Government — a migraine in the making
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Want a headache quickly?
Try getting a state government matter resolved. That is darn sure to give you a headache before you’re 10 minutes into the process.
Recently, I had a head-splitting experience with state government. In another life I owned a number of businesses. If you own businesses, you have to pay retail sales tax quarterly to the state.
Although I sold the businesses several years ago and cancelled my state retail sales tax permit, the state still thought I should pay my retail sales tax. A little investigative work on the state’s part would have easily revealed that someone else is paying the retail sales tax since the business under which the permit is listed is still an active business, but with a different owner.
That solution, however, was too easy and made too much sense for the state to handle. Instead, they kept billing me, even though I had cancelled my permit, emailed them that I no longer owned the businesses and returned one of their forms advising them of the change of ownership.
About two months into the process, the state accepted the fact that I no longer owed them money, only to do an about-face a month later, stating the I owed retail tax not for one quarter, but for all of 2010.
It is best not to relate my initial reaction when learning of that claim. So, the whole process of clearing my name and the amount owed began again.
Now if you have ever tried to right a wrong with government, you know what I am talking about. Once again I went online to cancel my permit and called the department that made the claim. I was directed to the person in charge of my account. I called him. Naturally, he was out of the office (another fact about state employees, they have seemingly never-ending vacation).
Several days later, he called back and directed me to another number. I immediately called that number. Of course, the person answering the phone acted as if she had no clue. Following some explanation she directed me to another state employee — the same state employee who had directed me to the number I was calling.
Following several more weeks of hassles, the matter was resolved…at least I think it has.
Speaking of state employees, a friend of mine was a supervisor in a state agency for a number of years. He was never a fan of his employer, particularly when he quickly learned that once a state employee has been employed for some time, it is virtually impossible to terminate that employee. That same poor employee, under the union contract, would receive the same salary increase as a good employee and, consequently, there is little incentive under union contracts to overachieve. But that is a matter for another column.
I heard all the horror stories about how state employees, once gaining tenure, could do almost anything and not face disciplinary action.
Recently, my friend ended his employment with the state. One of the first things he learned was that life is very different in the private sector. “I never realized how good I had it,” he lamented, referring to his state job. Pressed for an explanation, he cited health insurance. As a supervisor, he had a Cadillac health plan for which he did not pay a cent.
Is it any surprise that state government is a mess and that we have financial problems? I can’t even imagine the bureaucratic stranglehold big government has on the federal government.
Don’t kid yourself — bigger is never better. The Libertarians have it pegged — the less the government, the better the government. Where is it written that government should be all things to all people?
While government should be there when we need it, it should not be the solution to all of society’s ills.