No Gold Biscuit for You!

No Gold Biscuit for You! from Schiff Gold

How would you celebrate the birthday of a government building?

Maybe send out a press release? Perhaps hold a little assembly and let some politician ramble for a while about how great the building is? Maybe host an open house for the public? Or here’s an idea. Just ignore it. After all, it’s a government building. Who really wants to celebrate that?

Well in India, they go for a little more swanky soirée when it comes time to celebrate their government buildings. The Karnataka Assembly building will turn 60 this month and the state assembly secretariat proposed a lavish 2-day festival complete with a gift of gold biscuits for each lawmaker.

The cost for the shindig? Rs. 26-crore. If you don’t have your handy rupee to dollar calculator with you, that equals 260,000,000 rupees, or about $4 million U.S.

And yes. I did say a gold biscuit for every lawmaker.

At first, I had visions of – like real biscuits – the kind you eat. After all, as we’ve learned from past Fun on Friday articles, eating gold is a thing. I know. Thinking about real biscuits was a little ridiculous. But give me a break. I’m from the south. I really, really like biscuits. With butter. Or gravy.

Anyway, I digress. I think they mean gold bars. The reporting on this story doesn’t tell us how big the gold biscuits were going to be. I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway because the chief minister of  Karnataka nixed the plan.

There is no gold biscuit or any other thing… there are no mementos.”

For some context, Karnataka is one of seven Indian states. It’s located in the southwestern part of the country. So, think of it this way. Imagine if Kentucky held a $4 million celebration for the state capitol building and gave all of the representatives in the state House a gold bar. It seems absurd, right? But having lived in Kentucky for a number of years, it’s really not as far-fetched as one might think. In fact, I hope nobody in state government here reads this. It might give them ideas.

It probably won’t come as any surprise when I tell you Karnataka is extremely poor. According to news reporting, the state is struggling with a crisis of infrastructure and sanitation.

Over the last few months, at least a dozen people have died in pothole and rain-related accidents.”

So, politicians in a state where potholes literally killing people thought it would be a good idea to hold a birthday party for an opulent government building and give themselves gold bars?

Yup. That sounds about right.

Apparently, somebody with a little PR savvy realized this maybe wasn’t the best plan. According to NDTV, “the Chief Minister has ordered drastic cuts to both budget and the duration of the festival. Instead of two days, the lawmakers get to celebrate for only one day and the expenses must be kept within Rs. 10 crore.”

That’s a little over $153,000.

Maybe it’s just me, but that still seems a little excessive for a building birthday party in a state that can’t manage to fill deadly potholes. But hey – what do I know? And it is a really nice building. Just look at the picture!

Unsurprisingly, the guy who came up with the idea of handing out gold to all of the lawmakers denies there ever was such a plan.

“We have sent a proposal…there are various things in it. If the finance department thinks it’s expensive and rejects it then we will drop it. But we haven’t sent a proposal to give gold biscuits,” he said.

Sources in the Chief Minster’s office, however, confirmed there was indeed such a plan. In other words, “various things in it” means gold biscuits.

It appears politicians are pretty scummy in other countries too.

So, if you win an elected office in India, you might be able to score some gold bars. Or you could just call 1-888-GOLD-160 and buy some. It will cost you some Federal Reserve notes, but at least it won’t cost you your integrity.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and the economy, and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

 

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Peter Schiff

Mr. Schiff began his investment career as a financial consultant with Shearson Lehman Brothers, after having earned a degree in finance and accounting from U.C. Berkeley in 1987. A financial professional for more than twenty years, he joined Euro Pacific in 1996 and served as its President until December 2010, when he became CEO. An expert on money, economic theory, and international investing, he is a highly sought after speaker at conferences and symposia around the world. He served as an economic advisor to the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2010.