Playing the System

12/05/09 | Posted by Poppy

I've realised I've been doing it all wrong. I spent ages last Janaury surfing the net and then trudging around the sales looking for a new fridge. What I should have done is gone into politics as a career, and the claimed the money for my new fridge on expenses. I could have got a nice shiney new one rather than one with a dent in the side that was going cheap!

image
 MP’s expenses?

I’ve been watching the news and wondering what on earth is going on. When I was a salesperson selling books out on the road I used to claim for expenses for petrol, parking tickets and the like. It was a pain having to remember to get receipts and then someone would go over them with a fine tooth comb. They used to get really picky and as I am a very honest soul I would have to admit that I got hopelessly lost trying to find one customer and that was why the mileage was off that month. Oh the shame….

But MPs are claiming for all sorts, for maintenance of the swimming pools and second homes, and cleaners and housekeepers and keeping up a lifestyle that seems excessive in these recessionary times.

What really made my brain hurt was an explanation of tax law by an expert on the BBC breakfast news programme yesterday. Apparently, claiming for second homes and all the business with captial gains tax and designating different properties as second homes is legal. The question that popped into my head was should you do something that is legal even though it doesn’t seem right? It has taken me a day to think about this and I don’t know if I have the answer.

Jesus had some very hard words for a group of people called the Pharisees who bear a similarity to some of our modern day Members of Parliament in their love of the law. The Pharisees obeyed the law to the letter as they believed that this was the way to be a good person. And it wasn’t just the ten commandments that they had to follow.  Amoungst other things it meant working out who was clean and who wasn’t and when you had worked that out you avoided them to stay in God’s good book. Jesus upset the Pharisees as he mixed with those who were desinated as unclean under the law; lepers, taxcollectors and fishermen. In the story of the good Samaritian one of the reasons the priest passes the wounded man in the road is that if he stopped to help he would have to go through a long process of making himself ritually clean again afterwards. People who heard the story at the time would have understood it and would have been very surprised that the Samartain, a person from an unclean and marginalisd group, would have helped a wounded Jewish man.

If you think about it then the Pharisees have the right intention. They want to be closer to God and that seems to be a really good motivation for one’s actions. But the end result of following the letter of the law is that they become distant and do not show love to their fellow man. It became very easy to become obsessed with actions and doing the right thing.  Maybe it is the underlying selfeshness that I see in MP’s behaviour that upsets me. These are people who are meant to be legistlating for the common good but the result of their actions, as they squeeze the last penny out of their allowances and expenses, is a focus on self. My expenses, my possessions, my home, my legal right to do this.  Not others but me. Should I trust them to make good decisions about laws affecting society and those who don’t have a voice?

Maybe I’m being naive in expecting public figures to keep their noses out of the trough, particularily as it is legal and everyone seems to do it.  Maybe the the temptation is too great to resist.

But looking at the life of Jesus throws the actions of some of the MPs in sharp relief. It may be legal but is it right if it leads to behaviour that has been condemed is so many newpapers, newsreports, commentaries and blogs? Jesus showed a new way of living; of loving your God and your neighbour. That leads to acts which are about service and care and treating people equally and fighting injustice and poverty and inequality. That is a better way surely?

The modules on the right are about lives influences by Jesus. Why not read and tell us what you think.

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HI Poppy - i am currently doing volunteer work in a country renowned for its governmental corruption.  For a year we have been saying to our staff no -  we do not pay bribes , we will not be part of the system - there is a better way - your politicians must learn that people are willing to make a stand.  I have half my parcels and letters not arriving because I refuse to bribe the postman as its a government controlled agency!  Now what can I tell them?  That actually the people who run a developed 1st word country (to which they are aspiring!) are no different than those who run a 3rd world developing country.  They are all equally selfish.  I hope that when all this is over though and investigations have been done they do find that some took a stand and have done the right thing - if so I will vote for them!

#1. By Sandie on May 24, 2009

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