Monday, December 15, 2014

Bill 10 Has Made People Examine Faith's Justification of Bigotry

Christopher Hitchens once said that of all the so-called virtues the most over-rated is faith. I couldn't agree more. Faith is always painted as synonymous with goodness. It is praised. It brings tears to people's eyes. When someone dies people will proclaim that that person is with God now regardless of whether that person was faithful to any religion. Faith is also used to make bigotry seem acceptable. The ruckus over Bill 10 has made many in Alberta question this "safe zone" for homophobia. It's about time.

Catholic school boards want to be able to ban Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in catholic schools, as it doesn't fit with their faith. This has given the average taxpayer the perfect opportunity to question whether public funds ought to go to a school system that uses faith to discriminate against a segment of the population.

Make no mistake, people are born homosexual. Period.

Since people are born homosexual no religion should get away with discrimination against those people. It's morally wrong. It's unethical. It's flat out disgusting. Yet the idea that it's okay as long as it's justified by faith still seems to sit well with some people. That kind of thinking needs to be fought tooth and nail.

The Government of Alberta spends $6 billion supporting school boards, in addition to the education portion of property taxes. People can choose which system their property taxes go to, but not the provincial funding. So what we have is a school system that takes public funding yet discriminates against homosexuals. This is wrong on every level. It shouldn't be happening. If you take public money you need to adhere to public standards.

If people want to have Catholic schools or other religious schools they should be allowed to have them. But if they are taking public money then they should not be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals.

But that's just the way I see it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why The Edmonton Oilers Lose Every Game

Some facts on the Edmonton Oilers that explain everything are easy to find. You don't need CORSI. No PDO required. Simple stats explain it all. So here we go:

Goals per game: 2.17 (28th)
Goals against per game: 3.37 (30th)
Power Play: 13.2% (26th)
Penalty Kill: 79.1% (20th)
Shots per game: 28.8 (24th)
Facoff wins: 49.4% (18th)

Those stats suck. But in case any of you thought that Vikor Fasth's tantrum on the bench was righteous, look at these stats:

Shots against per game: 29.2 (14th)

yet...

Victor Fasth save %: .891 (60th)
Ben Scrivens save % : .887 (62nd)

That's out of 69 goalies who have played even one game.

So they're middle of the pack in shots against, yet have the worst goal tending tandem on the entire league....by FAR.

There are other problems with the Oilers besides goal tending. But if you want to know why the Oilers keep losing EVERY game, it's goal tending. Even .900 goal tending wouldn't put them in the playoffs, but it would at least let them win one out of every 3 games.

If the Oilers want to make the playoffs next year and go far, they obviously need more than just good goal tending. But the reason they lose ALL of their games is because their goalies suck large, and freaking out on their team mates when they suck worse than any of them won't change anything.

But that's just the way I see it.


PS:
Taylor Hall, for all the talk of defensive miscues, has a -5 plus/minus, 10.7% shooting percentage, and 18 points in 24 games. On a terrible team. Ryan Nugent Hopkins has a -7, and shoots 9.9% and has 19 points in 28 games. On a terrible team. Trading either is crazy.   Most other forwards are well below -10. That's facts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bill 10 Is Jim Prentice's First Big Blunder

In the world of politics the need to be able to distinguish yourself from your competition is only matched by your need to be able to define your competition. Until Bill 10, Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives had the ability to do both to his competition, the Wildrose Party. Now he has thrown that advantage away and let Danielle Smith back in the game after it looked as though she was finished. How daft!

Make no mistake, Bill 10 is an awful, rotten, bigoted piece of legislation. Under Bill 10 a group of students can form clubs about all sorts of things, as long as it's not a gay-straight alliance. In that case the school board has the final say. And if the school board says no, then students have to get a lawyer and go to court. This somehow protects gay and lesbian students? What a bad joke.

Jim Prentice says that "rights aren't absolute". What a stupid statement from what we all thought was a smart man. Students in Alberta's schools should absolutely be free to form gay-straight alliances. Preventing this from being automatic can only have one motivation: pandering to bigots. If Jim Prentice thinks that he is going to unite the right in Alberta by throwing away the rights of a clearly discriminated against minority he is wrong. This will only allow the Wildrose to paint him as the bigot, and not allow Jim to paint them as such. Politically this is a no-win for the PCs. A total miscalculation that will cost them members, support and votes.

