The picture to the left was published on June 3, 2003, with the caption:
Determined to cut red tape and reduce the regulatory burden are (l-r), Office of Thrift Supervision Director James Gilleran, Jim McLaughlin of the American Bankers Association, Harry Doherty of America's Community Bankers, FDIC Vice Chairman John Reich and Ken Guenther of the Independent Community Bankers of America"This was during the Bush administration when they allowed the banking industry to write their own regulations, and as a result, that industry deregulated themselves into a global economic meltdown.
The notion of "cutting red tape", is a wonderful populist sentiment, attacking the bureaucracy that can slow down the processing of licenses, etc.
But to the new religion of "Market Fundamentalism", a coin termed by George Soros, "cutting red tape" has an entirely different meaning. Industry lobbies hard to take the scissors to the tape, but they're not concerned with licenses or any of the other menial government functions that can become a minor annoyance.
Removing red tape actually means removing the public from public policy.
Fundamentalists believe that if the marketeers can regulate themselves, the profit margin will guide them to eternal salvation. In other words, if they sell a tainted product and it kills people, they could lose sales, so it's in their best interest not to sell products that kill people, unless they're making bullets or bombs.
The theology worked well when Stephen Harper allowed meat processors to inspect themselves, resulting in the listeriosis outbreak that killed 23 Canadians.
A leaked cabinet document outlined a plan to save money at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) by shifting federal meat inspectors into an oversight role and leaving companies to implement their own methods of making sure that their products aren't lethal.
That's cutting red tape.
And cutting red tape also resulted in the 2000 Walkerton Tragedy in Ontario, when cattle manure leaked into the town's drinking water, killing seven people and making half of the town's population violently ill. Their grief turned to anger when they learned that Premier Mike Harris's Red Tape Commission had deliberately dismantled vital parts of the public health infrastructure in the name of cutting red tape. They knowingly ignored repeated warnings from their own experts who stated that cutbacks in environmental and health protection could have a disastrous impact on public health.
But free market dogma has no room for such considerations, so instead they cut inspection staff, shut down testing labs, and eliminated reporting and enforcement procedures.
As an MPP Tim Hudak claims to have been a strong supporter of Harris's Red Tape Commission, but I notice perusing Hansard, that he failed to show up on the day that a group of high school students from Walkerton visited the Ontario Legislature, telling their story of what cutting red tape meant to them.
Hudak must have taken a prayer day.
"Bless me Ronald Reagan for I have sinned. I almost let my emotions get in the way of carrying out your mission. But the holy mother, Margaret Thatcher, appeared to me in a vision. I am now cleansed, and will never again believe that public interest should get in the way of corporate profit."
In the UK, there is concern over a review conducted by their market fundamentalist government, that is “ part of a package of changes to Britain’s health and safety system to support the government’s growth agenda and cut red tape.” They see it as a workplace death wish.
The Harper government has resurrected the Red Tape Commission, and are looking at removing public protection from all areas of business.
On the campaign trail, Hudak is also blessing us with the red tape creed, even promising to reduce his cabinet by 20%. Concentrating power, giving us even less of a voice.
We need to change the dialogue. This is not about cutting red tape, but cutting us out, in favour of those we need protection from. Hudak refuses to say where he will make his cuts, but it could very well be in employment standards, including minimum wage. Or workplace safety, product inspection. The list is endless.
Yet he claims that by cutting red tape it will create jobs, and not just for morticians.
Food tasters for the rich. Overseers for slave camps, also known as your place of employment. Whip makers. Enormous opportunities.
We elect people to represent our interests, not work against them. We need to keep our red tape, before it turns into yellow tape, and we all become victims of corporate greed and government crime.