Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Renegade Province Reloaded

Everyone can stop being angry about the U.S. kissing China's ass, and instead be angry about U.S. civil servants being half-assed.

Jaru called one of her Taiwanese friends who has a Green Card and discovered that it should say Taiwan, Republic of China, after all. She then verified by calling in and finally got someone to admit it -- we had to tell the civil servant that we had kidnapped their Rottweiler first though to motivate them to actually do something.

So now we'll fill out yet more forms...

When we went in to finalize her permanent resident status we had to set up an appointment online. We then show up at the appropriate time and they give us a number. About two hours later it's us and one old lady sitting in an empty lounge while people mop the floor. I go and remind the people that we exist, because that apparently wasn't clear from our sitting there right in front of all the civil servants in an otherwise empty room. Finally, a person makes a big fuss about how they'll take care of this then takes our form -- making sure to let us know how great a favor this service is. That part took about 15 minutes.

Personally, I believe the public's experience with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and places like the Department of Homeland Security are the single greatest threat to the U.S. getting public healthcare.

But it shouldn't have to be that way. The U.S. Postal Service had a terrible reputation when I was young (in the 70s or so). But nowadays the USPS is terrific. The offices are quick and helpful. Delivery is fast. and you have a bunch of options in how to mail things.

I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the USPS has some competition in the form of email, UPS, and FedEx? The commercial places might make the USPS work harder, and the USPS might keep the commercial companies' prices down and services up.

That makes me wonder if other public and private programs could benefit from similar competiton. For instance, if people could choose between a public healthcare program, or our current crop of private ones, could that make the overall system more efficient? One benefit of the public system would be that it could help standardize what are considered reasonable medical treatments and reasonable costs -- and private providers would then be able to point to the standard treatments to avoid malpractice, while they'd have to compete with the costs to maintain their business.

If I remember correctly from talking with Dan, Australia has a public healthcare system augmented by private insurance -- though I think that's more of a "by spending extra bucks you get better service or greater protections" system instead of what I'm envisioning.

No comments: