Bureaucracy, or is it autocracy?
As I was being handed my last speeding ticket from a kindly
officer of the law, I was simultaneously (internally) reviewing my emotional
attitude toward the state policing system. Whether I feel I was dealt a fair
hand or not is now irrelevant -– the law stands. But do you think it possible,
(just perhaps) that positions of authority affect certain individuals'
equilibrium adversely -– in that their inflated sense of importance drives
their inability to make sound, useful decisions?
From the Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2002, "When
politicians go mad they start taxing windows
...It was the state which in 1797 decided to treble the
window tax to pay for the Napoleonic Wars. It was the money-grubbing state that
decided to penalise anyone who put in a window, and continued to do so until
1851, when the tax was repealed. When the state goes mad, and imposes some
perverse cost on building, there is often some architectural legacy.
The burghers of Amsterdam were taxed on the width of their
houses. That is why they are all so narrow. The modern Greeks pay taxes only on
structures that are complete...
But do you know what the "Building and Buildings, England
and Wales" regulation requires of you thereafter? Before April 1 this year, it
was simple. As a freeborn customer of B & Q, you could just nip down and get
a new frame, glass and putty, and shove the thing in -– with no fear of any
extra financial penalty, as everyone in these islands has been able to do ever
since the original window tax was abolished in 1851.
And now? Under these lunatic regulations, you have to go down
to the council building department. You have to locate the chap in charge of
windows. You have to deposit a plan, showing how you propose to replace this
window. You can then replace the window, provided you agree to an on-site window
The whole exercise is expected to cost between 180 and 300
pounds in bureaucracy alone -– all of which is borne by you...
There is only one way to avoid this rigmarole, and that it to
become a member of a preposterous new guild of window-inserters, called Fensa.
This stands for the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme. Membership of Fensa
gives you the right to carry out replacements of windows, rooflights, roof
windows or doors, in your own home, without submitting to a government
It is not clear what examinations you have to sit to qualify
for Fensa; but membership costs 370 pounds per year..."
All of a sudden -– our NZ bureaucracy doesn't seem so bad
after all (what's that song about 'dogs and mad Englishmen going out in the
noon day sun'...?)
But then again, in New Zealand the building industry is
reeling in the wake of revelations that many homes have 'rotted' due to not
being weather tight, and the use of non treated building materials! Of course
-– the bureaucrats are nowhere to be seen now, even after home builders paying
for building compliance fees and permits, and inspections -– where is
everybody? The local councils take no responsibility for liabilities, even
though they sign off the regulatory documentation. Does that seem weird to you?