State’s so-called ‘grand bargain’ frustrates employees, employers, taxpayers
Nevada’s workers’ compensation system is Kafkaesque.
In one way, it’s simply because workers’ comp systems virtually everywhere — despite their asserted necessity — trigger feelings of senselessness, disorientation and helpless alienation, resembling those so famously evoked by Franz Kafka’s tales.
But it goes deeper: Kafka — highly intelligent and exceptionally sensitive — was himself drenched in the workers’ comp milieu, spending each workday, himself, as a functionary at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute in Prague, Bohemia.
Then, after 2 p.m., he would go home and write his evocative tales.
“Out of his experience of paternal tyranny and decadent bureaucracy,” said novelist John Updike in a forward to a collection of Kafka’s stories, “he projected nightmares that proved prophetic.”
“A sense that Kafka epitomized,” said Updike, was “a sensation of anxiety and shame whose center cannot be located and therefore cannot be placated; a sense of an infinite difficulty within things, impeding every step.”
That, in fact, is a pretty accurate description of many experiences of Nevada’s injured workers — once they’ve found themselves subject to work comp’s tender mercies.
“They make you feel like a criminal, workers’ comp does,” a career firefighter told Nevada Journal. “They make you feel like you’re less than” other employees.