How “Red Tape” Actually Keeps Things Together

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Red Tape

Since time immemorial, people have been mocking the changes humanity makes. Sometimes it’s no doubt justified too, as humanity picks up bad habits that prove hard to shake off. We hear a lot about regulations, for example – the “red tape” that is “killing business” – and people long for simpler times. Before these regulations, the thinking goes, business was more straightforward. And more straightforward means “better”, doesn’t it?

To hear a lot of these criticisms, you’d think there was someone sat on a throne with a wand, shooting down opportunity and individuality. “They’re having fun, that can’t be allowed!” *ZAP!* “Their boss is charismatic and plays by his own rules! End this madness NOW!”.

It’s pretty obvious, though, that if regulations exist, there must be reasons for them. After all, it’s in literally no-one’s interest to crush business viability by weeding out individuality. So what’s the reality behind some key regulations?

Red Tape Type #1: Data Protection Rules

“If I’m saying I’m Mr Robinson and I want to know when my TV will be delivered, why do you need proof? I’m not giving you an account number, this is ridiculous!”

Data protection and “Know Your Customer” regulations can be frustrating for customer and business. It takes time and paperwork to iron them out, and in this era of identity theft it can be a tricky subject to broach. But it’s because of identity theft (and money laundering) these rules are so important. Without identification verification you can end up, for example, changing the delivery address on an order and sending a TV worth thousands of dollars to someone who didn’t order or pay for it. Bad for your business and bad for your customer.

Red Tape Type #2: Health And Safety

“Who are they to tell me how to keep my premises? I know what works for me and my customers!”

There is an entire section of the legal industry – personal injury law firms – based on claiming compensation for accidents that weren’t the fault of the injured party. And while there are any number of jokes about “ambulance chasers” there is a core truth here. If people are injured preventably and haven’t brought it on themselves, someone needs to make that right. That starts with the premises owner. Shut down accidents and you’ll end up paying out less, having more customers and saving on insurance premiums. Why is that a bad thing?

Red Tape Type #3: Planning Laws

“I own the land and this is where I want to build! No nerd with a clipboard is going to tell me differently!”

Planning and zoning permission can be controversial subjects in real estate. Why can’t someone build where they want to? If they own the land isn’t it up to them what they do with it?

Within reason, sure. But then consider that in building a house, or a business premises, you’re not just building on land. You’re building under it too. Is soil being contaminated?. When the pipes in those premises drain, where are they draining to?

Also, what are you building there? It’s a bad idea, for example, to build a 24-hour bar just down the block from a school. These laws exist for the protection of everyone – complaining about them is sometimes just plain unenlightened.


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