Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Modest Proposal

That no new form-filling be added to our lives without retiring an existing form that takes equal time to complete.

I will consider any arguments that readers care to advance on behalf of the thesis that we do not spend sufficient time completing forms. If I am convinced, I will withdraw my proposal.


nathan said...

Will this proposal require a form to implement?

Trevor said...

I think we could just hire robots to fill out a bunch of forms and meet humanity's form filling quota.

clasqm said...

I don't know how it works across the puddle, but where I live every person has an ID number. the first 6 digits are your date of birth, then the next three unambiguously identify you as male or female.

So of course every form starts off like this:
ID number:
Date of birth:

Let me just stop before I gouge more splinters from the desk.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Michel -- I think Trevor's form-filling robots might derive special enjoyment from that one.

Ken Miner said...

Well, I employ a person to fill out all my forms. I pay her well, and if there were even more forms for her to fill out, she could charge me more. So from her point of view, it would be advantageous for there to be more forms.

Since there are many such people, whose livelihood consists in filling out forms or in creating new ones, I await the withdrawal of your proposal.

Callan S. said...

What's an example of something that would definately convince you?

I've come away from a council meeting, so such 'I will be wise and consider all things - trust me, baby!' touches a nerve in me even in what I presume is a humour post. So some dark humour: What's an example that would convince you? If no such example exists, are you considering proposals or just patronising us as you continue with your monomaniacle focus?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Callan: I don't know what would convince me, but I don't mean to simply be patronizing or to shut down argument. Your observation about the suspiciousness of "trust, me baby!" does strike near the heart of why a certain amount of form-filling makes sense. But I'm inclined to think the *quantity* of form-filling labor is problematic, at least for those of us deeply enmeshed in bureaucratic institutions.

Callan S. said...

Eric: The described scenario sits at a kind of abstract right now - just forms for forms sake. Weve no pro or con there.

Of course the issue is recursive - it's not just whether current forms have a pro or con, on top of that is the greater movement (somewhat like a concious USA? :) ) of the expansion of the number of forms.

Possibly it comes down to that the people who make these forms are ones who no one votes for in any way (whether that be with real votes or $ votes or otherwise - they exist because beurocrats are 'needed'). We had a good series here awhile back on such background beurocrats, called 'Hollowmen', with the funny tag line 'Unafraid, Uncompromising, Unelected'