This week, Kevin O'Leary offered to invest a million dollars in Alberta if Rachel Notley would resign. Michael Harris writes:
In offering to give Alberta’s premier a million dollar investment in the oilpatch in return for her resignation, O’Leary declared both what he and his class stand for — and, more importantly, what they think of democracy.
What they stand for is the greedy, reflexive urge to run everything to the financial advantage of the one per cent. As for society at large — and especially for those who wonder why there’s so much month left at the end of their money — a Great White shark has more social conscience than O’Leary and his ilk.
O'Leary blames Notley for a mess Conservative blowhards, like himself, created:
In fact, all of Alberta’s fundamental problems were created over decades of PC leadership by a bunch of self-styled market messiahs who gave away most of the treasure of the tar sands to foreign corporations — while severely under-taxing them. They virtually ignored the people’s stake in their own energy resources, while fouling other, more precious public commodities, like fresh water.
Nor did these oil-junkies, who passed themselves off as solid fiscal managers, ever ask the most basic “what if” questions about their economic stewardship of non-renewables.
What if cheaper alternatives to tar sands oil could be found — like improved solar? What if new oil and gas supplies were to be discovered in the U.S. using new technologies — like fracking? What if the Saudis drove down the world price of oil to preserve their market share from the threat of plentiful but more expensive crude?
There was another alternative:
Knowing how much Kevin likes numbers, here are a few for him to chew on. Both Norway and Alberta have sovereign wealth funds from sales of their non-renewable energy resources. Norway’s fund — the largest in the world — holds over a trillion dollars. In Alberta, the fund was valued at $17.9 billion in 2014. Chump change.
The main difference between the two approaches and their staggeringly different outcomes is that Norway taxed oil companies at a rate that expressed the public ownership of the resource. Oslo also salted away 100 per cent of the government’s share of revenues from North Sea oil.
Mr. O'Leary and his ilk like to think they're the smartest guys in the room. That conclusion is based on the false premise that wealth is a sign of intelligence. Obviously, the two can be mutually exclusive.