Monday, April 13, 2015

Are Today's Journalists Dumber than Mike Duffy About the Senate?

So the meme  of the day is: Mike Duffy covered Parliament for 30 years: He couldn't have possibly been that dumb. He must have known about how Senate expense rules worked. He must have.

Right now 40 current and former senators are under investigation for expense claims.

The senators have apparently been doing this for years, but journalists have not reported it

If all the veteran journalists on Parliament Hill are in the know about how just about anything goes in the Senate, why didn't they raise the alarm earlier?

My hunch is that veteran journalists are just as in the dark about Senate expense rules as Mike Duffy was, but they suddenly developed an interest in them because the Media Party wants to bring down Harper. They almost certainly had some idea about how Senators spent their money in previous decades. But they didn't care then.

They do now.

If 40 Senators are under investigation, it could be that they're that corrupt, but I suspect the more plausible explanation is that they were complying to the rules according to expectations, i.e. the way the rules were applied, not the way they were written.

These expectations may have been why a Senate audit cleared Mike Duffy in 2013. Mike Duffy did what everyone else seems to be doing.

And I'm glad we're concerned about how tax money is spent. But I think Mike Duffy is something of a scapegoat of the system. Maybe he should have been a little more circumspect about his expenses, even if they were allowed. Sometimes you have to be more moral than the rules say you can be. That being said, how many people do that? How many people deny government  money they're entitled to? Is it really unethical to take government money you're legally entitled to?

I don't think Mike Duffy is more immoral than the average person. He met expectations, low as they are. Should he be made to take on the sins of the system? It seems rather hypocritical to me.