As if the outrageous expense claims were not enough, what the Telegraph calls "begging letters" from parliamentarians whose expenses were rejected expose the grip the entitlement mentality has on many politicians.
One Labour MP appealed a ruling against him this way: "From a natural justice perspective I feel a justifiable exception would be the fairest manner to deal with the current situation." He wanted a 3,100-pound reimbursement for a 40-inch Sony TV.
Here's another: "I object to your decision not to reimburse me for the costs of purchasing a baby's cot for use in my London home. ... Perhaps you might write to me explaining where my son should sleep next time he visits me in London?" And another: "I would be very grateful if (the expenses) could be paid in the last round of the year on Friday. Otherwise, I might be in line for a divorce!"
Like relatives who overstay their welcome at holiday time, consuming food and drink and soiling your home, politicians in Britain and America come to believe they are entitled to other people's money simply because they win an election. When the relatives leave, the owners usually give the place a good cleaning. That's what Parliament (and Congress) need to do.
The Labour Party might have handed the Conservatives a powerful issue if the conservatives had not also been feeding at the public trough. The Telegraph is following up its stories on Labor with similar reports on the Conservatives. In addition to the second home reimbursements, one Conservative, Cheryl Gillan, the shadow Welsh secretary, claimed an expense for dog food. (She at least promised to reimburse the government). David Cameron, the Conservative Party leader and potential prime minister, (he leads in the polls) apparently escaped embarrassment as his claims have been called "relatively straightforward" by the Telegraph. This might allow him to take on the role of reformer in the coming election campaign.
Conservatives should bring real change to a system that allowed one Labour member to expense the cleaning of his swimming pool. That might be defensible if the member could walk on water.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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