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Welcome to joined up government

Summary:
While this is about European Union rules our point is not actually about the European Union:Supermarkets have been unable to get the names of 1.5 million vulnerable people being shielded from coronavirus to deliver food boxes because of EU data protection rules. Grocers are waiting for a list of those self isolating for 12 weeks due to underlying health conditions so they can be prioritised for deliveries.The details were expected to be handed over at the weekend, but insiders said they have been held up because of the European Union's general data protection regulation, which prevents mass sharing of information such as people’s names, addresses or emails.The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it must act in full compliance with laws.Sigh. So much for

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While this is about European Union rules our point is not actually about the European Union:

Supermarkets have been unable to get the names of 1.5 million vulnerable people being shielded from coronavirus to deliver food boxes because of EU data protection rules.

Grocers are waiting for a list of those self isolating for 12 weeks due to underlying health conditions so they can be prioritised for deliveries.

The details were expected to be handed over at the weekend, but insiders said they have been held up because of the European Union's general data protection regulation, which prevents mass sharing of information such as people’s names, addresses or emails.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it must act in full compliance with laws.

Sigh. So much for action this day in times of emergency.

This is a useful example of a larger point. Our supposedly free market economies aren’t, very much. To do anything requires a plethora of reports, hearings, permissions and permits. This has significant effects.

For example, the standard Keynesian reaction to a recession caused by a lack of demand is a burst of infrastructure spending. This no longer works as that permitting process takes longer than the average business cycle - let alone recession - to get through. It also explains some goodly portion of the manner in which growth has slowed down in recent decades. Economic growth is, by definition, the speed at which we can do new things. Slow that process down and growth will be slower.

We’re seeing, in this time of emergency, a number of rules that are being waived. As with our noting yesterday that in normal times we deliberately go all out to make the NHS less responsive and more expensive by imposing import duties on medical equipment.

The idea of Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius might be seen as a little extreme these days, despite the joy it might bring. But given the examples our times are offering of bureaucracies that don’t need to be there a certain selectivity in which bureaucracies we allow to survive these times seems reasonable.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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