In regard to the federal government, under the name united states forest service, the incident that i relate is true. The problem is that the fed gov treats all of us local yokels as local yokels. In coming up with new means of taking our money without earning it and disrespecting us at the same time. The only means to deal is to declare sovereignty - to yourself and keep pretending to play the game until it collapses later this summer.
I went in to purchase an annual Northwest Forest Pass. The pass costs $30 and is for parking privelege at the developed campsites. It is a tax on the locals to use their own land, which has been claimed by los federales - 53% of the land in our local county is 'federally owned', even though the constitution prohibits federal land ownership except for post offices and fortresses. Since I run the county as a member of the local watershed council, I play voluntarily - most locals blow it off and park on the road sides. USFS lets it go and only tickets in the camp ground - selective enforcement on those who choose to park close to their campsite.
So during the fourth of july week, i went camping. I didn't have this years pass yet, so when joe forest ranger came buy, i payed the $5 day use rate for two days, with the caveat that i could offset the cost against the forest pass cost. When i went to the local USFS office on Friday to buy my pass, the person at the desk would not accept the receipt as partial payment. He insisted on calling an unnamed supervisor who said there was no mechanism for acceptance and that i had to pay the full cost. This took about 10 minutes and was not an acceptible answer.
After discussing the problem, i suggested he take the money and receipt that i offered and stop harassing me and let me get on with my day. This public servant immediately took offense and denied the harassment. At that pint, i asked for a friend that is a higher level supervisor in the office. She and i talked for half an hour and the net effect was that she would take care of the problem on my terms. We returned to the front desk where the public interacts, from behind the locked cage where the USFS employees hide.
The person at the desk was on the phone giving directions to an apparently clueless caller. My friend and i stood waiting as this conversation progressed for more that five minutes. The obvious disregard for my time was apparent - when somebody is standing in your office, you excuse yourself to a caller and deal with the customer present. Except when you are a government employee, i guess. I told my friend that if she wasn't there, i would have walked out without the pass and just made life miserable for anyone that tried to enforce a pass on me. But because of her courtesy, i would wait. I got my pass, but i lost a work hour on a Friday morning for nothing much - although i did score a good conversation with an old friend.
The problem here is that as a consultant, Dr. Lenny makes over $100 an hour, at times. The fed-gov should have to pay us for our time, if they insist on wasting it in such a ridiculous manner. To have a rude employee at the front desk dealing with the public is absurd. But this is the same forest circus offic that said they didn't need local partnerships and would do things unilaterally on their own after the local watershed council didn't approve one of their projects. Five years of solid partnership building went to waste with that snide public comment - i doubt the Forest Service will ever get another proposal through the process. Locals are like elephants - we never forget.
I could get into the USFS fire strategy - which ensures loss of many acres - but i will save it for another blog. Note added - Randal O'Toole at Cato took this on recently!