Marc D. Goldfinger
Spare Change News
Just imagine that all of a sudden you die; you find out that there may be no God. You’re thrust into a world full of drifting ghosts like yourself, all distraught because no one knows where to go. You talk to other ghosts and some of them say that there is a way to get out of the regions of nowhere, but you have to find someone or something that has the answers.
The ghosts may not have all the answers, but they can start you on your way, and you are warned that there are roadblocks. Some things you say will open doorways that will bring you closer to heaven or hell, but if you say the wrong thing or leave something out, you are stuck adrift in the land of howling winds, and bridges made of bones and skulls that lead nowhere.
It is never dark but there is a fog all around you; a ghost may pass by ten feet away from you; you can hear them moan, but if you move in the wrong direction, you cannot connect.
Sounds like a bureaucracy, right? Have you ever tried to apply to a government program that assists the jobless, the hungry, or the mentally adrift, and found that something you say puts more roadblocks in your path? Then you have to clear those blocks before you can go further.
Or you’re assigned a caseworker, and he or she guides you into a maze that doesn’t get you what you need or want. You find yourself disqualified or set back and you have to go around the circle one more time before you can get help. The caseworker is holding out rings for you to grab, as if you were on a merry-go-round, and you hopefully grab the ring, but it is not gold — it’s a lead ring that isn’t worth anything.
If that wasn’t bad enough, what if the caseworker thought, because he was misinformed, that it was the right ring for you but he didn’t know that a more appropriate ring would have gotten you rolling in the direction you wanted to go? The caseworker was unaware of the right ring to give you.
Let’s climb the ladder of the bureaucracy. Let’s say, on the third level, two levels below the Benevolent Demons who make the rules, is a Guiding Spirit who actually knows about the programs that can help the “consumer,” which is the term for those who must apply for things they need. But, because of rules set up by the Benevolent Demons, the Guiding Spirit can only speak to the Secondary Gods of the agencies where the caseworkers work to help the consumers get what they need.
Now, let’s add some interesting roadblocks. To efficiently serve the consumers, the caseworkers should have an ideal caseload of 40 to 50 people. However, the numbers game, which determines the allotment of money to hire the caseworkers, may be rigged by, let’s say, the population increase or decrease in the state where the organization is located. So the organization is only allotted enough money to hire caseworkers to work at one satellite — or just enough so the caseload of the caseworkers is over 160 consumers at any given time.
This means that the efficiency level of the caseworkers is crippled, and not only do they not have the time to research what programs are appropriate for each consumer, they also don’t even have enough time to find out what programs are available. Why is this?
The Secondary Gods of each satellite program have so much information to manage that they don’t have the time to dispense the information that exists to the caseworkers. In addition to this snafu, the Guiding Spirit, who is aware of all the programs and just might have time to meet with the caseworkers in groups to dispense the information about programs that exist, is not allowed to talk to the caseworkers directly. The Guiding Spirit can only talk to the Secondary Gods of the satellites of the agencies if he has permission to do so from the Benevolent Demons — kind of like entities who are so removed from the realities of the situation that they block important avenues through which vital information can flow.
For example, let’s say there was a program that would give food vouchers to consumers who needed them because they had lost their jobs. Imagine that there are enough food vouchers to serve 90 consumers, but only 30 consumers are aware of the existence of this program because the Guiding Spirit is blocked, by one manner or another, from dispensing the information about the program directly to the caseworkers who need this information. This is because they are dealing with the consumers who would most benefit from having these food vouchers.
Imagine a series of bridges built of bones and skulls and some of them lead to dead ends and others lead to the food vouchers, but you must count the steps when you are on the bridge. If, when you get to the caseworker ghost, you don’t know the number of the steps you have taken to get there, you must turn around and start over again.
Maybe you counted the number of steps and are facing your caseworker, but he does not have the information of the food voucher program, so you are blocked again. The caseworker ten feet away in the fog has the information, but you can’t see him, so again you are blocked. The Secondary God of your satellite is so overwhelmed by the numbers that, as much as he wants to help the caseworkers underneath, he doesn’t realize that this particular caseworker doesn’t know about the food voucher program.
Oh yes, another snafu. There are time limits to these programs. If enough food vouchers are not given out during the Year of Our Lord within which they were allotted, the program is scrapped because the numbers show that there really isn’t a need for the extra food vouchers.
Ironically, the food vouchers are not extra — the consumers are lost in the fog of rules and roadblocks — but now less money will be allotted to the diverse programs that no one but the Guiding Spirit is aware of. However, the Spirit is not permitted to directly transmit the information to where it is needed because the Benevolent Demons are busy looking at numbers that don’t mean anything in reality.
Also, the caseworkers have 160 consumers to deal with and the Secondary Gods have so many caseworkers to deal with that the consumers are not told what actions they must take to get to what they need. Even if they know what they need to do, their caseworkers may not have the right assistance to dispense.
Unfortunately, this is a true story, and the facts have been altered to protect the innocent. Instead of helping people with empty stomachs, the money goes to bombing people we don’t know, blowing their legs off, and creating more enemies all over the world so that we have even less money to dispense — even if the right information were available to the right people. People with empty stomachs don’t have the money to hire lobbyists, and corporations benefit mightily from the continuation of war and are now considered to be people, and have plenty of lobbyists. So our Congress, even if it wanted the right information, doesn’t get the information it needs to re-figure the numbers so that people with empty stomachs can get to the food vouchers they don’t even know exist.
What if, when we die, even ghosts face bureaucracies and must wander in the fog unless they get lucky? The bridges are made of skulls and bones — only those who built the bridges know the truth, and they’re not saying a word.
And I’m just a ghost who got lucky.
MARC D. GOLDFINER is a formerly homeless vendor who is now housed. He can be reached at email@example.com Marc also has books on www.smashwords.net that can be downloaded for $2.99.