Friday, 7 January 2011

So much for 'morality'

Am greatly entertained by tales from across the water of the various attempts at persuasion or coercion by Government related agencies. Am further amused at the attempts to legislate morality in the UK's new 'Bribery act' due to come into force this April.

Apparently it will soon be unlawful for a company's agents to offer any form of inducement to win business. The laws of unforseen consequences loom large in the UK's future. In some ways good, in others bad. This is one of the parting gifts of the outgoing Labour Government, part of Brown's political 'scorched earth' policy.

Good: No more lobbyist bribes to UK politicians by promising to employ a no-hope relative in a non-job or writing a large cheque to a vote grabbing cause. No golfing or shooting weekends with 'friends'. Nothing that could be construed as an 'advantage' like book advances or anything outside of their immediate salary and expenses. Like Caesars wife, the politicians will have to sit aloof and alone, isolated by their own legislation, faced only with their constituents. Lobbying companies will have to tread a very fine line indeed.

Bad: Any form of 'Ex gratia' payment to any 'official' to elicit or give thanks for performance above and beyond 'normal'. A severely restricted ability to trade with certain cultures where bribery, or ex gratia gift giving is the norm (Just about the entire trading world). Manufacturing, imports, and exports will all suffer.

What the high minded moralists forget is that gift giving (Bribery) is endemic throughout the Animal Kingdom. Every warm blooded species with a half developed tribal structure does it. In human societies, ex gratia gifts to dates, spouses, or superiors to win favour are part of our everyday stock in trade. Is there anyone so mean spirited out there who has never given a gift to another person in return for a favour? Who has never given thanks with a pint at the bar or a small cash gift to 'go get yourself something'? What actually constitutes a 'bribe'? A welcome cup of tea to a thirsty Police Officer keeping your street safe? All right, you don't see them very often on foot patrol in the UK, but this is a hypothetical question. A bottle of wine to your MP or local councillor for helping you out in a difficult case?

All will be effectively outlawed. The fallout will be extremely damaging.

Now children; what is the lesson we have learned here? You. Cannot. Legislate. Morality.

Now I have to go and 'bribe' a fish onto a hook. TTFN.


Petr said...

The principle of anti-bribery legislation isn't new. I was working for a US multinational when the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was passed in 1977. The training effort to get people worldwide to cover their backs was immense.
I haven't looked at our recent UK version because it no longer affects me, but if it's like all the other stuff that the last government implemented then I agree nothing good will come of it.

Anonymous said...

Just to get totally off topic, I was reading yesterday that not only do wind turbines not work during windless days, they also have to be turned off in very windy days to avoid damage but also on cold days they have to be turned off and electricity fed back into them to avoid condensation.
No wonder I had a power cut recently, what a bloody farce.
BTW currently it is very cold and windless and has been for many days.

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