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>They keep taking breaks to crack off-color jokes about each other’s sex lives, and moan about how hard they’re having to work tonight.

The jokes might be uncalled for, but you just told us they were under-staffed and had hundreds of extra people to process. I can see why they'd be upset. Especially when absolutely zero of the hundreds of people they talk to in a day are happy to see them.

I get the impression you've never worked in the service industry or in retail. The immense fuckup that is United States immigration is not the fault of its lowest level employees.

One of the first rules of service industry is that you don't complain about your job in front of the customers. I haven't worked retail but have done plenty of years in restaurants.

I'm not sure how you can use "you've never worked in the service industry" as some kind of trump card, as this kind of behavior could easily get you fired from any half-decent service industry position.

That's in a private company. Here, for all practical purposes, there is no incentive for things to get better. There is no one to complain to since the "customers" here are completely antagonized and have no power, imagine on top of all this complaining! There really isn't anyone to be held accountable, period.

And no, "voting" is not the way these things get fixed. if it was, the DMV would have stopped being miserable ages ago:

1. As mentioned above, the people most affected can't vote.

2. Even if they could, it's not clear at all how to use your vote to affect change. Which candidate exactly represents better service at government agencies?

3. Even if you knew, you get effectively four federal representative choices that could affect this (president, 2 senators, and 1 house representative). In those 4 choices you must weigh all your grievances. How high on the list is immigration staffing going to be?

The reality is that our system is not set up to deal with this kind of particular issue well. There's no good gradual feedback loop. Things have to get really bad, beyond where it's clear exactly what caused the problems, to the point where huge sweeping changes get made, probably over zealous and too far in the opposite direction then.

Isn't the whole DMV thing largely fixed? In Manhattan, they even have "express" DMVs. I have to assume the idea came about due to voter pressure rather than some altruistic bureaucrat.

I can't speak for New York but going to the DMV in California often means committing an entire work day.

Sounds like California.

Government employees in certain agencies, as I understand it, are practically impossible to fire. There's so much red-tape and bureaucracy that you practically have to burn the building down to be terminated, and even if that happened, the employee would probably sue the state - which would settle the case for undisclosed millions.

It is the fault of the "lowest level employees" that they're rude, hostile, and short with everyone.

Unfortunately I don't think most American citizens really get to see the true face of their immigration officials. I've actually had them talk to me in a way that in any other "service" industry I would have made a complaint (but you cannot due to the power inequality, and the risk that they would add a "note" to your file).

So I eat it. But they're really rude, and it has nothing to do with their job. Most other countries manage to get just as much information about you and make exactly the same decisions without acting that way.

But police/immigration/etc in the US is kind of militaristic and authoritarian even at the best of times...

That is a shitty attitude. Just because an organization is badly run does not mean bad behavior and laziness are excusable. In particular not when the organization in question represents a nation. Just because it is a shitty job does not make it okay to do a shitty job. And it sure as fuck does not make it okay to behave like an asshole to other people.

If you worked for me with that attitide I would make a point of ruining your day every day until you quit.

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