The good news about MPs' expenses


altThere are two silver linings to the cloud about the bogus and outrageous expenses claimed by Members of Parliament. The first is that we now find it easier to convince people that "they're all in it for themselves." Recent disclosures have made this so patently obvious that heads nod without dissent. This is especially true when we put a gloss on this selfishness by calling it "Public Choice" theory.

The second good aspect is that it undermines the moral authority previously claimed by law-makers. Sheltering under the cloak of the public interest, they passed their absurd and restrictive laws to confine our lives, while claiming to be the custodians of public virtue. A few weeks ago we saw self-righteous MPs castigating bankers for their 'greed,' but we now know that their own hands were assiduously pilfering the public purse at the time.

If we want to stop the tide of petty legislation that interferes in our lives, it helps if the would-be legislators are devalued currency. Law-makers have claimed moral authority to impose choices on us that we can and should make for ourselves. Now this is stripped away, and if people have no respect for the law-makers, they might have no respect for their claim to direct our own lives better than we can direct them ourselves. It sits ill to see people passing laws which claim to improve our behaviour when we know that they themselves looted taxpayer funds to support non-existent mortgages.

We always knew they had double standards and were entirely hypocritical in their claim to moral authority over us. Now everyone knows it. Yes, it has undermined the authority of Parliament, and yes, this is a very good thing.