May 23, 2014 by phicks2012
Once upon a time I believed in my innocence that the government functioned in a reasonable, if not highly efficient, fashion, and that sufficient numbers of politicians and government employees were possessing of common sense enough to assure that, at least in general, there was some sort of operative logic going on. Over my lifetime, and especially in recent years, I have, unfortunately, revised my estimates downward by about 98%.
Where once I might have shown enthusiastic support “for” a particular political candidate, I now usually vote “against” the most offensive candidate. It’s rare indeed that I feel inclined to “support” one. Instead, I most often pick the candidate I dislike or fear the most, or think to be the biggest idiot, and vote against him or her in that particular primary, so it must give the pollsters fits trying to figure out what political party I fit into. I guess I feel for them. 😉
Where once I believed that government programs worked at least reasonably well most of the time, and with moderate efficiency, I now believe that to be vanishingly rare. Having spent considerable time trying to help others with paperwork problems, I’ve found that it is nearly impossible to contact a living and knowledgeable person when such problems develop, and have seen MUCH evidence that clerical error, computer glitches, and stupidity are RAMPANT. From what I can see (and hear on the news) DFCS seems to be a nightmare for all concerned with bad judgment, under-staffing and horrible record-keeping nearly out of control, and many other agencies, like Unemployment, seem to be no better.
Where once I had faith that even overworked and under-trained government employees were capable of making semi-logical judgments at least 50% of the time, and had the compassion to do so, I now find myself suspecting that 90% of them simply do not care anymore — assuming, of course, that you can eventually get past the malfunctioning computer systems and bad hold music to talk to one. Yes, it’s even worse than trying to get good computer tech support.
By way of illustration, a friend — who, by the way, worked full-time and paid taxes for many years and never until last year sought any sort of assistance — recently had his EBT Card cease reloading in March for no apparent reason. He spent hours and hours and HOURS on the phone over a month’s time being left on hold, stonewalled by computers, transferred to people who barely spoke English and couldn’t help him, or being flat out disconnected, and he could not find out what had happened or what to do about it. When he did (once) finally get a breathing, English-speaking human being, he was led to believe that the problem was a computer glitch and a backlog that would self correct, so He waited, but to no avail. In April, the card still did not reload, so he started trying again for answers with the same frustrating lack of results.
He finally asked me for help, because 1) I have a computer, 2) I do not suffer from high blood pressure, and 3) I am more patient and tactful and persistent than he is — and it took me DAYS to get anywhere at all! I eventually had to do an end-run and go through Clark Howard’s help line and our district’s County Commissioner John Douglas (who really was helpful and concerned, I’m glad to say, so I’ll probably vote to re-elect HIM) to get in touch with a living representative. Unfortunately, that was only to be told that my friend’s EBT had been cancelled because he supposedly had missed a renewal in February that he swears he did not miss.
As a result he had to reapply from scratch, jumping through all the hoops again and dealing with a glitchy web-site, and I had to fax paperwork for him, and even if everything went smoothly and he didn’t stroke-out first from sheer aggravation, by the time this got done it was clear that he would be going three months without Food Stamps.
He got word on May 2nd that everything was okayed and back on track, and once that was done his card finally reloaded, but he still couldn’t get onto the website, which refused to accept the password which we KNEW to be correct. Gotta love the Government.
Oh, and guess what! While my friend got that letter assuring him that the EBT card would thereafter reload on the 21st of each month, and that he was good through September of 2014, it did NOT reload on May 21st — nor on the 22nd for that matter. He went for groceries, tried to pay for them, and was told that there was not enough on the card. Can you say “embarrassing”? We made a copy of the letter they sent him and sent it back to them with a “friendly little note” pointing out their failure to perform. Too bad we couldn’t fine them or impose a “late charge”, but the government doesn’t believe in the concept of “Sauce for the goose”.
We still don’t know if this is finally resolved, or screwed up again, and this makes me VERY thankful that, unlike him, I do not suffer from hypertension and that I am not reliant upon any government aid programs to eat more than Ramen Noodles, but it makes me wonder if Social Security and Medicare, when the time comes, are going to be as screwed up as these other agencies seem to be.
I may need to win the lottery, buy a private island, and set up my own Utopia, huh? Only way to be sure. 😉