Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Regulatory Capture

Hearing about 'regulatory capture' during last week's Voiceless lecture, was a pure lightbulb moment.

I got home and immediately googled this new term whereupon I came across Wikipedia's brief explanation that regulatory capture occurs 'when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.'

Bingo! - aka an explanation for the appalling conditions incurred during the production of animals for our consumption...and also an explanation for our very own bicycle helmet regulations.

Wikipedia continues that 'regulatory capture is a form of government failure, as it can act as an encouragement for firms to produce negative externalities. The agencies are called "captured agencies".'

This is us - and there's actually a term for this regulatory rubbish that we've had to put up with...and it's pretty easy to see how it fits within our Australian parameters coupled with ever-pervasive big corporate parameters.

And when you go on to explore this term with bicycle helmets in mind there is some interesting stuff delineating this issue.

The Technology Liberation Front provides a comprehensive collection of eminent people to further explain regulatory capture.

For example, Holman Jenkins ("Let’s Restart the Green Revolution," Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2011 - regarding how misguided agricultural & environmental policies are hurting consumers) explains:

"When some hear the word ‘regulation,’ they imagine government rushing to the defense of consumers. In the real world, government serves up regulation to those who ask for it, which usually means organized interests seeking to block a competitive threat. This insight, by the way, originated with the left, with historians who went back and reconstructed how railroads in the U.S. concocted federal regulation to protect themselves from price competition. We should also notice that an astonishingly large part of the world has experienced an astonishing degree of stagnation for an astonishingly long time for exactly such reasons."

...and George Stigler ("The Theory of Economic Regulation," 2(1) Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science, 1971, 3-21 at 3) had this to say:

"…as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefits."

A revealing quote from George Gilder (Wealth & Poverty, New York: Bantam Books, 1981, pp. 283) puts forward that:

"One reason for government resistance to change is that the process of creative destruction can attack not only an existing industry, but also the regulatory apparatus that subsists on it; and it is much more difficult to retrench a bureaucracy than it is to bankrupt a company. A regulatory apparatus is a parasite that can grow larger than its host industry and become in turn a host itself, with the industry reduced to parasitism, dependent on the subsidies and protections of the very government body that initially sapped its strength."

...and Bruce Yandle (“Bootleggers and Baptists — The Education of a Regulatory Economist,” Regulation, Vol. 3, No. 3, May/June 1983,p. 13) explains what it is that industry wants from the regulators:

“They want protection from competition, from technological change, and from losses that threaten profits and jobs. A carefully constructed regulation can accomplish all kinds of anticompetitive goals of this sort, while giving the citizenry the impression that the only goal is to serve the public interest.”

No kidding, this really is bingo!!!! fits Australia's bicycle helmet regulation to a tee...

...and it it does for the appalling conditions we permit animals to be produced in, deliberately never turning our mind to the cruelty involved which if it was exacted on our precious dogs and cats would cause a sustained community outrage.

Time to see 'Regulatory Capture for what it is - protectionism for Big Corpa...

...and time to fight it on all industry counts

Sunday, April 28, 2013

♫Who do you think you're kidding, Mr Ga-ay♪♫

(Images: 'Jerry Seinfield - helmets,' spedkeyat, YouTube)

Dear Mr Gay,

Check out some classic 'Jerry' and get cracking on a spot of repealing!

You know it & we know it...that as time goes by, less and less Australians believe these industry-driven regulations are about bicycle safety.

Yours in bicycle cheers,
Sue Abbott

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"Oh to be in England now that April's there"

In the maternal line of my family, I am the first woman in four generations to raise her children to adulthood with their father alongside her.

My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were not so lucky.

When you’re missing a family member, who cares about the honour to die for your country?

I hate ANZAC Day

& I hate Gallipoli

& I hate the annual military grooming

& I hate always getting ready for somebody else's battle

& I also hate the RAF

& I wish I'd had longer with my father

GG ahoy!

(Images: appgratis)

No, no, no, no, no...a too too scary thought

Jeez, ok ok...

- labour...

- maybe...


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Groundhog Day - booked on Sydney Harbour Bridge

Why do we do it?

Why do we waste precious resources criminalising 'cycling without helmets' when we know that the rest of the world eschews such squeamishness because helmet data is unsubstantiated?

Anyhoo they are not questions for police but rather politicians, so this morning after affable chat with cute policeman near Harbour Bridge Steps, I ended up having my details taken for issue of helmet infringement notice via mail in the next few days.

According to aforementioned CP (cute policeman), helmets save lives, doesn't matter if you don't make a habit of falling off, only takes one accident...and to my remarks that if I should wear one so should motorists, apparently motorists have big cars protecting their heads and therefore don't need helmets...


