IN REFERENCE TO the advertisement that ran yesterday from the Duck Hollow University Department of Continuing Education, reader “fuinseoig” asks:

Does this course contain a module on claiming expenses, reimbursements and other perquisites? Since my upbringing inculcated such a degree of honesty that regrettably I find myself unable to lie when filling out official forms, I am naturally at a disadvantage as a public servant, as will be apparent.

Also, I have two nephews but neither of them are wastrels (as yet). Can I still place them in comfortable sinecures at the expense of the public purse?

Dr. Boli was happy to forward your question to the advertiser, and received this response from the head of the department:

“Our course would doubtless be of great benefit to your correspondent, who seems to be laboring under a few outdated ideas. For example, the idea of ‘claiming expenses’ or ‘reimbursements’ implies that a distinction is made between the funds administered by a civil servant on behalf of the public and those belonging to the civil servant personally. This is no longer considered ‘best practice’ in governmental circles.

“The question about the nephews is more complicated. If they are truly not wastrels yet, it may be more advisable to keep them out of government until they have grown into proper wastrels. Nothing is more fatal to good governance than a young person with ambition who desires to ‘get something done.’ Your correspondent’s nephews probably need a little experience to knock the ambition out of them. What is complicated about the question is that nothing is more calculated to knock the ambition out of a person than a job in government service. We would therefore advise your correspondent, if he is in a position to decide whether to hire his nephews, to flip a coin.

“Yours sincerely, Prof. Gundobald Plunckitt, Duck Hollow University.”


  1. fuinseoig says:

    I am deeply grateful to Dr. Boli for his wise advice and I appreciate his efforts on my behalf.

    I shall endeavour to banish from my thinking the petty distinction between the public and my purse as the Head of the Department recommends – indeed, am I not myself a member of the public? – and as for my nephews, I shall request my sister to inculcate habits of sloth, carelessness, disdain for strict verity in small details, reckless spending habits and expectations of unearned favour in my nephews, as demonstrated by our finest and most important members of the national government.

    For my part, procurement for my nephews of summer jobs in our premises filing, photocopying, making the tea, collecting, distributing and gathering the post, et cetera, will doubtless be instrumental in crushing any ambition or initiative out of them and will help to prepare them for more responsible civic positions in their future.

    Once again, many thanks for your timely assistance, Dr. Boli!

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