Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Government IV: The People, Bye The People

So.  There was a State of the Union address last night.  Did you watch it?  I did not.  I've made it a goal in my life to avoid as many State of the Union (or SOTU, as the kids call them) addresses as possible.  By and large, they are worthless.  They are dull, elongated diatribes full of empty affirmations and vapid reassurances broken up only by the excessive and excruciating pause lines.  I've watched dog shows as well and the only functional difference between the two is that I've rarely found myself saying, "Awwwwww.  Look at that cutey face!" during a SOTU address.

Whose a big pwesident?  Whose a big pwesident?  You are!  Yes you are!
Today, our office also tried to place an order for some laptops.  To see how these two matters are related... infuriatingly, ridiculously related, continue reading after the jump.

First, the State of the Union.  Let me summarize it up for you:  It's fucked.  There, I just saved you, like, two hours of your life.  Really, how great would that be if some president just came up for the address, stood on stage, waited for the applause to die down then went "We're screwed.  Good night everybody!"  But I digress.  The State of the Union is, and really, always has been, the greatest exercise in political masturbation there is.

At least since this guy left office.  That's right, a Clinton sex joke.  Can't find that cunning humor anywhere on the internet but here.
First, I know this may be shocking to you, but most Americans don't watch it in the first place.  And, of those that do, most people just sort of turn it on because they think their kids should watch it or because it fucked up the night's programming or whatever.  I'm too lazy to look up the actual numbers but, it's safe to say, the number of Americans who watched the whole thing and actually cared or paid attention to it are few.  I know, blasphemy.  You, after all, are an enlightened elector, a member of the politically active.  Quick, tell me anything said of significance in any SOTU address from any prior president.  Go for it.

I realize there are a small number of my readers shouting factoids at their computer monitors like a real life Tracy Flick.  I also realize there are a small number of my readers who are throwing feces at their monitors.  These are the outliers.  Most of you have no answer to that question.  Guess what those Americans who didn't watch or pay attention to the SOTU have that you don't?  Two hours of their lives.

Well.... some of them did.  Others made their own moronic viewing choices.
The SOTU is all about a bunch of politicians throwing words at each other while political junkies sit at home and touch themselves.  It accomplishes nothing, it makes no difference to anyone, and it costs a lot of time and money to put on each year.

So then, after dodging this exercise in futility, I come into my office this morning to discover, low and behold, that the laptops that we wanted to buy are not up to our "Internal City Standards."  See, for those of you that didn't know or may have forgotten, I ostensibly work for the government, a painful fact I am reminded of every day.  And, as a side project to my normal job of putting criminals back on the streets, I was tasked with researching and presenting a list of notebooks for our office to spend what is left of our meager budget on.  Myself and Ryan, my coworker, found three such notebooks, all under six hundred dollars, from our vendors.  Of course, our "vendors" is a list of retail companies who give the city a kickback to force a monopoly in our purchasing practices.

File photo of vendor
It's bad enough we have to elect to shell out $600 for a laptop I can find elsewhere for five.  I'll take that as the cost of doing business.  But then, low and behold, we can't even get that laptop because of these "standards."  "What are these 'standards?'" you might ask.  Good fucking question.  No one bothered to tell us.  Our IT department just has these "standards" that need to be followed.  "How then" you ask, your voice tinged with incredulity, "can you be expected to follow them?"  Well, I'm glad you asked... mostly because it gives me reason to keep writing.  Wait.  I'm not paid by the word.  Goddammit, stop asking questions.  Can't you see I'm a busy man?

Oh, right.  The stupid fucking IT department.  Well, in order for use to meet our standards, the department recommended we purchase one of their pre-approved laptops.  They gave us a choice of two.  Guess how much they cost.  Go on guess.

Did you guess $1300?  Because if you did, then you should apply for a job in government management!  $1300.  Each.  I just.  There aren't words.

I wanted to emphasize the outrageousness of it with a gold-plated laptop picture, but the only ones they make are Apples.  I'm now paralyzed with all the other jokes I can make.  It's best if we just move on...
Government.  This is where the Teabaggers are coming from.  What do the SOTU address and my struggles with trying to not waste taxpayer money have to do with one another?  Simple, government just loves government.  Just as all the politicos sat around embracing one another last night, so does bureaucracy thrive by constant back-patting.  I can't afford a decent laptop because our higher ups want their kickbacks and then IT wants to feel like they have power so they add on regulations without any sense or explanation that the powers-that-be lap up so they can increase the kickbacks.  It's a vicious circle.  And this is common, laptops are hardly the first time I've found that we are buying things at exorbitant prices.

If you think the government spending $1300 on a laptop is bad.  Ask yourself this:  How much was the catering for the SOTU dinner?

1 comment:

  1. While I worked at the University the vendor was Gateway (clearly it isn't anymore). But that actually got us discounts. Gateway, Dell, etc had to bid to get the University contract and that resulted in cheaper computers for us.

    Of course, we got screwed over when they went out of business and we couldn't enforce our warranties anymore, but that is a different issue. That could have screwed us even if we didn't have a contract to buy computers from any one vendor.