It is Jim Prentice's first big blunder, and it is a doozy. How foolish of him. Like many in this Province, I am disappointed in his bigoted stance. Time for second thoughts on who to vote for….


But that's just the way I see it.

Alberta Is Headed For a Tough Time

As if Jim Prentice's boneheaded attempt to pander to the worst elements of the right in Alberta with Bill 10 weren't enough (we all expect better than that crap, Jim), there is no doubt that the Saudis have declared war on both the Russians and North America  at the same time. The current drop in oil prices that will hurt the Russians even worse than the Americans is a result of OPEC flooding the market with oil. Canada, and Alberta can withstand it, but take a quick look at what the drop in the price of oil will do to the Government of Alberta's budget if it continues.

In the 2014 budget GOA based their revenue projections on oil (WTI) being $95.22/barrel. That held up pretty close until September, when oil started falling. The decent two first quarters allowed GOA to paint a rosy picture a couple of weeks ago with its second quarter update. But things are far from fine and dandy. Oil currently sits at $66.88. That's $28.34 below budget projections.

According to the 2014 budget documents, GOA's revenue sensitivity to the price of oil is plus or minus $215 million per dollar. At $28.34 that would amount to a loss of $6 billion over one fiscal year. This is what they will have to deal with for the second half of their fiscal year. If the price of oil continues to fall over the next two months you would have to expect that Jim Prentice will call an election before its too late to present a rosy financial picture to voters. Since GOA's budgeting process for 2014 was a dishonest deviation from the past practise of having an overall bottom line that includes operational spending and capital spending, we have to pull the numbers out individually. We know that the operational budget had a $2.6 billion surplus while they borrowed over $6 billion for capital spending, they had an overall budget deficit of $3.4 billion. They can't argue that.

Since revenues aren't going to meet projections in the second half of the fiscal year ending March 31, an election seems to be highly likely, but not guaranteed. What's worse is that the next budget will need to find $6 billion in cuts, $4 billion if they drain their contingency fund. That means GOA layoffs, funding promises won't be kept, post-secondary cuts, and Alberta's unemployment rate will rise, further reducing revenues. Cities like Edmonton and Calgary looking for funding for projects are going to come away empty handed. Tantrums will change nothing.

GOA's 2012 estimate for the costs to produce in the oil sands was $70-85/barrel for mining projects and $50-80 for SAGD. Either way it is safe to say that there are projects now operating at a loss. This means a slowdown in the expansion of the oil sands, something the Saudis will be happy about. This means further job losses and further reductions in GOA revenue.

This isn't going to kill us, but it's going to hurt. Bad. Get ready.

But that's just the way I see it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The 5 Lobbying Commandments

In the beginning, there was anarchy. And then humans said "let there be government". They then said "let there be revenue and expenditures" and politics was born. And from politics' rib lobbying was created. And it was good.

Then the powerful humans saw that among the multiplying masses there were some who were inadequate at lobbying. So they sent their 5 commandments, which read:

1. Thou shall not substitute regular personal meetings, phone calls, letters and social functions for shouting cheap slogans at rallies.

2. Thou shall hire a lobbyist if you want to do lobbying. Like surgery, thou shall not do-it-yourself.

3. Thou shall praise as well as complain. If thou only complaineth ye shall sow the seeds of drought.

4. Thou shall act like a grown-up. The holders of power need not pay you any heed if thou ignoreth. A photo with a politician does not maketh you important.

5. Thou shall understand budgeting restrictions. If thou shall reacheth understanding, thou shall find fairness.

And it was good.


But that's just the way I see it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

If I Were King Of The World, Part I

It's been a while since I wrote anything on this blog, and have now accumulated enough un-spouted opinions that those of you who enjoy the drivel I post on here are in for one hell of a holiday season. I'm going to start off with a new series of blogs I plan to write called "If I were King of The World". This is really just me being lazy and allowing myself to put random unconnected opinions or humorous thoughts into a single space without a cohesive theme. So if you enjoy reading that kind of shit, read on….


