Members of the Utah Legislature say -- with justification, considering their own performances -- that government always goofs the job.
But here's information from Laura Allen Burgett, 43, a freshly minted, almost homeless single mom and customer of real government workers:
"This afternoon I gave the caseworker at DWS (Utah's Department of Workforce Services) a hug after she spent nearly two hours helping me find good job leads. I wish I had also hugged the woman who spent a half hour helping me find day care options for (me) while I'm searching for work.
"They were both very efficient, very informed, and were genuinely concerned about my search for employment. Thanks, government!"
Laura lived in Layton when her marriage imploded in January. Then she lost her job and the house went, too. She and her 7-year-old daughter moved in with friends.
But the friends had a son coming home from Afghanistan.
"It was scary when I realized I'm more or less homeless. My friends weren't kicking me out, but the poor kid wanted his room back."
She tried to find work.
"I was interviewing for these jobs and I was competing with 300 people for a $9 an hour job, and a lot of them were asking for college degrees."
She was also stuck in the classic single-mom Catch-22: She needed a job, but couldn't hunt jobs with a kid in tow. Day care? She was living on $50 a week of unemployment.
Then Workforce Services, one of those incompetent government bureaucracies, told her she had to meet with an employment counselor.
"I thought this was a 'dot your I's and cross your T's thing,' but no. First she spent half an hour with me listening to my concerns," especially the Catch-22 part.
The counselor found federal stimulus funds for 300 hours of day care while Laura looked for work. She hooked Laura up with better job search web sites.
Then she sent Laura to an employment specialist who spent two hours going over Laura's resume, showing her how to include job skills she didn't realize she had. The changes connect her with more jobs on the DWS database that fit her abilities.
"What really impressed me about my whole experience is, they listened to me and helped me solve my problems. They made me feel hopeful about my situation."
And Laura got a job! It's minimum wage, but it's income while she looks for more.
That's the key. The state didn't hand her a job. She had to struggle and dig, and still does, but feels strongly state workers are on her side.
Her advice to anyone in the same boat?
"Fight like hell and don't give up. Don't accept that things are the way they are.
"Push and probe. If you have to sit on your phone and make phone calls all day, do it. And don't be afraid to rely on friends and relatives. If someone offers you help, take the help."
The 2-1-1 (just dial 2-1-1 on your phone) information and referral line is a great resource to find what the state provides. The state's services are a labyrinth, but government workers know the paths.
"People tend to demonize government workers, but they're real human beings who want to do their jobs well," Laura said. "They want to go home at the end of the day feeling like they've achieved something."
Government workers are humans?
Well, Laura is a radical woman.
"I've actually had many good experiences. The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) is awesome."