kevin taft goes rogue with new book: follow the money.

“If Alberta increased its tax rates by $11 billion our province would still have the lowest tax rate in Canada.”

This was only one of the notable figures presented by Kevin Taft at the launch of his new book, Follow the Money, held last night at the Garneau Theatre in Edmonton. The outgoing MLA and former Liberal Party leader released his latest book along with a short film directed by award-winning director Tom Radford.

The book and the film focus on what Alberta’s reach-for-the-bottom taxation rate really means for our province and the potential that is lost when our government does not even collect its own resource revenue targets.

Follow the Money breaks down the spending patterns of the provincial government over the past 30 years by looking beyond the basic numbers and by delving into demographics that tell a deeper story about spending and revenue. Essentially, while corporate profits have skyrocketed in Alberta, the share of wealth that is invested into our public services has shrunk dramatically.

When you actually look at the numbers, Alberta does not come anywhere close to having a spending problem, as some politicians on the political right would have us believe. Alberta has a revenue problem.

Perhaps one of the advantages of being an outgoing MLA is that Dr. Taft is not restricted by a party-line (nor do I have the impression that he would care to listen to a party-line). The ideas proposed in Dr. Taft’s new book clash with the new “business friendly” direction that Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Raj Sherman is trying to steer his party, which could make for some interesting drama in the upcoming Spring session of the Assembly.

Politics aside, Dr. Taft is doing Albertans a great service by putting these numbers on the table and opening the debate on Alberta’s resource revenue and taxation policy.

Among the more than 350 people attending the launch were MLAs Laurie Blakeman and Rachel Notley. Also present were Public School Trustees Michael Janz, Sarah Hoffman, and Heather Mackenzie.

Here are what others are saying about Follow the Money:

Sheila Pratt: Alberta ‘leaving too much on the table,’ ex-Liberal leader says

Darcy Henton: Kevin Taft wonders where the money went

Samantha Power: Follow the money New book examines where Alberta’s wealth is spent

16 thoughts on “kevin taft goes rogue with new book: follow the money.

  1. Lou Arab

    Quote: The ideas proposed in Dr. Taft’s new book clash with the new “business friendly” direction that Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Raj Sherman is trying to steer his party

    Hell, the ideas proposed in Dr. Taft’s new book clash with the Liberal party direction as led by Dr. Taft.

    The Liberals consistently voted for corporate tax breaks during Taft’s leadership. His past stands on royalties were muddled at best.

    There is only one party in Alberta consistently calling for higher royalties and fair taxes. It’s the NDP.

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  2. Bob

    And that’s why you’re doomed, Lou. And your federal NDP friends going to DC to lobby against Canadian interests is not going to be all that helpful, either. Principles are great, but you can’t eat ’em, and neither can we. Buh-bye. Seriously, Kevin. $11 billion, huh? So that would leave us with what, an $8 billion surplus? What would we do with that? How much of that $11 billion would fall on individual taxpayers? Oh, I know, you’d stick it to the corporations. Those evil bastards who risk their money to create projects and wealth and jobs for ordinary taxpayers, like me. I don’t know who’s wackier, frankly, you or Raj.

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  3. Scott

    What would we do with an $8 billion surplus? Hmm… Maybe invest in public services like better health care and education? Maybe invest in our crumbling infrastructure? Maybe set aside money for the future? (The Heritage Fund, unbelievably, is worth less in real terms today than it was when it was created in the 70s.)

    In short, we would be seeing the direct, tangible benefits we should reasonably expect, as the collective owners of Alberta’s natural resources.

    As for sticking it to the corporations, that $11 billion increase would still—in the Conservatives’ own words—leave Alberta with the lowest tax rates in the country.

    Instead of letting our government continue to cry poor, to disguise their revenue problem as a spending problem, we need to call them on their own blatant BS.

    This is an amazing book, and I urge people to read it.

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  4. Lou Arab

    Well Bob, in 2008 Ed Stelmach ran on a platform of raising royalty rates and won more seats than Ralph Klein. Kevin Taft ran on a vague platform and lost them.

