Monday, March 15, 2010

Use Your Elected Officials to Cut Through the Bureaucracy

Friends of mine recently told me they were having problems getting to talk to an actual person at Social Security and Medicare. Both programs have so many complicated aspects to them that you need an advanced degree to just figure out your choices. I really don't know how people with limited literacy manage at all.

In any event, I advised my friends to contact their member of Congress if the problems continued.

Sure enough, I got an email from them saying, "Thank you, thank you!"

I was gratified, but not surprised that the strategy had worked to equalize their relationship with the agency in question. Using your elected officials to get help with consumer problems that involve government programs and bureaucrats is almost a sure-fire way to move your problem to the top of the pile. Politicians rely on serving their constituents to build good will that will get them re-elected. At all levels, local to national, they employ staff members whose main job is to provide assistance to people who live in their district.

So, for example, at the state level you might be having trouble with an insurance company. Insurance companies are regulated by the states, so you should contact your state representatives. Maybe your local roads are in bad shape, or you see a really dangerous hazard. Just determine if it's a state, county or town road, and call the appropriate politician.

This works a lot better than contacting the bureaucrat at a highway department who will likely just throw your complaint into the pile. When such a person gets a call from a state elected official or a town council member, their attitude changes; suddenly your problem rises to the top.

But if you're not sure if your problem is related to the federal government, state, or some locality, don't let that stop you. Contact any of your elected politicians, and if the problem isn't in their jurisdiction, they'll refer you to the correct one.

Most of us constantly complain about how much we pay in taxes. Well, this is one sure-fire way to get some bang for your buck and equalize your power. Use your elected officials. Trust me, they're happy to hear from you.