Monday, May 18, 2009

At Enormous Expense

I seem to be one of the few people who sees the current outcry against Members of Parliament as just another case of what Thomas Macauley termed the ridiculous sight of 'the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality'.

The proposition that these particular culprits are untypical of the rest of our society at work and play is the most nauseating nonsense. How many of us, for instance, would turn down an offer of workmanship done well, efficiently, cheaply, quickly, paid for cash-in-hand, no questions asked, at known expense to the public purse through non-declaration and thus non-payment of Income Tax and, probably, VAT? This is cheating - just as much as wrongly claiming state benefits. But I do not know anyone who hasn't done it and wouldn't do it - even my friend who happens to be a retired police officer.

Who wouldn't, in claiming expenses from an employer or estimating expenses to set against their earnings for tax purposes, give themselves the benefit of the doubt, generously if permitted?

Church spokesmen, unable to resist, have of course jumped on the bandwagon of moral condemnation. Like most others they have forgotten how easily and unhealthily we project our shortcomings onto others and make scapegoats of easily definable groups. Worst of all they have forgotten their own scriptures which warn against human greed, against casting stones at other sinners, against moral sadism in all its forms.

Let's hope that there are not individuals and groups with malicious intent waiting in the wings to exploit for their own nefarious ends our collective, sanctimonious indignation.

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