Changing the regulatory culture

A pro‑regulation culture explains why almost everyone agrees red tape is a problem, but so little is practically done to reduce these burdens.

Can you guess who made the following statement?

Individual enterprise must drive us forward. That does not mean that we are to return to the old and selfish notions of laissez‑faire. The functions of the state will be much more than merely keeping the ring within which the competitors will fight. Our social and industrial obligations will be increased. There will be more law, not less; more control, not less. [emphasis added]

It was none other than the founder of the Liberal Party of Australia, former Prime Minister Robert Menzies.

The quote was drawn from this iconic speech, ʻThe Forgotten People,ʼ no less, in which he rousingly called for the political acknowledgement of small business owners, professional salary earners, women, and others whose concerns were persistently ignored by the wielders of political power.

When even self‑avowed vigorous opponents of socialism in Australiaʼs past called for more regulation, it is clear to see how political initiatives to deregulate the economy and other elements of civil society, always and everywhere, seems an uphill battle for even the most astute reformer.

The regulatory rules codified in legislation and similar products of political deliberation obviously exude powerful controls over the activity of law‑abiding peoples, and influencing regulation‑making to effect certain standards of control has proven enticing, even intoxicating, for many associated with the political process.

In a democratic setting, where those affected by government intervention have the right to some say in which they are being intervened, members of the general public, businesses, intellectuals and special interest groups inundate ministers and bureaucrats with calls for new, or amended, legislation and regulatory procedures to rectify all the cares and troubles of the world.

The achievement of regulatory ambitions, through successfully lobbying activities, are intensely important to these groups, euphemistically referred to as ʻstakeholdersʼ in the politically correct jargon.

The political‑class consent to demands for regulatory action is used by stakeholders to publicly signal their success in the dark arts of political persuasion, which subsequently boosts their support levels amongst, and private funding from, the individuals and groups with whom they associate.

More importantly, and worryingly so, regulation could serve as a ʻkiller apʼ for stakeholders to have a say about how the rights of others ought to be interfered with by coercive government.

Going even further, regulations can practically force others within the community, including rival businesses, groups or, in the case of speech restrictions, even talkers and thinkers, to abide by the stakeholderʼs preferred modes of conduct.

Watching how the party in government responds to regulatory demands are rival political parties, who take advantage of the fact that beneficiaries of potential regulations are often highly concentrated, easily identifiable groups, who could be marshalled to campaign against a government, should it fail to do the stakeholdersʼ regulatory bidding.

That all said, it should be noted it does not require a strong flow of political demands from community groups and the general public for the regulatory process to unfold with some vigour.

Political parties are continuously in competition against each other to demarcate the incumbent voting population into new political constituencies (e.g., ʻyou are female, you are gay, you travel on a bus, your niece is of schooling age, you like old‑growth forests, you believe in climate change, etc., … and you happen to voteʼ), as part of efforts to assemble a majority voting bloc at the next election.

Candidates for office casting the line of regulatory ideas out into the voting‑population waters, so to speak, in hopes to reel in favourable reactions, is another way in which open‑ended regulatory aspirations become the reality.

Ultimately, the intensity with which a government is accosted, by political friend and foe, to ʻdo somethingʼ about even the most trifling of issues, through regulatory change, invariably encourages the political class to regulate quickly, and to regulate often.

And the more that government regulation becomes accepted, with fervour or with resignation, as a fact of life, the easier it becomes for people to seek regulatory favours from government, again usually typecast as the silver‑bullet solution for any problem.

The increasing tendency to ʻregulate first, ask questions laterʼ is arguably the defining element of the Australian regulatory culture, or that underlying environment determining the propensity of the political process to regulate economic and social processes.

If the Menzies quote is anything to go by, a pro‑regulatory culture has been a piece among the Australian political furniture for decades on end.

