I spent the day knitting today -- well, knitting while I waited to get my car's safety inspection and 30,000 mile service done and then while waiting my turn at our our illustrious Missouri Department of Revenue privately owned satellite license renewal place.
I've blogged about this before (I'll link up when I look back through the archives), but for the uninitiated, here it is in a nutshell. Our then new governor, Matt Blunt, promised in his inaugural address that he would save Missourians' money. That he'd trim our state budget and cut taxes through the privatization of several state services
ripe for the picking er that would be a good match for privatization. One of which was Medicaid -- but that's another entry. Another was privatizing the state run Department of Revenue offices. He did so. Come to find out that employees, while often remaining employed, lost state pensions and healthcare -- cha-ching! Savings! And that the "firm" chosen to run the "satellite offices" in the St. Louis area is headed up by a man who contributed substantially to the Blunt campaign. Ok. Whatever. I get cronyism and that you reward supporters with cushy state jobs like Lieutenant Governor and International Business Connection/Junkett guy, etc. But this guy? According to the Post Dispatch, as of this time last year, had made $2 million off of the fees charged to ... wait for it ... Missourians by these offices. See, here's the rub. Governor Blunt meant to say he was saving the State of Missouri money, not Missourians. Because we now pay a fee over and above the state fees for the privilege of doing business with Mr. Crony. As if we have a choice! Nice Sleight of Hand, Governor! The state coffers look lots better, but the coffers of Missourians? Not so much.
Fast forward to today. After I wait an hour to renew my plates (yeah, I know, I'm a day late and so was everyone else in the place but April can't be the only month full of slackers so why don't they have more people in the dang place at the end and beginning of the month for pete's sake -- there was almost a riot when a Bosnian lady needed to ask a question before she waited in the line!), I write my check and collect my paperwork and get ready to leave. I look at the charges and stop dead in my tracks.
I have a charge of $5 for being a day late. Totally fine. My fault. I didn't leave enough time in the school day yesterday to wait in the last-day-of-the-month lines. Then I see that my "handling fee" isn't $5 like usual, it's $7. I ask the lady why it's more, whether the rates have gone up and she says, face straight as an arrow, "You renewed for two years."
Oh, great, I think -- saved three dollars and waiting in this line again in a year -- yeehaw. Then I think some more... Wait a second! How come they are charging me a fee now for doing nothing for me next year? Like, is the 09 sticker somehow more expensive to produce than the 08 one? Did I undergo more extensive emissions testing to earn a two-year sticker and so owe more? Nope. Did I get better service in their new slapped together office with fewer people working in it and no public bathrooms? No. It's just the way of things. They gotta get you coming and going. So there.
And my panties are in a bunch again. I need to cut down on the coffee.