Banging heads against bureaucratic walls

It’s amazing how much of my life these days is tied up in ‘necessary’ bureaucracy.

This morning, for example, I completed my 4th application for release from tax debt. This has been going on for over 3 years now, and has included in that time an appearance at VCAT in an attempt to resolve the issue. We’ve been going backwards and forwards. I’d apply and then months later tey’d reject me. I’d appeal their rejection, or else find other reasons to appeal again, and the whole process would be repeated once more.

I don’t have much choice but to keep trying all avenues as I can’t possibly pay the $50K they’re trying to get out of me (hence ‘necessary’ bureaucracy). Besides, I’m a stubborn bastard.

Part of me hopes that I’ll wear them down. I expect many succumn to the wall of bureacratic indifference, but it only spurs me on to further action. Formulaic responses don’t cut it for me. Indifference isn’t good enough. If nothing else I want acknowledgement that I’m an individual and that my case has some merits.

I don’t expect to get out of it altogether, but I do expect something. And so once more I filled in the form and sent it off this morning.

At the same time I sent off an application to have my gun licence renewed. It’s been a while since I fired my rifles, and the passion I had for hunting has long dissipated. I want to keep my rifles though. There’s sentimental value, and a good rifle is a beautiful bit of engineering. And I want to be ready should the zombie apocolypse come.

I was in court a few weeks ago. Did I mention that? No. It’s a tedious and still somewhat intimidating necessity. I travelled out to Ringwood and when the time came stood up and pled my case. This time I got what I wanted.

Back home I set about writing a letter appealing some bureacratic decisions. I had applied for consideration under ‘special circumstances’ and had given them all they had asked for. In theory you would think I would shoo-in. Of course such theory does not apply in the bureaucracy. I’d appealed three times before on the grounds that I was unemployed, homeless and basically destitute, and provided the proof of it. Each time I’d been rejected, and each time I’d stubbornly appealed once more.

I felt a righteous anger. Under what circumstances would they grant such leniency? If not me, then who? It felt a fraud, a spam, a bureaucratic rubber stamping of papers according to pre-ordained policy. I suspected policy had much the same guidelines that those claw machines in malls do. Once every 25 times perhaps the claw would successfully claim a soft toy and return it to the player. Likewise the infringements department. Lucky 25 and all is good. The other 24 get rubber stamped with looking at.

On this occasion I pointed out some of the flaws in the process – in this case, that I had not been advised that my claim had been rejected until I rang to inquire. When I asked for a copy of the rejection I was denied it on the grounds that it would reset the appeal clock. This was inherently unfair by itself, even without considering my particularly circumstances.

I then pointed out to them that if they kept sending me to court I’d keep appearing. Quite sensibly I pointed out that this was a waste of time and effort, particularly as the magistrate had granted me without qualms the very mercy I had been requesting from them. Was this not all a farce?

I’m sufficiently articulate to make a pointed argument, and stubborn enough to keep at it. I’m reasonably confident that I will wear them down.

Otherwise there has been more tax staff, business and personal, successfully negotiated after years of concern, touch wood. And the usual DHS stuff.

They make it hard. The process is clogged with forms and complicated phone menus. A lot of it appears bureacratic nonsense, and is especially frustrating when you’ve spent an hour on hold to discover that.

Things could be and should be so much cleaner and quicker and just more common sense. That’s my area of expertise, so the frustration for me is particularly piquant.

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