Yom chamishi, 27 Iyar 5769.
Ex-Kadima Speaker Itzik Billed Gov’t for Home Decorating
Former Kadima Speaker Dalia Itzik billed the government NIS 111,000 ($25,000) for expensive home improvements, claiming she needed the items because she used her Jerusalem home for work.
Sometimes when I have trouble sleeping, I put the radio by my head and let the BBC drone me to sleep. Every once in a while, this affects my dreams.
The other night, I was listening, sort of, to a discussion of a study by Timothy Besley and Valentino Larcinese about "fiddling." A definition for fiddling is "to commit fraud and steal from one's employer, as in 'We found that he had been fiddling for years.'" I first encountered this quaint British slang in one of John Mortimer's delightful "Rumpole of the Bailey" stories. It seems that the aged and well-loved court clerk had been fiddling the barristers out of a pound-note here and there over decades, and was finally caught -- and the barristers had to determine whether or not the offense was bad enough to let him go. In the end, they did.
In the case of the Besley/Larcinese report, fiddling concerns what government officials charge their constituents beyond what is strictly required in the performance of their duties. Of course, without Torah as a guideline, the gray areas of what one "requires" to do his job are vast. Many government officials the world over find it easy to rationalize frighteningly large sums.
Besley and Larcinese were mainly interested in what was going on in Westminster; however, the discussion did get more global by comparison, as they were searching for a moral model against which to judge Britain's MPs. It seems that corruption in government is as rife as our cynical age expects it to be, with only countries that prosecute such behavior with jail time having any degree of morality at the top worth measuring.
The US didn't fare very well. The Swiss did better. Israel wasn't even mentioned, which is good, of course, given the reality with which we live in our pursuit of the status of "a place among nations."
But my dreams drifted to the alternate reality that there is a job opening that Israel was designed to fill. Wouldn't it be nice if we could stand out in the crowd by just applying for that vacancy?
Wanted: Moral government officials to set world example. Applicants must be prepared to separate themselves from the behaviors commonly accepted world-wide. Must be energetic, honest, courageous, and able to think outside the box. Background in halacha a plus. Desire to be a light unto the nations paramount. Apply within.
Baruch Hashem, at Chez Mizrachi, family members don't take money from each other. So when the Stunt Man got paid for a bit of yard work, he thought nothing of tossing his cash onto the nearest empty surface. This created an interesting image. I wonder if the government could use our services?