Which is better value for money to the taxpayer? A back-of-the-envelope exercise.
Constutuency work: The TD will do more clinics than a rotting corpse, and will attend more funerals. The corpse will probably only attend one.
Legislative scrutiny: Neither will seriously help shape, draft or debate legislation. The TD will claim a daily attendence allowance. The corpse won’t, so I’d put the corpse marginally ahead on this one.
Executive scrutiny: The Tribunals showed us that the Dail wasn’t up to scrutinising the government. In fairness, a rotting corpse wouldn’t do much in that regard either, but would cost less than a TD, money which could go to deferring the cost of a tribunal, so again, from a value for money perspective, the rotting corpse wins.
Expenses: A rotting corpse would cost us a few Euro in terms of preserving fluid and a big glass drum to carry it around in. But probably less than it costs to ferry a Kerry TD between airport terminals. Another win for the rotting corpse.
On balance, if we were to have local ombudsmen to deal with the constituency graft, we could probably replace most backbenchers with corpses with little loss. In fact, if we were to drown the existing ones in preserving fluid, we’d save on their pensions too!