A retail day in the post-coronapanic U.S.

I try not to brag about going to places that only the one-percenters can afford, but I visited a gas station yesterday. Sign inside: “We do not know why Dunkin is closed or when it will open”.

The Palm Beach County government office where we went to obtain new passports for the kids thanks us for our patience during “this brief disruption”:

Speaking of disruption, how long does it take government workers to do what is probably 10 minutes of work? (issuing a passport renewal) 8-11 weeks for “routine” and 5-7 weeks for “expedited” (plus a week of mailing time under the latest USPS procedures?). During this time, the “customer” cannot leave the U.S. because the old passport must be included with the application. travel.state.gov:

Speaking of backlogs at government monopolies, the FAA aircraft registration branch says “We are processing documents received on approximately November 9, 2022.” If we assume that they meant November 9, 2021, that’s 120 days ago. The assumption in the regulations was that this would almost never take more than 90 days and, therefore, the “pink slip” of the application was valid for 90 days. By failing to clear out this backlog, therefore, the FAA has actually increased its workload because now they are guaranteed to get requests for letters of extension for each and every aircraft that anyone is seeking to register.

After the passport paperwork was submitted, the counter-serve restaurant, “experiencing staff shortages”:

Then the gelato shop next door, which couldn’t make milkshakes because they were waiting for more milk to be delivered. They won’t accept $100 bills (“Manhattan food stamps” back in the day when $100 was real money) despite the fact that a family of four could easily spend $50 (gelato plus drinks plus tip):

Leaving these here for a future economic historian.

4 thoughts on “A retail day in the post-coronapanic U.S.

  1. There is a good point about the passport. You have to hand in your old passport to get renewed, and processing times keep creeping up. Its currently up to eleven weeks, during which time, as you stated, you can not leave the United States. The Supreme Court inferred a right to travel (its not explicitly in the Constitution) in an 1840s case.

    So if a regime wants to keep people from leaving the country legally, communist block style, all they have to do is keep extending the times for passport renewal, so it becomes one to two years, then indefinitely!

    When Brazil required visas for Americans, you had to hand your passport to the Brazilian consulate to get the visa, but you did always get the passport back two days later. The application took two days to process. This could also be partially fixed by not requiring the turn in of the old passport, I can’t think of any valid reason for that requirement.

    • Ed: Passports for kids are valid for only 5 years. And, since a lot of countries require six months of validity (see https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-905?language=en_US ), they’re actually useful for only 4.5 years. So if the government workers keep falling behind, a young person will be forced to stay in the U.S. for a reasonably high percentage of his/her/zir/their under-18 years. Right now, the U.S. is also discouraging anyone from checking out life in foreign lands with the COVID-19 testing requirement to return. Ireland has dropped all of its COVID-related entry requirements. Can we say that Science requires the U.S. to discourage people from going abroad by making the return process expensive ($200-400 for a family of four to get tested?) and risky (what if someone in the family tests positive?)? If we are following Science and the Irish are also following Science, how to explain the difference?

    • Over 250 million out of approximately 331 million Americans (not counting illegals) got at least one dose of Dr. Fauci’s Sacrament and yet we are able to issue over 250 million Sacrament cards in a little over a year, why cannot we manage to issue passports for far less Americans that need one?

  2. I renewed my Canadian passport last summer. It took the usual 2 weeks. You can pay more to get it in 2 days, but they require proof of necessity such as an airline ticket.

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