The Royal ‘we’

A new book, and some new knowledge! In this case, why a monarch will use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ when referring to themselves.

Since mediaeval times, the King had been seen as two bodies in one: a mortal entity and “the King’s person,” representing unending royal authority; monarchs therefore referred to themselves in the plural form as “we.”

Alison Weir, Henry VIII: The King and His Court, 2001

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Sarah Palin, the science wannabe

Sarah Palin ripped into Bill Nye Thursday at a Washington event for a film to discredit climate scientists. According to The Hill, she claims he has no authority to say climate-change skeptics are wrong.

Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor; he’s not a scientist1.

The only reason I can think she singled him out is that he’s one of the most recognizable science popularizers right now. He simplifies the science for the regular joe. If she was as much a scientist as he is, she wouldn’t be attacking him at all. She’s be going after the climate scientists directly. But she’s not.

Let’s take an abbreviated look at her claim. To simplify things, compare their education and first jobs:

Bill Nye earned a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, after which he worked at Boeing where he developed a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor for the Boeing 7472.

Sarah Palin earned a bachelor’s degree in communications after attending five universities, after which she worked as a sportscaster for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage and as a sports reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman3.

So who will you believe when they talk science?

  1. Timothy Cama, The Hill, “Palin: Bill Nye ‘as much a scientist as I am’,” April 14, 2009
  2. Wikipedia, Bill Nye, retrieved April 15, 2006
  3. Wikipedia, Sarah Palin, retrieved April 15, 2016
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Ignoring the real problem

The new Liberal government has issued their first budget. Despite their promise to spend us back to growth by indulging in a modest $10 billion deficit, the budget includes a $30 billion deficit.1 The prime minister has stated that this is the time to spend because of the ridiculously low interest rates. Unfortunately, the budget is missing any reference or plan about when or how federal government spending will come back into balance.

What bothers me about this, beyond how the promised deficit has tripled between the election and the budget, is how there’s no reference anywhere to debt. If a low interest rate allows the government to spend more than it has, they have to pay the money back before the rate goes up to avoid fiscal damage. To stop spending more than they have isn’t enough!

Imagine they’re going to incur a $30 billion deficit this year and balance the budget next year and stay balanced until doomsday. In this situation, that $30 billion debt is never paid back and we pay interest in it every year. When the interest rate goes back up, the interest we pay every year also increases and our tax money buys less.

The problem is that our federal debt will not be $30 billion. It’s currently in the neighbourhood is $616 billion.2 I have no idea what interest rate the government pays on its debt, but the current prime rate is 2.70%. If this is the rate the government pays, they owe nearly $17 billion dollars just for servicing the debt. Before the government spends a penny, $17 billion comes off the top simply because they’re carrying more than half a trillion dollars of debt. While $17 billion is a tidy sum, most people will claim it’s not a huge amount, but like the warnings the government has been making to Canadian borrowers, what happens when interest rates finally go up?

Every government for decades has pretending that a balanced budget brings things back to equilibrium. The Liberals want you to think that when they get spending back into balance, everything is wonderful. Clearly, this is not the case. They want you to forget about the $616 billion. Even worse is that by the next election, the continuing deficit spending will add another $113 billion to the federal debt.3

I can’t ignore it so easily, and their failure to even once say the word makes me increasingly uncomfortable.

  1. CBC News, “Federal budget 2016: Highlights of Bill Morneau’s first budget,” CBC News, March 23 2016
  2. DebtClock,
  3. CBC News, “Federal budget 2016: Highlights of Bill Morneau’s first budget,” CBC News, March 23 2016
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Beware the scammers!

I just received a call from the 613 area code. I didn’t recognize the number so I let it go to voicemail. It was a message from the  Canada Revenue Agency asking for a call back from me or my lawyer. So I called! The guy just overwhelmed me with information, like his name, telling me that he was an officer with the CRA, his badge number (which almost made me laugh), and then all kinds of other stuff, none of which I can recall. He finally asked for my name. I asked what this was about. He said that once I gave my name, he’d pull up my file and we could get into it.

Given that I’ve never once had the Canada Revenue Agency call me to inform me of an issue, I told the guy that I was not comfortable giving him any information. The CRA always sends mail, whether postal mail or through their online service if you’ve signed up for online communications, so I was hesitant. He told me that I should have my attorney call him and he hung up.

Of course it wasn’t the Canada Revenue Agency. In fact, the CRA web site has a Fraud page, and among the examples of telephone fraud they provide, the first is the same person who called me! The script has different details but it’s definitely the same guy.

Think twice before you even give out your name over the telephone. Just because someone calls you doesn’t mean they know your personal information. Don’t help them gather information about you!

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I’m shocked!

The other day, I have a dim recollection of hearing the President of the United States delivering a line from Casablanca, and then having a talking head explain it all. Of course it was a dream right?

Later the same evening, I came across the source of what seemed like a dream, but wasn’t. Obama was giving a speech to the Democratic National Committee in which he offered his thoughts on Donald Trump.

How can you be shocked? This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya — who just wouldn’t let it go. And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot, wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.1

It’s the last sentence. It echoes the scene from the film in which Captain Renault is closing Rick’s Cafe on the orders of German Major Strasser. Since he has no reason to do this, he makes one up.

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

Captain Renault: [aloud] Everybody out at once!2

That is one of my favourite lines from the film and I have used it in conversation. It was especially timely as I just watched Casablanca again recently with Julie, because she had never seen it before. We certainly had to fix that! Then a couple of weeks later, this!

I find it curious that the television news report felt the need to explain it while the Washington Post article did not.

  1. Nora Chokshi, “Obama’s brutal assessment of the rise of Donald Trump: He’s ‘selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network’” from The Washington Post (as reprinted in The National Post), March 12, 2016.
  2. Casablanca,” The Internet Movie Database, retrieved March 15, 2016.
Posted in movies, news, politics, quotes | Leave a comment