Today’s Editorial, July 18: Common sense solutions

Why don’t Cayman’s tourism players auction their unsold inventory on E-Bay, in the slow season?

Every day’s hotel room, and every rental car and diveboat-space, can never be sold if it isn’t sold before the day is over. Better to sell a room for 50 bucks than let it lapse and be worthless.

It’s a good idea, so why isn’t our Dept of Tourism doing it? Mainly, I suspect, because they didn’t think of it first, and they don’t like to take advice from outsiders.

Distrust of outsiders is holding Cayman back in a whole lot of areas. Yet proper communications offer solutions to many of the major problems facing our Islands. Think of these:

* Traffic congestion – easily enough solved, if the authorities would listen to us common folk.

* Cayman Airways losses – ask our non-Caymanian resident experts for advice.

* Open Government – most of the answers lie buried in the Vision-2008 Report. Why not dig it up and read it?

* Violent crime – reach out to the immigrant communities. Do our rulers truly believe that Caymanians alone can fix it?

* Cayman’s image overseas – observing international laws would be a good start.

* Caymanian Status – revive the way it was handled in the late 1970s, when immigrants were actually welcome.

* A new Constitution – abandon ethnic discrimination, and see how beautifully Cayman will cope.

Progress

To make significant progress on all these issues, and others, what we need to do is use all our resources. What a pity that we don’t do that. What a pity that we settle for a 25 per cent effort, every year and every time.

Here’s what I mean. All our Governments for the past 20 years or so have failed to involve the whole community. Almost all appointments to Government boards and committees have been drawn from only 25 per cent of the population – friends, relatives and native Caymanian supporters of the politicians in power.

I respectfully urge our new Government to abandon this practice, in the national interest. Let them be self-confident enough to appoint representatives from the other 75 per cent of us. Let them scrap crony-politics once and for all.

After all, why not use all the talent there is on the Island? Why settle for only 25 per cent of it? That doesn’t make sense. A cow doesn’t use only 25 per cent of its legs to stand on. Even a cow has more sense than that.

The PPM went into one of the ethnic minority communities to find its Chairman, and that was good thinking. There are hundreds of equally talented individuals in the non-Caymanian communities. Why not seek them out, instead of letting them cultivate their resentments outside some national ‘security fence’ set up by out-dated Immigration practices?

Vision 2008

In 1998 the ExCo of the day launched an Islands-wide exercise to draft blueprints of the kind of Cayman they hoped to see in ten years’ time. Since then, many of the Vision-2008 reports have helped guide the governance of Cayman. The outsiders’ contributions helped greatly.

The 16 volunteer committees contained individuals from most of Cayman’s ethnic groups. There weren’t many Jamaicans or Latinos, because they were afraid to register on the radar, and who can blame them? But the broad concept was an excellent one, and it could work again.

The time is ripe. Social tensions are at a delicate stage again, and many expats are wary of the new Government’s intentions towards them. Why not allow them to help solve all our problems. We’re only 40,000 people, for goodness sake. Our issues are small, compared to other countries.

Those of us of a certain age remember when President Nixon opened up China to the West. Being from the anti-China faction of US politicians, he felt that his high standing with the China-haters gave him the freedom to do what the liberals could not do. Our PPM Government is in much the same position vis-à-vis the immigrant communities. May it have the political courage to emulate Nixon.

A good place to start on this journey would be to discourage any more moaning about the 3,000 ExCo grants of status. Enough already! It would be far more productive to overlook the two hundred or so undeserving recipients and to focus on the 2,800 deserving ones who should have been honoured years before.

The endless harping on the way the grants were made is really just an excuse for ex-pat-bashing, and it is high time it stopped. Every time the 2,800 are slapped in the head for their alleged sins, they invest a few dollars less, and they feel a little less loyal. What good does that do for Cayman?

Here are our choices. Either we can combine our forces (those born in a Caymanian skin and those not) to solve our Islands’ problems relatively quickly – or we can limit our force to the same old 25 per cent of political chums and watch the problems get worse and worse for the next 30 years.

Fresh blood

Fresh blood versus stale: fresh ideas versus stale. Let’s start with the Immigration and Work Permit boards. Is there any reason (besides racism) why they are always appointed from the dominant ethnic group, much like the juries of old Mississippi were? Shouldn’t we be long past a system of governance according to bloodlines? It has failed both to protect Caymanians and encourage immigrants, anyway. Its red tape has strangled efficiency and blighted inter-communal relations. Why do we cling to such a blatantly unproductive system?

We just can’t afford to keep the old system any longer. Fresh blood (and fresh bloodlines) will bring fresh and workable solutions.

Let’s attack our problem issues with the best people we have living here. If we don’t, then we had better resign ourselves to living with the problems, eh? Including those AK-47s.

Gordon Barlow

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