Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Disgusted...

... of Tonbridge (where I grew up and no, it's not the same as Tunbridge Wells) is what I am. Why?

Because of the number of otherwise intelligent people who seem happy to defend the corruption of our leaders. There are some thick bastards defending them too, but my impecunious Athenian friend has already fisked Never Trust A Hippy (never a truer word spoken) and so I do not need to waste my 2009 Swearword Allowance on Paulie's deeply pathetic post. Besides, I'm not sure that I would be able to keep my sanity after wading through the non-sequiturs and straw men.

But, I must admit that I am disappointed to see PDF echoing at least one of Paulie's points: this point is that, basically, if the MP does not go on the make, then he will be corrupted by private interests.
Given that the only people in parliament who aren't stupid are on the make, which situation would you prefer: the one where they shaft their allowances until their salary approaches something liveable; or the one where they actually rely on directorships, companies, think-tanks, European institutes, and other people who'll happily reward them in exchange for making public policy that serves the paymasters' interests?

Where to start? First, as I have said before, is it too much to ask that those who would seek to govern our lives are not corrupt? Because, essentially, both Paulie and PDF are asking "would you like our MPs to be corrupt this way or that way?"

I don't want them to be corrupt at all, actually. Were I an MP, I wouldn't fiddle my expenses, and I wouldn't line my pockets in return for making policy. Why?

Because I am not corrupt.

Now, I don't know what happened in the lives of Paulie and PDF that they are so unable to conceive of someone not being on the make, but it is rather sad. I feel for the both of them.

Second, I am very happy that PDF considers more than £61k to be merely "higher than you'd get for cleaning windows with your tongue", but I might venture to suggest that he is, in fact, incredibly privileged. An MP's basic salary is more than twice what I have ever earned and yet I seem to be able to resist the urge to fiddle my expenses. Who'da thunk it?

Third, there is a very basic and repulsive hypocrisy here. Unlike the rest of us, MPs have an exemption from HMRC as regards their costs. Were my employer to offer me a second home, or pay my petrol costs into work, or anything else of that sort, then I would be taxed on it as a benefit in kind: MPs have an exemption from this rule. That is hypocrisy.

If my company does not put in receipts for expenses, HMRC can prosecute. MPs tried to exempt themselves from a requirement that they make of us. That is hypocrisy.

Fourth, we employ these fuckers: were I fiddling my expenses, my boss would be justified in sacking me. He would be justified in doing so, not only because I would be costing the company money, but because I had betrayed a trust. I would have been dishonest. We employ MPs, and so why the living fuck should we put up with our employees fiddling their expenses?

You see, the sad thing about all of this is that Paulie and PDF expect our lords and masters to be on the make, one way or another.

But they expect those evil private companies to buy our MPs instead. Of course, being the libertarian that I am, I am no less hostile to that corruption than any other. But then, as someone or other said, if you give the legislators such power, the first thing that will be for sale is the legislators. Remove almost all of their power, and private companies will not want (or need) to buy their compliance.

As I have said before, there really is only one reason that I would want to thrust myself forward as a potential Parliamentary candidate: to prove that you can be in the House of Commons and not be corrupt, not be bought. I would be the most honest and passionate MP that has ever crossed the threshold of that House.

As you know, a new MP gets to make an inaugural speech. I know what mine would consist of, and Cromwell's succinct rendering of what I would like to say appears below...
"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

"Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

"Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone!

"So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!"

That Paulie and PDF believe that one would only do the job in order to enrich oneself just shows how debased our political system has become.

Our legislators have been bought, and this practice is now so routine that some people find the idea of an honest MP to be inconceivable.

How very, very sad.

UPDATE: one thing that I would like to add is that, had MPs not so blatantly abused the system, then we would not need to see their expenses. Therefore, we need to treat them like the naughty children that they are: they lied about their homework and so now we are going to check their homework, every night and in minute detail, until they have got into the habit of doing it properly.

And if they still don't do what they are supposed to do, then we shall have to spank them. With a piece of two-by-four. Embedded with rusty nails coated with lemon juice.

20 comments:

PDF said...

"I don't know what happened in the lives of Paulie and PDF that they are so unable to conceive of someone not being on the make, but it is rather sad."

