My day-job frequently involves interacting with various manifestations of government bureaucracy. To be honest, this is a part of my job that I do not enjoy in any way. Not to go down a rabbit-trail (well, yes, actually, let’s go), but I usually don’t hear people saying that they enjoy their time interacting with the government, whether that be the IRS, your local DMV office, the tax assessor, the police, or what-have-you. Though, I suppose firemen are an exception. People usually seem pleased to run into firemen, unless it involves your own house on fire. Even then, you’re pleased to see the firemen arrive, yes, but you aren’t exactly pleased about the situation as a whole.
Take the DMV for example. Who in their right mind says, “Kids, let’s go down to the DMV for some fun times”? Nobody sane says that. For one thing, the so-called fun times will probably stretch into a couple hours. You’ll sit there, watching paint peel off the wall, until someone calls your number in a monotone, lifeless voice. You trot up to the counter, clutching your vital documents and your checkbook, brushing cobwebs off your self, only to be told that you need to fill out Form 732X in triplicate, lose ten pounds, and come back on the 29th of February. Which means you have to wait for the next leap year.
Recently, I had to pull some permits for a little job we were doing and ran into the following situation.
Bureaucrat: Your permit is done, but we can’t give it to you because we don’t know if you own the property involved.
Me: Um, it’s where our office is located. Since the 1930s. The same address as the address you used to bill me.
Bureaucrat: Bring in the current title deed.
[I run off to get the title deed. I return with said deed.]
Bureaucrat: How do I know this belongs to your company?
Me: Because our company name’s on it.
Bureaucrat: How do I know you represent that company?
Me: Um…because…because my office pays the property tax on the parcel?
Bureaucrat: Bring me a copy of the property tax bill.
[I run off to get the bill. Return with said bill.]
Bureaucrat: It looks like here that several people jointly own this company. How do I know you have all their approval to obtain this permit?
Me: Here’s a copy of our operating agreement that I cleverly thought of bringing. It lists all their names. Look, with signatures. I got you there, didn’t I?
Bureaucrat: This is several years old. I can’t accept this. How do I know you still have their approval?
Me: Er…I draw a paycheck from them, twice a month?
Bureaucrat: Unacceptable. They’ll need to all come here in person. Bring either a public notary or God to vouch for who they are.
Okay, the last line of dialogue didn’t happen, but everything else pretty much did. I still don’t have the permit yet. Mind you, it isn’t for a big job. It’s just some fiddly little stuff that some of my guys can do in about two days. However, the government, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to intrude on this aspect of private property rights. Thomas Jefferson and Co would be rolling over in their graves…