Today’s Editorial for July 9: Cultural aversion is no excuse

Sometimes it is easy to see why the
Cayman Islands are in such a dire financial mess.

As we reported yesterday,
provisions of the Poor Persons (Relief) Law (1997 Revision) are being ignored
by the Department of Children and Family Services.  The law requires the Crown be vested in any
property owned by people who are receiving poor relief payments from the government.
That law hasn’t always been obeyed.  The
Department of Children and Family Service says the reason it did not implement
the law is that there is a “deeply rooted cultural aversion to property liens
in order to preserve family land for future inheritance”.

There have been a number of cases
where people who owned property, but had little cash, needed assistance from
the government. If someone has significant assets, no matter what they happen
to be, the government shouldn’t be doling out money to help these people
survive, at least not without a guarantee it will get that money back. It’s
fair enough to be concerned about preserving family land, but who gave anyone
the idea that the government should bear the burden of taking care of poor
people in a way that allowed their heirs to inherit land free and clear?

Years ago this wouldn’t have been
an issue. Caymanians took care of each other and especially their elderly
relatives, something which happens less these days.  Land was passed on to heirs back then, just
like it is today, but the government didn’t have to support people who had land
holdings.

The truth is, most people have an
aversion to paying money if they can avoid it, and that’s really not unique to
any culture. If the government were to generally allow a “cultural aversion”
excuse to things like duties and fees, very few people would actually pay
anything. 

The bottom line is, we’re supposed
to be a country based on the rule of law. 
We simply can’t have government choosing laws they want to obey or disobey
based on cultural aversions or any other far-flung observations.

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