PILK: Good evening everyone and we are glad to have you back to “Got Pilk.” Today, we are very pleased to have royalty come to the studio- Queen Victoria of England. Your highness, welcome to the program.
QV: Thank you Pilk. It is a pleasure to be here. Please call me Victoria.
PILK: Thank you Victoria. We are discussing a few things that are near and dear to your heart – government and proper dinner etiquette. Your interest in government speaks for itself, but global etiquette is also referred to have developed during what has been coined the “Victorian Era.”
QV: It’s always something interesting with you Pilk. I have read your book Courses: A Menu for Public Policy with Chef James Beard and Senator J. William Fulbright (available at http://www.amazon.com/Courses-Public-Senator-William-Fulbright/dp/1595944702).
PILK: Thank you. I hope you enjoyed it. In fact, tonight’s topic is going to discuss the similarities between hospitality and the work of the financial agencies of the U.S. government. We are going to draw some comparisons - just like in the book.
QV: As always, I am intrigued, let’s begin.
PILK: Great. Before we get too deep into that area, I’d like to talk more about you. Tell us about yourself.
QV: As you know, I was born in 1819. My uncle, William IV, died without an heir, and as the only child of my parents, I became Queen in 1837. My rule has been referred to as a sort of Second Renaissance in England.
PILK: Now as we have mentioned, much has been made of etiquette in your courts. Please explain.
QV: Correct. Truly it was a social standard to honor yourself and your companions. My sense of etiquette included everything from home decor to fashion, but it appears you want to focus on the meals.
PILK: Yes, if possible. I would like to understand better how government and dining interacted.
QV: For all dinner parties, government related or not, all things had to be precise right down to the food, the areas in which the food was served and the table settings.
PILK: Tell me about the table settings.
QV: In my experience Pilk, the setting is simple. Going from left to right, the setting is as follows: fish fork, dinner fork, salad fork, soup bowl on the plate, service knife, fish knife, soup spoon, and oyster fork if necessary. The bread plate with butter knife is placed above the plate and to the left. The dessert spoon and cake fork are placed horizontally above the plate. The glassware goes to the right of the plate, with the glasses descending from water to white wine to red wine.
PILK: Why so strict with the table setting regimen?
QV: It’s important for the host to provide the guests with some consistency in experience. The chef and beverage staff can be unique in cuisine and wine pairings, but the diner needs to know which course will come when and which utensil will govern its consumption.
PILK: Is governing that way?
QV: Perhaps. How do you mean?
PILK: Well I ask this in light of the fact that certain U.S. agencies seem to overlap these days in personnel and purpose. In fact, the oversight and jurisdiction of some regulators has become blurred with the development of new products and market participants.
QV: Give me an example.
PILK: Just this week, it has been reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission could require public companies to report holdings on physical commodities, but the entity that oversees physical commodities is the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. I take no position on what the government should or shouldn’t do in this case, but now companies may have to satisfy two regulators on the same issue.
QV: In the past, the United Kingdom has had a single agency oversee all financial services activity – however that system has recently been changed to have separate regimes overseeing stability and enforcement.
PILK: Yes – but in the US, there are admitted disagreements over where one agency’s jurisdiction ends and another’s begins. Take for example, the energy markets investigations in the mid-2000s where the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission had very public disagreements over who had enforcement authority.
QV: Pilk, my response to all of that is simple. Everything has its place. The government is like the host at a dinner party. These companies that are regulated by the government are like the diners. They have been invited to a meal. They expect to know what rules will apply. They know that they need to use the fish fork with the fish and the soup spoon for the soup. However, if the host changes up the expected with something else, there may be confusion and frustration. There will of course be times when something akin to a water glass holds a dessert, but those times are few and far between.
PILK: I understand. But I should note that all of these agencies take great efforts to do what has been known as “harmonize,” in order to work together to ensure that rules are seamless.
QV: I do not doubt that those efforts are helpful and are done in good faith, however, it is the hospitable host that provides continuity and clear distinction.
PILK: I think I see. So are you saying that the government needs to be very clear as to what agencies oversee and regulate so that the regulated companies can know what to expect and how to react within the rules.
QV: I no longer govern so take from it what you will. But do set your table correctly at your next dinner party.
PILK: That I will Queen Victoria. That I will. It was an honor to host you today your highness.