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Red tape

From Academic Kids

Red tape is a derisive term for regulations that are considered excessive or for bureaucratic procedures that are considered time- and effort-consuming. It is usually applied to government, but can also be applied to corporations.

Red tape generally includes such requirements as the filling out of paperwork, obtaining of licenses, having multiple people or committees have to approve a decision, and various low level rules that make conducting affairs slower and/or more difficult.

The origins of the term are obscure, but it alludes to the former practice of binding government documents in red-coloured tape. British government documents were traditionally bound in red cloth tape, as were some in the Vatican. One origin tale circulated is that all American Civil War veterans records were bound in red tape, and the difficulty in accessing them lead to the current use of the term, but there is evidence that the term was in use in its modern sense sometime before this.

The "cutting of red tape" is a popular promise of politicians, especially those on the right of the political spectrum. A number of legislatures have pondered or passed Red Tape Reduction Acts including Ontario, California, and Missouri. The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party government even created a permanent Red Tape Commission that must review all new regulations.

Many object to government campaigns against red tape seeing them as covert programs of pro-corporate deregulation. Institutions like the British Trade Union Congress and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives consider red tape as being rules that protect the environment, watch over the worker safety and health, and prevent corruption. Supporters of efficiency in bureaucracy say that there is no connection between excessive rules and protection of specific interests, just nothing more than government stonewalling and excessive intrusion of non elected officials in the way of those who are elected to change government policy.

See also

Bureaucracy

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