The Problems of Bureaucracy

Louis XIV invented bureaucracy in its current form to keep the up and coming bourgeois and the old noblemen occupied and out of his way. And I hope he burns in hell for it.

There is a scene in The Twelve Labors of Asterix that completely captures what I’ve been going through for the last 3 days trying to prove to Amazon that I have my permission to publish my own work. It’s when Asterix has to go through the House That Makes You Mad.

He has to get a permission slip to go to the window that gives permission slips, so that the permission slip can be validated to get another permission slip.

We have now gone up one level, because after making me sign a contract with myself (Who the F*CK else would sign for Goldport Press) they didn’t like it because both signatures are the same.

The last message, since the name involved is Brazilian was composed in Portuguese and said in essence “Honestly, guys, for the love of the poor souls in Purgatory can you stop acting like monkeys with keyboards?”

They now claim it will take them five days to prove that I’m me. I offered to get an affidavit in my legal name saying that I own Goldport Press, and get it notarized, or show them copies of my tax returns. I suppose I could also get our bank to certify that my signature is valid on Goldport Press.

But seriously: THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A COMPLAINT AGAINST GOLDPORT PRESS, and if they look, they can tell it publishes my name and my pen names. This should not, in any way be a problem. I could understand this level of scrutiny if I were someone who regularly publishes other people and/or out of print books. BUT why expend this kind of effort on someone who is JUST publishing herself and her pen names?

I do understand wanting the reversal letter, though I’ll point out even with that, they weren’t that tight in the beginning, and I don’t think there was any issue. I got all my reversals legally, sometimes after hiring a lawyer. I had friends though that when stonewalled by Ace and DAW both of whom were experts at ignoring requests for reversal as a way of denying them (and at one time my editor at Ace, who is a cartoon character, but not a funny one, tried to tell me I had to ask for reversal through the agent that initially sold the books, knowing I was no longer with that agent. The lawyer took care of that) sent them a letter, registered, with proof of receipt, saying that if they didn’t answer within ten days the rights reverted, and she used that to publish her own stuff. I don’t think they had any problems with that.

Yes, they have problems with (mostly foreign) scammers publishing other people’s books. For a while there was a fad for collecting the free portion of like three bestsellers books, and publishing them as a “collection.”

However, this has gone beyond all sanity. I could understand their behaving this way if:

a) Goldport Press was a new account and had NEVER published anything by Sarah A. Hoyt.

b) Goldport Press had never published reverted books by Sarah A. Hoyt.

c) Goldport press had had complaints about publishing author’s books without permission.

d) I hadn’t sent a reversal on Baen stationary.

e) I hadn’t multiple times signed emails from Goldport Press with “Sarah A. Hoyt.”

f) I hadn’t emailed them about the case from my customer account.

Now they say they’ll take 5 days to verify that I’m me…. which will probably devolve, by tonight into asking me for a cheek swab so I can receive the form that verifies I’m me.

I’m having flashbacks to getting my entire school grades with courses taken and curriculum, so it could be validated in the US so I could get a job as a college instructor (Look, I NEEDED it at the time. I was 25) and going to my old High School to be told I’d flunked out in 9th grade. Turned out they still used paper records, and were copying the page adjacent to mine (the girl’s name differed from mine by a middle name. We were actually friends and she was the originator of the famous joke-phrase (stage whispered at her during a test by another friend and ignored by the teacher) “Just copy what I did, don’t try to think. When you think you f*ck up everything.” We managed to drag her, yes, sometimes by allowing/encouraging her to cheat through 9th grade, but she couldn’t pass the exams to go further. For the record, we had a reason to help her. She was one of the decoys in our gifted form (see, the socialists made gifted forms illegal, but the school still wanted them. Mostly because… uh, some day ask me about my gifted from. One of our stunts was rewiring our classroom. Another was accidentally (kind of of) giving a nervous breakdown to a new teacher. So the school threw in three or four non-gifted students into the form. And because we were going five times the speed, the poor girls, who would have been fine in normal classes were DROWNING.)) That was solved after my dad came by and deployed what mom called “The power of the mustache” (Actually the power of the height, because he’s six one in Portugal) and was all polite and forceful at them. Before that they were refusing to acknowledge that that was NOT my middle name.

Which is the problem with any bureaucracy. By giving petty half-trianed (if that) clerks the power to deny or accept things that are vital for the people applying, it quickly revolves into permit-raj and banana republic operating rules.

Which, yes indeed, is the problem with our vast and completely insane governmental bureaucracy. They’ll all now permit-raj and insane, which is why we’re operating by banana republic rules.

If a company like Amazon, designed to MAKE MONEY can fall into this kind of insanity, imagine how much easier it is for governments.

To make the folly of this complete — they’ve now cost me three days of work, and imagine how many I’ve cost them. There are apparently three people dealing with this now. And probably stepping on each other — it would not stop any actually scammers. Which I helpfully pointed out to them, yes, because I live to make friends and influence people. (Shush you.)

If I were a, for the sake argument, South Elbonian scammer, I could very easily fake a reversal letter from Baen by taking their symbol and making up more convincing letterhead than theirs, and being all formal (which their reversal letters never are, being a note from Toni to me.) Then I could trick out an amazingly official letter from Goldport Press and make up a name of an editor to sign it. It’s not actually difficult, and how are they going to verify this person doesn’t work for Goldport Press? There is a contract.

And with that, if I were a scammer and thus inclined, I could publish any bestseller I wanted to. No problem. It would be denounced in three days, and then I’d use the same files and start another account. This is how they do it. (I once accidentally bought a scammer’s version of an F. Paul Wilson book.)

Except I’m not a scammer, so I tried to do things above board, and in return ended up mired in the House that Makes You Mad.

This is why if there’s any justice Louis XIV is burning in hell (forget his mistresses, those are peccadilloes. Forget murders and judicial murders and wars. He deserves to burn in hell for inventing bureaucracy.) And why all bureaucracies should be burned to the ground and this kind of process rationalized.

