Talk about a bureaucratic nightmare.
Stacy Harp, who hosts Bible News Radio with her husband, Randall Harp, is just trying to transfer the Social Security payments for her father, Clayton Perrotte, from Florida to Tennessee.
Sounds pretty straight-forward - yes?
Well get this: Harp can't get it done. Because somewhere along the line, somewhere in the rifling of Perrotte's records in 1987, somebody checked the wrong box on his file and viola, his male gender was mistakenly changed to female. Now, before she can become her father's representative payee - before she can even file the documentation needed for that - Harp has to first prove her father's gender.
This is not an easy feat.
In fact, as Harp put it to me, the entire process has been "insane."
In the eyes of the government, Harp's dad is now a she. But even though he's not - even though factually speaking, biologically speaking, he's still a he - the Big Bureaucrats in the Sky have noted in their files otherwise. And as anyone who's ever had to correct a government mistake knows, it takes the might of mountains, the thunder of God, the patience of ten Jobs and the good luck of a thousand leprechauns to bring about a change.
It'd almost be easier for Harp to start calling her dad "mom."
What's most maddening is the government authorities admit they made a mistake, yet are still sending Harp and her dad to jump the hoops to get it fixed.
Government: Can't live with it. Can't shoot it.
Here's what Harp told me, about her father's dilemma: "They changed my dad's gender and in order for me to even get the paperwork I need to get filed [for his Social Security change of address], I have to prove his gender."
Apparently, photographs aren't proof enough. Harp knows; she's already tried. Rather, she has to offer up some medical records.
"I actually showed them a picture of my dad. It's insane," she said.
But what's maybe even more insane is this - and it should serve as a stark warning for others about to venture down the rabbit hole of government dealings.
Look at this, from Harp: "The guy [at Social Security] told me this is a very common error. ... It wasn't that hard to get the medical information to prove my dad's a man, but still, it's pretty freaking ridiculous that I have to do that when all the evidence is my dad is a guy and the [error] is completely their fault. It's insane, absolutely insane."
Granted. But more than that: it's government. It's government unconcerned with the commonplace nature of its own errors.
It's big, bloated, bureaucratic government filled with big, bloated, bureaucratic rules and regulations that do nothing for the taxpayer - the customer, the employer. Worse is government knows this, admits this, and yet shrugs and resigns itself to subpar service.
"It's a common error," the guy said to Harp and her dad.
Does anybody else see this as egregious - and offensive? This is a government that's supposed to work for us, remember - a government of, by and for the people.
In the free market, such shirking of responsibilities, such cavalier admission of failure, would spark an out-of-business sign. But in government? That's just how business is run.
This is not only unacceptable. It's a real-life example of the dire need to reel in government, cut unnecessary regulations, and instill some common sense training among staffers - starting with the recognition that American citizens are the bosses and ought not be sent by their public servants to jump hoops for tasks that should be quick and easy.