When Government Run Businesses Fail

Subnormal Magazine, the controversial rock, film and human rights oriented magazine of the 90’s is back today here online, with its editor Zadge’s diatribe on the failures of The Los Angeles Post Office, The Los Angeles Library, and The Department of Motor Vehicles.

I read recently in the Los Angeles Times that the proposal to cut mail delivery from six days to five, eliminating Saturday’s, had been overturned, due to Senator Jon Tester of Montana stating that it would place undue difficulty on rural mail carriers without other sources of income. The U.S. Postal System, according to the Times, is anticipating a 7 billion dollar loss.

It has been truly stated, “If a business person ran their business the way the American Government does, it would be broke.” So, why does America keep rewarding businesses that fail with bailouts or easy breaks? Since when is “too big to fail” a catchy rationalization for what is actually just socialism in disguise? “Too big” and “failing” is all the more reason to let it stop if it’s not working.

In Los Angeles, they can’t even keep the public libraries open 7 days a week. They actually closed the largest downtown library two days out of the week, and cut hours on two other days. Maybe if the city would do things more efficiently at the libraries, like spend less time searching well dressed people as they exit, and spend more time kicking out the bums that seem to have permanently taken residency in each of the libraries floors, then just maybe, its revenue might increase a little by patrons willing to donate to the library more, or even get additional revenue via late fee fines.

Nearly every time I have visited the Los Angeles downtown library, I had to avoid aisles with bums snoring, asleep in the chairs with their garbage bags next to them, and often, I have had to try holding my breath to avoid the putrid stench of men who probably haven’t bathed in years. The once pleasure of going to the library here has become instead, an unpleasant trip, in which one has to hold their nose and leave to have peace, and cover their childrens’ eyes passing the pervert on the library computer looking at porn.

L.A. librarians have actually told me people have a right to surf porn in public at the library, and stated , “that’s why we have those glass covers. So no one else can see.” Well guess what? Those things bought at taxpayers’ expense do not work, and children and others actually can see the screens of men surfing porn on the Internet at L.A.’s public libraries, that taxpayers are forced to pay for. If the city actually made the library a more civilized place to go to -rather than like a two bit porn store on skid row- where the librarians not only don’t whisper, they yell back and forth to each other, than perhaps those days just cut last week wouldn’t have to be a factor after all.

As for the Post Office, since when does a retail establishment in America succeed well, (where politeness and speed are key), when one is kept waiting in a 20 or 40 or so person deep line, that crawls at a snail’s pace? If I moved as slow as not all, but most postal workers I have experienced, I’d be so stoned, I wouldn’t know what planet I was on, much less how to push that touch screen on the computer.

If I ran a service retail business (which essentially a post office is), and employed workers who were as equally slow, disinterested in the needs of their customers, and sometimes just outright unfriendly, acting as if my customers were an annoyance, then you can be sure that my retail business would fail, because my customers would hate coming in to the place of drudgery and despair. When post offices actually become a place of cheer, speed, efficiency, and life, rather than a slow, mopey, depressive state of abject dread, then perhaps then they just might start making money.

And as for the DMV (Department Of Motor Vehicles), well anyone who knows about the DMV in Los Angeles knows this conversation all too well; “Hi, How are you?” “Well, uh, I don’t really want to talk about it… its terrible…” “What?! No, please now, you have to tell me, It’s O.K., what is?” “Well, it’s that I have to go to the DMV tomorrow. Have ‘you’ ever been?” Sympathetically, “Oh my gosh, no! You poor thing, I’m sorry! Yes, I have! Here, come over here, sit down, can I get you anything?” This is no great exaggeration.

Realization of the necessity for a trip to the DMV, brings with it to those who have ever been, a feeling of complete and utter depression. One may imagine a trip to the DMV, if they have never been, by visualizing standing in a long, long line that barely moves, on a path to dig one’s own grave. After waiting for literally hours in line- at times outdoors in the sweltering heat that wraps outside of the building- and finally getting up to a clerk (finely dressed in faded jeans, running shoes, and an un-tucked t-shirt with some insignia on it) filing their nails and chewing gum – one may then find that they are coldly and rudely told by the clerk with an accent so heavy they may be barely understandable, that they have the wrong papers, or not enough data with them. Strike out! And such is the torture that is the DMV. If Dante’s inferno has any truth to it all, than surely, California’s DMV is a modern manifestation of its anguished, sufferable depths.

And so when I heard of a young woman lamenting the unfairness of the State of California having cut her mother’s job at the DMV down from five days to now only four, I mused to myself, “Even the executioner can get a layoff when business is slow.”

If the government wants to stay in the business of running businesses- forcing taxpayers to pay for them, making us subsidize them, and refusing to allow free competition- than they should at least learn how to run them efficiently. And when they don’t and they fail, then let them fail- there’s always Amazon.