Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Adventures in pointless paperwork

When the oil money started to pour in from the Trans-Alaska Pipeline at the end of the seventies, there was a spirited public debate over the best way to spend it. There were some good decisions and some bad decisions. One of the best was to create a rainy day account which we named the Permanent Fund. Under the law, 25% of the state's oil revenue goes into the account. According to a complex formula, a certain amount is paid out in dividends to all the permanent residents of the state.

Since I've been back for almost two years, I'm entitled to a dividend this year. The deadline for filing the paperwork was back in February. The checks start going out in three weeks. Naturally, the Permanent Fund has waited till now to let me know they want more documentation. They have records of me from when I lived here in the seventies and eighties. They want me to prove that I'm that guy. I've already given them my birth date, Social Security number, and Alaska driver's license number. Now they want a birth certificate.

I go to the California Department of Vital Statistics where I find out it will take me over six months to get one. A helpful note tells me that it might be faster for me to go to the county registrar's office. I go to the County of Los Angeles' registrar's office where I find out it costs $28, it could take up to three weeks, and they don't take payments over the internet. They do, however, work with a third party vendor who will take my payment and make my request for me. I go to VitalCheck where I fill out the forms and find out it will cost me $6 more. Oh, and I need to prove who I am first.

Monday was a bank holiday. This morning I trotted down to my bank, found the clerk with the notary stamp, and had him attest that I am who I say I am. Of course, I had to prove that to him first. How did I do that? I showed him the driver's license issued to me by the state of Alaska. Back home, I scanned the signed and stamped form and sent it to VitalCheck. They'll look it over and send it to the County of Los Angeles. They'll look it over and send me my birth certificate. Since the clock is running out, I asked for the overnight mail which will cost me $26.50 more.

To sum up: The State of Alaska wants me to prove I am who I say I am. To do that, I'm spending $60.50 to have a piece of ID, issued to me by the State of Alaska, shipped down and up the West Coast. There is a fair chance that I'll miss the deadline. And it's completely pointless. Not only am I wasting time and money to tell one part of the state about a piece of ID issued by another part of the state that I already told them about, none of this proves that I'm that baby that was born in California. And, whether I am or am not that baby is irrelevant to the requirements of the Permanent Fund law. They need to know whether I met Alaska residency requirements for all of 2014. They're still just taking my word for that.

Now, I'm going to have a salami sandwich. It's the only way I could think of to end this on an up note.

1 comment:

Gav said...

You might check out the story of Lal Bihari if you've got time.