In 1975, fresh off the heels of winning his second majority government, Alberta premier Peter Lougheed created the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust fund to put aside revenues from the province's vast resource wealth for a "rainy day" — which happens quite often in Alberta's boom-and-bust economy.
Today, we have weathered the worst recession since the 1930s and the European and American economies are dangling perilously at the edge of another. In other words: Welcome to that rainy day. Unfortunately, the Progressive Conservatives have neglected the fund and, after more than three decades, it contains just $15.2-billion — not much more than when Mr. Lougheed stepped down as premier 25 years ago.
Compare that to Alaska's similar fund, created the same year as Alberta's, which now contains more than $38-billion and pays an annual dividend to all state residents. In 2008, Alaskans received more than $3,000 per person. This year they will get slightly more than $1,000 — just for living in an oil-soaked arctic wasteland.
Norway's fund — which was created in 1990 and didn't start receiving money until 1996 — had approximately $329-billion in assets as of 2007. That money will be used to fund pensions for generations to come.