Of course we would expect to be informed about the prime minister’s and his associates’ daily diet if we were paying for it, but since we assume that they use their own money to buy their groceries, what they eat is their own business. But where the prime minister’s jet flies is not Alexis Tsipras’s private business to be kept secret, and nor should it be the subject of sarcasm from the trolls of Maximos Mansion.
The whole issue started with New Democracy vice president Adonis Georgiadis accusing the prime minister of making an unannounced detour on his way back from a summit in Lisbon last month. The opposition lawmaker requested the aircraft’s flight plan and passenger manifest, asking fellow MPs in Parliament: “Is Alexis Tsipras living the good life on taxpayers’ money?”
The public now knows that the government jet made a stopover in Paris. According to a non-paper issued by the prime minister’s office, “Tsipras met with executives at L’Oreal Paris, which is planning a big investment in Greece, with representatives of the Rothschild investment bank, which is the official adviser of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency, and with other investors.” The informal notice from the prime minister’s office ended with a postscript, the kind of snarky comment that SYRIZA usually reserves for Twitter, saying that Tsipras’s office is also available for comment on the daily diet of the prime minister and other members of the government.
It is not customary for prime ministers to meet with individual investors, especially after spending a career in the opposition slamming every single investment ever made in the country, but we won’t dwell on the irony. On the issue of the postscript, however, what this addendum told us was that after two years in power, these people have learned nothing about democratic procedure: what is public and made public so that it can be subject to scrutiny, and what is private and the business only of the prime minister and his family. What the prime minister and his associates eat is private, as is where they go with their own cars, with gas they pay for. The cost of flying the jet to Paris and all the other expenses involved in such a trip, however, are paid for by citizens, the very same citizens being wrung dry by the tax office. The government can’t expect to keep the trip private while making the expenses public. From the moment that public money is being spent, there should be oversight and the government has a duty to publish all of the facts, without unnecessary shenanigans and certainly without the wisecracks.