And also why companies should stop acting like banana republics.

While I still have some hair left.

UPDATE: So, apparently cursing at them in gutter Portuguese works. The ebook and paperback are now publishing. The hardcover isn’t, because they’re crazy. (I mean, if I have the rights to publish the book, you’d think that means I have the rights to publish the book, right?) I’ve poked them on that.
I want to announce that I’m available to curse in Portuguese at them if any of you has similar difficulties. It apparently is the magic sauce, at least as long as they use Brazilian flunkies.

162 thoughts on “The Problems of Bureaucracy

    1. Make the bastages pull out theirs.

      Am unsure if escalation to pulling theirs out for them would be beneficial, at least beyond immediate therapeutic benefit.

  1. But can you really be certain you’re the actual Sarah A. Hoyt and not a quantum duplicate created in the Mirror Dimension?

      1. Given the pictures I’ve seen our hostess has no goatee and clearly cannot be from a mirror universe :-).

        1. Then again, the mirror version of Kira Nerys didn’t have a goatee either, so it’s not always a reliable indicator. 😛
          Sanity is like most things — best practiced in moderation.

          1. I prefer to think that things like Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Voyager (Lost In Space without a decent robot) didn’t happen, or are at least non cannonical. Of course Mirror Universe Uhura had no goatee either, but perhaps only through electrolysis and waxing?

            1. Uhura’s mirror-universe uniform showed her navel, and according to network standards of the time that was an even greater sign of wickedness than Spock’s beard.

              1. Yup that is it. and then they all come shouting at the force field. Of course who knows how long its been since I last watched “Mirror, Mirror”

                1. Was that Mirror-Uhura or Our-Uhura, though? Didn’t they all find themselves wearing their mirror-versions’ clothes? If they hadn’t, the rest of the mirror-crew would have been instantly suspicious.

                  1. Our-Uhura wears the navel-baring Mirror-Uniform, and Our-Kirk wears the gold lamé Mirror-Vest-Thing. McCoy’s and Scotty’s uniforms are only different in decoration and badges.

                    Just as Our-Team came out of the transporter in Mirror-Uniforms, so did Mirror-Team show up in Our-Universe in Our-Uniforms. We only see a glimpse of them in the brig.

                    One wonders if in fact only the consciousnesses of the teams switched, not their bodies.

  2. Here, let me help. Send me five bucks and make me an editor of Goldport Press. Then tell me what to tell Amazon. I’ll fax it to them (see that’s the trick, it needs to be faxed). If it doesn’t work, fire me.

  3. There’s a special level in Hell reserved just for bureaucrats. They’ll be forced to go through all the hair-pulling frustration they inflicted on others.

    Hey, I can dream, right?

    Probably the only thing worse than bureaucrats are people who decide That’s Not My Job. Almost lost out on a job opportunity because some asshole got a form from the background check firm that was investigating me, but it wasn’t their job to fill it out. Nor was it their job to take the form over to the desk of the person who was supposed to fill it out. It took the background check company alerting me to the fact that the firm in question hadn’t responded, and me desperately making phone calls until, by coincidence, I got connected to that person, and then me yelling at that person (after they dropped the “that’s not my job” line on me multiple times) to get them to do it.

    1. In Niven & Pournelle’s Inferno, there is special punishment for bureaucrats.

      One of the Babylonian (?) inventors of Bureaucracy wanted to retire but for several thousand years he was attempting to do but the clay tablets that he needed to fill out (in triplicate) kept hardening (due to the heat of the capital city of Hell) so he had to do them over for thousands of years. 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈

      1. I remember the Bay of Hammurabi in the book. (where he got his clay. It wasn’t a bay when he started…)

      2. They’re only afraid of being found to be responsible for something. hell for a bureaucrat is being publicly responsible and open to blame for anything forever.

        That’s actually what’s behind most of the no’s, You can’t prove a negative and, thus, the best risk based strategy is to either deny outright or pettifog forever.

    2. The British have a phrase for this kind of person – a jobsworth. Because they tend to say “I couldn’t do that, it’s more than my jobs worth” when asked to do anything out of the ordinary (or even in the ordinary but just not their ordinary)

    3. @ Raptor > “Probably the only thing worse than bureaucrats are people who decide That’s Not My Job.”
      It was probably above his pay grade.

  4. Of course there is a more evil (and/or paranoid?) reason for your bureaucratic dealings with Amazon. Perhaps their govt. handlers have seen how subversive your blog is and they want to inflict as much bureaucratic pain on you as possible… Unfortunately, these days, this is likely not far from the truth! Take calm breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Focus on the goal, not the hoops you have to jump to get there… EF Bee Eye says, “Hey Efferberg, that Hunter laptop is just some Russian misinformation,” wink wink and “go right ahead and rig all those important precincts.”>

  5. Imperial China would like a word with you regarding who invented bureaucracy.

    The bureaucrats are considered such an integral part of Chinese government that when Sun Yat-Sen wrote up his proposed constitution for the Republic of China, it had four branches of government – executive, legislative, judicial… and bureaucracy.

        1. Yeah, but the Roman bureaucracy died with the empire(s). I doubt anyone would try and link the Italian, Greek, or Turkish bureaucracies with Rome. The Chinese bureaucracy has lasted for thousands of years, and will likely survive for thousands more.

          1. Not in Constantinople. Apparently westerners were appalled at the layers of officious officials they had to deal with (and donate to). And bureaucrats who considered themselves superior to bishops and other officials of the western church, or of the Holy Roman Empire.

          2. Umm the Roman bureaucracy is alive and well, it’s called the Roman Curia. The Roman Catholic Church kept the structure going they just put bishops in charge of the diocese rather than Roman Civil Servants,

            I would quibble that it was Richelieu who started the current bureaucratic system in the west, but what’s a few years between friends.

        2. The ancient Egyptians were no slouches either.
          Just ask Joseph and Moses.

          Well, most of the secular histories as well, but I like the personal touches.

