Pyrmonter: The Devil always lurks in the detail

For the last four decades (at least) governments and political activists of left and right have cavilled at ‘white collar crime’.  On the Left, the complaint was that only the poor, working class or ‘Othered’ attracted the attention of the authorities, leading to prisons full of young men, often ‘of colour’, while ‘corporate crooks’ went free (as, too often, they did).  On the Right, it was that frauds should not benefit from exchanges brought about by deceit or corruption (which they’ve tended to do … regardless of Laura Norder).

Heaven knows, they’ve had a point. As the Hayne Royal Commission’s findings show (to choose only from the most recent example – similar points could be drawn from a long list of inquiries into commercial misconduct stretching through the Wheat Board scandal, the State Banks, HIH – the list isn’t short) put a suit in charge of someone else’s money and you need a system to make sure she doesn’t help herself to it.  To that end, we now have financial services licensing, audit regulation, AML/CTF legislation, anti ‘Modern Slavery’ reugulations, indeeed an entire forest of measures supposedly designed to ensure the probity of commercial life.  Not least, for a decade, we’ve had anti-bribery legislation in the Crimes Act, modelled on UK provisions with extra-territorial reach.  And, yet.

And yet, dig into the federal government’s latest proposals for the subordinate legislation dealing with the restructuring of small businesses (open for consultation for 8 days – consultation on the principal legislation has now closed after similarly short consultation) , and we find, buried in an almost impenetrable thatch of cross-references, this gem:

‘if a person (the broker) referred the company to the restructuring practitioner—set out details of the relationship between the broker and the restructuring practitioner and details of any payments made, or to be made, to the broker by the restructuring practitioner in connection with that referral;’

A provision of considerable obscurity, to be sure.  Translated into the more plain language of commerce, it means the small business ‘restructuring practitioner’ will need to tell you if she’s paying a kickback to her referrer, and if so, how much.  In doing so, it sanctions what has hitherto been prohibited for decades – the offerring of inducements for or to an insolvency practitioner, payments that in any other context would be treated as an indication of corruption.  So, we have a government that outlaws bribery both here and abroad, while at the same time sanctioning it among a population it claims to regulate.

But, then, we all know that what governments say, and what they do are two quite different things.

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8 Responses to Pyrmonter: The Devil always lurks in the detail

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    To that end, we now have financial services licensing, audit regulation, AML/CTF legislation, anti ‘Modern Slavery’ regulations, indeeed an entire forest of measures supposedly designed to ensure the probity of commercial life. Not least, for a decade, we’ve had anti-bribery legislation in the Crimes Act, modelled on UK provisions with extra-territorial reach. And, yet.

    It’s almost like they’re chasing their tails.

    One of the things which is most unacceptable to the prog-left is the fact that the most stable and prosperous nations are built on Christianity. The prog-left detest Christianity because it tells them what they should do. But when a large part of the population behave decently, in accordance to Christian teaching (whether they are Christians or not), the society goes well. Crime is low, niceness is high.

    But when societies abandon Christian tradition the ferals get a licence to feralize. Crime goes up, graft, deception, corruption, lies, kinky sex and all kinds of corrosive behaviours become the norm. The police can’t chase them all because there’re too many perps. So you get Baltimore and Chicago. And you get corrupt untouchable elites who end up running things, because that’s how oligarchs behave.

    Being now in a post-Christian society we see exactly what is occurring. Biden, a classic corrupt elitist is elected by the elites to let the elites continue to defy the proles and live the life of opulence. But the society cannot afford to pay for the necessary law and order effort when most of the people ignore the unjust legal and justice system. The oligarchs retreat to their walled and gated communities with paid security, whilst the people on the outside eat all the zoo animals. And that’s why tumbrils eventually happen.

  2. C.L.

    How anybody in this country manages to navigate their way through the statutes and stay in business nowadays is near-miraculous.

    As far as profitable referrals, inducements and ‘bribery’ go, they’re all very subjective things in contemporary Australia – especially for political parties and ex-pols, predictably enough.

