Archive for September, 2019

Paper, Paper, Everywhere!


I am staring at a pile of assorted documents, and I’m confused. Am I supposed to read and retain the information in this 29-page Important Notice Pertaining to Changes in Your Homeowner’s Policy? Am I really required to hold onto the fifth 10-page Claims Report I’ve received from my health insurer this month? Or the eight pages of mumbo jumbo stapled to the prescription I’ve been taking for the past twenty years? I mean, is someone monitoring me? (There is that little camera lens implanted in the frame of my computer screen . . . )

In last week’s mail, I got a 22-page Summary Plan Description from the Star Tribune Media Company. I worked for the Strib for seven years in the early 90s. I get a whopping $38.15 monthly pension from them now. It hardly seems worth the ink and postage to provide all this material to ‘lil ol’ me, since I can’t decipher it anyway. (Not absolutely sure, but I’m thinking it may be written in Hungarian?)

Yes, I know. I enthusiastically chose to return to the land of 10,000 government regulations; the reach of this State’s intrusion into the lives of its citizenry is numbing to contemplate. And yes, I know. This degree of oversight generates miles of Required Disclosures for the brave corporations who choose to wade through it all. But even techno-idiot that I am, I check my email daily. Think of the savings in paper pulp and postage if all this stuff at least got delivered to me electronically instead.

But apparently that’s not an option. So the same government that nags us incessantly about conserving natural resources also issues so many mandates that businesses have to sacrifice a tree branch or two issuing the requisite Important Notices. Ironic, isn’t it?

The seeds for all this ranting were sowed in my brain last March. You can thank the IRS for planting them. That’s probably all you can thank the IRS for, but—another subject, another day.

Not having done taxes for a while, I was horrified when I sat down to report the October 2018 sale of my Texas house. I have a college education. I read a lot, with a good level of comprehension. I do much of my communicating using the written word. But the “written words” in those hundreds of pages of Federal Income Tax Instructions might as well have been Sanskrit.

What does this mammoth agency have against the simple declarative sentence? I asked the cat. (He doesn’t know either, by the way.)

With infuriating frequency, form 1040A directed me to supplemental booklets, appended worksheets, and related schedules. Each time, I reached out to a patient acquaintance who deals with this institutional insanity regularly. She doesn’t speak governmentese, but she understands it. Without her, I would have been sunk.

I would love to spout on a bit longer about this, but today’s mail included an 11-page questionnaire to fill out before I see a new doctor next week. Based on previous experience, I’d better get started on it now.

September 13, 2019 at 11:57 pm 1 comment

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