      1. In La Russie en 1839, the Marquis de Custine commented on how ghastly Russian bureaucracy was.

    1. When I took courses on China, we were told that there were five branches or yüan: legislative, executive, judicial, examinations, and control. The control yüan had the job of monitoring the performance of the other branches.

      Of course there were five. The Chinese do everything in fives, starting with the elements.

  6. I don’t own any Amazon stock, it’s not in my sphere of valuation competence, but I can tell you that your adventure is not a good thing to hear for anyone who does. C. Northcoat Parkinson would enjoy this example of too many clerks having to justify their existence at the expense of the company’s business.

      1. My issue is that they don’t seem to make any money, at least not enough that I should spend 673.9 times earnings to buy it. I’m not opposed to buying high PE companies if there’s some prospect for a return — I bought Exxon when earnings were very low — but that’s just stupid.

        At some point it will either become a normal company or they’ll fail, with the beezer having left I’m betting on the later. they’ll waste money on stupid sh@t and become fat, dumb, and happy.

      2. yeah, but a lot of that is asset and set creation that wouldn’t be in later seasons. People like to ignore setup costs for a series this complex.

    1. It’s symptomatic of large internet companies. They’ve grown by using machines to do support not hiring people. They make it next to impossible to connect to a human by design and make it even harder (again by design) to connect to a competent human as opposed to some $1/hour slave in an Asian call center.

      I have a twitter account which they disabled and I’ve lost the password to so I can’t reinitialize it. I don’t really care but it woudl be nice to kill it properly instead of leaving it as a zombie

      1. I had occasion to ask Amazon for help just a week ago. I got a requested call within a minute and after two transfers I was able to talk with someone who could answer my question.

        In contrast, when I first moved to Lawrence, I tried to get AT&T to give me the Internet connection they had said I could transfer from Riverside. After a week and multiple calls where I was told they would solve the problem, I got a technician who was looking for my apartment—not in Lawrence, Kansas, but in Lawrence, California. (I hadn’t even known there WAS a Lawrence, California.) I had told them repeatedly that I was in Kansas. So then I got in touch with the local cable/broadband company, and had service within four days. And a few days after that I got a call from a friendly man at AT&T who wanted to talk me into coming back . . .

        I was just as glad to leave AT&T, actually. They provided Internet services through Yahoo, and Yahoo had no help line at all.

        1. When we moved our retirement funds from a large financial “service” firm, they were moderately annoying with the major moves. But….$SPOUSE got an extra $500 from her previous employer (she’d been laid off a few years beforehand) and it went into her account.

          Getting that money out was like pulling teeth with a comealong. She finally threatened to call TPTB and ask for an audit of the company’s practices, at which point the roadblock mysteriously disappeared.

          When we saw commercials for the company, much derision resulted.

          1. 401(k) to IRA transfers. First one was the IP 401(k) to IRA was simple, they even auto forwarded trailing money as it came in, in checks which were deposited in the IRA account, but easy. Same with the PSC/Percon 401(k). Hubby didn’t have any problems with his 401(k) transfers either. But the last transfer for me, which was a Simple IRA 401(k) version was a major PIA on steroids. It’s not like we didn’t know the process, or forms. We did everything correctly. They blocked us at every turn. Didn’t quite threaten … just persistence. But dang it was a PIA.

      2. @ masgramondou – Neo feels your pain.
        “I spent hours today – literally hours – on the phone, attempting to cancel a certain cellphone service I have been paying for and wasn’t using. I’m not going to spend hours writing about it, only to bore myself and you silly with the details. I merely have a question: why do they purposely make it so hard to reach a human being?

        It’s a rhetorical question, though, because I believe I know the answer. It’s both cost-saving to have everything automated, and an effort to discourage you and make you give up trying to drop something. The prompts made it relatively easy to add something, but dropping something was simply not an option.”

        1. OMG! Switching cell service is a PIA. Just did it, twice, in 4 months. We switched from Xfinity Mobile to T-Mobile (I am going to miss T-Mobile live person tech support) then to Verizon. Not Verizon’s fault. Getting our paid-for phones unlocked was a major PIA … also a symptom of why we were bailing after only 4 months. Xfinity to T-Mobile switch, new phones, same number – 4 hours and that didn’t count the 90 minute wait for my turn, nor the data transfer from old phones to new ones. Second round, no wait, took 3 1/2 hours, and we were using our new phones. (Never again. Note Verizon’s Taxes and Fees is a sticker shock. But … we have coverage.)

          Note. I think T-Mobile, if it’d worked where we need it to, including home, would be good. Just isn’t prime time where we need it to work. Already my battery usage has tripled which means the phone was draining from having to constantly search and reconnect even if it wasn’t reporting not connected. Hubby’s was reporting, and it was continually offline when it shouldn’t have been. I did check coverage maps before we chose T-Mobile or going back to Verizon in April.

  7. I suspect they hired too many lawyers. Then those chairwarmers need to invent new complications to pretend to justify their paychecks.
    Mencken understood lawyers well:
    “In nothing did the founders of this country so demonstrate their essential naivete than in attempting to constrain government from all its favorite abuses, and entrusting the enforcement of those protections to judges; that is to say, men who had been lawyers; that is to say, men professionally trained in finding plausible excuses for dishonest and dishonorable acts.” — H. L. Mencken

  8. When you said “the power of mustache” my mind immediately went to Gordito of Dr. McNinja.

    You see, his uncle’s told him he was to young to ride raptors, so he grew a mustache, by sheer force of will to prove them wrong. He’s what, 12?

    Which is why he has both a raptor and a magnificent handlebar mustache.

  9. That sounds as if the bureaucrats share offices with [academic publisher.] I can’t get information about a textbook (which might or might not still exist. Shrodinger’s book) unless I have an account. I can’t make an account without having a sales rep assigned. I can’t get a sales rep assigned unless I did business with them already and have an account. I can’t get an account . . .