  3. Roger

    The prog-left detest Christianity because it tells them what they should do.

    Bruce, I’m in polite disagreement with you.

    The prog-left detest Christianity not because it tells them what they should do but because it tells them what they haven’t done, i.e. kept God’s law, which they know both from nature and by virtue of it being written on their hearts – Romans 1 & 2.

    The only thing the Christian Gospel – lit. good news! – tells people to do is to believe in Jesus so they may receive eternal life – John 6:28-29. Good works then flow from faith.

    On this I will agree with you – when a goodly number of Christians inhabit a society they “season” it with their faith and works. When Christianity and its ethos is rejected, though, immorality rises, as you describe in your second para, even to a point where a society shifts from its foundations, as I think we are seeing in the US (& elsewhere).

    The Founding Fathers foresaw this danger when they warned that the American Constitution was fit only for a religious people.

    For a long survey of the development of modern democracy and its intertwining with Christianity, see Larry Seidentop, Inventing the Individual (I imagine that was his publishers title, not his).

  4. John A

    Roger #3668595, posted on November 23, 2020, at 2:51 pm

    The prog-left detest Christianity because it tells them what they should do.

    Bruce, I’m in polite disagreement with you.

    The prog-left detest Christianity not because it tells them what they should do but because it tells them what they haven’t done, i.e. kept God’s law, which they know both from nature and by virtue of it being written on their hearts – Romans 1 & 2.

    Roger and Bruce, you have hit the nail on the head, and I concur.

    When the Ten Commandments are abandoned or redefined as the Sort-a Ten Suggestions, they have to be replaced by human rules, because a society can’t function without some rules.

    Murphy’s Law (aka Original Sin) means that no-one can be trusted – which is what Douglas Wilson called the blinding revelation given to the framers of the US Constitution. Thus they divided power and authority so that it would be very difficult or nearly impossible for one person to amass all power to themselves.

    What the Marxists have done by invading the institutions of society is diffuse the exercise of power within bureaucracies public and private, so that there is enormous pressure to conform but there is no locus of power against which to raise a resistance movement.

    So immensely detailed rules are devised by obscure individuals working “legitimately” to minimise evil as they see it. The problem becomes acute because these rules overlap, contradict and interfere with each other.

    The reason? Those devising them don’t (can’t) see the overall picture which an Omniscient, Omnipotent God has of the entire complexity of creation, including the fallen, imperfect nature of humanity.

  5. Pyrmonter

    @ CL

    How anybody in this country manages to navigate their way through the statutes and stay in business nowadays is near-miraculous.

    My tendency is to think they don’t. Which leave a lot of honest people exposed to predation.

    That said, one gate-keeper in the system was supposed to be the insolvency system, that (theoretically) had practitioners able to, and required to, investigate and report on misconduct. Thousands of reports were filed each year, about which ASIC did next to nothing (well, they tabulated the reports: https://download.asic.gov.au/media/5416756/2018-2019-asic-insolvency-statistics-series31.pdf). That’s going, whatever it was worth.

  6. Louis Litt

    CL – I run a business and break safety, employment laws every day. I do not know what they are.
    I do not attempt to control employees.
    Majority of people are honest, fair and well meaning.
    The socialists detest the Christian faith, especially the Catholics, because they have what Socialists can never have , a faith to goodness which people sacrifice. The socialist want a six figure salary for this.
    Open question, why is the labor party full of English protestants – Wong , shorten Rudd “converted from Catholicism” , why is the liberal party full of Catholics – Abbot, Hockey, Andrews, Cash(unsure if Corman is as well)

  7. old bloke

    C.L.
    #3668572, posted on November 23, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    How anybody in this country manages to navigate their way through the statutes and stay in business nowadays is near-miraculous.

    It’s also reasonable to ask why they bother. Whereas large corporations are doing very nicely thank you, small businesses are suffering badly. See John Paul Watson “They think you’re stupid” around the 2 minute mark.

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