In Canada we have a strange tradition of “spreading the wealth around.” Provinces are divided into “Have” and “Have-Not” categories, and the federal government redistributes wealth from the Haves to the Have-Nots. Aren’t you glad you’re an American?
But hold on. It gets worse.
Sometimes, when politicians in a province think they’re not getting enough redistributed wealth from the feds, their premier (equivalent to your state governor) will move heaven and earth to get a better deal. Such is the case right now, as the premier of the province of British Columbia (B.C.) is using every phony environmental concern in the book to stop a pipeline from running across her turf that would carry crude oil from the oil sands of Alberta to a port where it could then be shipped to China.
You’ll recall how President Obama used phony environmental concerns to forestall the Keystone Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Alberta down to refineries in Texas. When it became obvious to our prime minister (the equivalent of your president) that Obama wasn’t going to budge on Keystone, he wisely approached the premiers of B.C. and Alberta to see if they could work out a deal to get that crude to China instead. And everyone in Canada was very pleased with this idea because, as explained, the wealth that would accrue to Alberta would be spread around nicely and evenly all across the land.
All was going well until one fine day, when the premier of B.C., Christy Clark, got it into her head that she needed to hold out for more money. To heck with the rest of Canada! And Alberta.
Clark is predicting all sorts of disasters that could occur if a pipeline running across her province were to spring a leak. But I can guarantee you it’s all just a bunch of trumped-up, phony-baloney environmental posturing, because after all, she’s stating pretty clearly that more money will solve the problem.
No…not more money to ensure that the pipeline won’t burst, or more money in some sort of environmental-protection contingency fund that could be drawn upon at such time as there is a leak. No, silly — Premier Clark simply wants more money in her general-revenue coffers so she can spend it right away, and hopefully get herself re-elected.
So if Clark doesn’t really care about the environment, what, pray tell, does she plan to spend this money on? Ah…now this is something that you as an American might be able to relate to, especially if you live in a state like California, where public-service pensions are poised to bankrupt your whole state.
Start by wrapping your brain around the fact that 750 public-sector employees in the province of B.C. earn more than $200,000 a year, with top wages approaching a cool million! And they’re all in line to receive gold-plated, indexed pensions, with full benefits, ’til the day they, or their spouses, die.
If they all retired right now, they’d drain over $200 million per annum out of the province’s treasury (which is empty, by the way) in exchange for doing nothing. That’s $200 million a year for just 750 people — barely enough to fill a high-school gymnasium shoulder to shoulder. And the rest of us have to pay for that.
But these people must be the exceptions to the rule. Right? La crème de la crème of the province’s public sector? Surely most civil servants in B.C. earn more modest wages, something in the neighborhood of a teacher’s starting salary of just $47,000. Right?