JONESBORO/PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – Over the last several months, the United States Congress has debated a bill to make sweeping reformations to the country's health care system. It's a topic contested in both houses of Congress and lawmakers with each party affiliation. In response to the government's attempt to change health care, Region 8 News asked viewers to "Grade Your Government."
In the month of October, 72 people filled out questionnaires grading the government's ability to function. People graded competence, communication, problem solving, promptness, respect of time and knowledge.
The government was given the highest grade in knowledge. Thirteen of 72 respondents gave the government an 'A'. Ten people gave a 'B'. Fifteen people gave the government an 'F'.
Categories were given an 'A' an average of 12 times of 72 possible ratings. Those same categories averaged 25 'F' ratings. Respondents said promptness and communication were the things the government needs most improvement.
Of all departments included in the questionnaire, most people graded the Social Security Administration. A total of 20 respondents discussed their concerns and praises for Social Security. That's followed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, 14 responses, and U.S. Postal Service, 13 responses. Only five respondents graded the Internal Revenue Service.
Ray Yates of Paragould graded the U.S. Postal Service. He said he believes customers could get better service if more staffers were added to its workforce and shipping prices were more competitive.
"My eBay business requires me to ship a lot of stuff, small stuff, big stuff, just a wide range of stuff," said Yates. "You have to pass the shipping cost on to the person that you're selling it to. If I'm selling them a $5 baseball card, then I've got to charge them $2 or $3 to ship it to them."
Yates said he ships items of all sizes to individual customers. He said shipping prices, through the U.S. Postal Service, are more expensive when shipping to companies.
"I sent a large package. It was 17 by 15 by 13 and weighed less than ten pounds. I sent it to Oklahoma City and it cost me $21.55 to ship that," said Yates. "When I go up there, a lot of times I have to wait in line. There are five or six different stations for a postal employee to take care of their customers, and I've never seen more than two working at one time."
Region 8 News visited the Post Office in downtown Paragould in early November. Customers spent no more than five minutes inside the post office.
"Most of the time when I go in there, there's just one and they have to call for somebody to come out of the back to take care of the line of customers," said Yates.
Other respondents said the U.S. Postal Service did a decent job in serving customers, but it depends on the individual Post Office. Some offices run smoother than others.
Jackie Jaradah graded the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs. She told Region 8 News her father died of cancer and had a difficult life after serving his career in the Armed Forces.
"My dad's name was Kenneth Lee McMillan and he served plum through the Korean War," said Jaradah. "Our family is proud of him. Mainly our complaint is that the government waited so long to acknowledge."
Jaradah said her father earned a purple heart. He died of cancer.
Her brother also served in the military.
"He wouldn't serve a second term because they told him that he couldn't get his VA benefits. They wouldn't stand behind him. You hear that from so many people," said Jaradah.
"They didn't want to help him. It took him the longest time to even get his social security," said Jaradah.