June 27, 2009
Brits Melt Down over Naughty MPsBy Christopher Chantrill
In these latter days parents no longer talk about children having tantrums. They talk about meltdowns, as in nuclear plants. In my day, of course, children didn't indulge in nuclear explosions. I still remember the shock of reading The Secret Garden and the tantrums of its spoiled rich-bitch heroine, Mary Lennox. No kid that I knew got to have tantrums. It was telling, of course, that the young Yorkshire lad, Dickon, Mary's lower-class guide to the secrets of nature and gardening, did not have tantrums.
Well, Britain is different now, for Brits of every age and class are having a collective meltdown over the shocking publication of the expenses claimed by their Members of Parliament.
As in all advanced countries, the British disapprove of highly-paid legislators, so the MPs long ago decided to top up their taxable incomes with tax-free allowances to compensate themselves for the agonizing expense of the second homes essential to the legislative life.
Last week the MPs published the details of their lordly expenses, but decided to redact the prurient details. What a mistake! Surely they should have known that there is nothing a journalist enjoys more than publishing a redacted document that has all the naughty bits censored out.
Don't be so surprised, says former MP Matthew Parris. "MPs are all on the same side. They behave as an interest group, just like any other interest group. They defend their own interests." In other words, their snouts are in the trough, just like the voters.
Parris well remembers holding weekly "surgeries" listening to constituents and their problems. The parade was endless. Everyone wanted something from the government:
What a surprise! You mean to say that when the government hands stuff out for free then people line up to claim their share of the loot?
It is a little over the top for the same voters to have a meltdown when it turns out that the chaps in charge of doling out the loot are no better than the average benefits cheat. Most toddlers grow out of meltdown shortly after the Terrible Twos.
There is a way to escape this horror, these endless reruns of Snouts in the Trough. It is called limited government.
The idea is that you write a constitution and say that the government is only allowed to do a few things, as specifically enumerated in the constitution. Everything else is off limits. It works every time it is tried.
Think of all the benefits of limited government.
To start with, we could purge many social evils from our society.
All those people nosing around looking for a nice entitlement that would enable them to retire early will have to get out and get a job. This would be good because these worthy souls would actually start contributing products and services to their fellow Americans. Big businesses that are too big to fail wouldn't get to lap up trillions in government bailouts. They would just fail and have to put their executive jets up for sale. This would be good, because there are many aggressive young entrepreneurs that could really use a cut-price executive jet to expand their profitable businesses.
Limited government wouldn't just give individual and corporate welfare recipients a firm push. It would encourage the social virtues. People that wanted to improve their communities would have to get together with their fellow citizens in true collective spirit and all pull together. People that wanted to help the poor and the unfortunate would have to get together with other equally compassionate people and devise programs the help the poor using their own money rather than other peoples' money.
But the biggest benefit of all would be that our representatives could at last say No. They would be able to say to all those chiseling grifters and helpless victims: Hey, Mr. Moderate, I'd love to help you. But I can't. The government's not allowed to do stuff like that. Why don't you get together Bob Boniface over at the Anytown Benevolent and Protective Association and see if you folks can't work with him on this?
What a concept!