26 de mayo de 2009

Otro golpe al contribuyente

En esta ocasión, es al British taxpayer.

Anne Applebaum columnista del Washington Post y Slate.com explica los orígenes del mayor escándalo político en el Reino Unido en muchos años (para algunos, en siglos) y sus implicaciones para el régimen político de ese (maravilloso) país. En mi opinión, sus lecciones son de aplicación general.

Aquí el vínculo a su editorial (via Slate, aunque hoy también lo publica el Washington Post).

Aquí los párrafos más relevantes:


LONDON—Drip, drip, drip: The never-ending stream of revelations was compared by one British Member of Parliament to "torture"—water-boarding?—and rightly so. One day, it emerges that a senior Member of Parliament has charged British taxpayers more than 2,000 pounds for the cleaning of the moat on his 13th-century estate. A few days later, another MP is revealed to have charged 1,645 pounds for a floating duck house. On almost every day over the past two weeks, in fact, the British press has published accounts of the ginger cookies, the stainless-steel dog bowls, the swimming pool heaters, the spousal iPhones, and the 119-pound trouser press that British legislators charged to the government...

...There is a degree of unfairness about this scandal: With the exception of a handful of real cheaters and tax dodgers, most of the MPs were operating within a legal system; according to parliamentary rules, they were allowed to claim for the expenses of maintaining a second home, either in London or in their constituency. But only a degree. After all, the reimbursement system was set up and run by the MPs themselves, under the aegis of soon-to-be-retired yet apparently unrepentant Michael Martin, the first speaker of the House of Commons to be forced out of office since 1695...

... Why did some members of the world's oldest legislative body feel they were entitled to ask the taxpayers to pay for their scatter cushions and their swimming pool maintenance? Though some retained a sense of propriety, most did not. Why not? The explanation seems to me to lie in the declining prestige of the House of Commons and the rise of the outsize bonus culture in the London financial district down the road...

... As a result, British MPs came down with a bad case of what columnist David Brooks has called "status-income disequilibrium," a disease whose sufferers hold badly paying but prestigious jobs, jobs that require them to "lunch on an expense account at The Palm, but dine at home on macaroni"—or, in British terms, to "go home every night to beans on toast"...

... Or they may simply reveal new depths of voter apathy. If the declining prestige of Parliament is a part of the source of this scandal, a far more dramatic decline in the prestige of Parliament will be the result. That feeling, so palpable in London, and in New York, and in Washington—that "I'm clever; I work hard; so I deserve to be richer, even at someone else's expense"—helped bring down Lehman Bros., helped create the Madoff pyramid, and has now damaged the ancient House of Commons. Which venerable institution is going to fall next?


Aquí una caricatura del tema (la publicó hoy el diario The Times):



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