Pelling the Cat on Regulation

Sinc had an interesting post about regulators looking for trouble and comparing it to Victoria Police pursuing Pell. I would define the problem a little differently to Sinc based on my experience consulting to a few regulatory agencies in the past. The problem is accountability in the age of empire building. To the extent that regulators look for trouble it is not to prosecute it but to further the goal of regulatory creep in the realm of soft regulation (expansion of big government).

Once upon a time regulation was confined to what today bureaucrats call the unfashionable activity of “hard regulation”. That is inspections, assessments, investigations, and enforcement (more or less). Hard regulation is more akin to to the role of the High Court in Sinc’s analogy because it demands the application of “black letter” law and hence necessitates a higher standard of proof for a successful prosecution.

Precisely because it is hard (and prosecutions often unsuccessful) regulatory agencies have overwhelmingly shifted their focus and manpower to soft regulation. Soft regulation involves vagaries around industry codes of conduct, best practise, self-regulation, and building awareness. It is virtual signalling in the regulatory/corporate space and explains a lot why corporations are increasingly shills to government  on social issues (e.g. climate, diversity, first peoples, SSM etc).

Soft regulation is a win-win for government, large corporations and the bureaucracy. For government soft regulation dumbs down accountability standards. Success can be measured in terms of activity rather than outcomes. Large corporations prefer soft regulation because it makes it easy for industry capture and locks smaller competitors out of the market. Bureaucrats love soft regulation for the same reasons as government but better still it enables endless opportunities for mission creep, not to mention lucrative private sector opportunities through all the cosy industry engagement it fosters.

It is soft regulation that looks for trouble, which is to say that it looks for make work activity associated with grievance or victim politics and virtue signalling. Victoria Police went after Pell along these lines because it was easier to play politics than be out on the beat doing good old fashioned law enforcement. Victoria Police are just another institution captured by the Left and because they prioritise politics above law, with a “whatever it takes” mentality (i.e. Lawyer X), they are pushing Australia that ever bit closer to a police state, illustrated by all police forces around the nation overzealously enforcing (in many cases absurd) social distancing dictates akin to the Stasi.

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19 Responses to Pelling the Cat on Regulation

  1. Texas Jack

    Gets my vote for Cat Post of the Year….
    Brilliant stuff

  2. Roger

    To the extent that regulators look for trouble it is not to prosecute it but to further the goal of regulatory creep in the realm of soft regulation (expansion of big government).

    Then we may need to regulate the regulators!

  3. IRFM

    And there is ‘social licence’ a woke piece of paper required by the mining industry in most states prior to being granted a mining licence which, and I am not making this up, may be granted but without the actual right to mine/extract.

  4. RobK

    Good points.
    Soft regulation involves vagaries around industry codes of conduct, best practise, self-regulation, and building awareness.
    In the 80s I noticed a shift in workplace safety/OH&S in the WA mining industry. Worker’s Compensation insurers became very active in formulating procedure and process with regard to induction, monitoring safety etc with incentives to the company for instigating the full programmes.
    I’m all for educating the work force but many of the details are high jacked by unthinking soles.

  5. NatWally

    Some seriously chilling news stories today. The language used by our elected leaders is abhorrent.

    Friends fined for playing computer games

    Tracking bracelets, fines for not self-isolating

  6. NatWally

    Sorry fellow Cats. Just realised I embedded the same link to both stories.

    Second one is here

  7. Nob

    Texas Jack
    #3400525, posted on April 8, 2020 at 5:14 pm
    Gets my vote for Cat Post of the Year….
    Brilliant stuff

    I agree.

    I struggle to put my frustration into words but Justinian has done it brilliantly.

    Small business cannot afford to maintain a battalion of in-house lawyers, or get into litigation or risk any kind of prosecution.

    So it’s like an electric fence – to avoid ever touching it, you don’t go anywhere near it, so you over-comply and thus society is ratcheted up tighter again.

    To the extent that regulators look for trouble it is not to prosecute it but to further the goal of regulatory creep

    It’s simply job creation, empire building at the expense of value creation.

    No safety regulator ever said “job done” and shrunk themselves.

  8. Nob

    Last year I had to meet with the UK safety regulator over an offshore incident – nothing we did wrong but a third party fucked up using our equipment and could have, but hadn’t, caused an injury.
    Didn’t cause any damage at all, actually, and lessons were learned, procedures were improved, but of course it had to be reported to the regulator.

