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Quotes / Obstructive Bureaucrat

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This boy's born to be a bureaucrat,
Born to be all obsessive and snotty
I made my friends and relations file long applications
To get into my tenth birthday party
— Hermes Conrad, Futurama

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.
The Secret People by G. K. Chesterton

"The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe."

Hacker: You're blathering, Bernard.
Bernard: Yes, Minister.
Hacker: Why are you blathering, Bernard?
Bernard: It's my job, Minister.

Sir Humphrey: You're speaking in riddles, Bernard.
Bernard: Oh, thank you, Sir Humphrey.

"The Foreign Office isn't there to do things, it's there to explain why things can't be done."

"Bear in mind that these are the sorts of people whose sense of achievement is measured in reams of paper and time wasted."

"Guards! Bring me the forms I need to fill out to have her taken away!"
Bureaucrat 1.0, Futurama, "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back"

"There's a fine line between evil and underpaid."

Sam Lowry: Excuse me, Dawson, can you put me through to Mr. Helpmann's office?
Dawson: I'm afraid I can't, sir. You have to go through the proper channels.
Sam Lowry: And.. you can't tell me what the proper channels are, because that's classified information?
Dawson: I'm glad to see the Ministry's continuing its tradition of recruiting the brightest and best, sir.
Sam Lowry: Thank you, Dawson.

"I can't harbor a fugitive, I'm an un-elected official!"
Nessarose, Wicked

"They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy - not actually evil, but bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters."

The Doctor: Is there a way to expedite the procedure?
Mr. Popplewick: Expedite?! I am a senior clerk, sir. To me the procedure is sacrosanct! My work is a celebration of all that is perfect! Why speed perfection?!
The Doctor: Because your employer wants me dead.
Mr. Popplewick: ... You seem to have found the one little weakness in our procedure, sir.
Doctor Who, "Trial of a Time Lord"

"I really don't like that dude. He's an ass-hole."
Robert Epps, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, sums up Galloway in short order

Peer reviewer: There are other investigators. This is not only your case, though you seem to think it is.
Dr. Bruckner: Oh, I do, do I? And you're here to take it away from me, is that it? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret, "Doctor": You can have it. I never wanted it in the first place. You think it's a privilege to watch young men die? (What am I arguing with you for? You do not know enough to study boiled water.)

All the documents must be signed.
Seas go dry and suns grow cold,
But all the documents must be signed,
And don't forget that questionnaires must be answered.
Love may die and truth grow old, but
Ev'ry questionnaire must be answered.
One must have one's papers.
The Secretary harmonizing in sixths with Vera Boronel, The Consul

Coop: Road test? Me? But I've got to go save the world!
DMV Desk Clerk: If I started making exceptions, this whole place would fall apart.
Coop: [grumbles] I'll give ya "fall apart".

" that is inherently evil. Worse still, it's hard to pin it on any particular bureaucrat."
Reverend Theo, Schlock Mercenary

Got enough red tape to choke a horse!
I don't know why I'm doing it!
"Sermon", from the album Jazz Mind by Ed Schrader's Music Beat

"He'd managed to speak, via spanreed, with the emperor of Azir himself—a new emperor, as Szeth had visited the last one. There had been no succession war in Azir, of course. Those required too much paperwork."

"In reply the Prime Minister said he had already set up a Royal Commission to look into the whole matter, and this was the strongest measure any government could take, short of doing anything about it."

Pravh, where much work is done to make sure nothing is accomplished.

"Quatermass...we've had dealings for a number of years. You as a driving force of an enterprise of The Future, I as one of the obstructive civil servants you had to contend with."
Fowler, Quatermass II

Spaceport Officer: I'm sorry, sir, but you need official authorization to use the 'Port to Earth. We just can't authorize passage to non-K worlds without it.
Hal Jordan: This is my authorization, officer. I'm a deputized member of the Green Lanterns of the Universe. My authority comes from the Guardians, and I am recognized on every world in my space-sector, which is 2814. And I am a native of Earth.
Kara: I'll vouch for him, tanth. We both need to get to Earth. It's very important. It involves Superman.
Spaceport Officer: It well may involve Tanth El, Tynth Zor-El. But until the gentleman before me produces some government documents, I cannot allow him to 'port to Earth. You may do so, however, with my blessings.
Kara: This is ridiculous. What's your name, officer? I want to mention it to the Drygur Moliom next time I talk to him.
Spaceport Officer: You may do so, Tynth Zor-El. My name is Di-Marr. You may obtain my address from the Central Directory. But unless the Drygur himself authorizes it, I may not allow the gentleman to use the 'Port. Now, please either both of you leave, or let the Lantern leave and you, tynth, use the 'Port. But as it is, we're holding up traffic.

For a robot, inefficiency is the worst kind of torture, and bureaucrats are the most heinous beings in known existence. The Space Police are just a big joke. A very sad, unfunny joke.

Fill out these forms, and in six to eight weeks we'll mail you a notice that you filled them out wrong. Have a nice day, sir or madame.
Ozzy & Drix ("The Globfather")

They can't think, they can't imagine, most of them can't even spell. They just... run things.
Ford Prefect, describing Vogons, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Mayor Vaughn: I don't think either of one you are familiar with our problems.
Hooper: I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and BITES YOU ON THE ASS!

Real Life

"The man of system is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it."
Adam Smith (1759)

There is no passion like that of a functionary for his function.
Georges Clemenceau

Mr. Neville Chamberlain is a man of rigid competency. Such men have their uses in conventional times or in conventional positions, and are indispensable for filling subordinate posts at all times. But they are lost in an emergency or in creative tasks at any time.
David Lloyd George

Donal Logue gives too good a performance as Scully’s Academy friend Tom Colton, because he reminds me very strongly of all the hotshots that I have met in my time who thought they should be going places but couldn’t place why they weren’t. Jealous of other peoples' success and mocking anybody who thinks outside the box, this is an FBI drone who will never make his mark simply because he is too square and tunnel visioned.
Joe Ford on The X-Files, "Squeeze"

You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.
Thomas Sowell

Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M.ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters. We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty’s Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence. Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion’s petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall. This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty’s Government so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both: 1.To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or perchance. 2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.
General Arthur Wellesley, Duke Wellington, in a letter sent to some obstructive bureaucrats in London complaining about his army's record keeping.