Features — 07 July 2018
Mexico goes socialist, and a NY district might too

All the talk in Mexico and Latin America right now is about the victory of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, a democratic socialist, in the presidential elections in Mexico this week. Much of the talk in the USA right now is about the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old democratic socialist, who shocked a 10-term incumbent in a congressional district in New York.

There’s little pure glory for mankind in the daag-eat-daag capitalist system. We have heard American president, Donald Trump, speak about the “art of the deal” as if it is some wholesome science. It’s not!   Yes, much of the success in the capitalist system depends on your talent, hard work, home work, and intuition, but a heck of a lot of the deal is about dishonest insider trading, lobbying shady politicians, and at its most vicious, taking advantage of people who are financially desperate. In the political arena it is pointing a gun or pointing to the bomb and telling leaders of less militarily powerful governments, DEAL!

How many times have you heard a young Belizean who is ill, or parents of a young Belizean who is ill, cry out to the hearts of other Belizeans for assistance with the cost of medical care? The capitalist says it is good when capitalists have a heart, but they are not bound to help.

Recently, on local television (I can’t remember which one), the foreign minister, Hon. Wilfred Elrington, commented on a judgment by the court against two institutions he has shares in. Rowland Parks wrote in the Amandala of June 15, that the Supreme Court ruled that the Samuel Haynes Institute for Excellence (SHIE) and the Pickstock Development Association (PDA), and building contractor Brian Espat, must pay $260,000 to five-year-old Brenae Timmons, for injuries she suffered while at the SHIE/PDA, on Mahogany Street.

The report says an iron gate fell on Brenae. The little girl suffered massive life-changing injuries and has undergone numerous surgeries since.

Elrington explained that he has no complaint about the ruling. He said he knows that Brenae will need much specialist care. I think he even said that the $260,000 awarded to her, will not be enough.

You shouldn’t need to suffer serious injury or serious illness to feel for Brenae. Elrington is clearly sympathetic. But he doesn’t know how the SHIE/PDA will pay, because they are non-profit organizations. Elrington said he doesn’t think the contractor has the funds to pay that sizable sum of money either. He did not sound like he would launch an appeal of the ruling.

Elrington, apart from being a minister of government, is a lawyer, and it is believed that his law firm is very successful. I don’t know if he has that kind of money (to satisfy the court’s ruling) but I would hazard that if you asked many Belizeans if he is that blessed, they would say yes.

But I am not about commenting on that. I am not about making a judgment of the heart of Mr. Elrington. I am writing about democratic socialism. It shouldn’t matter what Mr. Elrington has in his bank account. A child of this nation is in need, and it is this nation’s responsibility, duty to see that she gets it.

Someone expressed surprise to me that there was no mention of insurance in play here. The fact is that only the children of the educated elite and the rich business people have insurance. The vast majority of children and adults in this country have none.

We have to understand the full implications of this ruling. Years ago, when I knew where my next meal was coming from, I was very active in my village. For some years, I was able to do a summer camp during my holidays. The camps were physically taxing, but it was the mental stress that really exhausted me.

We did most of the disciplines at camp, but campers who look back will notice we did no true distance races. I didn’t have a doctor in camp, so we stayed away from strenuous activities. At the close of camp each year, we country people got on a bus and headed to the coast for some salts. When the camp’s leaders and our seventy or so kids hit the beach it was strict military discipline. I tell you, I didn’t breathe until I saw every one of those kids heading up the picados to their homes. Sometimes a man deserves a drink, if he can handle it.

People who do charity try to get by with “disclaimers”. These disclaimers are intended to cover leaders if anything goes wrong. They can cause leaders to become lax. That’s bad business. I expect that a good court will not give you carte blanche with a disclaimer if you are negligent. Indeed, people must take responsibility for their errors. I don’t know what happened to this gate so I won’t discuss that.  I am about discussing a system that turns a blind eye on people being destroyed.

What if the gate of a dirt poor person, or a gate on an encumbered property, had fallen on Brenae? Then what? She and her parents, if they don’t have any money, would have had to go on their hands and knees and beg the capitalists to help them. She would not be able to get the specialist care she needs. Her parents might end up spending the rest of their lives trying to find the funds to make comfortable the beautiful, innocent child who got hurt in a very unfortunate accident.

I’ll tell you about a mindset you’ll find in many shocking capitalists which you’ll never find among democratic socialists. Many capitalists believe that if something bad happens to you, you did something to deserve it, even if you are a child. Fu real! Some capitalists look at your parents’ lives, or even go into your past life, I mean in your before life, if they can’t find obvious sins to explain your “bad luck.”

These ideas, these crazy ideas, aren’t rooted in science or sensible religion. Some people try to explain things they and no one can explain, and they end up mired in superstition. It happened, it could have happened to anyone, and we are called as a nation to help.

Maybe little Brenae will get substantial financial assistance. But again, what if the people who are charged responsible don’t have the money to pay? Why should a single individual bear the burden for a freak accident? That gate could have fallen on no one.

The state must stop bakarop and do the right thing. We’ve been doing the wrong thing for years and years. It is the SHIE that owes. Quite likely, only the assets of the SHIE can be touched. An ordinary citizen might not have shielded their other assets from lawsuits. But a lawyer knows the system (they made it), so most likely it was.

Mr. Elrington gained his money honestly in the inhumane capitalist system. This piece is not about judging his heart. This is a cold story about a cold system that some incredible people find virtuous. The assets of the progressive project, the SHIE, might end up liquidated. That is very unfortunate. But at least it would be for a good cause. Little Brenae would get the funds from the SHIE to help her after her extremely unfortunate accident, when a gate fell.

Clearly, little Brenae must get all the help, to help her get as much of the glorious juice of life as is possible for her to get in her new condition. And clearly, the SHIE should not have to close its doors because a gate fell. In a civilized system all the children would have insurance. The people of Mexico agree. And the democrats in a NY district agree too.

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Deshawn Swasey

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