    1. Isn’t that when you call your lawyer?

      I did that to a university in NYC. Missing paperwork was discovered as if by -magic- when the word “lawyer” was said. A threat of legal action will move a low-level bureaucrat like a cattle prod, particularly in private industry.

      As I say elsewhere on this thread, having a lawyer is sometimes a necessity. Making morons file the paperwork correctly is their job. That company owes you money, morons are keeping it from you.

      1. Now if only that worked to get the IRS to pay you back the money it owes you.

        They made us do the prove-you-are-you dance hell that Mrs. Hoyt is going through, apparently for giggles…

        As we’re still waiting.

        1. In my experience lawyers only work for problems with private industry. I know of no solution for problems with American government agencies. They are utterly immune from prosecution, bad press or even legislative pressure.

          Y’all should do something about that.

        2. SIL ($SPOUSE’s kid sister) is starting to get to the point with PG&E, AKA, “Pigs, Greed & Extortion, or the worst(?) power company in the 57 50 states.

          Late BIL (brother to $SPOUSE) bought his house from parents, but for reasons (maybe even good ones) he kept the power bill in his father’s name. He also paid ahead, generally 6 months or so.

          He died of “unexpectedly” in February after getting the not-Vaxx booster, and SIL is now the executor. Took several months to get things sorted through the state because California and intestate, so she’s starting to do the admin stuff. She told PG&E to refund the money to late BIL’s estate, and included copies of the relevant death certificates. The check came, to late FIL’s name.

          They won’t fix it. When SIL said she’d let the lawyer know (and there is one), the PG&E droid immediately shut up. $SPOUSE told me her sister was quite ticked off. No likelihood of swearing in exotic languages, though “Legalese” might click.

    2. Textbook sales reps usually work on a regional basis. You can find that info on their public facing website. Then just call that rep and let him/her know you’re interested in their book… since rep gets credit, they’ll usually call back pretty damn quickly.

      1. I can’t find a rep, per the web-site, because my school has not done business with the company, so we don’t have a rep assigned, so they won’t tell me who the rep might be. I really wonder if this division of the larger company is actually called Kafka Publishers, LLC. They are very oriented toward Big Public District Contracts, as best I can tell.

  10. I’m currently reading a fascinating book called Red Plenty, all about how the Soviet economy worked (and official dreams of advanced technology yielding fairy-tale-like abundance). I’m currently in a chapter titled Favours, 1964, all about a man who earns his living by inducing bureaucracies to carry out things they have been ordered to do in a timely and helpful way. If I ever do a new edition of GURPS Social Engineering I’ll have to include this in the bibliography . . .

      1. In a rather odd sort of coincidence, most of the authors that have run into the wall of bureaucratic idiocy at the ‘Zon in the past week have had their issues cleared up just now.

        Now if I was the suspicious sort, which I most certainly am not and the people that tell you otherwise are all liars to repeat such base calumny, but hypothetically if I was… Well, then I might just hypothesize as to what changed. What changed when suddenly all these indie authors got the roadblocks. What changed when everything all at once seemed to clear up.

        There nothing quite like the eff ups that happen when a bureaucracy gets a visit from the Good Idea Fairy.

        1. And It Is Up In The Kindle Store with an Aug 31st release date. [Very Big Grin]

          1. Silly(?) question. I have the Mk 1 version of DST on Kindle, and the ‘zon is willing to let me pre-order the redo. However, is this where an automagic update occurs, or is this a new book by Amazon standards?

            1. Since the Baen Kindle Versions of Sarah’s books disappeared some time ago, this is a New-To-Amazon book.

              1. That makes sense. Ordering another book with the same name. Is that like crossing the streams a’la Ghostbusters? 🙂

                1. I have two completely different books both titled “UFO Crash At Roswell” (one credulous, one debunking) and the universe hasn’t exploded.


                  1. Fred Schwed author of the immortal Where are the Customer’s Yachts: A Good Hard Look at Wall Street (ca., 1930, all the brokers had a lot of time to write books around that time) quipped that when he found out that book titles weren’t subject to copy write, he wanted to call his book Huckleberry Finn.

                    Schwed said the forbidden thing out loud when he asked what price one would pay for competent investment advice when there was no visible supply. Still no visible supply.

                    1. There’s no shortage of incompetent investment advice, though, and no shortage of suckers believing they can get something for nothing. Like I always say:

                      Q: How do you get a million dollars trading stocks?
                      A: Start with two million.
                      Leo Bloom: “Well, if we assume you’re a dishonest person—“
                      Max Bialystock: “Assume, assume!”

                2. Only to the Amazon Bureaucrat. 😈

                  More seriously, the fun-and-game might be when two authors with the same name (it’s unlikely that Amazon would like that) had a book with the same name.

                  Same title by different authors is somewhat common and doesn’t really cause problems.

                  Look up the book title “This Rough Magic”. There are several books by the title.

                  One is by Mary Stewart.

                  The second is by three authors you might not have heard about ( 👿 ): Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer (from Baen Books)

                  Oh, both the Mary Stewart book and the Baen Book are set on the island of Corfu (which may be why the Baen Book is named that).

                  1. There is another Celia Hayes, writer, on Amazon – she’s English, lives in Italy IIRC, and writes rom-com, so there isn’t much other than that to mix us up, since I write historical fiction and rural comedy. We get mixed up frequently on Goodreads, though.
                    I did subvert one of her fans, though – who was looking for more of her books, and found mine, and was nice enough to stop by my author website and tell me so.

      2. @ Sarah > Number 2 Son served his mission in Brazil, and had a lovely accent when he came home (which didn’t last, sadly), but I don’t think his vocabulary lessons included cursing (although you can pick up some nicely turned phrases from the Psalms, which I assume carry through in Portuguese translations).
        However, since he was mugged at least 3 times, he may have expanded his repertoire independently.
        I’m afraid to ask.

