Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Department of Needless Bureaucracy

So I worked at this call center today and one of the things that I did was take calls for the Indiana Unclaimed Property Division. It was my job to look up people's unclaimed property, get the id number, put that into a form I had on the computer, get all their address information and tell them that the form would be sent to them in 7 to 10 business days. So, as Craig put it, I was working for The Department of Getting People's Information So A Claim Form Could Be Sent To Them. Now, when people wanted to know how to fill the form out, they would call and freak out and then I would give them another number to call. This was a number where they could reach (again, Craig's title) The Department of Filling Out Forms. That is because I did not even send out the forms, I had never seen the forms, so I did not know what was on them. Instead, The Department of Sending Out Forms did that. And I would add that a member of The Department of Filling 0ut Forms was in the cubicle right next to me, but I could not have the information on how to fill out forms because I was answering calls for The Department of Getting People's Information So A Claim Form Could Be Sent To Them. There is another department that I know of involved in this whole process as well. That's The Department of Processing Claims. Oh yeah, and there's The Department of Answering Questions About The Claim's Status. And then there's . . .

Dont you love bureaucracy? I mean, it would not be right if we did not make people jump through at least five hoops in order to get anything done. We are the state after all. We keep good, productive members of society paid so that they can answer fifteen phone calls a day.

8 comments:

Xana Ender said...

Don't you just love working for the government? Heh Heh Heh. Just don't tell them to call their state representative. Although I should be safe, since I'm in Michigan.

Andy said...

Actually the attractive aspect of a corporate influence on government is that corporations, in their efforts to cut costs, are often quite skilled at streamlining procedures and doing away with unnecessary people. (Not always.) The downside of the corporatization of government, however, is that we see corporations getting all these unnecessary breaks. You polluted the environment and caused cancer in thousands of people? Well, that's okay, remedying it isn't cost-effective. WTF? And of course we now have a government staffed by former business partners, rather than experts and academics.

Esther said...

Andy: Yup, because in the end it's not what you know that counts, it's who you know. The idea that government could be impartial about hiring experts and academics turned out sadly false. People are always impartial about this kind of stuff. That's why I have to get to know government people so I can get a government job.

little-cicero said...

If Michael Brown is hired to the head of a Beureaucratic Body it's cronyism. If Joe Schmoe is hired to a beureaucratic body, it's a solution to unemployment, and if terminated for the sake of solving deficit spending, Joe Schmoe is wailed over as if he were the President himself. How warped is our view of beurocracy. Cronyism comes in all classes, and in all classes it should be disposed of!

Will said...

Just to be controversial...what is necessarily so wrong with cronyism, provided the people doing the choosing truly believe they're hiring the best person for the job? Certainly if they're hiring someone BECAUSE he's their friend, they shouldn't do that. But much of the reason it matters "who you know," I think, is because there are important personal and irreducible qualities important to doing a job that can't be reflected in a simple application and survey. That's why we have interviews, and why Civil Service Reform has never extended to cabinet secretaries. The meritocratic idea that you can decide who the best person is based on qualitative data and facts, like a resume, CV, and scores, is a modern and oversimplified idea, I think. It's entirely possible for someone to look better on paper, but actually be a worse choice because of personal factors that don't show up on an application. When you hire someone you know, you can evaluate those factors--hence, the reason people hiring, especially for jobs where judgment is required, like to know the people they're hiring.

Esther said...

Will: you make a very good point. I'm just upset because for now it means that they don't hire me. And because there are so many incompetents running all levels of government. I know that they got in because they know somebody and I didn't because I know nobody. That bothers me a lot because I'm always way more competent than the people I have to deal with.

If cronyism worked in my favor I probably would not care about it that much.

Also, I hate having to get to know people for the purpose of getting them to give me a job. It seems beneath me. On principle I would say that people should take me at my word. And the same goes for everyone else. The problem is that people are often dishonest so it does not work that way.

I might add to everyone that this post was merely for humor. It's funny, the posts I write to be serious get no serious comments and the posts I write to be funny spark lots of intellectual discussion.

little-cicero said...

Cronyism is undeniably wrong, but to answer Will's question, we must define cronyism. It is deference in appointment to personal freinds or hangers-on without concern for competence or ability. Harriet Miers, as I argued to Esther, is not a crony, but rather someone the President knows well enough to know that her abilities make her ideal for the given position. Michal Brown may well have been a crony, but we as outsiders can never really tell the difference.

Will said...

I understand, Esther, and I thought your post was funny--I was just trying to be controversial, and I've been thinking about that issue lately. And Little-Cicero, I think you're right to define cronyism that way...in which case, I do agree it's bad.