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Tuesday, March 02, 2010


A morning at the DMV

A week without a post; where does the time go? Working, among other things. Imagine that.

Anyway, I spent this morning at the DMV renewing my driver's license (something you have to do every 5 (?) years here in CA). Nothing more than paying money and getting a new picture taken. You can make an appointment online, but when I tried to do that a few days ago, it turns out you can get an appointment for...a month from now, in this case, after my license would have expired, so I had to face the music.

So you show up, get a number, and...wait. For nearly two hours. Having done this before, I was well-prepared, with my laptop and some work to do. But a loud-mouthed guy sitting near me just would not stop complaining to all who could hear about government inefficiencies and how, if government takes over health care (which readers will understand isn't remotely on the agenda in the U.S., despite the vivid imaginations of Tea Partiers), this is just how it's going to be, long waits.

Now no one is happy having to wait two hours, obviously. But does it really take that much to ask yourself, and figure out, just why it is that we have to wait? To begin with, state workers, including DMV workers, are "furloughed" several days a month, so right off the bat there are going to be more people there on any given day than there used to be. But I've been to this office before furloughs, and there were waits then too. Are the workers sitting around drinking coffee? That might make for a typical sitcom plot, but it isn't reality. Most of the workers are on their feet, working all day long (except for breaks, I presume). The numbers are being called out every few seconds, which means that people are being processed with regularity. There is just too much work for too few people! Gee, does that sound familiar? For example, after I got through the paperwork portion, I had to get my picture taken. Another 15 minutes in line, because there was one guy taking pictures.

The obvious solution is more employees and, in this particular instance, probably another DMV office somewhere up the Peninsula. The nearest office to the north of me is 18 miles away, which might not sound that far in some parts of the country, but in a densely populated urban area, it means one heck of a lot of people need to be serviced by the office I went to today. Too many. But would Mr. Loud-Mouth acknowledge that solution to his problem? Chances are he wouldn't, because he'd be too busy complaining about "the government" to recognize that his unwillingness to vote for any politician who even breathes the word "tax increase" is what causes the problem in the first place.

And, as I've written before, all this applies to health care as well. Mr. L-M may well be right that health insurance "reform" being contemplated in the Congress may lead to increased waiting times in some cases. But why? There's only one reason it would happen, and that's because people are currently going without necessary health care, and once those people are in a position to receive treatment, there won't be enough doctors. But the solution to that problem isn't to deny people treatment, it's to train more doctors, just like the solution to the DMV problem is to hire more people.

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