Thomas Knapp: No, President Biden, We’re Not Your ‘Customers’

“Today,” the White House announced on December 13,  “the President is taking decisive action to promote fiscal stewardship by improving the Government’s service delivery to its customers, the American people.” Joe Biden’s latest executive order “includes 36 customer experience (CX) improvement commitments across 17 Federal agencies.”

Portraying government as a business and you as its “customer” ranks right up there with “the consent of the governed” on the list of fictions contrived to confer “legitimacy” on an institution that does its best to run every aspect of your life, at your expense, whether you consent or not.

Let’s have a look at some of the “customer experience improvements” on offer in the new executive order.

First up, the Internal Revenue Service. Income tax filers, we’re told, “will save time by having the option to schedule customer support call-backs,” and get “new online tools and services to ease the payment of taxes.”

The IRS isn’t a store selling you a product or service. It’s a protection racket that takes money from you whether you care to “do business” with it or not, on pain of fine or imprisonment for declining. If this is “customer service,” so is a mugger assisting you in getting your wallet out of your pants pocket.

How about the State Department? “Americans will be able to renew their passports securely online, saving time from having to wait and the effort and cost required to print, go to a post office, and use a paper check.”

You’re required to beg the government for permission to travel, and fork over a bribe to get that permission, but hey, now you can beg and pay (the second time, anyway) online! Wow, what a deal!

Some of these “customer service improvements” do run in the other direction,  making it easier to request access to some of the money taken from you over the years with or without your consent.

For example, online tools for collecting Social Security benefits that come nowhere close to the return an indexed mutual fund would have provided had you been permitted to choose your own retirement plan. You’re not Social Security’s “customer.” Customers get to choose with whom they do business with and on what terms.

Some of these “customer service improvements” may be real experiential improvements for you over previous methods, but they don’t magically make you into a “customer.” They  just make government’s constant victimization less unpleasant.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

 

2 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp: No, President Biden, We’re Not Your ‘Customers’

  1. Andy

    It is funny, but I have had times when I was gathering petition signatures outside of a government building, such as a drivers license/motor vehicle license building, where an employee or cop came out and said that by asking people to sign petitions outside the entrances there that I was disturbing or harassing their “customers”. I pointed out how ridiculous this was because, 1) asking somebody to sign a petition is a legal right which is backed up by law, and 2) NOBODY goes to a drivers license/motor vehicle license building because they want to go there, they go there because they are COERCED into going there, with the threat of being pulled over, fined, and possibly arrested, and possibly having their vehicle impounded, if they do not.

    I have also heard this at Post Offices. I suppose that people are not so much forced to go to a Post Office, as they could go to UPS or Federal Express, or they could pay a bill online or over the phone with a credit or debit card, and they could send an email or a text message or call somebody, rather than writing a letter, but even so, the US Post Office has a monopoly on a certain class of mail, and people may have a variety of reasons for using a US Post Office, and it is a government agency, which receives bailout money from the federal government if they have budget short falls from the sale of stamps.

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