I know plenty of people who aren't on the make... but I can't imagine why any of them would choose to be an MP. Generally, the people who aren't motivated by money go for jobs where you get some kind of satisfaction, like being a nurse, or a teacher, or a childminder, or a museum curator. Being an MP is about as (individually) frustrating and useless as being a management consultant; you'd have to be actively masochistic, rather than merely dedicated to public service, to choose it.

"Were my employer to offer me a second home, or pay my petrol costs into work, or anything else of that sort, then I would be taxed on it as a benefit in kind"

Not entirely: if your job compels you to spend significant amounts of work time in two places, there are quite elaborate rules that don't work out all that differently from what MPs get. At least, those outside of London.


But they expect those evil private companies to buy our MPs instead.

Note that I specifically listed quangos and the EU in my post, on the grounds that that's empirically just as likely as being bought by some private company. And probably more insidious, because it's *expected* rather than frowned upon.

and Cromwell's succinct rendering of what I would like to say

For all his necessity in destroying the power of the monarchy, OC remains the ruler of Britain since the Norman Conquest under whom I'd've least liked to live. This isn't just an irrelevant aside - corruption, like democracy, is suboptimal but a far better option than someone who's in it for the ideology.

Gareth said...

I don't have a problem with MPs allowances. It makes sense that those who incur extra cost from being an MP in a far away constituency are assisted in some way.

I do have a problem with MPs making every effort to cover up the extent of those allowances. Literally, if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear. No claims without receipts is a simple enough policy, even for MPs.

The issue is not the cost, it is the abuse and the coverup.

It comes to something when the Speaker's office spends thousands of our money appealing a perfectly reasonable matter persued under legislation passed in his house. Further someone allowed evidence to be destroyed. Further, the administrators of the allowances system admitted previously they do not make the list of acceptable claims available to MPs because they know most will simply start submitting the maximum claims allowed. It comes to something when the family Balls can get away with claiming their London home as a second home (and hence get the mortgage and furnishings paid for by us) despite it being the family home.

The system is ripe for abuse. What is to stop an MP getting a second home allowance for some rundown shithole which we then foot the bill for renovating and they then pocket a hefty profit on?

It cannot continue if trust is to be restored in MPs. They have already had too much power taken from them by the EU and quangos. Either they start earning their money or they should not get so much.

Mac the Knife said...

"I would be the most honest and passionate MP that has ever crossed the threshold of that House."

After me possibly. I'll go you one better. I'd be a ruthless scourge on anyone I found fiddling.

I've been the victim of other people working the system, and it enrages me.

The thought of individuals subverting the national legislature for their own profit and self-aggrandisement brings me to the point of homicide...

Roger Thornhill said...
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DavidNcl said...

Believing in honest uncorrectable politicians is a bit like believing in objective journalism it's more an act of faith than a reflection of reality.

I would much prefer it if MP's received no salary, allowances or expense of any kind.

They should fund them selves by some other means perhaps by unions or guild, professionals, societies, charities that they're from or the sectional interests they represent. A market in power and influence if you will.

This is what we have now of course but it's an underground market or black-market distorted by state subsidy.

This would have the net effect of making us much more cagey about giving them any legitimacy unless they could pretty much demonstrate they where as pure as the driven snow.

So, we rely on markets and reputation rather than on rules and regulations.

View from the Solent said...

"Embedded with rusty nails coated with lemon juice."
Lemon Juice? You softie wuss.

Budgie said...

Blogger PDF said..."I know plenty of people who aren't on the make... but I can't imagine why any of them would choose to be an MP. Generally, the people who aren't motivated by money go for jobs where you get some kind of satisfaction, like being a nurse, or a teacher, or a childminder, or a museum curator. Being an MP is about as (individually) frustrating and useless as being a management consultant; you'd have to be actively masochistic, rather than merely dedicated to public service, to choose it."

Do you actually believe this misty eyed, bottom clutching drivel? A leftoid dream world peopled by dedicated Stakhanovite workers toiling for the greater progress of the state under the benevolent gaze of the great leader? Pass the sick bag.

The Bloke's Cookbook said...

Hi DK,

You'll know doubt be gutted to learn that the Hogshead is up for sale. Which of the seven benighted crapholes will the chavs go to now?

pdf said...

Wow, if it's sad that I'm "unable to conceive of someone not being on the make", what the hell does that make Budgie?

The people I know who've become nurses and teachers do it because they get satisfaction beyond the crap pay, even though they could make (and indeed were making) a lot more money in other jobs. That's not some kind of ideological Socialist-Realist world, that's just What Fucking Happens.

