The seeds of greed

fist-of-money“L’état, c’est moi,” Louis XIV, in a moment of grandeur candour.

There’s a good reason why professional athletes are generally only signed for a few years and why we have elections fairly frequently. Once our sports stars and politicos find themselves in a position of privilege, the initial enthusiasm seems to wear off and a sense of entitlement kicks in. People given these power roles start seeing their jobs as secondary to their own comfort, and often secondary to their own greed.

We’re seeing senators quiver with rage after being asked to explain their criminal plundering of the public purse with totally fraudulent expense claims (you and I would be charged and put away by now).We’re seeing the “bishop of bling” in Germany suspended for spending 42 million euros on home renovations in his small diocese, and we’re seeing the Pan Am games head honcho in Toronto earning over $477,000 per year yet still expensing a $0.91 parking violation fee.

We don’t mind when Kanye West spends $3 million on Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring because he earned his money from customers who bought his music. But when politicians and unelected officials play fast and loose with our tax dollars, confiscated by legal force, we as citizens are rightfully upset.

The senate shenanigans are really quite small potatoes in the scheme of things but they highlight the sad fact that when money’s sent to Ottawa it appears to be sinking into a black hole. We know that government costs money, and I have no problem with services delivered, but has anyone done a cost-benefit analysis of the senate? There exist 105 of these souls in the upper chamber and we’ve yet to see what we get from them for their annual $132,000 salary plus giant expense claims.

On a local level, the City of Kamloops apparently has hundreds of people earning more than $100,000 per year while Thompson Rivers University administrators have been endowing themselves with spectacular raises and malignant growth in their departments. Students are right to claim their higher tuition results in more administration rather than improved teaching.

Public service is now highly lucrative in pay and perks. The City of Detroit owes creditors $18 billion with little hope of paying it back, while the obligations to the city’s 46 different (yes, 46) union pensions will certainly lose big as well. The only saving grace for them is their federal government, which borrows 46 per cent of what it spends, will come to the rescue. Few of us run our households in such a reckless fashion or we’d all be downsizing in a hurry once the stuff hit the fan. The Three Stooges look wise and sagacious compared to these guys.

Big government doesn’t have this problem. In the U.S., the government simply prints more bonds, buys them themselves and calls it quantitative easing, or raising the debt ceiling and carries on until the next obviously foreseeable, and by now laughably inevitable, “crisis.”

So what happens now? We amp up a push to increase voter turnout, trying to turn the tide of the voter apathy that’s come from not being able to tell what they’re really doing in the first place for the piles of money they spend.

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