Archives for 25 July 2012

On bureaucracy

In another forum, on which a commenter offered an impassioned defence of bureaucracy, I countered with this:

In practice, bureaucracy is a way for petty officials to take the lemon of the rule of law, and turn it into the lemonade of the rule of men. This they do by making the rules so vexatious and difficult to obey that nothing can be done except by circumventing them through influence.

There is, or was, an office in Paris which is the sole source of a certain permit required to do a certain kind of business. In order to apply for this permit, you must have a properly filled-out form, obtainable from another office. The office that issues the form is only open in the afternoon. The office that issues the permit is only open in the morning. And the form itself is only valid on the date of issue. If you get the form on Monday afternoon, you cannot take it to the permit office until Tuesday morning, by which time it has expired. There is literally no way to obtain the permit, except by bribing the officials, or by being so rich and powerful that they dare not refuse you.

That, Sir, is why most people hate bureaucracy.