Risolvere il problema della “porta girevole” significa modificare i comportamenti
Solving the Revolving Door Problem means changing behaviours. Behaviours are largely driven by incentives. As Charlie Munger, Warren Buffets’s right hand man famously stated, “Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome” which speaks to the idea that incentives have a huge impact on behaviour and therefore outcomes.
Here’s an example of how bad conduct can be, if the incentive to behave badly is strong enough: David Cameron, when he was the UK Prime Minister, allowed Alex Greensill to become one of his Government’s official advisers, in relation to financial matters. When David Cameron left his job as Prime Minister, he worked for Alex Greensill and used his position as former Prime Minister to promote the commercial interests of Alex Greensill. David Cameron earned £Millions through doing this; and unfortunately the UK taxpayer lost a fortune in the process. A particularly egregious example of the Revolving Door problem; see here for further information: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56578838
Given the potentially very large sums of money (and other potential “benefits” such as promotions, power and status) that can be achieved by exploiting revolving door opportunities, it follows that we must accept there are very powerful incentives at work that work against what we are trying to achieve.
It’s therefore going to be a long, tough war and we should expect to lose some battles on the way. However, it will be impossible to have the society we all want unless the Revolving Door problem is solved, due to its fundamentally corrosive, cancerous and corrupting impact. That is why this is such an important initiative that I am very proud to be part of and willing to do all I can to help.
Given the harsh reality of the scale of the problem and the huge resistance to change that we can expect, it is important that we approach the challenge in the optimum way.
To my mind, there is some value in considering these ideas, set out as 6 steps we should take.
1.Framing the problem
We should frame the problem as being about rebuilding trust and confidence in the integrity of the system as a whole. It will be difficult for our opponents to openly challenge such a righteous endeavour without looking suspicious.
2. Defining the problem
How is the revolving door undermining trust and confidence in the system? We should building an evidence base that proves the problem exists and has serious adverse consequences; even that it that ultimately decays democracy
3. Parading the problem
This step is all about raising awareness. We can raise awareness of individual cases as they arise. We can create a database of revolving door infringements and publicise them enthusiastically. We can create an index, with a points based system, whereby points are ‘awarded’ depending on the severity of the case eg a senior regulator with policymaking influence moving to a firm regulated by that regulator would be awarded many points.
We should then publicise that index, creating a disincentive for poor behaviour, which is ultimately what this is all about.
And we should also publicise whenever regulations are broken that are not enforced. We should “name and shame” any agency that it is not doing its bit, and is perhaps suffering from “wilful blindness”
4. Energising the problem
This is about winning hearts and minds. It is about finding authentic leaders who are truly passionate about tackling the problem head on; Sabrina is clearly a very good example. This step needs to be very upbeat and positive; it should be about “the art of the possible”.
We should seek high profile political support outside Europe e.g. Senator Elizabeth Warren who is an outspoken advocate for tackling the revolving door problem head on, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h28hSgVgSTM
We should also seek supranational support, for example from organisations such as these, all of which have/should have an anti-corruption ethos that we should be able to connect with:
- The OECD
- The World Economic Forum
- The United Nations Global Compact, particularly in relation to the Sustainable Development Goal on fairness and integrity
5. Educating on the problem
We should advocate for mandatory courses for certain types of people such as parliamentarians, policy makers and regulators on issues such as:
- conflicts of interest
- regulatory capture
- revolving door
- Fighting corruption; and the interconnectivity between them
It would be a huge win if it became “standard best practice” for all induction courses for relevant employees to have this training. It should be certified and at the very least the training should ensure understanding of the relevant rules and regulations.
6. Legislating for the problem
This is the ultimate step. Perhaps there is wisdom in developing new laws in the regulated spaces first, such as financial services, and then expanding into other sectors. We must remember though that rules are meaningless if not enforced.
It is self-evident that we, and our children and grandchildren, will never live in the society we want if the Revolving Door problem is allowed to continue. It is a big, complex issue that needs to be addressed with a great deal of forethought, energy and commitment. There will be much resistance to be overcome. It’s an important fight to be had; and we will win it, eventually, if we learn to work effectively as a team, because everything we need is within us