‘Toon and Text by John Auchter
Earlier this week Governor Snyder offered President-elect Trump some unsolicited advice, as one businessperson who was new to public office to another: Respect that most government workers know what they’re doing. You can read the Michigan Radio story here.
It was actually pretty good advice, but it may ring a little hollow coming from Snyder. Of course the cartoon exaggerates what Snyder has said to public servants (as well as the public servant’s response), but it does capture the narrative that helped get Snyder elected and has generated much of his political power, which is: All private sector workers are virtuous, hard-working folks who earn their pay. All public sector workers are corrupt, lazy sub-humans who are a drain on society.
True to form, Trump has not only ignored the advice but doubled-down by calling into question the competence and integrity of our nation’s intelligence agencies and its workers. So now in addition to bureaucrats, educators, the IRS, and the military, our next president is starting off on the wrong foot with the FBI and CIA. Undoubtedly most of these workers are dedicated professionals, but how many times do they have to hear their Commander-in-Chief tell them they suck?
The best allegory I can think of for this is from science fiction humorist Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. He tells a story of the planet Golgafrincham. The inhabitants are convinced their planet is somehow doomed (their planet will crash into their sun, a moon will crash into the planet, they will be invaded by twelve-foot piranha bees — nobody knew for sure).
So they conceive a plan to escape. The Golgafrinchans identify a third of their population to be essentially useless, which includes those whose job it is to sanitize public telephones. They round of up these folks first and ship them off on a spaceship. After they are gone, the remaining population delights in their new utopia and decide to stay. Soon, however, a virulent disease contracted via unsanitary telephones wipes them all out. (If Trump can’t seem to heed direct advice, I can’t imagine he would comprehend the moral of the story, but there it is.)