Posted by: bkivey | 21 September 2021

Planning Around Government

I took a company vehicle to get smogged, and did so at the Sherwood DEQ station. I mention the location because this station is regionally-famous for getting people in and out, quickly. It’s worth the drive. Tuesday is a busy because the stations are closed Sunday and Monday, and when I arrived, there were about 20 vehicles ahead.

I bet I didn’t spend 30 minutes from arrival to departure.

My local DEQ station in Hillsboro is also famous. Famously slow. I went there until I learned better: hour-plus wait times are not uncommon, and two hours not unheard of. Hillsboro DMV, on the other had, used to enjoy a reputation for efficiency. I didn’t mind getting vehicle things done, because I rarely spent 30 minutes in the building.

Well, that was Pre-Kafka.

DMV offices have gone to an appointment system, to limit the number of people in the building. The number of people needing to do business with the State has not decreased, just the system capacity. So now, there are half as many customers in the building, but the same number of DMV employees. I don’t see this changing soon, if ever, because currently those folks make the same money for half the work.

I bought a vehicle in early August, and the next available appointment was for 19 October in a town 20 miles away. Three years ago, this would all be taken care of well before the two-week trip permit expired, and taken half-a-day. DEQ and paperwork. Now, the police have simply stopped enforcing tag laws. That particular vehicle has been driving around for a couple of months with no plates, and I still feel a little anxious about it.

While talking to the DEQ agent, she mentioned that DMV was charging fees for late registration and title applications. By law, paperwork must be completed 30 days after sale; a deadline now impossible to meet. I made the same noises she’s probably heard everyone else make, but politely, because she has no influence on the situation. She did mention, there was a waiver form to download from the DMV site, and to fill it out and present it to DMV when I eventually saw them.

So, a government agency limits access to a necessary function in order to protect people, but then enforces late fees resulting from that very same action? What the actual? Not corruption, exactly, but a very curious circumstance. Why not just waive the late fees? Even more curious is that legislation was signed in May allowing a grace period on expired licenses and tags through 31 December 2021. It seems DMV is taking the view that old business (existing licenses and tags) is fee-free, while new business (titles and registrations) is fee-worthy. This warrants a further look, and a letter to elected officials, if true.

Where Have All The Workers Gone?

I heard a FedEx driver mention that 25% of employees didn’t show up today. Although I wasn’t part of the conversation, that stopped me. I asked if that was because it was a nice day, and he said he didn’t know, but that he didn’t know from one day to the next who would show up. He also mentioned that a job fair had been a joke: 50 – 60 people expected, about 10 showed up. The Holiday season is fast approaching, and he said that FedEx was desperate for help, as it takes a couple of months to get someone up to speed. I wouldn’t be expecting timely package delivery, this year.

He opined that assistance programs were acting as a work-disincentive, and that to be competitive, a company had to start people at $17 – $19/hr. To start. That is the new minimum wage. Only 4 – 5 years ago, that was a wage commanded by someone who knew what they were doing. In nearly the same breath, he complained about the marked increase in the cost-of-living. Remember all the $15/hr minimum-wage agitation a few years ago? Remember how anyone with a rudimentary grasp of economics knew what would happen? Remember how those logical and historically-accurate arguments were hand-waved away? Well, surprise, surprise, surprise.

Nature takes the path of least resistance, and people are the same. Assistance programs probably are a big contributor to the labor shortage, but maybe people are tired of being told what to do by government. Maybe some people don’t want to wear a useless, uncomfortable mask for 8 – 10 hours a day. Maybe people don’t want to be ordered by government to inject experimental drugs just to have a job. On the ground, only Government cares about COVID-19; the People are well over it.

Related Reading

Minimum Expectations

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