An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

Today I had a chore to retrieve a new 1099 from SSA on behalf of my elderly mother. A call to the 800 number yielded the conclusion that they couldn’t help me. I had to go to the local office, from which an employee could call my mother on the phone to get authorization for me to receive a copy of the 1099. The SSA says that they don’t recognize powers of attorney! Why the hell not?

Upon arrival at the SSA office I was immediately approached by an armed security guard. He asked if I possessed firearms, pepper spray, bombs, etc. I said “no.” I asked what was the purpose of this high-security and the guard said, “This is a FEDERAL facility.” OK, but it didn’t make much sense to me. I took a number and sat down on a steel bench to wait my turn. The hour I waited gave me time to observe several things. First, the guard was hand-searching every woman’s purse as she entered. Second, there were numerous signs posted which warned of penalties for attacking a government employee or carrying contraband into a FEDERAL establishment. The wall was also plastered, here and there, with signs saying “Please do not stand here.” The only reason I could discern is that these were blind spots in the surveillance camera coverage. In short, the place is run like a jail — and everyone entering is suspected of being a criminal. This was a government bunker.

My visit concluded, after an additional half hour of waiting, with a visit to “the back”. I was escorted to a fairly large room with I’d guess 25 cubicles. I observed that only 5 or so were occupied. So, either the building plan over-estimated the need for office space and furniture, or the empty desks represented “slots” in the budget (money that could be spent on anything the bureaucrats desired as long as there were no employees to pay). The upshot is that if the desks had been occupied, I wouldn’t have had to wait so long. Or it’s just more evidence of government waste and mismanagement.

I admit that the employees in the bunker were all pleasant and patient — but did it have to take so long? Why are FEDERAL facilities increasingly becoming bunkers. Who are these people afraid of? You and me, I guess.

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