I only know what I read in the media, from where the opinions are formed!
In a letter taking a full page of the newspaper of the port town newspaper the REPORTER, of June 18, 2000 signed by D.T. Habet and L.C. Habet ( I presume the Habet Bros. Merchants?), concern is expressed at Cabinet dictatorship, political victimization and a rebuff of the government spokesperson ( Norris Hall ) accused of speaking for either an angry Ralph Fonseca, the Minister of Finance, and/or himself government spokesperson, or for the government at large comprised of 26 PUP Representatives, five (appointed) Senators and 3 Standard Bearers ( what is that?)
The key items are insults from party organs, intimidation and threats by supposedly the government as a whole. The psychology of mobs and human nature being what they are; if such threats, victimization and intimidation are allowed to carry the day without response, the rest of the government of elected representatives and the bureaucrats under them are likely to get the scent of blood and lower order echelon civil servants will likely start actions independently, like a pack of dogs, or hyenas, snapping and snarling at the flanks of a cornered prey, to pick on the target they suppose to be opposed to them as an enemy.
We must remember that government is also about human nature. We have on the Belize Culture List our debating forum a character called Peter Singfield, from Xaibe village in Corozal Northwest District. He is an engineer and full of good ideas. Comes up with excellent suggestions and often does some excellent research. From this he attempts to articulate things he sees should be done, or that are being done wrongly in government. The only trouble is, sometimes he goes off half cocked with an idea he knows to be fundamentally sound, but not thought out properly enough that has not been researched properly in regards to local environmental, financial and cultural circumstances, to mention a few. In other words, the basic idea is sound, but won't work as expressed in the local environment for a lot of different reasons. He neglects to factor in the reasons.
Should anyone challenge his presumptions and ideas, he starts to froth at the mouth. The messages on the Belize listserve become slanderous, insulting and the attacks of a very personal nature. This is Peter's nature. Perhaps it is because he inherited his character by his genes, or his environment when growing up framed his response to challenges to his opinions and ideas. But for some strange reason you always know when his ideas and suggestions are weak, because he froths at the mouth and starts attacking the person not agreeing with him, in an insulting personal matter. With Peter as an individual, it doesn't matter. The insults hurt, but anyone who debates with him for a while, know he is on the ropes of the boxing ring, his nose is bloody and he is shaky in the legs. He cannot find the technical facts and arguments to back up his propositions. Insults substitute for facts.
The same scenario in government, particularly in Belmopan at the Cabinet level is not good however. More restraint is necessary, because lower government civil servants and departments, such as the police rank and file, some of whom are outright thugs, smell blood and go where the power lies. They figure it is alright to victimize the person being insulted, and attacked in the party media organs. A mob, or pack mentality develops.
This results in not a debate, and honest differences of opinion trying to find solutions to common problems from different opinions; but in political persecution, victimization and a resulting dictatorship in which people are afraid to offer their opinions.
From the Habet article, it is clear that Norris Hall government spokesperson, is like Peter Singfield, on the ropes; his nose is bloody and his legs are shaking. The intelligence for which he was hired as government spokesperson is not being used properly and the arguments and facts of government not being adequately expressed in a logical and concise manner. He seems incapable of dealing with the job. The question of whether he is expressing his own opinions in the newspaper, or that of just one minister, the Minister of Finance who does not want to get his hands dirty in street fighting debate, or the government of 26 PUP elected representatives as a whole bloc, is a very valid one. Because the results of such silly frothing at the mouth, simply expresses human nature. An inability to deal with facts and the environmental circumstances, around an issue of debating different opinions. The results we know from experience in Belize are frightful from lower level bureaucrats. Loss of jobs, beatings of the victim by police thugs acting in a climate they think is permissive, loss of credit and a host of things we call persecution and victimization. When all that is meant is constructive criticism and debate. Those in Belmopan in positions of power, such as Norris Hall and Ralph Fonseca need to re-think things, get their facts in order and get back to a public debate using their brains instead of their gonads.
