It’s unclear if this rogue group of city workers were fully aware of the acronym they made for themselves or not.
A stir was caused in the municipal government of Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture when it was revealed that workers in the welfare division were wearing and using customized merchandise while on duty. This included working in the office as well as visiting welfare recipients’ homes.
Emblazoned on pens, mugs, mouse pads, and various shirts was the acronym “SHAT” which stands for Seikatsu Hogo Aku-bokumetsu Team (Public Assistance Evil Eradication Team). It was an identity meant to inspire its employees to work hard to root out welfare cheats.
However, it doesn’t appear that sharing the team name with the occasionally used past participle of “shit” was the issue at hand. Odawara staff were more concerned with their mission statement, written in English, that accompanied the name on several of the items.
It read verbatim:
Had I been on the Odawara payroll during the time these items were made I would have added the line by Taylor Mali: “Injustice isn’t in justice, it’s just in us, just as injustice is just in ice.” It would have fit right in.
In some instances, the writing was also done in a style similar to US military and law enforcement agencies like SWAT. In addition to being used in the work place, these items that were customized and made using taxpayer money were also given to employees who retired or transferred to other departments as farewell gifts.
And while it may have done wonders for morale in the welfare division, it was hardly becoming of municipal workers, especially ones who work closely with the public. So the city put an end to it and launched an investigation on how to prevent such antics from happening again. Perhaps they could call the investigative body the Facile Unemployment Center Kindness Education Division.
Online, however, the SHAT initiative was largely celebrated.
“I want them to sell that stuff.”
“Welfare cheats are dregs. I don’t see the problem.”
“They’re passionate about their work. What’s the problem?”
“Odawara City isn’t a fun place.”
“So now we’re worried about criminals’ feelings?”
While the readers have a point regarding the ethics of these city workers, there is still the feelings of the people they serve to be considered. Rather than a group of bounty hunters finding people who abuse the system, the welfare division’s main focus should be on providing assistance to people who are in need.
And these truly needy people probably don’t feel comfortable getting a check from people dressed like counter-terrorist agents. And those who can make out the literary English insult on their shirts probably don’t like to be implicitly suspected of being “dregs” while they are getting SHAT upon.
And so, even though their hearts were in the right place, this misguided attempt to boost morale was destined to end this way. On the bright side though, for those employees who are hanging on to this merchandise, the reaction online suggests that they are sitting on a SHAT-load of lucrative internet auction gold.