German government bureaucracy

Recently, some bureaucrats in Germany decided that business owners who employ contractors — even those, like me, who’ve been in business more than a decade — should provide certified proof that they (the owners) are not criminals.

So after spending 12€ in highway fees to travel to Málaga (the owner has to present himself personally) and paying 3.50€ in administrative fees (which must be hand-deposited at a bank, and paid no later than 10:30 am), and having lost three hours of my day this morning, I received a stamped certificate of clean record, from a disinterested and newspaper-reading Spanish bureaucrat, whose salary my taxes pay, which states that I’m not a criminal.

I will now spend 5.00€ to send the original document (a copy won’t do) via registered mail to another bureaucrat in Germany, who, after possibly glancing at it, will place it into a file, never to be looked at again.

Just ponder the waste of time and money, when this and similar, inefficiently facilitated — and, I would hazard to presume, generally unnecessary — bureaucratic procedures are multiplied by millions.

We are in the year 2010. Without leaving my desk, and within a period of about five minutes, I can login to AmazonGermany, place an order for a book to be delivered in Spain, and pay for it with an American credit card and billing address. You would think that if Germany needed to confirm that I’m not a criminal in Spain, they could (electronically) contact Spain and simply ask.

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