It is obvious to the most simple minded retarded person that the political structure of Belize cannot manage the country on $280 million a year, which is what we appear to have. Obviously, we therefore need to change the way we govern! This idea meets head on opposition from the townies of the port town, who rule and create the political parties under the current structure of governing. The reason for the opposition from the townies is also obvious. You have a bunch of opportunists and lawyers whose law firms cannot make enough money to support their lifestyles. They choose to represent themselves as LEADERS therefore and make a living off running a national government. What is wrong with this scenario is they cannot LEAD. Some of them could be good MANAGERS, such as Said Musa our current Prime Minister, but generally speaking, most of them should not be in government deciding the fate of the country of Belize on a cash flow revenue of only $280 million a year. They cannot do it in their personal lives, for their tastes are too expensive, the coterie of friends and pyscophants also too many and too expensive.
Can it be done on $280 million a year? Of course, but it would have to be done differently. Places like the State of New Hampshire handle these problems, Switzerland did in it's 200 years of history, the State of Vermont, the State of North Dakota and so on. There are lots of examples of places bigger than Belize with larger land areas and relatively smaller populations and less money in any sort of ratio, that have managed to construct workable financially deprived governing systems. The point is, the UK colonial model we use is not one of them. It is the townies of the port of Belize City, the lawyers and opportunists that are killing development of any new political structure that would work better with this fixed amount of money. They do it, because they need the jobs, they need to support their families and to hell with the future of Belize. Greed, pure greed and selfishness are the reasons we do not evolve a more efficient, cost effective method of governing.
Let us take the example of Ralph Fonseca our Minister of Finance. His current line of reasoning, is that he is into GROWTH ECONOMICS. This supposes if you borrow money and invest it in infra-structure, the resultant burst of productivity will make industrial jobs for export products to earn foreign exchange and improve the financial status of the whole country. What he states fundamentally is true! But it is a bit like Peter Singfield on the Belize Culture list. It hasn't been thought through enough. There are social and environmental problems in the sense of human resources and the limitations of the political structure we use, to let the idea work as he desires. When you point them out; he and his spokesperson Norris Hall simply froth at the mouth and strike out at the opposition to their ideas. When what is meant is constructive criticism.
In the case of GROWTH ECONOMICS, the idea is fundamentally sound. The problem environmentally is the political structure within which it is supposed to work. It doesn't work as we well know after 40 years of such experiments at home and around the world in Africa particularly, and from my own personal viewpoint, it is because of the political structure it is desired to work within. It might work under different political structure circumstances and fundamentally it is a sound idea.
The merchants of the port Belize City their home town probably know this very well. They built their empires the same way with growth economics. But they did it by judicious borrowing and investment. Not outright splurging willy nilly. A merchant utilizes a 90 day credit line on paying for new items to sell. If it sells, he has a new profit making productive item. His wealth grows. If the items do not sell, he has to discount them, or swallow a loss and not try any new economic growth borrowing credit for a year until he pays off the credit line he just tried and lost on. Cooperatives in Belize work the same way. Risk is a major factor in how fast you can make credit, borrowing and growth economics work for your business, or the nation of Belize. The gamblers are those who put all their finances and credit into one throw of the dice on a new idea for growth economics. If they hit, they get rich fast. If they lose, they are crippled for years and years while they pay off the debts. The PUP are gambling and not calculating RISK in their GROWTH ECONOMICS and hopefully we strike it rich. Real GROWTH ECONOMICS would mean calculating risk and trying new things slowly a small bit at a time and a small percentage of that $280 million we have to apply. $1200 million in debt is just gambling. So, GROWTH ECONOMICS is sound theory, but wrongly applied in an expensive political structure that preordaines cyclical BOOMS AND BUSTS. This boom will be followed by an economic bust, unemployment, austerity and perhaps bankruptcy. That is not the way to go, in my opinion. The way to go is in small increments, with a small amount of controlled risk and building the nation of Belize over time like Switzerland did, with experimental GROWTH ECONOMICS in a cheaper more effective political structure. What do you think? Any other ideas?