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Monday, April 7, 2014

Give Me Government That Cares

It is no surprise to most who would read this blog that I am currently unemployed. Or…“retired” in the words of my former employer. Either way, the fact is that I am looking for my next assignment.

That being said, I filed for unemployment benefits last December, which I have (sporadically) been receiving. There is good news on this front. The state of Illinois makes it convenient to sign up via the web, thus avoiding the lines at unemployment offices and needless trips to turn in paperwork.

The not-so-good news is that it can be frustrating and complicated at times working through the web-related process. Sometimes the log in to the site does not work. Questions asked do not always give options for answers that might fit. But these are minor. Except for one thing. (There may be more.)

A checkbox in the bi-weekly form asks if you’ve applied to receive any pension benefits. Recently I did. So I clicked “yes.” No follow-up question appeared. Two days later, the day we would expect a benefit deposit...nothing. Instead, a form is sent indicating “your case is being investigated.” Oh, great.

This also generated a phone call explaining that I needed to submit some paperwork. Of course. AND…an appointment had been set up to discuss my case. Understandable. Except…no payments would be made until this was resolved.

Basically, if you receive a pension amount greater than what you are entitled to receive in unemployment funds, you get nothing. If your pension is less than your unemployment benefit, you get that deducted. TOTALLY understandable.

Here’s the problem. For those people who have little to live on, these delays in payments create unnecessary pain and suffering. I am not in that situation. But I FEEL their pain and frustration in a program that cannot give you answers and resolution in a timely fashion.

In my situation, another letter was generated explaining my case had been resolved and I would be receiving a reduced amount. But when? What about the weeks nothing came? No word of that in my letter. No answer readily available. Like most government systems, it’s….complicated.

On the other side of this ledger, there are the tax software companies. They take what may be the most complex of organizational systems — the U.S. Tax Code — and make it EASY to complete taxes because they ask the right questions to get you the immediate answers you need. And they deliver the right results. This is because they are driven to perform for a profit! They care…because they MUST CARE.

The Bible is not silent on this issue. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” We find that in Proverbs 22:29. Developing a skill in truly serving others requires that we pursue excellence in any and all of our work. Our “profit motive” should always be to please God rather than man alone.

Okay. I’m off my soapbox. For now. And, besides, I need to go check my mailbox ...

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