The Castor Semenya Controversy: Is it time for competition in competitions?

This week, we discuss Castor Semenya and the controversy surrounding intersex & transgender athletes. We talk about the definition of intersex, the rules around competing against females and if there’s a way forward that can please everyone.

Where should the line be drawn when deciding who can compete in the female category in sport?

Is this even the right question? Should there only be one set of rules?

Is there a way to treat all people fairly?

Are the media telling people everything about this particular, significant case?

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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Facebook wants regulation because it wants to strangle new ideas

There are many motivations for starting a company, but most of them involve having an idea.

It might not be an original one, but that idea is what fuels the company.

That idea is a way of providing a service or a product that will be successful and have demand.

You might have an idea that you know will only make a quick buck. You might have a game changing product that ultimately will influence an entire sector or culture.

You might just think you can do something everyone else is doing, just cheaper, or better.

But while you’re doing it, while your setting up the company and as you start to trade and continue to grow, you aren’t looking for the hardest and most expensive way of doing it.

You maintain your idea, but in the most efficient and value intensive way.

If it costs more than you can sell it for, then you might as well shut up shop, unless you can see a way to reduce those costs through scale, investment and technology.

What you don’t do, is embrace or encourage burdens on your business.

Yet that’s what regulation is.

Regulations are what a start up business has to find a way to fund. They are a direct cost to the business.

You might have raw materials, labour cost and the cost of manufacturing, shipping, marketing etc.

But you also have the regulatory cost. The cost of compliance.

And this is where regulation favours the large business, with its economies of scale and deeper pockets than the plucky start up.

It’s why you’ll never see a small business ask the government to regulate them.

It’s why the founder of Facebook just asked for the government to regulate it.

Look at us, we’re on your side, we are actually asking for rules to play by. We can’t possibly be evil.

Yet if Facebook wanted to protect its users, it could. If it wanted to invest in technology to filter content, it could pump billions of dollars into it.

The plucky little start up social media company can’t afford to do that.

And that’s why Facebook wants it.

They get to “work with governments” and governments get to say they “worked with industry” to set regulation and “protect” us. From whom, who knows.

But the sad irony, the counter intuitive fact of the matter, is that if government regulates Facebook (or rather the entire social media industry) then it has unwittingly done Facebook’s job for it.

It’s put a massive extra cost on being a social media platform, and thus instantly made it billions of dollars more difficult to become one.

Who do we want to challenge the Facebooks of this world? Only other global business leviathans with the means to navigate and pay the costs generated by regulation?

Or do we want real competition.  From new businesses of any size. From those that want to change and pivot quickly.

Facebook just asked to be regulated. Governments will now clamour to do so, when all they are doing is helping sustain and augment a monopoly.

Yet we should want those with new ideas to be able to disrupt.

To challenge.

To innovate.

The best way of coming up with something better than Facebook is to unleash the potential of those new ideas.

Free from constraints.  Free from burdensome regulation that only the large incumbents will push for in order to create barriers for those to challenge them.

Of course Mark Zuckerberg wants new regulation.

The problem is that no one else asks why.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

A competitive edge over the EU? That’s the point Mr Barnier

Who knows where we will end up in the Brexit negotiation.

There are signs that finally even Theresa May’s soft Brexit position is such that she knows she can’t go any further based on the EU’s reaction to the chequers white paper.

Early on I hoped that the EU would stand firm on their ideas of cherry picking and their supposed to freedoms.  That it would mean no matter the deal, it would have to mean an end to things “like” the current EU structures.

No single market or even something like it.

No customs union or something similar.

This would mean a clean break and the most power possible brought back to this country so that we can pursue our own policies as we see fit as a nation.

Now of course the entire project is a contradiction.

The EU breaks it’s own rules when it sees fit.

They sign up agreements, treaties and trade deals with other countries that by any definition of the term do cherry pick from the 4 freedoms.

Which is the other reason why striking a trade deal should be pretty easy, certainly based on the fact that we are already so closely aligned.

If Japan can sign a trade deal, so can we.

But here’s what I find amazing about Barnier’s response today.

He listed a number of issues he felt existed with the white papers position.

They included all manner of questions of legality, the imposition of bureaucracy and fear of fraud.

But one thing struck home to me instantly.

He said that if the UK diverged on services then we could gain a “significant competitive edge”.

How can someone miss the point so much that they let it sail by.

Of course we want a competitive edge. Of course that’s a major reason for leaving and part of everything the leave campaign spoke of in the referendum campaign.

What’s even more odd is that no one will mention that it’s a bit odd that he pointed this out. They are so blind now to the idea that whatever the EU say must be true, desirable and reasonable.

To be fair when your own government is in the shambles it’s in its its hard not to assume they must be onto a loser, but to not get that that’s what Brexit is for is just crazy.

We do want to compete. We do want to trade. We do want to be good neighbours.

But that doesn’t mean there is a problem with us having a different tarrif to the EU, which again Mr Barnier points out today.

It means finally, we as a country can pick and choose how we want to trade and what priorities we want as a nation.

I suppose if the EU 27 don’t actually understand why that is ultimately good for us and for them then that’s their look out.

And it only serves to once again point out why we don’t want to be part of that way of thinking.

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