Friday, March 12, 2010


Here’s a way to guarantee a “no” vote on the Obama-care legislation pending in Congress. Require representatives who plan to vote “aye” to first visit a California DMV office. Such a pilgrimage to the Mecca of governmental incompetence would doom any initiative that threatens to put health care in the same bureaucratic hands.

While living in Oceanside, I once considered transacting business at the Vista DMV. I quickly ditched the idea when I saw a swarm of vehicles and document-seekers inundating the office.

Unfortunately, with the impending expiration of my license, a DMV visit became imperative. The telephone gauntlet I encountered wasn’t an encouraging omen. After rejecting an appointment six weeks later at a nearby office, I was able to wheedle a slightly more palatable result out of my automated interlocutor—a Temecula tryst four weeks in the future and ten days before the license expiration date.

My 9:30 am appointment was like a decent into hell. Dozens of drivers searched for non-existent parking spots beyond the jammed parking lot. After about 10 minutes I was able to squeeze my 13-foot compact into a 14-foot parallel space that wouldn’t accommodate most vehicles.

A line stretched well around the corner of the modestly sized edifice. Armed with an “appointment,” I bypassed these patrons (most of whom would still be waiting hours later) and entered a building packed with adults sitting and standing in the few feet that extended on three sides of the partitioned work space.

After waiting in another line to get a ticket, I wandered about the restrictive area where perhaps a hundred chairs in two rows were all occupied. Despite my appointment ticket, I was ordered outside by a diminutive crowd-control enforcer who periodically announced that the place would be “shut down” as a fire hazard absent prompt compliance.

Fortunately for me, another ticket-holder offered his seat and traipsed outside. An elderly gentleman sitting in the next chair showed me his non-appointment ticket with a number that guaranteed he would be sitting in this wretched confined space for at least another two hours.

With an “appointment” and parking luck I was able to emerge from this bureaucratic nightmare in about an hour—leaving behind hundreds of folks who were waiting for tickets that would entitle them to wait yet more hours to conduct their vehicular business.

Those who think this scenario doesn’t apply to health care should ponder the case of Danny Williams, the Newfoundland premier who skipped to the U.S. for minimally invasive heart value surgery rather than jump, without an “appointment,” to the head of the long waiting line in Canada.

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