Brian Plummer’s letter to the Amandala, Friday edition (December 6, 2019), has to be considered as a first response to Bill Lindo’s call for Belize to dump any association we have with the British system of capitalism and adopt the American system. Mr. Lindo, in his article “The economy and independence” published in the November 22 and November 26 (2019) editions of the Amandala, says that the most successful countries in the world follow the version of the capitalist system practiced/developed by the Americans.
Bill says that some signatures of the American system are that it believes in exploiting nature, not man; use of tariffs to protect local industries; money creation under the control of a country’s elected leaders; introduction of new methods of production and greater investments in research; government intervention in the economy to bridle corporate bodies; and the sacred duty of government to create full employment. Another signature of the American system is that it calls for high wages for workers.
Mr. Lindo said that a truly independent country has 90% or more self-sufficiency, and at this time, we are only 34% there. He says that the USA, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and even Communist China use the American system, and that the supporters of the American system are democracies. Mr. Lindo said that while China allows only one political party, it is actually a democracy at the local level, and that is why the American system can thrive on the ground in that country.
In his letter to the Amandala last week, Mr. Plummer said the middle class in the developed world pays for a welfare state that pacifies the marginalized, but that we need a “more inclusive socio-economic system” to get us out of this war situation we are living in. He said that the old models of capitalism, communism, and socialism are outdated. In our system a few rise from poverty, but it is the exception, not the rule, he said.
These are two big guys in the field talking here, and I pay attention to what they have to say. All I want to say today is: Belize is ill-served by so much investment in the study of law. That field of study will help an individual, but it won’t create the jobs Belize needs. As Mr. Plummer said, a few individuals will rise.
Belize is in a very dangerous situation at this time. Okay, it has always been dangerous for us, but now we have reached the cliff and we can’t back up any farther. Our political leaders don’t seem to grasp what is happening to us, or they don’t care. Poor wealth creation, poor distribution of the wealth we have, and violent crimes are killing us.
We have the brains and the education in Belize, but we are not progressing as we should. Brothers and sisters, it’s not about voting for people we like: it’s about voting for people who truly like us, and have the capacity to deliver the goods.
I don’t know Senator Mark Lizarraga beyond a hello, but, like most Belizeans, I have been observing him carry out his duties as business senator. I believe we agree that he is making his mark. Senator Mark, unlike a number of his colleagues, isn’t in a hurry to go home when he is on the job.
At the last Senate meeting he challenged the president of the Senate to get some committees going so that the Senate could do some serious work to upgrade the Bills that had been passed on from the House of Representatives. On the surface, the challenge was tongue- in-cheek: it is not his place to tell the president of the Senate to get serious about his job, but we all knew that Senator Mark wasn’t really gaming.
It seems that all our political employees are just going through the motions these days, even the formerly indefatigable Godwin Hulse. There was a time when he would talk passionately about the people’s business for hours, but these days he seems to be following Aldo Salazar’s lead. Show up, get it over as quickly as you can, and then hurry home.
I said I don’t know Senator Mark personally, but I have a good idea where he comes from. I know he didn’t experience starvation while growing up. His dad had a good job with the government, and I know the family had assets. I believe he is a St. John’s College boy.
Senator Mark has run a successful business for years. Getting business done to the best of your ability must be in his DNA, but he could have decided to be a fattish cat, just like those many others who are just going through the motions. I believe the location of the Senator’s business is the big story behind the passion he has for seeing Belize become more productive.
Senator Mark’s business is on Albert Street West, tucked between new money/old, fading money; and poverty. He would have seen a lot over the years, and a lot of what he has seen is pretty rough.
Business is not charity. Business persons have to be tough, or their business will go under. Business persons make their living by selling products. Business persons need the people in their neighborhood to be able to afford what they sell. The people in their neighborhood will be able to buy the products they sell if the economy is vibrant. The economy will be vibrant if people in the House make good decisions and the people in the Senate provide input to make those decisions better.
Senator Mark is primarily in the meat business, that’s his major expertise, but he also runs a grocery store. He knows the price of goods. You bet he and his family see the rising cost of every consignment, and it must hurt to have to tack on the added price to the goods they sell. The SIB says the cost of living is barely inching up in Belize, but that’s not true. Business people know what’s going on.
The SIB says there is next to no inflation, but that is because the goods in the food basket they are checking are all grown in Belize. There is a story behind the cost of farm fresh foods in Belize, but I’ll leave that off for today, except to say that there are forces that keep the farm fresh foods in check.
There are well-off people who go to the market and try to beat down prices. They should go to the grocery store and try to do that!
Over the years Senator Mark must have seen a lot of his old customers get crushed by the poverty in the inner city. He would have seen a lot of the sons of his old customers unable to find a job, struggling on a low-paying job, or falling afoul of the law, and he would have seen many of the daughters of his old customers struggling to make ends meet in single-mother homes.
Senator Mark is a blue-collar businessman, and that gives him a different experience from his colleagues in the government body where he works. The lawyers in the Senate, they are all white-collar businessmen. The teachers in the Senate, and the nurse, know the pain our people are going through, so they can empathize. The blue-collar-businessmen see the pain, and they not only want the people in their neighborhood to succeed, they need them to.
Yes, Senator Mark knows first-hand, up close what our people are going through. He knows that things are really hard out there. He feels for his customers and he believes he can help. But the senators around him are tired and want to hurry home.