the king has nothing on

I had intended to remain aloof from the chatter about Prince Curly's excellent adventure in Vegas, but a couple of details leapt out of the Royal Monty story that no one else seems to have noticed, and I feel obliged to point them out.

I had intended to remain aloof from the chatter about Prince Curly’s excellent adventure in Vegas, but a couple of details leapt out of the Royal Monty story that no one else seems to have noticed, and I feel obliged to point them out. Like, $5,000 a night for a hotel room? Who does this guy think he is, Bev Oda?

Even more shocking, and this is something you would think the British press might have picked up on, in a game of strip pool the guy standing by the table with his hands over the crown jewels is the loser. What does it say about the way England is educating its upper class twits if they can’t even win at billiards?

Harry was not alone in suffering an embarrassing public exposure this past fortnight. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty surely felt a breeze when the suit of magic tax cuts he bought from some crafty economists turned out to be an illusion. They had promised him that only the wise could see how tax cuts for the already bloated rich would stimulate the economy, and not wishing to appear foolish, the minister dressed himself in that fantasy and paraded for all the people to see.

It’s not known who played the role of the child who proclaims the emperor naked in this story. I like to believe that someone in the finance department drew the minister’s attention to Nordicity of August 10, where it was revealed that gutting government services to provide the lowest corporate tax rates in the G20 is doing nothing to stimulate the economy, because instead of reinvesting, Canadian corporations are sitting on a mountain of cash.

The Toronto Star reports that Flaherty and Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada, are out on the stumps this week with a loud appeal, almost a demand, that Big Business get its bloated butt off the pile and get stimulating. Carney got out of the gate first, calling the more than $200 billion in corporate bank accounts “dead money,” and telling reporters, “If companies can’t figure out what to do with it, then they should give it to shareholders and they’ll figure it out.” Next came Flaherty with, “At a certain point, it’s not up to the government to stimulate the economy, it’s up to the private sector, and they have lots of capital.”

In a way, Flaherty is in the same soup as Prince Curly. He invited these corporations to his party and they betrayed his trust. Our two heroes might both be asking the same question this morning: “If you can’t trust a bunch of hot chicks (or in the minister’s case, Calgary School theorists) you met in a bar, who can you trust?”

And how did the prince and the minister get themselves into their various situations? They were stupid. Or to be kind, let’s say forgetful. One forgot that cellphones take pictures, while the other forgot that a corporation is concerned with its own bottom line, and not with the national economy.

Expensive tomfoolery is the prerogative of the rich. The prince blew $80K in Vegas, and who can complain, it’s his money, right? Well, OK, maybe not, but it was his to spend. And who will say it was money wasted? Any day, a video is expected to surface that will prove once and for all that His Awesomeness is a natural redhead. Flaherty gave away billions but likewise, it was his to spend. Unfortunately he got nothing in return, not even a wild night and a hot video.

Both of these stories are about stimulus. The prince indiscriminately tossed around a fortune in Vegas. The hangover is going to last a long time, but hey, it was stimulating while it lasted. Sadly for Canada, we’re saddled with a government that believes you can run an economy on the same principle.

Al Pope won the Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in B.C./Yukon in 2010 and 2002.

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