Staff column: Why we complain about government
This past week I ran into three situations in which the government is once again either inefficient, ineffective or getting in the way of private business. In two cases the problems appear to be local; in another case it is federal. But to be honest about that last statement who really knows. If you ask someone in government about why they do things they will often say "Because the state makes us do it that way" or "The feds have regulations about what we can do and this is what they want."
Having had a work life (past the farm on which my dad had me labor) of about 44 years, unlike some people I have a vast experience of working for all kinds of government agencies and private businesses. I have done everything from clean toilets to make budget decisions on multimillion dollar projects and that affect hundreds of people. I added it up and in my corner of the world I have worked in private business a total of 16 years and in government in one form or another 29 years. In private industry I have been everything from the low guy on the scale to the manager and owner. In government I worked from entry level to mid-level management.
So I know a little about both. I have worked privately in the cleaning business (both supply and service), auto repair, the beverage business, magazine publishing, construction, landscaping, the floral business, insurance sales and in the consulting business. In government most of my experience lies in the area of facilities management, although the longer I was with various agenices the more other responsibilities they gave me such as safety, personnel and hazmat management. Okay that is a lot to take in and sure some of these jobs were short lived. On the other hand some were concurrent with other jobs as well.
So I am not shooting in the dark here. When something is amiss for your customer, whether you be a public agency or a private business, you ought to look at it closely and see if you can fix it. Being in the newspaper business, I know better than anyone you can't make everyone happy.
So here are my three disturbing finds from the last week.
First I as talking to a person who takes their children to a day camp that is being held at an elementary school in Price. As we talked she told me that the program is being held at two schools, both of them in north Price. This program includes a lunch program for the kids. The schools they are held at are very close together, yet Creekview, which lies in the south part of Price has no such program. When it comes to kids, particularly those of elementary age, and serving them, location is always important. Therefore wouldn't it seem logical that one program would be run in the northern part of Price and another in the southern part of the town, so as to give all the kids in town a close location to which they can participate? I was told it used to be held at Creekview until a few years ago. So what happened? What changed?
Second. I called a state government agency last week and found a phone system that is the worst I have ever encountered in terms of trapping you and making any action you take long and drawn out. I called in kind of an emergency situation at the end of the day, having to get to someone before they all went home. It gave me a million words of information before it ever said they had an employee directory for which I could push 2. Once I did get to the employee directory, then I had to type on the first three letters of the person's name. It then started down a whole list of similar names and the plug in for the extension was read very slow by an electronic voice. It would have take forever so I dialed zero thinking it would take me to a live person. What was I thinking. It took be back to the beginning announcement instead. I never did get to the person I wanted and instead drove over to the agency to get what I needed done, done.
Finally, I was talking to a physician that is a also a friend of mine. He has joined a clinic instead of running his own practice now; I noticed because I had a whole bunch of new paperwork to fill out. He said that they are preparing for Obamacare; the paperwork that has already happened is horrendous and that more is on its way. It makes doctors spend more time on forms and government red tape than they will have to treat patients. He made a number of suggestions on what they should do with the paper work, none of which I can print here. I am all for some kind of universal health care, but making it harder for doctors to spend more time with patients because of humongous amounts of paperwork is ridiculous. Just another way for the feds to tie things up and make a mess of it.
Okay that last line sounded pretty right wing. But I am just tired of unresponsive government entities that hold themselves above the public until political pressure is applied.
By the way, does anyone know when Avintaquin campground at the top of Indian Canyon and Price Recreation area in Price Canyon will be open? It's nearly the Fourth of July, and here are two popular campgrounds, one BLM the other U.S. Forests Service, with the gates still locked up, like it was March or something.