Labyrinth of Regulations

In my previous post, I alluded to the frustrating ability German bureaucrats have in making even the most simple of tasks difficult. I often theorized that they created their labyrinth of regulations as a way to create more posts in which they could install like-minded drones.

A German friend of mine, Reinhard “Nick” Nicklaus, and I operated an off-the-books used car business during my time in Berlin. Nick taught me many things about the ins and outs of existing within the confines of the German bureaucracy. One tenet that was actually mind-blowing to an easy going American: “Never, ever lose a title to any car,” he warned. Why? Because the endless regulations and paperwork needed to get a new title made the task not almost but actually impossible.

Lose your title and you may as well junk the car – which was also almost impossible without a title.

My theory about why labyrinth of regulations was actually somewhat off. The main reason was that one soon learned that the only way to get things done was through bribery, which was a way of life in Berlin at that time. When you think about it, it saves the government money since the government can pay bureaucrats a pittance salary knowing that bribes will enable them to put food on the table. This is an idea the tea part of today should embrace.

But, enough politics. Nick and I ran up against the intractability of the German bureaucrat when we needed to ship a Volkswagen engine to West Germany to replace a blown one in one of our vehicles there. We spent literally two weeks going from office to office trying to get the papers we would need to  put the engine on a train headed to West Germany. Finally, in frustration, we trucked the engine down to the train depot, gave one of the guards a bottle of scotch to look the other way and loaded the engine onto the train. Our colleague in West Germany did the same to get the engine off.

It was a valuable lesson for the times.


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