  11. I have been watching shows on Viki. The historical and fantasy historical ones show fully formed bureacracies…..and all the problems that come from clan tribal and bureacratic infighting.
    Even their afterlife is a pyramid palace bureacracy and their heros (Monkey King) essentially pull an Asterix.
    Also more so than ours they seem to have a Gamma based civilization

    1. I seem to recall hearing part of the point of Journey to the West was that bureaucracies have limits into just how much they can actually handle, such, actual people.

      Supposedly the Monkey King represents the unchecked and limitless capabilities of human innovation and undirected boredom.

      “Yes you may be the divine bureaucracy, but all it really takes is one bored and excessively clever human thingy to complete wreak havoc over the whole thing.”

    2. I recently looked up the Chinese Goddess of Lightning. I needed a cool name for a giant tank floating off the coast of China. I recommend the tale of Dianmu to any who wonder if China is like America.

      Short version, Lei Gong, the God of Thunder, is given the job of punishing evildoers by the Jade Emperor. (The same one who lets Monkey King get away with his antics.) But Lei Gong can’t see very well, due to the clouds and darkness that come with storms, so he just blasts away more or less at random. One day he blasts Dianmu while she’s throwing out the garbage, because she “looked shifty.” When she finally gets to Heaven (after passing through Nth number of judges and bureaucrats on the way up, because her spirit is so pure) the Jade Emperor is angry at Lei Gong for killing her, so he makes them get -married-. Then Dianmu uses her lightning to pick targets for Lei Gong, who destroys them with his thunderbolts.

      Compare and contrast with Paul Bunyan. China ain’t like America, the same way ancient Greece ain’t like America.

  12. “But seriously: THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A COMPLAINT AGAINST GOLDPORT PRESS, and if they look, they can tell it publishes my name and my pen names. This should not, in any way be a problem.”

    Unless someone decided to -make- it a problem. Or unless their internal office procedures were designed by superannuated cheerleaders. Either is possible, or even both at the same time. Evil ex-cheerleaders. I have seen that show.

    Amlazoon (who sees all, hears all, knows all and that’s why I’m misspelling the name) recently demanded banking information from me that they already have, as witnessed by the fact that I’ve gotten money from them, so I lean more toward the cheerleader explanation in my case.

    If they continue to be obtuse, or it becomes evident that this is deliberate, you need to lawyer up.

    A lawyer will -know- what information they are entitled to ask for, and what sufficient proof of identity looks like. If they are breaching their contract with you, a lawyer whose specialty is dealing with this sort of thing will know what to do.

    I’ve never been a fan of spending money on things and services I don’t need or want. I don’t want a lawyer, but I have one. Because -I- can’t read a contract and know if they’re going to screw me or not. He can. And a good thing too, because there have been some things he caught that might have cost me more than his fees.

    The correct tool for fixing a TV is a TV repair man.

  13. ‘Crats prefer “no” because it both protects and empowers them.

    If you can phrase your objective such that the ‘crat says “no” to achieve your goal, you may win.

    Once upon a time, the IRS cashed my check, then claimed I never paid. I had a certified copies from my bank, on 17×11 paper for clarity. “Federal Reserve Bank of…” stamp on the back.

    ” That just proves a FRB cashed it, not us. ” and ” you will be sheriffed”

    I stopped by an IRS office to seek the proper appeal form, because broke. The helpful agent, who had an accent and outfit worthy of a Hogan’s Heroes villain, gray severe jacket and skirt, hair bun, glasses, more Deutch than Prussia, said this was not in order and thus she would not tolerate this. She froze my account, preventing sale of my home, and assured me no one else could unfreezforms,

    Called my congressman too, as I was desperate

    Well, my congresscritter was on a “leash the IRS” comittee, and flamed the IRS, with fusion plasma. The junior ‘crat that dumped on me called me back pleading that I stop going to congress while he “quickly fixes this misunderstanding sir, you didn’t mention your congressman was….” and ” I promise you won’t ever hear from me again.”

    Huh. Wow. Glad I voted for him.

    Half an hour later, the phone rings.

    (Worried, much) “Sir, I know I promised. But I had to call. Please ask agent (Grey) at IRS to unlock your account. She won’t without your ok.”


    I decided to go back to the IRS office to ask, as I owed her a big-time thanks. She was skeptical. ” Are you – certain-?” But she did remove it, offering instant re-do if needed.

    Thus all was well.

    Just wow. For once, “no” was on my side

    1. We had a problem with the IRS we had to take to our congress person too. Defasio (D), early in his career. That alone has given him a lot of passes for us. Glad he is retiring, however. We didn’t get to the lock on banking accounts stage. But did have to complain. He got the file reopened and a new agent assigned. Then IRS ended up paying us money. If they hadn’t started the audit, that then opened each year we refused to turn blind to the premise, with no explanation, and bad math, they wouldn’t have owed us anything. We didn’t want to file amended returns because they might trigger an audit … That ship sailed. So we amended our returns …

      Besides the original agent’s bad math, the problem was how many years to depreciate a $65k 30 year old house that was a primary residence, turned rental. We chose 22 years, rather we and our accountant, because the accountant couldn’t find the written “rule”. The “unwritten” reasonable rule is “# of mortgage years – # years lived in” which was 30 – 6 or 24. Money we had to re-coop when the house sold that year of taxes. Our rejoinder was so if we’d had a 15 year mortgage we could have depreciated 15 – 6 or 9 years? Correct? Of coarse not. That was unreasonable. New IRS agent. Walked in with a (sleeping) newborn … settled within 10 minutes. Either infant in tow (won’t rule out) or the fact the house had sold so we’d be re-cooping the depreciation in that years taxes. Which meant the new deductions/credits would offset the ~$200/year deduction (not credit so taxes owed on that was something like $20/year + interest and penalties … it was the dang penalties …), thus no interest or penalties, because nothing back owed, and we’d have less to reclaim when current year taxes, and our income was way, way, down. New agent allowed that we were correct, and took the adjusted returns with the new deductions/credits, and we got back taxes and interest, eventually.

  14. Bureaucracy is like anything of human manufacture-used properly, it generates good results.

    Used improperly, you get reasons to tear your hair out and wonder how well these people will bounce when you throw them out of a ten-story window.

