So, my editor’s been after me to write this for the past few weeks now. As you may have heard, the government has sent a survey out to home entitled It’s Your Future. “We’ve got to do something about this survey!” he keeps telling me. “We’ve got to get all the students to respond to this and say ‘We want more money for post-secondary education!’ If we could do that, my God! Think of how much more money this school would get!” Well, sadly, my editor was among the uninformed. There’s no point in doing this survey, which is why I’ve been dragging my heels on writing this. How come I don’t want to write this article? Because of one simple reason. This whole survey is based on a lie. It tells us that the government has all this wonderful money to spend because we’re now debt free. Well, you know what?
Alberta is not debt-free.
You heard me. The debt is not paid off. It’s like this. When the current provincial budget comes to a close in the spring, we will most likely have enough money in the bank to pay off the debt. But we’re not going to pay off the debt. We’re going to pay it off in little tiny bits over the next 15 years. Apparently, to pay it all off right now would mean having to pay astronomical penalties. That begs the question, what kind of bank are we in debt to? “What? You want to pay us back EARLY?? It’ll cost you.”
So, that’s the truth. The debt is not paid off. Instead, we have enough money in the bank to slowly pay off the debt over the next 15 years. Well, as one of my heroes said, “The truths we cling to depend upon a certain point of view.” So, I guess, having enough money in the bank to pay off the debt and choosing not to can mean we’re debt-free.
You’ll forgive my cynicism. The Klein Government did the same thing during the last election, too. Right before the writ was dropped, Ralph said, “We’ll have the debt paid off in three years!” He sent out a survey just like this one. He scheduled a summit in Red Deer for after the election to further decide what to do with a debt-free province. But then, after his re-election, Ralph went, “Oops, we were wrong. It won’t be paid off until 2017. Sorry.” The summit went ahead as planned, but no one cared. And now, I’m seeing history repeat itself.
But let’s play this game. Let’s take a look at the It’s Your Future survey. Naturally, we want more money for post-secondary education. That’ll help ease all our burdens. So, then, the question that applies to us is “Provide an outstanding education system.” Man, you have to love how vaguely-worded that is. If we check that off as being a high priority, well, the government could pour billions into elementary schools. And when we complain about how we’re getting screwed over, the government could go, “What? You just said the education system. You didn’t say what part.”
This whole survey is flawed, folks. Every question is like that. “Provide a quality, affordable Alberta health care system.” OK, how? Continue exploring privatization? “Provide support to Albertans who need help.” Who decides who needs help? “Protect Alberta’s environment.” Again, how? “Reduce taxes.” Gee, that’s a no-brainer. “Provide a refund to every Albertan.” Oh, come on now.
There is one right thing about this survey. They got the title right. It is OUR future. And people, there is a much more effective way to tell the government what we want them to do with a debt free province. The best way to get more money into post-secondary education is to call Lyle.
Minister of Learning Lyle Oberg. Phone him up and tell him, “I’m and I’d like to see some of this extra debt-free money go towards post-secondary education.” And Lyle’s the easiest guy in the world to get a hold of. Just pick up the phone and call 310 – 0000. That’ll put your through to the Government of Alberta switchboard. And then, all you have to do is tell the operator, “I’d like to speak to the Minister of Learning, please.” And the operator will put you right through to Lyle’s office. It’s a toll-free number, too. You can go to any payphone here on campus and do it for free. And I tell you, we will have more success getting more funding for post-secondary education by crashing the government switchboard with our pleas rather than playing around this survey.
If you can’t get through to Lyle, then call your MLA. It’s the exact same thing. Call 310 – 0000, and tell the operator, “I’d like to speak to my MLA, please,” and the operator will put you through. Of course, it’ll actually help if you know who your MLA is, and you can find out easily enough at the Government of Alberta website: www.gov.ab.ca.
So that’s it people. Yes, it is our future. Yes, we do have a say. But, talking to Lyle or your MLA is a hell of a more effective way to get your opinion across than by filling in circles on a piece of junk mail. DEMOCRACY ROCKS!!