Thursday, November 29, 2012

Editorial: Economy doesn't need more red tape

Today the unnamed editor reacts to the idea of a federal Secretary of Business, under which the government would consolidate related functions.

From the vague official trial balloon the editor imagines a nightmare of new bureaucracy and more problems for business. Having built this straw man, he dances with his torch and sets his helpless adversary alight.

In point of fact neither I nor the editor nor anyone else knows how this proposal might shake out in real life, because the plan is not yet written. The editor is writing against his own imagination, nothing more, failing at the starting gate.

The core of his argument, that "red tape" would increase, is clearly contrary to the intent of the proposal. Having never set up and run a business himself, perhaps he doesn't realize how much red tape is generated because related government divisions don't talk to one another or coordinate their responsibilities, forcing business owners to negotiate complex minefields of overlapping and often conflicting regulations. At least in theory, an overseeing authority could improve on that. So let's wait for the details before we fire our torches.

In context, it's interesting that when the idea arose to consolidate authority over intelligence, border security, travel security, customs and the Coast Guard under the Orwellian title of Homeland Security, the Courier was all for it, once again reacting to parochial imaginings rather than reality on the ground. We can only get above this reflex by reserving judgment till we've done the research.

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