  15. In India (or Chicago) all bureaucratic problems are solved with appropriate backsheesh, or in Chicago, donations to relevant political causes…It’s really a much simpler system..

      1. IMO, civilizations that operate on the backsheesh principle never reach escape velocity from basic subsistence poverty. They never get an industrial revolution, or a religious reformation, or whatever caused the West to take off the way it did — and to be the only example in our millennia.
        History mavens may have counter-examples, but I don’t know of any off-hand.

      2. From the standpoint of business, it’s a big improvement over wasting a lot of time dealing with petty bureaucrats, and losing…And it has been a fixture in many States, especially blue States, since the 19th century…

        1. No, it’s not. I’ve seen how countries with that system run. It KILLS business, deader than bureaucracy. You can work around bureaucracy. You can’t work around baksheesh. It’s as deadly to business as what happens in Africa where you’re EXPECTED to dip into the till for any relative who askes, and ruin yourself for them. So no one starts businesses.

          1. Depends on the bureaucrats and the bribery. Either one can be managed if reasonable; both can metastasize and be lethal.

            Easy to believe that bribery does the second more easily, to be sure.

            1. I think it comes down to, with the baksheesh culture, once it becomes The Way Business Is Done, it’s already metastasized though whether it’s a slow or fast kill is hard to tell. Where as with bureaucracy, there’s far more wiggle room for The Way Business Is Done to not be metastasized. There’s other factors I can see going into the cycle, but that’s likely to turn into a very long discussion.

              1. Bureaucracy has rules it must follow lest it become a baksheesh culture. In the former, if you really do check all the boxes, fill in all the forms, sign every dotted line, staple your copies in triplicate, attach your identification photocopies, and file them in the correct office at the correct time…

                Then they really do have to do their job. That’s it. In baksheesh culture there is no such guarantee.

                There, the burden shifts with the wind. You get charged more if they don’t like the way you look, if they think you have less backing than they do, if they had a bad day, and so on. Baksheesh can seem more efficient in some ways, but in reality it is not. It kills the spirit of entrepreneurship deader than dead.

                Want to start a business? Not if you haven’t paid your bribes. And you must keep paying them. Forever. Also, not if you haven’t sweetened the pot for all the links up the chain. And not if you haven’t acquired some sort of backing, either. You must become a part of the baksheesh to engage with it, passing the cost of the bribes you must pay onto your customers.

                This is not a recipe for success. Especially for small businesses.

                Enter cartels and monopolies. These are even more predatory towards small businesses than the baksheesh culture. And you do not have the latter without the former.

                Baksheesh destroys societal trust. You don’t trust your neighbor unless he’s part of your extended family, and even then not as much as your immediate family. Nothing gets done in baksheesh culture without the bribe system taking bites at every turn, thus they tend to be slow to react to things like, oh, say, market forces. Definitely slower than a proper market economy.

                Baksheesh is one of those cultural paths that leads to a dead end. It stifles growth, innovation, and trust. For all the faults that bureaucracy has, it least there are rules.

                1. Yes, but the rules we must follow, including hte rules our military follows, the procedure, have overtaken the oath of office.
                  And allowed the cuckoo into the nest.

                  1. “the rules we must follow, including hte rules our military follows,”

                    The problem is not the rules we must follow, it’s the rules they are supposed to be following…. and are never required to do so based on Party membership.

                  2. Yeah. They’re trying to make the rules all say “I win, you lose.” Bureaucracy has a bunch of problems and problematic tendencies. It’s better than baksheesh- but our particular bureaucratic institutions have been invested by leftists and they are using them to attack us.

                    That’s a problem that’s long been in need of fixing.

          2. Funding your relatives is a completely different matter, and isn’t usual here…But I can tell you as an experienced business lawyer that making political contributions to curry favor is absolutely standard in the US, and an absolute requirement for doing business in big cities and all major law firms and businesses do it, and many small businesses do so with local politicians….

            1. If you think it’s remotely similar to the baksheesh cultures, you’re deluded. It’s not just lawyers. It’s EVERY level of business must pay baksheesh, to EVERY level of government, every flunky you contact. ALL of them (and there are 3 times as many as there ought be because they all know/are related to someone and all want their cut). In some places it increases the cost of doing business by several orders of magnitude. If it’s actually that bad in the cities? No WONDER businesses are fleeing to fly over country!

              As for ‘funding your relatives’, comparing what happens here to Africa is rather like saying a paper cut is the same as a completely missing limb. They’re both cuts on limbs, but that’s about all you can say about it.

              1. ” It’s EVERY level of business must pay baksheesh, to EVERY level of government,”

                Except that is precisely what every level of business here must do….. and the baksheesh is exacted in groveling submission in place of money.

  16. It struck me that it would have saved you some effort if your title for this one was “Problems Bureaucracy Doesn’t Cause”, then I thought about it and realized that a one-line blog post would be boring. 🙂

    Hang in there; in the end you win, they lose.

    1. Bob C. One line? That seems far too long. I think its probably precisely one word and a punctuation, Problems Bureaucracy Doesn’t Cause:


      1. Call me Pollyanna, but I’m sure even bureaucrats can’t (yet) screw up selection of a dry fly for a Baetis rise, or the proper 9mm factory load to use. Or an least can’t mandate it. Again, yet. 😉

          1. If they show up on the stream, it’s “Oh, he must have slipped, fell on a rock and drowned!” And accidents happen on ranges too, y’know… 😉

  17. So, apparently cursing at them in gutter Portuguese works.

    Dummy at Amazon: “Oh, that Sarah A. Hoyt!”

    Dummy at next desk: “Quick, get her to say ‘Moose and Squirrel!'”

  18. Your tale of woe due to bureaucrats hit home with me. The delightful Mrs. had her Doctor put in orders for her to get an MRI – just a precaution on his part but medically sound. So… big hospital is to contact us to set up appointment and sure enough does so in a couple of days.