If I were king of the world……


1. Supermarket tabloids and reality television would be banned.
These forms of entertainment really only amount to gossip and pablum. They feed the darker parts of our nature that want to see other people torn down or shown to be ridiculous. Far from stimulating, I fully believe that their consumption makes people less intelligent and less likely to critically think.

2. Using culture or religion as an excuse to treat women or gays badly would result in jail time.
"It's cultural" is a term that makes my skin crawl when it is used to explain away bad behaviour like homophobia or treating women as second class. Our society is progressive, understands that homosexuals are born homosexual and accepts women as equal to men. Using your culture or religion as a backdrop to ignore that or fight against it should land you on the outside of our society.

3. Christmas advertisements prior to November 12 would be illegal.
Can we get through Halloween and the day we honour our veterans before launching into Christmas? I love Christmas, but it should be a holiday, not a fiscal quarter. Skipping past November 11 is disrespectful to those who have served our country.

4. You would need to pass a test in order to vote.
Can you name the last 3 Prime Ministers? Do you know the difference between fiscal policy and monetary policy? Do you know the difference between a deficit and the debt? Do you understand what GDP is? If you do, then welcome to the polling station! If #1 on this list happened I suspect more people would pass the test. Sadly, I think many would fail.

5. Cars would have a maximum speed of 115kph.
The fastest speed limit is 110kph. I'll give you the extra 5 to get out of a jam on the highway if you need it. Otherwise you should never need to go faster. Ever.

But that's just how I see it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

If Stephen Harper Is So Conservative, Then How Come......

Following the horrible events this past week, I've seen people act in somewhat predictable ways. First, there are those who act as if the actions of a mentally ill and easily manipulated person represent a real and ongoing threat to our safety. They do not. Canada is more safe now than it has ever been. Then there are those who take any opportunity to call Stephen Harper a wannabe American who wants to create Canada's version of The Patriot Act. Again, sheer nonsense, since the Liberals already did that in 2002.

So, while we know that Stephen Harper doesn't much like the scientific community (they might think that oil helps cause global warming or science might offend religious people who typically vote Tory), and doesn't like non-profits (they might be critical of funding cuts), or charities (they might take issue with foreign policy), exactly how has Stephen Harper been a "C"onservative boogeyman? How is he turning us into the USA? If he's so damned "C"onservaive, then how come:

1. How come the CRTC is still around?
Canadian content, limitations on foreign content? Refusal to recognize foreign copyright deals? This affects your version of Netflix and which version of magazines you can buy. I would agree with a "C"onservative that these are unnecessary, yet they are still here 8 years later. Why?

2. How come the CBC hasn't been sold?
Instead of cutting its funding and reducing it to a rump of what was only a rump anyway, why not sell it off? Canada is one of the most connected countries on Earth. Even in remote regions. The concept of state-run media in a democracy is troublesome anyway. Yet the CBC is still here. Why?

3. How come I can't get a 60 year mortgage?
The market is always right, right? Isn't that what "C"onservatives think? Well in Canada I can only get a 25 year mortgage. Used to be 40. Shouldn't people be allowed to take their own risks? If so, then why can't they?

4. How come I have to pay more tax as I make more?
Wasn't there supposed to be a flat tax? Doesn't progressive taxation punish achievement? Yet there are 4 tax brackets. Why?

Look, all I'm illustrating here is that the hysteria on the left and on the right has caused the silent majority in the middle to tune the loudest voices out. Canada is still a mixed economy. Canada still has silly outdated laws that protect our media market. Canada still has a Conservative government and these things are still true.

Whenever someone from the left says Canada is turning into the USA, you have to know that they are an idiot. Whenever someone from the right says that Stephen Harper is actually a conservative, you can easily see that they don't really pay attention.

Stephen Harper is only a cunning, ruthless politician in search of the maintenance of his own power. His agenda is neither conservative nor liberal. It serves Stephen Harper. Brian Mulroney had acid rain, free trade and the GST to make HUGE decisions on. Chretien had gay marriage, Iraq, the deficit and our tax system to make HUGE decisions on. Where have Harper's BIG decisions been? They don't exist. He's made the smallest changes with the biggest PR and very few of them match up with his rhetoric before he was PM. Why? It's not that he's some ideologue. You'd have to believe in something first.

But that's just how I see it.