When you let government take over services with its disconnected system of departments, you get massive problems like this that can ruin people’s lives and close the doors to self-determination.
It all began recently, as I was doing research in attempt to get my driver’s license. It’s been over a year and every month or so I spend a day digging into info online, furiously googling, calling and texting friends and calling DMVs to see if I’ll ever get my license.
If you don’t know a driver over 21 with a car, the availability and willingness to help, then you’ll be stuck with spending $800-$1400 for the lessons and process.
If you get passed this initial gauntlet, in Minnesota alone, it is extremely hard to schedule a road test. It’s really important to NOT schedule any practice until you have a guaranteed date for a road test. Road tests can be scheduled a maximum of 60 days in advance, so for the next 60 days:
– There are 17 of 97 locations with 1-3 appointments.
– There are 25 total appointments for the entire state.
– The average location has 1 appointment.
– The average location is a 3.5 hour drive from the Twin Cities
– The closest locations to the cities: Rochester (1.5 hours), Olivia (2 hours), and St. James (2.25 hours)
– There are NO appointments available within the Twin Cities Loop. This includes the suburbs and accounts for 3.3 million people, almost 60% of the state’s population.
The deeper issue is the massive dysfunction of the ID and licensing system of Minnesota. If you lose one or more of your ID documents such as photo ID, SSN card, or birth certificate, or in many cases, never get one, you will have to go through 6-12 months of absolute hell in Minnesota to get the situation fixed.
First of all, if you don’t have a photo ID, you need an SSN card to get a birth certificate, and a birth certificate to get an SSN card. If you lose both of those but have a photo ID, there are some alternate documents that can help resolve this paradox, but most of them are obscure except maybe a passport.
Most of the government buildings for Ramsey county are in downtown St. Paul literally within a 3 block radius, all clustered together. Most of these buildings have NO labels or titles outside of their building to clarify what it’s for. Even buildings properly labeled are generic and it’s hard to know where to go- whether it’s a courthouse, county, or department of [insert whatever]. Worse yet, the addresses and phone numbers online are inconsistent, false, and lead nowhere.
That being said, let’s say the government can’t find your birth certificate. You could try to call the hospital if you know which one, but if not, it’s almost impossible to figure out who to talk to, who works for what department, that can get you a copy of your birth certificate. If it can’t be found, there’s a lengthy application process and you need some form of government ID to apply to have it researched. It costs about $26-$65 and you have to mail it or drop it off in person. If that gets lost and contains original certified documents, you’ll have to start over again.
On top of that, It’s so easy to fill out the applications wrong. I filled out the application for a legal name change wrong 15 times, including the last 4 times with the help of staff. They had to staple new documentation to the main application, cross out certain sections, and have me use special legal wording for both parts of this frankensteined document. And it had to be notarized as I signed. And I needed two forms of ID.
If you need an SSN card, make sure you have as many legal, official, certified documents as possible with you, and show up to the Social Security Office in Minneapolis two hours before they open (7AM). Pack breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment, but leave your weed and guns at home. You’ll likely spend all day waiting.
Long lines of people get turned away from the SS office every day of the week. Most government buildings are open 8-5 or 9-5 weekdays at most, which means thousands of people take off work and lose money, $30, $50, $100, just to be turned away. Some people can’t plan to arrive at the Social Security office at 7AM and stay all day.
Now imagine your house burns down from some faulty electrical wiring, a bad storm, or some other accident. You lose all your documents, and your landlord is under an expensive and heavy burden of temporarily housing you while everything is repaired. Many landlords can’t afford to fix this situation fast enough, and worse, if you have a bad landlord you could be blamed for the fire. And even if you light some candles and make a bad decision, this one bad decision, that could be worked out in conflict mediation with a payment plan, can instead turn into a life disaster.
The hardship and trauma caused by this can easily cause a person to lose their job on top of it all. Whatever order it happens in, losing one thing leads to losing all of it, and most of it is caused by intrusive government regulations, fines, taxes, and severe dysfunction.
The system of licensing and IDs in Minnesota takes so much money and so long to navigate, that many people in dire, dangerous, and destitute situations simply end up stuck almost permanently.
What saves their lives are local charities, community organizations, and businesses, some of which are the most heroic and skilled people dedicated to authentic empowerment. But not every organization is immune to corrupt, authoritarian or abusive practices. And most of these service providers are flooded with people, unable to keep up, especially since the housing crisis exploded in January 2017.
If you lose any ID documents, the process for getting these documents back is so convoluted and obscure that most government workers in these departments get the process wrong and keep you running in circles doing nothing of real value. For those who are sick in desperate need of ID to properly get their medication or medical care, to get mental health support, to get a job to afford their bills, to get housing, those people don’t have much time. They need a fast and immediate path to getting their ID process taken care of. And sadly, the government is both vast and wasteful here.
Most of the jobs created and searching that would be fantastic and well-paying opportunities for people in need, require a license at least, if not a car plus insurance. In the near future, it will become evident that employers need to provide driver’s license services as part of their training. And more people need to offer independent practice, such as Uber and Lyft drivers. You could make so much money and save the client hundreds of dollars even charging $40 or $50/hour.
If I ever get to the point of actually getting my license, and to the point of being able to tolerate owning a car, I’m definitely using it to provide driving lessons. Young people with the opportunity to get good jobs this way will dramatically benefit from cheaper lessons, that might actually be affordable.
Until then, it looks like nothing will change with this disastrous system. It’s likely only going to get worse. Exposing these problems to the light of day can help continue to wake people up to the harsh realities of the government. It’s the definition of dysfunction, violence, and willful ignorance.
By the time you get to politics, you’re desperate. Choose better. See things as they are, and strive to be independent and actually helpful in your community.