Bobcat bureaucracy

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BUREAUCRACY is a word that is spelled to look like its meaning. Bureaucracy is a necessary form of government; otherwise only smart people could hold office and that's discrimination. One gets used to bureaucracy at an early age, when his parents pass the buck; by the time he is an adult he can not only cope with it but improve upon it.

All armies have bureaucracy; that's fortunate because it keeps everyone's mind off going to war. Once in the army, I needed a pass for a special trip off base. The sergeant wouldn't sign it because the officer whose department the trip was for hadn't signed it first.

Dutifully I trotted to the other office, where I was told that the trip couldn't be authorized until I had a personal clearance from the sergeant in my outfit. Back I went to the sergeant. Smugly, he showed me a regulation which forbade him from issuing the initial authorization. So, guided by my patriotism, love of country, and sense of duty, I returned to the office of the second lieutenant; he was now absent but had left full instructions with a subordinate as to the order of signing the pass.

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As I say, one learns to cope. I went on my off-base mission by signing the pass myself.

The latest evidence of bureaucracy of the Catch-22 variety was when recently a neighbor reported a Florida panther in her backyard. She called the state animal control office to have it carted off, since it is an endangered species. However, the state animal control officer refused to come on the grounds that 98 times out of 100 it proves to be not a panther at all, but a bobcat, wasting the agency's limited funds.

The neighbor was told to contact the county control office for removal of a mere bobcat. So far, the county official won't come because the animal might really be a panther and thus illegal for him to handle.

What both agencies seem to need is a closeup photo, or a paw print, or some kind of proof before they will act. None of the neighbors want to get that close.

Meanwhile, the 45-pound cat, whatever it is, is living in a horse trailer in the back yard. No late bulletins have been released and all state and county officials are patiently waiting for a paw print.

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