from Patrick McKenzie | by Patrick McKenzie

Patrick McKenzie


about 1 year ago

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Jumping off this anecdote to mention: many bureaucracies will phrase “We lost it” as “You failed to submit it” until you show them Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. The best service the USPS offers.

The IRS has lost, found, then lost again my e.g. tax returns before, and every time they complained my accountant pulled out the receipt and said Not My Problem.

From this follows two observations: a) Since you know how the game is played, any important submission to a bureaucracy goes over Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested. b) Any mail tagged with that reads to every mailroom as A Dangerous Professional Wrote This.

“I paid five bucks extra so that I can cite your knowledge of the contents of this envelope in court” written on outside of the envelope.

I have interesting habits by the standards of technologists here, by the way. Databases are clearly more reliable than paper mail but “Submit to our web app connected to our database” gives me some pause over who has custody in the event of a dispute over reality.

As a result, I try to prefer web flows only for counterparties who I have a high regards for, who have an obvious regulator to bring them to task, who issue an email receipt of uploads, etc. I prefer emailing or, of course, certified mail return receipt requested.

“What are you doing that you do this frequently enough you have a standard operating procedure for it?!?” I… have made many interesting and non-consensus life choices.

Run any business or charity sometime, by the way, and you’ll get more bureaucracy that you can shake a stick at.

Interestingly this sometimes results in you being the party which says “hmm maybe if I ignore you for enough years in a row you’ll go away.” Looking at you, $STATE tax office. You can keep sending me a quarterly non-filing notice until the sun goes nova; last letter was last.

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