What’s distressing about the Obamacare train wreck are all the people who still want to turn to the government for anything. Not only has the government become, in many ways, the adversary of the people rather than our servant, but even when it tries to serve us, the level of performance is abysmal.
Watching the debacle of the Obamacare website reminds me of my own recent experiences trying to interact with the Federal government. Here are my four most recent experiences, starting with the earliest.
In April, I tried to order stamps by mail. This is how I have bought some of the stamps for my business, whatever I don’t get through stamps.com. I have done this for years with no problem. But early last year they fulfilled my order by sending me an empty envelope. In April, they bested that performance by cashing my check and not sending anything. A couple of weeks after the check cleared, I tried to follow up. I called their 800 number with no luck. I tracked down their local number – they don’t answer it. It may have been a month before we got it straightened out and got our stamps.
Then, in late May, the CPA who prepares our taxes got accused by the Internal Revenue Service of not having filed his request for an extension in a timely manner. However, he did file it in a timely manner, and he had the tracking receipts to prove it. To lift the penalty, he had to call the IRS on the phone on behalf of each of his clients. After being put on hold for an hour, he was told that he could only resolve five issues with one phone call, so he had to call repeatedly and spend hours of his time to straighten out the IRS’s mistake.
In August, my new business manager got a notice from the IRS that there was an error in an earlier withholding tax submission by our business, made by her predecessor. The notice told her to call to straighten it out. When she called, she was left on hold for three hours after which they hung up on her. It was near the end of her work day, so she waited until the next day to call back. This time she was kept on hold for an hour and a half, after which they did actually talk to her. Their decision ended up being that the error didn’t merit a penalty.
Then last month I decided to register on the Social Security website so I could find out my projected benefits to compare starting to draw Social Security at age 66 versus age 70. To create an account, they asked a number of very personal questions about my finances and related matters. With some research, I was able to answer all the questions correctly. But the website said there was an error in at least one of the answers, and it wouldn’t let me in. I got the error message twice, after which it told me I would now have to call to be able to continue my online registration. So I called the phone number. An automated response estimated my wait time as 17 minutes. I decided to time them to see what it really was, and they kept me on hold for an hour and 4 minutes. But the real joke was that after that wait, the operator who answered told me that she actually couldn’t help me – I would have to go in person to a Social Security office.
However, as I said at the beginning of this post, the most distressing part of all this is not the incompetence of our government, but how many people still want the government to run our lives. For example, Jon Stewart, after an interview with Kathleen Sebelius in which he failed to get any satisfactory answers for the Obamacare train wreck, concluded that what we need is total government control of healthcare through a single payer system (i.e. – the government pays for everything). Jon Stewart is somewhat of a smart guy. So why, after glaring displays of government incompetence, does he want to give those oafs even more power? These people have control over my life and the lives of my family, and I don’t like it. What I want is to just have them leave me alone to get my own health care and let we the people control them, the way our government was originally set up, rather than the other way around.
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