The most visible consequence of the regulatory culture is the exponential growth in primary legislation passed through the unedifying regulatory ʻsausage machineʼ that is parliament, from 358 pages enacted during the first year of federal parliament rising gradually to over 5,000 pages last year.

In an important speech to The Sydney Institute in December last year, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Josh Frydenberg, raised renewed attention to the ʻscandalous culture of piling on new regulations without assessing the consequences for productivity, and the costs involved … [which] … must now come to an end.ʼ

True to their word, the Abbott government recently engaged in the first of two annual regulatory ʻrepeal daysʼ late last month, in their efforts to achieve reductions in red tape compliances worth $1 billion per annum.

But it was clear from the last parliamentary session that not all parties were on board with the idea of starting to cut away at the thicket of the regulatory state, even the idea of repealing legislative commands which have been effectively rendered inoperative by the passage of time.

This should be of no great surprise, given the portrayal of the regulatory state as a virtue of the previous government, with its supporters such as The Guardian declaring former Prime Minister Julia Gillard ʻthe most productiveʼ in Australian history, in what is unquestionably a gross perversion of the term.

As a broad statement of political reality, if future repeal day rounds are to have sharper teeth, the government must play its part in confronting the regulatory culture head on, at the potential expense of a leeching away of its political capital through acts of denigration by those defensive of the contemporary pro‑regulatory sentiment.

Obviously, changing the prevailing regulatory culture to one consistently weighted in favour of deregulation, and a smaller role for government in economic and social affairs, seems an insurmountable task, given all we know about the regulatory process as mentioned previously.

However, with the alternative of ever‑increasing burdens under non‑stop growth of the regulatory edifice utterly intolerable in a nation‑side grounded in liberal principles, it is necessary to at least consider the conditions under which the regulatory culture could be reformed for the better.

There is certainly merit in implementing a range of options which already have been frequently discussed within the Australian context, such as sunsetting clauses for all legislation, the institutionalisation of rigorous economic cost analysis of all proposed regulations, and other improvements to the quality of the regulatory policymaking environment.

These ideas are designed, in some way, to throw sand in the wheels of the high‑velocity regulatory machine, but there is the risk they may not quell the widespread appetite to regulate quickly, and often, in the face of perceived problems.

A systematic, and even more frequent, repeal day process holds possibly stronger appeal from the standpoint of reforming the regulatory culture.

This is because more repeal days provides a more open invitation for regulatory‑sycophant stakeholders, and the downtrodden and harried regulated, to conceive, perhaps for the very first time, that making bad government regulations history is much more than just a theoretical prospect.

To be sure, the liberal ideal would unquestionable entail the idea that just about every day ought to be repeal day, with the political class working away at whittling the legislative stock down to a bare minimum, but before that glorious day arrives let us also acknowledge that, in a thoroughly statist world, instituting a meaningful deregulatory trend is also admissible under the liberal framework.

An important aspect of turning the orientation of statecraft towards that of a deregulatory character, with prospectively some dividends for shifting the climate of regulatory opinion towards less, not more, regulation, should also incorporate an explicit objective by government to reduce, and not increase, the flow of regulation over time.

The general operating principle announced by Liberal Democratic Senator‑elect David Lleyonjhelm, that his party would not support legislative initiatives that would be expected to diminish liberties, is a fine one.

Indeed, it ought to be adopted by the government to help reduce the flow of its own, internally‑devised regulatory proposals, and to become more impervious to unconscionable rent‑seeking demands by stakeholders to harm others through regulatory interventionism.

Underpinning this pro‑liberty, pro‑deregulatory operating principle should be a series of tests which should assist in sorting the regulatory wheat from the chaff. Almost 15 years ago the economist Wolfgang Kasper outlined, in his book Building Prosperity, three quite practical rules of thumb applicable to each legislative item:

  • ʻFish shop test:ʼ How does the proposed legislation affect small business, for example a local fish shop owner? Can the shop owner understand the legislation? Can the owner manage the compliance costs?
  • ʻBattler test:ʼ How does the proposed legislation affect the life opportunities of the poorest of Australian citizens? Are there side‑effects hampering the capacity to help themselves, or that make it harder for them to be self‑responsible?
  • ʻGrandchildren test:ʼ How does the proposed legislation affect the young who are not yet established in the workplace? Will an aspect of the bill disillusion some of them and turn them against the community? Is there some long term consequence of the proposal that would harm them later in life?

