Let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that athletes and musicians and artists have the most fun in life. Let’s say, then, for argument’s sake, that doctors and dentists and engineers are the most important technical and scientific people in the world. Let’s say that soldiers and military men are heroes. At the end of the day, the one thing that no one can dispute, I would say, is that bankers rule the world. If Belizeans did not know this before, we know it now.
Belize’s politicians/lawyers began playing games with the bankers during the 1989 to 1993 People’s United Party (PUP) administration. Very, very few people knew it at the time, but the Rt. Hon. George Price, who led that administration, was not the same powerhouse he had been in previous decades. Mr. Price was in his early, going on middle, seventies, and he had favorites who were becoming more and more influential. In 1996, in fact, these same favorites forced him out of the leadership of the PUP.
Belize’s two major political parties, the PUP and the United Democratic Party (UDP), are mammoth organizations which can make you or break you, “you” as an individual. In January of 1993, Jorge Espat won the Freetown seat in a by-election and became a part of the PUP Cabinet led by Mr. Price. In a short time, he realized something was dangerously wrong inside the administration, and he opened his mouth in public. People don’t do that sort of thing at the highest levels of the major parties.
When the UDP politician/lawyer, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, became Prime Minister in 2008, he was believed to have been given a mandate to change the way the game had been played by the PUP politicians and lawyers between 1998 and 2008. The PUP politicians and lawyers had played the game fast and loose with bankers at home and abroad. Mr. Barrow swore that he would use a two-sided machete to cut out corruption and run a tight ship. The evidence indicates that was only talking.
Some apologists for the PUDP say that the frightening financial problems Belize now faces in the public sector are the direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a little more than a year old on our local scene. But the fact of the matter is that as a country, before the virus, we were already seriously vulnerable financially, because from 1998 to 2020 our PUDP politicians and lawyers were becoming more and more beholden to the bankers. Jorge Espat had bravely sounded the alarm from as early as the early months of 1998, but to absolutely no avail.
One of the reasons no one has been able to slow Belize’s mad rush to bankruptcy is because the problem we face is systemic. Elected governments in our first-past-the-post political system are so powerful they can afford to ignore criticism, no matter the source.
I have said over the decades that the solution to our problem is a change from first-past-the-post to the proportional representation system of government. The proportional representation system would make it easier to change governments which the people perceive as being in a misbehavior mode.
Anyway, let’s end with a closer look at the rulers of the world — bankers, and their subjects: us. The vast majority of human beings are always in need of money for some reason or the other. When we are not in need of it, as it were, we are simply desirous of having it: we want it. The people who always have money are the bankers, and in many cases their clients are so desperate, the banker can name the interest price he charges for the use of his money. In the streets, they call it loan sharking. The Bible calls it usury. No matter what you call it, it’s just the way of the world: bankers rule.