Public Choice Theory seeks to study individuals in the model of self-seeking utility maximizers. It is an eclectic approach that can incorporate many definitions of self-interest, from the material to the psychological.
Jacqui Smith’s case fits slap bang in the material. She has claimed a plum load of money in very questionable circumstances. Her case reminds me of those benefit fraud cases where the father is supposed to be split from the mother while he is in fact living in the family home. Don’t they often end up in prison?
Of course, politics is riddled with such petty corruption across both Houses; the political process is oriented towards the betterment of its participants: it is an elite private club and we pay the membership fees.
Sadly, short of revolution, we are going to have politicians around for a few more years. As such, it makes a lot of sense to fully open up the Pandora’s box of their sordid behaviour to public scrutiny. We can then shamefully parade them across the inside pages of the tabloid press, before gently pushing them into early retirement and a lifetime of being vaguely remembered by the public as petty crooks on obscure reality TV shows.
Thanks to the iconoclastic efforts of the likes of Guido in the UK and Drudge over the pond, transparency is being forced upon politicians by this unservile new media. A simplification of political perks combined with a clear and present public statement of all external interests is essential in making their task easier. As a child who keeps getting hurt by a hot plate, in time the politicians will learn that they just can’t get away with it and will eventually stop being so naughty.