American Elephants


Doing Battle With Bureaucracy by The Elephant's Child
July 30, 2015, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, History, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: ,

100923 520 evergreen point bridge

I had to go do battle with the toll bridge authority. They have an office here in a plain storefront with their catchphrase “Good to Go” over the door. A plain large room with a counter at the end opposite the door. A taped off aisle for those waiting to confront the occupants of the three chairs (out of six) behind the counter. V-e-r-y long line of very grumpy people. One of the walls was adorned with photos of the new toll plazas on the state’s three tolled bridges, mounted on plain black paper. No frames.

The wait was l-o-n-g, about 40 minutes, which gave me time to observe my surroundings. The three people at the counter mostly typed on their keyboards, frequently rising to punch the security keys on the one door behind the counter, and vanish into the back room, apparently to consult the commissar. I know she was a commissar because she appeared briefly from the back room, and returned promptly to her more luxurious quarters in the rear. If you can identify a commissar by appearance, she fit the bill.

Robert Conquest, famed historian, author of several important books about Russia, The Great Terror, about Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, and The Harvest of Sorrow, which exposed Stalin’s collectivization and the terror-famine that starved millions of peasants in the Ukraine to death, once remarked that “the behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.”

That’s a good quotation to remember when you are standing in a line with a dozen or so other testy people. I had won my previous battle with the agency when the judge threw it out of court. I lost this one.


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