Throughout the noughties, the Financial Services Authority imposed endless new rules on the City. As its handbook expanded to over 6,000 pages, banks and fund managers were forced to set up entire new compliance departments to cope with the extra regulations.
But focused on tick box compliance, the regulator hopelessly failed on the basics. No one seems to have asked Northern Rock, for example, if lending long by borrowing short off the international credit markets might cause a problem if, for any reason, those international credit markets froze for a while. We know what happened next.
Might that other FSA, the Food Standards Agency, have similarly failed?
For months, the Food Standards Agency has been trying to bully my local council into adopting its new food hygiene rating system for local food retailers. It won't accept that some local councils might quite legitimately prefer not to impose new burdens on small businesses. Instead of getting officious with my council, perhaps the Food Standards quangocrats could have taken a closer look at those "beef" burgers on sale in local supermarkets instead?
For years, the Food Standards Agency has produced patronising posters telling us that we should not eat too much salt. Let's hope we've not been over doing it on equine drug products, too, eh?
On the stuff that really matters, where was the regulator?
It is starting to look as if horse meat has been systematically fed into the UK food processing market for months, if not years. Forget the pros and cons of horse meat, if the retailer does not even know what species the meat is from, what confidence can one have in its quality?
This is what happens when you put quangos in charge. They create lots of new regulations, but fail to properly regulate the things that might actually need regulating.
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
Printed by Douglas Carswell of 61 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex