebound once we get Notley as far from the reins of power as possible. That will take the kind of partisan unity that Jason Kenney is offering though and that means that the “progressive” folks in the PC party cant be allowed to try and turn the clock back to the Getty days of fiscal liberalism.

Notley will do massive damage to us in the next few years with her attempts to make the first working socialist model. We simply cant take the chance that she may get 8 years to pursue this mad experiment.

Below is a list of smaller but still not insignificant government backed ventures that lost in that period for honorable mention.

Alberta Pacific Terminals $10 million

Alberta Terminals: $2.6million

Alberta White Wood Industries and Meunier Forest Products: $2.3 million

Alert Disaster Control: $2.6 million

Canadian Professional Munitions: $803,000

Carbovan: $5.9 million

Climate Master: $5 million

Dial Guard: $600,000

Emery Apparel Canada: $2 million

Fletchers Fine Foods: $13.9 million

General Composites Canada: $3.5 million

Myrias Research Corp: $9 million

Nanton Spring Water: $2.8 million

Norstar Recreation Products: $1 million

Northern Steel: $11 million

Peace River Fertilizer: approx $6 million

Ski Free Marine: $2.8 million

Teknica Resource Development: $1.9 million

Tomotechnology: approx: $1 million

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Rachel Notley and her band of extremists go full LEAP Manifesto with Bill 20

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When the federal NDP (directly tied to the Notley NDP) embraced the extreme and insane “Leap Manifesto”, Notley tried desperately and doggedly to distance herself from the plan. Notley’s excuses rang flat at the time when one considers that provincial NDP parties are constitutionally bound to be subservient to the federal entity.

In releasing Bill 20 Notley has proven that she clearly embraces the environmental extremism of the LEAP Manifesto and is prepared to stomp on the individual rights of Albertans in order to pursue the insane goals of the document.

The contents of Bill 20 are outright terrifying as they subject us to warrantless searches even to the point of going into our computers as can be seen here:

52 In this Part, “property” includes computer hardware.

Authority to enter on land
53 For the purpose of carrying out duties under this Act and the regulations, the Minister or an officer may enter on any land, whether or not that land is enclosed.

General powers respecting inspections
54(1) For the purpose of carrying out duties under this Act and the regulations, the Minister or an officer may do all or any of the following: (a) subject to subsection (4), enter, without a warrant, at any reasonable time, the following premises for the purpose of conducting an inspection, audit or examination:

This bill is terrifying in it’s scope and arrogance. Officers are empowered to search anything and everything to the point of being able to hook up to the engine of your vehicles to test for emission issues (or whatever else they want to snoop around for).

The entire text of the bill can be found here.

The concept of such a massive carbon tax being imposed during a recession is bad enough. That Notley feels compelled to bundle all this warrantless search powers into the bill is frightening.

For those who tried to convince themselves that Notley wasn’t of the extreme end of the NDP I am afraid that this delusion has been shattered and the proof is in this bill.

Rachel Notley and her government are extreme ideologues who were accidentally elected as Albertans tried to escape a broken and corrupted PC government.

While the Notley Regime will clearly last only one term, it is clear that she will be able to do massive damage in that time period. It may take decades to recover.

 

 

 

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Nobody moves! Nobody gets hurt!

Notley just couldn’t put off the sitting of the Legislative Assembly forever. Despite deferring the sitting for an extra month, the session began with a series of scandals and bungling as the inept collection of accidental MLAs tried to find their footing.

With support numbers for Notley in an outright free fall in Alberta, the NDP government has taken on the strategy of doing as little as humanly possible in the legislature in hopes of avoiding further disasters.

This desperate tactic of doing nothing is clearly evident in the vacuous Bill 1 tabled by Deron Bilous last week.

This empty waste of paper truly has to be read to be believed.

Bill 1: Promoting Job Creation and Diversification Act

Bill 1 is an utter waste of legislative resources and time. The act changes nothing and provides no less or more power to the Minister than already exists. Bill 1 is simply pointless fluff devised by the NDP brain trust to clutter the legislative session with something that they hope is harmless while they try to figure out how to escape the inevitable fallout from the pending, disaster of a budget that Ceci will have to table eventually.

This video is great. Prasad Panda masterfully leads Bilous into a corner by feeding him terms from his own bill (sort of makes one wonder who actually wrote the thing). Panda then knocks it out of the park on Bilous leaving the Minister stumbling and trying to justify this bill about nothing.

Yesterday I questioned Minister Deron Bilous about the capacity and ability of his ministry. The minister confirmed what we already thought – Bill 1 is a Bill about nothing.

It’s time for the NDP government to stop talking about jobs and start taking action and creating them!

Posted by Prasad Panda on Friday, 11 March 2016

While it is comical to watch the NDP lurching around while pretending to be a competent government, it is a dark comedy. We are sinking into a recession with record government deficit levels. If the NDP continues to mismanage the province like this, it will take generations to recover.

Lets hope that Notley’s gang of baristas and liberal arts grads find their legislative feet soon as hiding behind vapid, empty bills for fear of screwing up further is not exactly a good long term solution to anything.

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Kudatah 2016!! Notley is still in power & protesters embarrassed themselves.

Well this should pretty much spell the end of the bizarre, George Clark “Kudatah” movement. After months of bizarre claims of unseating the government through petitions, ravings about approaching the Queen and announcing a ridiculous strategy to take over the NDP in an odd press conference in a Walmart parking lot, the George Clark “kudatah” initiative hit its peak outside of the legislature yesterday.

While some of Clark’s supporters are scurrying around claiming that as many as 8000 people came out to protest the Notley government yesterday, pretty much every reputable news organization noted the turnout to be “hundreds”. Not totally insignificant but hardly indicative of a budding revolution in the province.

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Even before the rally, Clark’s supporters were hard at work calling radio stations in hopes of drumming up support. The recording below is noteworthy of the depth of the George Clark promotional campaign.

While Clark’s supporters love to decry the elitism of folks, they really don’t do themselves any favors when they cant do simple checks on their spelling before going on public display.

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Not being satisfied simply with incoherent and illiterate messaging, George Clark’s supporters happily provided some evidence of tasteless extremisms as they displayed swastikas, referenced a “final solution” and mimicked Nazi salutes during the protest.

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As predicted, George Clark and his hysteric gang are actually managing to set rational opposition to Notley back as they made collective fools of themselves at the legislature yesterday.

Clark then got some kids lined up and had them hold numbers to represent the apparent number of signatures that he has collected on a pair of petitions. In remaining consistent with his polished approach, George lined the kids up incorrectly which caused his handful of supporters to think that they had nearly half a million signatures. Upon correction, that number went down to 160k. When consideration is taken into account that it is two petitions, that number goes to about 80k. Still a sizable number of signatures but is also has to be taken into account that most of those signatures were taken under false pretenses as George Clark had claimed to folks that the petitions would lead to unseating the Notley government.

Even if George Clark had managed to gain a million signatures, the outcome would be the same. Nothing would change.

Sheila Gunn Reid with Rebel Media excellently broke down exactly why and how all of the things that George Clark claims will unseat the Notley government are simply bunk.

A new legislative session is beginning. Rational people are working to improve government within the legislature while many more are working to unseat Notley in the one and only possible way (in a general election).

George Clark wont give up. Hell, he raised over $27,000 from gullible supporters in a matter of weeks. Why would he stop now?

Lets just hope that even Clark’s supporters begin to realize that they are chasing an impossible and unreasonable goal and that they either begin to support some rational movements or simply just fade into the distance of public view.

Let George Clark be an embarrassing but passing footnote in Alberta political history.

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