Budgie said...

PDF - the pay for nurses and teachers (considering the conditions) is not "crap", it is above average. A few may be the idealistic Stakhanovite toilers you imagine, but most are just doing a job, some not very well.


The statists knee-jerk misty eyed adulation of nurses'n'teachers is wearing a bit thin. You may not have noticed but in Brown's recession people are more interested in their keeping a jobs than being leftoid cannon fodder.

Rob said...

"which situation would you prefer: the one where they shaft their allowances until their salary approaches something liveable; or the one where they actually rely on directorships, companies, think-tanks, European institutes, and other people who'll happily reward them in exchange for making public policy that serves the paymasters' interests?"

This is a false choice. It is entirely likely that MPs (would) do both.

Rob said...

Oh, and

"shaft their allowances until their salary approaches something liveable"

I'm sure others have pointed this out, but this is one of the most preposterous statements I have seen. £61,000, with generous allowances covering accomodation, travel and food, is not liveable? What the fuck are they on?

Basil Brown said...

I've just received a nice letter from nulabor-financing NGO Crapita, inviting me to sign a statement confirming my entitlement to a single-person discount on my council-tax. This despite my having already signed a declaration that I would inform them - immediately - should my circumstances change.

Once I've signed their chitty confirming that, no, I am not a liar on-the-make, I must buy an envelope plus a stamp then return the chitty to Crapita Central at Bromley within 21 days or they will determine that I'm guilty of unauthorised multi-occupancy.

The council could verify my continuing bacheling-status for themselves by the small amount of refuse I generate. If they bothered fucking collecting it of course.

How about competitive-tendering for MPs, with outside directorships etc. prohibited? I'll do it for 30k, two part-time staff and a book of stamps.

El Draque said...

Civil servants like myself have to have their expenses audited by their line-managers.
MPs are employed by the inhabitants of their constuency (all of them, not just the voters, certainly not just those who voted for them) so why shouldn't their accounts be looked at?
"If they've done nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear."

Wearysider said...

£60,000 no questions asked pay.
Food, Drink and Accommodation paid for.
Stupendous expenses account.
A Pension that would make most professionals weep with envy.

Yeah hard fuckin life those poor treasonous bastards live.

John B said...
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pdf said...

the pay for nurses and teachers (considering the conditions) is not "crap", it is above average.

It's not above average for people with the levels of qualification required for those jobs.

£61,000, with generous allowances covering accomodation, travel and food, is not liveable?

The allowances are irrelevant. Last year I ran up expenses of about £40k working abroad - my employer paid them, and they were rightly not counted as anything to do with my salary/reward/pay.

Salarywise, yeah, for most people it'd be nice - but if someone's actually been successful at a professional career, they should be taking home a lot more than that. I'd like MPs to be primarily taken from people who've been successful at professional careers. YMMV.

Budgie said...

PDF said: "It's not above average for people with the levels of qualification required for those jobs."

What planet are you on? You originally said "crap pay" (without qualifications), where actually even their average pay is approaching 50% better than the population's average.

The reality is you claim to know a few people who have changed jobs for (supposedly) lower pay, and are spinning this as some sort of sacrifice for the public good. And claiming it is universally applicable where it is no such thing.

Well, I know people with degrees or even masters who would dearly love the above average pay and excellent working conditions of "nurses'n'teachers".

PDF said...

What planet are you on?

I'm on a planet where 'crap pay' is relative. So someone who's just arrived from Poland and doesn't speak English and is being paid gbp5.80 an hour to shovel shit could be described as getting 'crap pay', as could someone with a maths degree and a year's PGCE conversion who's taking home gbp28k pa, compared to someone with a maths degree and a year's worth of CFA qualifications, who's take home gbp50+.

Well, I know people with degrees or even masters who would dearly love the above average pay and excellent working conditions of "nurses'n'teachers".

Hmm. Given that anyone with a degree and no criminal record is welcomed with open arms and large subsidies into the world of PGCE-ness, precisely on the grounds that it's very hard to find people with degrees willing to take the pay-cut and difficulty involved in being a teacher, I assume you're talking ignorant nonsense. Similarly, I assume the people you're talking about are reluctant to spend their time wiping up poo. Which doesn't count as 'excellent working conditions' in my book, YMMV.

John B said...
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