    Since then, the Liberals have moved to the right and fallen in the polls. The NDP has stuck to its principles and risen. The real test will be in the election of course, but I firmly believe there is a large proportion of Albertans who think we are getting ripped off.

    Countries like Denmark are doing just fine (and eating better than us, I might add) with a higher royalty regime.

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  5. Joe Albertan

    We already spend too much. We should half our Income tax rates and cut the fat out of government. The Wildrose way.

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  6. Bob

    Denmark has principles you can eat? I hope so, since it also has the world’s highest taxes. Awesomely, the lowest income group in Denmark gets a raise when they “retire” to 120% of their pre-retirement income. That’s awesome. I’m gonna go there and kick back, because I can collect welfare before I retire and then get a bigger pension. And, it’s all paid for by those fat cat idiots who actually work. Not that there’s that many of them, since Denmark has the largest public sector in the world. And did you know that a Dane’s share of the debt is about $85,000 (not that Denmark will ever do anything so silly as pay off their debt), while my share of the Canadian debt is $16,838 as of 2:06 PM today? What a bunch of maroons those silly capitalists are. And hey, Lou, according to this, http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/calorie-viz/, some really awesome countries like Greece and Italy eat way better than us, too. I’m not sure it matters to them though, since their hopes of getting a loan to move out of Momma’s house are about as good as your hopes of forming government or opposition in Alberta.

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  7. Bob

    And since you have chosen, Lou, to spout off about something you know nothing about, Denmark is 1/15th the size of Alberta. Their oil reserves are 1.1 billion barrels, compared to our 170 billion barrels. Their industry is declining – exploration is not happening. So, higher royalties on production don’t discourage exploration, because there isn’t any. If I own a well in Denmark, and the government raises the royalty, I accept a smaller income and keep pumping. I don’t pull my rigs, because there aren’t any (and if there were, where in Europe would I go? In Alberta, on the other hand, which is a high-cost jurisdiction anyway, when royalties go up, I can truck the rig to Saskatchewan, or North Dakota, or wyoming, or Texas, or pretty much anywhere.

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  8. Phil

    Strange that Loud didn’t mention the performance of the NDP in the 2008 election. I can’t remember, what was their performance like?

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  9. Bob

    Ah Loud. I guess no one ever told you to stop digging when you’re in a hole. They haven’t saved a dime. Their public debt is $85,000.00 per person ($340,000.00 for a family of four) and according to S&P, the Danes also have the highest personal debt burden IN THE WORLD. They are flat-ass broke, Loud, but in slightly better shape than the rest of Europe. Here in Alberta, we actually have savings ( no thanks to you or the Libs), in the Heritage Fund and the Sustainability Fund. We have to carry our share of the can for the rest of the Dominion, but I consider it a small price to pay (1/5 of what the Dane’s owe, actually) to live in the greatest province in the greatest country in the world.

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  10. Dallas Haywood

    documents on the finance website, boasting in their invite to corporations to come here to do business: “alberta has free health care!” (translation: hey you guys, think what you’ll save from not having to pay for medical benefits!)

    when luring foreign workers: “alberta has free health care!”

    what happens when oil prices tank (as they often do, all it takes is an earthquake or a war in certain places)

    and there has been no other industries developed to employ people, and the money isn’t THERE for health care?

    don’t worry, there will be plenty of insurance companies around (as long as you don’t have any “previous medical conditions,” or aren’t old or low income, otherwise yikes!) we’d better all start living healthy

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  11. Pingback: Alberta Liberal Conservative appoints conservative Liberals to battle … | Broddy Olson

  12. jerrymacgp

    I think Dr. Taft is returning to his roots. Back in the late 90s-early 2000s, before he entered electoral politics and when he was publishing his books about public policy, such as Shredding the Public Interest, I really thought he was a New Democrat, at least a closet one; I was heartily disappointed when he ran for office as a Liberal. IMHO, if he isn’t a “Dipper” at heart, he’s at least an orange Liberal.

