A letter to state employees from Mitch Daniels essentially accuses state employees of slothfulness and wastefulness and encourages snitches to call the Governor’s office directly. Tattlers will be “celebrated and rewarded.” He phrased it a bit differently, but that was the general message.
Are there senseless practices, or even wrongdoing, where you work? Now, right now, is the time to tell us about it. People who step forward to alert us to problems will be celebrated and rewarded, not punished, for their honesty.
. . .
We will expect state workers to treat their fellow citizens not as subjects or adversaries but as customers. Where practical, we intend to measure how pleased our customers are with our work, and reward those workers whose fellow citizens rate them highly.
. . .
The organizing objective of our administration will be higher personal income for Hoosiers, meaning more money, after taxes, in each workerâ€™s pocket. Almost every part of state government can do something, or do it faster, or maybe stop doing something, to improve the chances of economic growth in our state. Be prepared to help identify what your area can do, to keep track of it, and to be held accountable for progress or the lack of it.
Among 35,000 employees, inevitably there will be a few who will misunderstand these basics. There may even be a few who think there is some right to a job at their fellow taxpayersâ€™ expense, or who think that it is fine to give less than an honest dayâ€™s work, or to go along from year to year without improving. Those few will find life more difficult during our administration; in fact, they will need to look for different employment.
First of all, this is a shortsighted and ignorant approach. That he feels a need to bring up hard work in his first letter to all state employees betrays an ignorance of state government. State employees, by and large, work very hard. I don’t think there is any evidence of slothfulness in the population of state employees than in the population of the workforce at large. Either he’s ignorant or he’s setting up an excuse to make room in state government to dole out some patronage to his supporters.
Second, a government is not a store. Going back to high school civics for a second, the Governor’s job and, by extension, state agencies under the Governor’s authority, is to execute the laws. Proper execution of the law is not always going to make you popular. Equating citizens with customers drives me nuts in that it diminishes and trivializes a citizen’s proper role in society. Proper execution of the law also may not serve to leave more money in a citizen’s pocket. Mitch Daniels may not understand this, but I want the Department of Natural Resources to be deeply unpopular with those who are polluting our air and water. I want the DNR to cause such people to lose a lot of money. The same goes for the Department of Revenue and tax cheats as well as for the BMV and those who should not be allowed to drive.
Creating an adversarial relationship with state employees before any cause has been given cannot be a good way to start one’s tenure. Maybe Daniels believes his own propaganda about how dysfunctional state government is. He should remember that the first secret of being a successful cult leader: never drink your own Kool-Aid.