I've gotten absolutely sick of hearing about how wealthy Albertans are. On the news tonight, every other story was about how we're so stinking rich. We're buying everything in BC. We're buying new cars. We're buying so many new mansions that there aren't enough tradespeople to build them.
Janice and I walked through the showhomes in our neighbourhood on the weekend to see what's up. These are the same builders we used when we built our house in 2000. Except, now the price of the lots are higher than what we paid for our whole house package. The "starter" homes in our community now begin at $450,000 - almost 3x what ours cost just 6 years ago. That's absolutely insane. We fell in love with one of the homes - but at $650,000 it's not bloody likely. But someone's buying this stuff.
But, here's the thing. I don't know anyone that's gotten rich off of oil. An old family friend spent decades in the oilpatch, and did OK, but he retired before things got insane. My closest connection to the oilpatch is through my brother, but he's living in Asia, not Alberta. He did help start an oil company, and sold it a few years ago. He had a nice Porsche and house, but he left the province for greener pastures. Most of his small personal fortune was made in the insurance industry, not the oilpatch.
So, now there's a majority of the population being affected by the few who struck Texas Tea, driving up the prices of everything. And making the rest of the country envious of the "wealthy Albertan" - but I'd like to meet one of those.
I obviously move in the wrong circles. Someone's obviously able to afford all of the irrationally extravagant stuff. Escalades and Hummers are rolling off city lots. These McMansions are being sold faster than they can be built.
Our provincial government was able to pay off the debt due to unbudgeted and unpredicted revenue surpluses of billions of dollars every fiscal quarter. Something like $20B per year that just falls into their lap. A trained chimp could balance a budget with these surpluses. And yet we don't have enough schools, or hospitals, or public transportation. They're building new super-ring-roads like they're going out of style, though. Gotta have someplace to drive those Escalades...