To this, I would add something of a ʻcivil society exhaustibilityʼ test, which would serve as honest and sober appraisals of the exhaustion of the opportunities by individuals, interacting within markets or communities, to create their own solutions to the proposed regulatory problem.

With the onset of technologies rapidly reducing the costs of communication, and the partial opening of markets enabling greater access to capital and sophistication in product and service solutions, there is no time greater than the present for Australians to ignore the state when seeking their own solutions to problems as adaptable and responsible individuals.

Appreciating that market and societal interactions are necessarily discovery processes that strictly unfold with the passage of time, this rule, again if honestly and soberly applied, would combine with the others to seriously halt the propensity of the Australian regulatory culture to produce ever‑increasing legislation and regulatory restrictions.

These are rather fine principles which should become the standard of political decision‑making but, when all is said and done, the cause of reforming the toxic regulatory culture requires far more than actions on the part of principled members of the political class.

In the case of the last mile feeling like the longest travelled, many Australians will ultimately need to inspect themselves in a mirror, and ask themselves why do they seem, almost instinctively, to call upon government as the first‑responder anytime there seems a hint of trouble that seems costly and time‑consuming to resolve?

Accentuating the gravity of this very point, the Australian attitude, which now largely seems openly supportive of ʻregulate first, ask questions later,ʼ did not necessarily prevail in the past, at least in every dimension with which it is felt today.

Those living generations ago would have surely regarded the extended web of modern regulation, hanging over just about every conceivable nook and cranny of economic and social existence, as a flight of fancy by an isolated crank.

Perhaps the most immediate, if not the best, way of thinking about how the regulatory culture has gradually, but profoundly, changed us is to consider how it has taken the fun out of Australian life.

Mandatory nightclub opening hours, because a few idiots take to violence and the police would rather counsel the violent rather than round them up? Schools dismantling playgrounds, due to the paranoid concern that little Johnny or Jane might scrape their knees? Bans on home‑made cake stalls at school fetes, out of a fear than Gran doesnʼt know how to properly bake deliciousness? Really?

Multiply all these niggling, soft‑despotic intrusions on everyday life by many times over, and you get a rough idea of the degree of regulatory restrictiveness encompassing the very ability to do just about anything.

Part of the tragedy of the escalating regulatory burden is that many people are either none the wiser, or worse still, apathetic, about their lives being restricted by the government in the ways they are, putting the costs and inconveniences down to ʻjust the way it is.ʼ

Some are aware of the pulling and tearing of the regulatory state upon the capability of one going about their business and their daily lives, but do not exercise their right of ʻvoiceʼ to complain but choose, instead, to physically ʻexitʼ for the hills (or, in the Australian lingo, to ʻseachangeʼ or ʻtreechange areas) (I thank Grace Collier for making this point to me a few months ago.)

But, then again, woe betide us, there are those politically‑connected stakeholders once again, and their supporters, who loudly proclaim the benefits of the regulatory snake oil they aim to sell to the politicians, bureaucrats, and general public, and who deceivingly claim that the very inability of regulated people to arrive at their own solutions to problems calls for even more governmental intervention.

In addition, there is the modern oddity of belief that regulations, no matter how prescriptive, are worth the inhibitions they impose, because one person might benefit from the edicts, which very much confirms that much discourse is informed by a hyperbolic, and often very much unfounded, sense of risk aversion.

Reformist governments can only do so much in a broader cultural environment in which government regulation is often seen as an admixture of salvation and virtue invariably well worth the financial costs and lost opportunities it generates.

