Red tape is tripping us up


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently announced “Red Tape Elimination Week”, a campaign to remind business owners to keep up the pressure on all governments to streamline their bureaucracy in order to reduce red tape and bureaucratic reporting. However, paperwork is necessary.

My years in business have given rise to the suspicion that bureaucracy is a form of protection – protection of public funds.Since we have created a society that has given its governments such enormous mandates and us such great expectations, they have become custodians of vast amounts of money, contracts, leases and permits.

Money seems to attract flies (thieves/”promoters” of all kinds) and the more money there is, the more control is needed; just look at the prices of American fighter planes that Canada has ordered, or icebreakers that have been contracted.

All this attracts crooks as well as legitimate businessmen; there is always someone who proposes something to seize the public treasury. That means paperwork is required!

An analogy: we hate spraying insecticide on our heads, and we put up with the stench and the ill effects because we hate black flies. Similarly, there are many legitimate plans and projects that require government funding. Whenever there is a concentration of money, it must be protected against unprincipled operators; this is where the paperwork comes into play.

All these reports and forms, etc., constitute a corpus of reference to defend the decisions of the government, to guarantee the satisfaction of social needs and to meet the standards we are entitled to expect from our government. Building codes are a common example; Quebec is accused of killing the construction trades due to its rules and training requirements. However, nearly 40,000 people have suffered earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, most of whose deaths are believed to be due to lax building standards.
When money is at stake, there must be multiple controls so that we can be sure we are getting our money’s worth and our governments are getting the goods and
services they need. We demand a lot from governments, and the rules of bureaucracy tell us that the price of all this will be high. Without the red tape, we’d be overrun by highway robbers. Seems like human nature, sorry.

But hey, we’re Canadian. Just look at red tape as bug spray.