the kentucky Office of circumlocution -Kentucky State government steals charles dickens blueprints


Rant by LawReader Senior Editor Stan Billingsley – May 27, 2009


Charles Dickens created a fictional government “Office of Circumlocution” in his novel Little Dorrit.   This office was the ultimate representation of the red tape inherent in government institutions.  The office “has the grip over all of British Industry to stultifying effect..”  It was run by one family, the Barnacles, who forced all visitors to file endless paper requests that go nowhere.  It was “a sea of obfuscation that could not be navigated”.  People who sought patents, licenses or even information about past filings, were faced with political appointees who had contempt for anyone seeking their assistance, and who spent their time gossiping and drinking tea. The employees never had time to properly file anything, and of course all their workers complained of the heavy work load. 


It is our conclusion that Kentucky State Government should be renamed the Office of Circumlocution.  Perhaps when Dickens visited Louisville and stayed at the old Galt House in 1842, he left the blueprints for this office with some state official who rushed them back to Frankfort for immediate implementation.


If Dickens were to rewrite this novel, we would suggest that he add the response today to  all phone calls to Kentucky state government; “I am sorry but he/she has stepped away from his/her office”.  Or the frequently used, “I am sorry he/she is in a conference.”


We have no idea what happens to letters written to state officials. We wonder if the U.S. Postal service has stopped delivering mail to Frankfort, since none of our letters ever seem to be answered.


Our anecdotal experience in dealing with State Government offices is that whenever you make a phone call seeking a simple answer to your question, you are transferred to seven other people before your call is dropped and you must either abandon your quest or start over again.


Of course Dickens would want to add the mandatory non-response to the required voice mail you are required to leave. This recent innovation has become ubiquitous.  This diversion tool is really efficient for state workers.  They just push one button and you are introduced to a computer which gives you 10 seconds to leave a recorded message which is then diverted to a sewage discharge pipe on the banks of the Kentucky River.   No one in recorded history has ever had a voice mail request answered. 


We wish that state workers could undergo some training in manners, so as to be more upfront with callers.  Why don’t they just say something like:  “You are really, really unimportant, and we don’t intend to ever let you talk to anyone who is really important and who might be able to answer your question or solve your problem.”            

Or perhaps:  “If we were to answer your question, we might be subjected to allegations that we had done something improper by someone, somewhere, sometime in the future, therefore we will never ever answer your question, because covering our butts is what we do here.”  


Or why not just instruct state workers to get out their police whistle and before deafening you with its sharp report, say “If you call back we will get a restraining order!”  At least you would know where you stand, and could abandon any more efforts to talk with your government. 

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