In a democracy, it is not only the
voices and opinions of the elected and the well organised that should be heard,
however in our society these two groups are the main sectors that determine
ideological trends and directions for the rest of us.
What is for sure is that our
political parties and their leadership are more times influenced and in sync
with the business elite and their interest, than they are with the usually
unorganised workers and marginalised members of the community. And unfortunately
for us there has never been organized behaviour or ideology among the lower
income working class or the marginalised members of their ranks.
Thus it should come as no surprise
to anyone that the ideology of indirect taxation, which harms the poor and
protects the wealth of the rich, is viewed by the present UDP government and
their affiliated private business section partners as the most just and
economically beneficial form of taxation universally.
Most pundits of the continuation of
the status quo including the present British governor of these Islands, now
admit that Cayman has more taxes than most would imagine. This admittance would
never have been made in days gone by when we were being held up as a tax haven,
as I referred to Cayman in Time Longer Dan Rope. And mark my word; this
admittance is ideologically important at this juncture when structural changes
and realignments have become necessary because of internal and external
pressures. It is important because for the first time we can have an honest
debate about the need for and the nature of taxation and most importantly that
taxation should be fair.
Is it fair?
Yet how can it be fair when a
billionaire can import luxury goods and resell them and pay only for a business
license and the poor marginalised members of our society must still pay taxes
on imported foodstuffs in spite of the fact that I brought a motion, which was
accepted by government in 2000, to remove taxes from a majority of food items
entering our country.
These taxes were replaced by the
same person who is now in charge of guiding us toward an increase in
consumption taxes. And he has a great number of fans and supporters in the
private business sector supporting him and his belief that the private sector
is the business sector and does not include the working people unless they are
so included by the business elite or by his party at election time.
The present Government does not
speak for those of us not blessed with wealth or the influence, which comes
from supporting the pro business at all cost ideology. Someone needs to take up
for the poor and continue no matter the cost, to elucidate some of the self
interest manoeuvres by those with a large amount of property and income to
protect. I may not be that person because of my style of commutation but I
trust some cable person or persons will accept my plea.
The recent open letter to the
premier from members of the private business sector was not to persuade the
leaders of the UDP or PPM, who have always been convinced that it is best to
tax the poor than scare away the rich. And why is this so? This is the way they
grew up. It is their world view and they have not themselves invested any
considerable amount of time in studying the pros and cons of taxation and what
it may or may not achieve for the different classes or groups in a society.
Those letters were, however, to show the collective power of the only organised
classes in Caymanian society and you can rest assured those classes do not
include the poor nor our civil servants. I mention the civil servants because
they are being labelled bad girls and boys because they do not applaud every
time cuts in their numbers, benefits and wages are mentioned and applauded.
Caymanians need only to recall how many of our people would be without decent
employment and prestige if the Civil Service did not take them in after they
were ignored and rejected by the Eurocentric business private sector. Now they
are being asked to trust their abilities to swim in open water among these business
sharks, without any thought or talk about reforming this plantation system. The
Civil Service does not need to become partisan but they need to think
politically because they are the only Caymanian group with connections to the
grass roots, that still have some collective power and influence.
The changes being advocated by the
premier and his business private sector colleagues should not be one sided and
they need not be if members of the Civil Service act collectively to protect
theirs and Caymanian interest; just like the private business sector is banning
together to protect and enhance foreign hegemony. Yes these are the times when good men and
women must look out for the general good, but the general good is not the
continuation of the status quo where Caymanians are stratified at the bottom of
the income and property ladders. This present debate must encompass more than
the dead philosophy of a vagabond class and their political supporters.