Left Coast / Right Coast: Bureaucratic Nightmares

Mike Gold enjoying the holidays in the Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest

We’ve all been “caught” in them. Exactly like the book "Catch-22." Things that not only don’t make sense, but will easily have you running from the entity (governments of any kind), Registry of Motor Vehicles, etc. screaming your lungs out.

Here’s one: In greater Seattle, they are supposed to construct a pedestrian bridge between the North Seattle College and the new Light Rail Station being constructed just across Interstate 5 at the Northgate Shopping Center. But did the Seattle Department of Transportation  – who is building the bridge bother to ask the College for their input? Noooo!! 

The western landing traverses more than 1,000 feet of the campus, SDOT never bothered to consult with the college in planning this project. They’ve only found a dozen or so problems with the State Design. Most glaringly, the bridge has several “blind areas” which are deemed (by North Seattle College) to be “unsafe.” Result, a two-year delay (so far) and a budget, which has more than tripled in that time. Bureaucracy run amok.

Here’s another example: There is the “so-called” iron triangle consisting of the American Association for Retired People (AARP), the House Subcommittee on Aging, and the Social Security Administration all working together to set government policy on Social Security.

Can you imagine what a committee meeting would be like? I can easily see that about 30 minutes into such a meeting, most “sane” people would run as fast as they can out of the room. In addition to the mindless blather that is discussed at such a meeting, there is a requirement that the proceedings be recorded and then transcribed so anyone can read it via the Internet.

I actually tried once to read the transcript of such a meeting. I didn’t get more than two minutes into it when I “woke up” 30 minutes later not realizing what had put me into the stupor I awoke from.

Another example: SAHCODHA, which refers to hazards that are reasonably likely to cause “serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.”

The Food and Drug Administration uses it, for example, in the following sentence: “Option 1 of the co-proposal would establish certain requirements for SAHCODHA hazards to be controlled by the foreign supplier and different requirements for non-SAHCODHA hazards and SAHCODA hazards that the foreign supplier verifies have been controlled by its raw ingredient supplier.”

If anyone can tell me what that actually says or means, I will buy you an ice cream cone in Mill Creek.

Parking in Manhattan is difficult enough for limousine, truck and delivery drivers. But they faced an additional challenge this week when New York City rolled out new regulations in the heart of Midtown.

Parking and loading is now prohibited on both sides of most blocks between Sixth Avenue and Madison Avenue from 45th Street to 50th Street during morning and evening rush hours. Then you add in “alternate side of the street parking” which was created to allow street cleaning trucks to wash off the streets next to the curb. I defy you to comprehend the actual “alternate side signs” and their instructions.

One of my favorites is the rule for “traffic circles.” In most venues, the car to the right of you has the right of way. But Paris? Forget it. The traffic circle at the Arc de Triomphe is a perfect example of a bureaucracy run amok. In that circle, the cars already in the circle have the “right of way.” If you think of the geometry of that rule, it guarantees that the traffic will “jam up” as new cars attempt to enter the “inner circle of hell” along with all the other cars already in the circle.

Here is one of my personal favorites (i.e. that I actually experienced). I was patiently waiting at the Motor Vehicle Bureau in Massachusetts. I think I was something like 52nd in line. Fortunately I brought reading material with me. It was a license renewal. Besides the fact that they closed for an hour for lunch – adding an additional hour to my wait, as they got nearer and nearer to my number – it was nearly 4:00 pm.

At two minutes to 4:00 pm, they announced that anyone not sitting at a service desk by 4:00 pm would have to return the next day – and start the process all over again. You couldn’t believe all the blood curdling screams that happened just then.

Oh, well, I can always go to The Department of Redundancy Department!


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