Oh Ralph, Was It Worth It?

The worldwide economic slowdown has hit one of the biggest “have” provinces. Oil flush Alberta is looking at a deficit of about $1.4 billion- the first in about 16 years.

Hmmm…. Isn’t this the exact cost of the one-time dividend bonus cheques sent out to each resident of Alberta three years ago?

In January 2006, Alberta residents were given $400 pats on the back because of the province’s monster 2005 surplus- which was due in large part to oil and gas revenues. Premier at the time, Ralph Klein, wanted all Albertans to share in the bounty. Despite all the opposition to this “gesture” (some even coming from people who would be recipients of this money), 3.3 million cheques were sent out to almost every man, woman and child in the province.

Let’s ignore the fact that it cost probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1 million dollars to mail out the cheques….

Actually- let’s not.

I am assuming that the government does bulk mailings so they would not be paying “retail” to send this out, otherwise, it would have cost over $1.6 million. I can think of much better ways to spend (my conservative estimate of) $1 million dollars than postage- never mind all the administration costs et al.

If the intention was to give some money back to Albertans, this could have been easily done as a tax credit for the 2006 return. Fewer administrative headaches, money saved on postage etc but it would not have been the dramatic ego-stroking gesture that sending a cheque obviously was.

The money is more “real”, sexy and exciting when you can rip open an envelope and have the money in your hands. This is a gesture you remember when it comes to election time.

I may be cynical but come on, let’s not be stupid!

What do you think politicians are doing when they promise tax cuts? It all sounds great in theory but the amounts promised are never the amounts you actually receive and the hoops you have to jump through make the whole exercise seem like such a waste of time.

I don’t have the details of the Alberta budget but it would be interesting to see who loses. Alberta dug itself out of a big hole about 20 years ago and has had it very easy for the past little while.

I wonder if anyone is thinking about those cheques, what they did with that money and how it could have benefited them today if I had been kept in a war chest or used to create the kind of programs that would benefit the unemployed or underemployed.

Just a thought.

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~ by angryegg on April 6, 2009.

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