Expense claims: why they make us look hypocritical

You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself — Margaret Atwood

Most of us submit expense claims. When we see those in a power doing so, we tend to judge them. In this post, I suggest we shouldn’t be so hasty.

It can’t have been the easiest few weeks for Francois Ortalo-Magne, dean of the London Business School. He recently had his expenses claims splashed all over the Sunday papers. It was reported that:

The London Business School has upset some senior faculty staff by paying its dean £501,000, 11 per cent more than his predecessor. François Ortalo-Magné, who moved from Wisconsin School of Business in the US to take over as the head of LBS in August 2017, secured a pay package larger than many university heads in the UK.

He had submitted claims for a £1 packet of M&S crisps and a bag of chocolate almonds at £1.90. There is no doubt that such stories can expose serious issues in public life. But could they also be a little unfair? The implication, for example, that well-paid executives are sitting down to submit petty claims for crisps and chewing gum is disingenuous. I’m pretty sure that their PAs would do it for them. And if the claim is within the expense rules, then why not?

It’s hypocritical

When it comes to other people’s personal finances, we are judgemental, cruel, an jealous, resentful. And perhaps, more than anything else, we are hypocritical. I’m sure that most people, if put in this position, would happily jet off somewhere exciting to entertain clients if they could. Then claim back as much as was allowed.

Of course, expenses often look terrible, but beware the terrible green-eyed monster.

What do you think?

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash




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Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson

Big ideas and important articles. Writing to help you make sense of the world. And cope with being human.

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