Here’s an example of how a government program portrays itself. In this case it is the veterans’ crisis hotline.
I suspect much of this is true. This seems to be one of the few government programs that is able to recruit committed people who want to help.
But there have been problems. According to USA Today,
A VA suicide hotline movingly portrayed in an Oscar-winning documentary has allowed crisis calls to go into voicemail and has struggled with adequate staff training, according to an inspector general investigation.
Inspectors found problems occurred when calls were routed to backup crisis centers after staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs suicide hotline center in Canandaigua, N.Y., (800-273-8255) were taking all the calls they could handle.
“We substantiated allegations that some calls routed to backup crisis centers were answered by voicemail, and callers did not always receive immediate assistance,” said the VA Inspector General report made public late last week.
This is horrible, but it is almost inevitable. Governments have to budget for their department and programs. They have no way of knowing how many veterans will feel suicidal on a given day and call for help. They have to make estimates. Obviously, they couldn’t justify hiring hundreds more employees to sit around with nothing to do.
So this is not a scandal like what has been discovered about the Veterans Administration and their secret, illegal waiting list. But it is based on the same reality (apart from the criminal corruption). That reality is the government can’t predict the future and it does not know how to allocate resources.
That is not as big a deal in this case because a private charity would probably have some similar problems. Furthermore, the government bears some responsibility for veterans.
But why would anyone want to give the government more opportunity to mess up the lives of more people through government shortages?