‘Them’s the breaks’

The great thing about being the Opposition is you don’t have to make any tough budgeting decisions. That’s something to keep in mind, as a way of providing some balance to the overwhelmingly negative response to government cutbacks.

That, of course, is not to say that the pain isn’t real. Cuts in government spending hurt. Existing resources are never enough. Reducing them makes things worse. Obviously.

On the other hand, governments should not continue spending more than they earn. The real question is how you manage the spending. Plus the related question of how you manage the revenue side of things. Tax breaks to industry is a time-honoured tradition in the realm of government. The theory is it will stimulate investment, create jobs and eventually result in more cash coming in for health care and roads, etc.

It’s hard to measure what sort of impact the Kenney government’s tax cut to business might have generated. Who knows how things might have developed without it. But along came COVID, the oil industry downturn continued and got worse, and here we are. The leaky rowboat of state taking on water like crazy, and a panicky bailing operation in full swing. With predictable reactions from unions and others.

And the holier-than-thou left-wingers crying, ‘Shame! ‘Shame!’ and pointing fingers.

Well, there’s lots to be unhappy about. But let’s just say that while dealing with every other crisis, the government in power also has to get its books in order. Apparently our federal government, racking up debt at a shocking rate, does not think so. Or is willing to put it off indefinitely, until it eventually turns the problem over to a successor.

But the current government in Alberta, to its credit, does not think that way. It wants to get out of the red. How it goes about that is the big question. So far, it looks clumsy, insensitive and several other adjectives that might be even less complimentary. The utter unwillingness of its opponents to admit that the job needs to be done just makes it easier for the government to proceed in bunker mentality style, not having to listen to any dissent, or talk seriously to anyone who isn’t on their side.

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