French farmer protest highlights absurdity of red tape

French farmer protest highlights absurdity of red tape

One hundred French vegetable farmers attacked government offices and burned down the local tax office in Morlaix, Brittany, in a protest about government controls.

They used their tractors to dump vegetables and block emergency services from tackling the blaze on September 20, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.

The underlying reason for the protest was deep anger at the costs and damage caused to farming by over-regulation and control.  The farmers seem to feel helpless against what they consider despotic regulation. Reporting and complying with overcomplicated and arbitrary tax and social security systems costs time and money. And this heavy burden of bureaucratic paperwork is not restricted to agriculture – it has spread to all sections of the French economy and society.

The measures taken by the farmers can be questioned in terms of law and order but it is difficult not to have sympathy for their underlying anger.

Over-regulation increases red tape and adds costs. It also leads to more and more controls and opens the field to increased whims and prejudice from the controlling authorities. People affected feel they are being hounded by despots.

Policing their actions is no solution. Only less red tape and fewer, simpler regulations will help.

Society is in danger when elements of the population begin to consider that administrative measures are despotic. We can expect an increase in such action unless this is addressed by simplifying procedures.

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