South Carolina Governor Forces State Employees to Greet Callers Cheerfully

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It's a great day for Nikki Haley.

It’s a great day in South Carolina. Even if it’s not.

South Carolina’s Republican governor Nikki Haley is ordering state employees to cheerfully answer phones with the phrase: “It’s a great day in South Carolina. How can I help you?”

The overly optimistic greeting clashes with the Southern state’s social ills, including an 11.1% unemployment rate that is the fourth highest in the nation.

(LIST: 40 Under 40: Nikki Haley)

Haley, who issued the order at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, says the greeting will boost morale and remind state workers that it’s their job to serve the callers. It will make the public feel better, too.

Feel better about what? The fact that government employees are now being mandated to fake happiness?

“It’s part of who I am,” Haley, speaking to The State, a newspaper in South Carolina, said of the new salutation. “As hokey as some people may think it is, I’m selling South Carolina as this great, new, positive state that everybody needs to look at.”

Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, is against the enforced greeting. “[Haley] believes that if you say the lie enough, people may begin to believe it. But we know the state is in the toilet.” (via The State)

MORE: Nikki Haley: Rising GOP Star in South Carolina

Kai Ma is a TIME contributor. Find her on Twitter at @Kai_Ma or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.