We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Ideological overlap

Meanwhile, in the Strasbourg Village, it is being called a “huge scandal”, but Der Spiegel describes this huge scandal somewhat strangely:

The economic crisis has hit countless retirement funds, including that of members of the European parliament. They may take the controversial step this week to use taxpayers’ money to top up the pension fund.

I am sure that Der Spiegel did not mean to suggest that this will be the first splurge of taxpayers’ money ever to arrive in this pension fund. But, they rather do, don’t they? My guess is that the original pension fund is a pretty big scandal to start with.

And indeed it is:

The scheme was already in disrepute because MEPs’ contributions are taken automatically from their office expense allowance of €4,202 (£3,700) a month rather than their salary. MEPs are supposed to reimburse this account but there are no checks and it is accepted widely that many do not repay the money, potentially making the pension an entirely taxpayer-funded perk.

That was from the Times, last Friday. The same piece goes on:

Senior MEPs are proposing several changes to the second pension to reduce the deficit, such as increasing the retirement age from 60 to 63 and stopping early retirement at 50. But these are likely to be blocked after the fund chairman, the Conservative former MEP Richard Balfe – who now acts as David Cameron’s envoy to the trade unions – warned that such moves were “not permissible under European law”, in effect leaving the taxpayer with the entire bill.

So, who is this Richard Balfe? There’s been no mention of him here until now. It seems that in 2002 he stopped being a Labour MEP, in disgust, after having a fight with some other Labour people, and became a Conservative MEP instead.

Further googling got me to this Balfe-ism:

“You have got a situation now where the Conservative and Labour parties have overlapped so significantly that the ideological collapse of both parties must be mirrored in a new relationship with the unions, just as it is mirrored in a new relationship with business.”

Well, that is one way of looking at things. Balfe didn’t change. There is just so much ideological overlap between the big parties these days that Balfe could switch parties without himself moving his position. Another way of looking at it is to say that Balfe was a member of the politicians party, and that his allegiances are unchanged.

7 comments to Ideological overlap

  • Ian B

    I have this embarrassing problem in conversation that whenever I try to say “trough snouter”, I always end up saying either “snuff trouter” or “trout sniffer”.

  • There are no “parties”. There is just one big political class, complete with a full set of emblems, trappings and rituals.

  • permanentexpat

    I have this embarrassing problem in conversation that whenever I try to say “trough snouter”, I always end up saying either “snuff trouter” or “trout sniffer”.

    Whatever, you’re being far, far too polite 8-))

  • Nuke Gray!

    Why don’t the taxpayers just stop paying taxes? That would solve the problem!

  • Johnathan

    It is a major issue in most developed economies; in the US, here and elsewhere, public sector pension schemes are in deficit. By a savage irony, taxpayers, many of whom have seen their portfolios hammered by things such as Gordon Brown’s own tax changes, are now paying for the inflation-proof pensions of what Ian B likes to call the “proggy” classes.

    This is one of the big class divides that you won’t read about in the Guardian or in the conventional analyses of class. But it is the division that is now the one that matters.

  • “The scheme was already in disrepute because MEPs’ contributions are taken automatically from their office expense allowance of €4,202 (£3,700) a month rather than their salary. MEPs are supposed to reimburse this account but there are no checks and it is accepted widely that many do not repay the money, potentially making the pension an entirely taxpayer-funded perk.”

    Even if the pension money is taken from their salary, it is STILL taxpayer funded! Who pays the salary, eh?

  • Paul Marks

    “Why do the taxpayers not stop paying taxes”.

    Because the government will send you to prison.

    Contrary to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, taxes are not “voluntary” (they would not be taxes if they were voluntary).

    Nor are they voluntary in Britain.

    For example, I hate the B.B.C. – but I pay the television tax.

    “Why do I do that”.

    Of course the point could be “if all the taxpayers got together…..”.

    But that sort of mass action (a tax strike) does not tend to work.

    For example the biggest one I know of was in Chicago back in the early 1930′s – it was defeated.

    “Vote the bad guys out”.

    Even where that it is possible (unlike Chicago where the dead have been voting in the Democrats for the last 78 years), the “bad guys” tend to dominate all the big political parties.

    For example, the people who voted Conservative in 1992 did not want a government that “spend more than Labour promised to spend” – but that is what they got.

    And the people who voted to stop Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004 got Bush – a wild spending useless President.

    Voting out the wild spending Republican Congress in 2006 meant voting in the far worse wild spending Democrat Congress.

    And voting against the RINO John McCain – meant letting in Barack Obama.

    The most extreme person ever to be President of the United States.

    Not “another Carter” or “another Clinton” or “another Blair”.

    Barack Obama has been indoctrinated from his most early years in the most extreme forms of collectivism.

    He is the end of the road.

    So we turn to the petty corruption of politicians pension scams.

    I can not really attack doing that – as the reality we face is so terrible that to face it squarely (at least to do so all the time) must lead to mental breakdown.