Monday, October 26, 2015

No Government In the Digital Age

I was listening to a podcast where a couple of people pointed out how redundant many people’s jobs are.  This was especially true in government where people should be able to generate new Social Security numbers and change their names in the blink of an in the new digital age, for example.

I’ve had some experience with this problem just today.  My Preemie son qualifies for Medicaid support.  Yes, medical insurance which my company and I pay for should cover his hospital stay.  But I am half expecting them to pull some magical bullshit with their policies and procedures and attempt to leave me with the bulk of the bill.  So I had my wife file the Medicaid paperwork just in case corporate policy decides it would have been more efficient to let my son die.

So I get a call today from the Medicaid office asking about my son’s Social Security number.  My wife tells them that we don’t have it yet, as this usually takes between one and two months.  They were surprised that my son hasn’t been issued a new number yet.

I wasn’t.

What makes me frustrated is that it takes so long to generate a new number and issue a card, which isn’t printed on special paper, for my newborn son.  It literally should take a couple of minutes online, once I have a proper birth certificate set up.

But no, it takes 4-8 weeks because bureaucrats want to keep their useless and obsolete jobs.

And their feelings would be hurt if we fired the whole lot of them.

Let me explain something to most people who work in government or government contracting: you do not own your job.  Unless you are self-employed, every penny you make while working is an agreement between yourself and your employer that you would do a job for them in exchange for a set amount of money.

This is called labor.  And when your employer decides that your labor is no longer needed, then you can go.

Unfortunately, the government has no need to modernize their systems or make any of their processes more efficient because, quite simply, their bottom line is guaranteed.  When you are going to make money regardless of what you do, you have no incentive to innovate as a company or institution.

So the government will not innovate or modernize any existing policies or procedures unless laws are passed or executive orders decreed which specifically order an agency to do so.  Even then, the forces of change will be slow as bureaucrats tend to resist change to their own way of doing things.

And believe me, they will make the most absurd of excuses to resist change.  There is nothing more constant that a government bureaucratic procedure.

Right now, I’d argue that the vast majority of government functions could be handled by a couple of IT guys maintaining a series of websites for all the domestic services we see.  Hell, we could even set up kiosks in public areas for losers who lack the ability to file tax returns, apply for food stamps, etc. because they lack the ability to access the Internet.

I suppose such things will happen decades from now, provided the United States federal government hasn’t collapsed.

But for right now, I have to marvel at the sheer sluggishness of government processes.  And I have to deal with it as best I can.