Putting Politicians Names on Government Forms

I am spending the day filing all our sales tax returns (10 states, 4 counties) and have noticed something about state and county tax collectors and treasurers.  They put their name all over everything.  Take Lake County, Florida.  The sales tax form says "BOB MCKEE" and in little letters underneath that it says "Lake County Tax Collector".  The pre-addressed envelope is to BOB MCKEE.  I have to make my sales tax check to, you guessed it, BOB MCKEE.

Why is BOB MCKEE's name all over this?  What happens when BOB MCKEE retires or fails to get reelected?  Isn't the county stuck with a huge printing bill to replace all the forms and send out new ones?  And, assuming this is an elective office, don't BOB MCKEE's political opponents object to tens of thousands of dollars of free advertising paid for by the county.  Heck, I can't always name all my Congressman here in Arizona but I sure as hell know that BOB MCKEE is the tax collector for Lake County, Florida.  Conversely, I don't know who the head of the IRS is and I certainly don't address my checks to him or her on April 15.

By the way, this is just one example.  I get sales and property tax forms and such from many many counties in 10 states and it is much more the rule than the exception that the person, rather than the office, dominates the letterhead.  Stupid.  And, given the taxpayer subsidy implied for the incumbent, mildly corrupt.

  • markm

    I've got to disagree with you on this one, for two reasons. Given the way most people feel about paying taxes, isn't putting a politician's name on the collection form more like political advertising against him?

    Second, I've been to motor vehicle license bureaus (by whatever name) in four states. Michigan's give the best and fastest service by a country mile. I can't say this is the only reason, but the picture, name, and job title of the state elected official who runs this department is prominently displayed in the waiting area. It's hard to miss it even if you don't have to wait at all - and this frequently happens. But if you did have to wait two hours while the clerks chat on the phone and take long breaks (as is not uncommon in OK, NM, and VA), you would goddam well memorize the name of their ultimate boss and remember it come the next election.

    Now, it's better not to have laws making it necessary to deal with gov't officials at all. But if you've got to, knowing which elected official is responsible is good.