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Red tape

The blessed UK government wants to pass a bill to reduce the amount of bureaucracy. This falls into the category of “government pledges to make water flow uphill” bracket, methinks. There have been dozens of widely touted events by governments (of both parties) to cut red tape and yet the amount of regulations that businesses and individuals have to cope with just grows like ivy up the side of a tree. The solution is not to pass another bill but to reverse the laws we have on the books already. Simple.

The actor Clint Eastwood once said that the problem with so many people in politics is that they tended to be folk like schoolteachers rather than people who have had to run a business and meet a payroll. I know what he means.

17 comments to Red tape

  • guy herbert

    This is the same government that took Michael Heseltine’s largely ineffectual Deregulation Taskforce, renamed it the Better Regulation Taskforce and set it to promote regulation as a good thing if well done according to its regualtory guidelines.

  • Julian Taylor

    Civil servants working out an agenda for reducing their numbers? That’s a tad like cattle deciding amongst themselves who should be first in line for the slaughterhouse.

  • zmollusc

    Civil servants working out an agenda for reducing their numbers? That’s a tad like cattle deciding amongst themselves who should be first in line for the slaughterhouse, when the cattle have no time limit, limitless funding, no accountability and a strong survival instinct.

  • guy herbert

    There’s a piece by Phil Mullan on Spiked that I’d like to recommend: “The state, the economy and the politics of fear: De-regulation means more red tape, and simplification means increasing complexity. What is the state up to?” But I can’t link to it because the spamtrap thinks I’m a comment spammer.

  • I reckon Clint Eastwood’s got the right stuff. He’s an extremely talented director and fine actor – as well as appearing to be relatively liberal (in the classic sense of the word). A breath of fresh air; I’m so sick of my artistic heroes being utter moonbats in regards to politics.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    James, well said. Clint is one of the best. He is also said to be a thorough gentleman and nice to boot. He is one of the actors I’d love to share a beer with.

  • Verity

    And he did a good job as mayor. They re-elected him. And when it’s law and order and people’s money that’s at stake, there’s no stardust in their eyes. He got re-elected on merit.

  • toolkien

    It seems every attempt to simplify in the US has the exact opposite effect. Between not really rolling back old law (because of the effect on special interest and their fighting back), and serpintine financing issues that attach to any supposed change, more layers are actually added. Basically attempts to change don’t change anything and add people to assess what the effect of the “change” was and what further needs to be done about negative after effects.

    This is why I’m a bit jaded about the republicans at the moment who mouth about less government and less taxes, but really add trillions to the accrual basis debt and turn politely away from the “radical” libertarianesque conservatives. Every republican initiative to reduce government has actually ratcheted it up.

  • Welcome back, Toolkien! Haven’t seen you ’round these parts for a while…

  • The lesson is plain: everything done by government causes the opposite of its proclaimed purpose. Restricted speech laws proclaimed to advance public peace cause dispute. Measures put forward to create jobs destroy entire industries. Money “for education” institutionalizes ignorance. Anti-crime measures increase felonies. The key is that the proclaimed purpose is not the real intention.

  • Julian Taylor

    It was Jonathan Pearce, I believe, who noted some time ago that British government departments generally call themselves by the name most opposite to their actual function – thus the DTI lives more up to its nickname ‘Death To Industry’. If that is so, how about a Department for Civil Service Employment? A name, I hope, that would be guaranteed to strike terror into the hearts of every Whitehall functionary.

  • simon

    Since all the factories closed and banking and insurance companies computerised the government has had to create millions of jobs to keep the lower middle class from taking to the streets.

  • guy herbert

    Rot, simon.

    All the factories have not closed; but the ones that did, did so because better goods were available cheaper elsewhere, to the advantage of the consuming lower middle classes, even the unemployed ones. Financial services employ many more people, and a higher proportion of the population, than before computerisation.

    Government can only eat by appropriating other people’s surplus. Modern government does so much less efficiently than Caesar, because so much of its appropriation is in kind: the tribute of regulatory compliance and form-filling that dragoons time that others must pay for, and stops some wealth ever being created by taking up capacity that might otherwise be used for worthwhile things. Tax takes once and gives back less; compliance takes twice and gives back nothing at all.

    We have more government now for the same reason we have more property crime. Because there is more for it to steal and destroy.

    There would be even more jobs creating wealth with less government (provided the remaining government is capable of maintaining civil peace). People would have better lives deciding for themselves how to spend it, too. A vanishingly small proportion would join form-filling circles.

  • Johnathan

    I think Simon buys that old lump of labour fallacy. Amazing how entrenched some bad ideas are, like the idea that tariffs “protect jobs”, etc.

  • Daveon

    The people of Carmel have nothing but nice things to say about him, that’s for sure. However, while poetic, And when it’s law and order and people’s money that’s at stake, there’s no stardust in their eyes, I really struggle to match the sentiment to my experience of Carmel itself.

    The roughest place in the town when I was there was the “biker” bar that Clint had owned, and it was pretty much like a cosy village pub. IIRC the reason he stood for mayor in the first place was over a dispute about eating Ice Cream in public.

    Carmel was no East Palo Alto.

    Although, I am told East Palo Alto has gone up market now.

  • Verity

    Poor little wannabee Daveon. Always wanting to appear so suave.

  • simon

    Well it’s strange that all these bureaucracy producing government non-jobs have been created while well- paid jobs in industry and commerce have become harder to get. There’s been no deliberate policy, but many of the educated people who would have held these jobs have ended up in the public sector doing jobs we never thought needed doing before. Scotland is the best example of this effect. The public sector dominates an economy that once had plenty of many more jobs.

    Many public sector jobs are nothing more than massaging of the unemployment figures in the same way that Incapacity Benefit is used. Unfortunately for those of us who fund the public sector, its wages are much higher than that benefit. Like Incapacity Benefit, many public sector jobs are used as a social device to provide money to those who have no useful economic function.