Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Right-Wingers Responding to NDP Victory in Alberta

I'm taking a break from my leisurely summary of the Public Safety & National Security Committee hearings on Bill C-51 (which has passed the House of Commons and is now in the House of Patronage) to talk about the right-wing response to the Alberta NDP's amazing victory.

It might have been a CBC story, or the Globe & Mail, ... I forget, ... something in my Facebook feed anyway. But those crazy right-wing fuckers had obviously become totally unhinged. A few of them managed to retain their composure and say that it was merely a protest vote, it wouldn't last. But even those (perhaps one third of the comments) joined their colleagues in stating that Notley's NDP would fuck everything up and it would be (at least in the short-term) a disaster. The majority of the comments though were screeches about how much they hated seeing the retarded socialists celebrating their victory. How the right-wing was robbed because of vote-splitting in the first-past-the-post electoral system (that they hadn't complained about once in over four decades!), how the NDP would implement "the policies of envy and greed" (say what?), how the people of Alberta were fools for having allowed this to happen.

They have such passion, such conviction, ... if one didn't know better (and I do) one would almost think they might have a genuine point.

Of course, they don't have a point. For me, being the age I am, it's been decades of false promises and real fuck-ups by the right-wing agenda, topped-off with the double-whammy of the non-existent WMDs in Iraq and then, after governments everywhere had done everything the "free-market" ideologues asked for, the world economy crashed and burned in the aftermath of the financial sector meltdown caused by corruption and greed and brazen stupidity.

Now I just laugh (albeit ruefully) when these cretins begin their hideous moaning.

So the Alberta NDP is going to fuck everything up is it? But when the Alberta PC's blunder, and fail to collect $2 billion a year in resource royalties between 2009 and 2015, robbing the province's coffers of a total $13.5 billion, ... well, that's fine and dandy? "Sure it is!" bellow the rock-ribbed "conservatives." "That money stayed with the free market instead of being confiscated by the dead hand of the state. Meaning the captains of industry could invest it to produce even more wealth for the people of Alberta. The people of Alberta could enjoy even more of the sweet fruits of exploiting their province's non-renewable resource!" Too bad that whole argument is complete bullshit:
But what about the other side of the balance sheet? Which place is doing a better job of capturing public value from a public resource? Dividing resource revenues by production reveals some shocking figures. Norway realized revenues of $87.69 per barrel in 2013. Alaska managed $38.54. And Alberta? Just $4.38 -- one-twentieth what our Norwegian cousins managed to rake in. 
I will be the first to concede that Norwegian oil is a far more valuable resource than the high-cost and economically marginal oilsands resource that was allegedly destined to make Canada a global energy superpower.

But is Brent crude worth 20 times as much as bitumen? Of course not -- on the world market Brent currently fetches about 35 per cent more. More importantly, Alberta has already produced 15 per cent more conventional oil and gas than Norway, and didn't have to go 200 kilometres out in the North Sea to get it. Even at current depressed prices, Alberta oil, gas and bitumen production to 2013 would have a combined market value of $1.7 trillion. So where did the money go?
And it isn't just Alberta that serves as a lesson for right-wing fools who believe that business knows best and who trust in the advice of people whose primary goal is maximizing their own profits. Many have commented on how Britain's oil wealth was squandered during the Thatcher years:
Oil's failure to intrude into the public debate, particularly in southern Britain, had an important consequence. "Not fixing the roof while the sun shone", the favourite Tory accusation against the Blair/Brown regime, held true in spades for the way oil receipts were spent in the Thatcher years. Other countries – Norway is the leading example – used their tax on oil to modernise infrastructure and industry, or hoarded some of it in a sovereign wealth fund for the proverbial rainy day. Instead the Treasury used every last pound of it to set against current expenditure, leaving nothing for capital projects or the post-Thatcher future. No roofs were fixed: in this respect, Mrs Thatcher as the prudent housewife is a piece of make-believe.
Turns out that serving yourselves up at a discount to rapacious corporate plunderers isn't a winning strategy after all. Who knew? I'll tell you who knew! The left-wing! The people who believe in human rights and a healthy environment over profit.

I'm fully prepared to be disappointed by the new NDP government of Alberta. But I will never believe that the lunk-headed chumps, bigots and ignoramuses of the right-wing have anything to teach me.

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