Apr 11, 2009

Even A Nutjob Can Make A Good Point

From the otherwise nutty LRC Blog:
So I went to the local Social Security office, with my original birth certificate, to prove that I am 64. Now, being Alabama, everyone was sweet and polite, including the armed guard and the bureaucrats. And there was the racial respect that characterizes the South, despite the MSM [Main Stream Media] morality tale. But what a room! There was that armed guard at the front, waiting citizens, surveillance cameras, and five thick lucite windows with chairs in front of them, like a prison visiting room. When your number was called, you talked to the clerk through a grid, and passed your documents through a slit. I thought: the state is terrified of the people.


John Herling said...

The most surprising statement here was that "racial respect...characterizes the South..."

Anonymous said...

The state is not afraid of all the people, just some of them.

"Destroyed on April 19, 1995 by a fertilizer and diesel fuel bomb...to protest the federal government...It was a typical federal office building--housing agencies like Social Security, Medicare..."

The armed guards arrived in Social Security offices a few years before that, when Congress passed legislation ordering that drug and alcohol addiction alone would no longer be considered a disability, and the Agency was ordered to remove beneficiaries from the roles.

Anonymous said...

The guards arrived right after 9/11. A few offices had guards prior to that but they were mostly in Federal building. I don't know any office that received a guard strictly because of the DA/A legislation. I'm not saying it didn't happen but I certainly don't know of one and I've worked in several field offices.

Anonymous said...

I think we're both right. At the time of the DA/A legislation, it was left up to local SSA officials whether or not to have guards. Those with large numbers of DA/A BIFs and RIFs at the time opted to have them. Then it seemed that having a guard became a "status" symbol, and more and more DM's said: "I want one too!" And there you have it.

I think by the time 9/11 hit, most offices already had them.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get off calling this this person a nut job, just because he doesn't want to be dropped from his private medical insurance and forced to take Medicare and points out that the Social Security office reminds him of a prison visiting room.

Nancy Ortiz said...

People in the large offices had guards before McVeigh's attack on the Oklahoma City Federal Bldg. The main reasons being physical attacks, spitting, thrown objects, thefts of cars from public/employee parking lots, vandalism, drive by shootings, etc. Watts DO was a good example of a dangerous duty station--a guard was killed in the parking lot by a stray bullet.

The practice became more widespread when the Govt. shut down in 11/1995, after Oklahoma City. With only skeleton crews of management people, offices in large cities were overwhelmed by claimants seeking services of all kinds, but especially emergency payments. Large crowds of people assembled in the inner city offices had to be properly controlled. Numerous incidents of disruptive behavior, verbal and physical assaults on employees, etc. occurred in offices without guards.

The plexiglass prevents people from reaching through the windows to grab the interviewers, keyboards, staplers, and so forth--the objects are used as weapons, etc. Also, without some kind of barriers, agitated customers vault through the windows intending to assault the employees and other customers inside the office. Etc.

Finally, you should bear in mind that some claimants are armed and dangerous. The most serious incident being one in which a disallowed DIB claimant shot and killed a guard in the reception area of a Sacramento CA office. Estranged spouses harass employees in parking lots etc. So, guards are not status symbols.

Signs of the times, perhaps, but not status symbols. No one likes supervizing guards--with guns. You know, they aren't that professional and frequently get into mischief with office equipment, other employees, etc. Social Security offices are a reflection of our society. And, there you have it.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Ortiz, your description is correct. Unfortunately, "status symbols" was a poor choice of words on my part. I don’t know the exact term that describes the phenomenon that occurred very early on, when guards were still an option, and before all the madness. There was a feeling among some managers at the time "if that office has a guard, then I want one too," whether their office fit the profile or not.

Of course, the violence you refer to changed all that for everyone, forever. It’s sad. I am glad that I can remember the days of mutual respect, when the local Social Security office was a friendly, respected, and well-liked institution in the local community, without armed guards, without front-end interviewing, and without bullet-proof glass separating claimants from the representatives trying to help them.