Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The entitlement culture starts here

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.


  1. Disagree with you here, PC. Every time journos figure that they can get folks riled up by investing a few hours looking through folks' publicly disclosed expense accounts for shock-horrors like $50 here and there instead of doing real journalistic work and figuring out how much bad policy costs the country (massive orders of magnitude higher), we're made worse off by the shifting of journalistic effort over to trivia and banalities.

    If only we had voters who cared half as much about policies that make them each thousands of dollars poorer as about trivial screw-ups that cost them each fractions of pennies.

    In other words, do you prefer a world where the MPs are terrified that a journo will catch them having spent $2.50 on a candy bar or a world where MPs are terrified that a journo will catch them voting for a policy that reduces GDP growth rates by a percent? All this expense crap moves us closer to the former by signalling where the journos are working.

  2. Of course, an excellent argument from the other side here:

  3. This was not a mistake. The cunt knew what he was doing and thought he wouldn't get caught. For me the worst part was his false emotional apology on the news.

    Sack the cunt.

  4. There are two points here. PC is right that it demonstrates a wider contempt for taxpayers money, but it also reflects the inability of journalists to grasp or even examine the true costs of big areas of government spending.

    Take spending on telecommunications, has a single NZ journalist ever questioned whether a state owned network would completely crowd out private investment? Have any questioned whether taxpayers should pay so millions can more cheaply and quickly access Youtube and video porn?

    No - like the tabloid simpletons so many are, they prefer the stories about little money. These are stories ALL politicians produce, and it simply makes people ready to throw out the existing lot, again, and vote in the other lot.

    The bigger picture isn't examined, the bigger question about whether people should trust people LIKE this to buy them healthcare, education and a pension scheme is what should be asked.

  5. PC is correct. This affair demonstrates the casual contempt these political welfare beneficiaries have for those who are forced to pay for them.

    Gary is correct. This was no mistake.

    There are many sales reps and the like drving around NZ everyday with company credit cards and company fuel cards and the like in their control. They each seem to be able to produce the correct card at the correct time- those that don't are committing theft-as-servant and when caught they get the ol' sackerino etc.... Why should this (insert Gary's word here) ______________ be any differnt?


    I once worked for a private company where the son of the owner was known as "little pipe". The reason was that he used to pounce on any small cost he felt unecessary. He'd fail to pay it or he'd fight a creditor about it for months. Meanwhile the company was losing money at the rate of tens of thousands or more each day. About that he did nothing. That was the "big pipe". It was a real gusher. He couldn't bring his mind to even focus on that. In the end the company failed. Total loss was some AU$26-million. That was when the big pipe stopped gushing.

    One day the really big pipe in NZ will stop gushing. I wonder whether the journalists will notice?


  6. This perks and benefits sideshow is an expression of something else.

    As more elephants appear in the room, and even start turning white, people are getting an uneasy feeling that the massive government spending of the west isn't viable.

    But at the same time they can't summon the courage to connect the spending problem to their long standing belief in socialism.

    Thus, their anger is directed at something relatively irrelevant - perks and benefits.

    You can see the same phenomenon all around the world.

    First it was the UK and Ireland, then spread to the US, NZ and AU and now it's going down big time in Greece and Germany.

    On every single occasion, the govt reacts by "freezing" government perks or salaries or numbers of beurocrats (or insert irrelevant budget item here). That always has no more than half a percentage point effect on spending...

    and then the massive spending and hilarious evasion continues.

    So, whilst I disagree with a culture like this, I think talking about it is completely missing the point and actually helping the other side.

    The anger against crazy government spending ought to be directed at the culprit at every opportunity - crazy government spending.

    Don't help the evasion by jumping in on the sideshow.

  7. I think the point PC is making is not about the perks spending per se, it's the fact that it demonstrates all politicians complete disregard for who is paying the bills in the first place. These small scandals scale up into things like free student loans, WFF, Air NZ and NZ Rail purchases, etc, because the politicians just see a big endless pot of money that they can do whatever they like with.


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