Motorists on Colorado Route 10 came to a screeching stop on Wednesday, May 14. A stretch of road construction on the lonely two-lane highway sent cars down a single lane, one direction at a time. What happened on Route 10 was a startling metaphor for our times.
Route 10 car traffic was stopped by a road-closure crewman, whose job was to hold a STOP sign while opposing-lane traffic moved through. A large truck carrying a large sign announced itself as the Pilot Car with a directive on the sign that read “Follow Me.” It escorted cars down the one open lane one direction at a time, each line of cars waiting for the other to finish, then dutifully following the Pilot Car down the road under construction.
But, there was no construction. None.
How can this be? Can Colorado DOT simply close a section of state highway for no purpose?
It can and did. Crews shuffling traffic up and down one lane of a perfectly good two-lane road demonstrated the ultimate government make-work. The construction crew obviously did not show up for work but the traffic-control crew did, and, by golly, it was going to control traffic up and down one lane of Route 10 whether construction occurred or not.
Crew members had either to do their job or explain why they didn’t and not be paid. So they chose -- perhaps union or government regulations required them -- to perform useless work for pay while needlessly inconveniencing others.
On a small scale in a stunning example was government doing nothing of value while stopping citizens from getting on with their business. The Pilot Car with the “Follow Me” sign was a stark metaphor for government control.
Don’t ask questions. We are The Government. Follow me.
Is this funny or sad or a statement about government ineptitude? It depends on whether we have a sense of humor about
• losing our doctors,
• relinquishing our perfectly good health insurance,
• tolerating policies that deliver, if anything, only part-time low-paying jobs for people looking for work,
• enduring educations that turn out students with few usable skills,
• being told that driving fossil-fuel-powered cars causes frequent extreme weather events,
• paying more for stamps and declining Postal Services,
• trusting a Twitter hash-tag campaign will convince Nigerian terrorists to give up 250 kidnapped girls.
• suffering the citizenry for the interests of government.
The Follow Me sign is a metaphor for the government of our times. It promises that gullible followers will be cared for while stunting personal achievement in its tracks.