Friday, June 11, 2010

Expenses

I've always believed deep down, that any MP - or at least any MP who makes it to their second term - has to be a bastard. To paraphrase South Park, every election is between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, because they're the only ones who make it that far.

So I don't particularly begrudge the Herald their big story here, especially considering I've bagged them for not making a deal of MP expenses in the past. If anything, it's taken too long, and it's a black mark against the media that John Key had to willingly release the data himself.

The 'seven deadly sins' metaphor might be pushing it - Len Brown is 'envy' because he's admitted another personal purchase on his card, apparently because he felt left behind by the Labour caucus.

Some of the focus on Shane Jones is a bit prurient. I understand that he's not going to be Mr Popular among the female members of the caucus, and that perhaps it is worse that he watched porn rather than, say, romantic comedies, simply because a large number of taxpayers are opposed to pornography. (Although I would hope that plenty are also opposed to romcoms.) But this?

"...a pizza called Prawnographic...". Nice one.

The trouble is, of course, that the rightful damning of wankers rorting the system is that it conflates quite different things:

I assume that the inclusion of Helen Clark on the list is a joke, although you can never tell with the Herald. Michael Cullen is on the list for spending money on a fancy dinner - but, as the Dim-Post pointed out, that dinner was while he was Minister of Finance, and it was with the Australian Treasurer, and it's hard to argue that that's not some sort of government business. It hardly compares to taxpayer money being used by MPs as petty cash.

The final point is that, without defending the MPs accused here, there is another difference between some representatives and others. In 'the old days', MPs weren't paid, as it was considered a public service (not to mention that working for a wage was considered vulgar). This was one reason, of course, that working class people didn't become MPs - they couldn't afford to. Nowadays they are very well-paid, but a divide still exists. Of course John Key doesn't need to charge things to a ministerial credit card: he has $50 million. This is one reason why it's not a good idea, as the Herald was slyly suggesting yesterday, to scrap these cards and expenses altogether. The problem isn't that MPs can bill (as can so many private sector employees) for work expenses; it's that they clearly don't know, or refuse to acknowledge, what is business and what isn't.

4 comments:

  1. My favourite is the picture of Parakura Horomia with GLUTTONY emblazoned over the top. Well there's a fucking shock.

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  2. I'm getting really fed up with this "MP expenses" non-story from all the media, not just the Herald. They're just driven by envy of the British media, which had a real scandal to deal with. Call me back when our MPs have spent tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars each...

    Seriously, a couple of hundred bucks on pizzas or porn films? That's not corruption. Corruption is spending millions of dollars on giving the waste disposal contract to a company run by your son-in-law. Let the media pursue those stories, instead of this tedious trivia.

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