Peter Martin rang me yesterday morning because he told me he was going to write up my ideas on regulation, though we didn’t talk as long as both of us would have liked because his commitments at the time, and my subsequent commitments meant we couldn’t speak again. Journalism is like that. Anyway, he’d been doing a fair bit of reading of Lateral Economics stuff on regulation (pdf) so he was able to go away and do an admirable job of writing up the ideas.
I don’t know how the opening line will read in the Canberra times. But it looks great alongside the appropriate picture which is of course the Spice Girls.
I am a fan of that line “Tell me what you want, what you really really want”. It’s such a great line for an economist, that I don’t know why it hasn’t been picked up before. Perhaps it has. Peter says I’m a fan of the Spice Girls. I deny the allegation and repudiate the alligator. I really think journalists should show more responsibility. Does Peter have any idea of the possible implications of such a revelation for the (already flagging) respect my fourteen year old daughter has for her father, not to mention her own relations with her peers – should they discover and then believe these baseless allegations?
Still, if anyone can enlighten me as to the contents of the Spice Girls’ next line after they ask “tell me what you want” I’d be grateful.
I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha.
I’ve always wanted to know. I know they’re touring again and would probably go if I thought I’d be enlightened. But I think they’re just teasing us. I wonder if we’ll ever know for sure?
That reminds me of a few other clarifications.
- The PC recommendation to repeal ADR 25 wasn’t mine – made (from memory) in 1999 when I was a couple of years gone from there.
- I haven’t ever called for a situation where businesses could simply proceed with what they regard as the letter of the law, but did say to Peter in the brief interview that was cut short that there were two extremes
- a system where business has a right to request a response from regulators on a regulation, something that was tried and dismally failed as outlined in the Regulation and Innovation (pdf) report cited above
- a system where there is some way of getting regulators to uphold rights to alternative compliance.
Peter explains that I think we need to find some middle way between two extremes but explains the ‘deregulatory’ extreme (the second of the two below) in more radical terms than I had envisaged. That’s a happy accident. I wouldn’t have got to the extreme he outlines – where businesses can just do what they ‘really really want’ if they can demonstrate that it’s within the spirit of the regulation – because, apart from other things business wouldn’t be remotely interested in it. (It would be too risky for them. They have nothing to reassure them that they won’t be successfully prosecuted.) But conceptually it’s probably a better ‘extreme’ position than the one I outlined to him. I’m such a reasonable person you know, I have trouble with extremes – like all denizens of Troppo . . . .
- And, I hadn’t thought of ‘tell me what you want, what you really really want’ as a line with direct relevance to this area, but that’s a happy accident too – what cross fertilisation is all about. Peter is right – it’s a good one here too – though not because firms will ever be able, or ever want to, do what they really really want without some confidence that what this is is legal.
Postscript: It occurs to me that I am being too literal in my quest for the meaning of ‘zigazig ha’. Usually a mistake in this changeable game of life. Sometimes one waits too long just to realise the answer is sitting there, right under your nose. As Sigmund Freud might have said “sometimes a zigazig ha is just a zigazig ha“.
Postscript 2: Artwork by Don Arthur!