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Roger’s Rules

The DMV as an Allegory of American Decadence

June 22nd, 2013 - 7:03 am

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I suppose that nearly every adult (I’ll come back to that “nearly”) has his DMV story. The endless lines, the surly clerks, the insufferable atmosphere of bureaucratic imperiousness.

My latest encounter with the DMV was just the other day when I went to renew my driver’s license. I looked up our local emporium on the internet and read that Tuesday and Friday mornings tended to be the least busy times. Hot dog: It was Friday morning right now!

The elaborate communication I received in the mail from the DMV worried me a little. No longer was renewing your license simply, you know, renewing your license: handing in the one about to expire and getting a new one. That’s so yesterday. Now, because of “new federal guidelines,” you had a choice.  You could opt for a “regular renewal,” which was like renewals of yore, except that your license wouldn’t count as a form of identification for such things as domestic flights.  Or you could opt for a “verified renewal,” in which case it would serve as a form of identification. “I’ll take one ‘verified,’ straight-up, please.”

Not so fast. The process of verification is a process indeed. You needed a passport or some other certifiable form of identification. You needed 2 (two) pieces of mail addressed to you at your home address, and such addresses had to be computer generated, i.e., not handwritten or typed.  You also needed — pay attention now — your Social Security card. Failing that, I later discovered, a copy of your W2 or a 1099 IRS would do.

You know the old adage, “Haste makes waste.” Guess what? It’s true. I scurried down to the DMV yesterday morning. I had my current license. I had my passport. I had 2 (two) utility bills addressed to me. I did not have my Social Security card (do you?) nor, cutting to the chase, did I have a copy of my W2 or any 1099 forms. In my haste, I skimmed right over that requirement. I would have thought that a current license, a passport, and two pieces of mail addressed to me would go pretty far in “verifying” that the R. Kimball in front of you was, in fact, the R. Kimball he said he was.

You can see how this ends.  This being Friday morning, a light-traffic day at the DMV, I stood in the information line for only about 1 hour.  Everybody has to stand in the information line. It’s there, I think, just to soften you up. When you get to the front, a bureaucrat asks you what you want and then gives you a number. This number entitles you to move to another part of the room and sit down to wait for a different bureaucrat who will actually act on your request. That was another hour.

So: two hours on a lovely summer morning, summer solstice, in fact, the longest day of the year, which was nice, because more than two hours of it were devoted to waiting at the DMV.  When my number was finally called, I zipped up to the window, smiled, and asked for one renewed license, verified, hold the olives.

Ha ha ha.

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Top Rated Comments   
My experiences with government functionaries have been consistently positive and, at 46, I know where my social security card is.

But to your real point, these things are inevitable when the people making the laws don't have to follow the law, when the people who write the regulations have never had to comply with the regulations. What we've lost, to our detriment, is the concept of the citizen legslator, of equality before the law.

And why do we have to show an ID to fly domestically? Travel is a right and my use of a plane is the business of me and the airline and nobody else.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (45)
All Comments   (45)
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Bravo Roger. No need to theorize about it - a bureaucracy in which the means are the end and the process the punishment, is invariably one from a failed or failing state, or at least a state where the executive is in a condition of permanent disarray - think India or Italy. How ineffably sad that this can happen in the US.
That said, I guess the idea is a response to the deadly threats the country faces.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have needed to produce my social security card everytime I got a job. While the passport is SUPPOSED to be good, tiny little offices don't know what to do with it. BTW, you shouldn't keep your social security card in your wallet, in case it gets stolen. Keep it in a safe place, with other important papers, and only get it out when it is needed.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
My thought is that this definitely makes getting a ‘federally acceptable’ ID a challenge for MANY people, and just feeds into the progressive trope about how DIFFICULT it is for the poor and barely franchised to get ID’s to use to vote!” How clever! Make it harder and harder to get ID’s so it supports your claim about why people shouldn’t have to need ID’s to vote.

It reminds me of the trick of shooting the arrow, and then painting the bullseye around it.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tell my why the state needs to license drivers? Test drivers as a safety initiation at the first application to drive; yes. Thereafter whenever some safety criteria are breached. But lice sure and regular renewal? A license is a permit to do what otherwise would be illegal. How is driving and traveling in and of itself illegal?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since the DL is the universal identification in this country then I want to make sure that everyone who has one is entitled to all it implies. I have lived in the SW most of my life, and I YEARN for the day that illegals can't take a simple test and have the DMV take them for their word that they are who they say they are.

And my state has come up with a solution for the multi-hour wait: private competition. We have the old fashioned DMVs, but we also have full service private companies that can do anything on behalf of the DMV and then they charge a fee (typically ~$10). Most of them guarantee 15 minutes or less and their people are friendly and helpful.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I went thru the same thing last Friday but with regard to getting my concealed carry license. It seems the only people who suffer and get abused by the system are the law-abiding taxpayers.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Roger, dont mean to rub it in, or be a lacky for the state, but in Texas, I actually renewed my license BY MAIL.....
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
In Alaska you have to personally appear to renew a license and take the eye test at every renewal once you're over 60 or 65, but you can do pretty much everything else online except get the initial registration or title. I've renewed registrations, gotten new tags, ordered ego plates, etc. all online.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
It took me over two months to actually look at my driver's license closely and see that my full middle name was spelled wrong. By the DMV as it turns out, not by myself. I brought this up the next renewal period and was told that a full sheath of forms, thirty-five U.S. dollars and 90 days would be needed to sort that out. So I left it at that to look like a bint on my official identification to this day.....'>.......
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's Colonel Olds, not Odds.

I am aware that the Civil War ended in 1865.

"For what it's worth, I don't recall the eventual outcome of this situation; any number of things could have happened. But having to acquire sufficient storage for two new copies of each existing record and the existing records themselves is obviously massively counterproductive to the needs of the requesting organization."

How do you know what was sufficient?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I just renewed my license last week. Surprisingly, I actually had all the requisite documents. I still have the original, stamped with a seal birth certificate my parents obtained when I was born (those people never threw anything away.) I got married about 5 years ago, so I had my marriage license and social security card. If you were MRS. Kimball you would have been required to bring your marriage license as well to show your name change! I was actually surprised that I was in and out in about an hour on a Saturday morning. That's about as efficient as my county government ever gets.

I do have one sincere question: other states are busy passing laws to allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. What's going to happen to them when all the states are required to adhere to these regulations?

I know this procedure is a hassle. I'm uneasy about the government obtaining all of this information (my husband is kicking himself for using his Visa bill when he renewed his license as it is now scanned into "the system.") But a driver's license is our de facto government ID card. Most of us do not have passports. With terrorism, illegal immigration and identity theft all being serious problems in our country, this new requirement is an attempt to curtail all 3.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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