Premier Clark is barnstorming around the province celebrating jobs week. Not wanting to incur more debt and commit new spending, she intends to repurpose planned expenditures. Of course, she also repeats the standard refrain about deregulation:
“Government often puts numerous barriers in the way of people creating jobs and we have to find ways we are trying to get out of the way…”
It is hard to believe there is any mileage in the old red tape reduction shibboleth. Liberals have been bulldozing barriers and slashing red tape for more than a decade. Who can forget:
- “Red Tape Reduction Task Force” of 2001 to recommend priorities for the review and elimination of regulations in BC.
- Rich Coleman’s 2002 announcement that red tape had been slashed by 41 per cent under BC Liberals.
- In 2004, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein noted he and Campbell have been working together to cut red tape.
- Energy Minister Richard Neufeld’s 2007 announcement that red tape had been slashed for entrepreneurs in British Columbia.
- The Fraser Institute’s 2007 congratulations for the BC government introducing “numerous progressive policies” to cut red tape “to make BC more competitive.”
- In 2008, Small Business Minister Rick Thorpe announced “BizPaL is a user-friendly, time-saving tool designed to cut red tape and reflect our government’s commitment to making British Columbia Canada’s most small-business-friendly jurisdiction,”
- The Vancouver Sun’s 2008 celebration that Gordon Campbell had been “elected premier to rid us of government red tape.”
- The BC Government’s declaration in January 2011 of ‘Red Tape Awareness Week’ to celebrate the province’s leading role in “reducing regulatory requirements.”
The mantra about cutting red tape will be repeated forever and it seems relatively harmless. No one wants unnecessary barriers placed by government before any activity, except initiatives that might harm persons or property. If someone wants to build a chemical factory upstream of my house, I sure as hell want a great number of meaningful routines confronting them before they proceed. Christy Clark’s mentor Gwyn Morgan and the oil billionaires want no barriers or red tape preventing them from putting oil and gas pipelines between Kitimat and the Alberta tar sands. Most British Columbians would disagree.
ProPublica examined red tape and regulatory barriers in “Do Regulations Really Kill Jobs Overall? Not So Much. It is a good read:
“The effects on jobs are negligible. They’re not job-creating or job-destroying on average,” said Richard Morgenstern, who served in the EPA from the Reagan to Clinton years and is now at Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan think tank.
Almost a decade ago, Morgenstern and some colleagues published research on the effects of regulation [PDF] using ten years’ worth of Census data on four different polluting industries. They found that when new environmental regulation was applied, higher production costs pushed up prices, resulting in lost sales for businesses and some lost jobs, but the job losses were also offset by new jobs created in pollution abatement.