Talk is cheap

“Talkers are usually more articulate than doers, since talk is their specialty.” Thomas Sowell.

Talk is cheap, someone said. Praise is often heaped on people who are really of little value in the eyes of those who praise them, and those empty words seem so impressive, that the praised forget to compare their praise with their treatment.

If one listens to the governmental authorities in the United States of America, one would instantly believe that the men and women of their armed forces are the salt of the earth. They are hailed for keeping the country safe and protecting American interest around the world. No one dissents from this view.

Indeed, they are probably better trained than most and they have the best equipment with which to work. As a result, they are able to project their country’s interest in far away lands. It is no doubt, therefore, that they are important to their country.

But I heard a comment about the remuneration of those great warriors and had to take a deep breath. They are very poorly paid. How could the very life of a materialistic country be in their hands and they are not among the classes that benefit financially? That picture seems flawed.

The only explanation that comes to mind is that their reward is in the praises of those who direct them and bluff them. It certainly is not in their salaries.

This group comes to mind easily for a discussion like this because many of these servants of their country pay the ultimate price while they are still in the prime of life. There can be no greater gift that one can make to his or her country, than to lay down their life for it.

We recently learned that our important members of the Barbados Fire Service will shortly be evicted from their offices and relocated to a metal container. I am sure that they have received tremendous praise in the past for their sterling contribution to their country, and will receive more in the future. But a container is good enough for them.

This is one more case of lip service which evidences the cheapness of talk.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall to hear what their leaders said, or will say, to those officers in justification of their containerization.

Just last year it was reported that the legislation which governs the Barbados Fire Service would be upgraded to make that department a fire and rescue operation. Here again are semantics and meaninglessness. The Barbados Fire Service is already a fire and rescue outfit. Hardly a month passes without there being some report of the personnel of that department having to rush into operation and use the “jaws of life” to extricate some person from a mangled vehicle. They have been rescuing persons for many years.

The Barbados Fire Service has always tried to expose its officers to the best training that may be available to them, and this includes training in the use of the equipment that was afforded them. Continuing this practice should be a natural part of the daily management and administration of the department.

The decision to flatten their place of abode and operation has gone ahead of any thought of finding reasonable accommodation for them. I choose to believe that, at least at some time in the distant future, regular accommodation will again be found for them. At this juncture, one cannot say when or where, but the idea of our fire officers living and working out of a container sounds bad and will look worse.

It was reported that the Minister was of the view that it was too early to complain, since one does not know what will happen. Does he mean that he is fighting against the decision of Cabinet to house his officers in metal containers and is holding out some hope of a change of mind? Of course, he has every right to try to influence the decisions of the Cabinet of which he is a part.

For sure, if the reported plan is executed and their building destroyed, and no alternative accommodation is provided, the fire
officers will work from a container. I am not sure what is uncertain about that, if the reports are correct.

If it is too early to complain, the Minister must be of the view that they should not raise their voices ahead of the execution of the plan to place them in a container, but should wait until they are in it and then, after it is a fait accompli, object. We will see whether they are that wise.

One remembers an earlier iteration of this governing party expressing the view that police stations were sitting on prime real estate and should make way for hotel and other accommodation. This thinking led to the development of plans to re-site some stations. Maybe, the thought that went into the location of those stations to best serve their communities was forgotten.

At least at that time, the leader was honest enough to say that, in his view, the police were not special. In the face of statements like that, one could expect non-special treatment. The challenge comes when you are told how great you are, but are then treated like vagrants,
picking a lodging in a container.

Oratory skills are great to have when one is in the business of convincing a crowd: when talk is your specialty. Unfortunately for the crowd, the sweet sounds that fall on their ears can dull their senses and blind their eyes to the reality around them.

We need to pay less attention to the fetes and sweet talk and look at what is being done.

Barbados Advocate

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