Stupid Government Policies

dollogoThree of our neighbors in Virginia were employed by or retired from the Department of Labor.

For that fact and the fact that it was a lot of work to maintain their weekend homes, they joked that the shared road through the subdivision should be called "Labor Lane." At the start, Ted and I figured they were OK people for Washington, DC-types, but we grew to under-value them over the years. They were high-level DOL career officials who had a public servant's responsibility to make things run right. However, their attitudes and behaviors about many things conveyed a sense of entitlement, arrogance toward their occupational underlings, as well as the gentle people of Northumberland County, Virginia (where we lived), a cavalier approach to duty, and an inability to keep trees from growing in the ditches alongside their portions of the road, which irritated Ted mightily.

Main Department of Labor building in DCBack in the 1970s, the Washington Post ran an article headlined, "Does Anybody Labor at the Department of Labor?" It described silent offices that should have resounded with the noise of telephones, talk, and typewriters. It mentioned clerical workers who shuffled in bedroom slippers down the hallways. The article complained about unanswered phones, condescending clerks, officials who did not show up for scheduled appointments, and unreplied-to correspondence.

L4-L5 herniationAlso back in the 1970s, my mother, Genevieve, worked for the Internal Revenue Service as an occupational nurse. While stowing supplies in a closet, she ruptured the L4-L5 disc in her back. It put an end to her career for a while. The IRS fired her over it (ah, the compassionate IRS, with its own sense of entitlement and arrogance), but she did manage to file a successful claim with the Department of Labor's Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP). I had moved to Utah by then and I was out of touch; I don't know how long it took for that claim to go into effect, but based on what I know now, I bet it was quite a while.

Gen quickly learned the ropes to deal with the OWCP: Document everything with a nurse's precision and detail. Call first thing in the morning and maybe somebody will answer the phone. Never expect a call back or a reply to a letter. If you send something in the mail, send it certified with a return receipt. Properly executed changes of address or changes in banking information for direct deposit will not produce results. Nothing will ever get done without intervention from Congress.