This quid quo pro proviso of the United Conservative Party requires that a province must first be prosperous before a province can be caring and compassionate. From this statement, a number of questions arise.
First, at what point can a province consider itself prosperous? A recent article in the Globe and Mail addressed the complaints of Alberta's UCP leadership candidates about equalization payments to other provinces. It states that Quebec receives "$11 billion in equalization payments enjoying a budget surplus while Alberta has a $10.5 billion deficit and receives none." The reason for this seeming injustice is that Quebec taxes are almost twice that of Alberta's. If both provinces were to tax their citizens at the Canadian average, Quebec would suffer a deficit and Alberta would be enjoying the surplus.
However, implementing a sales tax would be tantamount to political suicide for any ruling party in Alberta. That's despite the fact that, according to the Conference Board of Canada, Albertans enjoy the highest per capita income in Canada, among the highest in the world.
One in eight Albertans over the age of 21 earns over $100,000 a year according to the more recent census and 21% of families have a combined income of over $100,000 a year. Although many families have suffered over the recent drop in the price of oil and gas, others have still prospered.
Second, the prosperity of a province can be measured as an aggregate however it is felt by individuals. When does a person feel prosperous enough to be caring and compassionate? To help answer this question, I'll assume that people feel prosperous enough when they are happy. Fortunately, social scientists have studied this very question.
study that gave happiness and income a number, $75,000 U.S.. That's the number people will find joy, affection and tranquility and no matter how much above $75,000 their incomes may rise, they don't report any greater degree of happiness . Below that number, people get weighed down by the everyday issues of making a bill payment or necessary purchases. If we convert those American dollars to Canadian, we get a number closer to $100,000 so approximately 21% of families would have enough money to make them happy and thereby prosperous
Those who have studied people's satisfaction with their income have discovered that only those earning an income of $500,000 U.S. or above are 100% "very satisfied" while those earning $75,000 to $100,000 U.S. are 69% "very satisfied," 27% "somewhat satisfied" and 4% "somewhat" or 'very dissatisfied."
A third question and perhaps the only one that matters, is whether or not a relationship actually exists between prosperity and compassion and caring. Perhaps not surprisingly, the answer seems to be a resounding no.
In fact, studies indicate exactly the opposite. Those people in the income range of $500K and above, are less likely to be compassionate and caring than those making $10K or less. When driver behaviour was observed at two intersections, researchers discovered that none of the cars in the "beater category" drove through the cross-walk while those in fancy cars were less likely to stop. Apparently, BMW drivers were the worst.
In another study, people from different socio-economic backgrounds watched a video about children with cancer. Those from the lower end of the spectrum were more likely to speak with greater compassion about the victims and exhibit physiological responses such as a slowed heart rate associated with a greater attention to the feelings and motivations of others.
On a personal level, wealthy tourists on safari in Africa wouldn't stop to help my wife after we'd been involved in a serious car accident. Instead, our saviour was a native Kenyan driving who'd studied microbiology at the University of British Columbia. When he stopped, he had no idea we were Canadian. He must have felt compassion for us and the situation we were facing.
Paul Piff, a Berkeley psychologist involved in many of these studies, speculates that wealth provides a greater sense of freedom and independence from others. Those who rely less on other people are going to care less about their feelings. For the same reason, the poor people are better at reading other's emotions than the rich.
The fourth and final question must be, why would Jason Kenney and the UCP claim that Alberta must first be prosperous before it can be compassionate and caring when the statement is so preposterously false? Perhaps the relative wealth of those to whom they're trying to appeal may be a clue.