A personal gesture
And so it went on, each speaker attracting warm applause from Euro-MPs who felt warm about the fact that they were applauding. Then an Italian Christian Democrat, a gently mannered Catholic, rose with a suggestion. Why didn’t we make a personal gesture? Why didn’t each colleague contribute a single day’s attendance allowance to the relief fund?
Immediately the warmth drained from the room. Those who had been hoarsely cheering the allocation of squillions of their constituents’ money were stony at the thought of chipping in €290 of their own. (Long-standing readers of this blog will be aware that, on top of their salaries and various other perks, MEPs get paid for turning up and signing the attendance register.) The poor Italian sat down to one of the most hostile silences I can remember, and the idea was immediately dropped.
Contemplate that scene, my friends, and you will descry an elemental truth of politics—indeed, of humanity. People treat their own resources differently from other people’s. There are, as Milton Friedman observed, two kinds of money in the world: your money and my money. And, in Brussels, it’s all your money.
Indeed, Friedman went rather further.
Milton and Rose Friedman described the four ways in which people spend money: in his book, All The Trouble in The World, P J O'Rourke summarised the theory.
- You spend your own money buying something for yourself—you therefore try to get the best possible product for the best possible price.
- You spend someone else's money buying something for yourself—you still try to get the best possible product, but you are not so concerned about the price.
- You spend your own money buying something for someone else—you are deeply concerned about the price, but you are not nearly so worried about the quality of the product.
- You spend someone else's money buying something for someone else—in which case, who gives a shit?
As we proceed ever closer to the new year, this is very much worth noting and remembering; for one should always recall that it is not simply in Brussels in which everything that they are spending is our money: this holds true for Westminster too.
And the bastards in power are currently spending about £600 billion of our money every year and, as Friedman so rightly pointed out, they couldn't give a shit whether they are getting value for money: in the end, they can always extort more from us.
We must not let them, for that money represents the fruit of our labour; and—whilst they are allowed to fritter away so easily what we have had to work so hard to earn—we are mere slaves, working hard so that these politico bastards may take our pay and piss it up the fucking wall.