By Rick Strankman, MLA Drumheller-Stettler
Conservatism is generally thought of as a set of beliefs, which tend to include minimal government intervention in the economy, free enterprise and free market capitalism. Unfortunately, all too often we see a destructive form of capitalism; it’s called “crony capitalism.”
Crony capitalism exists in an economy in which businesses grow, not as a result of risks they take or opportunities available, but rather as a return on money amassed through collaboration between businesses and the political bureaucracies. An economy that is normally free-market but allows for preferential regulation and other favourable government interventions based on personal relationships, obviously does not benefit anyone outside that circle of influence.
Crony capitalism often comes in the form of government subsidies that create an unfair advantage for one business over another. However, in order for government to subsidize or otherwise fund a venture, that money must first be taken from another wealth-creating source, such as a business or individual. When that actual wealth-creating source is in direct competition with the subsidized company, it becomes a paradox that has the subsidized company utilizing the true wealth creator’s own money to compete against them.
Government subsidization or outright funding creates a market where one participant has the ultimate advantage over all the others. Where broad private business interests exist, there really is no need for government participation, directly or indirectly. Fair, open competition amongst private businesses drives competitive prices and ultimate product improvement.
The Carbon Tax is a perfect example of wealth redistribution that funds crony capitalism. The tax is designed specifically to fund/subsidize businesses that are not viable enough to survive in a true supply and demand market. In a system that creates the false appearance of “pure” capitalism, but is publicly maintained to preserve the exclusive influence of well-connected individuals and businesses, we have seen throughout history that it is destined for failure. The impending failure here is evident in Alberta’s projected debt of almost $100 billion and six credit downgrades since the NDP took office in 2015.
For some who haven’t experienced a truly capitalist economy, crony capitalism can become a form of dependence, where they begin to believe that business cannot be successful without the protection of government assistance. The funds a government runs on, however, come only from personal and business sources that create wealth and the redistribution of that wealth is what fuels crony capitalism.
The UCP economic policies offer Albertans the hope that we can become self-reliant without the aid of government. As Albertans, we’re looking for the commitment from our elected representatives to change these policies that have hindered rather than helped this province. We have to learn from our past negative experiences and present Albertans with policies that offer incentives that lead to opportunities.
Albertans are independent by nature; most are simply looking for a hand up not a hand out. That is why I am committed to supporting common sense conservative fiscal policies that create opportunities and allow Albertans to provide for themselves.