    Clerk (working with me as wife hates dealing with this crap) checks information with me on the order for the MRI and it’s all ok… however, all the ‘personal’ information on wife is from about 40 years ago, address, former name (pre marriage) etc. I work with clerk to clear up all the records and get everything current. All is in order! But wait, there’s more!

    Next day get a call from the scheduling office (different clerk) and I relate the prior call and how we have the appointment. This clerk is totally confused as can’t find any appointment and oh, by the way has all the “wrong” outdated information and none of the updated info. She decides to check further and will call back. Next day: new clerk calls and demands to speak only to wife – who gets on phone tells clerk (who has been demanding and impolite) to talk to husband as he has been working this issue. Clerk refuses and says HIPPA won’t allow her to do so. Now demands social security number and additional information from her which causes wife to tell her to go to hell and gives me the phone. I tell clerk she needs to tell us what she needs and what information she is claiming is incorrect and she refuses to tell me as it is covered by HIPPA and neither wife or I have a need to know (wrong). I hang up. Done.

    Call big hospital and get scheduling office and very nicely tell them they have a crazy working there and relate all of the above. This clerk checks records, finds them all messed up says to me she will take care of this and works with me to get it all fixed up – takes like only ten minutes. She says she will confirm our appointment and will get back to us to ensure we knew it was resolved. About an hour later she calls back and confirms everything is now correct, appointment for MRI is good and also told me that the rude clerk was raked over the coals and told to never act like she had ever again. Sometimes it does work but, oh brother!

    Out of all this, and dealing with medical people, the true burning hate I have is when these fools try to magically invoke HIPPA to justify their insanity and inability to be sensible.

    1. Every couple of years my wife falls out of the HIPPA approval list. OTOH, the last time, the medical monopoly at Shitty Little Medical Center (They do some things well. Usually.) got clobbered by a ransomware attack. They got most of the records unscrewed, but not all.

      They still think I never got the latest and greatest Pneumonia booster. OTOH, I have the receipts from the severe adverse reaction, so eff’em. “No you don’t have the flu. OTOH, you have a spot on your lung. We’ll send a prescription for an antibiotic you can get tomorrow morning.” That was a world of fun, since I was away from home for a different medical reason, and used the nearest urgent care center. (Wholly owned subsidiary of the pretty nice hospital.) I hate exciting road trips.

      1. Sigh. I can get that with mom’s and hubby’s stuff. I’m suppose (not suppose, AM) on their HIPPA records as “deal with wife”/”deal with daughter”. Mostly they take care of things themselves, but when the tears hit (mom), or frustration (hubby), with bureaucracy, cue in me. With mom they just get tears in the background and me “Dang it, look what you did!” With hubby it “F*ing talk to my wife.”

    2. I love the one where… I buy my own labs. About 1/6 of the cost levied by my PCP’s hospital group (I’m told, the largest one in the USA), BUT… I can’t email my PCP a PDF of the results. BUT… the practice can call the lab and GET the results — on their say-so. Ask PCP why and he shrugs. “Lawyers.”

    3. I’m not convinced HIPAA isn’t just used to scare people. Fortunately, I work at a rural hospital, so I doubt I’d get in too much trouble, but the things I am and am not allowed to do are… questionable at best. Just to give an example, if someone says they’re a childs parents, I just take them at their word. Foster parents, guardians, peoples whose adoptions haven’t gone through… I have to go through hell to get those kids treatment.

      And so I ask myself… what is the point of all this HIPAA garbage if I can just take “Yah, that’s my kid” at their word? The way to scam the system is obvious. Ditto with the signatures I have to take, which are very rarely anything more than illegible, but are absolutely vital to get for every patient. For some reason.

      There’s a lot of red tape that really seems to just slow down honest folk, and really do nothing to stop the dishonest. And I’ve got enough to do that I don’t need the added job security. I don’t hate the job, a lot of the work I do is genuinely useful, and I feel like I’m contributing to society. But I can’t ignore that some of the stuff is absolute bullshit.

      1. I know of one case where a healthcare worker got in trouble because she broke HIPAA. Turns out she and her husband were in a feud with the patient, and she blabbed about some health issues. Word got out and the guilty party got fingered.

        Unfortunately, she only got canned. Would have been nice so see her get a big fine. (Yes, I had dealings with the person. No, they were never pleasant.)

  19. Oh, dear – I am having flashbacks to when I had to have my then-business partner in the Teeny Publishing Bidness sign an affidavit to the effect that yes, I was a part of the business and could open a business account.
    I am so glad that I was never a part of the Literary Industrial Complex, BTW – and never let them get their hands on my works…
    I for sure won’t, now…
    Unless, of course, I am offered a mega-butt-load of money, which in these degraded days, will not happen, since I never bonked or married anyone famous or notorious…

  20. I once had cause to apply for low-income health benefits. I was working two part time jobs, and the combined income was still below the low-income threshold. They requested verification of my income, so I sent copies of my paycheck stubs. They wrote back, telling me that I would need affidavits from my both employers that I wasn’t working full time. I threw a hissy and refused. I wasn’t going to pester my employers for paperwork in order to satisfy some beek who couldn’t or wouldn’t add fifty and eighty. We muddled by without the health benefits.

    Go ahead. Try to tell me that adding 87,000 new hires in the IRS isn’t going to gum up the works even more than they already are, so I can laugh in your face.

    1. My guess is first they add the HR people, which will suck up all of the seats with SJW folks, to manage IRS HR.

      Not that that willake them more reasonable. More likely it will make them more random and the audits more rotoroutery…

  21. I still argue that Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy presents the most accurate and insightful portrait of the species with his lumpy, officious, humourless Vogons (whose poetry is the third worst in the known universe).

    Bureaucracy is from “Rule From The Desk,” but in my experience it fits the US definition for the furniture better: thus (nods to CS Lewis and the Green Book) “Rule by a chest of (empty) drawers,” and I’ll let the reader determine if the empty drawers are concealed garment-trays, or knickers with naught to knot around.

