KE Cellars

Take a number and we’ll call you when your cancer is Stage 4.

Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, August 28, 2009.

Sometimes these pieces just write themselves. My experience of last Friday is an example.

In the movie “Baby Boom”, a seriously overwrought Diane Keaton pours out her heart to a man she believes to be a doctor, disclosing among other things her deepest fears, her precarious financial situation and her lack of recent sexual release, only to find out that the “doctor” she’s talking to is a veterinarian.

You quickly appreciate from Ms. Keaton’s experience that health care is personal. It’s not about acronyms and arcane language in a bill crafted by legislative aids, vetted by lawyers and administered by bureaucrats. It’s about your life.

It’s personal.

So listen to my story from last Friday and imagine something as personal as your health in the hands of the same people who bring you the driver’s license windows at the Texas Department of Public Safety office here in Tyler.

I walked in to the DPS office last Friday to renew my license, blissfully unaware of the hellscape that was waiting inside. It was a shattering experience.

In order to renew my driver’s license, a process that with the application of some readily available technology could be easily automated, I first had to stand in a ten-minute line.

Ten minutes, Paul? That’s not so bad.

Oh, but wait.

The line I stood in for ten minutes was for the purpose of being issued a number. The purpose of the number was to queue myself in the waiting area.

I’m not making this up. I had to wait in order to be given a number so that I could go wait. In my case, I was given number 83. They were currently serving number 59. I started the timer on my iPhone and one hour, four minutes and 35.1 seconds later, they called my number.

During that time, two of the four windows at which one can transact business with the DPS were inexplicably vacated for extended periods. And at one point, while approximately 60 people waited in the seating area, (after having endured the wait for the numbered slip of paper that afforded them that privilege) it took 19 minutes and 38 seconds to advance from number 75 to number 76.

I, and several others tried, in vain, to seek redress. We were told there were no supervisors available to talk to us. But if any one of us had kicked up the same amount of sand one might have kicked up in a restaurant for comparably poor service, you can bet that a uniformed trooper would have been available to stand with one forearm resting on the butt of his gun and the other resting on his baton to put the complainant in his or her place and to show everyone in the room who’s boss.

The actual renewal of my license took about two minutes but I was told that it will be six to eight weeks before my new license with my picture on it arrives in the mail.

Can you imagine any for-profit enterprise treating customers this way? Even a bad one? And if American Express can replace a lost credit card anywhere in the world in 24 hours, why does it take two months to get a driver’s license sent to you in Texas?

Picture this. Let’s say you’re hungry. You walk in to McDonald’s and you stand in line. When you eventually make it to the head of the line you are issued a number. You are then told to go sit in the waiting area for your number to be called. An hour later, they call your number and then you get to place your order and wait for your food.

Of course, that would never happen. There’s a Burger King caddy-corner across the street.

And therein lies the point.

With respect to getting a driver’s license, you can’t take your business elsewhere. Thus you get to wait.

And when we get the health care plan the administration and the majority of Congress want to pass, you’ll be in the same shape with respect to your health. You’ll get what you’re told you can have when you are told you can have it.

Health care is personal so go have the personal experience. Go to a DPS office and renew your driver’s license. Have the personal experience of needing something that only the government can provide.

Then, tell me where you stand on the question of government-run health care.


  1. Perfect analogy – drivers license renewal to gov run health care. Right on!

  2. Paul,
    I could not agree more!

    One other point that I may make about the Federal Government taking over health care. Go look at any one of the main VA Hospitals and see what our hero’s look like standing (if able to stand) in a line 45 deep to check in and be directed to locations in the hospital for care. It is a crying shame to see these MEN and WOMEN being treated like cattle. Imagine what Mother Francis or Medical Center would be like today if they were ran by the FEDS?
    Just another VA Hospital ran by non motivated government workers.

  3. Paul: Perfect analogy. I have been a CPA for 37 years, and have had extensive experience with many federal, state, and local beaurocracies. I have yet to see one that is efficient at anything.

  4. The great danger to expanding government is that doing so creates more bureaucrats. Once you reach a critical mass of bureaucrats, change becomes virtually impossible. Nigel Hawthorne made a particularly enlightening comment about this phenomenon in his role as civil servant extraordinaire, Sir Humphrey Appleby on the BBC series “Yes Minister”. He said, “”The Foreign Office aren’t there to do things. They’re there to explain why things can’t be done.”

    It’s why every revolution in South America ends up with the identical corrupt government in power. They merely change the leadership. The civil service remains intact and in place. You can’t get rid of them because they are so hardwired into the fabric of a country that if they were to suddenly disappear, we wouldn’t know what to do next.

    Look how much of our time is wasted appeasing bureaucrats. There’s standing in line at the post office, the DMV, preparing IRS forms, sales tax forms, forms your bank makes you fill out because some bureaucrat somewhere tells them you have to. In my year on the TxDOT Public Transportation Advisory Committee, I discovered that much of the paperwork, regulation and headache of getting transportation systems into place is not because someone passed a law, but because some bureaucrat in a tiny office somewhere decided they wanted some paperwork from you in order to justify their existence. And, because they have their ink-stained fingers firmly round your funding or approval for your project, you tamely submit.

    A few years back when the state reduced the bureaucracy for human service related programs from 22 agencies to 5 there was a hew and cry about the land. I went to one of the anti-change meetings and listened. After a while I smelled a rat and asked the speaker who he worked for. He said he represented Citizens for Social Justice or some such organization. I stood up again and said, “No, I mean, who do you work for? Who gives you a paycheck?”

    His answer? The Federal and State Employees Union.

    That’s what I had guessed. The reason we have to stop this expansion of government is that once it happens, we’ll never be able to get rid of all the bureaucrats. Then, if we get all those new bureaucrats, they’ll make us waste even more time waiting in lines and filling out forms instead of doing our jobs.

    I’m about ready to sell everything, buy myself a schooner and become a tramp trader in the islandes. The problem is, I could probably never get all the paperwork done to even get my boat out of port. I’d run off to the mountains, but I probably need a permit. Last time we had a church picnic, we had to reserve the lakeside campground 3 months in advance and leave a large deposit and fill out an environmental impact statement, insurance release, show proof of liability and proof of financial responsibility. I’m probably exaggerating, but not by much.

    The only thing they didn’t ask for was proof of citizenship. That one I might have understood…

    Tom King
    Flint, TX

    P.S. Also you might be interested in one more gem from Sir Humphrey on health care strategy in Britain:

    “Yes, but we’ve been into that. It has been shown that if those extra one hundred thousand people had lived to a ripe old age that they would have cost us even more in pensions and social security, than they did in medical treatment. So financially speaking it is unquestionably better that they continue to die at the present rate.”

Leave a Reply