Thursday, 2 April 2009

Pay MPs more, a lot more

One can readily empathise with the desire to lash out at MPs and their expense account indulgences right now. After all, these people were incumbent when our economy went so seriously wrong. And what more fitting sin to condemn them for than greed, even better when it is satisfied through institutionalised fiddles? Isn't this what they've all been up to, the bankers, the directors, the money managers?

Whilst the responsibility for the credit crunch car crash must in part be borne by our legislators (but even more so by our governors) there is a danger that punishing them by making them poorer makes it more likely that something like this will happen again.

Wealth dazzled our leaders. Both Brown and Blair demonstrated a deference to wealth, were almost star-struck by millionaire financiers. It was surely this that made them so easy going on the regulation of the exotic environments of these rare creatures and so unwilling to pluck their plumage.

So rather than impoverishing politicians as a class wouldn't it be better to ensure they can all comfortably afford a prosperous upper-middle class lifestyle? Just to take one accoutrement of the wealthy and one that seemed sorely missed by Tony and Cherie: the holiday home. We should pay our legislators enough for them to afford a place in the sun, one that would allow them to (almost) look a wealthy banker in the eye. (In addition, perhaps some generous patron could grant our political leaders grace-and-favour holiday chateaux to complement the various mansions and manors they currently enjoy in this country?)

We need a political class that can feel little envy for millionaires, one which regards wealth as a run-of-the-mill sort of thing. Only then will we have one that has the confidence to put the financial marketeers in their place.

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