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  13. larry elford

    Yes, Kevin follow the money……some support for you found here perhaps:

    http://youtu.be/aNh5laKO22o
    Crime pays

    “Losing billions to “respected” fraudsters, while they get an “assist” from government, and a free pass from the police…….”

    By now it is well known that our financial servants have become financial predators, in too many cases. What is not as well known is how your government servants are also in the game. The game is to sell out or remove protections for the public, so that corporations can earn greater profits Sometimes by doing illegal things. (imagine if this were done in oil, fracking, forestry, and finance, etc., etc?) Here is how this sellout is done to your investments in Canada, to skim about one billion dollars a week for just this one industry. Your investments at risk by people hired and paid to protect you……….30 minutes. Enjoy, and contact the speaker if you have an interest in legal challenges to servants who prey upon the public.
    Cheers to your financial health,
    Larry
    http://youtu.be/aNh5laKO22o

    Reply
  14. Locke

    Lemme get this straight, Bob. You’re arguing that we need to continue raping our social services such that individuals that already have to choose between paying rent and bills or buying food can just crawl into a hole and die? Your capitalist paradigm of the creation of wealth via the greed motive ultimately fails when you consider that (according to Stats Canada) 31,110 (1.35%) people make seven times the average income, while 7.5% of people (195,960 individuals) live off of less than five thousand dollars per year (At *most* 1/7th of average income, not including those that make less?) Those individuals in the top income bracket, making 49 times the amount in the bottom bracket (at least, mind you; this is using the bottom figure for the top bracket and the top figure for the bottom bracket, as in the maximum amount of income for the poorest and the minimum amount for the wealthiest), are outnumbered by those at the bottom by a staggering 6.3 to one.

    Six point three people starving for every bastard that makes seven times the median wage. Does that make sense to you, considering that more often than not in Calgary (my hometown) you’ll run into homeless individuals that work their asses off and still can’t afford to rent a home, or pay for groceries? No, these are not casualties of drug abuse, before you try to paint them all as useless husks of individuals, these are hard working mothers, fathers, sons and daughters stranded in a shithole system brought about by baby boomer bastards that considered the hand-outs and ups that they received to be *nothing* (when in fact their social programs were much more coherent, comprehensive, and better funded than our current ones under Stelmach and his predecessor Klein, as is stated partially in the video).

    Hell, even if you can’t agree with these numbers, sir, I request that you do some research into just how intelligible it is to waste resources that we have no viable way of reproducing, while destroying the land we live on in the name of money. You’ll notice that, hey, maybe it isn’t that bright. It’s a lot like this funny thing capitalists speak down to the masses about: budgeting. Now, instead of having to budget for a couple months or years, until your next pay-day… There is no pay-day. You only have this set amount of reserves and if you waste them all, I dare ask, what happens? Oh, yes, that’s right, we just don’t have them anymore.

    Heck, we can even go beyond that portion and look at what ‘money’ people are accruing! What value does it have, and why should *anyone* give a damn if investors pull out? To phrase it simply, our unbacked currency has -quite literally- no value greater than the medium it is printed upon. Here in Canada, it is not even certain that your bank account even HAS the fiat currency it proclaims you have access to, due to the Bank of Canada act (a part of which states that required reserves within a bank are “nil”).

    Trying to defend the Canadian conservative platform from such a standpoint, sir, is completely idiotic, and I do hope that you can make sense of the world one day. Alas, if these facts and figures weren’t for you (though you did like tossing some around), I suppose I must leave you with one last thing: capitalism, a model based upon a mystical idea called “infinite growth” (a funny little thought that economies can always expand and exploit more resources), *does not work when you have finite resources, and a finite space to work within.*

    Capitalism is a crisis, and saying that the other systems are poorly designed does not detract one bit from the retarded, suicidal nature of this.
    Auf wiedersehen, fraulein.

    Reply

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