[NOTE: Recently, Cliff wrote a dynamite piece about the recent stir Jim Prentice kicked up with his impromptu comments on looking in the mirror or tightening belts. Cliff’s stance on how to look at the comments is enlightening. With an election probably looming, I wanted to take an opportunity to inform you as to some things you may not have considered, and probably save your whole way of life. You’re welcome in advance — L]
Coming up to a provincial election, as we seem to be, it is important to keep in mind some very important facts about our provincial government, headed, as it has been these past 44 years, by the Progressive Conservative party.
There are some would have you believe that the Conservatives have mismanaged the financial windfall brought about by our geological money-tree. These people believe that services have been slashed and the so-called Alberta Advantage, if it ever existed in the first place beyond a marketing slogan, has been reduced to a discount on gas because of lower transportation costs.
It’s hard to rebut this argument. Despite the ever-flowing oil, the conservatives have catered to the whims of oil companies, so much so that the chairman of the Alberta Royalty Review, Bill Hunter, said, “Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development and they have not, in fact, been receiving their fair share for some time.” It’s hard to argue that a budget with an extra 2 billion dollars every year would be a lot easier to balance.
Also, some want to say that the PCs have grown complacent, smug, and arrogant in their assurance that they will be in power no matter what.
That’s a fair statement. Given that half of the official opposition caved in and was absorbed by the PCs, along with the fact that they have governed unopposed for 44 years, despite the previous argument, it would be hard to argue with a conservative who held the view that they were untouchable.
The last argument I’ll touch on, that some people use to say that the conservatives should be replaced, is that they’ve become, though a complete lack of accountability, disconnected, disengaged, and unable to relate to Albertans.
I won’t even try to argue this point, just days after Jim Prentice, who gets to be Premier without being elected to the post, told Albertans that we are to blame for the pitiful state of the economy, saying that we “have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs.” As if we did not have to pay for the right to make a living, or the right to live in a place we own, or the right to buy something else, or any number of other dings and dents the government chooses to throw at us. I mean, expecting taxes to go away is like hoping that the sun will keep it down until noon, or your kids will stay young forever — futile and destined for disappointment. They’re a fact of life. But a politician insinuating that we are spoiled children who need to think long and hard about their impetuous squandering of government resources is beyond ludicrous. Out of touch? Absolutely. Unable to relate? It certainly seems so.
You might think, “Liam, you’ve basically made Cliff’s point for him. I thought you were arguing another viewpoint.” Well, I’m not done. And anyway, I haven’t said anything that any Albertan with an internet connection and eyes to see couldn’t have figured out for themselves. But you see, I’ve thought of something you obviously haven’t. Because if you’d thought of it, I wouldn’t have to convince you of anything. You’d know for whom to vote.
The internet, my friends. That’s right. The internet. It’s incredibly useful. Some would say that it has become completely indispensable. I know I would. All the accumulated knowledge of mankind is there at your fingertips, and all you have to do is know how to look for it. And that’s just a facet of the internet. One part of the great mechanism that a lot of people overlook.
It’s made the world a small place. If you want to talk to someone in Mumbai, now you can. You’re a Skype call away. If you want to find the best deal on something, it’s right there. There are stores that go into business without ever having a physical storefront. Amazon makes all its money that way. And the dollars we are talking for that are astronomical.
The internet brings people together in a way that nobody could have foreseen. Hell, my dad, who’s sixty-five this year, posts jokes on Facebook — horribly inappropriate jokes, quite often — for the entertainment of his family and loved ones. He couldn’t do that without the internet. Without the internet, he’d be stuck photocopying his dirty joke and mailing it out to the coast.
Now, I want you to think of the origins of the internet with me. No, not the first two networked computers pinging and ponging back and forth in Al Gore’s twisted imaginings, but the internet that you experienced. For me, it was Alberta Supernet on a Windows 3.11 computer running winsock. I know, I’m an old geek. A lot of you would have suffered through similar trials. Most of you probably only know broadband. Always on, always really fast. Even when it’s slow, it looks like something from science fiction compared to Mosaic over a 2400 baud modem.
No matter what form that internet genesis takes for you, hold it in your head for a second. Now, imagine it gone.
No IMs, no FaceTime, no chat, no emails, no net-banking, and no online shopping.
Let that sink in. I know, I know. It’ll be all right — I hope. But really accept the notion of no internet. Got it? Okay. Because think of this:
The last time Alberta was run by a different political party, there was no internet. No Google, serving up your knowledge. No Bing, even. We’re not just talking mobile web, but even the stuff you have to be plugged in for.
Are you ready for a world without internet? Because I sure am not.
The PCs are the only party in Alberta who have handled an internet-capable populace. You think those other bastards know what to do? You think they’re even going to let us keep the internet?
Is it worth the risk, just so that we can have engaged, accountable, responsible government?
Think about it, as you sit there, reading something that I’ve written and published WITH THE PUSH OF A BUTTON!
I think you know what you need to do.