Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but bureaucracy is out of control. Bureaucracy is out of control. Bureaucracy is out of control. They told me I had to give you that in triplicate. We live in a society where it's easier to climb back into the birth canal than it is to get a copy of a certificate to prove you were actually born.

Bureaucracy. Just take a look at the word itself. How come there's no "O"? It sounds like there should be an "O", but instead there's an "E", an "A" and a "U". Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to eliminate those unnecessary letters and just replace them with the "O", but it can't be done because "E" has tenure, "A" is the union shop steward and "U" is married to the boss' accountant's son.

Truthfully, I'd be perfectly fine with all the rules and red tape if we didn't have to wait in line for so long that the people in the line eventually develop their own distinctive regional dialect. Hey, is it any coincidence that government offices have the birth and death registries in the same room?

I can't even clean up after my dog now without first getting an environmental impact statement from the Army Corps of Engineers. It's gotten so bad, I demand to see three different forms of ID before I'll let me pleasure myself in the shower.

And is there any welter of perdition more soul-destroying than the Department of Motor Vehicles? People go in whistling like Andy Griffith skipping rocks and leave more pissed off than Gary Condit's wife. In exchange for the privilege of operating an automobile, you have to embark on a Hieronymus-Bosch-like odyssey through the dingy, institutional-green, cinderblock-lined bowels of the System at its most wearisome. First you find the line for the people who have appointments, then you wait for them to call your name, then you get in another line for people with your blood type and birth date, then the clerk who's been taking people in your line goes to lunch, so you have to line up at another window, then after several evolutionary epochs, during which innumerable species have arisen, roamed the earth and then succumbed to eventual extinction, you finally reach the front of the line where the whole process culminates in you challenging Death to a chess match.

I discovered one of the more frustrating strains of bureaucracy recently when I applied for a mortgage. Hey, all I want is to borrow some money and pay you back five times the amount over the next 30 years. If I don't pay it back you keep the house and my money. And let me get this straight-- you're trying to stop me?

What is particularly exasperating about bureaucracy is you can never put a face or a name to the logjam. That's because the genius of bureaucracy is it's never one person's fault -- it's everyone's. It's ineptitude in its most socialistic form. Whenever you walk into a store that proudly stresses teamwork, save yourself some time and money and just back your naked ass up to the ream-a-tron.

The reason bureaucracies metastasize the way they do nowadays is that when you go to fire someone, they automatically sue you. So it is now easier to just give them a desk, and say, "Don't touch anything," and then tell everyone what a great job they're doing, in the hopes that your competitor will eventually steal them away from you.

Ah, the bureaucrat. A murky figure, smelling slightly of fax toner, for whom you must constantly tack back and forth between sympathy and white-hot antipathy. Sure, there are plenty of them out there who are hard-working and conscientious and friendly. But there are just as many who have used their Vanilla extract-sized drop of power to build a tiny administrative empire out of policies and waiting lists and access to files, so that -- for the 2-4 hours a day they're actually working -- they may bestride the rest of us like some kind of Cubicle Colossus, bellowing, "I am Ozymandias, Clerk of Clerks! Look on my files, ye mighty, and despair!"

Let's face it: We might complain bitterly about bureaucracy and red tape, but at least they give us something to blame when our lives don't go exactly the way we want them to. There is something admittedly soothing about the abdication of responsibility, the Zen-like moment when you give up and see the poetry in the ticket agent telling you not only does your flight reservation not exist, you're going to be charged for the ticket anyway; the college admissions board notifying you that your grade-point average is too high to qualify for a scholarship; or the VA official who tells you to your face that you died in combat over 30 years ago. Lose yourself in the arcane maze of nonsensical rules, delight in the Lewis Carroll anarchy of the organizational world. In other words, relax and take it easy, because if you do flip out and have to be committed to the nuthouse, you would not believe the fuckin' paperwork involved.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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