Fed up with Red Tape? These 18 Quotes About Bureaucracy Might Make You Feel Better

March 10, 2019
2 mins read

Dealing with mounds of red tape and paperwork from your local government, school system, hospital, bank or other institution can be tedious, mind-boggling and enraging.

If you’ve found yourself trapped in the mire of red tape and bureaucracy, here are a few quotes that will let you know you’re not alone and that your struggle is real. It may make you feel better — or more enraged.

“The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.” -Oscar Wilde

“Paperwork is the embalming fluid of bureaucracy, maintaining an appearance of life where none exists.” -Robert H. Meltzer

“Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept.” -Frank Herbert

“The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.” -Robert Conquest

“Bureaucrats write memoranda both because they appear to be busy when they are writing and because the memos, once written, immediately become proof they were busy.” -Charles Peters

“It’s the first rule of bureaucracy: any message worth sending is worth sending in triplicate.” -Paolo Bacigalupi

“Once genius is submerged by bureaucracy, a nation is doomed to mediocrity.” -Richard Nixon

“Bureaucracy is the epoxy that greases the wheels of progress.” -James H. Boren

“There are more agriculture bureaucrats than there are farmers in this country.” -John Kerry

“Amongst working-class Americans, government is now generally seen as being made up of two sorts of people: ‘politicians,’ who are blustering crooks and liars but can at least occasionally be voted out of office, and ‘bureaucrats,’ who are condescending elitists almost impossible to uproot.” -David Graeber

“Bureaucracy is ever desirous of spreading its influence and its power. You cannot extend the mastery of the government over the daily working life of a people without at the same time making it the master of the people’s souls and thoughts.” -Herbert Hoover

“Bureaucrats do not take kindly to intercessions. Their one satisfaction in life is to keep us waiting in line, begging for that last signature.” -Germaine Shames

“I hated the maze of bureaucracy with a passion, but I’ve found the best way to deal with it is to smile and act stupid. That way, no one gets confused.” -Kim Harrison

“It is increasingly clear that the fate of the universe will come to depend more and more on individuals as the bungling of bureaucracy permeates every corner of our existence.” -Edna O’Brien

“Any sensible government must learn to unleash the energy of its people and get them to perform instead of trying to get a bureaucracy to perform.” -Verghese Kurien

“Bureaucracies force us to practice nonsense. And if you rehearse nonsense, you may one day find yourself the victim of it.” -Laurence Gonzales

“The five stages of bureaucratic grieving are: denial, anger, committee meetings, scapegoating, and cover-up.” -Charles Stross

“Some third person decides your fate: this is the whole essence of bureaucracy.” -Kollontai Alexandra

Got a story about a recent experience with bureaucracy? Please fill out the comment form below (no, you don’t have to fill it out in triplicate) and let us know about it.

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