Monday, April 14, 2008

WHAT! Flour gwain up?

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, fresh off the press! The price of flour is almost doubling... from 58c to damn near a $1. Didn't the Chicken Association announce last week that the cost of chicken {our Belizean staple} is increasing as well?

Now, if we add that to the price of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene... As a matter of fact all petroleum based products, with one barrel of the Black Gold floating somewhere around $110US... then we have the US economy in seriously recession and falling currency problems, so there goes the majority of our tourism industry. Does anyone remember the BTIA commercials? "Almost 40% of jobs in Belize are directly related to the tourism industry."

Does anyone have a calculator? Where the hell does that leave the common man?

We're in dire straits. Someone... come hold me! I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and desperate!

Here we are, developing nation, 2008. We have oil. We have some of the most beautiful biolife the world has to offer. We have a great number of naturally intelligent people. We have fertile farmlands.

Here we are, developing nation, 2008. We have an oil company paying us somewhere around 7% of their earnings. We have our reefs being destroyed by the cruise tourism industry where we barely get one freaking dollar for every "tourist" that touches our blessed soil. We have a people unable to afford education, and those who can, flock to America, Canada, England, anywhere but here. We have foreign developers coming and buying our most prime pieces of land and Central Americans squatting on our sovereign territory.

We're living in a world of ever widening social disparity. The rich ARE getting richer. The poor ARE getting poorer. And it is getting harder and harder every single DAY for a man to jump this social gorge.

1 murder every 3 days. If I hear ONE more mother bawling on the TV saying, "My son wasn't bad," I'll scream! Our streets erupting in violence was NOT an overnight occurrence. No honey, from the time Johnny was a boy, he was running amok. What happened to discipline? What happened to respect? What happened to the BELIZEAN WAY. You shoulda mi BAX all rebel outta that boy long time and teach him to be a gentleman. You shoulda mi erase all this "thug this" "gansta that" nonsense outta his head LONG time and guide that boy toward some real dreams.

I am so disgusted with the direction my country is headed. I have to ask, how much lower do we need to go before we RISE as a community? What depths must we reach before we CLEAN our streets. From the Legislature, from the Judiciary, from the Police, from the churches, from the schools, and most of all from the average Belizean home, baby, we gotta make some BIG changes. The question is, are we ready?

Flour price going up. I need to get me some land and start to farm. How can I starve in a country such as this? With the grass so green. With the breezes so gentle? With the sun so warm? And with a people, who I believe -- I have to believe -- so wonderful?

Think, my brothers and sisters, think! How are we gonna solve the problems -- so many problems riddling such a small nation.


the "unpolitical" said...

just breathe voice ... it's hard, but small steps at a time ... i think our generation has some really ace people who can start to swing things around ... faith and hope ...

one thing though ... i love the blog and the idea behind it ... but ... as of this moment i kind of feel like it's everything else with belize's issues ... talk, and talk, and talk (brilliant talk) ... but ... no action ...

i DO think however that the people doing this blog are the kinds of people who will, when possible, take action

Democrates said...

I respect the expressed views, but we have to be careful how we link these issues. Too often frustration about socioeconomic stagnation can come off as irrational associations, such as linking rising bread prices with domestic issues.
Nevertheless, concerning the point you brought up about mothers playing that ever-important disciplinary role for young males, I can personally attest works! Mothers, like mine, can play an instrumental role in the development of the right kind of values. But, its important to keep in mind that because of a plethora of circumstances, such as single-parent households and poverty, the apple can fall very far away from the tree. Mothers (and parents in general) can have a profound impact, yes. But, for a lot of households, other issues will have a greater impact in shaping the development of one's values.

The Voice said...

I admit, I jumped from flour to crime, and back again. But the high cost of living is directly related to crime. What was the source of the French Revolution? The common man didn't have enough bread to eat.

My dad was raised by his mother, one of 9, and he still didn't stray. It's because everyone grown man and woman in town had the right to beat his ass if they saw him giving trouble. You try to scold a child on the streets today, and the kid will curse you out!

Me: "Don't throw sticks at cars, hun."
Kid: "Fuck you!"

On another thread, why should only mothers be responsible for the socialization of children? Men have a notable absent role in the community, but it is men who lead in politics. Perhaps some gender equity would have an impact in our society too.