Ultimately, individuals and groups comprising civil society must appreciate that one personʼs, or one groupʼs, petitioning for more government regulation might seem democratic and all, but if the petitioning is successful the regulation becomes another personʼs or groupʼs economic or financial hardship, and that is simply wrong.

The Abbott government would do very well to make hay while the sun shines on its deregulatory moment, but changing the regulatory culture means changing the culture as a whole, since reforming the regulatory culture entails raising the relative cost of using coercive government as the organisational apparatus to solve problems.

So, over the next few years, the challenge will be not so much what the government will do for you to change parts of the regulatory system, here and there, as important as that might be.

It will be what you as an individual is prepared to do, including in cooperation with others, to find your own paths to improvement, and make the highly economic and socially damaging pro‑regulatory culture, erected in your name but often without your consent, a relic of the past.

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39 Responses to Changing the regulatory culture

  1. Rabz

    When even self‑avowed vigorous proponents of socialism in Australiaʼs past called for more regulation

    Proponents?

    Or opponents?

    :?

  2. Rabz

    regulatory rules codified in legislation and similar products of political deliberation obviously exude powerful controls over the activity of law‑abiding peoples

    In the modern, all pervasive regulatory state, do such creatures exist?

    Somehow I doubt it.

    This is why mounting, increasingly intrusive and ridiculous regulation is such an inexcusable, infuriating scourge.

    Regulation sets out to remove the obligation to take personal responsibility for one’s actions, it stifles initiative and innovation and allows the state unjustifiable leeway to exert its coercive power over its supplicants.

    Enough, before our society keels over from self inflicted sclerosis.

    :x

  3. stackja

    Menzies was trying not to scare the horses. Government in Menzies time was expected to do more than is probably necessary. But Menzies as I remember did not want the all-encompassing government the ALP has recently imposed.
    Below seems apt:

    Liberty Quotes
    Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.
    — Montesquieu

  4. .

    This is why mounting, increasingly intrusive and ridiculous regulation is such an inexcusable, infuriating scourge.

    It means the notion that the police and crown prosecutor are the thin blue line holding back anarchy is a joke, they encourage pockets of lawlessness and ignoring them to some extent does society good.

  5. stackja

    Another apt:

    Liberty Quotes
    The riches of the rich are not the cause of the poverty of anybody; the process that makes some people rich is, on the contrary, the corollary of the process that improves many peoples want satisfaction. The entrepreneurs, the capitalists and the technologists prosper as far as they succeed in best supplying the consumers.
    — Ludwig von Mises

  6. Rabz

    they encourage pockets of lawlessness and ignoring them to some extent does society good

    Or it stimulates efforts to circumvent the regulatory Leviathan.

    Seasteading looks noice!

  7. Bruce of Newcastle

    almost everyone agrees red tape is a problem

    At the Drum two weeks ago the poll question was this:

    17/03/2014: The Abbott Government has made deregulation and cutting red tape a key priority, and will hold its first “repeal day” on March 19. Do you support this emphasis?

    No 67%
    Yes 29%
    Unsure 5%

    5838 votes counted

    In other words the left likes red tape. Could it be because many of them are employed because of it?

  8. .

    My wording has two meanings. I meant both of them of course.

  9. stackja

    Soundwave music concert’s Adelaide location in question as promoters lose bond due to excessive noise
    Adelaide City Council received six complaints from North Adelaide residents about the event.
    Mills Tce residents said the event left them with headaches due to the excessive, continuing noise.
    Accountant David Fox said he bought basic noise monitoring equipment to “prove a point” to the council.
    “Our windows shook because it just went for 11-hours straight,” Mr Fox said.
    Cr Anne Moran – who lives opposite Bonython Park on Mills Tce – said the noise “rattled your teeth.”
    “It was quite loud,” Cr Moran said.
    “I live in a big old house though so I can shut the front door and not worry about it but it rattled your teeth when you went out the front.
    “Those very strong base notes make your chest vibrate.”

