Our country in a crisis

Letter to the Editor

This is an open letter to all fellow Caymanians and residents alike. Many of you will know I am a former member of Parliament under the last PPM administration, and as a result it’s hard to voice an opinion without it being construed as political or partisan; let me, however, make it quite clear, I am not a member of either of the two political parties in Cayman. 

I am not a member of any political grouping and I have no intention of seeking political office in the foreseeable future. Having said that; however, I am very much Caymanian “to d bone”, and I love my country dearly, and its people. As a result I am deeply concerned in the direction we are heading in our haste to develop and make money for a few and I have been warning of this from the time I first attended college, and this is some 30 years hence (with those years of experience under my belt), and having seen the same mistakes made by many others.  

With all our financial and tourism success and infrastructural development we failed miserably from early on in one area, and that was the development of our people!  

Many of the problems we now have to deal with are based on this simple fact. Whether we wish to admit it or not, we have a social crisis on our hands with many people existing in an impoverished state while others are rolling in the dough. Middle class individuals like myself, with a small family business, struggle at times financially, so I can only imagine what others are feeling and I deal with many on a daily basis and hear the horror stories first-hand. This is all going on, yet we have political games being played and power struggles being evident amongst our own people while wealthy, ruthless foreign investors manipulate them like pawns in a chess game.  

People, am I the only one seeing this? What is the future right now for our kids returning home from university? I can tell you – often times they can’t get hired, some are told you are under or over qualified or you lack the experience, while we continue to balance a large part of our budget on work permit fees. Not to mention those kids that didn’t attend university or find a trade. Folks, is this anything to aspire to or look forward to as a young Caymanian? And this is where it gets real interesting you see, because not only have WE physically sold half of these Islands’ lands to one individual or entity, who can now call the shots and dictate to all future governments, but this same entity instead of being seen for what they truly are now under disguise as our great saviour! Buying up land and other properties and businesses day in and day out at inflated prices from locals, offering jobs to some of our brightest and most talented minds and offering scholarships in similar fashion and don’t forget the generous donations to the many good community causes, not least to political parties to keep them happy, under control and able to buy the next election, so that all remains “hunky dory” as the Englishman would say. These actions buy “blind loyalty” folks and this is a part of their calculated efforts to have full control. It only follows naturally that such a large entity will be given preferential treatment and will be able to make deals that leave us shaking our heads in dismay and saying “how?” and “why?”  

Folks I can tell you, this level of social imbalance and corrupt practices are not going unnoticed by many and is being scrutinised by those outside the loop. It is being witnessed by those with good sense and education and likewise by those of not-so-good sense (from the point of view of self-control and discipline), and we are sitting on a powder keg. If we think that added police presence and security really means much when “poor people fed up”, think again! We have seen many examples of this in recent uprisings in the Middle East and African nations, where dictators who have been in power for many, many years were toppled by people power and civil unrest. Lord knows I’m not wishing this for my Islands I love so, but if WE (all of us who live here and call Cayman home) don’t wake up and see what’s going on and take corrective action, I’m afraid we are destined to follow suit.  

We need focus groups urgently comprising all ages, parties, sectors and across ethnic and social statuses, to sit and discuss these issues openly and frankly and come up with solutions for us to continue our original harmonious existence; also to chart a way forward – to plan where we want to grow and with whom. (We had vision 2008 in 1998 that was largely ignored – we need something similar in scope now that will be adhered to).  

The rumblings are there – is anybody listening? Politicians are you reading this and understanding me? Are you thinking of your kids and their kids or just the next election? Community leaders, non-profit organisations, churches and other groups are you listening? FOREIGN RESIDENTS AMONG US are you listening? While we battle a world recession and fight with the UK over a budget, our people are crying out for help – for leadership that understands their plight and will not sell out to their detriment! They are looking for equal opportunity in their own country – no one can guarantee equal results (that’s left to personal initiative and mother luck), but at least they have a chance.  

Too many are being sidelined now because they were seen as non-supporters of the current administration or spoke up for their rights! We are being dictated to by foreigners in our own country, who ram their ways and policies down our throats while we try to be humble and survive.  

The Cayman Islands success was built on harmony amongst us and those who came here over the years, who respected our way of life and we respected them. This is no longer happening – by sheer volume there is strength in numbers and we are being suppressed and taken advantage of daily. We were amongst some of the hardest working people in the world when we sailed the seas and built these Islands up – how can we in a short 30 years become so worthless and useless? Is it really that, or it’s because of the early disenfranchisement that took place, where education was scarce and available to only a few, who saw that as a means of control back in the day, and now we have so many that have slipped through the cracks that all hope is lost and our self-esteem and self-worth has been eroded to the point where we can no longer recognise our own people?  

The once proud and peaceful Caymanians that I grew up knowing and being raised by have died off or are dying off, and we have a new breed to contend with now that are not so subservient and willing to accept only crumbs from “Massa” table.  

