Okay people, the UN finally gave us one day that openly addresses the situation our country faces on all 365 of them. That day is today, December 9th 2008, it’s called International Anti-Corruption Day, and the intention is to raise public awareness of corruption and what people can do to fight it.
Now the good news is that in terms of the UN’s public awareness goals, we in Belize can proudly say that we’re halfway there. Yep, we are making progress. UN boys, you can go back and tell your bosses that the public in Belize is fully aware of corruption. Of course, now that we know about it, what do we do with it?
Let’s see, while I'm aware of it in general terms, I still have a few questions, just to get a feel for the possibilities/limits re corruption:
Do two wrongs make a right? If I forcibly rip an illegal red license plate off a ministerial (i.e. government-owned) vehicle, is that then a legal act? Because those stupid things are driving me crazy, and I may yet do that!
If I’m found driving my boss’ government car with contraband liquor in the trunk, is it appropriate for him to suspend me, or is it more ethical for him just to fire me? Keep in mind, if he fires me, I might know something, yuh knoa? Me breaking the law, that’s secondary to other considerations, right?
If I divert money intended for another project to pay for a project that I never should have guaranteed in the first place, a project I supported against the gale force winds of public fury, is that naughty of me? I mean, we’re only talking about, say, maybe $20 million or so, and I didn’t pocket a penny from that particular transaction, so how could that be wrong?
If the stink of corruption is heavy upon some of my political donors, it’s still okay for me to take their money and reward them with choice appointments, right? I mean, I can’t control their corruption so it’s nothing to do with me...right?
Okay, now I know the answer to this one, so I’ll just list it, it’s not actually a question: as a government minister, it is perfectly acceptable for me to get involved in real estate or contract or tender awards, using my power to influence transactions. If the buyer is so happy that he gifts me with a suitcase full of cash, how could that possibly be wrong?
Similarly, it cannot possibly be wrong for me to allow the importation of products that are, um, restricted from importation. The fact that a supporter or even family member might benefit from this selectively lifted restriction is purely coincidence.
Finally, and only 'cause I'm tired and it's late and I'm sleepy, I'll throw in this last, easy one. If the city suffers and is strewn with garbage because the cleaners don't get paid regularly; if potholes aren't getting fixed at any visible rate of speed; if major commercial downtown streets are inaccessible to traffic for ridiculous lengths of time; if said streets remain unhealthily dusty, are ridiculously designed despite all complaints made beforehand, and don't seem to be getting fixed any year soon...isn't this a good time for the City Council to bring up the word 'raise?'
Yeah, I thought so.
Can you think of other examples where politicians’ moral compasses have clearly lost true north? If you can, and I bet you already have, add your thoughts using the comment feature below.