For a while there, all the news was about the swine flu and many of us suspected that it was a case of “wag the dog”. Perhaps, we were right, though experts warn us not to be too complacent yet. But, as people saw that it is not a major catastrophe right now, they turned back again towards the politicians. Anyone in the UK right now will have heard all the stories, some quite farcical, about the MP expenses.
It makes me wonder what we have across the Atlantic. Freedom of Information does not extend to Washington, but do the politicians there have a similar expense arrangement as they do here? Makes you wonder doesn’t it? Where did all our taxes go? I admit that when I file taxes, I never agree for any moneys to go into the political funds. But did our taxes go to support our congressmen and -women and senators?
We took a walk along the Wey River yesterday in Weybridge. For those who don’t know, this is a very “posh” town of the greater London area. There are some nice, big mansions along the river, many with boats moored along the river. As we walked and admired some of the views, I imagined what it would be like to live like the rich and famous. It was a very quite time of the day. Surprisingly, despite the warm weather, it was not alive with people. There was a group playing badminton in one yard, a couple of women took their boat through the locks, a group was cruising along in another boat, and some bikers were on the path. But it was not thronging. Across from the mansions was what we Americans refer to as a trailer park – a group of park homes. Usually, these homes are cheap, but in this area, I’ll bet it was expensive. Weybridge has been home to many celebrities, many of them right now are football players.
As I look at the rich people’s homes and lifestyles, I tried to compare them to the politicians. Many of these politicians are rich in their own rights, but even those who aren’t, they are making good money right now. And the expense system allows them to earn even more. There’s been considerable debate on what MP expenses should be paid out of taxpayers’ pockets, and the list of things that MPs claim for have been quite ridiculous. I’m not saying it wasn’t right or fair or even that every penny should be scrutinised, although that is what is being done right now. But, these rich people are so attuned to their lifestyle that they don’t realise that to us middle-class and working-class people, some of what they think they’re entitled to are just plain absurd. Mr. Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law is a journalist and put her two-cents in about how everything they did was above board. I’m not disputing that, but is it reasonable to expect that taxpayers pay for a maid? Even if Mr. Brown is absent-minded and couldn’t be bothered to clean up after himself and his guests, is that reason for us to pay him to get a cleaner?
I wonder how America would react to their politicians in a similar situation? I’m really curious to find out what expense allowances they have there.