Bureaucracy: Legalism versus Integrity

canadapassport

I discovered a great deal about identity today.

I went to the passport office to renew my Canadian passport.

I was treated very politely and given the necessary form.

I filled it out accurately and completely. Went to the passport officer and presented form, new photos and current passport. She opens the passport and looks at the photo page and says, “This passport is invalid.”

I reply, “I worked in the United States for one year using that passport, the TN1 visa is still inside.”

She says, “You didn’t sign the passport. It’s invalid.”

I think to myself, “I could take the passport outside, sign it and come back in.  In fact, I could take the passport and sign it right in front of her.  There was never a requirement for a witness; it could have been signed by anyone. This policy is retarded.”

She asks me for additional identification. I don’t have a driver’s license because I sold my car and decided I would use public transit. I offer my Social Insurance Card, but the signature has been rubbed off. I offer my birth certificate, but it has no signature. I offer my provincial health card, but it has no signature. I offer my credit card, my debit card and my library card.  I consider my Movie Village card because the signature is laminated.

She takes everything to her manager. She comes back and gives me a slip of paper. “This is the address of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission. They are on the far side of the city. Have them provide you with a photo ID with your signature and fax me a copy.”

I tell her, “I don’t drink.”

She replies, “You don’t have to.”

I jump on a bus and I go across town. I give the MLCC all the same ID that I gave the passport officer. They have me sign a form and in five minutes I have a photo ID with my signature.  Because the signature pad is electronic and does not provide visual feedback as I am writing I find the first name and last name of my signature overlap.  Maybe it is designed to emulate your signature when you are blind drunk.  I’m over 40 and for the first time I have a card that explicitly states I can legally drink alcohol.

I travel all the way back across town to the passport office. I explain that the passport officer required me to provide another piece of identification. I am directed to a special officer. She makes a photocopy of the MLCC photo ID with signature and says, “Thank you, that’s it.”

Can you explain to me what was achieved by my going to the MLCC which cost me an additional $25 when you include bus fare, which couldn’t have been achieved by me simply signing my passport?

I protected one bureaucrat’s legalism by exploiting another bureaucrat’s legalism.  And the bureaucracy doubled its money.

I will have a renewed passport in two weeks.

They call themselves “public servants”, so why is the public required to jump through mindless hoops to make them appear vigilant?

We do these unnecessary and costly things bureaucrats tell us because we are not willing to sacrifice the greater cost of preserving our integrity and the integrity of policy.

Consequently, the bureaucrat keeps her job, politicians maintain the illusion of governance and we all lose.  Time, money, value.

Will my passport protect me and the global community?  Yes.

Did I also perform a mindless ritual?  Yes.

I believe that a healthy society is regulated by public servants.  However mindless observance of regulations by public servants fails both the public and the policy makers.

Anyone who tells you to violate your integrity to preserve theirs has none.  All they are doing is seeking a bigger piece of the pie at your expense.  It’s a measure of bargaining not morality.

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4 Responses to “Bureaucracy: Legalism versus Integrity”

  1. grant czerepak Says:

    E-mail : phil.shearrer@gmail.com

    Comment:
    Why didn’t you just sign it?

  2. grant czerepak Says:

    It was a simple oversight, Phil.

    Which although I used the passport for five years as my primary identification, no one else noticed either including US Customs and Canadian Customs.

    Only a young bureaucrat noticed at the end of the life of the passport. And she seized it.

  3. Phil Says:

    Yeah, that is really an awesome story.

    I thought maybe you could have signed it on your way to the MLCC and gotten around the rule, but I guess they wouldn’t let you in until you had a “note” from the MLCC.

    Great example of bureaucracy – thanks for sharing.

  4. vnovin Says:

    That was a nice one! I thought these tantrums and mindless formalities existed only in India!
    I had just written one expressing my pains in getting a fresh passport.

    Novin


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