"Pourquoi?" I hear you ask, surprisingly using French to elicit more information from me...
The answer to that question lies, of course in my upbringing and the nature of the values which were instilled into me by my parents and other significant people who were present in my life while I was forming my opinions and perspectives upon the world and life in general. That was not the end of it, however; my extensive professional experience in the field of law enforcement taught me - rather frustratingly - that liars, cheats, and bad people in general often get away with their habitual behaviour while those people who are generally honest and law-abiding, when they have made a mistake, judgement error or have simply for some reason done something very wrong, get absolutely and disproportionately crushed by the system when they own up and take responsibility for what they have done. Those who have been doing wrong for a long time and as a result have perfected their technique for playing the system, tend to come off relatively unscathed.
It's intensely frustrating. As an example, during my time as police officer I had many dealings with drunk drivers, a fair proportion of whom were not first time offenders. They were typically surly, obstructive, offensive (if not downright violent) and bitter about having been caught. Again, typically, they would hire the most slimy and oily of lawyers who would without compunction tell bare-faced lies in open court, and perform the kind of logical gymnastics which tended to befuddle well-meaning yet strangely aloof magistrates. As a result, the sentences very rarely fitted their crime.
One day, having arrested a drunk driver and processed him through the evidence gathering protocol, the middle aged prisoner, who had been very quiet and reserved throughout the process, turned to me. I was right at the point of letting him out of the door of the police station after releasing him on bail to a court date. "Listen" he said to me "I want to thank you for the way you've treated me tonight. I've been a bloody fool but you and your colleagues have shown me nothing but respect and courtesy. It's been a humbling experience and I want you to know that I'm truly sorry to have done this awful thing." The man was in tears as he spoke, and I had no doubt at all that he was truly remorseful - his words have stayed with me for many years. Despite it being his his first offence and despite pleading guilty and accepting responsibility (or perhaps because of it), he was subsequently banned from driving for two years and fined an unbelievable amount. I was shocked when I heard about it. Maybe it was easier for the magistrates to be harder upon a mild mannered, contrite man than some whining piece of crap with a feeling of entitlement.
Against this background of experiences, it therefore truly aggravates my sense of fair play when, as over the past little while, I hear of a situation wherein a national level politician, entrusted (among other things) with the enormous responsibility of law making and monitoring their application, begins to wriggle and squirm when his expense claims come under scrutiny. Along with a number of his colleagues, this man is being investigated for claiming expenses for a second home (since he ostensibly lives in the area he represents) near the seat of government. It transpires that the so-called 'home' in his constituency amounts to little more than a holiday cottage, and is NOT his residence at all. He has been therefore fraudulently claiming expenses for living at his REAL home in the nation's capital. He's a crook, plain and simple, but because he is a politician and despite this all being played out in public, the wiggle room he is being given is astounding.
The gutless press refuse to call him what he is, while he continues to make statements that the whole issue is, at turns; a misunderstanding, a mistake, the fault of unclear expense guidelines (funny how the vast majority of his colleagues manage to understand them though) and finally, a 'significant distraction'. The arrogance in the face of being caught with his hand in the till (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, by the way) is simply staggering - and in public too! He has now stated that he will repay the expenses he has been claiming, which will, in his opinion, remove the need for a proper audit!!!!! It's hard to believe, but it's being said in public, which I think, is a clear indication of how such matters are routinely hidden from the public before they hit the papers.
I wouldn't be surprised if he gets away with his frankly pathetic and insulting excuses. The fact that he does not live in his constituency (a requirement of the office he holds) is being quietly pushed under the rug. Democracy takes another kick to the groin, I fear.
This lack of honesty and integrity is a principle which runs throughout politics and around the world. In Great Britain only within the last couple of years, a number of members of parliament have been publicly caught committing fraud, and have thankfully been before criminal courts as a result. A great many other suspects, however, managed to weedle their way out of the prospect of criminal charges (and PLEASE don't be naive enough to think that they were not guilty - they were just quicker and smarter with their excuses). In the USA (with its much vaunted and self-proclaimed, if highly disputable 'father of democracy' status), political lobbying - in other words, paying for representatives and representation in government - is openly condoned and allowed to continue despite scandals in the last ten years surrounding the practice. How CAN this be lawful? Elected people do not, and have not for many years, voted on the big issues according to their consciences, or, indeed, the wishes of their constituents. Elected politicians rarely act with integrity - their prime motivation seems to be, consistently, self-preservation and continuity within positions of power. I find it sickening,
We have unfortunately placed power into the hands of people who, while maybe starting out with good intentions, seem, as their political careers progress, increasingly intent only upon serving their own interests and perpetuating those very same careers. Politics should be entirely divorced from money - all politicians should, in my view, be paid a fixed salary with increments for governmental responsibilities, and be subject to yearly complete audits of their financial affairs. Expenses are bound to be incurred, but being honest about expenses is NOT difficult - I've done it for many years without effort. Public office requires total accountability - we are indeed fools if we allow dishonest men and women to make our decisions at any governmental level. Public office without accountability is madness. Trusting politicians (who, let's face it, routinely lie or manipulate the truth to their own ends, in public) to spend public money on themselves without a completely transparent monitoring system is utter madness, and reckless.
There is another way: devolve the power... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy
The honest, ethical and principled politician, after all, has absolutely nothing to fear from accountability.
It's time for the honest politicians (regardless of whether or not I agree with their ideology) to rise to the top.