to cut through the bureaucracy of red tape...

phil_34

Senior Member
Hi, I've found the following sentence on the link below and wonder what exactly it means. Does it mean 'to deal with red tape'? (I know what red tape means) Or does it mean trying to find a way to evade it or to make it shorter?

'Trying to cut through the bureaucracy of red tape can be frustrating.'

http://books.google.ch/books?id=MRr...#v=onepage&q=how to sort out red tape&f=false

<< Moderator's note: The named source should include the title and the author of the book, which are: Don't Get Done, Get Dom, by Dominic Littlewood. >>
 
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  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    'Trying to cut through the bureaucracy of red tape can be frustrating.' = 'Trying to find/make a path through red tape can be frustrating.' = as you say: 'Trying to deal with red tape can be frustrating.'
     
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    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But if it says "red tape", what is the word "bureaucracy" doing there? I don't think "red tape" has any other association.

    "Cut through" continues the metaphor of "red tape". If it were material red tape that had to be dealt with, scissors would do the job.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    "bureaucracy" = [unnecessary] rituals
    "red tape" = complicated rules and regulations
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    But if it says "red tape", what is the word "bureaucracy" doing there? I don't think "red tape" has any other association.
    :thumbsup: Yes, it's tautology. Red tape is synonymous with one meaning of bureaucracy. Like it says in the OED
    bureaucracy, n.

    3. Usu. depreciative. Behaviour or practice regarded as typical of this system, esp. when characterized by such features as an excessive concern with formal processes and a tendency for administrative power to increase and become more centralized, and hence by inefficiency and impersonality; officialism, red tape.
    and
    red tape, n.

    2. fig. Rigid adherence to official rules and formalities; (excessive) bureaucracy, esp. in public business. Chiefly depreciative.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree that "the bureaucracy of red tape" is odd and probably redundant. This is not phrasing that should be imitated.

    This sentence in Chapter Nine "Dealing with Red Tape". It is in a header that introduces a list of clichés and slightly distorted clichés. The topic sentence is itself one of them:

    Trying to cut through the bureaucracy of red tape can be frustrating.
    But on Don't Get Done, Get Dom, the ground rules always stay the same.
    • The squeaky wheel gets the oil
    • [...]
    • Three sides to every argument.

    Note: The text refers to the BBC television program titled Don't Get Done, Get Dom. This is why it has 'on Don't Get Done, Get Dom. If it were referring to the book with the same title, it would be in Don't Get Done, Get Dom.
     

    phil_34

    Senior Member
    Thanks to all of you. I reckon I could say: 'My parents turn up at 1am, but we can’t leave immediately. My dad has to cut through (instead of deal with) red tape first and sign a form.'
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I suppose you could, though we have to do a lot of guessing to imagine a scenario in which this makes sense.

    (In other words, please provide more context. ;) )
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In an American hospital, if the parents want to take a child out of the hospital 'against the doctor's advice' they can sign a form saying they understand the risks and take the child home.

    If the staff at the hospital feels that is a bad idea, they may create procedural impediments that could be called 'red tape.' I suppose this is the sort of situation that Phil has in mind.

    I would say that if the hospital says that the parents have to provide more documentation or have meetings with more people before they can sign the forms, or otherwise adds steps to the process, this would be considered 'red tape'.

    If the hospital staff simply refuses to provide the form, or argues with the parents about whether they should take the child home, I wouldn't call that 'red tape'.
     

    phil_34

    Senior Member
    Okay, I see. Er how else would you describe the situation. 'Deal with formalities/bureaucracy?' (the hospital staff are indeed just arguing with my parents, but the form lies in front of him, ready to be signed)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I think, 'deal with the formalities' would be good.
    He has to pretend to listen to their arguments and then sign the form to take you home.

    (As you seem to know, how you describe it depends on whose side you are taking. 'Deal with the formalities' suggests that the hospital procedures are not useful, but simply impediments your father has to deal with. If you were sympathetic with the hospital's efforts to prevent your parents from taking you home, you would probably describe it differently.)
     
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