Save the Trees - Please!

Save the Trees - Please!

© David Burton 2006

The Constituion
Let's Stop the Blizzard of Useless Paperwork

Like me, do you get a flood of useless pieces of paper in your daily mail? How many statements of a company's privacy policies do you need to receive? Do any of you actually read these statements? How many other useless pieces of paper do you receive every single day? If you are like me, these go into the trash without being read. In addition to the ubiquitous privacy statements, how about the various disclosure statements from credit card companies and banks. Or, consider the statement of "Important Discount Rate Information for our Residential Customers in Massachusetts" from my electric utility. I toss all of these without their being read.

Another example of bureaucratic paperwork gone amok is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. In essence, this useless piece of legislation requires officers of companies to swear in writing that they aren't cheating the public. Of course, if they do, there are reams of laws on the book with which to prosecute them. Just look at the Enron criminal cases now in the courts.

Part of the problem with Sarbanes-Oxley is the mountain of paperwork required. This paperwork is partly responsible for crippling firms financially. In the case of "Avant a small Massachusetts biotech company with about $7 million in revenue]: It has to spend about $1 million a year – or 14.2 percent of its revenue – to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley.” “…Avant and other companies are spending more to hire staff, outside accountants and lawyers to help with the mountains of paperwork and computer requirements.” (Ref. 1)

It's time to stop this foolishness. We don't need to cut down trees for useless pieces of paper that nobody reads. We don't need to waste the energy to convert wood to paper. We don't need to have businesses incur the expenses of preparing and mailing these useless missives. We don't need to overload our landfills with piles of paper that are of no value to anyone.

Instead, let's enact a simple law. If anyone wants to obtain a piece of information from a company or government agency that should reasonably be available to the public, he or she can request that information from the company or government agency and that entity is required to provide that information, preferably via the internet, but, if requested, in writing. For the rest of us, send me nothing except what I absolutely have to have.

We need to reward bureaucrats in government who can write laws and regulations with the fewest number of pages and which require the least amount of paperwork for compliance. To my legislators and all the companies that I do business with or those that hope to do business with me, I say: "Save the Trees - Please!"


1. Small cos. Hope SEC cuts them big break, Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, pg 37, 14 September 2005.

  21 February 2006 {Article 13; Undecided_03}    
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