    As introductions were going round, and we spoke about the number of people still in straitened circumstances since the slump of 2015, I deadpanned, “It must have been awful for you guys too. Did you lose many jobs?”

    I got a thin smile back because although around 120,000 jobs were lost in the UK sector, those fuckers hadn’t lost a single one and he knew I knew it and was concern-trolling him.

  9. Texas Jack

    The agency cost to society of a never-ending and self-perpetuating bureaucratic maze must be gargantuan.

  10. Nob

    Seriously how many people do you know who work for government, or government contractors or are employed by some compliance or regulatory consultancy, or similar within a private company?

    It’s almost everybody I know in Australia.

    The value creators are few and carry all this dead weight.

  11. Rafe Champion

    So many vicious cycles are in play here, regulation feeds on regulation, empire building, virtue signalling, political correctness, rampant HR departments, everything has to be fixed by the government either spending or regulating etc etc,
    It is amazing that there is so much energy and productivity in some parts of the economy that all these other dead weights have been carried while by and large most people have been doing better , whether they are productive or not.
    The worst case scenarios for the exit from the crisis are pretty scary because a lot of productive people are going to be out of business just when we are have to lift productivity or become the poor white trash of Asia as Lee Kuan Yew anticipated.
    On top of that the western world needs a strong US with a vibrant economy and if Trump does not get a second term we will really be in trouble.

  12. Hodor

    Ever wondered why it takes so many people to do a simple road repair?

  13. James Hargrave

    HR – a deadly virus indeed. Every sane person should maintain social distancing from those who are infected with it.

  14. Rafe Champion

    It looks as though HR is a major point of entry for identity politics and political correctness to penetrate the fabric of organizations. Supported by woke board rooms. Penetration at the top and also at the point of entry to employment and promotion.
    What sort of training do HR people get, what courses do they do and what actual skills do they have that might relate to making appointments based on the productivity of the employee?

    Another locus of infection is probably the in-service courses that people do. A veteran Qld teacher posted a comment somewhere to say how bright young things out of uni would volunteer to do all the courses provided that had no teaching content but they got points that put them ahead of teachers who were more concerned with teaching in the classroom.

    The same with my nephew who had to leave the army with a knee problem that ruled him out of the Special Services that he wanted to join, he became a Plod in Tasmania and eventually escaped into Border Defence, driven to distraction by a combination of netpotism in the service and also favour for officers who did all the courses put on by HR that had nothing to do with policing. The more experienced officers who did the hard yards in the tough suburbs where you might have to knock down a door or get into a fist fight with a very big and angry man or two.

    One time the knocked down a door and next day the police called another nephew who is a carpenter/builder and asked him to come to a well known suburb to repair a door. He got wind that it was the door his brother knocked down and politely refused the job. He would have been ok, he is the captain of the football team, 6.4 in the old money, 105 kg but he just didn’t want the aggro.

    The wind is running at 29% of capacity and providing 10% of the power. SA is importing.

  15. Rafe Champion

    You probably realised I meant to say that the officers who knocked down the doors were left behind by the kids who did the courses. I think our friend Cardinoma experienced the same thing in the Fire Brigade.

    On regulators and council approvals, another nephew does planning for local councils, he started at Burnie and moved to WA, first at X that I can’t remember and now Busso further south. X is one of the smallest LGSs in Australia and he left in disgust because of the rampant nepotism in appointments and also the attitudes of the two planning officers who worked in earshot of his desk. Apparently when applications for any kind of development came in their main objective was to find as many objections as possible, as though they never trusted the motivation of anyone running a business. I suppose that applied to the way way the council ran their internal business.
    One of the big firms set up a business there, something like Bunnings that is everywhere in Australia and they told my nephew that this was the most difficult council they encountered in the whole nation.

  16. Rafe Champion

    And then there was the council officer in a Brisbane district who had such a bad reputation that everyone put their development applications in while she was on annual leave.

  17. Rafe Champion

    SA has turned the corner and is exporting 29MW of power to Victoria!

  18. Bruce

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Indeed!

  19. John A

    Roger #3400528, posted on April 8, 2020, at 5:14 pm

    To the extent that regulators look for trouble it is not to prosecute it but to further the goal of regulatory creep in the realm of soft regulation (expansion of big government).

    Then we may need to regulate the regulators!

    Did you forget the /sarc tag?

    If not, I recommend as an alternative, the Rabz Doctrine:
    Shut. Them. Down.
    Fire. Them. All.

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