  10. Alex Davidson

    You are right to conclude that it will be what we each do that will lead to change, but even that step is now becoming impossible in many cases. Take for example the thousands of rules and regulations one must ‘comply’ with before obtaining ‘consent’ from our masters for a development application, which they insist is now required for even the most trivial of activities. I know from personal experience that it is futile to adopt the position, even with the support of a group of like-minded others, that all these rules and regulations have been imposed without our consent, and therefore won’t be complied with, unless one has very deep pockets and a high tolerance for stress.

    I think the problem goes back to the education system. With the state firmly in control of the curriculum, liberty doesn’t stand a chance, as witnessed by the decree in NSW a few years ago that the principles of Agenda 21 such as ‘environmental sustainability’ shall not be taught separately, but must infest the teaching of every single subject.

    We should demand a complete separation of the state from the education system. If schools were free to set their own curriculum, there would at least be a chance that some might replace collectivist/statist indoctrination with the teaching of classical liberalism, ultimately resulting in fewer who praise the regulatory state and more who appreciate the virtue of liberty.

  11. Infidel Tiger

    The Liberal Party has always been the natural home of the halfwit busy body without the union connections to get into the ALP.

  12. Eyrie

    IT, agreed and Menzies was a fascist prick.

  13. Mayan

    I think of the major parties as Libor. It brings to mind the collusion between banks in setting the LIBOR, to the detriment of everyone else.

  14. Piett

    Menzies, and his generation, went through the fire of WW2. Laissez-faire wasn’t really going to cut it against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. So one can forgive people of that era for being a bit statist.

    Also, the Menzies government gave us almost zero unemployment. Libertarians might want to keep that minor fact in mind.

  15. blogstrop

    But can’t we have Fisky do our regulations for us?
    As for Menzies, well, in that era, we were regarded as socialists by the USA anyway, with so many things run by the government, including railroads.

  16. Piett

    Here are the RBA figures on the unemployment rate in Australia from 1950 to 1965, the years in which Menzies was PM for the entire year:

    1950 0.4%, 1951 0.3%, 1952 1.1%, 1953 1.5%, 1954 0.6%
    1955 0.5%, 1956 0.8%, 1957 1.3%, 1958 1.7%, 1959 1.7%
    1960 1.2%, 1961 2.6%, 1962 2.1%, 1963 1.9%, 1964 1.1%
    1965 0.9%

    That’s what you get from a “highly economic and socially damaging pro‑regulatory culture”, to quote Julie.

  17. Tel

    Laissez-faire wasn’t really going to cut it against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

    Because Henry Ford and the assembly lines of Detroit were products of government committies, right?

    Because the slave factory labour under the Nazi system, with empty bellies and living in camps under armed guard were pretty much the most productive workers in the world, right? Right?

  18. Infidel Tiger

    In fairness to Ming, Australians from the 50′s and 60′s when told of the regulations of the future would not believe it.

    http://catallaxyfiles.com/2013/05/07/australias-big-government-by-the-numbers/

  19. nerblnob

    Australia in the 50s was firewalled by tariffs and was yet to face serious competition from Asia anyway. (not to mention UK joining the common market later) .

    Things have changed somewhat.

  20. Piett

    Because Henry Ford and the assembly lines of Detroit were products of government committies [sic], right?

    In WW2, government committees took over and directed almost every aspect of the US economy (and even more so the British and Australian economies).

    “The [US] national War Production Board’s [a government committee] primary task was converting civilian industry to war production. The WPB assigned priorities and allocated scarce materials such as steel, aluminium, and rubber, prohibited nonessential industrial production such as nylons and refrigerators, controlled wages and prices, and mobilized the people through patriotic propaganda such as “give your scrap metal and help Oklahoma boys save our way of life.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Production_Board

    The government also played quite a significant role in that other major country that fought the Axis. You know, the country that produced the T-34.

