Monday, August 9, 2010

Take the bus

Details of credit card expenses released this
week show state sector bosses have racked
up almost $30,000 on taxi fares. Only a few
took trains, and only on overseas trips.
None claimed for a bus trip... Other than
airport shuttle buses, there were no claims
for public transport in New Zealand.
[Dominion Post 7.8.10]

I’ll tell you what, it’ll be a great day when a chief
executive or any other executive, state-sector or
private-sector, takes the bus anywhere, let alone
catches a train. Let alone walks. Or bikes! (We can
dream, can’t we?) Okay, I’ll let them off the bikes,
but just to imagine a departmental head getting on
a bus to go, say, from a meeting in one part of town
to a meeting in another is to recognize how deeply
embarrassing and demeaning they would find it.
And that, in turn, tells us how so much more
important than the rest of us they think they are,
and how they regard their time as more valuable
than ours. Sure, we all take a cab now and again,
but always? Every single time?

This also gives the lie to all the fine talk about the
nation reducing its carbon footprint. Our MPs are
no better; to go by car and/or plane is absolutely
automatic with them. As for the private sector, just
look at the car sections and supplements of business
papers and magazines: they are thick with the latest
high-speed luxury models. Whatever debate about
'the environment' is taking place in the real world, it
has completely failed to enter the pampered,
cosseted and resource-greedy world of the business


mikenz said...

A ride in a bus can be a great leveller and I do not disagree with your proposal. My main beef with the world economy is the opportunity lost when the financial crisis hit the car companies and Obama did not put any heat on the American car firms to start behaving responsibly. What a chance to spell out to them that we do not need a new car model every year and that cars should be designed and built for longevity not quick disposal. The car companies continue to behave as though nothing has changed. Marketing continues to promote the green of envy that underpins so much of our consumer society. A shame that leadership was missing when most needed.

Paul Hellyer said...

One of the issues with these expense reports is that can not reveal when expenses were avoided or reduced. For example if indeed a CEO did walk, for example, from their office on the Terrace to Parliament then that would NOT be recorded anywhere. Likewise if several CEOs share a cab then there can only be one claim. The price of a taxi for one is the same as a taxi for three or four, but you can't see this in the expense report. These taxi rides are invisible for all those except the one making the claim.

You can never really measure "expense avoidance" so these reports are always going to give a slightly distorted view of the whole expense situation.