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Government's Paperwork Reduction Act revisited
The Back Forty
Roger Pond
This is a bad time of year for me. I’ve spent most of a month deciphering records and filling out forms.

I don’t know why this takes so long. The Paperwork Reduction Act says we should be able to do these things in a matter of minutes.

Readers may recall the Paperwork Reduction Act was the Reagan Ad-ministration’s answer to the bureaucratic paperwork that has been foisted upon businesses and individuals. The end result was a note on each government form stating: “Paperwork Reduction Act notice: The time needed to fill out this form will vary depending upon individual circumstances.

“The estimated average is three minutes. If you have comments concerning the accuracy of this time estimate or suggestions for making this form simpler, we would be happy to hear from you.”

You bet I have comments – many of which wouldn’t fit into a family newspaper.

Thoughts like: You people must be out of your minds. It takes me three minutes just to find a pencil. If it only takes three minutes, how about I send in my records, and you fill out the forms?

Or: I gave your form to my dog. It took him two minutes to eat it and two days to process it.

I don’t know what Congress was thinking when they passed the Paperwork Reduction Act. Agencies just created more paperwork and printed that little joke on their forms.

A better method of paperwork reduction was discovered a few years ago by some folks in New Hampshire.

These people were forced to file an extension for their tax return because their goats got into the house and ate their records while they were on vacation. (The people were on vacation, not the goats.)

Besides the tax records, the goats ate a lampshade and the toilet bowl cleaner.

Several rooms were repainted, but the goats were doing fine, the last I heard.

These folks must have felt like parents who go away and leave their teenagers at home. There’s been a lot of talk in Congress about getting rid of the IRS and all its tax forms. I don’t think anything will come of it, though; they’ve been saying that for a long time.

Besides, we still have the fairest tax system in the world. That’s what one of our postmasters used to tell folks who complained about taxes when they mailed their forms on April 15.

“Just remember,” he said. “There are billions of people in the world who would love to pay taxes in this country.”

A lot of folks wanted to jump over the counter and get him for that, but he was right.

It would be hard to find a better country in which to live.

I guess I’ll just fill out the forms and save the griping. If I run out of time, I know where I can find a bunch of goats.

3/14/2007