I have recently had two opportunities to test the service part of the public service. In the same year I have had to both replace my passport and my driver's licence.
The passport was particularly stressful (not, I should point out, because of the public service - in fact they were my saviours). I had managed to secure airfares and a commitment to go to Australia just to realise that the flights were, of course, the day after my passport expires. Now, in my defence, I had used that passport for ten years and it had never expired before.
To my relief, and after double the normal fee and some desperate, pleading phone calls, I had my new passport in my hands in less than three days after couriering the application. I was impressed. The service was excellent... but the quality, that's a different story.
Never mind that this new passport has twice the likelihood of expiring in ten years as the old one there was a bigger problem. I sent the passport service the passport of a fresh faced, virile young man of trim build and great hair. They sent to me the passport of cynical, portly, careworn middle aged man with a degree of follicle challenge. This is not what I had hoped for. I rationed away my disappointment on the basis that I had, after all, rushed them.
My driver's licence, though, was a chance to redeem. But, it happened again. Oh no! It was then that the cynical part of me woke up and realised that it was a price/quality trade-off and here is the opportunity. The public service could make a fortune (and wipe out public debt) by offering a price premium on more flattering photo IDs over the ones that tell the 'truth'.
Now I'm not suggesting blatant dishonesty. Part of me realises the 'truth' but if young polite young ladies can tell me that I look... ok (hey, I can survive on euphemistic platitudes) then why not our sworn officials. A little white lie will do. Just the kind of little white lie that a politician might portray on their pledge card (which proves the public service knows how to do this).
I was worried about the American angle. After all the Americans won't let anyone in unless their passport shows someone as dour and unhappy as... well a terrorist. I can only assume that a terrorist desperately trying to not look like a terrorist looks abnormally happy and unthreatening and is immediately caught - but I digress. I then realised that this can still work. I just want to look younger, fitter and less follicly challenged. A distant, menacing sneer might be quite a good look. A James Dean - Marlon Brando sort of thing. So, it probably can work in America too.
Here you go then passport service and driver's licence service. Start offering photo IDs where people are thinner, their skin smoother, the hair bouffier, a slight softness and a cool, offhand smirk. I think you'd be surprised how much we would pay.