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43=6, When Government Officials Do the Math

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My favorite television show of all time is Yes Minister and its sequel, Yes Prime Minister.  This 1980s comedy, produced by the BBC, offers on-going and deep lessons in public choice.  Here’s one of my favorite scenes; this scene features the P.M.’s chief permanent secretary (Sir Humphrey) seeking advice, over lunch, from his predecessor in that secretarial role, Sir Arnold [2].

Humphrey wants to persuade parliament to approve a 43-percent pay raise (or “rise,” as the Brits say) for the civil service.  But the U.K. is in the midst of a financial crisis.  So how to get such a large pay raise?  Simple: trickery and deceit.  Tune in starting at about the 8-minute mark to see how Arnold (seated to the viewer’s left) teachs Humphrey one of the fine arts of political legerdemain.