Democrates said...

I believe the kid would say, "yo granny!", but I agree with everything else. :)

The Voice said...


If I could go on the street and openly express my opinions, If I could implement new laws, If I could arrest and convict every guilty criminal myself, If I could find the funds to create a manufacturing industry here, If I could... I would.

So, instead I blog, and take tiny actions where I can. And I hope that through my words, thoughts, and deeds, I may inspire my brethen to think... and hence take little actions too.

Then, perhaps, with the entire community taking little actions, we'll start to see some change, with time.

lukehoare said...

Honestly, I hold very little hopes if any for change in Belizean Society until we reach some serious level of economic crisis.

Complacency has always been the major issue for us as a society. There are the people who see what needs to be done and are ready to Alead the way. However, when no one follows how effective can that call for change be?

As far as tourism goes, it always aggravated me how dependent we've been on it. I love and feel proud of what our country has to offer in this respect but tourism has always and will always be a very fickle industry dependent on so many external factors. More troubling for me is how the way the sector is currently being developed results in far more damage than benefits. Case in point the environmental tax charged to tourists for visiting certain areas is not as directly re-invested in these arrears to set off damage as we would think. I found out that the money is centrally collected and spent by the Government Ministry responsible as it pleases with no priority given to those arrears which provide the greatest revenue which we'll assume also accrue the greatest damage. Not that there is a mandate to spend the money on those areas most affected if not the greatest revenue earners either.

My greatest qualm has always been how little Belize has invested in Horticulture. Now, I'm not saying I'm holding out hopes for us to become a massive exporter of products but our own internal supplies of foods has always fluctuated way too much. In the face of today's global economy not being at least self-sufficient in terms of food production is a dangerous thing. Just ask the Philiphines, Zimbabwe and any of the number of countries which were formally self sufficient but sacrificied horticulture for other expansion and are now crippled with huge food deficits.

The problems with Belize has been always will be that as a society we just aren't willing to suffer in the "short term" for far greater returns in the long term. We have become a gimme and gimme now society. And problems which have driven social unrest are for the most part minimal. How many people really starve in Belize? In Haiti the people are eating mud and fat pies just to keep something in their stomach. In Egypt most people cannot afford to even buy bread except the heavily government subsidized bread and then its usually the bulk of their only meal for the day. We haven't gotten that low yet and until we know that reality i dunno if we'll learn to make the sacrifices necessary until it becomes a necessity instead of a choice.

The Voice said...

Bravo luke,

It is your last line that rings so true. We need to make these sacrifices as a choice, not as an obligation. The payoff would be surplus, not survival!

What would Belize's agricultural industry be without the Mennonites? Thank God for them! They give us milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, chicken, beef, pork, and an assortment of vegetables.

We NEED to promote horticulture and agriculture, as you have stated. We need to do this even to the point of placing tariffs that can locally be grown/made/manufactured.

Complacent my ass... I'll be damned before someone pulls a Zimbabwe on my beautiful Belize!

Unsilent said...

Luke brings up some rather important points. We don't know what it is like to truly be hungry or to truly be poor. Not to say that there are no poor people in Belize but the country on a whole has not been brought to its knees.

I too fear that matters need to get worse before we as a people get up and with a united front, demand that something be done.

Democrates said...

Unsilent, can you be a little more specific? When you said we need a "united front", what exactly do we need that front for. Of course for "betterment" but, what issue are we talking. I feel like so many issues are being thrown into the pot at once, creating a broth of ambiguity. I try not to support just the hoo-rah that typically occurs when people say "we need this, we need that, and this will never happen until this happens." Hence, I'm interested to hear some solutions that will put teeth into the rhetoric that has been discussed here.

lukehoare said...

Farming is one area where there needs to be a greater amount of energy placed into for starters. There's a reason the price of crops fluctuate so widely little to any oversight is placed on produce on a national level resulting in market gluts and conversely scarcity. Promoting communication between farmers nationally and a means of alllocating quotas to ensure not only steady supply but prices are for one important.
Alternative food supplies potatoes for example yield far more per acreage than wheat or rice and can be made into flour. Wheat Flour world wide will only increasingly become expensive as energy development moves toward ethanol production.
Secondly as the voice says we need to find means of promoting locally produced stuff. As long as local producers cannot turn a profit on their products what incentive is there for them to improve quality to be able to match outside competition, in order to engender greater demand?
The reason i focus so heavily on food sustainability is that lets face it wahn full belly make the day betah! You always need to buy food and if we can reduce what we have to import it frees up valuable foreign dollars to be invested elsewhere.

