In general, the conservative/libertarian mantra of "gotta balance the budget at all costs" (slash-and-burn cuts), and "OMG, taxes are _TOO_ high" (tax cuts for the wealthy) just makes me angry because it is short sighted, and narrow minded. /2
But Smith's reasoning in today's column is exceptionally misguided, both because it fails entirely to understand historical context, but also because some of it is simply outright wrong. /3
Twist number one:

Let's revere Saint Ralph (The Awful) for 'balancing' the books. (Well, he didn't really - he just moved a financial imbalance into areas like infrastructure and services). /4
Twist number two: Let's go after major projects that previous governments have started, while ignoring that it has been Kenney's ham-fisted approach to CBR cancellation that has ended up costing taxpayers billions, not the program itself. /5
Nor should we forget Kenney's "job creation tax cut" worth of foregone revenues which produced exactly zero jobs, and in fact the job losses continued to mount after that.

No, we can't possibly consider the idea that the current government's policies have been ineffective. /6
Here's the doozy.

Klein inflicted huge cuts on the salaries of teachers, doctors, nurses, and other public sector workers. They left the province in droves in the mid-late 90s while Klein was inflicting his damage on the rest of us. /7
By the 2000s, another oil boom was increasing our population, and we needed to actually hire more teachers, nurses, & doctors,

Except we couldn't do so because they remembered the 90s, and dug their heels in and said "not unless you pay us for the risk of coming to Alberta"./8
That bump in spending that Klein did had to happen quite specifically because without it, we couldn't attract the talent needed for a growing population.

That was literally when the failure of the 90s cuts came home to roost. /9
That wasn't "buying the progressives" - most progressives had long since left the PCAA by then. It was, at most, an attempt at buying the support of parents who were becoming increasingly angry at class sizes and escalating school fees. /10
Then she concludes with a piece of overly simplistic economics. /11
First, the proposal to liquidate the HSTF and replace it with the loftily named "Sovereign Wealth Fund" strikes me little more than an attempt to erase the last of Lougheed's legacy - mostly because today's conservatives seem to think he was far too much of a socialist. /12
But, doing so to what end? I'm not sure the economic logic makes sense - the cost to borrow the money required is likely as not less than the $ the HSTF would accrue from investments. (Some analysis is required here) /13
As for pledging to put "every $ from resources" into the Sovereign Wealth Fund, I am at something of a loss here. Back when Getty raided the HSTF to cover over his financial errors, we were promised it was a "one time thing", and contributions would be restarted shortly /14
Except they never actually did. Somehow, subsequent governments never found the will to change that. It was easier to use one time resource revenues to paper over the gaping holes in the provincial budget. /15
Why would we believe that this government would do anything remotely forward looking? /16
Lastly, she says something I partially agree with - the government needs to increase its revenues. Where we disagree is her proposal for a 1:1 correspondence with cuts to program spending. /17
The current government (and prior PC govts) prioritized cutting taxes to achieve balanced budgets at the expense of program spend. Largely on the somewhat trite assumption that programs can always be cut. /18
I propose a very different model here:

Let's figure out what we need those programs to deliver to meet the needs of Albertans _FIRST_. Then we can have a conversation about the balance between revenues and program spend. /19
Doing anything else simply continues the errors of the past, where far too much focus has been placed on the financial balance sheet, and the human cost of that myopic approach has been ignored. /20 ~fin~
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