...even though CP and I both sort of agreed that motorists really do make up most of the statistics relatively or otherwise for head injuries...

(thanks to @CyclingRSmith for timely tweet grahphic!)

But back to CP and me, he asked where I had cycled from, and I said Newtown and that I'd come over to photograph the steps which I thought were a ridiculous feature as part of the cycling route because they did their best to preclude me and my type of cycling. As I said to him, it was no easy feat getting my big heavy dutch bike down despite the ramp!

He seemed surprised at the thought of people like me struggling with the step feature of the bridge, and said that he and his colleagues usually cycled down them as did a lot of bridge users!!!

Totally gobsmacked, I was most impressed and wished I'd arrived earlier to see the downhill of harbour bridge mountain bike course in action...

As it was, users when I was there were quite tame, albeit even if they could hoick their bikes up on their shoulders, something I certainly can't do.

So long story's off to court for me again in the not too distant future - sigh

Monday, April 22, 2013

My vote...going, going, god knows where

(Images: usylife, Tumblr) Tony Abbott then?

Nope, can't do that either - sigh

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tertiary & self education up shit creek without a paddle

There goes your education if you ever had one in the first place!

Not content with ripping into the university budget to pay for the new National Improvement for School Plan (renamed according to Peter Hartcher after David Gonski's public statement disowning PM's neutered version), the government (sector of community who largely received university education for free) has now decided to add self education and professional development expenses to their pruning-list .

Given that Big Oil and Big Coal rule the Australian economy, petrol and mega-tonka truck expenses are still fair dinkum but Big Brainy Box and Big Bunsen Burner just haven't got a foot in yet with Big Gov so we've now been told we can forget about intellectual and continuing professional development expenses if they're our bag.

So after a quick squiz at Treasury Press Release here's the thing ...we're to be educated to year 10 or 12 but after that, buddies, we're on our own...

Yes we'll be proficient in reading manuals and yes we'll be able to follow instructions and probably we'll get the drift with OH&S policies but any attempt at freeing our minds with a view to forming our own views removed from that of any authority's....well, we'll just have to forget that!!

...oh and another thing, as always the rural & remote areas will cop it the most severely.

'A pox on both their houses'...fancy tertiary and further education being so poorly rated by both this government and the oppostion (who are currently just squibbly accepting funding-slashing as  convenient done-deal) - how can we be the best teachers, scientists, defence counsel, neuro-surgeons, midwives, photographers, journalists, linguists, politicians even, if the necessary learning after school isn't supported?

OK, enough's enough, that's it, Labour..I can't go any further with you - seriously, I've had it with you guys...I'm off...and I'm taking my vote with me

Friday, April 19, 2013

Down, down, down - SAI Global going down

("Healthy Skepticism is the best strategy over the long term," Matthew Kidman, Business Day, SMH)

Now that the standard seller for the puffed up the bicycle helmet safety industry is taking a bit of a dip what are the repercussions for us?

(well...those of 'us' who wear helmets, which as it turns out is not me so I'm not actually included in that last little 'us' bit...but I'm in the next bit...)

What does it mean for Australia whose standards, accreditation, product testing, certification, OH &S compliance, ethics, risk assessements, audit management, legislation, commentary, codes, property development, ownership, transfer, military parts, metals, fact 'Uncle Tom Cobbley an all' are in their hands?

Hmmn I wonder

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Alaskan men aren't frightened of bicycles

Images: submitted by mccubbins28

Gasp...some aussie ones are!!!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Boris Johnson, respect & ♥ to you

Nick Ferrari, hmmmn...why is playing 'Pollyanna' so universally popular with mainstream media? - we get same gut full Down Under

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Oh c'mon, Duncan!

via reddit

...don't be such a spoil're making us a global laughing stock...again...sheesh

Double lines = double danger

The introduction of double lines to this part of my journey into town has caused me no end of problems.

Clearly Local Council and the Roads and Maritime Services were not thinking about cyclists when they donned their pinnies and opened up their cans of paints - probably more about hill crests, motorists, & wobble-free brushstrokes.

Anyhoo, now we have a situation comprising of a narrow road going up hill (or down depending on direction) and motorists strictly forbidden by highway code to cross the double lines...

...which translates into meaning that this 'council-sanctioned-paint-job' has made it virtually impossible for any motor vehicle except a motor bike to pass me legally.

So currently my road-sharing moments on this patch of road are either...

(a) comfortably 'illegal'


(b) terrifyingly 'legal'

Monday, April 8, 2013

'Now I've got one [wordle] to say to you!'

