2012 was a good year for many in Lethbridge, by the size of the crowds at the shopping malls before Christmas. I have been trying to find out where money comes from in our economy and here are some facts that I came across.
The federal government in Canada has a 2012 budget of $276 billion to help look after almost 35 million people. The Alberta government has a 2012 budget of $41 billion to help look after 3.8 million people and the City of Lethbridge has an operating budget of about $270 million to help look after about 88,000 of us Lethbridgites.
This works out to about $21,700 per resident in Lethbridge but there is some duplication as transfer funds go from one level of government to another. It is reasonable to say that the three levels of government are spending about $80,000 per family of four in the City of Lethbridge. This happens to be very close to the average family income, according to Statistics Canada. The GDP of Canada is about $1.8 trillion. This makes total government expenditures 40 per cent of the entire Canadian economy. It is very difficult to believe that this is sustainable - especially when much of Alberta's economy is based on non-renewable resources. According to Wikipedia, Greece is at 46.8 per cent government expenditures as a percentage of their total GDP and some countries like France are over 50 per cent. If the Canadian economy slows down or the growth of government continues, it may not be long before we reach these levels of government involvement in our economy.
You may think this is impossible but the City of Lethbridge Budget 2012-2014 shows that the city manager costs us $657,880 and the budget for his office is another $777,084. I'm sure there is a very good explanation for these large sums. I just can't imagine what it might be.
Let's be very careful what we ask our governments to do for us. The price they charge us is usually hidden and more expensive than doing things ourselves. I'd rather save my money and buy an airline ticket to Greece than become the next Greece.