Caymanians depended on foreign income

My reaction to the Guardian’s latest propaganda that seemed to get everyone so excited was a dismissive ‘as long as we are not morally bankrupt.’

Clearly it was what Financial Review sniffs at as ‘New Journalism’ – emphasis on headline, not facts. But the more worrying question of moral bankruptcy looms larger with four out of every five ideas touted in response to the current economic situation.

The captioned letter in your 9th September edition is a shocking example of how far we have fallen. Though I say nothing surprises me anymore, it is still kind of hard to think that we in Cayman would be pushing for taxes to curb the practice of, and make more money from, ‘people who work here and send money off the Island to families where they come from.’

If that alone were not bad enough, the writer zeroes in on the money being sent specifically through ‘the money transfer stores.’ In other words, the lower wage earners who cannot afford to have their families move to Cayman with them.

I often worry about how high a percentage of their meagre wages they must lose already, having to transfer relatively small amounts of money (and thus the minimum transfer fee takes a larger proportion out of those sums), as their families can’t afford to wait until they save a large sum here and can get some economies of scale on transfer fees. And now we want to hit them even harder! (And at the same time encourage them to gamble it away instead.)

Since when did sending some of one’s hard earned wages home to one’s family cease being a laudable practice? As principles in Cayman no longer reflect Caymanian ideals, I suspect the writer does not know that Caymanians were for a long time dependent financially on this practice, as mothers, wives, children waited eagerly for the money to reach them from the men working at sea for a year or more at a time. How quickly we forget. How sad.

We’ve also obviously got a bankruptcy of ideas problem here too. How many economic rocket scientists are going to recommend lotteries, casinos and other gambling as the answer to all our troubles? And where do they get these facts of ‘how much money’ everyone would be making off of this, despite all the reports to the contrary elsewhere?

News, people: from the time I was a child in the late 50s/early 60s hanging around political meetings, that ‘great new idea’ has been pushed by one group and debunked by another. Every time it is the same argument – ‘that’s the only thing that can ‘save’ us.’ Thank God for at least 50 years we’ve proven it is just not true – there are other and better ways.

Anyway, that idea has been firmly discredited with extensive economic data many times before, the latest being in 2002 when the Government established a commission to look into legalising gambling. (I am not even mentioning the Christian arguments because we know it is just wrong, even if the economics made sense.)

And the point of this letter was really to see if it is possible to counter this idea that it is bad for low wage earners to be sending part of their earnings home to their families, therefore we must tax the practice in order to subsidise the rest of us.

Bryan Bothwell