I’ve had a developing thought that gained clarity yesterday as I was preparing to get passports for all of my children…
The process of getting a passport looks daunting at first. The application form has *FOUR* pages of caveats and conditions. They speak in terms that are confusing and hard to understand. But once I started wading through it, it turned out to not be that bad. All I needed was to fill out a form with basic identifying info most people know by heart and have all of us (both parents and the kids) go to the appropriate post office with their birth certificates and photo ID for the parents.
Yet It took me a good hour to figure that out. It talked about all the various documents I needed, but it turned out that all of those things were satisfied by the kids birth certificates. But that was not at all clear at first. It started with precision of all the various ways one could establish each of the documentary evidence one needs to provide (and there were many). I think this was because they wanted to “make it easy” for someone who may have some of the other options, but not readily have their birth certificate.
However, in their attempt to “make it easy” they actually made it quite daunting. It was overwhelming. And I thought to myself, what if I was poor or transient? How much more overwhelming would this be at a library computer than in the comfort of my own home with a filing cabinet full of saved documents?
Government needs to find ways to make things simpler. Part of the libertarian push-back we’re seeing in society is because government has done a very poor job of keeping things as simple as possible. In this case, it should start with that simple list I mention above (birth certificate, ID, picture (if you don’t want to pay to have it taken at the PO)) and then have links for people to follow if they don’t fit the normal situation.
Or another example… when I was laid off, we had a 2 month window where we weren’t going to have health insurance. We could have paid for cobra to keep my existing insurance, but “Obamacare” (correctly called the A.C.A.) supposedly made it a lot easier and we’d likely get a government subsidy while both Wendy and I were unemployed. But actually getting it was a *nightmare* of documents and bureaucracy. I eventually acquiesced to a bureaucrat who wanted to do it the wrong way based on my reading of the relevant forms because I was sick of fighting her. But I thought to myself, this is going to come back to bite me. Sure enough, we got a $1000 fine come tax time for not doing something right.
Thus a similar thought went through my head… how is this helping the poor who can’t afford health insurance? Are they really going to be able to fight their way through this bureaucracy? What do they do when they get a fine like that for not following every step just right?
So, if we want to actually help the poor, not just pretend to help the poor, we have to make the processes for government *MUCH* simpler. Every time a middle-class white-collar family struggles with government bureaucracy we need to say, if it’s hard for a person with this many resources to do this, it’s too complicated. We are failing our poor people, the people who government is supposed to be looking out for, by having such a complicated governmental system.