REPORT #71 June 1999
CIVICS AND GOVERNMENT for BELIZEAN STUDENTS


Produced by the Belize Development Trust
"GOVERNMENT OF MEDIOCROCITY"
( Is Belize run by a Government of Mediocrocity.)

PHILOSPHICAL DIFFERENCES IN GOVERNING

Is it alright in Belize to discuss the way we are governed? Will you be persecuted for thinking differently than those elected leaders running the country? Are your views considered? Do you have any machinery in the Constitution to change the way things are run? Other than the right to elect a political party in power as leaders of the country, to tell you and I, what to do; what other democratic ideals and mechanisms exist in our government, to give you a voice, or means to change things?

Some pundit on the Bz-culture-list on the internet. At the internet E-Mail address of: bz-culture@psg.com ( If you wish to subscribe send an E-Mail message to: bz-culture-request@psg.com and place subscribe in the body of the message. Do not include anything else like a signature file.), this pundit stated, that according to US Government statistics, there were over 300,000 Belizeans living within the USA. Think about that for a moment. That is more than the current population of our nation. Why did these people leave Belize? They voted with their feet and left. Was it because during the years of self- government and since then during Independence, that they felt deprived of opportunities in Belize?

What reasons could they have had? Political persecution, more opportunities, more democratic freedoms? Is there equivalent democracy in Belize similar to the USA? If not, what differences are there? Can you name a couple of dozen? Do any of these differences change the way people have a government and the results?

Let us examine one difference. In Belize we are only allowed to elect leaders. What is the difference between a government by a leadership of small group of people ( a dozen ) in a controlling political party and a democratic decentralized government of local governments, in which consensus is the rule? How do you design, or change the Belize Constitution to make consensus the method of governing, instead of a half dozen people elected as leaders? Are leaders more efficient? Are they better at making policy decisions? Or does consensus work more efficiently and fairly at making policy decisions? If you decide consensus is a more democratic way of making policy decisions ( more heads make wiser decisions) then how are you going to change our Government of Mediocrity into a dynamic progressive ever changing style of consensus style of government? What are the implications behind changing a Government of Mediocrity to a Government of Dynamic Change? How would you achieve these methods of governing with today's realities of a governing system that relies on an autocratic system of elected leadership? Or should you just leave things the way they are and vote with your feet and leave the country for more opportunity under a different system?

Recently on the Belize Culture List on the E-Mail list serve, there was a debate about the right of citizens to bear arms. In the USA, citizens have the right to bear arms. This right came about, because they overthrew England to gain Independence in a revolutionary war. In Belize, we were basically thrown out of colonial status. Coerced, intimidated and tricked to comply with the UN Mandate on independence for colonies. Belize did not fight to gain independence, thus we have no experience, or historical references to try and decide such a profound question, on whether citizens should have the right to bear arms. The anti-gun lobby points almost exclusively to the number of deaths to children, by children in the USA by gunshot. Is a small percentage of deaths worth the price to have the right to bear arms? Cars kill more people than guns in the USA and in Belize. Should Belize ban cars? If you do not ban cars which kill more people than guns, then why should the government ban gun ownership? Should Belize ban ownership of guns? At the present moment we continue to copy the British system. Most European countries descended from feudal times when the monarchs attempted to control the citizens with various types of controls, one of which is the denial of the right for citizens to bear arms. In the USA, the fight for Independence showed the revolutionists and philosphers of that fight for Independence, that Democratic Government has to have CHECKS AND BALANCES. One of these checks and balances is that if citizens are armed, or have the right to choose to either arm themselves, or not arm themselves, it is a check against despotic autocratic rule.

Bureaucrats multipy and centralized governments feed on growing larger. This is just normal human nature. In the USA, cutbacks, down sizing every two or three years and other such things like budget limits, try to cope with the growth of centralized bureaucratic control. The right to bear arms by voting citizens also provides a check on the actions of elected representatives to choose the European way of settling disputes with the populace. The European way seen in Latin America, is institutionalized murder, road blocks, assassinations of people considered political dissidents, massacres and private politically controlled, or rich oligarchy owned financed private armies who manipulate the representatives in government by financial payments, or contributions and use killing as a business tool and a political party controlling method perceived opposition.

In Belize, we have seen this in the use of the Belize Defense Force used to suppress Unionization in the Banana Industry and other type situations. An armed citizenry means those in political power controlling the government have to negotitiate, or use the courts and rule of law, instead of force at the point of a gun, which only they have the right to control use of. Would you feel then, that "the right to bear arms" by voting citizens is a worthwhile check and balance to autocratic style leadership type government?

Local governments are another way of increasing efficiency with limited resources. Do you agree? How do you implement such a thing in Belize? Do you make a commission style District Government? Do you give District governments thus the right to object and veto national legislation? Would this ensure that legislation is not private, or commercial for profit, protecting the personal interests of elected politicians, or the rich who bribe them?

How do you get fair justice for all citizens in Belize? How do you get rule of law, versus political two tiered justice that exists today; in which the party in power, adherents, sycophants and relatives are beyond the law, while ordinary citizens with no connections are bound to the laws?

In building a nation, should we go to equal geographical distribution of economic financial investments for infrastructure? If so, how would you do it? By District? Would it be better to have elected representatives elected on an equal proportion basis by district? This to get a true national development? Perhaps the Senate could then be elected by population levels and locations? Would this correct the distortions in the present system, in which one town, the port has a disproportionate of fiscal resources spent upon it, to the detriment of building up the rest of the nation.

Would designing a government that works along that of a cooperative in Belize, in which Districts with their own governments would have equal votes in a national government see a more dynamic development? Cooperatives have been very successful examples of creating wealth and high living standards for it's voting members. Some would say, superior to that of the Centralized autocratic style of party government we presently use as our one and only national model. If you wanted to change, you would have to change the Courtenay Constitution? How would you change it? What prinicipals of democracy and the nitty gritty small details of machinery in a true democratic government would you have to change and include if you change Belize into a true participating democracy working on nationwide consensus. In Canada I have seen Apple Cooperatives with more members and bigger than the country of Belize and it's population, so we know this is not an impossible idea.

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