More stories of bureacracies run wild

My mother-in-law’s parents died in Auschwitz.  She wasn’t around for that horror because her parents, in a tremendous (and prescient) sacrifice, boarded her onto the Kindertransport, which took young children out of Nazi countries.  As with my mother-in-law, most of these children never saw their parents again.  Because the fact that she had to flee her country deprived her of the natural opportunities of an education, my mother-in-law became entitled to reparations.  (My Dad, too, would have been entitled to such reparations if he hadn’t been such a stubborn Communist that he refused to apply, but that’s another long, sad story.)

Anyway, the reparation money eventually came through and ended up in an Austrian bank.  For more than two years now, my mother in law has been trying to get that money out of the bank and transferred to her here — without any success.

The bank has a continually growing list of bureaucratic assigns which, aggregated, create a Sisyphean task that can never be fulfilled.  They keep asking her to prove that she is who she says she is, and with every new proof, they ask her to prove that the proof is real.  The bank’s most recent pronouncement, which arrived in today’s mail, is to the effect that, per an EU regulation that went into effect last November (two years after she started trying to get her money), the bank is entitled to a 1,000 Euro fee for the act of giving her own money back to her.

My mother-in-law thinks that this is an anti-Semitic plot to take advantage of an aged refugee, and steal her money.  I think that it’s a petty bureaucratic scheme by which a bank manages to use its rules and the EU’s rules take advantage of a far-away depositor, first by refusing to release the money altogether and then by hanging onto a handsome profit for returning her own property to her.  Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bank’s delay in processing her request occurred precisely because its administrators knew about the upcoming EU regulation that would give them a 1,000 Euro windfall.

I mention this whole story, which nicely seems to sum up the inhumanity that characterizes so many European bureaucracies (just think about the pain-in-the-neck process of checking into a European hotel hotel), because I read a story out of England that takes this insane commitment to process to an extreme degree:

When Rachel Leake developed complications from diabetes, her selfless daughter tried to donate one of her kidneys to save her.

But 21-year-old Laura Ashworth died suddenly before the arrangements could be completed – and her mother has now been told the organs will go to strangers instead.

Family and friends, who all knew of Laura’s desire to be a live donor, tried to get the authorities to change the decision.

They even enlisted the help of local MP Gerry Sutcliffe to lobby health ministers on Mrs Leake’s behalf, but to no avail.

Laura died after suffering massive brain damage when she stopped breathing because of a suspected asthma attack.

One of Laura’s kidneys went to a man in Sheffield and the second to a man in London. Her liver was given to a 15-year-old girl.

“I am angry, really angry,” said Mrs Leake, who is 39. “I am not finding comfort at the moment in the fact that she helped three people.”


Mrs Leake said she still did not know why her request to receive her daughter’s organs was refused.

She said: “Everyone has gone mad and everyone is disgusted. The thing that hurts the most is how Laura would feel. She would be devastated that she was not able to help me.

“My sister has now written down her wishes that I get her kidney if anything was to happen to her. I will not let this go – there could be another person it could happen to.”

A spokesman for UK Transplant said the final decision in this case was taken by the Human Tissue Authority.

“They were the ones who in this circumstance were asked if the daughter’s kidney could go to the mother,” he said. “Their judgement, under the law, was that it was not allowed to happen.”

No one at the Human Tissue Authority was available for comment.

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  • Ymarsakar

    The Human Tissue Authority, oh… Totalitarian.

    As if bureaucrats have any authority to decide who lives and who dies. Not in a republic, but they do in an oligarchy. And an oligarchy is exactly what the EU is.

  • suek

    It’s unbelievable that there’s no one who can help her cut through this garbage.

    On the other hand, it’s great that she’s fighting through it. She’s certainly getting up there, and sometimes the grit necessary to fight through something like this helps the blood to keep moving.

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t a disgrace, however. Isn’t there _anyone_??? State department???

  • suek

    On the other other hand…maybe we should have rented some of those beaurocrats to process the claims coming out of NO after Katrina…!!!

  • suek

    That would be bureaucrats…

  • Mike Devx

    Book writes:
    “I mention this whole story, which nicely seems to sum up the inhumanity that characterizes so many European bureaucracies”

    “A spokesman for UK Transplant said the final decision in this case was taken by the Human Tissue Authority. ‘Their judgement, under the law, was that it was not allowed to happen.’ ”


    Many of us believe in the worth of individual liberty and individual responsibility. In a world that honors these concepts of individualism, an organ donor who expressed EXACTLY the person for which their organs would go to, would have their wishes honored. They are donors, and their recipient is on the donor list! Fait accompli.

    But no! We have here the “Human Tissue Authority”, which clearly treats all individuals as integer elements in a list, each to be assigned an impersonal value of worthiness, and they’ve done so. What they’ve done is not illegal. But it is utterly against the philosophy of the worth of the human. Not the worth of HUMANITY itself, but the worth of the human, the individual, the honored.

    This is in fact the very nature of government. Government cannot make exceptions, and where it is empowered to make exceptions, that merely increases its overall totalitarian power!

    It is up to us to ensure that laws are passed empowering the worthiness of individual choices.

    A donor SHOULD be able to grant his or her organs or blood to a willing recipient. The bureaucratic, faceless, anti-human choices of the “Human Tissue Authority” should be used to identify the best recipient they can, but only where no personal choice has already been made.

    We must affirm the worth of each and every one of us, as individuals, or else there is only the worth of the vast faceless mob of humanity of 4.5 billion humans. The first leads to democracy and representative government; the second leads to totalitarianism.


    Your mother-in-law is correct, it is anti-Semitic.
    It has nothing to do with bureaucrats nor policy.
    This has been a tried and true practice in Switzerland as well.
    The world is filled with stories of ‘stolen art’ stolen possessions’ and sadly ‘stolen lives’.
    They’re playing a game of Simon Says with no chance of winning because they keep changing the rules.

  • Ymarsakar

    We have here the “Human Tissue Authority”, which clearly treats all individuals as integer elements in a list

    Come on Mike, you know those bureaucrats have been taking kickbacks and bribes. They don’t treat “all” individuals as integers when they can do something like OIl for Food, you know. Or in this case, money for transplants.

    It has nothing to do with bureaucrats nor policy.

    It is not true that evil has “nothing” to do with bureaucracy or policy.

  • Ellie2

    Sorry, but I think the kidney situation was handled the only way possible. Because the demand far exceeds the supply (and I think the situation is worse in Europe) all transplant lists are carefully managed to be sure that the “right person” (need great, but well enough to hope for a good outcome) gets cadaver organs. This is all decided ahead of time and there can be no “exceptions.” Think about it. There just is no time to have a discussion about who gets what.

  • Ymarsakar

    Of course there is no time for free will. The state owns the organs of its cogs, obviously.