Photograph by Andy Gryce via Wikimedia Commons (cc)
From London Review of Books:
Ten years ago today, the Telegraph began publishing, in daily instalments, the expense claims made by British MPs over the previous four years.
The anniversary coverage has barely mentioned that the expenses scandal occurred immediately after the financial crash. Public outrage over claims for bath plugs that cost 88p functioned as a safety valve for anger at the £850 billion spent bailing out the banks.
The widespread disgust at personally profligate MPs can only have helped arguments for austerity, which rely on the economic fallacy that a nation’s finances are like a household budget. The idea that politicians were living beyond their means at our expense made it easier for David Cameron and George Osborne to peddle the bogus notion that the state, too, was spending more than it could afford.