Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Why the MPs Expeses fiasco is bad for us ...

There is unending reports of MP's expenses anomalies in the press in the UK lately. While it is truly shocking to see claims for moat cleaning, there are a lot of problems arent being addressed and i think there are more important issues to look at:-
  • Why would one become an MP (or a minister) when the pay is only 60K? you aren't going to do it for the money because it's a lot of stress and work.
  • What other benefits are MP's geting via industry/companies? It is well known that MP's are lobbied by industry to maintain their interests, but what remuneration is happening there? It is known that remuneration id occuring but it will never be openly disclosed.
These issues combine to shift the balance away from government power - at a time when government power should be increased because of the failure of companies to regulate themselves. The motivations and timings for the 'news break' should be looked at since it's it is pretty obvious in my opinion that these expense claims have been happening not just for years, but for decades, centuries even. Look at how directors of companies use company expenses, will this ever be reported? (no!!).

The case to change the system is strong at the moment - but what changes do we need? We need honest politicians, that is the ideal. Politicians have, and probably will be, always be suspected for thier motives for getting into politics.

Do we look at the minimum changes to resolve the expenses problem? To take away as much expense privileges as possible? This would be the worst solution in my opinion as it will push MP's to seek alternative sources of remuneration (e.g. from industry/lobbyists). Either this, ... or we provide extra incentive, i.e. to raise MP's pay to circa 100k. Hopefully this would attract more talented people as well.

Do we look at the maximum changes? Well what do we want? The system seems to work ok. (Apparently) The worst financial disaster for six decades is happening now but people arent too unhappy - there are no riots, there are no other big groups forming to form an alternative solution. In my opinion, a large scale solution cannot be formulated - it must evolve.

So what changes do we make? I am in favour of devolved government, and also a diverse government. I think diversity in our MP's is the most important thing. It is becoming more and more inadequate to just vote for a party because they have some large overseeing motivation and goal (e.g. Labour, Tory), but to strike a balance between what an MP can do for their local constituency and and MP's larger goals. In my opinion the cabinet should be voted for by the people, and cabinet ministers should run for their positions in an election.

This would be true democracy - for a while.

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