I could say a lot more on this serious topic, but I will leave it there for now and see who is listening. My point has been made. 

PEOPLE IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP.  

THIS CAYMANIAN IS NOT FOR SALE AND CANNOT BE BOUGHT OUT OR SHUT UP SO EASILY. I URGE ALL WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY TO STAND FIRM AND MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD! IT’S OUR ONLY HOPE AND OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE HANGS IN THE BALANCE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ELECTED TO POLITICAL OFFICE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE – YOU JUST HAVE TO STAND AND BE COUNTED.  

A FEW GOOD MEN AND WOMEN IS ALL IT TAKES TO START THE BALL ROLLING. 

NOTHING CAN SAVE US, BUT OURSELVES! 

Yours for a better Cayman Islands, 

 

Osbourne Bodden 

Osborne Bodden

Mr. Bodden

5 COMMENTS

  1. Why do people who are politically minded write espousing problems and blame yet offer no solutions, that goodness this person is not running for office, no solutions here.

  2. Whilst I think that Dart has only added opportunities for the Cayman Islands, this was an thought provoking letter. I think that a group action is needed with a mixture of ages, professions and yes nationalities.

  3. Profoundly eloquent letter and the polarization is noticeable almost immediately even as a visitor to your lovely islands. I commend the courage and efforts of Mr. Bodden.

  4. You fight with the UK over a budget when they have your interests at heart.

    Even as a Business owner you struggle financially at times?

    Well, a 600 Million budget for 50,000 people is 12,000 per person per year or a grand a month EACH. Are you getting good value from your government!
    Would half as much government and 500 dollars a month in your pocket suit you better? Why do governments always assume that they can spend OUR money more responsibly?

    Politicians are using the positions given to them to help the people, to help themselves. Funds to help the social good are been spun and biased to curry the favour of voters.

    SOLUTIONS
    I went to school in a crumbling Victorian building, one of the blocks had a broken heating boiler and the students were allowed to wear their outdoor coats indoors in winter. Did I go to a bad school? Heck No! It spent it’s money on teachers – My physics teacher was a child prodigy and had his Doctorate before most had even started their Bachelors (Think Dougie Howser crossed with Neils Bohr). Parents held rummage sales to help buy extra textbooks, materials and even a new school minibus.
    So, if you really want to improve the schools, let the Expat kids in and then try to deliver a Mediocre education… Woe betide any Headmaster setting his sights below World Class! (I’m not saying that the parents here wouldn’t do the same, just that they don’t know how much they’re being short changed)

    1) Parents and Teachers are BOTH responsible for kids education – TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and work with the Teachers, ensure the kids do their homework (thoroughly and on time). Too many of the worlds problems arise from parents delegating ALL of their responsibilities to overwhelmed teachers (it’s THEIR job not mine).

    2) Getting a Job is a full time Job in itself, Fortune favors the prepared mind. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and learn about the company you’re applying to, have an objective. I was once told I was overqualified for a Job and responded that my Mortgage qualified me perfectly (I got it)! Unemployment is the biggest turn off to a prospective employer – So take a Bar Job, Wait Tables, dig ditches – anything (but still give it 110 percent). It is a stepping stone to a better job – almost all jobs are. You’ll get a reference and something to talk about at interview.
    Even volunteering e.g. Meals on wheels, Red Cross… puts you a country mile ahead of the guy who sits at home waiting for a job to find him!

    Now the GOVERNMENT can also help here – If training costs and other incidental costs of employing a Cayman National could be offset against work permit costs then the risk of giving someone a go is dramatically lessened.

    The US learned an interesting lesson when the current recession bit hard and they increased welfare payments from 2 to 3 years – they found that people started getting jobs at week 157 instead of week 105.

    Politicians who promised a government job for all Caymanians are now looking for scapegoats.

    Those who believed Cayman for Caymanians are maybe finding, to paraphrase Orwell, some are more Caymanian than others…

    In the modern world we have to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for ourselves and not assume some nanny government will wrap us in cotton wool and pander to our every whim.

    Should we protect our kids by leaving them on the sofa with a pile of Chocolate, Chips and Soda’s with their Nintendo or, Lash on a Cycle Helmet and kick them out the door saying (Have fun… and Be careful) They’ll be back when they get hungry or re-discover what Newton found out about apples. Keep the fridge and first aid kit well stocked.

    So, Mr. Bodden, with the benefit of hindsight, what WOULD you have done differently when you ACTUALLY had the chance to do so?

  5. Here are the hard economic truths. Every government job is an expense. The government payroll is bloated. Selling work permits to fund a bloated government payroll is a very inefficient use of resources. The smart move is to have an educated and skilled local workforce take those jobs. That keeps the money in the country.

Comments are closed.