03
Mar
10

Hey, now this is a neat idea

How about slashing politicians’ personal slush funds?

Apparently some folks are a bit upset that their, uh, representatives are splashing out for “$13,455 for custom-made office furniture and $738 for an espresso machine” while province after province is tossing out pared-down “austerity” budgets.  (Those superautomatic espresso machines are nice, mind you, but I’ve yet to run into one that I’d buy for  twenty times the price of a workmanlike french press.  The grinder settings all seem to creep, and eventually you get a clogged “permanent” filter and an obscure repair.  In my experience, at least.)

Anyway.

[P]ublic outrage over the expenses, revealed in a report by Auditor-General Jacques Lapointe last month, prompted the board to convene under the gaze of television cameras on Tuesday, and, in quick succession, to pass a series of motions designed to rein in inappropriate spending.Under the new rules, expenses will be posted online and receipts will be required for postage, travel and living allowances. A $1,050 monthly allowance, without clear rules for its use, will be cancelled outright. The per diem rate for travelling politicians will also be dropped from $84 to $39, the same amount given to civil servants.

The government had earlier ended the practice of allowing departing MLAs to keep taxpayer-funded office equipment and nixed $45,000 in transition payments. It also cancelled a $2,500 annual technology fund that allowed politicians to charge the taxpayer for dozens of cameras and computers.

We’re not talking about meaningful amounts of money here.  (Well, $1050/mo is a tad bit north of two-thirds of my yearly income, but in terms of provincial budgets I imagine it’s a drop in the bucket.)  Nonetheless, I think it’s instructive that educational for politicians who call upon the people they represent to “tighten their belts” or “share their wealth” are to be willing — in fact, forced — to put their money where their mouths are and feel the effects they impose upon others by legislative fiat.  (Edit: Wow, that changed the whole meaning of the sentence; how’d I fuck that up?)

Al Gore, for example, could quit zipping around on a charter jet and start bicycling wherever he needs to go.  For the planet, you understand.  Two acquaintances of mine traveled from South Korea to Belgium by tandem recumbent bicycle, so it’s not like this would be an impossible task (ocean crossings obviously excepted, but that’s why we invented sailboats).

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