Monthly Archives: May 2010

Robin Hood was no socialist

So apparently there’s this new Robin Hood movie that proves Russell Crowe’s accent is as bad as his temper. The critics seem to feel it couldn’t split an arrow at one pace, and I’d sooner fight Little John with a quarterstaff on a narrow bridge than go see it. But first let me cudgel the film for trying to steal from our heritage to give to political correctness.

The problem is the old canard that Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. The New York Times once called Fidel Castro “The Robin Hood of the Caribbean”, but in his lawless use of state power to reward those he liked, Castro was, and remains, a Prince John. Robin Hood did the opposite. He took back from the rich and powerful what they had stolen from the poor and meek. His standard was justice, not envy. He did not practise class war and he never stole.

Quibblers may object that he did nothing, period. In university I took a fascinating “Legend, Myth and History” course in which the professor demonstrated to my satisfaction that King Arthur did exist a bit but Robin Hood did not.

I mean intellectual satisfaction, not emotional. I like Robin Hood. Continue reading

Don’t audit MP expenses

Egad. I think I’ve found a less popular position than my proposal to quintuple MPs’ office budgets. It is that the auditor general should not examine their spending, for managerial, political and constitutional reasons.

Let us start with the constitutional because it is most fundamental. The central function of Parliament in our battered system of self-government is to control the executive. Its central tool is control of the purse strings. And the central defect of our governance today is that legislators are unable even to figure out where the executive is spending, let alone what to do about it.

Arguably MPs and senators do not wish to spend time scrutinizing the “estimates” or reviewing spending because it offers neither professional nor personal satisfaction. It is scandalous to read that legislators gave up their power to approve government borrowing in the 2007 budget and didn’t even know they’d done it. And the Liberal excuse for allowing a further shocking erosion of Parliament’s authority in the latest massive omnibus, nay juggernaut budget bill, that they want to oppose the budget without bringing down the government, certainly underlines MPs’ complicity in their own neutering.

So yes, there’s a lot rotten in the state of Parliament. It doesn’t mean we should make it worse and hope it helps. It means we need to get back to basics. Continue reading