Albertans & Eskimos

In 1932, William "Bible Bill" Aberhart, the radio evangelist-turned-politician, gave the province of Alberta (in Canada) the world's first Social Credit government and began instituting a series of misguided economic policies -- among them the distribution of so-called prosperity certificates: free money with which Albertans were to stimulate the economy (then in the throes of the Great Depression). Needless to say the plan merely left the province with a massive debt...

In 1936, Aberhart reluctantly granted an interview to the editor of the Financial Post. "We Albertans are the richest people in the world," he declared. "We have three billion tons of coal in this province. What do you pay for coal in Toronto? Ten dollars a ton? All right, if we were to capitalize our coal at $10, we'd have $30 billion. There are 700,000 people in Alberta, so figure it out for yourself how wealthy each Albertan would be if we capitalized our natural resources."

The editor promptly deflated Aberhart's argument by pointing out that, in Toronto, he paid fifty cents for a block of ice -- meaning that if the ten thousand Canadian Eskimos were to capitalize their own natural resources they would be far richer than Albertans!

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