Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Bureaucracy

If the apocalypse comes and the entire human civilization perishes, what will survive will be a lone bureaucrat who will sit among all the rubble filling out forms and churning out yearly reports on the reasons for the demise of humanity. A couple of really appalling instances of bureaucratic idiocy have been on the news recently.

First, there is a case of a woman who is being charged with fraud for enrolling her small child in a kindergarten where she apparently has no right to place her kid:
No one — not a single executive at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley or even AIG — has been charged with fraud for contributing to the financial crash that nearly decimated the country. But there’s one shifty cheat, lying low in a land saturated by financial intrigue, who is being forced to repay what her scheme cost society. Norwalk police recently apprehended Tanya McDowell on first-degree larceny charges. Her crime? The single mother, who is unemployed and homeless most of the time, enrolled her 5-year-old son in kindergarten at Brookside Elementary School using the Norwalk address of his babysitter. She could face 20 years in jail and be forced to pay the $15,686 the year of kindergarten cost the school district, according to the Stamford Advocate.
This entire situation is so hypocritical and atrocious that it truly beggars belief.

And then there is the following story that is taking place in Canada. An autistic student is going to be prevented from competing in an athletic pursuit that has helped him to excel not only in sports but in the classroom based on some bureaucratic technicality that I haven't been able to grasp even after I read the article on the subject twice*:
According to The Globe and Mail, 19-year-old Andrew Towle, a track star for Ottawa (Ontario) Technical Learning Centre who happens to have autism, will not be allowed to compete throughout his senior season because of a technicality which determined that he has been enrolled in high school for too many years. The ruling stems from Andrew being enrolled at OTLC in the 2005-06 school year, despite the fact that he didn't take a single Grade 9 level course in that entire school year. Despite the fact that Towle was a high school student between 2005 and 2007 by technicality alone, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations ruled that his attendance in a high school building still put him in violation of the association's strict rule that limits a student athlete's eligibility to a five-year span. While the OFSAA might have a strong case to bar Towle if he had used up a full four years of athletic eligibility, that simply isn't the case. The 19-year-old never walked onto a track until his third year at OTLC, when he showed up at a track team practice and was suddenly motivated to improve to be more competitive with his teammates.
Three years, two years, this kindergarten, that kindergarten. These stupid paper-pushers are actually destroying lives and hurting real human beings because of their idiotic rules and regulations. Do you think, though, that any of those folks who keep vociferating about how they hate governmental intrusion into the lives of citizens will have anything to say about these two cases? Somehow, I don't believe that will happen.

*I'm grateful to Pagan Topologist who sent me this link.

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