  21. John Mc

    Which is why the small-government / classical liberal / free market thought has been piss weak in Australia. Unlike the US we have never had a philosophical movement – let alone an actual political one – advocating for classical liberalism (until now).

  22. Combine_Dave

    Accountant David Fox sai

    I take it all accountants are busy body facists?

  23. Beth

    In my experience, the sea and tree changers are the ones who love making rules when they get on the local councils where they have moved to. Witness what happened in the bushfire areas where they defied the experience of longtime residents to bring in rules that restricted the “cool” burning to decrease the amount of fuel in major bush fires. Lives would probably have been saved if they had listened to the locals, but no,what would they know, having lived there all their lives? There are many more examples.

    I don’t think the changers escaped from regulations in the city at all. Perhaps they couldn’t be heard in the city and went somewhere where they could throw their weight around.

    As far as self -reliance is concerned (from another part of your article), I was struck with the fact that perfectly able- bodied young men who admitted they didn’t need it, lined up for free meals for the needy, with no qualms whatsoever. I think it will be hard to change that attitude. There is no shame at that behavior anymore.

  24. Infidel Tiger

    John Mc
    #1248504, posted on April 1, 2014 at 8:01 pm
    Which is why the small-government / classical liberal / free market thought has been piss weak in Australia. Unlike the US we have never had a philosophical movement – let alone an actual political one – advocating for classical liberalism (until now).

    We had a Free Trade Party in 1901. Haven’t had one since unfortunately.

  25. Tel

    In WW2, government committees took over and directed almost every aspect of the US economy (and even more so the British and Australian economies).

    And the reason it did not collapse immediately, was that they largely just kept doing what the private entrepreneurs had already figured out worked. Government people are great at stepping in and with great self importance and aplomb tell everyone to get on with whatever they were already doing, then take credit for it. They are crap at thinking for themselves and making decisions that involve any understanding of the subject at hand.

  26. John Mc

    True, IT. The Free Trade Party is probably the original Aussie free trade movement up until the first version of the Liberal Party. Beyond this point the free trade movement started to become ‘watered down’ but always present in minor parties and think tanks, but not very influential, unfortunately.

    There was also the original Aussie Liberal Democratic Party in the 1940s that was prominent for a few years due to some celebrity connections but never got anyone elected. It was also consistently free trade, which is probably part of the reason it failed and got absorbed into the second (current) version of the Liberal Party.

  27. Sir Fred Lenin

    In an ideal society these laws would apply related to politicians,
    A. No lawyer or public servantwill be elected
    B.no union or busiess group person will be elected
    C.politicians will serve one ternpm in parliament then be barred for life.
    D.an m.p. will be a part time job,all politicians must have “a Real Job”
    E.all laws will be subect to Referenda and submitted to the people
    F.no government will be allowed to incur debt without Referenda.
    G.government will be subject to annual review and may be dismissed by the people m.p.s too.
    H.no donations to political parties will be allowed
    I.politicians who lie and deceive voters will be jailedfor a minimum 10 years
    His would be a good start to reforming government and cotrolling politicians and the law trade !

  28. Paridell

    “If the Menzies quote is anything to go by, a pro‑regulatory culture has been a piece among the Australian political furniture for decades on end.”

    The Menzies quote is certainly something to go by, since Menzies remains Australia’s most successful prime minister. He retired undefeated after sixteen years – and that was in his second term.

    But it is not a matter of decades that Australia has had a pro-regulatory culture. It is a matter of centuries. As I pointed out last week, Australia was founded by the (British) Government. From Ernest Scott’s A Short History of Australia:

    “Spaces were cleared for the sowing of corn, trees were cut down for the building of wooden huts, stores were landed from the ships, labour was organized for shaping a disciplined community out of fractious elements and replacing wild forest and scrub with a planned, orderly township. On February 7 the Governor’s commission was read, and he took the oaths required by law before an assemblage of the whole population, civil, military, and convicts.”

