Features — 08 May 2018
Ed. U Kate exposes Smith

It is good that some Belizeans can afford the Godfrey Smith book, and that some of those who can, believe in the Christian virtue of sharing. A lot of people call themselves Christian, but they are confused followers of Moses. Ah, the Guardian’s Ed. U Kate believes in sharing, and last week, thank you, thank you, he/she did. Hope you keep it coming, brother or sister. Looking forward to more real smelly revelations about Price, the PUP, and di lak, di stak, an di baril.

But let’s get off the wikid business for a while and look at—what the heck is wrong with Mr. Smith. If someone lets you into their house, you leave your baggage at the door. Objectivity is to be cherished, but you absolutely can’t maul your subject.

We’ll have to check the authority, if Price really gave Smith the green light, because it is not impossible that what U Kate said Smith put out there, is a sneeze job. I say, if U Kate was true in what he/she reported, if he/she didn’t maliciously cherry pick, then it would have been better for Price that he write his own book. That’s what Said did. I bet no other big people will stand for biography again, definitely not by Smith. So what, is he the hero of Price’s book?

Gudnis me, Price was a pragmatist, not a socialist. Whoa, we are talking about a political life here! Pragmatism in a political life is EXPEDIENCY. A certain amount of expediency will appear in every political life. And yes, at some time every politician will haffu lie.

Price was left of center. His signature land reform was not about gaining favor with the masses, it was about love of the common people. The austere life was about stomping down mammon for self-glorification. The works of his beloved sisters, Lydia Price Waight and Meg Price Craig, to protect Belize’s environment, are not capitalist endeavours. The work of his beloved sister, Jane Price Usher, was about empowering the masses, not about promoting rampant capitalism.

In the life of Robert Sydney Turton, by Leroy A. Grant, when Bob Turton told Price that the Pope didn’t know blank about business, he wasn’t talking to a pragmatist, he was talking to a socialist, a man who was expressing concern for the lot of our nation’s laborers.

I’m not being unfair to Mr. Smith. He knows very well that when we use the term “socialist,” we are talking social democracy, not Eastern socialism. The Merriam-Webster explains socialism vs. social democracy:

In the many years since socialism entered English around 1830, it has acquired several different meanings. It refers to a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control, but the conception of that control has varied, and the term has been interpreted in widely diverging ways, ranging from statist to libertarian, from Marxist to liberal. In the modern era, “pure” socialism has been seen only rarely and usually briefly in a few Communist regimes. Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism, in which extensive state regulation, with limited state ownership, has been employed by democratically elected governments (as in Sweden and Denmark) in the belief that it produces a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth.

All the evidence says Price was philosophically left of center. I said I’ll have to read this book to make sure this Ed did not mis-educate. If he/she didn’t, then he, Smith, the biographer, used the platform to justify his jaunts around the world on Ashcroft’s jet plane. And for exonerating Friend Glenn and Ralph for getting too excited when they got control of the nation’s vault.

The PUP and a long-retired Price bought into Margaret Thatcher—hook, line, and sinker. When Price was Price, he spoke truth to Bob Turton, and he respected men named Lazaro Cardenas and Jacobo Arbenz.

Results over intentions

My boss at Hummingbird Hershey Ltd. (HHL), N E Wade, saw that I had a very soft spot (too soft) for the workers in my charge, so he called me aside one day and told me this story. My boss said he looked out of his office window one day and saw his workers under a sweltering sun, planting citrus. He said he was filled with compassion for them, so he gave the office boy some money and told him to go to the shop and buy some ice, which he put in a bucket of water and sent to the fields.

My boss said this became a habit for him, and all was good, until one day he didn’t send a bucket of ice cold water out to the fields. When he looked out of his window he saw the workers standing under a tree, so he sent the office boy out to the field to ask them why they weren’t working. The message came back that they wouldn’t work until they got their bucket of ice cold water.

My boss said to me: “Colin, they will never love you.” We both laughed at that.

At HHL, where I worked for a couple years, when I was young, I drove my workers hard. There were about seventy of them in all, in four groups. A few of my workers might have described me as cold, because I wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions. But on the whole I had a good relationship with my workers, because they knew I tried to be fair, and that I had their best interests at heart.

I was tough in some of the decisions I made in the field, but I was tough with the capitalists at the office too. I fought tooth and nail for better wages and better conditions for my workers. I did declare to the capitalists that I was communist. But I didn’t mean communist communist.

If you saw Dr. Zhivago, you’d never want to be a communist communist. There is this scene where the doctor has come home, after sacrificing his all, but the communists, like the dastardly weasels and stoats in the Wind in the Willows, have taken over his castle. The “gestapo” lady who is running the show doesn’t even want to spare him a private moment with his woman, or an extra morsel for his kid. And they are occupying the house that he built!

HHL is a long story. I learned many lessons there. I had triumphs and failures. I have many memories, almost all of them good. I formed some friendships for a lifetime. After two years it came to an interesting end, and I was off on another journey, to learn and experience more things.

In 1980, no one in Belize produced vegetables for the “winter” market. I didn’t think I was the smartest farmer in the world, but I loved to sweat and I saw an opening. Mr. Ernest Castro at the Ministry of Trade gave me some of the information I needed. In my youth I was a fixture on the basketball courts in Belmopan, and Mr. Castro played for Belmopan’s senior team, so we were familiar. The trade charts showed tomato was my best bet.

I had gained two years of valuable experience under the tutorship of N E Wade, one of Belize’s most celebrated agronomists. I believed myself capable. My uncle, J V Hyde, agreed to back me with his land, and I was off.

The clear path locally was in tomatoes. I set down 6,000 plants. I set down most everything else too—butternut squash, zucchini, sweet pepper, cucumber, cabbage, snap beans, lettuce, onion, carrot, mostly just to learn about those crops. But tomato was my winner. Ah, I’ll never forget the great help Mr. Herbert Masson, Jr., at the Hofius gave me when I was choosing the variety of tomato to plant. Aha, this one I can’t forget – Hope # 1.

I employed two workers, both of them from across our western border. The wage for a farm laborer in 1980 was about $12 per day. I’m very left of center. I paid $20 to each per day.

This is a very long story, so I must cut to the end, seven months after I started, seven months of working Sunday to Sunday, dawn to dusk. Bacterial wilt cut my tomato yield by half. The project made no profit, just about broke even.

My hope with this project was to make enough money so I could buy a boat and go to sea. My vision, from I left high school, was to work both the sea and the land. It didn’t work out. I thought things over a while and decided I would go somewhere to recuperate. I told my uncle about my plan to leave.

A couple days later my uncle gave me some information that gave me the ganas to make another go of it. That’s another story.

I didn’t need to have a lot of sense to know that I had to reflect on the project I had just completed before I started a new one. And that led me to this capitalist lesson. If I had paid my workers the going wage, I would have had more money in the bank, to help finance my next project. I am sure labor appreciated the higher pay. But if the employer is out of capital, there is no more job.

The natural consequence of that is that when I started again, I reduced the wages of my workers. Nyet. I wanted to pay them even more. I am forever labor. I sympathize with capital. By that I mean that I have concern that people do well in their businesses and work. But I don’t run too much sweat for people who eat the better cuts of the meat.

My lesson taught me to look beyond intentions, to results. I gained a greater respect for the daam capitalists. Labor can do without good intentions. Labor wants jobs. And the daam capitalists have the money.

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Deshawn Swasey

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