Alberta Politics: Droppings and Questions

One shoe has dropped, or should I say one moccasin has dropped?  With the 2015 budget on the table, Albertans are waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Those with a little glass ball are predicting that Monday the government will drop the election writ, and overnight our lawns and roadways will bloom signs of all colors and parties.  As we wait for more droppings, I am discovering that with every passing day I have more questions than answers.

The challenge in trying to engage in a political debate is that the more one learns, the more questions a person usually has.  Politics is an unbelievably complex beast with many years of history, and it is intertwined with a shifting global economy outside our span of control.  Pile on top of that, dissenting voices representing simplistic and polarized views and the penchant for abusing quantitative data by presenting mere slices of the picture, and its no wonder that Albertans  are having a tough time wading through all the kaka-huka dropping around them.  Being  knee deep in political and economic poop can be a bit overwhelming, but it is also the time to grab the shovel and the hose and get busy cleaning out the barn.

If Albertans are going to clean up the mess, they have to have the courage to ask each other questions and be prepared to debate issues.  We need to set aside our own insecurities, be open to finding solutions, and come out of our comfortable political party corners.  If the crystal ball folks are predicting the future correctly, we have a few more weeks to stir the debate and get the questions on the table before we have to mark the spot on a ballot.  If you need some help generating debate or stimulating thought, here are a few questions I encountered this week:

Q.  How many Albertans earn between $100,000 and $250,000?
A.  Statistics Canada records show 324,860 Albertans were in that earning bracket in 2012.  42,250 earned over $250,000.

Q.  How is it possible to reduce the healthcare budget and increase the number of beds available at the same time?
A.  There was talk of attrition but no mention of trying to fix a broken system that is kept going by frontline people who truly care.

Q.  Did anyone else catch the news item about moving Calgary young offenders to Edmonton?  Won't moving troubled youth further away from their families and community, make it even harder for them to have any chance at rehabilitation?
A.  Google Calgary Young Offenders, and you can come to your own conclusions.

Q.  There was a passing comment in the budget speech about post-secondary programs that don't produce a good return on investment - what did that mean?  Anyone out there have any clue?

Q.  What logic broke down between the feedback of 70% of Albertans who responded in the survey with a desire to consider additional corporate taxes and the budget explanation of no corporate tax increase because 95% of businesses in Alberta are small businesses?  Was it impossible to apply a slight increase only to the 5% of businesses that are medium or large enterprises?   The all or nothing mentality didn't apply to personal tax increases, so why was that logic applied to corporate taxes?  Help anyone?

Q.  If we keep building schools and keep having more children enrolling, how will we staff those classrooms and teach those children if we expect school boards to continue to reduce costs?
A.  Sorry, no answer here...

Someone asked me if I was anti-PC.  No, I am not.  I am party-ambivalent.  I am in favor of asking questions and challenging the stuff we find ourselves wading around in right now.  I'd love to hear what questions you have and any views you might like to contribute.