    Australia also endowed its colony, PNG, with a similar official culture. Anyone who wants to abolish it will find themselves in conflict with the national character. In this way our national character is diametrically opposed to America’s, for reasons of our founding, and theirs.

  29. .

    The Menzies quote is certainly something to go by, since Menzies remains Australia’s most successful prime minister. He retired undefeated after sixteen years – and that was in his second term.

    Come on down NSW Labor!

    That’s depressing, Leo.

  30. James B

    Yep, Menzies was a statist sack of shit, yet people don’t realise it. The Liberal Party HAS NEVER done a lick of good for this country. From that sack of shit Menzies to Howard, all it was is more big government, more taxes, more laws, more spending.

    Hopefully Abbott will be a change.

  31. johanna

    For the average person, it is not Federal government legislation (apart from tax law) that oppresses them, it is local government. There is something about LG that attracts busybodies of every stripe – and to make things worse, it is infested with greenies. As Beth pointed out, even regional and rural areas are not immune from this phenomenon.

    Sice LG is a creature of State governments, a major reform would be for some of our “conservative” State Premiers to reel this monster in, by circumscribing its activities to roads, rates and rubbish. This would shrink the sector (hence rates could be reduced) and lift a major regulatory burden from residents and businesses.

  32. Infidel Tiger

    Sice LG is a creature of State governments, a major reform would be for some of our “conservative” State Premiers to reel this monster in, by circumscribing its activities to roads, rates and rubbish. This would shrink the sector (hence rates could be reduced) and lift a major regulatory burden from residents and businesses.

    Barnett is trying to do that here in the west and is facing a major voter backlash… From conservatives.

  33. James B

    Infidel: can you give us some more information, perhaps links to news reports about what he’s doing?

  34. squawkbox

    Roads, rates and rubbish? No, just roads and rubbish. Rates should simply be an automatic calculation to cover the costs of the other two.

  35. Infidel Tiger

    He’s trying to merge some of the smaller councils and he’s removing a lot of their planning power. The councils and the NIMBYS hate it.

  36. JohnA

    Can you guess who made the following statement?

    Individual enterprise must drive us forward. That does not mean that we are to return to the old and selfish notions of laissez‑faire. The functions of the state will be much more than merely keeping the ring within which the competitors will fight. Our social and industrial obligations will be increased. There will be more law, not less; more control, not less. [emphasis added]

    It was none other than the founder of the Liberal Party of Australia, former Prime Minister Robert Menzies.

    As ever, the Bible says it best:
    “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” St Paul 2 Corinthians 3:6

  37. johanna

    Sounds like a start, IT, but what about crap like needing to get permission to hold a charity sausage sizzle, and even in some cases, demanding that those sizzling the sausages have “appropriate training in food handling.” What about having to register your dog, and not being allowed to cut down the widow-maker that is hanging over your yard or even your house.

    This kind of petty oppression is what really gets up people’s noses, and what’s worse, we have to pay for it through our ever-increasing rates.

  38. nerblnob

    Then there’s the tendency of large corporations to acquire their own compliance bureaucracies who seem to be trying to outdo the state in bastardry and obstruction. They are really only comfortable dealing with other big bureaucracies, be they corporate or state. They hate small businesses and have even told me so.

    They know we don’t have any employees under 40 but demand to see our anti-child labour policies.
    They demand we limit our employees’ working hours but dump complicated ITTs on us that require the managers to pull all-nighters.
    What is your health policy?
    What is your anti-slavery policy (that’s the latest) ?
    What measures are you taking to prevent bribery? (A. We are obviously too effin tight to pay any bastard bribe anywhere so fuck off and don’t be so stupid)

    The consultancies drafting (or cutting and pasting more often) these policies for you at great expense are pretty much the same bastards from the same agencies as the ones who write the requirements.

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