Thursday, January 19, 2006

Another reason to love Iowa

I love Iowa. I lived there for the best decade of my life. I enjoy the small towns, the patient landscape, the quiet commitment to education access, the niceness and common sense of the place. I would move back in a heartbeat and have more than idly considered moving out of college teaching and into secondary ed or some related field so that I could live there again. It a soul-place, if you know what I mean, somewhere that clicked with me so deeply that I feel somewhat amputated living in the Northeast again.

One of the best parts of living there is the reasonableness of local and state government. Oh sure, there are boneheads. There are entire sets of policy to which I object. Mainly, however, I experienced the bureaucracy as an efficient and minimalist aid to my daily life, something I could not say about my current state. Trips to the DMV were quick, and often
a hoot. Getting involved in political life was easy and since one could meet and talk to all the presidential candidates
personally (trust me, sometimes they are desperate in the early running to talk to anyone at that chili-fest),
I felt myself able to evaluate these people personally. It made me a corny and passionate patriot, happily walking
uptown to the July 4th parade, eager to caucus. It's the only time in my adult life that I felt like I really was a citizen.
The distance between those days and these (no, I'm not going to drop into a disaffected and draining rant) is
pretty huge.

I just had another interaction with Iowa bureaucrats that made me so homesick I could die. (Yes, read that again.)
Iowa has a Public Employees Retirement System, same as most states. I was, for about half a year, a public
employee. I had a pittance in my account and because I wasn't vested nor did I have an IRA to roll this money
into, I just let it ride. Well, now that I'm a professor-type and am doing the TIAA-CREF thing, I decided to
investigate how to get this couple hundred bucks back. The automated voice system informed me that I no
longer had money in the account. Prepared to be assertive and if need be aggressive, I got a IPERS phone rep
on the line. She informed me that the state had changed the law so that anyone who had been out of public
service for 5 years and had a small investment (I'm guessing under $1000) was going to be sent an automatic
refund. I'll be receiving my check next week.

Damn, I love Iowa.


listmaker said...

It sounds like a great place to live. I'm with you; I'd really like to get out of this state we live in, but it seems we're stuck here.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I think small town living is great, if you find a small town that agrees with you. I couldn't handle living in the rural south, because I had no interest in football, Jesus, or red meat. The rural north--organic farming, zen meditation--suits me great. You don't need all the options of a city so long as you have the few options you are looking for.