Stop Paying the Rich -- Increase Funding
for Social Programs

The Alberta government has announced a series of new pay-the-rich schemes. The most recent announcements include:

- the leasing of 4,400 rail cars by the Alberta government to ship bitumen to the Gulf Coast at a price to the public treasury of $3.7 billion over three years;

- $1 billion to private interests building partial upgraders; and

- $80 million towards the construction of a private methanol plant.

In all, these particular pay-the-rich schemes of the Notley government amount to $6.7 billion. The $6.7 billion arises from the social wealth workers have produced, which has been subsequently claimed by government as public funds. Some may also be borrowed from private moneylenders. The government is now handing these public funds to the financial oligarchy to sustain their private interests rather than have those funds go towards funding social programs and public services or even new public enterprises, where the enterprise profit would return to the public treasury. Such pay-the-rich transactions and practices are examples of extortion and theft of the social wealth that belongs to the working people by right, which should go towards strengthening the public interest in favour of the people rather than the private interests, control and class privilege of the rich.

To put this amount in perspective, the $6.7 billion is greater than government revenues received from royalties paid on non-renewable resources ($3 billion) plus corporate income taxes from all sectors in 2017-18 ($3.6 billion).

The global energy cartels have seized control of Alberta's vast energy and other natural resources and a large portion of the capacity to work of its working people. The oligarchs accept no social responsibility to care for the land, natural environment and security of the people. Not only do they expropriate the added-value workers produce from transforming natural resources into use-value, they demand to be paid from the public treasury and to use publicly built infrastructure for free to further their narrow private interests and control.

The value the financial oligarchs receive from social programs and services in the form of educated and healthy working people and physical infrastructure is enormous. The energy cartels could not function for one day without the services provided through public programs. They demand to receive the value from these services without acknowledging or realizing in a proper exchange the value they receive. The public schools, universities and health care institutions produce healthy and educated workers the big companies employ without recognizing the public value and returning it directly to the institutions and workers that produced it.

The oligarchs receive value from publicly-funded research at universities and public research facilities where new technologies are developed and handed over to the big companies to further their private interests and control. They receive value from the public roads and bridges they use, from the public transit and other essential public infrastructure, which the economy requires to function. Just imagine the problems that could be solved if this social wealth were honestly exchanged and made available to the people, economy, society and environment and the financial oligarchy were forced to accept an average rate of profit and nothing more for their investments.

On the front of private investments and state borrowing, the disinformation is over the top. In fact, a modern economy with bountiful natural resources and a skillful, experienced and trained working class, such as exists in Alberta, does not need loans from private moneylenders. A step towards such a pro-social direction imbued with social responsibility would be for the state to end the pay-the-rich schemes, out-of-control private investments and borrowing; put a moratorium on interest payments on the province's outstanding debt until its legitimacy can be determined, and bring all wholesale internal and external trade of means of production, such as oil and natural gas, under a public authority.

A new direction would insist that all private investments in major projects must be at an agreed average rate of profit and not a penny more with a public authority determining a price of production and market price openly and scientifically.

Albertans have had enough of the abuse of the energy cartels and their privileged oligarchs. They want a modern social consciousness in command of the main sectors of the economy that develops the economy for the good of all humanity and the social and natural environment, not for the narrow private interests of the global rich.

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 8 - March 9, 2019

Article Link:
Stop Paying the Rich -- Increase Funding for Social Programs


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