I had the fortune of listening to a speech the late Mr.David Price gave. He brought up the rather disturbing fact that a proper accounting and breakdown of government expense and budget hasnt been done since independence! Hampered in no way of course by the fact that those who carry out the assessment function directly under the government. This to me is a pressing issue if we are going to talk about government reform and transparence.

More importantly i think we as educated Belizeans need to break down these things in an understandable way. As the riots demonstrated most people realize something is wrong they simply are unable to pin point what exactly. How many Belizeans really understood in a comprehensive way the idiocy that occurred with the former BTL. The newspapers kept us up to date but never was a comprehensive breakdown provided. Which was of course, A) Company sold for less than it was worth. B) Bought back at a substantial amount more than for which it was sold. C) It was "sold" again. Now as to how it was sold "Johnny want sell his car. Frank tell ah "bwoy i want it but i nuh got the money. Tell yuh what Johhny go borrow the money and i wahn pay it back fuh you meanwhile give me the car!!!" In what world would johnny do that, well if you are the PUP this one apparently!
And there are of course the millions in loans granted without any "real" collateral. On paper it existed of course I'm sorry but again no way that should ever have happened, no financial institution worth its salt should ever issue loans without verifying collateral after the fact default in payment. Especially a government run one THAT'S OUR MONEY!

Belize watch is a fine example of this sort of advocacy in movement. But we need to start doing this more pro-actively in the country showing people how this affects them. People will only stand up and take more notice when they realize how all of this affects things from the feasibility of NHI, Education and of course the price a dem bread and butter.

As for any Belizean who can make it education wise spreading out its obvious why. Belizean education at Primary School and High School level remains despite the major problems with funding top notch. UB is sadly bogged down too much by political intervention to truly make a go of itself. Belizeans have the expertise to make UB into something great the incentives just are not there as the best and brightest become frustrated with the system. Having been a teacher myself and a sister who is a professor I know what crap our education system is mired in. Comprehensive despite being the best funded school in all the country still performs amongst the worst because of political intervention. If prper discipline and order are subverted at a school teaching becomes next to impossible.
This is what i think has thus far made primary/ high school education not suffer despite serious deficits in necessary materials. But even that itself is in danger as more and more the system is swamped with new and relatively inexperienced teachers as the veterans move unto private schools or migrate all together.
There in lies the next problem Inflation and salaries. Crime in Belize is aided in no small part by how massively underfunded our police force is. Their pittance in terms of wages also doing little in the way of curtailing corruption. The training and qualifications are also seriously lacking. Our police lack so much along the lines of having good public relations skills. Again I've been on both ends of that stick I have family and friends within the Police force and personally witnessed the abuse of power from those corrupt. We need to come down hard on those officers who abuse their powers and i mean hard!! A no tolerance policy for abuse of power and jail time!! To be an officer of the Law is to be in a position that should endgender respect and admiration. Frankly aside from getting to know a police officer personally most frighten the hell out of me as I am usually waiting for the other show to drop. Yet conversely I am not by the BDF and their training is in combat! That has a lot to do with how they carry themselves as officers.

You wanted examples of things we need to unify under there you have them. Unfortunately as I have expressed before my faith in the bulk of my fellow Belizeans to have the resolution necessary to pull these off is little to none. The massive strike action some years back could have worked but Said spoke all too true when he called it a passing breeze. We are a people unused to suffering on a truly horrendous scale we've been blest that way.We have closed our eyes to learning lessons from the world around us and preventing these things from happening to us. Living life is more than about survival, the rules of survival are simple food, clothing,shelter and remedying/avoiding anything that disrupts your bodily functions permanently. Creating a good society requires payment on a massive scale it eats up body, blood and soul.The question then is which is more important living to see another day or making an ideal a reality? No world power today has not paid their price in lives one need only read history to see it. The Belizean problem is more than a Belizean Porblem it is a human problem when will we learn to take heed of things before we are forced to learn from personal experience.