Editorial: Singing for their supper

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There is a very popular saying that those who pay the piper, can and will, call the tunes. And when the piper is paid, he or she will sing and blow that flute like there is no tomorrow.

That is never truer than here in our fair state where the paymaster in chief, the government, is calling the tunes. So taxpayers’ money is being used to pay those who are willing to join the choir and sing the government’s praises to high heaven.

The government provides the score and the musicians and all the choir members who feed at the feeder MUST sing from the government’s hymnbook. Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we are hearing a whole lot of warbling and chirping going on.

Even those who are conscientious objectors, or those with qualms of the conscience or those who simply feel like withholding their services on principle or because of a philosophical difference with the government, had still better sing like a canary, or the axe will fall.

The latest to be told “How barley groweth” in our blessed state was a prominent entertainer who was quite rudely disabused of any notion of not performing at the infamous ONE NATION concert last weekend.

Apparently, word got to the paymaster in chief that a hummingbird was not a happy warbler, and the paymaster in chief smirkingly scolded the hummingbird and reminded him that he was on the government’s payroll (a retainer/ stipend/ whatever) and if he was having second thoughts about being on the choir, he could be quickly dropped from the payroll.

The paymaster in chief then threw down the gauntlet and told the hummingbird that as a result of his acceptance of the government stipend/retainer, he was required to sing at any government event whenever called so to do, and “If he tink he bad” (words to that effect) he can not show up to sing out his soul at the ONE NATION concert.

Needless to say, the ambivalent hummingbird heard the thinly veiled threat and sang “A song of six-pence like the four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie” at the aforementioned concert. He also showed up to sing at the rather sparsely attended State Insurance rebranding concert this past Thursday.

Talk about singing ‘til the cows come home! And it is not only performers and entertainers. Many public servants purge their consciences and sing from the government’s hymnbook – fear of victimisation and such other reprisals compel them.

And those who don’t sing, remain silent, thereby giving consent. And many others who know better, or who once spoke out, are also silenced or forced to sing the hallelujah chorus by way of a government paycheck.And the paymaster in chief becomes the conductor, waving his baton . . . “And dovesstart to sing coo, coo-coo, coo . . .” (Lord Nelson’s DOVE AND PIGEON) Oh yes, with the government’s ‘cheese’ in their mouths, they sing like yellow-bellied sap-suckers!

Even the parrots get in on the act, ’parroting’ everything that the government wants them to parrot . . . and of course, telling the country the favourite expletive that most parrots utter. And the mockingbirds do what mockingbirds do – mock the public! Clearly, ‘cheese’ is a helluva thing! It is a great motivator in this fair state of ours.

Heck, for many, it is the greatest motivator! Indeed, as a famed American politician once remarked, “Never underestimate the power of money to change men’s minds.” (Sigh) Much like Maya Angelou, “We know why the caged birds sing . . .”

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