on privatized companies

i know it’s halloween, so maybe i should be sharing the ghost story i’m writing or something… but… i’d rather talk about how my costume caused me such stress this year.

in truth, it wasn’t my costume that caused the stress. it was the U.S. postal service.

yes, that federally-funded bureaucratic nightmare that supposedly functions whether it’s raining, snowing, or leaking yodeling yaks from UFOs.

i had my friend gretchen make me a zuul costume. she mailed it two weeks early via parcel post, sure it would get here in the 2-9 days promised, in time for halloween.

there is no dana, only zuul

i was going to look exactly this hot for halloween.



7 days passed.

9 days passed.

i called the local post office to make sure my package wasn’t going to omaha, since my parents have a forwarding thing set up.

it wasn’t, they assured me. they know.

11 days passed.

i called the national numbers for track and confirm and USPS. the horrible, horrible, evil robot on the other end COULDN’T FIND MY TRACKING NUMBER. three times. three SEPARATE times. finally i got through to a human being, who was, of course, cranky. she told me there wasn’t anything we could do until the 30th of october, which would be 14 days. so if i didn’t get my package by then, they’d set up an inquiry.

so i waited til friday, the 30th, and when i didn’t get my package, i called both automated systems again.

once again, the stupid robot couldn’t understand my tracking number.

i dialed it in on the keypad.

i spoke it out loud.

she repeated it back to me.

she asked if that was the number i had said.

i said, “yes.”

she repeated the number AGAIN, and asked me if that was the number i’d said.

i said, “yes.”

she asked me to put the number in again.


this went on, three separate times, for half an hour.

needless to say, i finally spoke to a real live human being, who told me that the 31st would mean 14 days, not the 30th. “we don’t count sundays,” she told me. i think she was chewing gum.

“okay,” i said.

i put in a complaint about the automated system via email anyway.

but what occurred to me as this was going on is: this is why we have privatization in the first place.

yes, government-run institutions, such as your local post office, police service, fire station, corrections department, child protection agencies, schools, and on and on and on, are subject to oversight from people. you get to vote people into office. you get to complain when stuff goes wrong. your money goes directly to funding these institutions.

but it takes ages for any change to get done, because everything has to be approved by several thousand citizens, plus oversight committees, etc. it takes criminal charges to get useless employees out of office. government-run institutions are, in a word, ineffective. another good word i’d use is slow. inefficient works, too.

privatized prisons, postal delivery services, and many schools are just so. much. better. FedEx > USPS, any day. you get what you pay for.

so this is where the idea of government-run healthcare gets freaky for me. if the privately-run insurance companies have already got healthcare this screwed up, how in the world is government-run health insurance going to be any better? slower, less efficient, ineffective, bureaucratic… these are words i would already use to describe almost every insurance agency i have ever had to deal with.

however, my biggest argument for government-run or at least -sponsored health insurance is that health insurance is a necessity, not a commodity. not getting my halloween costume isn’t life threatening; not getting my medication may just be. (which is also why medical companies have their own delivery services, fyi – to ENSURE delivery.) right now, health care costs far too much.

and let’s be honest – the entire idea of health insurance is pretty socialist to begin with. you put your money into a big pool that pays for some other bloke’s treatment, until you need treatment, in which case you take his stash, along with several hundred other peoples’ stashes. sure, it’s not run by the government, but it’s still rings of socialism if you ask me.

anyway, the zuul costume arrived a few moments ago. after my friends and i had already decided we’re going as 1940’s pin ups instead.

there’s always next year.


2 Responses to “on privatized companies”

  1. 1 Shane
    January 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    My friend was totally Zuul for Halloween. Maybe she intercepted your costume.

    • January 6, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      i got the costume the day OF halloween and my friend who went as the gatekeeper bailed so i just went as a 1940s pin up. but next year… ooooh next year

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