Protect Cayman’s way of life

To come back to Cayman, as I did after a recent Tradewinds concert in New York, was to be reminded of things about this small island that make it a wonderful place to live and be productive, and to be persuaded again of the need to protect the essential factor underpinning the Caymanian success story, i.e. the ambience of the society.

In light of recent concerns about this control or that (private sector complaints about New Year’s Eve regulations being one) it would be useful for all who enjoy a satisfactory life here to take care that we do not begin to chip away at the very conditions of life in this country that have made it attractive to visitors as well as to people who are invited to come and work here, or to invest here.

To travel to other societies, as I do seven or eight times a year with Tradewinds, is to notice stresses in those countries and to be struck by the fact that we are largely free of many of those problems in Cayman, or at least in the degree of it. On the heels of that realization is the desire that it should so remain.

From that stance, it would do all of us well to take our eyes off the dollar for a moment and reflect on the wider picture of our generally peaceful and carefree life on this small piece of red mould and to weigh the value of that. Certainly sensible business considerations should apply, but far too often of late, and particularly post-Ivan, the disposition is to adopt the short-term American criterion of ‘if it makes a dollar, let’s do it.’

My general point here is that in the interest of business today we have to guard against degrading the very things which were good business for us yesterday and will mean good business for us tomorrow. It is understandable that entrepreneurs will want to ensure the maximum profit from their business, but they must also keep the wider picture in mind as they can impinge directly on that profit.

The conditions of moderation which make up the very fabric of this society underpin our successes in tourism and in banking. Specialists in the travel industry will tell you that a significant factor in our tourism success has been the serenity of a hassle-free vacation in safe surroundings, and that the absence of casinos, jet-set night life and ‘wide open society’ is not a minus to such travellers and investors; indeed it is a positive factor in their choice. The stability of the financial sector is also contingent there.

People who are committed to Cayman, born Caymanians or new ones, have choices to make which should extend beyond the isolation of short-term financial gain. Some who complain about the controls will contend they are asking for minor concessions, but the reality of human nature is that once the door to concessions is open it is forced ever wider.

If we see value in the present way of life in this country then we must take care to maintain it. Obviously it’s a majority decision and each of us must choose. For me, with my roots in my native Guyana but with deep permanent attachment to Cayman, my recent trip away reminded me again of how important the tenets of this society are and, consequently, of the value of protecting them from erosion.

Sometimes you have to step back from the trees to see the forest.

Dave Martins