Making Government Fun in Four Steps

The prompt: If you were the new leader of your country and had the chance to transform something that’s currently an annoyance (or worse) into a very fun activity, what would it be? How would you go about the change, and why would you choose that particular thing?

I have a list

  1. Recycling – add a positive incentive to the requirement by tracking recycling rates per household in a community and arranging for a donation of reusable tote bags to local food pantries based on the participation. Do it by neighborhood or ward or whatever makes sense. Count the number of homes that participate, not the volume of the recycling. And publicize the hell out of the outcomes. This ties recycling to a reward, but doesn’t do any harm if people don’t participate. It helps neighbors in the immediate community. There can be a competitive edge, but with neighbors benefitting – not yourselves. Note: I don’t find recycling too annoying, but rates of participation are very low and the costs for the resident can be exasperating.
  2. Waiting at federal government offices (maybe state, too) – institute a limited access intranet for the waiting room (notice how so many don’t permit wi-fi or limit access to cell phone service?) with lots of useful and engaging information about that branch of government. Portals to apply for services, captioned videos with details on what’s available, civics 101 for adults and kids. Not a commercial, but a resource to give a truly captive audience important information. The beauty is that we can opt in to watch it or we can just do something else to distract ourselves.
  3. Federal employee names – something that I find very irritating and condescending is that insistence of employees of the Social Security Administration AND the Housing Authorities that people use their surnames. “This is Ms. Johnson” or “This is Mr. Davis.” It is very demeaning and just a cold way to engage someone who is sharing the most basic details of their lives and asking for support. So why not assign them each a superhero name as an alternative “This is Ms. Johnson, but you can also call me Electra?” It is accessible, but protects their privacy. It infuses the moment with some sense of personal support rather than the typical cold, dismissive attitude. Perhaps I wouldn’t mind the horrific paperwork maze if I was dealing with Spiderman.
  4. Campaign Finance Reform – every corporate donation in any amount and individual donations to any candidate over the amount of $500 would have to be matched by the same donation to fund public libraries and veterans programs. Period. You give $500 to elect Kim Davis to a new office, you have to give $500 to Wounded Warriors. Your company donates $1000 to elect Ben Carson, you have to give $1,000 to ensure a library has books about science.

This won’t revolutionize anything, but I don’t actually prioritize infusing fun into bureaucracy. IF we could focus on infusing respect and efficiency, that would be terrific.

  • You raise a very interesting point with #3 and I love your idea of using superhero names!

    I can’t begin to imagine how beneficial #4 could be – that’s also a very good idea.

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