Skip to main content

Paranoia, Self Destroyer

People are scared that they can't speak freely anymore. Or as freely, which is just as bad but more subtle.

I have actually had people tell me on the phone, "I can't say what I am thinking out loud," i.e. because "they" are listening and you work for government. (I always say, "they know me already," i.e. that I am a free thinker, yes, but not a subversive.)

Colleagues have said, "Don't tell anyone, but my family likes Sarah Palin." (I like Sarah Palin and admire public servants from every side of the spectrum. One of my best friends is a super-liberal-progressive Democrat. And if you are curious, I am a libertarian.)

In discussions, there comments where people take the time to say," Don't accuse me of being unpatriotic." (I always apologize if I gave that impression.)

Of course they are scared.

Remember that remark about the "vast right-wing conspiracy?" (There are always remarks about conspiracies.)

There are daily scary headlines about the "surveillance state" and such.

Jokes on the Tonight Show.

Whistleblowers.

The TV news the other day reported on how government employees are being encouraged to report on their colleagues.

And of course there is the issue of freedom of the press: The Associated Press. James Rosen, Sharyl Attkisson. Conspiracy theories about the deaths of Andrew Breitbart and Michael Hastings.

I am a simple person, I'll admit. But I know that in the absence of data, superstition and fear run wild. It is an evolutionary response.

I know that government gets embarrassed easily and communicating technical information is hard, especially when some key data can't be shared. 

But is it too simple to suggest that the government create a "Rumor Central" bulletin board? Where the public can submit their questions and get a response when the volume gets high enough?

The TSA has done a great job with their blog addressing public concerns when controversial security measures were implemented. Why can't the entire government do the same? (Why did DHS buy all that ammunition awhile back?) I would like to better understand and I am a sympathetic audience, having worked there for many years.

In fact every government agency I know of is full of very good and dedicated people who actually do care about doing a good job with integrity. This is the vast majority.

While it's true we should not legitimize purely hostile views by giving them a platform, I think most people (including government employees) are simple like me. They just want the facts, they request an explanation.

And the truth is, sometimes as they say, "mistakes were made." Even doozies. The more upfront you are the more people can handle it.

In the rush to get the work of government done, particularly in lean budgetary times, we are prone to forget the basics.  Including the fact that simply addressing people's concerns - building that trust and rapport - is one of our most important jobs of all.

* All opinions my own.



Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

________________
All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …