Monday, June 8, 2009

More Ado About Nothing

I don't know what's more deplorable. The awful journalism or the misplaced outrage of the public that reacts to such stories. First there's this continuing fallout from the UK lawmaker's so-called expense scandal that has put the hapless British PM Gordon Brown's career in severe jeopardy. I've already expressed my disgust at this storm in a teacup and want lawmakers to be paid a lot more so they can do their job better, without falling victim to petty temptations or distractions.

Now across the pond a top paper like the WSJ began orchestrating a move to require all members of the US Congress to post their expenses online. The Congressmen's expenses are already available in hard copy for anyone who is interested, but this apparently isn't enough. In three front page articles (imagine, they thought THIS was the most important news to report) the WSJ had big scoops about some members using their allowances on certain items. These included a lease of Lexus or other cars costing an average of $640 a month, 7 HD screens costing $2K each, uniform shirts costing $12K (total, not each) and so on...

You call THIS in the WSJ articles sensational or top news? The WSJ and other media drumbeat ultimately succeeded on June 4 in getting the House to agree to post all expenses online. Whoopee. I'd have liked some prominent journalists or leaders to point out how misplaced and ridiculous this whole coverage is. There's some hope. Mayor Bloomberg opined that the US President is grossly underpaid. There were predictable howls of indignation but at least one journalist Dan Thomasson supported his views and also advocated much higher pay for other public servants.

I'd like such views to be the rule rather than the exception.

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