Wordle: Australia's Bicycle Climate  


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Non-sterile bicycle helmets are not medical devices; non-sterile tampons are

I received correspondence at the end of January from the Hon Catherine King MP stating:

'Non-sterile protective or safety apparel or equipment, for use in the home or for occupational or recreational use, has been declared not to be therapeutic goods. This declaration has been made under the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order No.1 of 2011. As per your example, bicycle helmets fall within this decription and therefore are not regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration under the Act.'

But yes, yes...I knew this which is why I asked in my letter to have the actual reason explained to me why bicycle helmets were not deemed to be therapeutic goods.

Inconsistency is evident on the  Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) and appears to make a contrary case in that the Hon Catherine King's 'non-sterile protecitve or safety apparel or equipment, for use in the home or for occupational or recreational use' has been declared to be therapeutic goods...

...for example:

'Johnson & Johnson Pacific Tampons Non-Sterile; ARTG No: 67066; Type: Device; Sponsor: Johnson & Johnson'

Ok, ok, we all know that tampons are way more useful than bicycle helmets but still no-one or nothing to date has explained why bicycle helmets aren't listed on the ARTG.

When you read the provisions of section 41BD(1)(a)(iii) of the Therapeutic Goods Act (1989) a bicycle helmet ought to fit them because we know that bicycle helmets are deemed for use by human beings and for the purpose of modification of the anatomy.

But it seems to me that bicycle helmets have been disqualified as medical devices in order to cancel consent and refusal entitlements which would have automatically followed if bicycle helmets had been recognised as medical devices. Consequently a mini caveat has been slotted in at section 41BD(3) to provide a convenient little escape hatch for designated Secretary to be able to declare 'to be or not be' medical device proclamations even though designated Secretary may not even be a medical device expert.

It's all smoke & well as very flawed and very inconsistent and utterly contradictory.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Slippery slope of self-gagging

Their silence is ominous...

Why is mainstream media not prepared to release the name of the elderly individual arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as a result of Operation Yewtree, the police investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children by British media personality Jimmy Savile and others?

Why are these supposedly reputable media outlets stifling our right to freedom of information when they normally clamour to be our daily dose of them?

Why are organisations such as the BBC, the Mirror, the Sydney Morning Herald and even the Guardian utilising this tactic in this particular matter?

Why has mainstream media so firmly closed ranks that we now have the strange spectre of a self-imposed lock-down of news that is normally deemed in the public interest?


Blogs and the twittersphere have been abuzz with the breaking news (which may turn out not to be breaking news after all given that an elderly Australian entertainer was interviewed by the police under caution in November 2012)...

...and have been babbling away on the subject for days since his arrest.

Mainstream media's silence is completely baffling and troubling. By self-gagging, they are single-handedly consigning themselves to the slippery slope of press censorship.

Surely it has to be in the public interest to report fully in these matters for both our protection and for the protection of those under suspicion. We can't have the police going around arresting people anonymously - everything the police do they do in our name because they represent us, the community...

...I repeat, they represent us so we have a right to know what is going on, and more importantly the person arrested ought to have the right to know that we, the public have been informed as to what is happening and that we the public will ensure the ensuing process is fair and just - how can we do this if we don't know what's going on and to whom it is happening?

Furthermore, it is quite definitely in the public interest to know why mainstream media outlets have imposed this blanket media silence on the person of interest’s name - it's become utterly farcical and inconsistent.

In my opinion, mainstream media needs to:
  • get a grip of themselves,
  • re-familiarise themselves with the raison d'etre of being journalists,
  • remind themselves that they have reported full details of other 'arrestees' connected to Operation Yewtree presumably in the knowledge that such reporting is not an acknowledgement of guilt or otherwise, and
  • publish the elderly Australian entertainer’s name.
Why are mainstream media being so cautious in their non-reporting? – who exactly are they protecting?


(a version of this post was published a couple of days ago on USyd's 'online journalism' blog )

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mainstream media's buy-in of Australian car culture

Nope, it never ceases to amaze me how the reporting of cycling incidents in Australia is invariably framed with a whiff of automatic liability on the part of the bicycle user.

So in this example we're told that the unfortunate cyclist ‘was unable to avoid an oncoming car’, but it's done in such stilted prose that there's almost an inference that he alone was the only vehicle required to take avoidance strategies.

Obviously it is in the interests of cyclists to do so...that is to avoid other road users...but perhaps this recurrent 'bike-always-at-fault' theme only contributes further to the car-culture dominance and assumptions that cyclists are merely interlopers on Australian bitumen...sigh...

At the risk of being howled down, I would like to say yet again; if only we had strict liability like the Netherlands do...