Joke’s on me

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I’m just one of millions of Albertans government thinks are dumb yokels

A friend whispers Alberta Finance Minister Shirley McClellan has decided to start doing gigs as a stand-up comedian.

I scan the pages for a gal with a violin and a forlorn Buster Keaton face doing Henny Youngman impersonations.

But guess what?

The joke’s on me, I’m the naive dupe.

Only consolation is I’m just one of a couple of million other Albertans whom the entrenched Ralph Klein Progressive Conservative government thinks are just dumb yokels. Basically, country hicks.

Anyway, Shirl’ hectors us that, unlike her, we do not understand basic economics and the affairs of fiscal prudence.

Provincial coffers are overflowing with oil and natural gas revenues and by year’s end, the Klein government will likely have a surplus of between $5 billion and $7 billion.

But that’s no reason to give us any tax cuts.

Shirl’ tells us oil and gas prices can go down as well as up and hints if we don’t understand that then we don’t understand why she can’t be irresponsible and give us a break.

Again, prudence is the word—like when the Klein/McClellan duo gave government insiders 27% salary hikes.

And severance packages in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars for departing cabinet ministers and MLAs.

Cripes, just how do you spell hypocrisy?

Why, Ralph’s Team won’t even abolish medicare premiums which hit lowest-paid workers the hardest.

Here’s an ironic touch—McClellan doesn’t have to fork out to pay her own medicare premiums. Why not?

Well, the premiums are part of a cabinet minister’s benefit package.

Guess what, again?—the folks who pay Shirl’s premiums are the very low-paid workers she won’t give a break to on their own premiums.

Now, I don’t want to get Shirl’ too riled up, because I’ve been looking forward to doing the jitterbug with her at the upcoming PC convention bash this spring. Yup, the jitterbug is of my era, and I’m betting it’s of our finance minister’s era, too.

Shirl’ also says the reason we don’t need tax breaks is because we’ve already had enough of them.

What she has apparently forgotten is her predecessor, Pat Nelson, rather than give us tax breaks, hiked taxes and user fees by $700 million a year just four years ago.

That’s $700 million year-in, year-out.

What a bunch of hocus-pocus we are getting.

Meanwhile, the government continues to spend money recklessly—more on a per capita basis than any other government in our vast and varied nation, including Ottawa.

It appears our gal has never read the works of noted economist John Maynard Keynes who said governments should spend money in hard times to keep the economy moving and then retrench and save in good times.

In Alberta, we do just the opposite. Likely hasn’t read the works of legendary economist Adam Smith or of Milton Friedman, of the renowned Chicago School of Economics.

Shirl’ seemingly hasn’t studied the ‘Laffer Curve’ either—no, not ‘Laugher Curve’—but Prof. Arthur Laffer’s now proven theory that cutting taxes actually can result in more revenues for a government by stimulating the economy.

Shirl’ is doing nothing these economists said should be done, and everything they said shouldn’t be done.

So I looked in the Parliamentary Guide to see where Shirl’ received her economics degree.

No mention of that, but she is awfully proud of being a member of the New Brigen Community Association and Central Curling Club.


Shirl’ has held a stack of wide-ranging cabinet portfolios, and she’s obviously performed well in all of them.

Hence, her being given the gilt-edged finance portfolio.

Yet could this be a case of the Peter Principle: She has now finally been promoted beyond her level of competence. Nothing to be ashamed of in that.

It happened to me a couple of times, and then I was busted back to the ranks.

In truth, I was much happier within my limits than drowning in something way, way beyond me.

Tell you what, Shirl’, we should send you down to the southern part of our province and have you do a treatise on the cyclical nature of price fluctuations for Taber corn.

Then, as with Colleen Klein, we’ll get some university to give you a honourary doctorate, this one in economics.

For sure, ‘Doctor’ Shirley McCLellan will have a nice ring to it at the curling rink.

Latest posts by Paul Jackson (see all)

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