When S.C. House members spend more than $10,000 of taxpayer money for luxury lodging during a national legislative conference here in Charleston, it raises fair concerns about their stewardship of the public purse.
When the federal General Services Administration spends more than $822,000 on a Las Vegas soiree, that also triggers justified alarms about government waste.
But when the Swedish Security Service (SAPO) spends roughly $650,000 on a James Bond-themed party, many Americans likely don’t see that as senseless squandering of public funds.
Maybe that’s because we don’t pay Swedish taxes.
Or maybe it’s because what Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper described last week as a June 2011 romp “featuring roulette tables, a tuxedo-clad orchestra playing Bond film music, and song, dance and comedy performances by Swedish artists” sounds like so much shaken-not-stirred fun.
SAPO chief Anders Thornberg defended the seemingly excessive expense against elected officials’ objections, arguing that his 1,000 staffers needed the cathartic diversion. He said it capped off a day of “educational” activities aimed at delivering “knowledge, inspiration and solidarity” after a year of organizational changes and a heavy workload.
Or as 007 himself, portrayed at his dashing peak by Sean Connery, puts it while proposing a golf wager to the title character of 1964’s “Goldfinger”:
“Shall we say ten thousand dollars? No, let’s be generous. Let’s make it fifteen thousand.”
But please, let’s not let our state lawmakers throw a lavish Bond bash of their own.
After all, folks supposedly devoted to transparency in government shouldn’t even pretend to be secret agents.