I once had a friend who joked that “bureaucracy” meant government by furniture. (Bureaus – get it?) I sometimes think that furniture might do a better job.
If you get any kind of government assistance, you get to see bureaucracy up close and personal. My son, because of his disability and our low income, receives SSI payments. Well, yesterday, I received four pieces of mail from Social Security and related agencies, telling me that he no longer qualified for SSI and that his Medicaid was being “terminated.”
Except not really. Because you see, next month, the paydays fall so that we get an extra paycheck, which puts us over the monthly income limit – just for one month. And his Medicaid isn’t really being terminated, there is a grace period and as soon as April rolls around and we are once again poor enough in the government’s eyes, I’m sure I will get the same number of pieces of mail telling me his Medicaid has been approved again. Oh, they will probably send me the whole welcome packet for his MCO all over again, too. They do that every time his Medicaid is reapproved.
And all of this will happen twice a year, because of how the paydays fall. Efficient? Um, no. Enough to give a person a heart attack the first time it happens? Yeah.
I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve received notices telling us that something was terminated or our benefits had gone to $0, only to call and be told to disregard it. “Everybody’s getting that notice for some reason! Just ignore it.” OK, can I have the last hour of my life back?
Since we’re talking about SSI, the rules surrounding this program are just about enough to make nobody want to get SSI ever. There are rules like – Nobody can give you a gift card that can be used to purchase food or shelter. (Well, they can, you just have to report it as income.) Personally, I don’t know anywhere where you can purchase shelter with a gift card. But I’m glad the government is making sure those low-income disabled people don’t get one cent more than they deserve!
One of the many problems with capitalism is that, in order to have anything remotely resembling a humane society, it necessitates these kinds of government interventions in people’s lives. Socialism usually gets blamed for bureaucracy, but the thing is, a capitalist society with no SNAP or WIC or social security or TANF or Medicaid or Medicare or rent-controlled housing etc etc etc, is a society in which a lot of people DIE. It’s a society full of poverty and homelessness even greater than what we have.
And nobody really wants that. Homelessness and poverty are not aesthetically pleasing; they’re bad for business.
Like it or not, capitalism and bureaucracy are bedfellows.