Monday, October 08, 2007

DMV and Welfare: I Got Your Fix!

Going to the DMV is always a dicey proposition: Will it take 2 hours? 5 hours? Do I have all the right supporting documents, DNA samples, and a note from my mother? The DMV in any state is an inefficient, depressing office teeming with angry people and it needn't be like that.

Here is how you improve the experience for everyone concerned:

1. Greeter This person sorts out your purpose at the DMV, gives you a number and checks your documents. This gate-keeper will also inform all visitors that only the person doing business with the DMV (plus one adult for minors)may enter the building. This way, no screaming children, whole families or posses will use up the available seating or annoy you to point of mass murder.

BENEFIT: Peace and quiet, increased efficiency, less toll on DMV employees and less aggravation for visitors.

2. ID THEFT/ILLEGAL IDS: Currently, in the State of Colorado, you must present proof of citizenship, proof of identity, pass a cursory criminal background check, and submit your fingerprint. Police and an increasing number of nightclubs have handheld scanners that suss out fake IDs, no matter how sophisticated the fake holograms and bar codes. Lots of security and law enforcement professionals are on the job, hunting down identity thieves and prosecuting them. So the DMV can lay off regular DMV customers who just need to renew their license. Really, you think I'm spending half a day in the 5th circle of Hell to try an get a fake ID? DMV clerks need only check the documents, enter the information in the computer, and process the license. Leave the detective work to people in that job!

BENEFIT: Faster turnaround when your number is called.

3. MAILING IDs: This is the MOST boneheaded thing of all. You visit the DMV, go through all of that nonsense, and leave with a piece of paper. Within 7-11 days you'll receive your license in the mail, they tell you. Why? So it can once again be verified that you are not some thieving illegal alien or one of those computer nerds who design viruses and do identity theft for kicks. I happen to think it is wasteful, stupid and massively inconvenient. Also, someone looking to co-opt my identity, who was actually clever (unlike the girl who did fake being me), would be smart to go through my mail and look for official-looking envelopes, eh? DMV, just print the goofy-looking license on the spot and let us get on our way.

BENEFIT: Less stress, less wasted time

Now, there are a lot of myths surrounding welfare in the U.S. Illegal aliens! Meth Addicted moms! Lazy people! Thieves and scumbags! Let's face it: Those segments of our population exist in lots of other places, too. Health and Human Services is the new name for the Welfare Office, by the way. But I'm no cheerleader for HHS, and I'm not the one to dispel myths about Welfare.

But you know what? HHS offices are inefficient! Never mind why I was there, but let me tell you something: it was like no one told me it was Opposite Day. Faster than the DMV, but way more retarded. Three "counselors" after my initial query, I sat before an agitated man who I'm pretty sure took an instant dislike to yours truly.

Although I'd signed sworn and witnessed statements on several forms, he asked me again if I was a citizen of the U.S. Then — without consulting a manual or his computer screen, or so much as glancing at my forms —he informed me that if I made more than $280/month income I would not qualify for the help I was looking for.

Um, that's my beer budget, dude! Seriously, though, $280? No wonder parents get a divorce so they can qualify for benefits for their handicapped children. No wonder people don't work and spend their days cooking meth and having babies.

HHS is trying to combat waste and fraud, which, nationwide, costs billions. Their efforts have resulted in only those people trying to defraud the government can qualify for assistance. Neat! Well done, fart knockers!

Here's my solution:

Medicare: Healthcare costs in this country are staggering. But it isn't the people who need Medicare costing the government, it is the Healthcare Industry ratcheting up the costs. Stop punishing recipients and their doctors to recoup losses from fraud and waste. Hire HMO CEOs to turn things around financially and sic activists on the CEOs ass to keep him honest.

Food Stamps and Cash Assistance: Actually, these programs have vastly improved over the years, offering a debit card that can be used at any grocery store or ATM. This cuts back on people selling their food stamps, using them to buy things other than food, and on the stigma of "food stamps". Compared to what people who aren't on assistance spend on groceries and stuff, it is a pittance. But for people who otherwise can't afford food, it means everything. My only addition would be an extra benefit for people who attend nutrition classes.

Jobs: For many people, their circumstances declined to such a degree that they required public assistance. The problem occurs when those circumstances improve: Say Dude got injured and lost his construction job, and has a pregnant wife and an infant son. He has no medical insurance, so he applies for and gets Medicare, allowing him to get physical therapy for his injury. He gets cash and food assistance for his family because his money ran out quickly. Now that he's healed and ready to go back to work, he's faced with a dilemma: his wife is getting great prenatal care and the boy gets immunizations and stuff through Medicaid, and he can't afford medical insurance even when he's working. He will lose his benefits when he starts working.

HHS already offers and encourages job training to all recipients, they want assistance to be as temporary arrangement as possible. Ok, but offer a COBRA-style coverage to recipients who do manage to go to work, and for people who are on semi-permanent assistance, such as the poor parents of handicapped children, make accommodations for qualification so that parents are not divorcing to help their children.

Babies: Yes, the poorer you are and the more babies you have — especially if you are unmarried — the higher your benefit. Duh, those women need more assistance. But to discourage people from having additional children to get more assistance, offer a higher benefit for not having more children while on assistance. No one wants to venture into eugenics, here, it's about money and getting OFF assistance.

I feel better now, don't you? Just to reiterate, I don't work for any government agency, nor do I receive public assistance. I'm just a crank!

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Blogger LisaBinDaCity said...

Having been to DMV's all over the country, I can unequivocally say nothing sucks worse than the Manhattan DMV. And the people who work there are obnoxious and rude. FEH!!!

7:08 PM  
Blogger marty said...

Lisa, there's the express DMV license renewal off of 8th and 34th St. That experience was almost pleasant. Very quick.

8:34 PM  

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