David Slack has a short quiz today. You have thirty seconds for this question, starting now:
"You are at Showgirls and you have a ministerial credit card in your pocket. Should you pay by the glass or get a whole bottle?"
Cue laughter. Cue ministerial apologies. Cue ministers and their apologists arguing that the sums being spend on ministerial credit card are “trivial.” Cue the ministers’ own boss being frankly unmoved and all ready to move on. “In my opinion,” says a Prime Minister frankly relaxed about his ministers’ just happening to get out the wrong card when they get to the till, “[errant ministers weren’t] attempting to rort the taxpayer but they are stupid mistakes.”
Sure, the amounts they are spending is trivial. And to be perfectly sure too, all those teary apologies are perfectly meaningless when even the senior man in charge of putting hands into your wallet intends to change nothing, to fix nothing.
After all is said and done, however apparently trivial, it's your money that they're spending on themselves, and with such little care and respect for where it comes from. What they really think is “trivial” is the idea that anyone should find it wrong, let alone questionable, that a minister who’s already being well remunerated for being on the news every night should have to put his own money into his pocket to pay for his families’ lunches, his families’ trips movies, and his trips to the South Island with his family on fishy, ahem “fisheries business.”
What the spending and the blasé reaction to it really reveals is the extent to which senior cabinet ministers feel they're entitled to your money. Frankly, that’s the whole story here in a nutshell. They’re not embarrassed at slipping their hand into your pocket to pay for their own trivial little peccadilloes, they’re only embarrassed about it when they’re caught.
These truly are the country's biggest beneficiaries. No wonder they’re all slobs.