  22. That sounds like what I experienced in NYS trying to rent a decent apartment with a friend. We just wanted to share expenses. So, we tried to rent a one bedroom apartment because sharing a room in a one bedroom would be way cheaper than having to get a 2 or 3 bedroom place. More bedrooms, more expensive. We tried. We called. Every last one of them said “Two of you? Sure, you can rent a one bedroom apartment. As long as you are married, siblings, or in a relationship.” Basically, if you weren’t at least friends with benefits, you HAD to occupy separate rooms on the contract. This was Upstate so far less expensive than the City, and far less crowded, but the laws enacted because of the crowded tenements of the previous century(ies) had stuck to the books. They’d only loosened the married or related requirement to allow for co-habitation but not roommates (outside of the college dorms). Makes me wonder how many slums are created because people lie on their rental agreements and then do the exact same thing the law is trying to prevent, cram more people in.

    1. To be sure. When I lived in subsidized housing in West Virginia, in order to qualify I had to jump through all sorts of hoops to prove that I qualified and wasn’t cheating. The problem was, those hoops were only obstacles if you were honest. A dishonest person could easily qualify on paper. Considering some of my neighbors there, I have little doubt that such dodges were were employed on a fairly regular basis.

    2. Based on the number of busts of “ten people in a house permitted for one, two if married” then I’d guess a goodly number. Granted, it’s more a case of organized crime (in the examples I’m familiar with) than “desperate family tucks lots of relatives in to save cash for the future/ransom more relatives,” unlike NYC and elsewhere in the early 1900s.

  23. <

    blockquote>He has to get a permission slip to go to the window that gives permission slips, so that the permission slip can be validated to get another permission slip.</blockquote.

    So, it’s like trying to break through the union blockades to get “in” to Hollywood, then.

  24. I work in the court system, so I know of what I speak. The only real power that bureaucrats possess is the power to f*^k with people.

  25. Now, I would rather you spend your time writing. Does Babbel have a course in Gutter Portuguese? (I could manage Gutter Spanish, but that wouldn’t work, I suppose.)

  26. I and somebody I’m close to have had multiple books ripped off on Amazon and resold under other authors’ (fake) names, to the point we’ve talked about no longer putting eBook versions out (I figure paper is harder to steal).
    I got one bootlegged book taken down (there is a system to do so) and I need to get around to trying to get more removed. It is kind of like whack-a-mole, though; I think more rip-offs come out as fast as they get taken down.

  27. Joke #25

    I tried having my mother’s phone disconnected, but customer service told me that since the account was in my dad’s name, he’d have to be the one to put in the request. The fact that he’d been dead for 40 years didn’t sway the rep. Then a solution hit me: “If I stop paying the bill, you can turn off the service, right?”

    “Well, yes,” she said reluctantly. “But that would ruin his credit.”

    1. What mom went through to get services cancelled for her parents. She did turn it over to the estate judge (well his staff handled it). “Put on Richard.”, “He died 4 weeks ago.”, “Put on Helen”, “She died last week.”, “We need death certificates.”, “Fine. Supposedly will have some in 6 weeks.”, “But the account owes money.”, “File it with the estate. Still close the account, Now.” Repeat and rinse. At least she had some inkling what was going to happen 3 years later when dad died. Only then she didn’t always want the account cancelled, but put in her name. Lesson learned. I’m on the accounts as authorized to deal with them.

  28. Complaining about the “Good Guys” at FBI/IRS is “a threat to the RULE OF LAW” according to FICUS.

    “Then his White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre doubled down on that.

    Now, they’re upping that attack to even another level. They’re trying to criminalize their political opposition calling the “extreme MAGA agenda” a “threat to the rule of law.””

  29. Just for the contrast of it: I had a great experience with Liberty Mutual. I got a “your policy will be cancelled, if you don’t pay us, soon” email from them. I don’t have a Liberty Mutual policy. I called them up. It turns out, it was the home owners policy from the house I had sold – a year ago. Apparently, the escrow paid it right before I sold.

    I sent them a scanned copy of the Warrantee Deed from the sale. They sent me a refund for the full year. Totally simple and painless.

    1. Generally that is taken care of by the Title Company. Not that we didn’t follow through with our home insurance. We don’t (will not) use escrow to pay either home insurance or property taxes.

        1. We asked lenders if they required it. Went somewhere else. Granted we’ve only bought two, and sold one, houses. But we’ve refinanced current one, a lot. From 13.5% flex with 5 year balloon, down to, eventually, 3.45% 30 year fixed. (Not refinancing anytime soon now.) Never used Escrow Accounts.

        2. If your loan was not greater than 80% of the property’s appraised value and they forced you to pay for mortgage insurance, you should have told that lender to go F themselves. Same if they try to force impounds on you.

          I refinanced my house a few months ago. I told them repeatedly that I don’t do impounds, where the mortgage company collects a monthly fee to pay the property taxes and insurance. When they brought the final papers to be signed, what do you think I found? Impounds!

          They said, “It’s OK, just sign, we’ll take them out.”

          I said, “Bring the paperwork back when you’ve got it right.”

          They did pay insurance and one property tax payment in escrow. I grumbled and went along with it.

  30. I will bet money it’s the hardback doing this. I think someone over there has a bug up their heiny about indie press, because the exact same thing happened to me when I tried to pit out a hardback of the first Einarr book.
    The whole series has been up, for free, on my blog and a couple of web fiction sites for ages. I put together some bonus content for the back, and slapped it up as ebook and paperback years ago. I had to resubmit to prove it was me, but then Bob’s your uncle.
    Hardback? Same file, same cover just resized for the new format. The bot demanded I resubmit – fine. Then that wasn’t good enough. More than a week later, after cycling through the same bits of info in various configurations (including a letter signed twice by me, so that the computer wouldthink it was a contract), I finally managed to get past the automated system to a real person, at which point it was approved rather rapidly.
    Dear reader, I have not tried for any of the later books.

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