A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 22, 2012
“Bureaucracy is a method for transforming energy into solid waste”

"Bureaucracy is a method/process for converting/transforming energy into solid waste” is a bumper sticker saying that has been cited in print since at least 1981. The authorship of the saying is unknown.


Google Books
Letters to the Third Millennium:
An Experiment in East-West Communication

By Clinton C. Gardner
Norwich, VT: Argo Books
1981
Pg. 94:
Particularly hard for us to listen to is the objective speech of bureaucracy. I heard a nice definition of bureaucracy at a political meeting last night: the process which converts creative energy into solid waste.

30 October 1983, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “City Employees’ ‘Better Ideas’—Like Linoleum—Earn Cash, Criticism” by Ralph Frammolino, pg. SD-A1:
“The definition of a bureaucracy is something that turns pure energy into solid waste,” he quipped.

28 November 1984, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), ‘Hearing fails to still Wildwood storm; decision put off again” by Tom Stimmel, pg. C6, col. 5:
But McAllister said he had seen something new, a bumper sticker that reads, “Bureaucracy is a Process for Converting Energy into Solid Waste.”

Google Books
Necessary Wisdom:
Meeting the Challenge of a New Cultural Maturity

By Charles M. Johnston, MD
Seattle, WA: ICD Press; Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts
1991
Pg. 91:
The dilemma was succinctly voiced on a bumper sticker — “Bureaucracy: A system for converting energy into solid waste.”

14 November 1995, Orlando (FL) Sentinel, “She wrote the book on successful living” by Allen Rose, pg. C1:
Guy with bushy red hair and baseball cap holding a sign, “Bureaucracy: The process of turning energy into solid waste.”

Google Books
Cyber Jokes:
The funniest stuff on the Internet

By Doug Mayer
Kansas City, MO: Andrews and McMeel
1996
Pg. ?:
The Definitive List of Bumper Sticker Philosophy
BUREAUCRACY: A METHOD FOR TRANSFORMING ENERGY INTO SOLID WASTE

3 May 1996, Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald, Small Business Fair, pg. 6, col. 3:
Bureaucracy
“Where energy is converted into solid waste.”

The Chronicle (Greater Lewis County, WA)
Saturday, April 17, 2010—Photos
Neighbors Raise Big Stink Over Biosolids
Bob Thode stands in his office at Fire Mountain Farm near Chehalis Thursday. Thode owns 15 bio-solid dump sites in the state. The bumper sticker behind him reads, “Bureaucracy is a process for converting energy into solid waste.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, November 22, 2012 • Permalink