REPORT #83 July 1999
THE "MEMBER BRITISH EMPIRE" (MBE) medal and it's role!

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
Winston Harris a Belizean jungle farmer, who moonlights as a survivalist trainer for the British Armed Forces in the jungles of Belize, was nominated by the British Armed Forces for the MBE. While Winston Harris has taught several generations of young British soldiers how to survive in the Belizean Central American jungles, he is recognized for his contributions to the Special Air Service, or SAS, a behind the lines can do anything military specialist force. One of the SAS specialities is working behind enemy lines in deep jungle. The SAS have worked in Ireland against the IRA, in Sumatra, where they stopped the infiltration of Indonesian troops, in Kosovo, where they laser painted targets for aircraft smart bombs and many other hot spot places around the world that the UK has mercenary contracts for defense of governments with.

Winston Harris as a jungle farmer has the expertise in tracking, foraging and the use of jungle plants for medicinal purposes. No easy task in Central American jungles, were there are few game animals and nothing large enough to catch or kill for survival that a small, over and under, .22 cal./410 shotgun cannot kill. With insects, poisonous snakes, thick secondary jungle, survival is definitely a matter of knowledge. To the uninitiated the jungles of Belize and the Peten can mean a quick death. To the jungle worker with simple tools, survival is primitive, but fairly easy. Knowledge, practise and building of an expertise is all important. Harris moonlighted as a survival instructor for the British Military training forces in Belize for 20 years.

The MBE, a medal issued by the United Kingdom government across the pond; a sort of relic of old time European Colonial Empire days, still brings admiration around the world, from those ex- colonies and segments of those societies that are called monarchists, or in Belize 'Royalists'. Belize is after all an independent country, but it is nice for anyone to have their skills and work recognized. The MBE has lost much of it's importance these last thirty years, as the prestige has been diluted with medals issued willy-nilly to all kinds of pop artists of questionable attainments. Plus, many countries are now independent nations and no longer owe allegience to the United Kingdom. In this case, effort is made as a propoganda effort on the part of the United Kingdom government, by having what they call a Queen's Birthday Honours List. Winston Harris is now on a par with Paul McCartney of the Beetles music group fame.

The other more subtle purpose of the MBE which is for the most part awarded primarily to people who work for salary for the United Kingdom government and it's branches, is as a sales pitch. By issuing the old Empire medals around the ex-colonies of the world, most of which are still members of the Commonwealth of Nations, a substitute organization for Empire; the United Kingdom government tries to encourage the monarchists and royalists in the ex-colonies to retain their commercial ties to the United Kingdom. England is after all in competition with the French, the USA, the Germans, the Dutch and Spain for markets for it's industrialized products and requires favored sources of raw economic materials. With a world population that has ballooned from 2 billion to 6 1/2 billion in my lifetime, the economic impact of medals cannot be underestimated.

Notwithstanding the economic subtleties attached to such things as the old Empire medals, it is still nice for Winston Harris to have his knowledge and skills recognized by a foreign government. In Belize, there are literally 4000 or more jungle farmers with similar skills to Winston Harris, but unfortunately, they don't moonlight for the British Army, or they could get an MBE too- maybe! Congratulations Winston!



Just reading Dorla Bowman's "Can Belize afford it's development plan?" Peter mentioned it a week ago. But we get the paper later around here.

Basically, her idea is flawed and that of the Chamber of Commerce. They are talking about making 20 year plans for the nation, and at the same time creating a policy of non-interference by the politicians.

Cannot happen within the structure of political Belize as it now stands. It is more likely if de-centralization is done with autonomy at local government levels, such as District and Towns., with national level government checks and balances on legislation. However, a 20 year economic plan itself, is also not possible. Belize being a small country that has no control over outside world events and markets.

Belize is subject to too many variables. What is needed is local autonomy throughout the country and a political structure that enhances that, so decisions can be made quickly in any one local area, by the people in that area, not by people in Belmopan. Or the academic service merchandising port of Belize City. As the situation changes, local producing people need to be able to change their rules, laws and regulations quickly also at the micro village level and at a bigger scale the district level. No one size fits all, will work for the nation, the variations in climate and resources are too different.

It keeps coming back to political structure will effect economic results. Sorry to burst the bubble of the Chamber of Commerce in the port Belize City, or that of Dorla Bowman the newspaper writer, but they are repeating the mistakes of a centralized bureaucratic government.

"You cannot mandate economic activity"! It has to come from self interest and usually the profit motive. Setting up a system where that is encouraged is the main goal in Belize right now. Which brings us full circle to local autonomous governments and a different political structure than we now use. The centralized model, or 20 year plans are too bureaucratic ridden. It doesn't work that way. You cannot order people to do things. They have to do things themselves for themselves. Nor can a government forecast what will make money and when, in which world situation. When would Belmopan have dreamed up Butterfly Farms?

It would certainly help with a new political structure in which the government departments and politicians were there to serve and manage for the producing segments of the nation in the six districts. Going from a regulation, taxing, controllng atmosphere, to one of service and assistance.

Examples are the licensing bottle necks experienced by the investor with four airconditioned first class buses, he is not allowed to run because of political patronage interference. Or the other bus operator not allowed to operate a service for students in the Landivar Educational complex area. Or in my own case, the building of Belizean small aircraft.

In this case, the Caricom Aircraft Inspector is British. The regulations are not American continent, or USA even, but British Air Colonial Regulations. ( might have changed since I enquired) The UK exports small aircraft. They don't want competition from the ex-colonies. In my case, I was told that I would not be allowed to draw my own plans, and only build from authorized plans that were stress analyzed. What a bunch of poppycock! This inspector is supposed to serve me, the entrepreneur, not regulate me. I don't need a guy in the UK at great expense to stress analyse a wood airframe. This is primarily done by Experimental Aircraft Association rules, by rule of thumb. Mostly they are concerned with the strength of the wing spar box. You stick the wingtips between two saw horses and load it up with 100- 50lb bags of cement. If it breaks it isn't strong enough. Same with weight and balance. Play with engineering formulas all you want. But rule of thumb again, is make your fusealage, load it with engine, and ballast for fuel and passenger weight, then balance it on a single saw horse. Where it balances is the center of gravity. That's the spot you attach your wing. The wing is fixed at 20 to 25% of chord. Or 20% back from the front leading edge. Simple eyeball practical engineering. Done all over the third world and even in the USA by 30,000 members of the EAA. This aircraft inspector is not supposed to be regulating me, he is supposed to be coming to check my work and tell me if I have the fuel lines laid out wrong, or to move my hinges on the ailerons to a better position to avoid flutter. SERVICE and prompt help that is what government is about. Not regulations that obstruct economic activity.

The Belize Constitutional system as it operates right now, is anti-entrepreneur activity. It is politics of GREED and obstructionism. Has been since before Independence! The results speak for themselves.

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