Opinion

POLLIE TICKLED: Can people in power self-regulate?

In self-regulation, there is sometimes more an emphasis on the 'self' than the 'regulation'.
In self-regulation, there is sometimes more an emphasis on the 'self' than the 'regulation'. EtiAmmos

MOST of us can self-regulate. We don't go down the road way over the speed limit. Nor the slightest bit over the alcohol limit.

But that self-regulation has only come because it's backed by real regulation - random breath tests and highway patrols. If we didn't manage ourselves, the government would.

Most people speed a bit sometimes. That may bring a fine and a few demerit points, but life goes on - if no one gets hurt.

The alcohol rules are tougher and so people are less likely to make that mistake. A fraction over and no licence. Not worth it.

Self-regulation works best when backed by consequences.

But self-regulation backed by no penalties means a person or company has to really overdo it to face any significant public penalty (loss of sales or votes) or any legal penalty (fines, jail).

So, it turns out size does count. You and I and the rest of the public lack scale, even though there are millions of us.

If I ripped $1000 off the tax office or broke some rules that led to a few complications, I'd get a fine, jail and humiliation.

But someone who ran a major public company and failed to report a whole bunch of transactions they should have or skipped on paying millions in tax would get a slap on the wrist. At worst, they'd be the fall guy and the rest of the board and senior management would get off with a cut to their bonuses.

Or if that person ran a massive mining company, went broke, cost lots of people their jobs, despoiled the environment and brought in people from overseas to work on shonky pay rates, the fine, jail and public humiliation would be maybe double what I got - but they did something hundreds of times greater.

And when we look at the scale factor with politicians and churches, it's the same problem.

If I failed to vote, I'd be fined. No excuses like I didn't know I had to (Malcolm really did trot that excuse out for Barnaby). But if I was the second-highest ranked voter in the land and "didn't know" I had to obey the constitution, I could sit on a fat salary while the judges were given time to hopefully absolve me, reinstate my job and leave my salary in my wallet.

And the country's highest ranked Catholic says if a person worked for the church or its education system and married someone of the same gender (assuming the law ever permitted that), the church would sack them. For loving someone openly.

But it and other churches didn't apply that to priests who showed no love at all, as they committed the crime of raping children. Obviously scale is a factor in some churches, too.

This gives an incentive to go the whole hog. No wonder more people do stupid, dangerous and lawless things on the road, in the supermarket or at work. Where is the modelling?

Anyone who backs self-regulation for politicians and industry understands something about our language that most of us don't. In the expression "self-regulation" there is only one word, "self". The "regulation" part is silent.

Most churchgoers, voters and shareholders are also silent. The silent majority may hold different views to what leaders spout for them, but unless they speak up, it will continue.

Anyone for my voice classes?

I've learnt from the masters. I'll give no individual or small group sessions.

Massive groups only. Size does count.

Topics:  michael burlace opinion pollie tickled self-regulation


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

NORPA set to launch 2018 season

FUN: The NORPA launch has become a highlight of the Lismore social calendar every year.

Have you sent your RSVP to the free event?

Ready to master the Lismore games for 2017

Training hard for the mini olympics are Nathan Dee and Mitch Low in the 2017 Lismore Masters Cup.

Numbers are up for the games

Sun shines on rainbow flag over council chambers

Celebrating the rainbow flag raised over Lismore City Council chambers.

It was an action 50 years in the making

Local Partners