One of the great things about California is that when you get fed up with being part of any of the two major political parties, rather than aligning yourself with a splinter party that makes noise but not laws, you can sidle under a designation known as “decline to state.”
When I departed the Republican Party out of disgust at the beginning of George Bush’s second term, that’s where I landed. I got tired of the hypocrisy that insisted government should keep its nose out of everyone’s wallets, but in wombs and bedrooms. Nothing any Republican has said since has made me regret my decision.
You’d think over time, I would have wandered over to the Democratic Party, but it apparently never met a law it didn’t like. Whenever one person does something bad, bam, they want a regulation to govern everyone else.
The problem – as I have discovered in excess over the past few weeks – is that even though some might think regulations and laws and all those nasty niceties are the government’s job, it doesn’t seem to do it very well. Sometimes it doesn’t even bother to enforce the laws it’s so hell-bent to enact. The evidence of this ranges from local to statewide to federal instances.
Let’s start with local. Here in our cul-de-sac, one of our very nice neighbors is doing so well that he decided to remodel his single-story house – and when I say remodel, I mean tear it down and create a two-story house in its place. I have no problem with that, except that our city has enacted very specific rules about when contractors can work. They’re not supposed to work before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
Because this crew represents typical contractors, they regularly don’t show up, or when they do, they come at 11 a.m., and because it stays light late, they keep working after 6 p.m., continuing the banging I’ve heard all day at my desk into the dinner hour. I’ve asked them to stop, and they’ve kept on doing it. I’ve notified the police, but because it’s not an emergency, they’ll mosey on by an hour later to see if the crew is still on premises. By that time, of course, it’s gone. It makes me wonder why we have a law at all.
“The state designed laws to push agricultural water districts to track their water flow and make the largest districts charge farmers based on how much they use. … But those rules are widely being ignored amid one of the state’s most severe droughts on record. All but the smallest agricultural water districts were required to track and report to the state how much water they deliver to customers as the result of a 2007 law. Only 20 percent – 48 of 242 districts – have filed those reports, according to California Department of Water Resources data. They were due 10 months ago.”
The kicker appears later in the story: “There’s no penalty for agricultural districts that don’t report how much water they’re delivering to farms.” This is what’s known as a law with no teeth.
- When we filed our tax returns in April, the federal government notified us that someone had already filed a tax return with one of our social security numbers, and that ours was being rejected. Given that we had been filing tax returns using those numbers for more than 30 years, I’m a little confused as to why the government didn’t reject the incorrect return, rather than ours.
- My wife’s state medical license was set to expire this week. She had sent in the paperwork weeks ago, but it still hadn’t been processed. Her employer (the federal government, I hasten to note) insisted that if she didn’t have her license, she couldn’t practice after last Friday. She finally called the state medical board and found out that she had neglected to check “box G” (whatever box G was). After some faxing back and forth, her status was correctly updated. While all this was happening, she received a letter sent by U.S. mail to her office notifying her of this box G situation. There are phones. There is e-mail. The state government prefers to rely on the mail to communicate in matters like this – what, because it’s faster?
- Similar thing happened to a friend of mine. He and his wife are trying to have an amicable divorce (although it’s unclear that she understands the meaning of the word “amicable”), handled through arbitrators. They each submitted the proper forms, but because she neglected to put the date on one of them, this triggered the scheduling of a meeting at which both of them had to leave work and be present. I’m still not clear on the reasoning or the efficacy of this, but it sounds like something government agency employees would do to keep themselves gainfully employed until they die, or perhaps longer.
I suspect that if this keeps up, everyone will become as disillusioned with the established political parties as I am, leading to a future when California’s nickname evolves from “the golden state” to “the decline to state.”