Wednesday, August 05, 2015

A Perfect -- And Predictable -- Storm

For years, Andrew Nikiforuk has warned that building an economy based on bitumen is monstrous folly. Now the folly has come home to roost. Nikiforuk reminded his readers about what the Canadian historian Harold Innis had written about resource traps:

Innis, our greatest historian, said that Canada had a resource addiction problem: it got hooked on the raw export of trees and rocks to global empires and then went on a mining binge, only to awake with no memory of the destruction and no markets.

Whether the resource was furs or lumber or asbestos, the story always ended the same way.

More recently, the American scholar Terry Lynn Karl turned her attention to what happens in petro-states:

[She] wrote that "Oil revenues are the catalyst for a chronic tendency of the state to become overextended, over-centralized and captured by special interests."

Karl herself warned Tyee readers in 2014 that if low oil prices persisted, then Canadians could expect to see "a rapidly declining Canadian dollar, greater problems over pipelines, the reduction of future investments, and a very bumpy oil ride, especially for Alberta."

And now the petro-state of Alberta, an impoverished kingdom with no savings and unrelenting deficits, has arrived at the doorstep of bitumen's future. 

Stephen Harper has worked hard to make the Alberta model the Canadian model. We are now witnessing the predictable results of entrenching that model.

And Mr. Harper insists that he is a smart fellow.


The Mound of Sound said...

The Masters of the Universe - Klein, Stelmach, Redford, and now even Notley plus the gaggle of Ottawa notables including the past and present leadership of the mainstream parties right up to the major domo, Harper - wouldn't have it any other way, Owen. It wasn't that long ago that Iggy declared the Tar Sands the "beating heart of the Canadian economy for the 21st century."

Lost beneath that heap of political detritus is the memory of Peter Lougheed, the last man to grasp both the promise and the enormous perils of bitumen trafficking. The Norwegians understood Lougheed's message and adopted his wisdom as their own which is why Norway now holds the world's largest sovereign wealth fund while Alberta staggers from boom to bust like a drunken miner on payday.

Athabasca is Canada's shrine to neoliberalism and all the rot that it carries.

The criminality in their leadership isn't so much the current mess as the fact that it's all happened before and they chose to ignore the clear lessons of the past - again and again. There's this element of willful blindness that anchors their culpability.

Today, while the world burns, we know we must leave it our bitumen in the ground. On its own that is enough reason to shut down this fiendish project but it's still not enough for the Masters of the Universe. That goes for Junior and Angry Tom to boot.

Owen Gray said...

I keep coming back to Santayana's warning, Mound. Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Anonymous said...

Every one who has taken an Econs. 101 course knows, or should know, about the principle of diversifying the economy.

Steve should have taken that course, even at the University of Calgary's economics dept., not really ranked as one of the top Econs. schools in Canada (LOL). Unless he had skipped that class to attend the Reform Party meeting.

But then again, Steve did take about twice as long as the average student to get his two degrees in Econs., so perhaps he might be having some trouble understanding the lessons?

However, I suspect the real reason for putting all the economic eggs in the oily basket is because Steve's personal fortune, and those of his family and friends, are mostly tied up in the bitumen industry. His father worked for Imperial Oil in Toronto. I believe his brother still works for an oil company in Alberta. It would be interesting to see where the bulk of Laureen's stock portfolio is invested in (Michelle Obama has to declare her portfolio but our "First Lady" apparently does not have to divulge it publicly).

I think Notley best summed it all up when she retorted to Steve bad mouthing her competence when she had only been in office all of 2-3 months. She said that the NDP government in Alberta works for regular Albertans whereas Steve works for his wealthy Cons friends and insiders. And the latter, at least in Alberta, are mostly tied to the bitumen industry.

Owen Gray said...

It's been clear for a long time, Anon, that Mr. Harper's economic policies have been bought and paid for by oil barons. And they keep him on a short leash.

Mogs Moglio said...

Anon you left that comment about Economics 101 before and I believe that anyone that knows how to 'balance' their household budget knows Steve is a fraud artist.

And now he is campaigning on two things Number One: 'security' and we know he has willingly with knowledge committed random acts of terrorism ie: terrorist bombing raids that murdered innocents. Also he has commanded the release of Afghanistan prisoners of the Canadian Armed Forces into tortures hands...

Number two: 'The Economy' how can one so unenlightened individual who has had seven consecutive deficits dare be that brazenly brash? Hint he loves to lie which is the direct honest description of someone who paints with a different brush...

The man is a loser and always been a loser and what does that say for the trolls that put him in power?

So now we have two choices either put him out of power or live under the worst dictatorship of the 21st century.


Owen Gray said...

This really is a seminal election, Mogs.

Mogs Moglio said...

I choose putting him [harper] out of power through a united vote any candidate except harper-cons it will be seminal the great debate tonight. I am curious what the 'harper handlers' have told him what he can and can not say?

We will see Owen we will see...

Owen Gray said...

Your strategy seems to be very popular, Mogs. Lots of folks are going to take Danny Williams' advice and vote ABC -- Anybody But Conservative.