Belize has a Special Agreement with Guatemala. It is to be decided by Belize’s Supreme Court if that Special Agreement is valid, or if it is yet to be approved by the members of the House of Representatives. As it stands, not everyone is happy with the Special Agreement with Guatemala. Indeed, some people want it to run into a stone wall in the House of Representatives, and if it is not stopped there, that the people of Belize resoundingly say NO to it.
This Special Agreement is consequential because it could lead to Guatemala getting all of Belize, a piece of Belize, or some rights in Belize. Supporters of the Special Agreement say that annexation of the country is impossible, the dismemberment of the country is highly improbable, and the issue of rights, well, that can only come about if the court (ICJ) finds some validity to the Guatemalan claim.
Our country has other important agreements, and one of these is presently on the table being discussed in the House of Representatives. This agreement has to do with the economy, the livelihoods of Belizeans across this country.
Belize’s Constitution, in Section B of its preamble, says that we are to respect “the principles of social justice”, ensure “that the operation of the economic system” results “in the material resources of the community being so distributed as to subserve the common good”, and that “equal protection” be “given to children regardless of their social status,” and that our system provides “for education and health on the basis of equality.”
Are the material resources of our country being distributed so as “to subserve the common good”, and do we have a just system that provides “for education and health on the basis of equality?” The answer to that is no. Our Constitution says it should be so. Our reality is that many people are not getting a sufficient share of the national pie, and education and health care are not being provided for sufficiently.
There are countries that achieve what our Constitution calls for. Some of these are communist; some of them are socialist. Many of them are capitalist.
Some people describe the states which form the European Union, countries that are considered to be some of the happiest in the world at this time, as socialist. But what they are, are progressive capitalist states that have a conscience, particularly for their own.
Briefly, the Europeans did very well for themselves after their conquest of the Americas and Africa. They built up their infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, education, and health systems, and they invested heavily in researching ways to improve on, build on what they had. Their economic system is capitalist, but they make sure that their economies provide for all. In their countries, all young people have access to the best education, all their people are cared for in a heavily subsidized health system, and they all have quality foods and accommodation.
Briefly, the United States is a capitalist country that is not as progressive as the European countries, and it does not have a big conscience. The Americans believe that if you allow the rich and super rich to run unfettered by too much taxation, they will create wealth that will trickle down to the masses. That country has amassed so much wealth that they allow for some subsidy of their education and health system, and a welfare system which we would call a rather rich food pantry, but because they have great interest in tapping into resources around the world, they invest a huge amount of money in their military machine.
The compact that our country has with its citizens is that the economic wealth of the country will take care of the needs – the food, the education, the housing, and the health care – of all its citizens. In the USA and in Canada and in Europe they do that. It is perfectly right that they continue working the system that takes such good care of them.
There are political leaders in the USA who say that their system isn’t providing for all. They argue that much of the economic resources that are going to their military machine, to keep it the most powerful in the world, should be diverted to their health and education systems. The present political leaders in the USA say these politicians who want more subsidies for their health and education systems are socialist. We know that they are capitalists with a conscience.
Our Constitution calls for us to prize the principles of social justice, and the system we have to ensure that end is the form of capitalism that is progressive, and has a conscience. Ours isn’t working. We have and have had some good leaders who tried, but none of them can gloat. There are far too many Belizeans living on the edge, far too many Belizeans who don’t know what they will eat tomorrow, where they will find the money to pay the mortgage/rent, the utilities, the education bills, the health bills.
The Amandala’s Health Page reproduced an article titled, “This is the No.1 reason Americans are so stressed out – And it’s hurting our health.” The article, from MarketWatch, written by Catey Hill, says “Money is the biggest source of stress for Americans”, that “Americans are drowning in financial troubles.” If they are drowning, we are drowned.
Human beings cherish freedom and capitalism is the freest system. Unfortunately, many countries that practice the system, fail at it. The capitalist system is really a luxury that looks to be too rich for the blood of countries like Belize. We can have those special freedoms, only IF we satisfy the obligation, the compact set out in our Constitution, that “the material resources of the community (will be) distributed…to subserve the common good”, and the education and health of the people are taken care of.
The Chamber of Commerce, a capitalist organization, recognizes that our failure to satisfy the needs of all, can lead to the collapse of our economic system. (some say it has collapsed) Consistently, the Chamber engages the government about inefficiencies in our tax system and about corruption and waste in government. Wave Radio & Television, the government’s mouthpiece, keeps calling out the Chamber about businesses that are dodging, not paying their share of the General Sales Tax (GST).
If businesses are not paying the GST, is it because they are greedy or because they are dishonest? Are business owners dodging the GST because it’s the only way to keep their companies above water? Do people contraband goods because of need or greed? Do people rob because of need or greed? We know there is no sufficient excuse for government corruption. That is greed, dishonesty.
We are living in a failing, failed system; we are not living up to the special agreement as set out in our Constitution. Capitalism allows freedoms so that all have the OPPORTUNITY to be what they want to be, achieve what they desire, and it is a justifiable system as long as the material resources of the community subserves the good of all. To achieve that, we need to become more progressive and have a bigger conscience.