In rather too much of what it tries to do government is counterproductive. Examples abound, raising the minimum wage to aid the incomes of the poor leads to some having no incomes at all. Germany's vast push away from fossil fuels has led to a rise in the country's consumption of coal, cracking down upon illegal drugs just raises the profit margins for those who continue to deal them.
There is a subset of this, which is that government often designs plans to encourage some activity. Those plans being either so absurdly complicated, or come with such side effects, that they diminish, not increase, the desired amount of whatever it is. And so it is with forestry in England:
The figures mean that a Government pledge that 12 per cent level of woodland cover should be reached by 2060 is looking increasingly remote.
What joy, there is a plan. That plan includes paying subsidies to those who plant trees:
Landowners who wish to plant a forest must negotiate a "complex and bureaucratic" system in order to obtain a Government grant, the report said.
Three agencies, the Forestry Commission, Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency administer the main grant available, the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
Witnesses told the committee that the application process was “tortuous”,“bureaucratic”,“ overly complex” and “not fit for purpose”.
Quite how a simple grant to stick acorns in the ground can become bureaucratically tortuous we're not sure. It doesn't need the usual panoply of diversity advisers, health and safety checks, inequality impact statements and all the rest, does it? They're not out there demanding disability access and racial balance are they?
Our own experience of business tells us that people shouldn't apply for government grants for anything. Precisely because to do so is to get sucked into a morass of bureaucracy making the money on offer not worth the effort. It's nice to have another example to add to the portfolio but there's got to be a better way of getting things done than this, no?
Perhaps even that those who would like a few trees around for their children get on with the acorns in holes thing and the rest of us agree that it's their land and nowt to do with us? Nor our money?