In the MLA ex­pense scan­dal, we have met the hyp­ocrite – and he is us

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT - BY CHARLES CIRTWILL

in­stead of a nice, in­ex­pen­sive 18inch from Wal-Mart and we want your head. On a plat­ter. To­day!

First I fig­ured, well, maybe it’s the sim­ple scope of the dol­lars in­volved; few peo­ple cut $40-mil­lion cheques ev­ery day but most of us have a com­puter or a TV.

We know how much they cost and how of­ten they usu­ally have to be re­placed. We have even “made do” with some­thing not so nice as what the Jones’s have be­cause money was tight and we needed to pay for more im­por­tant things.

But then I re­al­ized it wasn’t about waste; it was about theft. Most Nova Sco­tians look at the lists trot­ted out so far and re­spond as if they have been robbed.

There have even been calls for po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

This works for me. Nova Sco­tians are OK with waste but not with theft. I don’t think we should be OK with waste, ei­ther, but I can live with the fact that the ma­jor­ity might be OK with waste as long as they feel it isn’t in­ten­tional.

But I woke up the other morn­ing with a new ques­tion in my mind. If we are so sure that we would never, ever do the things our MLAs ap­pear to have done, why do we do the same things our­selves all the time? Cer­tainly not all of us do, but enough of us do to make the MLAs look like pik­ers.

Just think about it. Think about the anger and ridicule you di­rected at your MLA or at the premier or at the speaker or at whomever.

Think about it the next time you take a sick day when you are not sick or, worse, the next time you stand around with your col­leagues and fig­ure out who is tak­ing what time off sick and who will be fill­ing in that shift for time and a half or dou­ble time.

Think about your ac­cu­sa­tions of theft the next time you check that box in your Em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance claim form that says you are will­ing and able to work, and yet you have ei­ther not looked for work at all or wouldn’t take it if it was of­fered.

Think about your fin­ger-point­ing the next time you “stamp up” your em­ploy­ees so that they qual­ify for EI and there­fore you get a wage sub­sidy and can be sure you can shut your busi­ness down for three to six months but your work­force will still be there when you can max­i­mize your prof­its at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense.

Think about “those crooks” the next time you use your gov­ern­ment fee sched­ule when bid­ding on a con­tract or sup­ply­ing a ser­vice – a fee sched­ule that likely looks a heck of a lot higher than what you charge your pri­vate sec­tor clients or what you would charge pri­vate clients if you had them.

For that mat­ter, think about your anger at the “cli­mate of en­ti­tle­ment” as you re­spond to the pro­gram re­view and bud­get con­sul­ta­tions un­der­way – as you ar­gue that any pro­gram you ben­e­fit from is es­sen­tial, or must be ex­panded, or can’t be done dif­fer­ently or more cheaply.

Yes, our MLAs have a lot to atone and ac­count for, but so do we.

Gov­ern­ment waste, like cor­po­rate waste, gen­er­ally isn’t ac­ci­den­tal.

And while we won’t get it all, we might get a lot more than we ex­pect if we all ac­cept that we too are not en­ti­tled to our en­ti­tle­ments.

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