Useless words and meaningless talk

“We will do almost anything for our visions, except think about them.”
___Thomas Sowell

Modern American culture is cluttered by people with unconstrained visions, concocting public schemes designed to overcome the realities of life. These people often assume surrogate decision-making roles presuming to speak for thousands of individuals whose visions they know nothing about.

To spread social decisions by the surrogates, they change and distort the concrete meanings of words such as: “diversity,” “sustainability,” going “green” and “quality” of life—being less concerned with what can in fact be achieved than with their desires.

Quality of life, for example, is so meaningless, or has so many meanings, as to be a useless phrase. Yet it is frequently recycled to explain why people choose to live and work in southeastern North Carolina. It’s a mantra repeated by tourism bureaucrats, environmentalists and press editors to have us believe something fanciful.

For instance, recently on a business page in the Wilmington StarNews a headline announced “Port City quality of life cited as lure for business.” An ad hoc group with the pompous title, Branding Identity Leadership Team met at the UNC-Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (another UNC program diverting resources from the university education mission). It was supposed to “examine data” showing what business people want when they decide to locate. (link)

According to the StarNews report by Wayne Faulkner, the “data” (facts) show that the top reasons of ten include: (available and skilled) workforce; (restricted) regulatory environment; (high quality and well maintained) transportation and (low) taxes. (I’ve added the qualifying bracketed comments.)

Quality of life was at the bottom of the list ranked by business people, yet the “team’s consensus” put it at the top.

Rather than working to control violent criminals, improve local streets and highways, reduce burdensome regulations, lower taxes and resist spending on nonproductive government projects—real accomplishments that would attract business people to consider locating here—our politicians and bureaucrats spend time on elusive, unreal visions; making meaningless talk and using useless words.

Assistant city manager (for development) said “quality of life differentiates us…We have to make an emotional appeal to get us in the door.” Just what does that bureaucratese mean to anyone operating in the real world?


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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